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Provincial Policy changes could change the balance between the interests of the municipalities and the interests of the developers.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 4, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

If you spend any of your time on the kind of development that is taking place in Burlington, you will have heard about this matter before.

Every development application includes material on how the application complies with PPS 2014 – Provincial Policy Statement.

The document is part of the Planning act which governs everything that gets done when it comes to developments.

The PPS gets updated from time to time. That time is upon us now.

In a recent media release the province announced that it is open for feedback and comment from the public.

Here is what the provincial government wants to change in the PPS.

PPS 2014 coverIncreasing housing supply, supporting jobs and streamlining development approvals are top priorities for the government. The Action Plan includes a series of distinct but coordinated initiatives to address housing supply, including a review of the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) – the foundation for land use planning in the province.

The government is consulting on proposed changes to the Provincial Policy Statement to support the government’s Housing Supply Action Plan and other land use planning related priorities.
About the Provincial Policy Statement

The Provincial Policy Statement is a consolidated statement of the government’s policies on land use planning and is issued under section 3 of the Planning Act. It applies province-wide and sets out the provincial policy direction for:

The efficient use and management of land and infrastructure
Ensuring the provision of sufficient housing to meet changing needs, including affordable housing
Protecting the environment and resources including farmland, natural resources (e.g., wetlands and woodlands) and water
Ensuring opportunities for economic development and job creation
Ensuring the appropriate transportation, water, sewer and other infrastructure is available to accommodate current and future needs
Protecting people, property and community resources by directing development away from natural or human-made hazards – such as flood prone areas

The PPS is the primary provincial land use policy document guiding municipal decision-making. The Planning Act requires that decisions on land use planning matters be “consistent with” the PPS

Municipalities are the primary implementers of the PPS through policies in their local official plans, zoning by-laws and other planning related decisions.
Proposed Policy Changes

The government is proposing policy changes to:

Encourage the development of an increased mix and supply of housing
Protect the environment and public safety
Reduce barriers and costs for development and provide greater predictability
Support rural, northern and Indigenous communities
Support the economy and job creation

1. Increasing Housing Supply and Mix

The proposed draft policies for consultation would:

Increase land supply requirements municipalities must meet:

Increase planning horizon from 20 to 25 years

Increase housing land supply from 10 to 12 years

Allow higher minimum requirement for serviced residential land (5 years) for upper- and single-tier municipalities

Update provincial guidance to support land budgeting (i.e. Projection Methodology)

Increase flexibility for municipalities related to the phasing of development and compact form

Add flexibility to the process for settlement area boundary expansions (e.g. allow minor adjustments subject to specific tests, highlight that study requirements should be proportionate to the size/scale of development)

Require transit-supportive development and prioritize intensification, including potential air rights development, in proximity to transit, including corridors and stations

Support the development of housing to meet current and future housing needs, and add reference to housing options

Support municipalities in achieving affordable housing targets by requiring alignment with Housing and Homelessness Plans

Broaden PPS policies to enhance support for development of long-term care homes

2. Protecting the Environment and Public Safety

The proposed draft policies for consultation would:

Enhance direction to prepare for impacts of a changing climate

Enhance storm water management policies to protect water and support climate resiliency

Promote the on-site local reuse of excess soil

Maintain current policies related to natural and human made hazards which directs development away from hazardous areas including flood-prone areas in order to protect public health and safety, while work by the Special Advisor on Flooding is underway

Maintain current policies that require municipalities in southern Ontario to identify natural heritage systems, and provide flexibility as to how to achieve this outcome

Maintain protections for the Greenbelt

3. Reducing Barriers and Costs

The proposed draft policies for consultation would:

Require municipalities to take action to fast-track development applications for certain proposals (e.g. housing)

Allow mineral aggregate operations to use rehabilitation plans to demonstrate that extraction will have no negative impacts

Align policies and definition of cultural heritage with recent changes to the Ontario Heritage Act
Refocus PPS energy policies to support a broad range of energy types and opportunities for increased energy supply

Direct large ground-mounted solar facilities away from prime agricultural and specialty crop areas

Make minor changes to streamline development approvals and support burden reduction

4. Supporting Rural, Northern and Indigenous Communities

The proposed draft policies for consultation would:

Allow flexibility for communities by clarifying perceived barriers to sewage and water servicing policies for lot creation and development in rural settlement areas

Enhance municipal engagement with Indigenous communities on land use planning to help inform decision-making, build relationships and address issues upfront in the approvals process

Enhance agricultural protections to support critical food production and the agricultural sector as a significant economic driver

5. Supporting Certainty and Economic Growth

The proposed draft policies for consultation would:

Encourage municipalities to facilitate conditions for economic investment, and at the time of official plan review or update, assess locally-identified employment areas to ensure designations are appropriate

Provide municipalities with greater control over employment area conversions to support the forms of development and job creation that suit the local context (current and future)

Provide stronger protection for major facilities such as manufacturing and industrial uses where non-employment uses are planned nearby (i.e. buffering uses from new sensitive uses).

Do the proposed policies effectively support goals related to increasing housing supply, creating and maintaining jobs, and red tape reduction while continuing to protect the environment, farmland, and public health and safety?

Do the proposed policies strike the right balance? Why or why not?

How do these policies take into consideration the views of Ontario communities?

Are there any other policy changes that are needed to support key priorities for housing, job creation, and streamlining of development approvals?

Are there other tools that are needed to help implement the proposed policies?

Hamilton city hallExcerpted from CATCH (Citizens at City Hall), a citizen’s report on what takes place at Hamilton’s city hall

Hamilton has submitted its concerns with the changes to the PPS – no word on what will come out of Burlington’s city hall.

Hamilton city staff are challenging yet another massive rewrite of planning rules by the provincial government. Planning staff oppose the province’s proposed elimination of policies to fight climate change and protect sensitive natural areas. They are also questioning “market based” changes that will make it easier for developers to pave over farmland and effectively shift planning approvals “from a municipal-led approach to a developer-led one.”

Municipalities are facing a major revision of the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), the document which sets out the overriding rules that all land use planning in Ontario “must be consistent with”. The PPS directs policies on housing, infrastructure, transportation, economic development, aggregate extraction, land servicing arrangements and other municipal activities.

The province’s new rules on climate change are limited to preparing for its “potential” impacts. The Hamilton staff response going to councillors this week argues this “suggests uncertainty and does not acknowledge that impacts from climate change are already occurring”. Noting the city declaration of an emergency, they are even blunter about the provincial removal of all directions to prevent climate change.

“There are no policies within the document which speak to the importance of taking measures now to prevent or avoid climate change,” declares the staff report. “Seeing as the fight against climate change is a race against time, and actions need to be taken immediately to prevent irreversible impacts from climate change, it is an omission in the policies to not include direction to fight and prevent climate change at both the provincial and local levels through a variety of actions.”

The report also demands the province remove a new policy that “would allow mineral aggregate extraction to take place in certain natural heritage features where not previously permitted.” It further challenges wording changes that would base quarrying approvals on promises to rehabilitate in the future rather than the current requirement to review them “based on the ecological value and significance” of the affected landscape.

Other changes to the PPS centre development decisions on “market-based need” and “market demand”, terms which staff believe could “result in maintaining a market ‘status quo’ that is primarily based on a perceived desire for low density housing and will do nothing to encourage a shift to an urban form that is based on increased density.” The staff review notes that “market need and market demand are subjective terms” and asks who will define them and how that definition will be determined.

In numerous instances the word “shall” is being replaced by “should” in the PPS. Staff characterize this as policy being changed from “required” to “suggested” which gives developers more opportunity to overturn council decisions during appeals to the provincial planning tribunal.

Municipal comments on the PPS changes can be submitted until October 21.

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Amica submits a revised proposal in August and then files an appeal of the city's decision to do nothing with the proposal.

News 100 redBy Staff

October 2, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

On August 19, 2019, the Amica people along with their financial partner Bruce Partners submitted a revised development proposal which includes 17-storey and 12-storey building elements with a 6-storey lower building podium, transitioning down to a 2-storey element for a portion of the rear of the building. The number of proposed senior’s living units has been decreased from 475 to 419.

From Lakeshore Rd and 403

The development is at the intersection of North Shore Blvd and the ramp to the 403.

Then on September 23, 2019, the Official Plan amendment and Zoning By-law amendment applications to facilitate the proposed development were appealed to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT).

Amica appealed the applications based upon the lack of a City decision on these applications within the legislated timeframes, as set out by The Planning Act.

The site is within the City’s Interim Control By-law area, and as such, no recommendation reports have been brought forward for development applications in this area until such time as the Interim Control By-law is lifted and policy and zoning are in place.

site drawing

Where the development is to be located.

South east corner

A rendering of the view of the development from the south east corner.

South elevation

The elevation from the south.

One Burlington resident is concerned that the automatic appeal that arises from the city’s lack of decision is really just a fait accompli for the development.

Amica development rendering

An early rendering of what the site would have looked like to the people on the adjacent street.

“It will eventually pass because LPAT has jurisdiction and the city’s interim bylaw to halt development is nothing but an illusion of trying to do the right thing. If the city does nothing more than not make a decision, they are allowing developers to proceed in absentia.

The only plus in all that at this point is the revised plan is not as brutal to the eye as the first one.

North elevation

The revised elevation in the latest version of the Amica development.

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Can the development proposals planned for the 'football' be stopped?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 30th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In from the east

The view of the as yet unnamed tower as you drive into Burlington from the east.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward left the meeting before it ended. A presentation was being made by Old Lakeshore Burlington Inc. who were explaining what their development proposal idea was for the property at the east end of where Old Lakeshore Road and Lakeshore Road was going to look like; she had heard all she needed.

A part of the city that she used as the rallying cry for her election to city council in 2010 was about to be turned into something similar to what Toronto did to the land south of the Gardner Expressway and Lake Ontario. It was not what she had in mind for her city.

SOW images for fottball

This was the limit Marianne Meed Ward was calling for in the 2010 election.

The provincial government approach to development changed when Doug Ford came into office, the massive change in what LPAT (Local Planning Authority Tribunal) was going to do for the municipal sector wasn’t helping.

Was there a way out of or around what was heading our way?

There might be.

At this risk of using a phrase that didn’t actually resonate in Burlington – it is time to be bold. Let’s try – “Daring to be a Daniel” instead.

There is in the municipal world a number of tools that can be put to very good use – but it does require some creativity.

Russian nesting dolls

A doll within a doll – a planning tool within a planning tool.

I spoke to a number of people about what the city is up against and got some solid feedback. One resident, long in the tooth and the holder of much wisdom and experience in matters related to planning, suggested the approach the city could take is a little like those Russian nesting dolls.

All these planning and land management tools can be made to fit into each.  It takes very tight strategic thinking and you’re going to need a lot of that high priced legal talent to make it all happen – but they experts we spoke to told us it could perhaps be done.

Is it worth the risk to take a shot at it?

Site overview - aerial

The developer sees the 26 storey tower as the eastern gateway to the city – it’s impressive. Is it the best thing for the city?

There is currently an Interim Control Bylaw in place for the Urban Growth Centre. It has about eight months left in the first year it is going to be in place. The city could extend that bylaw for a second year.

The Chief Planner Heather MacDonald has a team of consultants working with her on what the city might do in terms of the kinds of development that will be permissible.

What is permitted

The A and B properties are in what is called the “football”

The “football” is within that Urban Growth boundary – so nothing is going very far until that interim bylaw is lifted.

