The vision Meed Ward had in January of this year. Is this the Burlington we will see going forward?

background 100By Pepper Parr

December 26th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

This is a story the Gazette published almost a year ago. It was about a series of motions (8 in total) that then ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward brought to a Standing Committee of Council.

Marianne Meed Ward announced earlier this month that she will be bringing a series of motions to modify the proposed new Official Plan policies to avoid over- intensification and ensure balanced growth in keeping with our strategic plan and requirements under provincial and regional policies.

The detail and Meed Ward’s rationalization are set out below along with maps that visualize the changes she thinks should be made.

Given that Meed Ward is now the Mayor, it is instructive to take a look at what she advocated for last January, it will tell us a lo about what she will want to do as Mayor leading a Council that, for the most part is aligned with her thinking.

Motion: 1
Defer approval of Official Plan till after the 2018 Municipal Election

Rationale:
• Major changes are coming to the city through proposed intensification in the mobility hubs at the 3 Burlington GO stations, and the downtown.

• When the Official Plan review began in December 2011, changes to the downtown were out of the scope. The mobility hubs were not included in the scope.

• In October 2016, the city shifted from an update to a rewrite of the plan. The first draft was released in April 2017. Downtown and mobility hubs policies were not included.

• Proposed changes were first released in September for the downtown, and in November for the GO stations. Area specific plans are still to come.

Official-Plan-Binder_Image There is considerable community opposition to some of the proposed changes, particularly in the downtown.

• We need time to get this right and give the community more voice, by testing the proposed plan democratically via the 2018 election.

• There is no need or requirement from the province to rush.

• Council continues to retain full decision-making control over applications that may come in prior to approval of the Official Plan. Rules around appeals to the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal restrict what can be appealed and give more weight to local decisions, further strengthening council’s decision-making authority.

Meed Ward is absolutely right – what’s the rush? Where is the time for the public to absorb the huge amount of information? And were changes of this magnitude part of the mandate this council was given in 2014?

What citizens began to realize was that they had a city council that was determined to push through a new Official Plan over significant protest.  That decision cost three of them their jobs.

Strategic Plans in Burlington were traditionally four year, single term of council documents. The 2014-2018 council went for a longer term, driven to a considerable degree by the wishes of the then city manager and KPMG, the consultants, who were delighted to find themselves given a much more robust. assignment. The four year plan got an upgrade to a 25 year plan then based is administration changed the time line to a 20 year Strategic Plan and has based much of what it now wants to do on that plan. Future councils are not obligated to accept a Strategic Plan created by a previous government.

Motion: 2
Direct staff to discuss with the Region and province the possibility of removing the mobility hub classification for the downtown, and shifting the Urban Growth Centre to the Burlington GO station.

Rationale:
• The Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub designations have put pressure on the downtown for over intensification. Meed Ward points to the ADI development at Martha & Lakeshore, that was unanimously rejected by council and staff. ADI appealed the council decision to the OMB; a decision is expected soon

• The city has input on the location of Urban Growth Centres (UGC) and Mobility Hubs, and recently added more Mobility Hubs on its own without direction from the province (Aldershot and Appleby). “Ergo” said Meed Ward, ” we can work with the region and province to request a shift in the UGC to the existing designated mobility hub at the Burlington GO station. Urban Growth Centre boundaries recently changed – and can be changed again.”

• The city is positioned to meet city-wide growth targets set by the province for 2031 within the next five years: the population target is 185,000; 2016 census shows the city at 183,000, with 1,000 units under construction at the Burlington GO station alone.

• Downtown will continue to absorb its share of city growth under current Official Plan permissions, and will surpass a target density of 200 people or jobs within 5 to 8 years.

Downtown development sites App A

Current development activity in the Downtown core.

 

• There is significant development interest in the downtown, with at least 23 areas under construction, approved (whether built or not), under appeal, at pre-consultation , or subject to known land assembly.

• The downtown can meet the intent of provincial policy and the strategic plan without the pressure to over-intensify that comes with UGC and Mobility Hub designations.

Meed Ward has spoken with The Director of Planning Services/ Chief Planning Official at Halton Region who is open to this conversation, without precluding any outcome. The Region will be reviewing its own Official Plan in 2019.

Motion 3: Staff Direction
Direct staff to work with the Region of Halton to review the Downtown Urban Growth Centre boundaries, and consider restoring original boundaries with the exception of Spencer Smith Park.

