Young on strategic plans: Thinks we need one - not certain on who gets to write the document.

opinionred 100x100By Jim Young

February 18th, 2019



In recent Gazette articles and comments, Burlington’s 25 Year Strategic Plan, “Grow Bold”, has garnered much criticism of its name and the plausibility of a vague plan that looks 25 years ahead.


Grow Bold got the boot – the Mayor had to almost push it out the door.

The name really doesn’t matter. Call it Grow Bold, Grow Smart or just The 25 Year Plan; having a plan is important. To achieve anything of consequence we need a longer term view of how our city might look in 25 years. That view is necessarily vague and aspirational; who really knows where we will be by then?

Aerial downtown - before pier

This aerial of the city is going to look a lot different in five years – in a decade you won’t recognize the place,

A personal analogy might be a 40 year old planning to retire at 65. How will that retirement look in 25 years? Do I want to travel? Spend time with grandkids? How will I pay my rent? Will I have to keep working? Of course these possibilities may change over the 25 years, but we still need to plan for them. You cannot drive to Florida if your GPS is only programmed to the end of the street. Unless we are extremely lucky, little in life is achieved without a plan. Call this our “Retirement Strategic Plan.”


The creation of the 2010 -2014 Strategic Plan was a city staff – city council effort that then went to the public. They filled pages of flip chart work but found at the end of the sessions that city staff and council were on different sides of a fence. It was that way for the term and the one that followed.

Then we need more specific details: How much should we save and where will that money come from. Will it be RRSPs? Tax Free Savings? Is there a Company Pension? Can I live in my kid’s basement if my Retirement Strategic Plan doesn’t work? This is the meat & potatoes of our planning. Call it our Retirement Official Plan.

Then come the bumps on the road to retirement. When we run into car repairs or the basement floods, when we face short time work or job loss: Changes we must make to our plans. “Amendments to The Retirement Official Plan.” Doubtless we will have contentious domestic debate about these.

Municipalities need plans too. City planners work on at least three levels, with many sub levels in between. The Strategic Plan, The Official Plan and Zoning / Bylaw Amendments to those plans.


It started out as a four year plan – the term of a city council ….

The Strategic Plan: A long term, aspirational view of where we might like to be in 25 years. Obviously no-one really knows where we will be by then; but we must have an idea of how we want our city to evolve over that period. This is the one plan that Burlington consulted citizens on and actually did a reasonable job on.


… and just sort of grew when a consuklting firm with the compliance of the then city manager took council in a much different direction.

The Official Plan; a detailed and much more pertinent document, sets out the steps needed to realize the strategic vision. Mandated by the province for regular review, it re-evaluates the plan to adjust for economic, social, demographic and political shifts that may not be foreseeable but will inevitably take place over 25 years.

This is the plan that should have defined the transit, parking, congestion, intensification plans and area/zone specific heights as they evolved over the next 5 years of that 25 year strategy. Sadly our last City Council failed to provide an Official Plan that met regional requirements and utterly misjudged local sentiment on every level.

Outraged citizens vented their anger in wholesale changes at the last election.

Lastly there are Amendments to the Official Plan and the Zoning Bylaws of that plan. These are often the most contentious and time consuming aspects of city planning. Amendments address those changes to residential, commercial and retail building in our neighbourhoods, which have greatest impact on life and work in our communities.

No matter what the Strategic or Official Plans say about height and density on your street or the plaza at the end of the block, developers can apply to amend the plan or zoning bylaw. These are the matters that are currently the most contentious in our city.

Subject to a 210 day deadline for response by municipalities, there are so many zoning / bylaw amendments active in Burlington that city planners are failing to respond to them in time, opening the door to so many appeals by developers.

These are not failures of the strategic plan. They are failures of process, of consultation and, of course, they must be addressed. In its early actions Council has demonstrated a willingness to address these issues and already there is a feeling that city staff are adapting to this new council paradigm.

We can and should oppose bad planning, we deserve greater say in the plans and the processes, but instead of abandoning the discipline of Strategic Planning, let us work with our new council and city planners to make these plans better. Let us align city plans with citizen visions rather than developer bottom lines in the knowledge that the only thing worse than a Vague Long Term Plan is No Long Term Plan At All.

Jim Young answering RG

Jim Young delegating at city hall.

Jim Young is an Aldershot resident who delegates at city Council frequently and has, in a number of cases, given some very wise advice.  It was seldom received with much in the way of grace by the 2010 to 2018 city council

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Another development proposal asking for ammendments to the Official Plan that exceed the height limits by more than 100%

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 18th, 2019



In October 2017, Burlington City Council approved the development application submitted by Roman Home Builders for 2085 Pine St., permitting a five-storey residential building.

Since that time, the ownership of the property has changed. The new owners are working toward submitting a new development application and concept for 2085 Pine St. that will increase the height from the 5 storeys that have been approved to 11 storeys.

The approved 15 residential units would increase to 40 units.

Pine at Martha

The issue for this location has always been the retention of the heritage structure.

A development application has not been submitted to the city at this time.

A public meeting is to be held on February 21st at 6:30 pm at the Lion’s Club at 471 Pearl..

The changes the developer wants would require an amendment to the Official Plan and a change to the zoning bylaw.

The immediate area has a number of development applications that have either been approved (ADI at the corner of Martha and Lakeshore 24 storeys) or are in the process of being considered by the city’s Planning department. They include plans for an 11 storey development on the east side of Martha south of the James – New Street intersection, the Mattamy development –  18 storeys at the corner of James and Martha

Matammy - James St

The Mattamy development – 17 storeys – has had a convoluted approval path.

A proposal for 29 storeys – (the highest so far for the city) at the intersection of Pearl and Lakeshore Road.

This number of developments gives the word “intensification” a whole new meaning doesn’t it.

The Mayor is now looking at a number of developments that challenge the current bylaw – crunch time soon for what kind of city Burlington is going to be a decade from now.

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Taking part in the decision making process that determines where new high tower buildings can be built is not a simple process.

ScobieNews 100 redBy Staff

February 15th, 2019



Gary Scobie attended a Local Planning Act Tribunal (LPAT) case conference meeting recently.

It was the follow up to a meeting at which he presented a lengthy document on why he felt the Reserve Properties appeal of a city council decision that permitted 17 stories the developer wants 24 – same as the one on the other side of the street.

The LPAT Case Management Conference was for the 409 Brant Street Appeal. Reserve Properties wants 23 storeys instead of the 17 storeys approved by Council in 2018. Reserve Properties wants to be able to go as high into the sky as Carriage Gate is going to go with their approved 24 story tower on the other side of James Street.

409 Brant imageScobie expects the location to be called “Twin Towers” should the Reserve Properties win at the appeal hearing.

Scobie had applied to be a Participant in the LPAT appeal back in January and he submitted his views to all Parties as required and filled in all the proper paperwork. Those views are the subject of an opinion piece Scobie wrote.

Yesterday the LPAT representative Chris Conti agreed with the Parties that they should all wait for the outcome of a pending trial in Toronto that will better define how LPAT functions going forward. The objective of the Case Management Conference was to set a date sometime in the summer for the next LPAT meeting on the Reserve appeal..

Scobie finds he is still a Participant in the appeal hearing, as far as he understands, but was told that his role may have ended with his submission. He apparently has no ability as a Participant to further expand or comment on the submission he made nor will anyone ask him any questions on the document.

Doesn’t sound as if the LPAT process does anything for citizens than the former Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) process did.

Related article:

Scobie’s presentation to the Local Planning Act Tribunal

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Resident explains why the high rise development in the downtown core can and should be brought to an end.

opinionred 100x100By Gary Scobie

February 13th, 2019



I am a citizen of Burlington who has taken an interest in the re-development of Burlington’s downtown, delegating at numerous Planning and Development Meetings and City Council Meetings in opposition to the over-intensification of Burlington, particularly our downtown.

I wish to participate in this LPAT appeal, speaking in opposition to the appeal by Reserve Properties Ltd. I have no direct pecuniary interest in this development. My written submission follows.

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie

I have delegated at City Hall on this development proposal, on the 421 Brant Street proposal (now approved), on the 374 Martha Street proposal (now approved) and on Burlington’s new Official Plan (unapproved), so I have a history of engaging in development matters in Burlington. I am fully aware of the Places to Grow, Greenbelt and Metrolinx legislation in Ontario and the desire to intensify Southern Ontario municipalities, reduce urban sprawl and protect our natural and agricultural greenbelt.

I understand the minimum density targets assigned to areas designated as Urban Growth Centres and Mobility Hubs. I also understand that there are no building upper height regulations in Provincial legislation. Building height upper limit is left to municipalities and their zoning regulations. Thus municipalities have the obligation and the right to define how they will meet Provincial people/jobs density targets and where high buildings should best be situated to add to density while preserving the urban character and living environment for citizens.

I do take issue with the Provincial designation of Downtown Burlington as an Urban Growth Centre and the Metrolinx designation of the Downtown Burlington Transit Terminal as an Anchor Mobility Hub. They each bring density targets to our downtown that I feel are excessive. I believe that our new City Council will be debating the merits and validity of these designations and consulting with the Province on the ability to move the Urban Growth Centre elsewhere in Burlington and un-designate the Anchor Mobility Hub. I will reference these two issues further in my submission.

I will also reference our new unapproved Official Plan and how it has been used by developers and our former City Council to gain inappropriate building heights downtown while violating our current approved Official Plan. Our new City Council will also be debating amendments to limit height in this unapproved plan before sending it back to Halton Region for approval.

In actual fact, this appeal is not inconsistent with a Provincial Policy Statement and does not fail to conform to a provincial plan. But that is in itself a real problem. The policy statements and plans of the Province place no upper limits on building heights, so when the sky is the limit then there can be no violation or lack of conformity by a developer’s application that involves high rises. With no limits on height, no building adding density in a designated urban area would ever fail a provincial mandate or target. The density targets, whether within a Mobility Hub or Urban Growth Centre or not, can usually be met with mid-rise buildings. But developers like high rise buildings because their motivation is profit rather than public good. Public good (or bad) is just a by-product of the constructed building.

Brant looking north - Kellys

What a develop wants to build on the south side of James Street on Brant will dwarf city hall even further. Gary Scobie spoke at the LPAT meeting which is hearing an appeal of the 17 storey’s the city approved for the site – the developer wants 24 storeys.

Developers can dress their proposals up to look and sound pretty nice and say that the Province is demanding that they build high rises, but that is not true. The Province is simply asking municipalities to build to an area density target, not a site specific one. And yes, the target can be exceeded, but it is not mandated. My understanding is that most cities are well short of their assigned area targets, unlike Downtown Burlington which will reach its Urban Growth Centre Target well ahead of time. And there are no announced penalties for cities that do not meet target. So the Province’s targets are just that; targets that have no teeth behind them and leave the real work to the municipalities to figure it all out. I ask the Tribunal to let the City of Burlington do just that.

Let me use an analogy to make a point. Pretend we’re in a very small room that has a grid pattern of downtown streets on the floor, with electrical connections running along each street. The Province says heat the lower half of the room to a certain average temperature. Developers suggest that 150 watt incandescent light bulbs at most corners should do it. They each produce a lot of heat as a by-product of lighting them. But this creates high heat just at each location, while other parts of the room stay cool. It is inefficient, but it does eventually bring the average temperature up, but with hot areas at street corners and cool areas elsewhere. The average temperature is likely felt by no one.

light bulbs

How many light bulbs will it take for the decision makers to see the light?