What I learned in my talks with a number of people is this:

The review of the adopted – but not yet passed by city council Official Plan, could designate certain lands as having a special interest for the city in terms of the long range development.

They could put what is known as an H designation – a HOLD on what gets done with a piece of property.

With that hold in place the city has time to re-think where it wants to go.

Burlington has had relatively large community protest groups in the past. The Save our Waterfront group had more than 1000 members - did it achieve anything other than getting its founder elected to city hall? Here one of the masters of public involvement, former Toronto Mayor David Crombie talks with current SOW presisdent.

Former Toronto Mayor David Crombie talking to Mike xxx, who at the time was President of the Save our Waterfront group that had 1000 members,

With that time available Burlington can then form a group that studies the potential for the “football”; former Mayor David Crombie suggested to the Waterfront Advisory Committee that was in place at the time that they do just that. He added that putting a couple of “oddballs” on such a committee is always a good idea.

I learned that there is also a Community Improvement section in the Municipal Act – it is sometimes referred to as a Community Development Plan.

That part of the Act could be used to put together a plan that had wide wide stakeholder involvement.  These plans, I was told, give a municipality a tremendous amount of power and scope – they are in effect putting the needs and interests of the citizens first.

Right now the Planning department is dealing with a development application, which they have to accept and issue a report on.  They don’t have anything to compare it to – something that might be better for the city.

If the buy in from the public was high enough the city could move to expropriate all the land within the “football” and float a bond to pay for it.

If the Mayor wanted to get really creative she could look for a way to create a bond that the average citizen could units of.

Meed ward looking askance

Does the Mayor think there is a way out of what the developers have told us they want to do with the football? Will the Mayor manage to toss it back to them and expropriate the land.

Meed Ward is staring at a couple of developments that will put 26 storey condominiums on land she believes should not be any higher than 12 storeys.

LPAT will not let that happen – the developers know they will win at that level.

There just might be a way to do something truly stunning for the city.

Market-Lakeshore-foot-of-St-Paul-looking-west3-1024x6821

All of this was close to given away to the owners of properties that abutted the waterfront.

That terrible loss the city suffered when lake front land between Market and St. Paul was sold for a pittance can’t be reversed – but amends could be made for that loss.

Emma’s Back Porch and the Water Street Cookery could be part of something truly unique.

All it takes is takes innovation, creativity and courage.

We are far from experts in this field. But we do believe that citizens will stand up for themselves when the leadership they want leads.

The 2006, 2010 and the 2014 city council’s didn’t lead.  Mayor Meed Ward has made it clear things will be done differently – how much differently.

Let’s see where the Gazette’s active comment people have to say.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Stunning design for the Lakeshore Road - but no one at the public meeting liked the height.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 27th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Mayor stood at the back of the room, glumly listening to a development presentation that, if ever built, would crush the agenda she has had in place from the day she first began to be politically active in ward 2 where she became the Council member, served two terms and went on to get elected as Mayor.

Design principles

Design concept principles.

The development is in a prime location – at the visual entrance to the city as one drives in from the east.

The shape of the property gave the developer the opportunity to do something stunning and Nick Carnacelli didn’t disappoint.

In from the east

Looking at the development as you drive into Burlington from the east.

The design is stunning, it sets a new benchmark for excellence in outside appearance and will certainly draw the clientele that can afford what it is going to cost.

The only problem was – no one liked the height – they wanted something lower.

Time may prove that lower buildings will become possible in Burlington but the evidence at this point is that height is a given – the issue will be where that height gets situated.

The city had more than a decade to make it clear that it had different ideas for what it referred to as “the football” because of its shape – enclosed by Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road and limited to some degree by the set back and top of bank requirements along the lake which is yards away from this development and the one proposed next to it.

From Lakeshore and Martha

Looking west along Lakeshore Road, Martha’s Landing is on the left.

The meeting began with Andreas Houlios, a city planner setting out what the zoning was and what the Official Plan that is in place permits. Burlington has an Official Plan that was put in place in 2008.

A new plan was passed by city council in 2017 but not approved by the Region.

The 2018 election brought in a new council that took what they called an “approved” Official Plan and began the process of revising it. The city is waiting for that revision to be made public as soon as it is complete. But right now, today – the Official Plan as it will apply to this development reads like this:

Official Plan designation:
• Downtown Mixed Use Centre
• Old Lakeshore Rd Mixed Use Precinct (Area B – East Sector)

Site Specific Official Plan Policy:
• Building heights up to 10 storeys and 31.5 metres
• Taller building heights up to 12 storeys and 37 metres permitted subject to certain requirements
Subject Site
What is permittedWhat is permitted on this site?
Current Zoning:
• DL-A (Downtown Old Lakeshore Road)
• Permits a variety of retail and service commercial uses, office, hospitality, entertainment and recreation uses, as well as apartment buildings and retirement homes.
• Maximum height of 10 storeys -12 under certain situations.
• The Provincial Planning Act allows applications to be submitted at any time by landowners to change the Official Plan designation and/or zoning on a property.
• The City is required to process these applications following a set of Provincial rules and regulations and with consideration being given to existing Provincial and Regional policy.
• City planners obtain technical advice and public input before making a recommendation to Council.
• If Council does not make a decision on an application within the legislated timeframe, the applicant may be appeal the applications to the LPAT, if desired.

And that is what the developer has done. They are asking for a change to the Official Plan and changes to the zoning on the site.

The property happens to be within the boundaries of an Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) that is currently in place for one year – that year has about eight months left.

Site overview - aerial

The development will dominate the entrance to the city.

The Planning department will receive the application but will not begin a Staff Report until the ICBL is lifted.

With that background in place the audience of about 40 people got to hear what NAME had to say about the merits of the development. He did not get a round of applause and he was interrupted a number of times.

Mark Bales, a vice president with the developer Old Lakeshore Burlington Inc., stood a few times to elaborate on a point and to answer questions from a less than friendly audience. Mr. Bales at one point chose to hold his open hand up facing Councillor Lisa Kearns in an effort to stop her from speaking – an atrocious bit of behavior that we have seen before.

Nick Carnecelli, standing at the back of the room signaled to Bales to tone it down.

The audience the developer was dealing with did not want what was being proposed – they wanted the 12 storeys the Official Plan permits.

There were some ideas put out on how traffic might be managed and the wish for a more “village like” setting. Nothing the developer was going to do anything with.

It is now a waiting game until the ICBL is lifted.

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Does the public have any idea what is being proposed for the south east core and is city council just going to let it happen?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 26th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is a meeting taking place this evening at the Central Arena, on Drury Lane road, across the street from the YMCA.

Lakeshore Inc

The public will get a look at what the developer wants to do with the southern end of the “football” the land between Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road.

It is a pre-consultation meeting, a non-statutory meeting to obtain community input on all of these elements prior to the submission of an application. Planning staff will be in attendance to provide information on the development application review process and next steps. The owner and consultant team representatives will also be in attendance to listen and collect ideas and input from the community.

Old Lakeshore Burlington Inc. is the owner of lands located at 2107-2119 Old Lakeshore Road. The City’s current policies provide for the potential development of a tall building of up to 12 storeys on these lands. The owner is currently considering the redevelopment of the lands with a mixed-use tall building of up to 26 storeys.

This is the way development takes place in Burlington.

CORE

The properties the CORE development group want to put 26 storeys on.

A number of months ago there was another such pre-consultation public meeting. This one was at the Art Gallery. It went through the same process; there weren’t a lot of people in that room with much in the way of appetite for the development. The developer in that case was the CORE group.

When the Gazette asked for a copy of the presentation made by the developer – they promised to send it along the next day, we are still waiting for that one.

model 3 d 0f the site

A 3D model of what the south eastern core of the city would look like if the CORE development on the table is approved and built. Another developer wants to build a high rise at the eastern end of the Lakeshore and Old Lakeshore intersection.

Both developments, the CORE development and the Old Lakeshore Burlington development, are in the same part of town – what is sometimes referred to as the “football” – referring to the shape of the property that exists between Old Lakeshore Road and Lakeshore Road.

If there was ever an occasion for Mayor Goldring to seek the opinions of others on the Beachway PArk - now is the time to do it and on Wednesday he will have an opportunity to listen to one of the best minds there is on waterfront development. Former Toronto Mayor met with MAyor Gildring at a Waterfronty Advisory meeting a number of years ago. Time for another chat.

Former Mayor Rick Goldring sits beside former Toronto Mayor David Crombie to listen to members of the Waterfront Advisory Committee.

A number of years ago, when there was a Waterfront Advisory Committee chaired then by Nick Leblovic they invited former Toronto Mayor David Crombie to talk to them about how development can be managed so that the wishes and the will of the public are at least heard. Crombie at the time said: You need to put together a committee and ensure that you have a couple of oddballs at the table – they are the people that pop out the interesting ideas.

Then Mayor Goldring sat in on that meeting; nothing ever came of the idea. Sometime later the Waterfront Advisory was put to rest.

Any development ideas were going to come from the development community. And that is what we are looking at today.

The very significant sized developments that abut each other on what is now the most valuable developed land near the lake, across from Emma’s Back Porch and a football field length away from the Bridgewater development which appears stalled.

There is no public protesting; there is no group formed to suggest that this is not the way this part of the city should be developed.

Other than saying the city doesn’t want this type of growth in this part of the city Mayor Meed Ward hasn’t said very much.

Market-water-street-lots-Ziegler-drawing

All the land within the red outline was public. The city went along with the sale of the pieces in the middle that abutted houses – they kept the piece of land at each end and turned them into Windows on the Lake. A Crown Jewel had been sold.

Burlington lost the opportunity to keep a large part of the waterfront in public hands when it went along with the sale of that land between Market and St. Paul.

Meed Ward, as a Councillor fought a valiant battle to maintain ownership of that property – despite her efforts then, Crown Jewels were sold for a pittance and the province got most of the money.
George Santayana, a noted philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist who once appeared on the cover of Time magazine wrote that: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

It is going to take a lot more than people who attend the meeting this evening saying this is not what the city wants – it is going to take real leadership – not from just the Mayor but from every member of council.

Full council

This is the crowd that is going to have to step up, get creative, be bold and find a better way to develop the land in the “football”.

Time for the newbies to step up to the plate – let’s see what you are made of.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council

 

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Reflections on the new organizational chart at city hall.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 26th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A number of weeks ago the Gazette had an email conversation with city manager Tim Commisso who wrote about some of the changes that would be taking place at city hall.

He mentioned at the time that he had 17 direct reports and that he wanted to reduce those considerably so that he could concentrate on the development of a strategy that would fill the direction he was given by council back in February.

Yesterday Commisso put his plan on the table during a closed session of council. The new organizational structure was adopted by Council during the closed session – the public got word of it when they put out a media release. We have absolutely no idea what council thought of the plan – did they ask for changes? Was there a vigorous debate?

The plan looks to be solid. The Gazette learned from a former senior staff member that it was a “plan that should work”.

Laura Boyd

Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd

We asked Commisso if the Burlington Leadership Team would continue to operate; recall the Director of Human Resources Laura Boyd wrote in her exceptionally revealing report to council back in July said:

“When the results were further analyzed, it became apparent that communication within the organization diminishes between hierarchical levels.

“Specifically, between the Burlington Leadership Team and the Supervisors/Manager level and then between the Supervisors/Managers level and their direct reports.”

Commisso told us that the “city’s internal leadership/strategic management structure will still encompass: Exec Directors, Directors (Department Heads) and City Mgr. BLT will meet weekly and provide strategic management oversight on day to day City service delivery, review of upcoming Council reports, implementation of Council V2F work plan and other corporate projects. BLT also deals with city policies and procedures, budget development, ongoing council/ staff relations.