Downtown development sites App A
Land use as the city planning department has presented it in their Mobility Hub reports.

Motion 3 app b +
Growth Centre boundaries as put forward by the Planning Department.

motion 3 app b
Changes Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward will be bringing to council on January 23rd by way of motions.

Rationale:
• Parts of stable neighbourhoods and a community park have been added to the Urban Growth Centre, while the intent of the boundaries is to protect and exclude stable neighbourhoods.

• Areas of high density including mid-rises and high rises have been eliminated , while the intent of the boundary was to accommodate higher density built forms.

Meed Ward said she has spoken with the Director of Planning Services/ Chief Planning Official at Halton Region who is supportive of the proposed boundary changes. The Region will be reviewing its own Official Plan in 2019.

Areas to Eliminate:

• Ontario North/East of the hydro corridor
• West side of Locust and parcel fronting Hurd
• West side of Martha to James, including Lion’s Club Park

Areas to Add back:
• Ghent West to Hager
• Lakeshore South of Torrance
• South East parcels of James/Martha

Motion 4:
4a Retain the current height restriction of 4 storeys (with permission to go to 8 storeys with community benefits) for the Downtown Core Precinct. Proposed height in the new Official Plan is 17 storeys as of right.

4b Include a range of heights in the precinct, to help secure community benefits during redevelopment.

4c Include policies to allow additional density in developments that preserve heritage buildings, as a factor of square footage preserved.

Motion 4 app c
Historic property locations are shown on this map in light purple.

Motion 4 app d
Arrows point to where Meed Ward thinks changes should be made.

Rationale:
The downtown can meet growth targets under existing planning permissions. Refer to the intensification analysis completed by staff for the 421 Brant/James proposal, and earlier for the ADI proposal at Martha/Lakeshore. There is no policy need under provincial legislation or the city’s strategic plan to over intensify to accommodate growth.

St lukes emerals precinct 2

Residences in the St. Luke’s Precinct.

 

The majority of residents are not supportive of this height in this precinct. Residents are supportive of a range of new developments up to a mid-rise character as reflected in the existing plan (4-8 storeys).

St lukes emerald precinct 1

Residences in the Emerald Precinct.

 

Approving an up zone to 17 storeys as of right does not provide opportunity to negotiate community benefits, for example heritage preservation, affordable and family housing, additional green space setbacks and street-scaping, parking and other matters. That can be achieved in part by including a range of heights in the plan, which the existing policy framework has. That can also be achieved by writing into the precinct policies extra density in respect of the square footage of the historic buildings preserved.

There is precedent: the existing OP for the Old Lakeshore Road area includes density increases for heritage protection during redevelopment; add similar policies to the downtown core precinct.

Up zoning to 17 storeys would compromise the historic character of parts of the precinct, create a potential forest of high rises every 25 metres in this area should land owners take advantage of the new heights by application, in accordance with the Tall Building Guidelines, and make it more difficult to preserve historic (but not designated) buildings in the downtown, as the air rights of these existing 2-3 storey buildings would be more valuable than retaining the building.

There are 93 properties in the downtown mobility hub study area of heritage significance (on the municipal register or designated).

• Of these 26 are designated

• 5 adjacent to mobility hub, 1 of these designated

Motion 5:
Height restriction of 3 storeys along Brant Street with permission to go to 11 storeys along John Street frontage, only with the provision of community benefits.

Rationale:
Existing permissions are 4 storeys along Brant, up to 8 with provision of community benefits. The proposed is 3-11, which is roughly the same; this motion seeks additional of language that allows securing community benefits to get to the full 11 storeys.

motion 6
6a. Add the north west corner of Burlington Avenue and Lakeshore Road to the special planning area to match the north east corner.

6b. Reduce height to 3 storeys.

Current proposal in the Official Plan is 6 storeys, on the east side only.

motion 6
Councillor Meed Ward sees Burlington Street as the entrance to the St. Luke’s Precinct and believes that the two corners at Lakeshore Road should be the same height.

Rational:
Burlington Avenue and Lakeshore is a gateway to the stable neighbourhood of St. Luke’s. This corner has existing townhouses and single family homes that contain multiple units. Both sides of the street should be treated the same; the proposed 3 storeys reflects existing built form and is compatible with the balance of the street in the St. Luke’s Precinct. Higher height/density will put pressure on development creep up the street into the neighbourhood.