The Planning Department and Council have a better idea. Use 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs not just at corners but also along some more of the downtown streets, so heat buildup at each bulb location is less, but more bulbs spread this lower localized heat around much more efficiently to bring the same average temperature as the developers’ solution, but spread more evenly across the downtown so more people actually feel the average temperature.

In real life, the 150 watt bulbs are high rises. The 40 watt bulbs are low rises to 4 storeys. The 60 watt bulbs are mid rises to 11 storeys. High rises concentrate people, parking and traffic congestion, shadowing and wind effect in high degrees at major corners. Low and mid rise buildings concentrate fewer people per building across a greater spread of the downtown, so congestion for traffic and parking is lessened because it is spread out in the wider area. There would be less shadowing and wind effect from lower buildings. The ability to fight a fire in such lower buildings would be much easier than to fight a high rise fire, lessening the danger to tenants. Both solutions can reach an area target, but the low to mid rise solution does it in a kinder and gentler way, without packing in hundreds of people in small ground area sites soaring to great heights just to give us a new skyline.

Of course neither solution would have to be considered if our downtown was freed from Urban Growth Centre and Anchor Mobility Hub designations and their growth targets.

City Hall BEST aerial

Quite where the city hall fits into the longer term development picture is not at all clear. There is a report in a file outlining what might be possible.

Getting back to this proposal, to build to match the height of the tower across the road (421 Brant Street) is simply using as a precedent a poor decision by our former City Council to over-reach in height its own current and proposed Official Plans, against the public outcry and the public good. The idea of the twin towers as a gateway to our iconic eight storey City Hall and its adjacent Civic Square is one great marketing scheme, but fails as suitable to this location. I believe it fails as suitable in any location in Burlington. A gateway is usually a structure far lower in height than 23 storeys. And no gateway is required to our City Hall. The approach along New Street, then James Street is a grand enough gateway.

I ask the Tribunal to keep in mind that the new City Council may succeed in removing the Urban Growth Centre and the Anchor Mobility Hub from the downtown, making a mockery of any claim that we must build this tall building here or anywhere downtown to conform to provincial policy and plan. The old Council assured citizens that no new single building creates a precedent. Yet developers seek to use precedent as a reason to build ever-higher (and in this case near twin) buildings and the OMB has in the past let precedent seep into decision-making. I request that the LPAT not be influenced by precedent-based arguments from developers. Using bad precedents will only produce a worse future.

The Urban Growth Centre can be moved by a municipality – Oakville did so in 2005. An Anchor Mobility Hub is required to have a dedicated rapid light rail connection with a Gateway Mobility Hub. There are no plans for an above-ground or subway rapid transit linkage connecting the Transit Terminal to the Burlington GO Station. Thus, it does not qualify as a valid Anchor Mobility Hub.

Boundaries set out for the Downtown mobility hub.

Boundaries set out for the Downtown mobility hub. Scobie argues that the criteria for a hub don’t exist.


Now to the factual reason that the Tribunal should deny this appeal and in fact, if within its power, reduce the height to a mid-rise limit. Our new Mayor, as Councillor for the Downtown in the previous Council, proved that we were on target in moving toward the 2031 density numbers with the current Official Plan and advocated for an easing of height limits that were proposed in the new Official Plan. With a new Council in place, with a majority of members who were elected advocating for such an easing, I am confident that they will support the Mayor in her advocacy for reasonable height downtown.The appeal height request and the previous Council decision to award 17 storeys height both fly in the face of the current approved Official Plan which designates a 4 storey height, moving to 8 storeys with negotiated community benefits. As do the density numbers which are proposed by the developer at 1135 units per hectare.

If we use a conservative average of 2 people/jobs per unit, this would translate to 2270 people/jobs per hectare, where the current Official Plan would allow up to an 8 storey building, roughly one-third as high and therefore holding approximately 700 people/jobs per hectare, still fairly dense and helping move toward the area target of 200 people/jobs per hectare of an Urban Growth Centre.

high profile 421

Opposite city hall on north side of James

409 Brant image

Opposite city hall on the south side of James. Developer wants same height as the other side of the street 24 storeys – city approved 17 storeys.

An eight storey building on this site would aid the target and impose a much less imposing structure on this neighbourhood. It would be a model to replicate in other downtown core locations that the Planning Department and City Council deem suitable to intensification toward target. It would also agree with the current Official Plan. These are reasons enough to turn down the appeal by the developer and allow the City to decide on height in the downtown core that is more in line with citizen wishes. If possible, I would recommend that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal not only do this, but rule to uphold current City Zoning at this site if it is within its power.

This appeal is clearly in violation of the Official Plan of our municipality. The past poor decisions of City Council and the OMB on excessive intensification in our downtown cannot be undone, but they can serve as learning experiences to help guide our planning in the future to increase density, in a way that helps our downtown maintain its character and attraction without the over-congestion that comes with high rise after high rise appearing at each major corner and section assembled by developers.

Elizabeth Interiors - Brant Street sign

The former retail location is empty – developer has been given approval for 17 storeys – has appealed to allow 24 storeys.


Once a popular restaurant location – it will be redeveloped and become a 24 story condominium.

The history of treating each high rise application as a one-off decision in isolation without looking at future ramifications of the cumulative effect of successive high rise applications in a small area should end here. I’m asking the LPAT to consider this issue and support our municipality in its quest to grow its density in its own way, by rendering a decision that will promote this.

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LPAT is beginning to look like a pat on the head for some residents and then being asked to go away.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 12th, 2019



The business of making changes to the Official Plan that was adopted by city council on April 26, 2018 but not accepted by the Regional government has begun.

Changes to the Official Plan was a contentious election issue and resulted in a new Mayor and a decidedly different council. Five of the members are new.

Getting all the changes made is not going to be a simple one step process.

On Feb. 7, 2019, Burlington City Council voted to re-examine the policies in Burlington’s Official Plan, adopted in April 2018.  That plan was sent to Halton Region for approval. The Region sent the plan back with some questions without approving it.

Meed WardMayor Meed Ward has taken the position that “Once the Region identified areas of non-conformity, that stopped the clock on approving the new Official Plan and opened the plan up for any other matters of discussion. This allows our new City Council the time to define what areas we want to study, undertake that work, consult with the community, and send back a comprehensive plan. We expect that plan to truly reflect the needs, best interests and vision of the community and it’s elected Council.

The motion, approved by Council, directs Burlington’s Director of City Building to immediately commence a process to re-examine the policies of the Official Plan adopted April 26, 2018.

Proposed Amendment 1 to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017

On January 15, 2019, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released proposed amendments to the Growth Plan, 2017 which can be found here. The Province identified that the purpose of the proposed changes is to streamline growth management planning in the Greater Golden Horseshoe to achieve the following outcomes:

• More Streamlined Process: Provide greater flexibility so that municipalities will be able to move forward faster on the implementation of the Plan and meet the deadline to update Upper-tier and Single-tier official plans to conform with the Plan by July 1, 2022.

high profile 421

One of the development proposals that can resolve the housing availability. Nothing affordable about it.

• More Land for Housing: Respect the ability of local governments to make decisions about when and where to add new land for housing, to ensure that there is enough housing supply to meet demand.

• More Housing and Jobs near Transit: A more flexible framework for focusing investments around transit infrastructure will enable municipalities to plan to increase the supply of housing and jobs near transit faster and more effectively.

• Greater Local Autonomy and Flexibility for Municipalities: Ensuring that municipalities will have the ability to implement the Plan in a manner that better reflects their local context while protecting the Greenbelt.

A staff report regarding the proposed submission to the Province will be delivered to Planning and Development Committee on February 27th at 1 pm.

It is clear that there are going to be many stages in the re-writing of the plan that was approved in April of last year.  What we are seeing now is just the first step.  It will be interesting to see how Staff responds to the Direction.

The matter of streamlining the process has a number of Burlington residents who have been trying to take part in Tribunal hearings concerned.

One Gazette reader said in her opinion “the streamlining comes about because there is little or no resident participation.”

LPAT process graphicResidents are finding that they have no problem preparing comments – they are accepted and put in the file. But when they ask to be able to be a “participant” they are for the most part being denied.


Gary Scobie delegating at city hall.

Gary Scobie asked to be a participant on the Reserve development for the former Elizabeth Interiors property.  The developer didn’t have a problem with Scobie and the city lawyer didn’t have a problem – so there he was – a participant.  Now what – Scobie doesn’t know – he might have played his role – submitting a document.

A resident of the Dynes Community was told they would not be recognized as participants. To date that group has spent $17,000 to date on legal counsel.

Being a participant you have no liability.  If you have status as a Party you could be sued if the developer thinks you have simply tried to delay an application from being approved.

With the OMB – a resident could come to the hearing – and as a participant could basically delegate.  The lawyers from both sides then had the opportunity to “cross examine the witness”.

The residents we have talked to get the feeling that the process is going to be “streamlined” because it will consist of lawyers talking to lawyers and arguing fine points of provincial policy. The “local” element and response seems to be missing.

Not a healthy process.

Will the city planners push for better public participation?

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City Planning and Development Committee meeting cancelled.

Newsflash 100By Staff

February 12th, 2019



The Planning and Development Committee scheduled for this evening – Tuesday February 12th has been CANCELLED. It will be rescheduled.

A Statutory meeting on the Lakeside Village Plaza was on that agenda.  There are many people wanting to delegate at that event.

Lakeside village plaza proposal

The proposed plan was just a little too much for most people in the neighborhood. Has the developer heard what the residents thought?

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TEC thinks they now have a true advocate for their cause.

News 100 greenBy Staff

February 11th, 2019



The Tyandaga Environmental Coalition (TEC) continues to focus on the issue of Meridian Brick’s planned development (clear cutting and quarrying the North Aldershot East Quarry in ward 1.

During the election they focused on getting their story in front of every candidate – a mammoth task with 11 people running for the ward 1 seat.

Graphic of TEC quarry

The quarry operation was part of a corporate amalgamation and was re-named – Meridian Brick.

“TEC was delighted” with the outcome at the Mayorality level – they needed some time to get a sensed as to where the new Council member for the ward stood on the quarry issue.

They are now reviewing/resetting their strategy as a result of the new leadership and senior staffing changes at city along with the change in policies and legislation.

In November, 2018 TEC members had an introductory meeting with MPP Jane Mckenna who is open to meeting again.

TEC stop quarry expansion Jul17

Tyandaga community organizes to prevent the clearing of an estimated 9000 trees behind their homes.

On February 6th, members of TEC met with Councillor Galbraith. It was an introductory meeting at which TEC requested that he and the City take the lead and determine a solution that would benefit all involved and stop the clear cutting.

Galbraith slight smile

Ward 1 city Councillor Kevlin Galbraith

“We were pleased to hear that this community matter is a priority for Galbraith.  We expect he will speak about this at his upcoming ward meeting which will take place on Wednesday February 13 from 7-9pm at NUVO Network, 1295 North Service Road, Burlington.”