He added that “The Strategy and Risk Team (SRT) will meet biweekly and will focus at a more detailed level on corporate strategy execution and related risk mitigation and also reporting on same to Council on a regular basis. SRT is a new leadership team comprised of Exec Directors and City Mgr. SRT will also focus on corporate wide business processes such as customer service, health and safety.

Commisso said “This approach is a best practice for municipal and public sector governance” and added that “We will need to align the new structure with Council’s standing committees and are working on a report to Council on that for Oct.

Org chart 2019The Gazette wondered aloud during a telephone conversation earlier today if this organizational change was not a consolidation of power in the city manager’s office. Commisso doesn’t see it that way. He did reduce the number of direct reports from 17 to 12 and admits that even twelve is a little on the high side.

One of the problems Commisso has is the quality of his bench strength – there are a number of senior people not exactly pulling their weight – at the same time there are a significant number of young people who have done well but find it difficult to see Burlington as a place where they can grow meaningful careers – there have been four city managers in a six year period.

You build a team by ensuring that management stability is in place and that it is going to be there for some time and that there will be opportunities for professional growth.

Getting the new organization in place has been a huge task for Tim Commisso; he loved doing the work – says he loves the city.  He’s not a talkative man – without ever having had an opportunity to sit opposite the man it’s difficult to get the measure of him.

Our conversation with him on Wednesday was short – he was swamped.

We wanted to ask: Is this just round one of the blood letting at the staff level.  It would have been inappropriate of him to respond but the question remains.  Many of the keen observers of city hall matter don’t feel the job has been completed.

Strategy is just one part of what Commisso believes has to be put in place.  The other is a change in the culture – that one is going to take years – it will have to start soon for staff to buy into it and then years to make changes and make them stick.

Can MacDonald and Magi instill a different more meaningful sense of confidence in staff?  Does Human Resources have a handle on just what the problems are and perhaps some solutions as to how to give the place a shot of something?

The Gazette recalls a citizen who once worked at city hall in a very senior job where he was right in the thick of it all.  He gave some thought to running for office – actually came close to deciding he would and then decided that it was “too toxic” (his words) and left the public office job to others.

While Commisso can perhaps pull rabbits out of hats (that is not a skill set he lays any claim to) he has to cope with a city council that does not yet have a full year under its belt.

Meed Ward with chain Sept 23-19

Mayor Meed Ward fully understands the power she has when she wears the Chain of Office. Can her colleagues restrain her? They have done just that a few times.

He has to deal with a Mayor who has an agenda and she is certainly pushing that agenda.  If he doesn’t have a real concern over how reserve accounts are handled – then he should have.  He needs to find a way to counsel the Mayor and educate the newer council members on why we have reserves and the way they should be handled.  All five of the newbies have turned to the city manager for advice and direction – when their job is to hold the man they are turning to accountable.

Commisso didn’t think that was a problem.  The governance people we spoke to told us that it was a serious problem and that Commisso was walking on this ice.

The mention that Burlington is one of the best places to work just isn’t true. The chaos is disturbing.

With Heather MacDonald and Allan Magi serving now as the management level directly beneath the city manager there is a line of authority and direction that has been missing for some time.

Blair Smith talking to planner Heaher MacDonald

Heather MacDonald, now one of the two leaders working with the city manager to make it all come together in conversation with a citizen at a public meeting.

It is going to take a bit of time for the two to get the hang of the job.  MacDonald came to Burlington a relatively short time ago to serve as the Planning Director and now finds herself as responsible for the effective administration of a much bigger plate. She was doing just fine with the Planning problems; the Interim Control Bylaw was hers to oversee as well as the re-writing of the Approved Official Plan.

Behind all that there is the pile of development applications that are going to flood the city when the Interim Bylaw gets lifted. There is a lot of work on that table.

Two new positions have been created:
Customer Experience Manager-Business Development
Executive Director of Strategy, Risk and Accountability

They will both be posted on the city’s web site and be open to outsiders.

Commisso alone

City manager Tom Commisso is often the only senior administrative person at council meetings. He says what he has to say in relatively few words.

Commisso believes they are both critical – it will be interesting to see the job description when it is posted. The use of the word ‘accountability’ raised an eyebrow- just what does the city mean when they say ‘accountability’.

This is something we will return to once we see the job posting.

Related news stories:

Director of Human Resources lays it all out on the table.

Return to the Front page

Significant debate at city council this afternoon: discussing what they want to tell the Region about intensification.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 12th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This afternoon city council will be discussing and debating one of the biggest problems the city faces: Managing the growth.

In a story we published earlier in the month we wrote:

“Assume just two people to a dwelling (and that is quite an assumption) we are looking at between 29 and 42 thousand new dwellings.”

This was in reference to a study that was done in 2008 when the City undertook an Intensification Study to better understand the intensification opportunities in the City which could accommodate growth to 2031. It was recognized at that time that the City’s supply of Greenfield land was diminishing and a more comprehensive approach to planning for intensification was needed.

That study focused on key areas within the City’s urban area and included a site by site analysis to identify opportunities for infilling and redevelopment. This study, which laid out a general framework for longer term growth planning in the City, determined a reasonable estimate of residential units, people and jobs, which could be provided through intensification by 2031. The study also concluded that Burlington was expected to exceed the 40% intensification target in the Growth Plan that is applied Region wide.

City council on innauguration Dec 3rd - 2018

While taking the applause did the members of this newly elected city council have any idea how big a job they had ahead of them?

The study findings were used to inform the growth analysis work that was undertaken by Halton Region through their Sustainable Halton process, which resulted in population and employment growth forecasts to 2031 as well as intensification and density targets for the City and the other municipalities in the Region.

Downtown model

One of Burlington’s younger citizens uses a Lego model to explain to council just what the city will look like when the development being proposed are completed.

The city is now preparing their comments and input for the 2041 growth targets, That’s where that “looking at between 29 and 42 thousand new dwellings” comes from. That is a massive number that most people are not fully aware of – the Gazette wasn’t around in 2008 – we would have alerted you.

You can watch the live webcast this afternoon.

They will be talking about your future.

Related news story:

Just how much growth is Burlington going to have to absorb?

Return to the Front page

Councillor Nisan asks staff to dig out information that is already public - his first step in doing anything about the Nelson plans for a bigger quarry operation.

News 100 blueBy Staff

September 10th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Some movement at city hall on the expected application to do more quarrying by Nelson Aggregates.

14a rendering of the lake 77acres

A decommissioned quarry site turned into a lake – 30 footballs fields in size.

The company has been very proactive and going to some lengths to get its story out – the ward Councillor appears to have forgotten that the job is to listen to all sides of an application.

We reached out to the Nelson Aggregate people and learned that they haven’t heard a ward from Councillor Nisan.

What the Councillor has done is ask his colleagues to support his Staff Direction for the following:

Direct the Director of City Building to report back to the Planning and Development Committee on the land use development application and review process related to the proposed Nelson Quarry expansion, including but not limited to the following:

• summary of the process including decision points;
• anticipated timelines for process steps;
• roles and responsibilities of review agencies;
• a summary of process and outcomes of the previous proposal for expansion; and
• a summary of any the new provincial legislation related to aggregate resources.

All that information is currently in the public domain – If Nisan wanted some additional depth the Deputy City Manager would have told him everything he would need to know and then some.

The Staff Direction move might just be some way of Nisan saying to his constituents: ‘I’m working for you’.

3 holdings

The Nelson offer is to turn all the land over to the city when they have completed the quarrying.

Council appears to have taken the position that they will talk to the quarry people when the site has been decommissioned. What Nelson Aggregates is required to do in the way of decommissioning is set out in their license, which the Gazette has made public.

rehab note

Note attached the one of the Nelson Aggregates licenses.

What Nelson is saying is that they have some unique ideas on what they can do with the site when they are finished that will determine just how they do the decommissioning – not whether or not they are going to do it.

Councillor Nisan will never know what they are thinking if he doesn’t talk to them.

He seems to be arming for a fight.

Return to the Front page

City Staff and Council are currently laying the foundation on which whatever Burlington is going to be in the future is being built.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 3, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City commissioned a Growth Analysis Study to identify an appropriate level of population and employment growth that can be anticipated for the City between now and 2041. The study findings are intended to help inform the growth analysis work being undertaken by Halton Region through the Integrated Growth Management Strategy (IGMS) by providing a finer grain analysis of the growth opportunities within the City of Burlington.

Some of the numbers that are coming out of the reports put the kind of growth the city could be facing in context: an additional 58,321 to 85,863 people and 22,669 to 53,137 jobs between now and full build out.  Full build out is assumed to be post 2041 and represents a conceivable end state where land has been fully optimized.

Assume just two people to a dwelling (and that is quite an assumption) we are looking at between 29 and 42 thousand new dwellings.

That certainly put the 2018 election debate in context.

In 2008, the City undertook an Intensification Study to better understand the intensification opportunities in the City which could accommodate growth to 2031. It was recognized at that time that the City’s supply of Greenfield land was diminishing and a more comprehensive approach to planning for intensification was needed.

Boundaries set out for the Downtown mobility hub.

Boundaries set out for the Downtown mobility hub.

The study focused on key areas within the City’s urban area and included a site by site analysis to identify opportunities for infilling and redevelopment. This study, which laid out a general framework for longer term growth planning in the City, determined a reasonable estimate of residential units, people and jobs, which could be provided through intensification by 2031. The study also concluded that Burlington was expected to exceed the 40% intensification target in the Growth Plan that is applied Region wide.

The study findings were used to inform the growth analysis work that was undertaken by Halton Region through their Sustainable Halton process, which resulted in population and employment growth forecasts to 2031 as well as intensification and density targets for the City and the other municipalities in the Region.

Halton Region’s Official Plan Review and Integrated Growth Management Strategy
Halton Region is currently undertaking a review of their Official Plan, as required by the Planning Act. The Region’s Official Plan Review (ROPR) commenced in April 2014 and is being undertaken in three phases. Phase one was completed in October 2016 with the completion of a Directions Report which identified the key policy areas for review through the ROPR and established a high level work plan to complete the detailed research and policy development to be undertaken in phases two and three of the ROPR.

2041One of the key policy areas identified by the Region is the Integrated Growth Management Strategy (IGMS) which is a growth strategy for the Region to the planning horizon year of 2041 that will incorporate the population and employment forecasts for the Region in accordance with Schedule 3 to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The result of the IGMS work will be an updated growth strategy for the Region and its local municipalities which is based on the integration of land use, infrastructure and financial considerations, that conforms to both Provincial and Regional policy directives.

Phase two work on the IGMS began in the spring of 2018 with a kick-off meeting with the local municipalities. Since then, staff have been actively engaged with the Region on the IGMS work through participation on technical committees, attending meetings and workshops as well as providing background data to support the development of the growth scenarios, which were shared with Regional Council on June 19, 2019.

City of Burlington Growth Analysis Study
Recognizing the growth work being undertaken by the Region through the IGMS as a region-wide provincial conformity exercise, City staff saw the opportunity to engage a consultant to undertake growth analysis work at the local level to inform the process at the Region and provide support to City staff and Council in reviewing and providing feedback to the Region on the IGMS work.

Study Process and Work Plan
In the fall of 2018, the City retained Dillon Consulting with support from Watson and Associates to undertake an analysis of the City’s population and employment growth trends to better understand what an appropriate level of population and employment growth might look like for the City between now and 2041. The study findings are intended to inform and support the process being undertaken at the Region by providing a finer grain analysis of growth opportunities in the City and is not intended to supersede the Region’s process. City staff also recognize that components of the growth analysis study could be used or leveraged for other city projects and initiatives.