Motion 7:
Reduce the cannery district at the north east corner of Lakeshore Road and Brant Street to 15 storeys.

Rationale:

Reflects existing heights in the area.

Motion 8: Upper Brant Precinct:
8a. Remove East side of Brant from Blairholm to Prospect 8b.

motion 8

The arrows indicate where Councillor Meed Ward would like to see changes made in the current version of the Official Plan.

The arrows indicate where Councillor Meed Ward would like to see changes made in the current version of the Official Plan.

Remove West side of Brant from Blairholm to Olga

Existing heights are 4-6 storeys; that is an appropriate transition in these two areas which back onto stable neighbourhoods.

The eight motions were a bold, typical Meed Ward approach to change.  As a Councillor she put forward far more motions that any other Councillor, she always asked far more questions than any other member of Council.  These eight motions represented her vision for the downtown core.

With the Chain of office around her neck and the first of several expected staff changes completed the city might be on the cusp of a form of moderate, reasonable growth that maintains the tone of the city.

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Did the Mayor impress upon the Premier that he was to leave the Escarpment just as it is?

News 100 redBy Staff

December 16th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Premier came to town last week – to celebrate the renovation – rebuild of the Joseph Brant Hospital and get his picture in the local paper and the TV news.

Mayor Meed Ward and Premier - Dec 2018

Was the Mayor laughing with him ? Meed Ward meets the Premier at a hospital event,

The Gazette did ask Mayor Meed Ward if she would be showing the Premier the view of the Escarpment from one of the north side rooms in the new Michael Lee Chin wing of the hospital.

We didn’t get a response.

The city is more than just the Escarpment to the north and the lake to the south. It is the people in between that determine who we really are. And it takes more than a magazine saying we are the #2 city in the country doesn't make it so.

The Mayor and the people of Burlington want the province to leave the Escarpment as it is. Did the Mayor take advantage of the opportunity to button hole the Premier at an event at the hospital last week and make sure he understood what we wanted?

Our hope was that she would share the view with the Premier and then politely tell him that both she and the people of Burlington wanted to Premier to keep his mitts of that land and that we are happy with just the way it is – no development north of the Hwy 407 – Dundas Road border.

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Resident maintains the outgoing city Council and National Homes have in effect conspired to subvert the planning approval process for the 2100 Brant development.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 12th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With an awkward quickie Special Meeting of Council where the city manager was dispatched and a Labour Agreement approved behind them, the new city council got down to the business of the city when the Standing Committee – Committee of the Whole (COW) met for the first time.

The meeting started with determining who was going to head up which committee and who the vice chairs were going to be. This is a sort of “pin the tail on the donkey” game for adults. One council member nominates another and the nominee graciously accepts.

Theoretically, a rogue Councillor could nominate themselves and begin the process of taking over the committee structure but that wasn’t going to happen with this Council.

Lisa Kearns was made Chair of the Committee of the Whole Workshops and the Committee of the Whole Budget.

Big job for a newbie and she handled it quite well first time around. There was one precious line when Kearns turned to Lisa Palermo, the Committee Clerk who was guiding Kearns through the process and asked: “Do I stop talking now?”

Landscape master plan

The number of units, 233, in the site gives a whole new meaning to intensification.

It was a mild agenda for the most part – until they got to the National Homes development for 2100 Brant.
Ed Door gave a delegation that set out the long disappointing process the Havendale community went through to get the development reduced from a 233 town homes to something in the 150 homes range. The best the developer was able to do was reduce the number of units to 212 town homes which Door pointed out would have a six foot deep backyard, not enough space for Councillor Sharman to stretch out in.

This development landed on the desks of the Planning department at an awkward time.

The then Director of Planning, Mary Lou Tanner had been promoted to Deputy City Manager and an interim Director, Bill Janssen, was brought in from Hamilton to provide some leadership.

Heather_MacDonald COB planner

Heather MacDonald, Burlington Director of Planning

A new Director of Planning was hired.  Heather MacDonald had to be brought up to speed. Meanwhile the 180 days the city planners had to come forward with a staff recommendation were melting away.

During this time period, National Homes, according to the time line Door read out, did everything they could to delay and obfuscate the normal procedures.

Then – the 180 day time frame the Planners had to give city council a report was up and National Homes filed an appeal to the Land Appeal Planning Tribunal, the organization that took over form the Ontario Municipal Board.