Note that due to ongoing renovations, the front door at NUVO Network is not in use – parking and entrance are at the back of the building.

You can find his contact information on the Galbraith website:

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Scobie once again serves the public interest - members of council don't do quite as well.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 7th, 2019



On track 101There has been a lot of confusion about just where Burlington is in terms of the provincial government Places to Grow policy. That is the program that sets out the longer term population growth plans.

The provincial government set the level to which population is expected to grow and determines where that growth should take place.

A population growth target is given to the Regional governments (they are called two tier set ups) and a number to the single tier government; Guelph and Toronto are single tier governments. Burlington. Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills are part of the Region – making us part of a two tier system.

Burlington’s Planning department has never offered anything firm on just what the city has in terms of population and what is expected in the short term future. The planners just kept saying we are guided by the Places to Grow policy. The developers would claim that their development was part of reaching the Places to Grow target.

Many thought the target had already been met. The then Councillor Marianne Meed Ward kept saying the target for 2031 was being met and that we were in fact ahead of the requirement.

The target for 2041 is known at the Regional level – Burlington doesn’t know what its share of that number is going to be.

Much of the development in the downtown core is being driven by that Places to Grow policy.

Gary Scobie, a retired Burlington resident and frequent effective delegator, did some homework and came up with some numbers that suggest Meed Ward was right – we have reached our 2031 target or are so close that with the developments in the pipeline the city will reach its target handily.

Here is what Scobie had to say in his Growth Targets 101 presentation.

The Urban Growth Centre is where the development is taking place.

The Urban Growth Centre is shown with a red dotted line that is sometimes a solid red line. It extends as far north as Prospect Street. Total area is 104.6 hectares (ha)

Urban growth centre

In 2016 there were 156 p&j (a combination of people and jobs) per hectare in the Urban Growth Centre.

The goal for our UGC is 200 p&j per hectare – thus in 2016 we had achieved 78% of the goal.

The 2031 target is 104.6 ha x 200 p&j for a total of 20,920 people and jobs in the Urban Growth Centre.

In order to meet the 2031 target the city needs to add 4,540 p&j in the next 12 years.

Is that possible? Scobie thinks so and he offers the following data to make his point

Approved projects
These developments will add 2824 p&j in the not too distant future which will make Burlington short 1626 of the target. Note that Scobie uses an estimate of 1.5 residents per housing unit.

There is more maintains Scobie and he points to projects that are “in the works”.
In the works

Pearl and Lakeshore

A development planned for the corner of Pearl and Lakeshore is to be 29 storeys – a record high for the city.

Scobie, who shares the view of Mayor Meed Ward, maintains the city does not need 20 storey towers to meet the Places to Grow population target.

He suggests that the projects in the works will add 1355 people and 180 jobs for a total of 1535 p&J and that permitting buildings that are between eight and 11 storeys will let the city reach the objective. No need for the 20 plus storey towers that will destroy the small town feel that residents want.

“We don’t need more 20+ storey buildings to reach the target. Mid-rise building can get the city to the point where it has met the growth requirement and allow a more human scale of development.”

Is Scobie right?

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie: Are his numbers right?

Hard to tell – none of the Councillors who heard the Scobie delegation asked city staff if Scobie’s numbers were right.

The Gazette has fired off an information request to Mary Loy Tanner, the former Planning Director who oversaw much of the development that has residents upset enough to elect a significantly different council.

Our question to Tanner is:

On Tuesday, February 6th, Gary Scobie made a delegation to Council. A copy of the slides he presented is attached. Are the numbers Scobie presented correct?
If they are incorrect could you set out where his numbers are wrong.
Thank you  🙂

A question we have for the members of council who heard the delegation: Did the cat get your tongues or did you agree with Scobie? At the end of his delegation there wasn’t a single question asked. Not what they were elected to do or did we get that wrong?

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The cure for staff insubordination is a big broom in strong hands.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 6th, 2019



It may not be case of insubordination but it was a classic case of mis-understanding who calls the shots and how staff should be responding to members of council.

Tuesday evening Mayor Meed Ward asked for some critical information on when a time frame on a development will be reached.

Amica development rendering

Mayor was told to google if she wanted to know when the time line for making a decision on this development would be reached.

The North Shore Road proposed Amica development had just gone through a lengthy Statutory meeting and there was concern that the city would once again fail to get reports from staff in time to ensure that a decision could be made in time.

The Mayor asked planner Lisa Stern when the 210 allows would have been reached. Google it was the response.
The Gazette reporter wasn’t in the room – so can’t say if there was an audible gasp. We did get a response from a reader who commented: “it shows a total lack of respect for the Mayor. I certainly hope someone will speak to her about it.

Stern is due to take some maternity leave. “I have to wonder” said the Gazette reader, “ when she will go on maternity leave – my question is who will take over this file and will it affect the deadline in June for the North Shore Proposed Development?

Burlington’s Planning Department has a history of failing to get a response to a development proposal completed in time which has the developer making an appeal to the Local Planning Act Tribunal for a decision.

Mayor Meed Ward wasn’t going to let that type of thing happen again. She wanted the time line date included in every report that comes to council. Meed Ward wasn’t certain just how that date was determined. Was Sunday counted?

To ask for the information and be told by a staff planner, a junior one at that, to google for the information is insubordination and reflective of the attitude the department has taken when dealing with this new Council.

broomIs there cause for dismissal here? Will the Planning Director have words for the planner? Will there be the much needed cultural re-direction from within the department or will someone with a big broom start doing some sweeping.

The Interim City Manager might begin using that hard glare he is very capable of directing at those he is unhappy with.

Tomorrow would be soon enough for that to begin happening.

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Mayor gets a motion approved - Grow Bold is to be ditched - Planners experience some indigestion with that direction.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 6, 2019



In a report to a Council Standing Committee Tuesday evening the Mayor said that “Burlington residents have consistently raised concerns about over-intensification and development in our City. During the 2018 election, they made their voices heard and clearly indicated the need to review the scale and intensity of planned development.”

Tim - Tanner Finance

The Grow Bold, Grow Smart, Grow Beautiful tag line that then Planning Director Mary Lou Tanner (centre in this picture) has now been dumped. Interim city Manager Tim Commisso, on the left has the unenviable task of unwinding that branding. Will he be making staff changes as well?

That was the rationalization she used to bring forward a motion to re-examine the policies of the existing Official Plan that was adopted, though not officially approved, in April of 2018, and review matters of height and density.

The approved but not adopted Official Plan was sent to the Region who sent it back to the city noting that there were “identified areas of non-conformity”. City council, and the Planning department needed more in the way of clarity from the Region.

Staff from the Planning department, the legal department along with the interim city manager and the Mayor met at length with the Regional planners – Burlington does not yet appear to have the clarification they are seeking.

MMW arms out - thank you

She did win and she is going to do it her way.

The Mayor did say that “Once the region identified areas of non- conformity, that stopped the clock on approving the new Official Plan and opened the plan up for any other matters of discussion. This allows our council the time to define what areas we want to study, undertake that work, consult with the community, and send back a comprehensive plan. We expect that plan to truly reflect the needs, best interests and vision of the community and its elected council.”

Mayor Meed Ward presented a motion that she said would “provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications. Multiple analyses by staff in assessing development applications, downtown in particular, have made it clear we do not need to over intensify in order to meet our obligations under the Places To Grow legislation.

Grow bold - front door

Will the Grow Bold “branding” be removed from the office door by the end of the week? The Mayor just might take it upon herself to do that ask by herself.

Meed Ward once again put out the word that the city “will immediately discontinue use of the “Grow Bold” term and related branding to ensure we are absolutely clear on our direction.”

The motion brought forward by the Mayor read:

1. Direct the Director of City Building to immediately commence a process to re-examine the policies of the Official Plan adopted April 26, 2018 in their entirety related to matters of height and intensity and conformity with provincial density targets.

2. Direct the Director of City Building to send a letter in respect of the Official Plan adopted by Council on April 26, 2018, to the Region of Halton acknowledging receipt of the
Region’s Notice of Statement of Opinion of Non-Conformity with the Regional Official Plan dated December 4, 2018 and requesting sufficient time to address the conformity issues identified.

3. Direct the Director of City Building that until such time as the modifications that result from the work being undertaken in (1) and (2) above are brought forward and adopted by Council and sent to the Region for approval, that the adopted OP policies not be given weight in evaluating development applications that may be processed in the interim period.

4. Direct the Director of City Building to report back to the Planning and Development Committee meeting in March to provide a progress update on the Official Plan work plan with key milestone dates, public engagement plan, budget and resource requirements.

5. Direct the City Manager to discontinue the use of the “Grow Bold” brand.

In presenting the Motion Meed Ward said she wanted a unanimous vote – she did get unanimity but not without some arm wrestling from Councillor Sharman.

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Feilders offers a different and very detailed perspective on the pilot tree bylaw that is to go into effect in Roseland

opiniongreen 100x100By Jim Feilders

February 4th, 2019



During a presentation at the Burlington Seniors Centre by Burlington Urban Forestry staff and Ward 4 Councilor Stolte said she would like to complete the pilot faster than the two year period.

The Urban Forestry manager indicated many benefits including what Toronto has recognized – shading. Changes since 2013 when Council did not support a private tree bylaw – the ice storm, flood, wind storm and Emerald Ash Borer resulted in Council changing their minds. Roseland was chosen for a number of reasons and data will be gathered for analysis.

A proposed Private Tree Bylaw Pilot was approved at the Committee of the Whole March 19, 2018.  The proposed pilot will be a two-year project for the Roseland Area, starting March 2019, and finishing March 2021.

Roseland tree boundaries 2019

The Roseland area is bordered by Guelph Line to the west, New Street to the north, Roseland Creek to the east, and Lake Ontario to the south.

This exciting initiative is based on a recommendation from the city’s Urban Forest Management Plan that was developed in 2010.

This program will aid in preserving valuable urban forest assets in an effort to maintain and grow a healthy and vibrant community resource into the future.

The bylaw will allow for some flexibility for private property owners, yet includes restrictions based on preserving heritage and “significant” trees. Replacement plantings are important for ongoing sustainability of Burlington’s Urban Forest, and are proposed for trees greater than 30cm (1 foot) diameter at breast height (dbh).

The 30 cm exemption was based on a survey of other municipalities and felt it was a moderate approach.
Boundary trees are also addressed.

Exemptions will be allowed for specific instances including emergency work; trees posing high risk as deemed by a Certified Arborist; ash tree removals, or removals allowed under the Planning Act.

At the end of the two-year pilot period, a review of the Bylaw will be undertaken, with a report to Council, including the feasibility of further rollout city-wide, and resource implications. The bylaw will be enforced by The Manager of Urban Forestry and any designate, who will have the authority to:

• Issue Tree Permits

• Issue work orders directing as to how authorized work is to be conducted. The authority to issue work orders shall also include the authority to order a stoppage of work

Burlington’s Strategic Plan identifies expansion of the urban forest to be a key action item in our strategic direction of a Healthy and Greener city.