The project work plan prepared by Dillon and Watson for the growth analysis study included:

• A review of growth related background data;
• A review of the policy context to gain a better understanding of the long-term growth potential for the City;
• Confirmation of the estimated long-term supply of land within the City for residential and non-residential growth;
• An economic, socio-economic and demographic trends analysis which will also include commentary on local factors and economic drivers which are anticipated to influence future residential and non-residential development trends in the City;
• The development of three city-wide population, housing and employment growth forecasts, including the identification of a preferred growth forecast;
• Identifying potential opportunities and challenges associated with the city’s ability to achieve the preferred growth forecast.

A project kick-off meeting was held in the fall of 2018 which included staff from various internal city departments, acting a project steering committee. Various background data related to land use and development was also provided to the consulting team to assist with their review and analysis. In March 2019, a workshop was held with internal city staff which provided the opportunity for the consulting team to share the findings of their analysis and for staff to provide feedback on a draft of the growth analysis study.

Study Purpose & Components
As indicated, the purpose of the Growth Analysis Study is to identify an appropriate level of population and employment growth that the City can anticipate between now and 2041. The study takes into consideration both supply and demand factors while addressing the following key questions:

aerial of Bronte meadows

Bronte Meadows – designated Employment Lands, the owners, Paletta International, have been trying for years to have it zoned residential. It was part of a package of land in the GTA that was offered to Amazon when they were looking for a new HQ.

• How much land supply is there to accommodate future long-term population and employment growth in the City?
• What are some of the recent broader macro-economic and regional growth trends which will influence growth in Burlington?
• What do the City’s recent economic, demographic and real estate trends tell us about future growth potential?
• What is the potential range of population and employment growth that the City can expect between now and 2041 based on available supply and market trends?
• Given the range of potential growth and multiple opportunities for development, what are the phasing considerations for residential and employment growth?

The analysis in this study relies on a number of different sources including components of the City’s adopted Official Plan, Halton Region Official Plan, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe as well as provincial guidelines (e.g. MTO Transit Supporting Guidelines). Data related to the City’s active development applications and building permits was also relied upon to complete the analysis.

Adopted New Official Plan
The Dillon – Watson study recognizes the direction received by Council to undertake a scoped review of the building heights and densities contained within the adopted new Official Plan. The methodology used in the analysis builds upon the urban structure and intensification opportunities identified through the City’s growth framework in the adopted new Official Plan. However, building height permissions in the adopted new Official Plan were not used in the analysis. As such, any changes that result from the scoped re-examination of the adopted new Official Plan are anticipated to be within the supply scenarios tested.

Mobility hubs

The Mobility Hubs are on a bit of a hold while the Planning department focuses on a number of critical studies that need to be completed before development can get back on track.

Mobility Hub Work
The study also recognizes the work that has been undertaken to date on the Mobility Hubs. For the downtown, the Urban Growth Center boundary and density target established in the Growth Plan were used in the supply analysis, while the population and employment ratios were based on the detailed mobility hub work. Similarly, for the GO Station mobility hubs, two density targets were used in the supply analysis; one reflective of the density target identified in the adopted new Official Plan, while the other reflective of the density target established in the Growth Plan. The population and employment ratios used in the analysis were based on the mobility hub draft precinct plans.

Supply Analysis
A review of the City’s active development applications was completed to inform the analysis of the supply of land available for both residential and non-residential growth. These development applications represent a snap shot in time and reflect development applications ranging from those under review by City staff to those currently under construction.

The supply analysis completed as part of this study helped to understand how much additional growth the City could expect based on current policies and plans. A top-down approach was used to estimate supply by applying a density target (people and jobs/ha) along with population and employment ratios to different areas of the City to identify the full build out potential. However, for some areas of the City which are not anticipated to accommodate much of the new growth, a factor was applied to identify full build out potential.

Full build out is assumed to be post 2041 and represents a conceivable end state where land has been fully optimized.

All this takes place while development work in the downtown core is under a one year freeze that has about five months left before a recommendation comes back from the planners. The Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) was deemed to be necessary when the city found it was overwhelmed with development applications.

Telier + MacDonald

Planner Jamie Tellier and Director of Planning Heather MacDonald during a city council meeting.

Planning Director Heather MacDonald was given the green light to single source the consultants she would use to put together the report. MacDonald has been a planner for at least two decades and she knows all the players in that game. She is firm on the report being in the hands of council within the one year time frame she was given; in our last conversation with MacDonald she made it very clear that meeting the delivery date was paramount – and she doesn’t appear to be one who scrimps on quality.

While the ICBL report is being researched and written the “Adopted Official Plan” is getting a very heavy duty re-write and re-think.

And while that re-write and re-think is taking place there is a group working on plans that attract as much public reaction, response, comment – anything anyone wants to say.

Mayor Meed Ward has made it the thickest of the pillars that hold up her election platform.

She wants to hear – she wants to listen.

The five new City Councillors are in for the hardest assignment they have ever been given. Some are faltering under the work load; some live on this kind of deep policy stuff.

There is a public that depends on the thinking they do and the wisdom they bring to the table.

After a decent summer break – they skipped a July Council meeting – they are now back in the trenches. In seven weeks they will celebrate being elected.

Two of the five (Nisan, Kearns) fought off contenders, one other (Stolte) was a certain winner once it was a clear one on one race with a long term incumbent, the other (Sharman) was an incumbent who won because two women let the vote be split. Another (Bentivegna) won by the slimmest of margins against a candidate who really didn’t run all that much of a campaign. The last newbie (Galbraith) came out on top of a very crowded field.

City council on innauguration Dec 3rd - 2018

Were the right choices made – can the team handle the amount of work they have been given? Time will tell.

We will know in the not too distant future if the right choices were made.

There is no doubt that at the Mayoralty level the right choice was made given what was on offer. Only time will tell if the Mayor lives up to the promise.

Return to the Front page

Two days of Standing Committe work to be followed by one of the toughest issues the city has to deal with: intensification.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 3rd, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It will be a very full week.

On Monday, the 9th, Council starts off with a daylong meeting that has 8 consent items on the agenda.

Then details on the Provincial Audit and Accountability Fund, that’s the program that has the province coming in to help (tell?) the city how to run their operation.

Transit movement

Detours that transit buses will take when The Gallery starts demolition and construction opposite city hall.

Concrete truck movement

Cement and dump trucks will come down John Street, slip into the construction site and then leave via James street – passing buses along the way.

The Standing Committee will be discussing Open air burning permit areas, a Stormwater management update, the badly needed Construction and Mobility Management Policy. The city got caught a little short-handed on this one; two projects that are expected to be putting up hoardings in the near future met with ward 2 residents and talked about how they would handle the trucks and the traffic on Brant Street opposite city hall and on Lakeshore at Martha. Both locations are going to be construction sites for the next 30 months – at the same time Lakeshore Road is to undergo some serious upgrades that will close it down for up to 8 weeks.

The Strategic Asset Management Policy is going to be discussed, and Consideration for free transit for students will also get discussed.

Weather - LaSalle Park Marina

The LaSalle Marina just might end up with a very different governance model. Discussion will take place this week. Flooding has been a serious problem.

The Marina governance and operating model will be presented – this item will take place in the evening – at 6:30 pm.

Community

Improvements to the Skyway Arena and community centre are in the works. There was a time when citizens didn’t think they were being heard. They are today. Will they be heard when a decision gets made on the massive development plan yards away from the arena

The New Skyway Community Centre will also be discussed during the evening of September 9th.

On Tuesday the 10th council meets as a Standing Committee – Planning and Development this time.

There will be two Statutory Public Meetings; these are public meetings held to present planning applications in a public forum as required by the Planning Act.

One is a rezoning application for the hydro corridor north of 1801 Walker’s Line which staff is recommending be refused.

The second is for an official plan amendment and rezoning application for 2085 Pine Street
Statutory public meeting and recommendation of refusal of rezoning application for the hydro corridor north of 1801 Walker’s Line (PB-16-19)

Both items will be discussed at 6:30 p.m.

The Heritage Burlington 2017/2018 annual report and 2019 objectives is being treated as a consent item.

pan handle sign 3 BEST

Several Council members liked what was being done in Waynesboro – they want staff to look into some better ideas.

Traffic management strategies will be discussed at the 9:30am meeting along with Relocation of Bingo Connection and Downtown Streetscape Guidelines. Panhandling on streets in the City of Burlington is to be discussed – this matter often brings out emotional responses from those that delegate.

There will be a Staff direction regarding Airbnb’s and then the Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force recommendations.

This item amounts to much more than a discussion about the Task Force the Mayor set up to hear what stakeholders had to say about how efficient city hall was or wasn’t. Buried within the report is the wish of the Mayor to totally revise the way economic development is done in Burlington.

There will be an Amendment to Nuisance and Noise By-law 19-2003 and results from Halton Regional Police Service’s pilot project to stop noisy moving vehicles

Parking lot CArolina and John June 2019

Council didn’t get a chance to opine on the construction of this parking lot at John and Caroline – it just got done. This Council wants greener parking lots.

Green parking lot design guidelines for new parking lot at John and Caroline Streets and future builds. The 2018 – 2022 council has a very green agenda and were upset when the John and Caroline parking lot got opened without any serious consideration to making it a “green” space. Capital Works, the department that oversees and administrates the construction work for the city didn’t see that coming.

Wednesday is an Audit Committee meeting – dry as toast for the most part.

Thursday is a tough one. Members of Council were presented with a 152 page report on what the city is facing in terms of population growth and just where that intensification can or is going to take place.

That will be a special report later in the week.

Related news articles:

Pan handling

Construction site management

Skyway Arena and Community Centre

Return to the Front page

Nelson Aggregates shows what the quarry could look like if they can reach an agreement with three levels of government.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 25th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON
Exclusive to the Burlington Gazette.  Part 1 of a 3 part series.

 

It was a decent crowd – even for a meeting that was poorly promoted.

The outcome wasn’t all that clear – what was evident was that the audience didn’t like what they heard and that PERL, Protect the Environment and Rural Lands, the people who fought and won the last battle for Mt Nemo, was not going to lead the charge this time around.

3 holdings

The current Nelson Aggregate holdings: They own the southern portion and have an option on the western portion. The green line is a property boundary; the red line is the extraction boundary.

The operators of the quarry, Nelson Aggregates,  had let it be known that they were preparing to make a revised application to mine for aggregate in the southern portion of the site and for the land to the west which is currently Burlington Springs Golf Club.

The Gazette met with the people speaking for the quarry operation and learned much more about the scope and scale of the new plans.

The quarry is owned by Lafarge, Canada’s largest provider of diversified construction materials and a member of the global group, LafargeHolcim. The company has 6,000 employees and 400 sites across Canada.

The operators were taken aback by the 2012 decision to not allow the application to mine on land immediately to the south of the existing quarry. The decision rested on the existence of the Jefferson Salamander that is a threatened species that habitats the area.

It was not an expected decision and resulted in a serious cut back in the number of people employed on the site.

Rickli on a hoist

Walt Rickli, raising the belt on a hoist at the studio he once had on the quarry site. They needed the aggregate beneath his building – so he had to move.

Walt Rickli who had a sculpture studio on the land had to find a new home for his heavy equipment – the quarry people needed every square foot of land they could get a back hoe into.