The standard procedure is for the LAPT to hold a Pre-conference hearing.  They scheduled one for December 18th.   Lawyers for National Homes sent the people involved a letter saying they wanted the Pre-hearing meeting to be turned into a settlement meeting to accept the changes that apparently were agreed upon with the planning department.

Doors delegation is a litany of disgraceful manipulations of the development application process in which he maintained the city was complicit.

Ed Doors explained that “The Havendale Advisory Committee was initially established by the former Councillor for Ward 1 (Rick Craven) in response to concerns expressed by residents regarding the application for development of the property at 2100 Brant Street by National Homes.

Aerial of the site

The site that is to be developed.

“The first official meeting of the group in September 2017 was chaired by the ward Councillor and included over 20 residents; a week later, the second meeting included representatives from National Homes and the City of Burlington Planning Department.

“It became apparent at the meeting,  that the residents’ overarching concerns, including non- compliance with the Provincial Policy Statement, the Burlington Official Plan and existing zoning standards, were not on the table for discussion, and the focus was to be only on specific details of the application.

“We were repeatedly assured by the former Ward 1 Councillor over the next several months that there was plenty of time for further discussion, and that the 180-day deadline would not be an issue.

“The City organized a Public Open House for October 12, 2017 to discuss the development proposal. Our Committee circulated 500 flyers in the local community, in both Wards 1 and 3. The meeting was packed; residents were upset.

“The Havendale Committee developed an Initial Position Paper that was presented to the City on October 27, 2017. In our letter of transmittal, we stated:

“The Havendale Advisory Committee… recognizes the critical responsibility and privilege of representing the concerns of the area residents, which includes residents of both Ward 1 and Ward 3. Our initial response to the National Homes Proposal includes research, analysis, and recommendations, and has been approached through significant consultation and discussion.

“In this Initial Position Paper, the Advisory Committee has prepared an outline of what might constitute an Alternative Proposal, to draw attention to the enormous opportunity for innovation on one of the last available tracts of vacant land in Burlington. Full consideration should be given to the incorporation of green building and sustainable community innovations that would further the goals of the Burlington community as a truly livable city of the future.

National Homes image

The blue area denotes the Havendale community with 236 homes. The orange area is the proposed National Homes development where 233 homes would be built.

“We suggest that both the site and the size of the land in question challenges all involved to seek a solution through a spirit of collaboration. We are committed to a dialogue that will lead to a solution that meets Burlington’s housing needs and creates a unique and sustainable community.”

“We received no official response to this submission.

“On January 26, 2018 members of our Committee met with the former Ward 1 Councillor and the new Planner on File to review the key issues and concerns raised in the Position Paper, and to discuss our concern about the possibility of the 180-day deadline not being met. Both Councillor Craven and Lola Emberson assured us that this would not lead to an appeal by National Homes.

“Around the same time, our Committee commissioned a brief video about the Tyandaga neighbourhood and the impact of the proposed development on the community for future use at the Statutory Public Meeting. The video was funded through member donations.

“Members of our Committee met over the next several months with other Council members and the Mayor, with National Homes, with the initial and the subsequent Planners on file, and with other advocacy groups in the community, including the Age- Friendly Housing Association.

“Immediately prior to the Statutory Public Meeting, National Homes filed an appeal with LPAT because of the non-decision by Council within 180 days.

“When the Statutory Public Meeting was finally held on April 3, 2018 at the Committee of the Whole, our Committee members delegated effectively, and in fact were complimented by Council members for the quality of our input. At this meeting, our Committee tabled a proposal to establish a Task Force consisting of National Homes, City Planning, and a few residents to review the National Homes proposal and work towards a compromise that would satisfy all parties. All parties responded affirmatively to this suggestion.

Park distances

In the initial proposal there were no provisions for a park. National Homes revised the proposal and added a park less than an acre in size.

“Committee members lobbied over the next two months for the establishment of this Task Force, however it failed to materialize, due to lack of support from the former Ward 1 Councillor, the Planning Department, and National Homes.

“Our Committee was asked by the former Councillor to attend a meeting with National Homes and the Planning Department on May 29th, 2018 for a presentation on adjustments that were being proposed by National Homes. We were asked for feedback on these modifications within 2-3 weeks.