The bylaw requires applicants to submit an application to the Manager of Urban Forestry or their designate with the following information:

• A Tree Protection Plan acceptable to the Manager of Urban Forestry or designate, identifying the trees to be injured or destroyed, and including size, species, condition and location; the trees to be kept; and measures to be taken for the preservation of remaining trees on the site

• The permit fee

• A proposed for tree replacement planting plan

• Confirmation that tree protection fencing around city trees is done so in accordance with the city’s Standard Specification for Tree Protection and Preservation (SS-12A)

• A schedule of proposed site inspections to be completed by the project arborist

• Project scope including but not limited to an explanation of proposed demolition (if applicable), construction, equipment used, timing, detailed explanations of any applicable work within tree preservation zones

• Boundary trees located within three metres on both sides of a mutual lot line require a letter of agreement signed by the adjacent neighbor(s); or documentation from the Project Arborist that the proposed work will not negatively impact the tree in question

• Any additional relevant information
Applications and all necessary paperwork can be submitted to Roads, Parks and Forestry at 3330 Harvester Rd. Burlington, Ontario or by email at

1. Applications will be reviewed by Forestry staff and the applicant will be notified of any missing items. Forestry staff will respond to the applicant within five business days.

2. If the application is complete, a site meeting will be scheduled to discuss acceptance or denial of application, further modifications needed, and subsequent securities and/or compensation costs to be incurred by the applicant.

3. Upon approval of the application, the applicant is required to provide payment to the City of Burlington for the required security and compensation amount per the bylaw and indicated in the approved arborist report and preservation plan.

4. A Tree Permit will be provided to the applicant which must be displayed on the property in view from the road.

$100 per tree to be removed or injured up to a maximum of $500.

There is no cost for ash tree removal; however, replacement trees are still required.

When a tree permit has been granted, all owners are required to replace trees that are proposed to be removed, or pay cash-in-lieu of replacement of $700 per replacement tree:

Diameter Class (Removed Tree) No. of Replacement Trees Required

Diameter chart

The manager said the real results of such a bylaw are the withdrawal of applications. People rethink the removal of trees.

This could skew the statistics to be analyzed as there will be fewer trees removed and less statistically significant data)

Q1. How was replacement size determined?
Ans. Picked the middle of the road from other municipalities as a good starting point.
Q2. Why no fir trees protected?
Ans. Not a Carolinian tree so no need to protect.
Q3. How soon will City respond?
Ans. Within 5 days initially.
Q4. Kudos for bylaw. What is age of 30 cm tree?
Ans About 30 to 50 years
Q5. Could we go lower like Oakville?
Ans Yes they have 15 cm
Q6. Where is money to take care of City trees?
Ans Using a 7 year rotation throughout the city so every area gets pruning once every 7 years. Now that risk assessment is done should be able to do better.
Q7. Very costly to haul excavated basement fill off site in order to protect trees. Can’t protect all trees as some are in the way of a house. Can trees in building envelope be removed?
Ans Can remove trees in the way but have to apply. Provincial policy trumps municipal. Province says housing has preference.
Q8. Why is there no tree canopy target?
Ans We don’t know how many trees we have. UFMP needs an update to see what have been lost since 2010. Some municipalities have lofty goals that they might not meet.
Q9. We had 17% canopy in 2010 and has been decreasing since. Conservation Halton gives us a failing grade and Environment Canada says 30 to 50%. We are not progressive enough. What is replacement plan?
Ans For each tree of 30 to 50 cm diameter have to plant 2 at 5 cm for $1400. (Editor’s note – the Site plan Application Guidelines, Section 9 for development applications require equivalent caliper replacement. For a 30 cm tree this would require 6 trees at 5 cm, not 2 trees).
Identified vacant tree sites in Roseland have been identified for new plantings.
Q10. Need help from residents in Roseland. History is that we asked for what we thought the current council would accept but need a better city wide bylaw. Lost 80 city trees recently and over 100 other trees. Canopy is not looking good. In the Character Study, trees were identified as the most important aspect of Roseland. The new OP mentions importance of character throughout. We need a proper renewal plan.
Q11. We have only 12 years to counteract climate change and we must save every mature tree. The new Council is progressive while the Province is regressive. Trees help flood prevention and carbon sequestering. We need to move faster and ask for 1 year to go for a city wide private tree bylaw. We can’t take the soft sell approach any longer. We should take a stand and chose a 35% tree canopy target. Burlington has lagged behind others. There are programs available to help with costs. We have to ramp this up.
Ans Echo that and every tree matters.
Q12. Can we have an interim review?
Ans We are following Council direction but may be able to have a one year review
Shawna – We need to convince council, not staff. 3 councillors want a smaller tree diameter limit for north Burlington as most trees are smaller than that.
Urban Forestry manager – contacting businesses involved about awareness so they are not caught unaware.
Q13. Need incentives to plant new trees.
Ans Looking at other aspects as well as preserving mature trees.
Q14. Heard of new developments planting trees on private front yards instead of city land then cutting them down. Allowed in Burlington?
Ans No. Above Dundas, trees are going on city property.
Q15. Staff should let consultants, architects and planners know about the bylaw a soon as possible.
Q16. Committee of Adjustment is not considering tree policies that exist now.

My own take on this:
Any tree can be destroyed provided it is either exempt, compensated by cash in lieu or agreed by neighbour. This bylaw will not prevent the loss of mature trees occurring at present.

The replacement option is not based on equivalent caliper diameter as is required in the Site Plan Application Guidelines for development applications. A 30 cm diameter tree would have to be replaced by six 5 cm diameter trees, not two. A 50 cm diameter tree would have to be replaced by ten 5 cm diameter trees, not three.

Trees on private property removed for personal improvements (pools, decks, additions) and infill development do not represent a large number of trees. Over the next ten years this will account for about 14% of all removals in urban Burlington. The real problem is sick and dying trees.

tree count

The evaluation criteria for the analysis was not given. The report from staff stated there would not be sufficient data to draw meaningful conclusions and no other municipality has proven the effectiveness of a tree bylaw.

“ It does not recommend a pilot project, primarily because of the difficulty of assessing the effectiveness of a pilot project, but does set out the key parameters of a pilot project should Council wish to undertake a two year pilot.‘

“While some municipalities have private tree bylaws, they are generally municipality-wide. Staff have found little evidence that private tree bylaws have been subject to rigorous assessment of their effectiveness, and in many cases the stated goals of municipal private tree bylaws are more subjective and philosophical than objective and measurable. There is a general belief that the municipality has an obligation to put processes in place to regulate the removal of private trees by putting in place a process that ensures the owners seriously consider the decision to remove a tree, educates the owners, and ensures the replacement of private trees that are removed.

“While these may be very legitimate goals, there is little evidence found that shows that these bylaws ultimately have had a measurable impact on the quantity or quality of the urban forest, or are more effective than other strategies to retain and enhance the urban forest.”

“Therefore, it is estimated that approximately 1.7 million trees exist within the city’s urban area. Other than this estimate, we have no baseline by which to measure, track or evaluate the success of a private tree bylaw pilot project on the tree canopy. It is also suggested that the scale of the tree canopy alone may not be the best by which to measure urban tree forests. Other cities include such measures as diversity of species, physical access to nature, habitat provision, tree health and characteristics of the trees (size).

Tree stumps Guelph Line

It was private property – not in Roseland.

Evaluating the effectiveness of a pilot project would be further complicated by the time-limited nature of the pilot in a relatively small area of the city. In short, the city would have little or no baseline on which to measure change, and enforcement of the bylaw would be either voluntary, or by complaint. The city does not have the resources to actively police tree removal in Roseland. In the case of a time-limited trial, people could either remove trees in advance of the pilot starting, or wait it out. In summary, it is not clear that there would be any viable means to measure the effectiveness of a private tree bylaw trial project.

Sample size would also be an evaluation challenge. Staff estimate that in a two-year trial period in Roseland there may be 40-50 permits granted, although given the city’s lack of experience in the area, this is at best a rough projection. If the estimate is accurate however, it would be very challenging to extrapolate the impact of the pilot from such a small sample size on the overall urban forest of 1.7 million trees.

Moreover, except for the existence of some degree of community support, there is no other reason to undertake a pilot in Roseland, rather than other parts of the city that also have mature private property trees.

Further community consultation undertaken in Roseland since the staff direction to consider a pilot, shows that the community is highly polarized on the issue. People are either passionately in favour of a bylaw, or strongly opposed on the basis of private property rights. Few, if any people, were indifferent.

Tree stumps Guelph south of woodward east side

Scenes like this all over the city.

Value to Community
Even if it can be determined that a private tree bylaw is bringing value to the urban forest, it is possible that the same resources committed to education and/or actively expanding the forest on city property, might have a greater impact on protecting and enhancing the urban forest as a whole. Again, given the lack of research on the effectiveness of private tree bylaws, there is little way to assess this.”

The Urban Forestry Manager stated the best result of a bylaw is that potential applications are withdrawn or not submitted in the first place which indirectly results in preservation of mature trees. Thus the conclusion of the analysis will most likely be that not enough trees were destroyed to devote staff resources to implement the bylaw and that private citizens were unduly charged money for a problem that did not exist.


The solution to the size of the tree canopy problem is planting more and more trees.

The best solution appears to be planting new trees. The proposed bylaw is deficient in this regard. The conventional approach used by others is equivalent caliper diameter although some cites use a metric related to canopy size by a certain time frame. Using two or three small replacement trees for those removed that are not exempt will provide very few new ones.

Of the 14% or so of trees being cut down that fall under the bylaw, about 31% are 30 cm diameter or under (exempt), 37% are between 30 and 50 cm and 32% over 50 cm in the areas south of the QEW.

This means that 2 tree replacements would occur for 37% and three replacements for 32%. Continuing with the math shows 2 trees for .14 x .37 = 5% and 3 trees for .14 x .32 = 4.5%. So, the new replacements would be 10% and 13.5%, respectively for the two tree diameter groups or 23.5% in total. In other words, for every 100 trees cut down, 24 would be planted.

This will not increase the urban tree canopy. The bylaw should use a smaller diameter exclusion and equivalent diameter replacement. 86% of trees are over 15 cm with an average diameter of 57 cm. This would mean 11 replacement trees for each one removed. The math then becomes .14 x .86 x 11 = 132%. Now we’re getting somewhere. More new trees than those destroyed. But this will not grow the urban canopy by much. We need twice as many trees than currently exist. We probably have about 1.5 million trees now and will need 3 million to get to a 30% urban canopy.

In addition, the City could offer free trees to homeowners.
If every household in urban Burlington planted a tree it would be about 75,000 trees and put a dent in the 111,000 to come down over the next 10 years.

The pilot bylaw will not reduce the number of healthy mature trees being destroyed and will not provide enough replacement trees to offset those being destroyed.

This is what most people in Burlington want; a gorgeous urban tree canopy that shades our streets, improves property values and gets some of the pollutants out of the air. But at the same time people want to be able to cut down a tree on their propeerty if they don't like them. We can't have it both ways - can we?

This is what most people in Burlington want; a gorgeous urban tree canopy that shades our streets, improves property values and gets some of the pollutants out of the air. But at the same time people want to be able to cut down a tree on their propeerty if they don’t like them. We can’t have it both ways – can we?

Trees Pine street

It was a beautiful tree, magnificent, resplendent – but it was cut down allow for the construction of a retirement home.