The Nelson quarry people studied the Joint Administrative Review Tribunal (JART) report and worked at how they could resolve the Jefferson Salamander problem and be able to mine the land.

They did their homework and will take their application to the Regional government, City of Burlington and the Niagara Escarpment Commission after which they have to seek a development permit. They will also be seeking a change in the zoning. Three different permits will be required plus a new license from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and the Director of Planning has said that before the city even looks at any application they want the decommission work done.

That statement, to some degree, came out of a little bit of ignorance. The license the quarry was given in the 70’s was to mine as much quarry as they wished, or could, on the clearly de-marked site.

The license the quarry has is unlimited, it does not have to be renewed but does require that the land be left as a “lake”.

The critical note attached to the license states:

rehab note

A note that is part of the license Nelson Aggregates has to mine the property on the #2 Side Road.

land rehabbed already

Land in the current quarry that has been rehabilitated.

Nelson has already been very proactive in re-rehabilitating the land. When they are finished with one area they begin the rehabilitation. That work is clearly evident when you tour the property which the Gazette did last week.

Before any permit is issued Nelson is fully committed to a dialog with the community. They want to be sure that the residents in the rural area, and those south of Dundas, are fully aware of what the quarry is asking for and offering.

One has to fully understand the quarry’s position. They are in the business of mining and processing some of the best aggregate deposits in the province. They believe they have been good neighbours, which is not a view shared by some.

Land in process of being rehabbed

Rehabilitation of the existing quarry is an ongoing task. The dark brown in the center atop the hill is land fill that has been dumped in to the land.

Residents in the past have complained about the damage done by dynamite blasting. The quarry is required to limit blasting to one day a week at a specific hour. They can only blast on Thursday’s between 12:00 and 1:00 pm. As they prepare to file their applications they will do the now obligatory pre-consultations to ensure that they are complying with all the regulations and learn what they have to provide in the way of studies to ensure that the public interest is being met.

Among the studies that will have to be completed are:

Planning / ARA Site Plans –MHBC
Hydrogeological Assessment – Azimuth
Surface Water/Water Balance Assessment – C.C. Tatham
Karst Assessment – D. Worthington
Fully Integrated Groundwater and Surface Water Model – EarthFX
Natural Environment Assessment – Savanta
Agricultural Impact Assessment – MHBC
Built Heritage Assessment – MHBC
Cultural Heritage Landscape Assessment – MHBC
Archeology – Golder
Traffic Study – Paradigm
Noise Assessment – HGC
Air Quality Assessment – BCX Environmental
Blasting Assessment – Explotech

Trucks taking away

Aggregate is mined daily on the site.

Mining for aggregate is a highly regulated business. The Nelson quarry pumps water out of the site that is some 80 feet below ground level. If those pumps break down they have to immediately advise the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests and effect repairs as quickly as possible. In order to mine effectively it is vital to keep water out of the site. There are a number of catchment ponds around what is really a huge bowl that has been blasted out of the property from which aggregate has been taken.

Nelson Quarry is proposing that once they have completed the quarrying they will rehabilitate the land and turn title over to the city who will run it as a public park.

The Nelson people are going one further – they are going to create a 15 hectares lake that will have a large sandy beach. The shallow end of the lake (a little like Wasaga Beach where you can walk out for yards before the water comes up to your chest, will become a little deeper and then get quite deep..

In the application they have completed studies that show where the Jefferson Salamander lives and have undertaken to not only not mine that area but to turn it over to the city the day the agreements and zoning bylaws have been set.

The original 2004 application was on property south of #2 Side Road.

The application that will be submitted in the near future will consist of a 60% reduction in proposed extraction area from the previous application.

The revised extraction area will be designed to address the reason the Joint Board refused the previous application (Joint Board Decision 08-030 issued on October 11, 2012).

13 phase 1 96 acres

The area to the right was part of the 2004 application. It will be given to the city the day the agreements to permit quarry work has been signed. The area to the left will be turned into a lake for the public once it has been quarried out – which will be between 7 and 10 years.

In the studies and research they have done the Nelson Quarry people point out that their land holdings meet all the requirements of both the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the Region of Halton.

Agregate area - correct version

This illustration is from the Regional Official Plan – the area with the pink stripes is suitable for quarrying.

The recently adopted City of Burlington Official Plan (April 2018) identifies the proposed extraction areas as an “Identified Mineral Resource Area.” The adopted city plan Nelson points to was submitted to the Region and returned to the city because it didn’t comply with the Region’s plan. Burlington is in the process of revising that adopted plan.

NEC plan designation Correct version

This illustration from the Niagara Escarpment Commission permits quarrying in the area shown in yellow. The portion of this are that Nelson wants to quarry is is shown in light blue.

The sites are also mapped as a High Potential Mineral Resource Area in the Region of Halton Official Plan.

The existing Burlington Quarry represents Burlington’s only source of construction aggregate within the City.

There are three designations that apply to the land in the NEC plans: natural, protected and rural area. The Nelson properties have the designation that allows for consideration of new Mineral Resource Extraction Areas in the Niagara Escarpment Plan.

In the NEC plan the proposed extraction area is designated Escarpment Rural Area in the Niagara Escarpment Plan.
The appropriateness of this designation and objective was confirmed in the recently approved NEP (2017).

The Nelson Quarry people have done their homework and are returning with an application they feel meets all the shortcomings of the 2004 application that was decided in 2012.

They have significantly reduced the space they will mine on the south side of #2 Side Road and have added the 606 acres that make up the Burlington Springs Golf Course that will give the company enough aggregate to mine for the next 30 years after which it too will be turned over to the public.

14a rendering of the lake 77acres

The lake that will be created on the south side of #2 Side Road

Burlington is looking at the potential for a park that will be in the 900 + acres realm – bigger than anything most municipalities across the country have.

Nelson Aggregates will be holding an Open House on the quarry site in October and expects to have their applications in to the three levels of government sometime in November.

Just what will the park consist of?  Tomorrow we will detail what we learned in our exclusive interview the people at Nelson Aggregates.

Return to the Front page

Ooops! Some important detail left out of a paragraph on the downtown construction story.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 23, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ooops!

A portion of a sentence was left off the paragraph about the pipeline that runs through the centre of the city that was mentioned in the story on the Construction Management procedures that will be in place for the building of the condominium opposite city hall.

In explaining the traffic congestion that was going to take place in the downtown core at the same time two high rise condominiums were to be built we left out the detail about remediation work being done to the pipeline that runs through the city – it carries fuel for aircraft at the Hamilton airport. No specific date on when that work will start.

Transit movement

Transit traffic will come down Brant and swing onto James and then go south on John.

Concrete truck movement

Cement and dump trucks will come south on John street, drive on to the site and then continue down John to Brant when they have off loaded

The public was told that Lakeshore Road will close for a period of time while repair work on the surface is done.

Detail on what the flow of traffic would be during the 30 month construction period that The Gallery, the 23 story condominium that will be built opposite city hall, was released.

Cement trucks and dump trucks will compete with buses and private automobile for room on Brant, John and James Street.

aerial rendering of site

An aerial rendering of how the condominium will fit into the corner of Brant and James – with city hall across the street.

It will be interesting to see how the Santa Claus parade winds its way through that part of the city in December.

Return to the Front page

Sidewalks will be open during construction of the 23 storey tower opposite city hall. Demotion to begin early in September.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August t 22nd, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Lisa Kearns taking questions

Lisa Kearns waiting for a question from the audience.

Lisa Kearns, Councillor for ward 2 was back before her constituents again – it was the second week in a row that she stood before an audience and took them through the intricacies of Construction Management and Traffic control during construction projects..

Last week the meeting was related to the Adi Nautique development at the corner of Lakeshore and Marsha where the audience learned that the construction timeline is about 30 months.

This time it was the Carnacelli development opposite city hall – where the time line is 30 months. The 23 storey development, known commercially as The Gallery also has a new address – because the entrance is going to be on James they are using the municipal address of 2011 James to identify the development – not to confuse people who follow this type of thing.

aerial rendering of site

The property to the left of the site has been approved for 17 storeys – they have appealed asking for 23 stories to match The Gallery development. The Centro Garden is on the extreme right.

The two developments are less than a km apart and will be under construction at about the same time.

Carriage Gate, the developers of the project, announced that they expect to begin demolition sometime immediately after Labour Day.

At about the same tine Lakeshore Road will be closed for a period of between eight and twelve weeks for road improvement work.

The audience was also advised that a pipeline that runs right through the city coming in from the Beachway along Elgin Street and running through the rear of the Mayrose Tayco property at the north end of the Elizabeth Street parking lot is scheduled to have some major remediation done – no specific dates were given.

Chaos is the word that best describes what is going to take place in the city.

The objective is to manage that chaos as professionally as possible. Kearns was in the room explain that everything was going to be fine – there were protocols and procedures in place to handle every situation.

Drawings were displayed showing where the trucks that will haul away the material from the demolished site and where the concrete trucks would be staged while they were waiting to enter the site, disgorge the concrete and move on so that the next truck could come in.

Concrete truck movement

Cement and dump truck movement plan.

Transit movement

Transit movement plan.

The public will not lose the use of the Brant Street or James Street – the areas where construction is taking place will be covered so that pedestrians are safe.

Kearns assured the audience that she would be on top of it all – her office on the eighth floor of city hall overlooks the site.

Concern about the noise, the dust and the traffic flow were not as important as to where the trades people working on the site were going to park. The Carnacelli interests on the property the Berkeley was built on and the land to the north where there was to be a parking lot and a medical building that would front on Caroline – that space will be used for parking in the early stages. Mark Bales who is overseeing the project did announce that the corporation had arranged to rent about 40 parking spots from the city – which didn’t go down all that well with the area residents or those with retail operations in the immediate area.

Timeline The Gallery

Timeline for the construction and completion of The Gallery opposite city hall.

People wanted to know how many trucks would be in the area – they were told seven to nine which was later bumped up to 12. They will be driving in and out of the site from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.

The audience was told that there could be anywhere between seven and seventy workers on the site at any one time.
Kearns has worked with Transportation department people and has, she said, gone as high as the City Manager to resolve some of the issues. The City is in the process of creating a Construction Management Plan that will be in place for future developments.

Kearns said that given the developments that are in line at the Planning department the city is looking at three, five perhaps even seven years of downtown construction.

There then came a point in the meeting when Kearns decided all the questions had been asked and answered and it was time to wrap it up.

The audience got the “bums rush” and those who had questions could hang around.

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City is pushing hard to get people to think about what they want their city to look like - speak now rather than complain in a couple of years.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 16th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City hall is reminding people that there are public engagement opportunities now underway to help shape the adopted Official Plan policies that will guide development in the downtown core.

They want to know what matters most to you about downtown Burlington.

Their hope is that they (the planners) can work to gather public feedback about the downtown policies in Burlington’s adopted Official Plan. The process begins with a series of pop-up events. Additional public engagement opportunities to share ideas that will help refine and improve the downtown policies include two Citizen Action Labs taking place on Thursday, Aug. 22 and an online survey available at www.getinvolvedburlington.ca

All four buildings are within a five minute walk of each other.  These are basically done deals with others in the planning stage.  If this is what you want – say so – If this isn’t what you want speak up.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

The Nautique – shovels will be in the ground within months and take close to three years to complete.

421 Brant

Due to go up across the street from city hall.

Brant looking north - Kellys

Approved for 17 floors – developer wants 26 – has appealed. To go up opposite city hall as well.

Details

Completion has stalled – they need another year to complete the job.