“We began our discussions and review as documents were being provided to us, and as we were drafting our response, we were notified by the City on June 25, 2018 that National Homes had in fact made a Re- submission with Updated Planning Justification on June 19, 2018.

“On June 28, 2018, we sent a letter to all Council, the City Manager, Deputy City Manager, Director of City Building, and the Planner on File, expressing our concerns with the process and the lack of meaningful consultation. No official response.

“An Open House was organized by the City on July 17, 2018, to give National Homes the opportunity to present their revised proposal to the community. Our Committee was given 10 days after the Open House to submit a written response to the City. We prepared a detailed Addendum to our Initial Position Paper, and submitted it to the City by the deadline.

“There has been no acknowledgement of, or response to, this submission, despite the inclusion of detailed questions requiring response by the City.

“In the Open House Notice, the City clearly set up the expectation for the process moving forward saying:

“No decisions about this proposal have been made yet. We are asking for your feedback on the revision before we make a recommendation to the Planning and Development Committee of Council to either approve or refuse the application.”

“Former Councillor Craven stated in his July 2018 Ward 1 newsletter: “The proposal is still subject to a review by City staff and a recommendation expected in the early fall.”

“In turning down our Committee’s request to make a brief delegation to the Committee of the Whole meeting on September 10, 2018, the Committee Clerk stated: “The confidential report on today’s Committee of the Whole agenda is to provide committee members with an update on National Homes appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) regarding 2100 Brant Street.

“The subject of the report deals with the legal matter and not with the development itself. Therefore, no delegates are permitted to speak because the report is subject to solicitor/client privilege. … When the development matter comes back to committee that would be the time for residents to delegate.

“No report on comments from the public or the technical comments from the various departments and agencies was made available. No recommendation report was created for public comment, no comments on the re-submission from the public were posted, and this re-submission by National Homes never made it to a Planning and Development Committee meeting, during which delegations could have been heard.

“In fact, the entire participation and consultation process has been curtailed for our Committee.

“As you know, the former Council made last-minute decisions in camera, and in favour of the development application. National Homes has requested that the LPAT Pre-Hearing Conference scheduled for December 18, 2018 be converted to a Settlement Hearing.

“This raises serious concerns for us.

“It is the position of the Havendale Advisory Committee that by rushing to agree to a confidential settlement prior to the swearing-in of the newly elected Council, the outgoing Burlington Council and National Homes have in effect conspired to subvert the planning approval process, and exclude consideration of the legitimate concerns of residents and of the newly elected representatives.

National homes - packed

Steve Armstrong giving a detailed analysis of the development from a citizen’s perspective.

“Our Committee believes that it would be appropriate for any Reports or briefings with respect to this settlement that were made to the outgoing Council by, or on behalf of, the Planning Department immediately be made publicly available in order allow proper and transparent consideration of all the facts.

“Proceeding with the settlement at this stage would set a precedent in Burlington. It would send a signal that contentious development applications need not be dealt with through the proper planning process in a municipality. Rather, if the municipality simply ensures that a decision on the application is not made within 180 days, the planning decision can be left to LPAT.

“We are of the opinion that the settlement outlined by National Homes legal counsel is not compliant with Burlington’s Official Plan, Burlington’s zoning regulations, nor the Provincial Policy Statement, and as such should not be endorsed by this Council.

“While we do not believe the current settlement is appropriate, we do believe that a negotiated settlement that addresses the concerns of all parties, including the public, is achievable. We would like to be part of that process.”

There is a lot or murkiness here. Council has been in a number of Closed Meetings with the City Solicitor. The public knows next to nothing about what this “deal” was with National Homes.

The Gazette has learned that Mayor Meed Ward met with member of the Havendale community last week and did some idea sharing.

When the Standing Committee meeting went into Closed Session on Monday to discuss the 2100 Brant development – all the Planners were asked to leave the room.

What many people cannot understand is: How did a situation like this come about?

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Region tells the city the Official Plan they sent isn't legit - so that rush to get the thing 'approved' before the election was a waste of time.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 10th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington received notice from the Region of Halton on December 4th regarding the city’s Official Plan.

Noting that the notice did not arrive until the 4th, that means the surprise Mayor Meed Ward told the inauguration audience she had for them was not about the Official Plan – it was about the firing of the City Manager which took place the following day.

The notice from the Region advised that the city’s adopted Official Plan did not conform with the Regional Official Plan in a number of respects related to policies and mapping, and among others, in the areas of:

Regional Chair Gary Carr tasting honey while on an agricultural tour.