The analysis in two years will conclude there is no justification for a private tree bylaw city wide.

Council needs to revise the pilot program immediately.

Jim Feilders has been a strong environmental advoate for decades and thinks the city has got the pilot private tree wrong,

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Mayor focuses on what she wants to do during her first term.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 4th, 2019



The Mayor’s State of the city address last week before the Chamber of Commerce was a first for Marianne Meed Ward. She will get to do this three more times before she has to go before the electorate who will decide if she has heard what the city wants and has made measurable strides in getting there.

She spoke at length last Wednesday, she did not get a standing ovation and there were a few issues – climate change and the private tree bylaw – that got a clap or two from a tree hugger or a “this is a hill to die on “ environmentalist.

She was a little off her pace on a very few occasions – but at the end of the session when people were getting their coats and preparing to step out into some very cold weather there were a number, a rather significant number of people who were lined up to say a few words to the new Mayor and hang around to have pictures taken.

The Gazette has published State of the City address for the past eight years they aren’t the kind of thing that people dig out of the archives. We publish them for the record.

The Meed Ward address had a lot of information that has to be teased out and looked at in a larger context. The Gazette will be doing a series of articles in the next few weeks drilling down into what she had to say and suggesting as well as we can what we might expect from our Mayor.

Receiving line touching male

Mayor Meed Ward chatting with one of the people who attended her State of the City address.We have been watching Meed Ward for more than ten years; we sat in on several of her early campaign meetings when she first ran for the ward 2 seat in 2010.The issue that will overshadow all the others is the Region’s decision to return the Official Plan. Here is what Meed Ward had to say on that:

“As a result, I am bringing forward a motion to re-examine the policies of the Official Plan that was adopted, though not officially approved, in April of 2018, and review matters of height and density. Halton Region has also recently identified areas of non-conformity, so this motion seeks to gain the time to address those issues.

“Once the Region identified areas of non-conformity, that stopped the clock on approving the new Official Plan and opened the plan up for any other matters of discussion. This allows our new City Council the time to define what areas we want to study, undertake that work, consult with the community, and send back a comprehensive plan. We expect that plan to truly reflect the needs, best interests and vision of the community and its elected Council.

“The motion will also provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications and the existing Official Plan is still in full legal force and effect. Multiple analyses by staff in assessing development applications, downtown in particular, have made it clear we do not need to over-intensify in order to meet our obligations under the Province’s Places To Grow legislation.

“Further, we will immediately discontinue use of the “Grow Bold” term and related branding to ensure we are absolutely clear on our direction.”

There are some critically important phrases:

this motion seeks to gain the time to address those issues.

Red jacket at city hall

She is focused on putting her mark on city hall.

stopped the clock on approving the new Official Plan and opened the plan up for any other matters of discussion.

The motion will also provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications and the existing Official Plan is still in full legal force and effect.

Meed Ward knows exactly where she wants to go and has a council with five new members that has yet to find its footing – they will follow her lead – it is what they based their individual election platforms on.

Mary Lou Tanner

Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner.

The really strong differences of opinion between the Mayor and the Deputy city manager are so wide and have been that way for a long time – one of them has to go – not much guesswork on who will be clearing out a desk before the end of the year.

The Planning department is going to have to come into line very soon with the thinking that is taking place at council.

Roman Martiuk, failed to advise council that there was going to be a $9 million budget surplus in 2011 – that cost him his job.

Martiuk used to tell council he was there to “serve the will of council”. Interim city manager Tim Commisso is going to have to determine just what the will of council is and then ensure that the departments fall into line.

Director of Finance Joan Ford does a great job of providing the data ad her department does a good job of collecting the taxes as well. It's the spending side that is causing the long term financial stress. Ms Ford doesn't do the spending.

Director of Finance Joan Ford

There are several departments that have been doing a fine job for some time: Finance, Capital Works and Information Technology are worthy of bonuses. Planning is a mess; Transportation is so far behind in several of its critical reports that are holding up a number of other initiatives.

The world of municipal administration has to be in tune with the political changes that take place in a community. There are some at city hall who appear to have tin ears and don’t understand the change that took place last October when the ballots were cast or they don’t care and will continue to do what they have been doing since those ballots were marked.

Meed Ward has made it abundantly clear – the times have changed – get with the plan.

There are some very smart and dedicated people in the Planning department. For about a dozen their career paths have been inhibited by the organizational mess and the leadership failure within the department; the place isn’t the planning mecca it could be.

Commisso aloneLet’s look at this again in a year and see if there have been any real changes.

Right about now one can ask: Where is the Work Force Plan that Tim Commisso will have to put before city council at some point in the near future. What we learn tends to come out of the Mayor’s office.

Salt with Pepper are the views, opinions and reflections of the Gazette Publisher


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Bus route changes on Ontario Street - due to apartment construction.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 31st, 2019



The construction of the second tower on Brock Street is going to mean a detour for Burlington Transit route 300 from Feb. 4, 2019 to June 2019

Brock 2 - in context

The second Molinaro tower (shown in white) in the area fits in well and adds to the need for accommodation.

The detour is on Ontario St. between Maple Ave. and Nelson Ave.  Construction will begin on the second Molinaro tower in the area.  The site is minutes away from Spencer Smith Park.

Detour Dates: February 4, 2019 to June 2019

Route: 3
Proceed to stops:
• On Maple Ave.
• Ontario St. east of Nelson Ave.

Stops not in Service:
• 765 – Ontario St. at Maple Ave.
• 766 – Ontario St. at Brock Ave.
• 775 – Ontario St. at Nelson Ave.

Bus rote - Ontario st detour

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Council looking at a light agenda this evening - then settles down to do some heavy lifting on the 2019 budget later in the week.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 28th, 2019



City Council meets this evening to put the official stamp to issues that were discussed at the Standing committee level earlier in the month.

We will learn who Council wants to see appointed to the numerous Advisory Committees the city has in place. There were a number of people who thought the way Advisory Councils were formed, staffed and funded needed a full re-appraisal – won’t happen this year; perhaps next.

There is a new committee that is taking a look at the way the city is going to structure the matter of Development Charges – that is the sum of money developers pay – up front- for the cost of building new or adding to existing infrastructure. A major major concern to the development community.

Meed Ward winsome

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Sharman 2

Councillor Paul Sharman

Mayor Meed Ward and Councillor Sharman will head up the Development Charges Consultation Committee.

Later in the week they move into some heavy duty budget discussions and begin to suss out what the final tax rate is going to be.

Burlington has borne the brunt of close to consistent 4% increases for the past eight years – numbers like that are neither economically or politically sustainable – where the cuts are going to take place is an unknown at this point.

This council did ask the Finance department to tell them what would have to go if there were a 2%, 3 % and a 3.25% tax increase. There is a link to the answer staff gave at the bottom of this article.

The Finance people set out a number of scenarios but none of them made mention of significant cuts in the staff compliment.
In 2017 the city spent $106,729,690 on Human Resources

In 2018 the budget for Human Resources was $115,341,659 and the actual $112,655,298

The budget for 2019 is pegged at $120,828,358 – that is an increase of $14 million over a two year period which looks a little steep.

During one of the recent Council Workshops Angelo Bentivegna, Ward 6 City and Regional Councillor coined a phrase that we can expect to hear frequently. He wants council to come up with ways to re-think, re-tool, and re-invent how we do business.

The Gazette tried to get Bentivegna to expand on this line of thinking – the Council member suddenly went mute. We are going to have to listen closely to what the Council member has to say in public if we are to get the full measure of the man.

It is fairly clear that this council wants to pass a budget that results in a lower tax rate. The problem is that other than the Mayor and Paul Sharman, Councillor for Ward 5, none has any experience with a municipal budget.


Councillor Lisa Kearns

Chair of the Budget Committee, ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns is doing fine so far keeping things on track and moving the agenda forward. If she stays on her current trajectory she will turn out to be a very efficient and knowledgeable budget chair. There is just a lot to learn and her background with things municipal is thin.

When Councillor Sharman was first elected in 2010 he took to financial matters like a bull in a china shop – while he didn’t make any friends he did push his colleagues to produce a 0% increase that year.

Will he do something similar this year? Don’t bet on it.

Sharman will be supportive but don’t expect him to lead – that doesn’t fit in with his longer term objective. Recall that when Sharman first filed nomination papers with the City Clerk in 2010 it was for the Office of Mayor. He withdrew those papers when Rick Goldring filed papers for that job and came back with nominations forms for the ward 5 seat that Goldring was about to vacate.

Rick Goldring once said that Paul Sharman was one of the best strategic thinkers he had ever met. Don’t expect Sharman to put that reference on his Linked in page but keep it in mind as we watch how this new council evolves.

Related news stories:

Budget – the big picture.

Where can council cut spending?  Here, here and here.

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Chop chop - Mayor gives Grow Bold the old heave ho!

News 100 yellowStatement by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

January 25th, 2019



Well that didn’t take long.

Tom Muir made some scathing comments about a development meeting that took place earlier in the month.

That was followed by an opinion piece by three Aldershot residents who asked the city to clarify just what the city was using in the way of an Official Plan.

Mayor Meed Ward issued a statement this morning making it very clear what she had in mind.  The Grow Bold tag line the Planning department had fallen in love with was out – and council will be looking at the “approved” Official Plan that the Regional government returned as deficient.

Here is what Her Worship had to say:

MMW arms out - thank you

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward moments after being sworn in.

“Burlington residents have consistently raised concerns about over intensification and development in our City. During the 2018 election, they made their voices heard and clearly indicated the need to review the scale and intensity of planned development, especially in the new Official Plan.

“As a result, I am bringing forward a motion to re-examine the policies of the Official Plan that was adopted, though not officially approved, in April of 2018, and review matters of height and density.

“Halton Region has also recently identified areas of non-conformity, so this motion seeks to gain the time to address those issues.

“Once the Region identified areas of non-conformity, that stopped the clock on approving the new Official Plan and opened the plan up for any other matters of discussion. This allows our new city council the time to define what areas we want to study, undertake that work, consult with the community, and send back a comprehensive plan. We expect that plan to truly reflect the needs, best interests and vision of the community and its elected council.

“The motion will also provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications and that the existing Official Plan is still in full legal force and effect. Multiple analyses by staff in assessing development applications, downtown in particular, have made it clear we do not need to overintensify in order to meet our obligations under the Places To Grow legislation.

Grow bold - front door“Further, we will immediately discontinue use of the “Grow Bold” term and related branding to ensure we
are absolutely clear on our direction.

“A timeline will be discussed at the next committee meeting.”

What we are seeing is a Mayor with her hands firmly hold the tiller on the ship of state.

The then Director of Planning for the city, Mary Lou Tanner, told city council that after polling people in the city they had decided to go with the tag line: Grow Bold, Grow Smart, Grow Beautiful. The words got placed on the door to the space on Locust Street that was rented for the Planning staff to work out of.

With the tag line gone – are the people that created it far behind?

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An appeal by three Ward 1 concerned citizens: Burlington Needs Clarity on Planning Applications.

opinionred 100x100By Jim Young, Greg Woodruff and Tom Muir.

January 25th, 2019



Gazette readers will be aware that Burlington’s New Official Plan (New OP) was rejected by Halton Region as non-conforming in four specific areas.