Pop up Events
City staff will be visiting a variety of locations and events throughout the community to talk with residents and identify what is most important to them about downtown Burlington.  They really want to hear what the average person thinks.  During the October municipal election people complained that city hall wasn’t listening.  They are listening now.  Let them hear what you have to say.

Pop-up Dates and Locations

Friday, Aug. 16 Burlington Farmer’s Market, 777 Guelph Line 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 17 Spencer Smith Park (playground), 1400 Lakeshore Rd.

Tansley Woods Library, 1996 Itabashi Way
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. & 2 to 4 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 18 Burlington Performing Arts Centre, 440 Locust St.

As they get a little older - they are ready for bigger challenges. This group works there way through a children's obstacle course.

Children’s Festival will be taking place on the weekend – planners will be out in force asking for your opinion.

Children’s Festival, Spencer Smith Park, 1400 Lakeshore Rd

Central Park (bandshell), 2299 New St.
11 a.m. to 12 p.m. & 7 to 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 19 Alton Library at Haber Community Centre, 3040 Tim Dobbie Dr.
5:30 to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 20 Appleby Arena, 1201 Appleby Line

Brant Hills Library, 2255 Brant St.
12:30 to 2 p.m. & 6 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 21
Brant Hills Library, 2255 Brant St. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 24 Burlington Farmer’s Market, 777 Guelph Line

Aldershot Farmer’s Market, 484 Plains Rd. E. 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Citizen Action Labs – Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown
At these public meetings, participants will work in small groups to discuss and identify what is most important to them about downtown Burlington.

Thursday, Aug. 22
1 to 3 p.m. or  7 to 9 p.m.
Art Gallery of Burlington, 1333 Lakeshore Rd.

Online Survey
An online survey will be available until Aug. 30 at www.getinvolvedburlington.ca to share input about what matters most about downtown Burlington.

Feedback gathered from all the public engagement activities will be used to inform the creation of two concepts of what the downtown could look like in the future. These concepts will be shared with the public in the fall for review and further input.

Visit www.GetInvolvedBurlington.ca to learn more about the re-examination of the downtown policies in the adopted Official Plan and upcoming engagement opportunities.

ECOB logoNot everyone sees the process city hall is using to gather feedback as the best there is. ECoB Engaged Citizens of Burlington, the group that organized the public debates in every ward that was to a considerable degree responsible for the changes at city council have written the planners with their concerns.

1. The Feedback summary of comment and advice received during the pre-engagement process includes a broadly fair summary of comments provided by ECoB during our meeting with the planning department.

2. Our impression in meeting with the Planning Department staff was of a good faith intention to carry out a better engagement process during the Official Plan Review than has been made in the past. ECoB welcomes the growing recognition of effective and genuine engagement in city decision-making processes. ECoB welcomes the opportunity to take part.

3. ‘Doing engagement right’ is a difficult, time-consuming and potentially costly process. It is important to recognize at the outset that the extremely restricted timescales will of necessity create an imperfect engagement process. While the OP Review provides an opportunity for limited additional input from residents over what was received in the initial ‘Grow Bold’ process, it will still be far short of what we would consider the ideal engagement process for a new Official Plan. We believe it is better to recognize these shortcomings now than to argue that a comprehensive engagement process can be carried out in the time available. This observation may be valuable in future engagement initiatives and the ongoing review of advisory committees and engagement in general.

4. The feedback received has been made anonymous in the summary sent to us. We believe it would in fact be advantageous to know which comments came from which groups and individuals. Purely as an example, one can guess that the stipulation that the Engagement Charter be referenced frequently came from the ChAT team. Likewise, there was contrasting advice on ‘pop-up’ engagement processes. Knowing who gave this advice might clarify why there is a discrepancy in opinion. The source of advice is highly relevant in assessing the value of feedback received, and for those attempting to understand how the engagement plan was formed. We believe there is no reason why the names and affiliations of all people consulted could not be included, in the interests of openness and transparency.

5. The pre-engagement process primarily involved receiving advice from advisory committees of various sorts. Only two organizations (ECoB and the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders Assoc.) are fully independent of City Hall. It would further clarify to know who, if any individuals were consulted and to ascertain their independence. ECoB’s position is that the current make-up and selection processes for advisory committees is in urgent need for reform, as recommended by the Shape Burlington Report in 2010, but not implemented. Ironically, most advisory committees, including ChAT, do not regularly interact with the public. There is a perception of a lack of transparency in the selection of citizen volunteers and the operations of the ChAT group. With the greatest of respect for the volunteers on the committees, some of whom are also ECoB members, these longstanding procedural problems weaken the validity of advice received.

6. Having consulted with our members and executive over the last week, there is certainly still concern among our membership that the engagement process will remain too superficial. As we stated during our meeting, we strongly encourage the planning department to ‘be bold’ with the engagement that it conducts to go beyond conventional methods. This should include acknowledgement of and clearly stated attempts to reach:

◦ People from all age groups. Meetings with school-age children a year or so from adulthood are easy and quick to arrange through civics classes and may provide a different but important perspective. The same goes for seniors groups (albeit seniors are traditionally well represented in ‘volunteered feedback’), but also commuters and young families. ‘Pop- up’ events may be most valuable if held, for instance, at ice-rinks or venues where young families take children to participate in sport, as well as malls and supermarkets.

◦ People of different ethnicities. Reaching out to local religious and cultural organizations can be an easy way to ensure people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds are included.

◦ People of different income groups. Again, religious organizations and local and regional non-profits can advise on the many events and gatherings organized for people on low incomes.

Unless attempts to meet and address these groups are explicitly mentioned in the engagement plan, they are highly likely to be overlooked.

7. We mentioned during our meeting, but it is not included in the summary, the possibility of using local organizations to help with engagement. This would need to be done in a way such that the volunteer groups could not influence the information collected. Such groups could assist with delivery and collection of questionnaires, or explaining the engagement process to people who would traditionally not participate.

8. We did not mention at our meeting but would like to add the suggestion of an important education component to assist residents with learning about the planning process. A fear of a lack of knowledge is a major barrier to people participating in engagement activities. Such a program was provided for new councillors in 2018 – it could be adapted for the public. While the most frequently engaged residents become aware of the complexity of the issues at hand, other residents are naturally less well-informed. This can lead to unrealistic impressions of what is feasible in the provincial and regional planning context and to repetitive and time consuming covering of the same ground. This is where a prominent educational component, presented as separate educational meetings, plus a website and/or documentation, would be of value to both planning staffs and citizens.

9. Re: “Trade-offs and options – Avoid oversimplifying discussion to height alone”
By contrast lack of background information or education must not invalidate resident opinions. This phrase copied above embodies some of the problems that frequently arise when institutions undertake engagement. It is imperative that when questions are asked of residents, they are not asked in ways that lead to institutionally-desired responses. An example of such a ‘trade-off’ question is: “Would you be willing to accept additional height in return for a medical facility included in a development”. Height is a huge issue for many residents, and that opinion has to be recognised and acknowledged alongside all others, regardless of how problematic it is marry that desire with the current provincial planning context.

“Maintaining low-rise to mid-rise character”, or “lower heights in downtown”, are perfectly valid desires for a residents to have, and residents should neither be patronized to by an inference that they “don’t understand”, nor should their opinions be hidden by using engagement processes which lead to minimizing widely held opinions.

In summary – it is the purpose of engagement to find out what residents and other ‘stakeholders’ want, and then to see how the OP Review can best satisfy those desires within the context of the in force provincial and regional planning frameworks. It is not the job of engagement to shape opinion in ways which may appear more convenient.

10. Some of the most ‘scientifically’ valid and innovative methods of engagement available are being ruled out by time and budget. While time is certainly an issue, we would urge the City to consider an increased budget if it allows engagement at a scale, and of a validity, that has not been achieved before. The key objective must be to reach a representative sample of the vast majority of residents who, for entirely valid reasons, do not take participate in conventional engagement opportunities. We feel dollars spent at this stage will save expenses and points of conflict at a later date if an OP is put together that residents can broadly support.

Conclusion
The summary of pre-engagement gives a reasonable reflection of the advice we provided at our meeting with the Planning Department, and we have noted some items which we think could have been included. We do have concerns that some of the same processes which failed citizens in previous OP engagement efforts are likely to be repeated. Nevertheless, we believe the Planning Department is moving in a better direction with regard to engagement. Cognizant of the shortcomings of previous engagement exercises, we would like to see additional weight given to engagement methods by which “the city goes out to residents ”and not “residents coming to the city” thereby reaching out in as representative a manner as a manner as possible to the entire population.

While the timelines are extremely short, we still believe the City should set ambitious engagement objectives. If doing so demands additional budget, we believe the City Manager and Council should make the funds available urgently to ‘do engagement right’.

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Nautique construction management plan got a pretty easy go of it at a community meeting.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 15th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016It was a surprisingly good crowd for a meeting that was about Construction Management for a building that is far from popular.

There were at least 75 city residents in the room along with perhaps ten from the ADI Development Group and three – maybe four from the city.

They were on hand to learn what the Construction Management program for the build of the 26 storey Nautique at the corner of Martha and Lakeshore Road was going to look like.

It wasn’t a pretty picture.

adi-nautique-detailed-sketchThe site is at a part of Lakeshore Road where the lanes narrow. Staging equipment and managing the trucks that will arrive almost by the hour is a herculean management task.

The public didn’t like much of what they heard but city transportation staff explained that they were up against a site that was always going to be difficult to work with.

The development had been approved via an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) – the developer had first appealed the city’s failure to process the application within the required amount of time.

Lisa listening

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns listening to a question

The meeting was hosted by the ward Councillor, Lisa Kearns who had planned on having the people who were going to do the construction and the city staff who were going to oversee the work speak to the issues.

Kearns had said earlier that she didn’t want the event to be a Q&A where the same questions were asked over and over.
Try as she might – Kearns got a full-fledged Q&A – there were not only a lot of questions – some answers – but some very good suggestions from the audience. She commented that it looked like they were about to “wander into the worst case scenario”. It wasn’t that bad.

Street access and parking, noise and dust control and – ‘will the ambulance be able to get to my door?’ were amongst the questions.
Kearns wanted to assure people that the ambulance would get there – Martha’s Landing, a retirement home is across the street from the development.

Greg Sage, chief of the Paramedic services was on hand to assure everyone that the ambulances would get through although he didn’t say that his people would be working with the traffic managers that ADI was going to have on site.

Albert Facenda

Albert Facenda listening intently

Josie Wagstaffe

Josie Wagstaffe submitting a comment.

Crosby talking to MMW

Lynn Crosby bending the Mayor’s ear.

Parking for the construction workers didn’t get resolved as nicely. The city recently opened 60 spaces in the addition to the parking lot behind Joe Dogs on Brant Street – ADI has arranged to rent 40 0f them. “We just got those parking spaces” was a comment from the audience.

It was suggested that the workers be given parking spots some distance away where they would not take parking away from people shopping in the downtown core and then use a shuttle bus to get the trades people to the site. An approach like this was used by the hospital when it was being built. The ADI people didn’t seem to be impressed by that idea.

Traffic flow – it is going to be miserable. There will be no left turn off Martha onto Lakeshore. Lakeshore will narrow a bit right in front of the site.
One of the pluses was the three flagmen that ADI will have on the site.
Staging of trucks delivering material to the site will be on OLD Lakeshore Road; the flagmen will get them off Old Lakeshore and onto Lakeshore.

Adi people at Nautique event

Some of the ADI Group staff were on hand to explain what they were doing.

Construction will take place from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm and on some occasions, especially when concrete is being poured they will work into the night – requiring special permission to do so.