Regional Chair Gary Carr tasting honey while on an agricultural tour. There is some serious farming being done in the rural lands – not as much as the Planning department thinks.

• proposed employment land conversions and permitted uses within the employment areas and lands;
• the identification of and permitted uses within agricultural lands;
• the identification of and permitted uses within the Natural Heritage System; and
• transportation matters, including road classifications.

A media release from city hall said:

Ongoing work will continue between the city and Region which will result in a draft notice of decision containing modifications to the city’s Official Plan. These modifications will be shared with the city and brought forward to City Council for consideration.

The process for final approval of the city’s Official Plan will include:

• The ability for the city to make additional modifications before the Official Plan is approved by Halton Region where there is appropriate planning justification and public consultation

• Once city staff is of the opinion that the issues of non-conformity have been addressed, the proposed changes would be brought back to Council for a vote before final approval by the Region

• An indefinite “pause” of the 210 days the Region has to approve the Official Plan

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward will work with her Burlington Council colleagues to ensure the city and Region are able take the appropriate time necessary to continue work on any potential modifications of the Official Plan.

This will also allow time for any additional matters the new Council would like to address before final approval.

Burlington city staff will bring forward a memo through the Council Information Package on Dec. 14 about next steps on this matter.

This process is going to be complex and there are just two members of the new seven member city council who have a solid grasp of what this is all about.

Holding hands

A great moment – and the beginning of a four year term of office.

The really steep learning curve for the new council begins this afternoon when they meet as a Standing Committee and get down to business – unless one counts the quicky Special Meeting of city council that took place last Tuesday.

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Those development projects: How many are there and where are they going to be built? Will they ever be built?

News 100 redBy Staff

December 6th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

During the election mention was made regularly that there were 30 development applications being processed by the Planning department.

Several of the either retired or defeated members of the 2014-2018 city council didn’t confirm that number.

MMW Mike and Goldring 2

TVO debate – Then Mayor Goldring was less than impressed.

When Mayor Meed Ward was debating on TV Ontario with the other three candidates she pulled out a map she had showing just where those developments were located.

One of the prime election issues was what Meed Ward called over-development. The other was the very poor public engagement on the part of senior people at city hall.

The firing of the city manager underlined just how unhappy people were with the way they were being treated.
Days after being elected the city manager went on holiday, hours after being sworn in City Council met and the man was fired.

high profile 421

Approved – but a building permit has yet to be issued. City council might un-delegate site plan approval and manage that process itself

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

The OMB didn’t buy the city’s argument against the ADI development – it has a green light.

409 Brant image

This development on the south eat corner of Brant and James is before the Land Planning Appeal Tribunal.

With close to two years left on what is believed to be a five year contract the city is facing a whopping settlement – thought to be close to half a million dollars.   The price of progress.

City Council is going to take the balance of the month to think about what they want in the way of a city manager – early in January the search for a replacement will begin.

There is a lot of thinking for those five people who are completely new to municipal politics. We are going to see what they are made of very quickly.  No pressure.

In the meantime – what about those development project? Where they and what are they?
The map set out below tells you where they are. Now to learn just what they are.

Development project Dec 2018

Development projects set out by ward. They aren’t in just the downtown core.

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Regions takes a hard look at the Official Plan and tells Burlington the document needs more work. A grateful Mayor may have offered to drive to the Region to retrieve the document.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 5th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The city adopted its Official last April, on the 26th; and sent it to the Region of Halton where it has to be approved.

On May 11, the Region acknowledges the Burlington Official Plan was received and that they are the approval authority to make a decision on the Plan.

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageDuring the last number of months, Halton Region staff have been working closely with City of Burlington staff in the review of the newly adopted Plan to address conformity to the Region of Halton Official Plan.

In a media release the Region said: “Through this review, Regional staff have identified a number of matters with respect to the Plan’s conformity to the Halton Region Official Plan that need to be resolved prior to making a decision on the Plan.”

A notice the Region sent the city set out additional information related to these matters and having to do with non­ conformity with the Halton Region Official Plan.

The Region has said they are ready to work with Burlington in an expeditious manner.

The Planning Act states that if the approval authority (the Region of Halton) fails to give notice of a decision in respect of all or part of a plan within 210 days after the day the plan is received by the approval authority, any person or public body may appeal to the Tribunal all or any part of the plan.