Quote: “The new Official Plan was adopted by City Council on April 26, 2018, and was sent to the Region of Halton on May 11, 2018 for approval…….. The Region ………… is legislatively required to ensure that Burlington’s Official Plan conforms with the Regional Official Plan …. On December 4, 2018, the Region issued a statement of opinion that the new Official Plan does not conform to the Regional Official Plan in regard to the following:”

1. Proposed employment conversions and permitted uses within the employment areas and lands.
2. Identification of and permitted uses in agricultural lands.
3. Identification of and permitted uses with the Natural Heritage System;
4. Transportation matters including road classifications.

The New OP was also overwhelmingly rejected by voters in October’s municipal election in an almost wholesale change in the city’s seven person council, most of whom ran on promises to revise that New OP upon its return from the region.

We are three concerned Ward 1 citizens who believe council needs to act to clarify the status of the New OP and the supremacy of the Existing Official Plan (Existing OP).

The Region’s rejection of the New OP renders it null and void and, under the Planning Act, leaves the Existing OP “in Force and Effect” at present. Yet recent applications by developers for zoning or bylaw amendments to the City’s Official Plan appear to be receiving consideration under some kind of blending of both plans. This lack of clarity works very much in the developers favour.

Developers are submitting applications which, while paying lip service to the Existing OP to keep them compliant, incorporate features of the New OP in an attempt to cash in on its more liberal permitted heights.

Amica development rendering

Amica development proposed for North Shore Blvd across the Road from the OPP Station.

There are many such applications in the works but one good example of this practice is the Proposed Development at 1157-1171 North Shore Bvd.

The developer wants 17 stories (62.5) metres in an area where the Existing OP designates 11 Storey (Max 22 metres). Regardless of the merits or otherwise of the development, the process by which it is being pursued by both developer and city staff is not only inappropriate, it is contrary to all the reasons citizens elected a new city council and creates very dangerous precedents no matter what revision of the OP eventually reaches the books.

At the mandatory public meeting held jointly by the developer and city planners on January 9th, these deviations from the Existing OP; the misapplication of the New OP and many other issues were raised by citizens.

Our concerns about the legitimacy of the process were completely ignored by city planning staff whose duty, we believe should be to defend the wishes of Citizens, City Council and Halton Region, all of whom have rejected the New OP and pending a rewrite of that plan following its overwhelming rejection by voters in the October election.

It appears that city planners have taken one of two possible positions:

1. Pending approval of the New OP, any applications received are subject to the existing in force and in effect Official Plan; however, consideration is being given to the Council adopted New Official Plan.

2. When challenged on the propriety of that position City Staff seem to fall back on the technicality that the New OP is the “last position taken by Council on April 26, 2018” so is deemed by them to have weight in consideration of amendment applications.

We believe staff are adopting these positions contrary to the Municipal Planning Act and the wishes of City Council. We dispute both of these positions as erroneous. You cannot have two plans in play at the same time.

The New OP is, to all intents and purposes, null and void.

If that needs to be clarified to city staff, then we urgently request that council convene to provide direction to staff, as is their prerogative, to the effect that: “The Old Official Plan remains in force and in effect as mandated by The Planning Act, and is therefore the only pertinent consideration for amendment applications until such times as A Revised Official Plan is drawn up, adopted by city council and approved by regional council.”

Jim Young

Jim Young

Greg Woodruff

Greg Woodruff

Muir with pen in hand

Tom Muir

Related news story:

The event that brought resulted in three residents appealing to city council for clarification.

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How many Official Plans do we have? Two - but only one of them is legitimate. Confused? You are not alone.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 25th, 2019



Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThe Official Plan, the document that sets out what can be built where, was an election issue in October.

The city currently has two Official Plans: one that is in force and what has to be complied with. The other is a Plan that was approved by city council during its dying days but has yet to be approved by the Region.

Many didn’t think the 2014 -2018 city council had the right to “approve” the Official Plan that they sent along to the Region where the Plan has to be approved and sent back to Burlington where it can be voted on by council and become the law of the land.

Recently the Region returned the “approved” Official Plan and pointed out four deficiencies.

Amica development rendering

It is a very big development – which Official Plan will it be developed under?

Earlier this month there was a presentation being made by a developer for a large long term care home they wanted to build on North Shore Blvd.

A number of people who attended that meeting were very confused and upset with the way staff from the Planning department were explaining which Official Plan was being applied.

Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident wrote extensively on that meeting saying:

Muir glancing

Tom Muir

I attended this meeting that was joined by at least 80 people and I came away disturbed and concerned by what I saw and heard coming from the planning staff in attendance, the developer’s planning consultant and the residents.

The first thing that was apparent is that there was not a happy and supportive face in the room. The initial questions asked by the audience reflected the general unrest among the attendees concerning the confusing and contradictory statements from staff and the developer consultant about what the Official Plan being brought to bear on this application actually was about.

That is, why did the applicant ask for such significant increases in the existing OP and zoning allowances, and why did they appear to have such confidence in the approval of their application?

It soon became apparent that there were actually two OPs being brought into play here by all the planners present. One was the existing OP that is in force and effect. However, with equal but apparent favored mention, was the previous Council adopted OP that was brought forward as a “Council approved”. I repeat, the word “adopted”, which is the proper word in the context of city Council, was not used, in favor of “approved” which is the Region responsibility. The status of this OP as refused and non-compliant was not mentioned.

It was further noted by staff that this OP was being used for information, guidance and direction for the City planning. It was apparent that this confusing contradiction with two OPs in play was disturbing the attendees (and me) and was a key issue arising.

It was not until I asked a question about this that the OP referred to repeatedly as “approved” had been, in truth, refused by the Region as non-compliant with the Regional Official Plan, and at present is on hold and has no status or legal standing. I repeat, this fact was never revealed to the meeting attendees until my question pointed it out.

Instead, to my dismay waiting for the truth to emerge, this refused and non-compliant OP was actually referred to as “Council approved”, several times in repeated references to it.

In the ensuing exchanges on this point that you can’t have two OPs at the same time, it was apparent to me that Planning is playing a game. All three planners in attendance played the same words and danced around what was going to be done about that.

It was actually stated by staff that the OMB has ruled that the existing OP did not meet the requirements of the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and provincial growth plans, but there was no evidence to support this to show how the maximum medium density and heights (11 storeys was mentioned) permitted under the existing OP were not sufficient.

Staff further danced around the truth by making somewhat light that the non-compliance of the adopted OP was “limited” in some abstract way, so it still had some standing and is okay to have regard for – which is not true. It was stated that City and Region are talking about certain isolated issues of non-compliance, and will get rolling again, but it was never admitted that this OP has no standing because it has been refused as non-compliant based on key things that affect the overall OP.

Muir with pen in hand

Tom Muir, one of a group of people in Aldershot who keep well informed on what comes out of the Planning department.

My recurrent take on this is the staff cannot let the refused OP go to pasture for second public thoughts. I can see that right from the pre-application consultation and discussion stage of the planning process, it seems that all the planners are pushing the basis and ideas from the non-compliant OP for extra height and density and other things .I think that staff do not to give up the power they have to make decisions based on their mostly subjective opinions about what various policies mean in their denotations. Subjectivity cannot be analysed, so it cannot be shown to be objective.

They all want to speak from this OP platform for more height, density and lower facilitating standards to enable the large builds. And they try to generally discredit the existing OP to try and get around it. This has been going on for years and continues in every new application in the pipeline. This is largely why we have such an almost complete loss of control of development downtown and elsewhere.

The Planning staff are the ones who recommended to Council that this OP be adopted, even with major missing parts, including Transportation and Mobility Hubs. And these parts are among the things that the Region refused the OP as non-compliant – transportation named, but Mobility Hubs involve employment lands and that is another key issue in the non-compliance opinion. Again, these two pieces are still missing and this OP is not legal, but staff march on using it, non-compliance or not.

The truth is that if it has been refused by the Region as non-compliant it is dead for all practical purposes, and cannot in good professional planning practice be used as a basis for decisions. Only much later in the meeting, near the end, did staff clumsily mumble that the refused OP is out of the picture somehow, on hold or whatever words pertain, and so we have to enforce the existing OP and bylaws on height and density and so on.

Importantly, staff actually stated that they needed new directions from Council to change the direction of planning in the city, and of the adopted but not compliant OP. It is obvious that the staff are asking for this change to be made explicit from someone in charge, and ultimately from Council.

In planning talk, the Planning Act requires that an application must be processed under the OP that is force and effect. The adopted OP has no status and should not be used as the basis for supporting any new application, not even with the mention of non-compliance with the ROP. The new OP has not been approved at the Region. We must stop this type of action by staff.

In the view of many, including all the Mayoral candidates, the last election campaign and outcome was supposed to be a wake-up call to the Planning department about the development that was being promoted and done in Burlington. Tongue in cheek, it may be that since most of the city planning staff don’t live in Burlington they didn’t hear the clarion call. That said, someone in charge needs to drive that point home with some new marching orders to Planning. This kind of action by staff must be stopped.

Heather MacDonald, Director of Planning for Burlington responded to Muir with:

This is in response to your email dated Friday, January 11th.

Heather_MacDonald COB planner

Heather MacDonald, Director of Planning for Burlington

 It is recognized that public engagement early on in and throughout the processing of development applications is important and of great value. Neighbourhood meetings held at an early stage provide for information sharing and identification of issues and concerns to be addressed by the development approval process.

At the neighbourhood meeting on January 9th, staff answered questions regarding the status of the new Official Plan. The following confirms the information that was provided to clarify where things are at with the new Official Plan.

The new Official Plan was adopted by City Council on April 26, 2018, and was sent to the Region of Halton on May 11, 2018 for approval. The Region is designated as the authority to make a decision on the Official Plan and is legislatively required to ensure that Burlington’s Official Plan conforms with the Regional Official Plan.

Specific timelines are established by the Planning Act for the Region to make its decision. City staff has been working closely with the Region. To allow more time for the process, on December 4, 2018, the Region issued a statement of opinion that the new Official Plan does not conform to the Regional Official Plan in regard to the following:

– proposed employment conversions and permitted uses within the employment areas and lands;

– identification of and permitted uses in agricultural lands;

– identification of and permitted uses with the Natural Heritage System;

– transportation matters including road classifications.

In accordance with the Planning Act, this notification allows for a pause in the Region’s approval process. The Official Plan is still with the Region for approval; however, the decision on approval is paused to allow more time to resolve nonconformity matters. City staff is continuing to work with Regional staff to come to resolution on these matters.

The pause also provides the opportunity for the City to request the Region to consider modifications to the Official Plan currently before them. Any Council approved modifications sent to the Region would also be considered with respect to conformity with the Regional Official Plan.

Until the Region approves the new Official Plan, any applications received or in process are subject to the existing in force and in effect Official Plan; however, consideration is given to the Council adopted new Official Plan.

Greg Woodruff, another Aldershot resident and a candidate for Mayor in the October election added that:

I think the widening gulf in impression is being created by the terms of the “public input” process are not apparent to those participating. People think they are giving input into the decision and direction of the city. However staff are in reality implementing over arching plans proposed by Provincial entities. The merits of these plans not withstanding; when the desires of these faceless plans come into conflict with the desires of local residents – how is this to be resolved?