Both the Councillor, the Mayor and the people from the transportation department said, on several occasions, that meetings to talk about construction management were something new for the city. ‘Never been done before’  said the Mayor and the Councillor.

Not true – when Monarch was building in the Headon Forest community they held meetings with the residents on a monthly basis.

Kearns did her best to convince the audience that she “was their champion” and that she ensured there were “course corrections” when they were needed.

She explained that she was at the table with the Transportation people pushing for the interests of the area residents. “You will know what is happening and I will be here to lead you through this.”

The audience was told that the construction was going to take 30 months and that the Bridgewater development was another year away from completion. The two site are a couple of football fields apart.

No one asked why the building was going to have seven storeys of underground parking rather than the six that has been approved. One has to feel sorry for anyone who has to wind up seven levels to get to the street. It is a very small site.

The meeting also learned that next week, in the same location – at the Art Gallery, the Carriage Gate people will be on hand to explain how they are going to manage the development of their site – opposite city hall – where demolition of the existing buildings is planned for some time in September.

ADI portion of the lot - hoarding

It is not a very big construction site.

Cranes on the Burlington skyline.

Adi - Saud and Tarif

The Adi brothers.

The issue on the problems that will crop up and how they will be managed will depend to a very large degree on how the ADI people respond and behave.  They are a tough crowd, they know what they want to do and they don’t let very much get in the way.

The buildings they put up are well designed – they have brought some very progressive looking buildings to the city and word is that the quality is there.

Hopefully the corporate attitude has been toned down.

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ADI developments will be front and center at the AGB as they tell the public how they are going to construct a 26 storey building few people want.

eventsblue 100x100By Pepper Parr

August 14th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There was nothing unusual about the meeting that was called for people to hear what the ADI Group wanted to say about their next step on the controversial development to be located on the south west corner of Martha and Lakeshore Road.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

The Nautique – the ADI Group flagship development.

Approval to build the 26 storey tower was given by the Ontario Municipal Board over the objections of the city. That approval was seen as the beginning of a process that has approved two other high rise towers and looks as if there could be as many as three others in the downtown core.

Eight months ago the ADI crew was drilling on the site to learn just where the water table was. Further down than many thought which has brought about a request for an additional level of underground parking.

One area resident told the Gazette that “It has come to our attention that ADI is requesting 7 levels of underground parking. The public was led to believe that it would be 6 levels. We questioned the wisdom of allowing 6 levels of underground parking so close to the Lake and now 7 levels are being asked for. It is difficult to believe that this will not cause any problems. The OMB appeal that the city lost, as far as I am aware did not grant 7 levels of underground parking so why is the city even considering this?

Adi on NAutique at AGB“We were also told that those living on Martha Street should drive along Pine Street and then access Lakeshore by using Pearl Street. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Presently it is often difficult to exit our condo garage with traffic coming along Pearl Street. The Pearl and Pine Retirement Residence often has large delivery trucks parked in front, or their 14 passenger van, as well as ambulances and medical transport vehicles. That area is used to pick up and drop off residents daily.

“ Pine Street and Pearl Street are very narrow with on street parking and “sharrows”. Perhaps this is not the route that should be suggested, or at the very least remove the on street parking which will cause owners of businesses in the” live and work units” to become angry, and rightly so.

Nautique public meeting

Many wondered why the announcement was a joint venture from the ward Councillor, the city and the developer. The public has not seen public announcements like this previously.

“It has been determined by staff that the “staging” cannot be on Martha Street, and this will happen on Lakeshore Road. Presently the eastbound lane on Lakeshore has been narrowed to accommodate the construction of The Bridgewater which is years behind in completion, now the westbound lane in the same area will be narrowed? Trucks waiting for fill will line up on Old Lakeshore Road, I have to question if the owners of the businesses on that street have been informed?

“Where will the construction workers park? In the public lots that are already filled to capacity? Perhaps ADI needs to contract space for their employees at the Burlington Centre with a shuttle to take them back and forth.”

Comments like that suggest that it is going to be a noisy meeting.

Then we learned that the meeting is scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 pm at the Art Gallery. These meetings are usually scheduled for at least two hours. Why the short time frame?

The ward 2 Councillor seems to have gotten herself quite excited about the development. In her Construction is Happening announcement makes it sound like a major social event.

She is scheduled to appear on Cogeco TV’s news broadcast Tuesday evening.

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Incomplete rules and regulations that are a part of Bill 108 look like a disaster in the making.

News 100 blackBy Staff

August 13th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Our friends across the Bay in Hamilton have published a newsletter that has to be shared.

Citizens at City Hall (CATCH) comment on Bill 108 and the degree to which it is going to gut the way planners within municipalities have to deal with development applications.

CATCH said:

Additional though still incomplete information has come from the province about massive changes being made to rules on planning, community benefit agreements, parkland funding and development charges. Described as “welfare for developers”, the More Homes, More Choice Act appears to mean more subsidies from property taxpayers and an abandonment of the claim that growth pays for itself.

Aerial view - skyway bridge

The good citizens of Hamilton have looked at Bill 108 -and they don’t like what they see. The view will be the same from this side of the Bay.

The stated objective of the legislation is to lower housing costs. It eliminates growth fees for services such as libraries, recreational facilities, parkland development and social housing. These make up about a quarter of the development charges currently collected in Hamilton from developers to offset some of the costs of new growth.

Some of these revenue losses could be recovered with modified Community Benefits Charges that are included in the legislation. These replace existing “section 37” collections whereby cities bargain with developers who want to exceed approved building sizes and densities and in return obtain various community benefits.

But the modified community benefits charge will be capped by the province at a rate that has still not been released so there is no certainty that the financial result will be equivalent to that obtained by the existing two growth funding mechanisms. And if a city utilizes this community benefits charge it will be forced to abandon collection of parkland dedication fees – a long-standing method of ensuring sufficient land for parks.

Currently the parkland dedication fee – which has been in effect since the early 1970s – requires developers to provide land or monies based on the number of new residents in the growth area. Now it will be set irrespective of how dense the development.

Toronto staff have calculated that for one new apartment tower the new rules will mean an 80 percent drop in parkland paid by the developer. In another situation, the park area falls from nearly four square metres per resident down to half a square metre.

Central Park - play area

Developers will finance the same amount of parkland for a 48-storey building as for a four-storey one.

This flies in the face of both provincial and local commitments to encourage higher densities, especially along major transit lines like the LRT. Instead the municipality will be penalized for more concentrated residential development and the developers will finance the same amount of parkland for a 48-storey building as for a four-storey one.

Other changes in the legislation drastically shorten the time allocated to cities to respond to development proposals. For example, the timelines for an official plan amendment drop from 210 days to 120. Local planners contend these make proper review and public consultation virtually impossible and will mean many more appeals to the provincial planning tribunal.

All of these changes are likely to leave existing taxpayers shouldering more of the costs of growth. As Hamilton’s chief planner Steve Robichaud warned in June: “There’s a big shift in terms of who pays for growth and how that balances and they’ve taken the costs off the developer and they’re shifting some of those costs onto the municipality.”

While the new rules are purported to lower housing costs, they don’t include any way to ensure this. “It is unlikely that they will positively impact housing affordability,” argue Toronto planners, “as Bill 108 does not provide for any mechanisms to ensure that reduced development costs are passed through to future home buyers and renters.”

Bill 108

The developers may have been given even more than the keys to the city.

The Ford government rushed through the legislation without details between May 1 and June 6, leaving municipalities scrambling to even provide comments on changes that could not be properly evaluated. Now Queen’s Park has extended the confusion with incomplete draft regulations and schedules.

“The province has not posted an actual draft regulation, but rather has posted a notice of intent to issue a regulation”, notes Hamilton staff.

“The regulations … have been provided in general terms and the full impact of the proposal is not capable of being fully understood and assessed without the official language that will appear as written in the regulation.”

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What does one do with a City Clerk who treats a totally unacceptable breach of the election rules as a learning experience?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

August 12th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Earlier today the Gazette published an article on some problems that were brought to the public’s attention by Blair Smith and Lynn Crosby.

The problems they discovered after an exhaustive analysis of the data that was submitted to the City Clerk by each candidate brought some very disturbing matters to the surface.

Small administrative errors and typos happen. But when significant amounts of data just don’t appear a full public understanding of who contributed what to whom is no longer possible.

What makes the democratic system we have the success it is – is that we all abide by the laws in place and everything is transparent.

If the numbers aren’t available transparency isn’t possible. And once those who set out to game the system become aware that they can hide where their campaign election money came from, just imagine what can happen.

In a series that will follow in the Gazette in the weeks ahead we list who got what from whom and do our best to identify known developer interests.

Does receiving campaign funds from a developer mean that a candidate has compromised themselves – no but – know that developers are in business and they use their money to enhance their business interests.

Brant looking north - Kellys

Two of the four buildings are done deals – two are working their way through the approval process. Did election campaign funding make them possible?

high profile 421

Done deal

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

Done deal

Pearl and Lakeshore

Looking for approval.

The public depends upon the bureaucracy to protect their interests, to ensure that the data they get has been fully reviewed and meets the criteria.

How Mike Wallace got away with filing a return that did not have critical dates in his report is not just an oversight. It is sloppy administration done by people who don’t understand or appreciate that accuracy is important.

Are the results of the election in question? No.

The vote count was pretty decisive. The Office of Mayor was not won by money – it was won by a person who heard and responded to the cries of the people who pay attention to civic matters.

The disappointment is that less than 40% of the people who had the right to vote actually cast a ballot.

Mayor Meed Ward was not as unequivocal as she could have been on this matter; she has certainly had her issues with the way this Clerk has handled a number of matters in the past.

The comments made by the Clerk that this was a learning experience cannot be accepted. The position of Clerk in municipalities is significant; for example a bylaw is not in force until both the Mayor and the Clerk sign the document.

Smith and Crosby argue that the Clerk’s behaviour is “a completely unacceptable contravention of information practice and protocol, particularly for one entrusted with maintaining the integrity of the official record.”

It is up to Tim Commisso, City manager to decide what to do next, if anything. What he decides to do will say a lot about the kind of City Manager he is going to be.

There was a situation a number of years ago when the then Director of Planning, Bruce Krushelnicki, sitting at the Council table, advised council that a very senior member of his staff would no longer be in the employment of the city. He walked the individual back to his office; that was the last we saw of him.

Strong managers take strong action when it is necessary, providing they have just reasons for doing so.

Related news story:

Clerk revises public record – considered a no no.

 

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Nelson Quarry engages sophisticatred teams of lobbyists - the community has yet to react to what any aggregate expansion will do to them.

background graphic greenBy Pepper Parr

August 9th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

werv

The top block in orange is the current quarry – the smaller orange block is where they want to expand. In 2014 their application was denied. Nelson has come back with a different approach.

The good people of North Burlington, those from ward 3 in particular, met last night at the Conservation Halton offices to hear what their ward Councillor, Rory Nisan, could tell them about the plans Nelson Quarry has for the quarry that is close to mined out.

In a separate new story, the Gazette reports on what took place at a meeting that was basically Standing Room only event

While the Nelson Quarry people have yet to make an application – and thus there isn’t much the city can react to – the company has been active. They have a web site in place with a lot of pretty drawings and a considerable amount of detail on what they plan to do.

They have engaged two lobbying firms that are amongst the best in the business, to help in creating the story they want to be in the public’s mind as this project works its way forward.

Project Advocacy Inc. is Canada’s only public affairs firm that specializes in supporting project developers facing community opposition and government challenges.

Here is what they do: They take an innovative approach based on citizen advocacy.

“We use grassroots strategies combined with government and stakeholder relations to earn and maintain the social licence required for a project’s success. “

“We help developers find, organize and give voice to otherwise silent supporters of your project in host communities.

“Our sophisticated campaign strategies help identify local citizens supportive of your proposal and help organize them into an effective political force. They sign petitions. They show up at public hearings, and they act as local advocates for your project.

“This approach, paired with government and stakeholder relations, has proven key to getting large developments approved in Canada’s increasingly challenging licensing and regulatory environment.

“Whether it is an energy and infrastructure project, a mine, or a commercial real estate proposal, Project Advocacy Inc. will build an effective advocacy program that will counter NIMBY opposition and drive support for your project among local citizens, elected leaders, government officials and the media.”

Project Advocacy had their man in the room last night.

Motivated and sophisticated best describes the Project Advocacy group. They are supported by colleagues who are just as good at a slightly different level. Barry Campbell, founder of Campbell Strategies sets out the role that lobbyists play.

Pay attention to what this man has to say – he is very good at what he does. He was once elected to Parliament and has practiced law with two of the major firms on Bay Street.

Barry Campbell

Barry Campbell, founder of Campbell Strategies

“At Campbell Strategies, we have two types of clients”, explains Campbell: “those who have issues they need resolved. And, those who have opportunities they need realized. Despite this difference, there remains a constant between them. The need for wise counsel from people who understand their unique situations. Completely.

“As a bonus, our clients find themselves working with a team of government relations and communications professionals who are not only highly experienced, but without the hyperbole and self-importance that – in our industry – so often comes with it.

“We’re connected, of course. But it’s deeper than that.

“We treat our network of government, media, and regulatory leaders as relationships, not just connections. Our reputation is based on the right ask, at the right time, of the right people, with the right message.

“You’ll get no bullshit from us, and we’ll deliver none to our network
Campbell explains: “Lobbying at its best is vital to the flow of information and ideas. It bridges a significant gap between the public sector and the private sector and can lead to more informed public policy decisions and better corporate decision making.

“Lobbying is often attacked by the left as a way for powerful voices to “have their way with government”. Lately, the attack is coming from the right where libertarian voices have suggested that if government would only get out of the way (read deregulate everything), companies wouldn’t need to lobby anyone for favours. Both attacks are predictable and wrongheaded.

“There are many examples where information provided to officials seeking to regulate this or that has resulted in more effective regulation. Without lobbying, officials and elected officials would only know what they knew when they got to the office and I would suggest that is very often not enough of a baseline for serious decisions. That’s why officials consult and take meetings.

“When I was an MP, some wondered why I would ever meet with lobbyists. The answer was self-evident. If I never met anyone, I wouldn’t know anything other than what I already knew, which often wasn’t enough to help me understand complex issues. The strict lobby registration rules in Canada which require registration of most interactions with important public officials and provide a public record of same, are a pretty good check on what some worry about. The strict constraints and low permitted financial contribution rules are another check on the influence many worry about.

“And lobbying can be a public good or accomplish much public good.

Tandia

Tandia, an area credit union can now offer service that are basically the same as a bank. They lobbied to get the changes.

“Lobbying can result in better and appropriately targeted tax or regulatory policy that achieves important public policy goals while removing the risk of collateral damage. A public policy goal to eliminate a practice believed to be adversely impacting consumers, such as pay day lending, might initially paint too broad a brush ensnare legitimate players who want to play by a coherent set of rules that don’t blow up their business model. Lobbying by credit unions resulted in changes to the Bank Act so that credit unions could expand nationally and provide more competition at the retail level. Lobbying by financial institutions and emerging ‘fintechs’ will shape a better financial services sector offering the choice that consumers want.

“As officials think about public policy and ready recommendations to “take to the Minister”, they are informed by the consultations with and entreaties by corporate and other stakeholders. That is a good thing.

“I have been a “lobbyist” for two decades and have never had a meeting with a Minister where he or she made a decision, then and there, to do something just because I asked. And I would never have that meeting (and it usually isn’t even ever required) without working first with the relevant departmental officials to do the tough slogging respectful of the job officials have to do to provide their bosses with the best and most informed advice.

“I know, and the best lobbyists know, that effective lobbying isn’t about setting up a meeting with someone important. That the easy part. Effective lobbying requires the right ask, at the right time to the right audience. It is research based and considers how the ask can dovetail with the government’s priorities by solving a problem or making my client’s problem a problem government comes to understand they need to solve because by doing so they will accomplish a goal they have.

“The problem can’t ever be putting relevant and contextual information in front of officials and decision makers. What they do with that information is their responsibility. To constrain the flow of information, between the public sector and the private sector and to close the door on that vital exchange will isolate public policy decision makers and inevitably lead to poorer decisions.”

Beach 1

Nelson has released drawings of what they maintain the quarry could look like if turned into a park.

This is what the people of North Burlington are up against. These are smart people who have been engaged by clients with a problem. Nelson Quarry needs the aggregate – it is there right underneath the surface and they believe they can convince the public that giving them access to that aggregate in exchange for parkland will work.

During the Thursday evening meeting there were a number of people who stood to speak – were they speaking for themselves or representing the interests of the lobbyist?

The first attempt by Nelson Quarry to get access to more aggregate failed. It started in 2004 and ended with a decision in 2012 that denied their application.

PEARL, a community organization formed to fight the application has basically disbanded. They fought the good fight and won. They are tired, they raised and spent a lot of money. The City of Burlington spent more than $2 million in legal fees.

But in the end the public will prevailed.

It will be a tougher fight this time around.

Background links:

Nelson quarry opens the park project web site.

The PERL web site

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Transit knows it needs to begin partnering with others who have a stake - problems is some of those others don't yet know they should be at the table.

background 100By Pepper Parr

August 6th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

This is a seven part series on transit and how Burlington plans to get to the point where the public will take public transit to get to where they want to go in the city because it is cheaper, faster, more convenient and seen as the smart thing to do.

Part 6

Partnerships is going to have to be a large part of what the transit people do going forward. All the stakeholders have to be at the table which includes people who don’t see themselves as transit stakeholders.

Transit in Burlington has been trying for some time to create partnerships with the larger employers – looking for ways to create transit services that meet the needs of employees working shifts that were outside traditional working hours.

Nothing seemed to get any traction.

Strategy 4E: Employer Partnerships

A 150 year old corporation that plays a significant role in the Burlington economy. Should a slughterhiuse be in this location?

Fearmans was an excellent prospect for a partnership with transit. No one was able to make it work.

Targeting employees that regularly commute represents a good opportunity to increase ridership on Burlington Transit. Employers that have standard office hours are typically located along key arterial corridors that have direct service, with start and end times that typically coincide with peak transit frequencies. Since service levels are high, the strategy for office employees is typically to target communications and marketing of the service and work with employers to offer an emergency ride home program if midday or evening service levels are not attractive.

Mapleview Mall parking east side

Mapleview parking lots are the size of a couple of football fields. The sales staff might consider public transit if they knew it was going to be reliable. Expect the Director of Transit to begin looking into that opportunity.

Large industrial-warehousing employers, retail service employers and other employers located in areas not well serviced by Burlington Transit provide another employer partnership opportunity. These types of opportunities typically involve some degree of employer funding to provide more tailored service to meet employee requirements. This could include free or discounted transit passes, emergency ride home programs, and/or shuttle or on-demand services from transit hubs to work locations.

Burlington Transit staff time would be required to develop these programs and establish partnership with key employers. It is recommended that Burlington Transit staff first target a key employment area (e.g. the industrial area along Harvester Road) prior to developing a city-wide employer strategy.

This initiative aligns with Burlington Transit’s Strategic Direction #3 (Be Business-Minded and aligned with municipal directions), particularly Objective 3.2 (Partnerships), by working with employers to generate mutually beneficial outcomes.

Recommendations:
• Explore opportunities for partnerships with employers and evaluate alternative service delivery models to provide service to employees (Strategy 2A). Target one employment area first for a year to assess level of effort relative to uptake and ridership growth.

• Look at whether regular service can be supplemented by on-demand alternatives during off-peak travel times and/or emergency ride home programs (see Strategy 2A and 2B).
• In the longer term, explore an Employee Pass Program that offers discounts on transit passes based on enrollment in the program.

Strategy 4G: Improve Coordination with Other City Departments

Transit’s biggest asset is the land use and community design it operates in. Transit services that operate along mixed-use high density corridors with good connectivity to the places where people live, work and play offer the highest potential to grow ridership. In this way, transit and land use development are inexorably linked and therefore land use planning should always give strong consideration to transit needs, and vice versa. Ensuring the alignment of land use and transit will help create sustainable, mixed-use communities and also drive ridership by placing transit where residents and employees are located.

The City of Burlington has a number of plans to intensify around key transit corridors and mobility hubs. This is primarily focussed around the Burlington and Appleby GO Stations and the downtown terminal. In addition, the City of Burlington Official Plan (2018) identifies several corridors for mixed-use development and increased intensification. These include Brant Street south of Highway 407, the Plains Road and Fairview Street corridor and Appleby Line. The City is also currently conducting an Interim Control Bylaw review to assess the appropriate density and land use around downtown Burlington, the Burlington GO Station and the section of Brant Street connecting these two nodes.

Routes that are working - those not

When you have a service pattern with routes that under perform the way several do – change is in the wind.

Burlington Transit’s growth should largely be focussed on these corridors, which aligns with the arterial focus of Strategy 1A. As recognized in Strategy 1A, access between transit stops and this increased development will be key to ensuring that the potential transit ridership growth is achieved.

While improved planning integration between land use, roadway planning and transit is unlikely to result in measurable ridership growth in the short-term, it will pay dividends as development patterns evolve over time.

Improved integration with land use planning is the core of Burlington Transit’s Strategic Direction #2 (Be Forward-Thinking in how services are planned and delivered), particularly Objective 2.6 (Transit Oriented Development), as it facilitates better planning and delivery of transit services.

Stolte + Connor +

Sue Connor should be at every table when transportation and land use is being discussed.

Recommendations:
• Play an active role in strategic land-use planning decisions, highlighting the need for high levels of pedestrian amenity and access to the arterial grid network.

• Continue to work with City of Burlington staff on the alignment of development, growth and employment areas with transit investment and service by reviewing development applications and secondary plans.

• Develop and formalize a Service Development Plan for Burlington Transit that outlines where service investment is expected in the future. This should be a living document that can help inform land use planning decisions to support transit.

• Develop a proximity service standard with the City of Burlington’s Planning and Development Department. This standard should define a five-year target from proximity to transit once the grid-network has been established and place to bonus on the Planning and Development Department to achieve the target based on growth.

• Continue to work with Transportation Services Department to coordinate transit interests in roadway capital improvement programs (e.g. new stops, shelters, accessibility improvements, transit priority features).

• Work with Transportation Services Department as a key stakeholder in the Integrated Mobility Master Plan and identify strategies to help meet the transit mode share target.

Burlington Transit has the best leadership it has had in a decade.  Its leadership is far superior to that of the departments it has to work with to pull all the parts together.

The city manager appears to have gotten the message – assuming he has – there should be some heads banged together if that is what it takes them to work together – or let some of those heads roll.

Part 1: Transits five year plan has what some might call an over abundance-of wishful thinking

Part 2: Strategies and recommendations to create the needed structure and delivery model.

Part 3: Making all the parts fit.

Part 4: Can the public afford the new ideas?

Part 5 – Managing and influencing demand

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