Greg Woodruff on a TVO Mayoralty debate

Right now it’s “resolved” by a poor planner from the planners office hauled up in front of a crowed room of hundreds of pissed off people trying to explaining elements of an incredibly sophisticated and complicated planning system. No one can possibly explain the complexity of this process to people in a meeting like this and every one is going away angry.

Most people believe that city employees represent them in a conflict with the Province, not that they implement Provincial policy onto residents. As I put it the “public consultation process” from the staff perspective seems like we get to decide the shade of brown the walls get to be, but not how high or where they should go.

My suggestion going forward would be to open these meetings with what types of resident input the staff considers valid for consideration, and what types of input conflict with an overarching plan plan and are not considered input on the table. If you opened these meetings with, “The staff feel that a high-rise building is in fact what the Provincial Planning Statement imagines at this location and the staff roll is to bring that into realty. Legislation prevents staff from really considering anything else – if you don’t like it talk to x. Where x is an elected leader that could change this direction.” Then at least the public could lobby in an effective direction – as is they keep lobbying Burlington staff for a direction I think the staff themselves feel is “off the table”.

Enter all this business on the “official plan”. I don’t feel staff are “considering the new Official plan.” They are acting like it’s a done deal. Certainly they are not restraining heights as if the old official plan is the basis of anything. It’s all being considered as if some almost identical version of the “New Official Plan” is the reality.

So the question would be what direction do the staff require to consider current development applications primarily through the working of the current OP? I think the general sense is that compliance with the old OP is appropriate until the new council and Halton gets a crack at the changes they want. Other wise staff working with the New OP are encouraging development that may heavily conflict with a new version, something not good for developers, staff or the public.

Lisa Kearns, Councillor for Ward 2 did her best to clarify things saying:

Yes, we are in a complex position.

Kearns direct smile

Ward 2 City Councillor Lisa Kearns.

Here’s what I can offer:
-I have invited Curt Benson to my Ward 2 Updates, scheduling conflict for the next one on January 24. I will open an invitation to him as well for the neighbourhood meeting relating to the application upcoming at Pearl/Lakeshore. (Curt Benson, MCIP RPP Director, Planning Services and Chief Planning Official, Halton Region).

-I continue to be at every planning application neighbourhood meeting, statutory meeting, etc. with the purpose of ensuring a sense of the community input in relation to development applications. I further encourage feedback in the form most preferable to residents, all is weighted.

-I have directed the interim City Manager to work with Council and Staff to prepare a press release/education campaign on the status of the Official Plan*. This is a direction I brought forward following the 1157-1171 North Shore neighbourhood meeting. At this meeting I observed the used of multiple versions of “Official Plan” and the personal/professional interpretations that projected onto the audience due to the individual experiences through this planning process. I impressed a sense of urgency given the ensuing interpretations that result from the absence of this clarity.

I acknowledge there is so much more to this conversation, and I am grateful for an engaged community. Please know that I continue to work hard on your behalf and am very much aware of the opportunities for improvement.

Interim City Manager Tim Commisso closed out the online conversation saying:

“Thanks Councillor Kearns. No question that addressing issues surrounding the OP is at the forefront of building trust and confidence in the City related to protecting the public interest.

Definitely a priority for myself and we are working hard on your direction and other related actions.”

Those who follow this stuff can arrive at their own conclusions as to just what is taking place.


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Province tries to drop another big one on the municipal sector; they fight back and win a major concession.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 24th, 2019



It was an issue that sort of crept up on the public.

Someone caught Premier Doug Ford telling a group of developers that he was prepared to open up some of the Greenbelt so that developers could build much needed affordable housing.

It was music to the ears of the developers who would take advantage of the opportunity to build high end homes in a rural setting – there wasn’t a hope of there ever being any affordable housing in these prime building sites.

The Premier’s comments about affordable housing were a laughable ruse to a public that is a little less gullible than it was the day they elected him seven months ago..

The municipalities pushed back hard and have been able to convince the provincial government to take out a section of proposed legislation off the table.

The province announced earlier this week that it would pull the controversial Section 10 of the Proposed Bull 66 that is now before the Legislature.

Greenbelt map

The Greenbelt created in 2005 – eye candy for the developers, lifeline for the taxpayers.

It was not a simple task, Burlington, along with a number of other municipalities that touched on or were part of the Greenbelt created in 2005.

Burlington submitted comments as part of a response to the legislation tabled on December 6, 2018, by the Provincial Government, referred to as Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018.

If passed, the legislation would have allowed municipalities to, with the Minister’s consent, pass “Open for Business’” zoning bylaws. These bylaws would not be bound by existing legislation, such as the Clean Water Act, 2006 or the Greenbelt Act, 2005.

For a city such as Burlington, where half our land is rural and located within the Greenbelt, the tools proposed in this legislation were of great concern and do not address the barriers the City is facing regarding economic development.

Mayor Meed Ward and Premier - Dec 2018

All smiles when Mayor Meed Ward met with the Premier while he was on a hospital tour – no word on whether or not she advised the Premier to keep his hands of the Escarpment.

Burlington is already “open for business” with over 400 acres of employment land sitting vacant and available.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said: “Residents have overwhelmingly expressed support to protect our Greenbelt and public safety in the Clean Water Act. We will do that. We have sent a clear message to the province; I have written to Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Halton Regional Council already unanimously approved a resolution confirming that we won’t compromise public safety or our Greenbelt to be open for business. We have a large supply of suitable land available and are ready to work with businesses.”

Burlington made its comments for submission to the Province regarding Bill 66 available to the public on January 18th.

The resolution approved at Halton Regional Council on the legislation was included in the Regional Council meeting minutes from January 16, 2019.

In promoting the legislation to the municipal sector Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said: “Our government is committed to making it faster and easier for municipalities in the region to plan for growth, increase housing supply, attract investment, and create and protect jobs. That is why we are proposing changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 and its transition regulation.

“Given the rising number of people who will live and work in the Greater Golden Horseshoe in the next 20 years, the Growth Plan provides a long-term framework for growth. It aims to:

• Increase and promote economic growth, reduce congestion and provide residents easy access to businesses and services

• Build communities that maximize infrastructure investments, while balancing local needs for the agricultural industry and natural areas

Not through this part of th Escarpment if you don't mind. Citizens want to make sure the province fully understands how iopposed they are to a raod through this part of our city.

Does this look like a site for affordable housing?

The Minister added: “We have heard that planning for growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region is needed. However, we have also heard that there are some issues with how best to implement the Growth Plan. The proposed changes build on feedback that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing heard from the business, research and development sectors, municipalities, and others during engagement sessions last fall.

The proposed changes respect the ability of local governments to make decisions about how they grow. The province will maintain protections for the Greenbelt, agricultural lands, the agri-food sector, and natural heritage systems.

Helen Walihura, Government Relations Specialist and part of what city hall staff call the Burlington Leadership Team, wrote much of the document Burlington submitted. It is quite detailed and is a recognition of the fact that the province is always looking for ways to make changes to MORE HERE

NGTA No-highway-here1-285x300

Burlington managed to beat back the attempt to have a highway run through Kilbride and Lowville.

It was the highway that the Ministry of Transportation wanted to push through Kilbride and Lowville and have it join up with highway 407.
City of Burlington Comments on Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018

On Dec. 6, 2018, the Provincial government introduced Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018. This omnibus bill is meant to “eliminate red tape and burdensome regulations so businesses, can grow, create and protect good jobs.” The proposed legislation includes 32 actions across 12 ministries. Of particular interest, is the proposed new Open-for-Business planning tool and the new regulations under the Planning Act related to the tool.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing invited comments on the proposed legislation via the Environmental Registry under three separate consultations.

• ERO 013-4125 – Proposed open-for-business planning tool

• ERO 013-4239- New regulation under the Planning Act for open-for-business planning tool

• ERO 013-4293 – Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018.

Comments for all three consultations were required by January 20th, 2019.

City of Burlington staff reviewed the proposed legislation and submitted the following comments to the Province.

Proposed open-for-business planning tool (EBR Posting 013-4125)
City of Burlington staff does not support the creation of an open-for-business planning tool as proposed, for the following reasons:

a. The tool undermines the city’s goals to achieve coordinated and sustainable planning, as delivered through the application of the Provincial Policy Statement, Growth Plan, and Greenbelt Plan. Allowing major employment uses in areas not intended for such uses will fragment Agricultural Systems and Natural Heritage Systems and could lead to a creep of land use pressures to introduce residential, ancillary and other supportive uses to support the major employment use;

Burlington GO south side

The Burlington GO station is steps away from a major five tower development on Fairview that is part of the new mobility hub that covers all of the property on the north side of Fairview east to Guelph – which is where the city wants to see new development take place – affordable housing fits into spaces like this.

b. The tool undermines provincial investments in infrastructure, such as the transit projects identified in the Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan. The tool could also undermine Regional investments in infrastructure. Major employment uses should be directed to locate within existing urban areas that are supported by transit and other infrastructure investments, such as near Major Transit Station Areas. Locating major employment uses within the Greenbelt Plan area, and other areas not intended for or compatible with such uses will result in the inefficient use of existing infrastructure and contribute further to traffic congestion;

c. Businesses want certainty and clarity regarding land use permissions. The tool introduces uncertainty in the planning framework that could increase land speculation and contribute to affordability challenges;

d. The tool contradicts the climate change goals articulated in the Province’s draft Environmental Plan, by potentially increasing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with sprawl, and the potential for long term increased costs in environmental remediation and the impacts to water resources and drinking water; and


Did Grow Bold mean that we were open to everything? Not with the new council elected last October.

e. The open for business planning tool will create a competition amongst municipalities that rewards those that will accept the weakest planning, environmental and health and safety regulations. The province should ensure that all municipalities are raising the bar to achieve quality and sustainable developments, to ensure health and safety and to reduce long term cost impacts that would result to address environmental issues and to maintain unsustainable investments in infrastructure.

f. Eliminating the requirement for notification and consultation with the community, other agencies or municipalities may speed up the approval process, but will not necessarily result in good decisions or faster completion of a development. Residents want and ought to be involved in planning decisions that will impact the communities they live in. Local planning decisions that will impact the service delivery of others cannot be made in isolation. Not including Halton Region in Burlington planning decisions where new regional services are required will not result in jobs coming to Burlington faster, in fact, bypassing the Region could result in delays and additional costs.

g. Allowing major trip generators (such as employment developments), to by-pass council approved transportation policies and directions will mean that municipalities will be responsible for meeting conditions that developers would usually be responsible for. For example, if a developer asks for relief in the amount of parking which they are required to provide, and this relief is granted through this proposed policy, only to realize once the project is constructed and operating that there are insufficient parking spaces. The overflow parking becomes an issue the municipality must address.

Instead of an Open for Business Bylaw, please consider the following tools:

a. Tools to incent the creation of innovation districts located near Major Transit Station Areas and other areas that are serviced by transit. Innovation Districts are a type of business and or industrial district to attract and promote clusters of private and public-sector firms and organizations engaged in the development of new products, materials, services and knowledge . An Innovation District at its core must be driven by existing assets and an economic development strategy. A Provincial program to support and build upon existing businesses and organizations within a municipality would be a more prudent approach to using existing specialization and resources. Such a program could include support for creation of economic development strategies for local Innovation Districts;

Paradigm April 2017

The first of the five tower development is about to be occupied. All the property to the east is part of a new mobility hub that will encourage higher density growth.

b. The tools proposed in the open-for-business planning tool do not address our barriers to economic development. An example of a barrier to the development and redevelopment of employment lands is the timely and coordinated issuance of MTO permits. Approximately 80% of the City’s employment lands are within the MTO development permit area. Addressing this barrier would assist in the timely development of serviced and transit oriented employment lands; and

c. The province should consider the use of the MZO tool as an alternative. This tool already exists at a provincial scale. The Planning Act could be amended to expressly identify the attraction of a major employment and economic growth opportunity as a matter of provincial interest. Consideration of these types of uses should be done at a provincial scale to ensure coordinated planning and use of infrastructure.

The following items require more clarity to understand how the tool will be implemented:

a. What is the evidence/data that demonstrates that these sections of the Planning Act are the barriers to locating major employment uses?

b. Please define major employment and economic growth opportunities.

c. What are the prescribed criteria referenced in Section 34.1(2) of the Planning Act?

d. How does the use of this tool apply to Upper Tier vs. Lower Tier municipalities? Are there criteria for determining what is of Regional interest or local interest?

New Regulation under the Planning Act for open-for-business planning tool (EBR Posting 013-4239)

1. Please see EBR Posting 013-4125 above for additional feedback from the City Burlington.

2. In order to provide all feedback a copy of the regulation should be provided.

Zoned commercial, spitting distance to the QEW, minutes from downtown - owner wants to rezone and make it residential.

Burlington has a lot of land that is “open for business” The location on Mainway next to Burloak is zoned commercial, spitting distance to the QEW, minutes from downtown – owner wants to rezone and make it residential.

3. The regulation notes that evidence is required to demonstrate the minimum job creation threshold . This presents implementation challenges. What evidence is acceptable? How do you ensure the proposed jobs are delivered and remain in place for a significant amount of time? Are there penalties if the proposed jobs do not materialize? Will there be any recognition of the differences or importance of either basic or non-basic industries?

4. The regulation indicates that residential, commercial or retail cannot be the primary use. This language could actually introduce mixed uses, particularly residential which appears to be in conflict with the main objective of the open-for-business tool.

5. Any proposed regulation should be specific to not permit recreation or institution uses.

Burlington, along with the other three municipalities in the Region are going to have to be constantly vigilant and ensure that what makes Burlington unique is left alone.

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Lakeshore Village Plaza development in the east end will get a Statutory hearing on February 12th. The natives are restless.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 24th, 2019



In a note to residents in Ward 5 who are on the Council member’s mailing list Paul Sharman sent the following:

“As you may remember from the previous Open House letter that was mailed in July 2018, the City of Burlington received applications from Burlington Retail Portfolio Inc. to re-designate and rezone the properties located at 5353 Lakeshore Road (Lakeside Plaza).


It was standing room only at the Lakeside Plaza visioning event in 2015.

“The purpose of these applications is to permit a mixed use redevelopment with building heights ranging from one to eighteen storeys. The applications propose 900 new residential units, 2,700 square metres of office space and 11, 955 square metres of service commercial and retail uses with 1350 parking surface and underground parking spaces. Access will be maintained from Kenwood Avenue, Hampton Heath Road and Lakeshore Road.

“The property is currently zoned ‘Neighbourhood Commercial (CN1-63)’. According to the City’s Official Plan, the subject properties are designated Neighbourhood Commercial.

Sharman then advises his constituents that “there will be a Statutory Public Information Meeting; residents are invited to attend and learn more about the proposed Official Plan amendment and Zoning By-law amendment applications for 5353 Lakeshore Road. This meeting will take place on: February 12, 6:30 pm; City Hall Council Chambers, Level 2.

“This report does not include a recommendation about the application at this time. The purpose of the information report is to update all members of Council about the development proposal. The report will be available on the City’s website at by searching for the meeting date for the Planning and Development Committee. A copy of the report can also be picked up at the City Clerk’s Department on the main level of City Hall.”

In his most recent report to his constituents Councillor Sharman adds:

Lakeside Village Goldring - Zahoruk and Emilio

Former Mayor Rick Goldring on the left talking to Cynthia Zahorak and the developer at the Lakeshore Village Plaza visioning event in 2015.

“The applicant is in control of what they chose to apply for, not me and not Council. At this stage the applicant heard what members of the public had to say at open house meetings in July and August. I understand the City has not received a modified application.

“Meanwhile, the review period of 210 days has passed, and the City needs to move the file along. Hence there will be a Statutory Public Meeting on February 12.

“Council will not have the ability to make any decisions on the application until staff prepare a recommendation report, sometime in the future. We will learn in the course of time whether the applicant has chosen to reduce the scale, density, design and parking numbers.

“If you have any questions about these applications, please contact me.”

That’s the official word from the ward Councillor. Paul Sharman appears to have taken a pass on the opportunity to comment on the rich background and his personal involvement in the development of this project.

Sharman was an advocate for something in the way of development in the east end in a Plaza that had certainly seen better days. He went into Toronto to try and meet with the people who paid the taxes on the property but was able to get beyond the receptionist – which for Paul Sharman is surprising.

What is missing in the information Councillor Sharman provided is his view on the development. Sharman has never been known for hiding his views in the past. He is outspoken, direct, at times bombastic – he seldom ‘shilly shallies’.

Lakeside village plaza proposal

Lakeside village plaza proposal

The development is huge in scale. It brought out hundreds of people who gathered in a small space during the summer to look at the architectural renderings and ask city staff and the developer’s consultants questions.
The development has a long history. Councillor Sharman wanted to see something done with a Plaza that was in pretty sad shape – it was well past its prime.

During a Council meeting when Jeff Fielding was city manager Sharman informed his colleagues that he had tried to meet the owners at their offices in Toronto – wasn’t able to get past the receptionist.

Sharman puzzled LVP

There was a worried looking Paul Sharman at the first public showing of what the developer had in mind for what was now being called the Lakeshore Village Plaza

Sharman felt there was an opportunity to merge the small arena and park to the north of the development and pull it together with the Burloak Park that was being upgraded.

An architect provided some exceptional drawings showing what could be done.

Linking the parks

Some of the original thinking by the architects had the park and arena to the north of the plaza tied into the development and the BurlOak park to the south.

Pictures of meet here

City staff that participated in the July-August public display of the developer’s plans did say, off the record, that the development the city was looking at was not quite what they had in mind.

At that point the city did not have a completed application to act on.

The developer was testing public reaction – and they certainly got an earful.

Jennifer Johnson at Lakeside Plaza visioning

City staff were out in force at the Lakeside Plaza visioning exercise. The developer was in the room but does not appear to have heard what the citizens had to say,

Community concern became an election issue – the only thing that kept Sharman in office was the number of candidates that ran against him. With four people running against him Sharman was able to split the vote and get returned to city hall; where he has yet to comment on the size and scale of a development that will certainly change the look, feel and traffic flow in the community.

Expect some vigorous community reaction to this one at the Statutory meeting scheduled for February 12th.

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Are residents heard and understood when they make a delegation? Is there ever any follow up? Sometimes.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 22nd, 2019



Does a delegation a citizen make have any impact on both member’s of city council and staff?

There are people who sometimes wonder.

A number of months ago a resident delegated. The city does not release the name of the citizen but in a report to Council, Jamie Tellier, Manager of Urban Design reported on a meeting with a citizen.

The concern was with the Tall Building Guidelines (TBG) the city put in place some time ago.

The issue came out of a Staff Direction from the adoption of the new Official Plan which was approved by city council, sent to the Region who sent it back due to what the Region thought were some deficiencies.

“A motion from Council arising from the adoption of the new Official Plan “Directed the Director of City Building to review the suggested changes from the delegation presentation on the tall building guidelines and report back to Council with any updates.

“This memo will serve to provide members of Council with an update on this staff direction.

Tall building design - set backs and spacing

Tall building design – set backs and spacing

“In September 2018, staff met with the delegate to discuss their presentation to council. This meeting allowed the delegate to share observations and to ensure staff understood the submission. The delegation to council suggested that the City of Burlington Tall Building Guidelines (TBG) did not reflect best practices with regard to sun/shadow impacts and that they did not address the issue properly. The delegation made reference to the City of Toronto Tall Building Guidelines as an example of best practice.

“There were three main areas of concern related to the guidelines:

Application of sun/shadow impacts
“The delegate reviewed the rationale component of the City of Toronto Tall Building Guidelines without the benefit of reviewing the associated detailed guidelines. Through further discussion the delegate and staff agreed that the City of Toronto and the City of Burlington TBG are virtually identical in how they deal with sun/shadow impacts.

Tall buildiong design - material use

Suggested materials that would work well on tall buildings.

Excluding December 21 in measuring sun/shadow impacts
“The delegate also made reference to the TBG only measuring sun/shadow impacts for five consecutive hours of sunlight on the opposite side of street during the equinoxes (March 21 and September 21) and suggested including December 21 (shortest day of year) to these measurements. Staff and the delegate discussed why the shoulder seasons are most important for evaluating sun/shadow impacts as daytime and nighttime are of approximately equal duration during the equinoxes. Not including the shortest day of the year is intentional and a reflection of municipal best practices (City of Toronto and others).

Silent on the Cumulative Effect of Shadow Impacts and Wind Effect
“Lastly, the delegation also indicated that the TBG was silent on the cumulative effect of shadowing and wind effects. Staff, in discussion with the delegate confirmed that Section 3.1.b) of the TBG requires a 25 metre separation distance between towers to minimize cumulative shadow impacts.

“Separation distances between towers along with other design guidelines such as maximum tower floor plates are commonly used techniques to manage the cumulative effect of shadows. Similarly, Section 3.2.c) of the TBG requires the building design to not have an adverse wind effect at the street level.

Next Steps:

“As a result of the above, our conversation moved away from any perceived shortcomings of the TBG and focused more on how sun/shadow and wind studies are prepared by applicants and evaluated by staff.
This was a topic on which staff and the delegate were in alignment. Staff confirmed that in 2019 the departmental work plan includes exploring the related policy structure and development review procedures as they relate to sun/shadow and wind studies. The intent is to ensure clarity and consistency in how sun/shadow and wind studies are prepared and evaluated and to improve our overall decision making processes .

“The delegate appreciated that this was on our workplan and reinforced the importance of standardized criteria to evaluate wind and shadow impacts. Staff will provide further updates later in 2019 as this initiative progresses.”

Site Planning co-coordinator Jamie Tellier explans what is going to be built whereon the JBMH campus.

Jamie Tellier, Manager of Urban Design explains what is going to be built where on the hospital campus.

Is the above a meaningful dialogue between staff and a citizen? Will anything come of it? Was the resident satisfied?

Jamie Tellier is one the best people in the Planning department when it comes to inteligently and cheerfully explaining an issue to anyone who will give him the time.
Who was the resident and what did he or she think of the process?

Can’t say – but we do know that staff listened and that the resident was given ample opportunity to make a case.

Relevant news stories published previously.


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