An exception to this provision applies if the approval authority states that the plan or any part of it does not, in the approval authority’s opinion, conform with the upper-tier municipality’s official plan.

The Region of Halton, has informed the City of Burlington that through its delegated authority to the Chief Planning Official, is of the opinion that the Plan does not conform to the Region of Halton Official Plan (2009) (“ROP”).

The Plan does not conform to the ROP with respect to policies and mapping related to, among other matters:

The city is more than just the Escarpment to the north and the lake to the south. It is the people in between that determine who we really are. And it takes more than a magazine saying we are the #2 city in the country doesn't make it so.

Farmland use was one of the issues the Region had with the Official Plan Burlington submitted.

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

the identification of and permitted uses within agricultural lands;

the identification of and permitted uses within the Natural Heritage System; and

transportation matters, including road classifications.

The Region takes the position that the 210-day review period does not begin to run until the Region of Halton confirms that the non-conformity with the ROP is resolved.

As such no appeals under subsection 17(40) of the Planning Act may be filed at this time.

Which is probably just fine with the new Mayor and city council as well as the hundreds of people who didn’t want the Official Plan approved before the election.

With the Official Plan now back in the hands of the Burlington Planning department city council can issue a different set of instructions to deal with the issues that had people upset and angry.

The Downtown Mobility Hub is probably history and the boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre may now get the consideration Meed Ward wanted when she was the ward 2 Councillor.

The creation of the Downtown Mobility hub was argument enough for the Adi Nautique development to get out of the Ontario Municipal Board without a scratch.

It is certainly good news for the new Mayor and those people who delegated to put the Official Plan on hold until the voters decided who they wanted running the city.

The Planning department now has to wait until new instructions are sent and also wait until a new interim city manager is in place.  There has been no suggestion that the current Deputy City Manager will fill that interim role.

The Region’s decision to send the Official Plan back to the city is a validation of the election results even if the Regional issues are not part of what Burlington voters were angry about.

Confusing times – with the right leadership doing the right things for the right reasons, the city could be a much different place in five years.

Assuming the new city council doesn’t blow it

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Not much time for new council to decorate their offices - job assignment recommendations go to council next week.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

December 5th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We can begin to get a sense as to how Mayor Meed Ward wants city council to operate.

She is asking her colleagues to approve a number of appointments and has recommended some changes to the city’s representation on a number of Boards and committees.

Her recommendation is to:

Increase the composition of elected representatives to the Conservation Halton Board from 1 out of 4, to 2 out of 4, with the remaining two being citizen appointees, subject to an interview process at the beginning of each term of council; and

Decrease the composition of elected representatives on the Burlington Economic Development Corporation from 3 to 2; and

Establish a Waterfront Citizens Advisory Committee, and direct staff to report back with proposed terms of reference by Q2 2019; and

Establish a stand alone Transit Advisory Committee, and direct staff to report back with proposed terms of reference by Q2 2019, including cooperation between this committee, the Cycling Advisory Committee and the

Integrated Transportation Advisory Committee; and

Establish the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee as a permanent citizen advisory committee of council, and direct staff to consult with members and report back with proposed terms of reference by Q2 2019; and

Decrease the council appointees on the Downtown Parking Committee from two to one; and

Conduct an overall review of citizen advisory committees, including consultation with the public and citizen advisory committee members, and report back to council with recommendations and options for any changes to improve effectiveness by Q2 2019.

In her report Mayor Meed Ward explains that “a significant portion of our role on council is serving on committees and boards, both internal and external to the city.”

There are 63 boards and committees in total, including standing committees of city and regional council, providing an equal share of 9 appointments for each council member, with the exception of one who has 8. Attached are the recommended appointments.

The Chairs and Vice Chairs of each standing committee of city council have to be elected by the Councillors. Mayor Meed Ward’s recommendations for the year ahead are:

Lisa Kearns

Lisa Kearns, ward 2 Councillor is going to be stretched to get a firm grip on the budget – it will be her first big test.

Planning & Development Chair: Paul Sharman Vice-Chair: Rory Nisan

Committee of the Whole – Regular & Budget Chair: Lisa Kearns
Vice Chair: Kelvin Galbraith

Committee of the Whole – Workshop Chair: Shawna Stolte
Vice Chair: Angelo Bentivegna

A nomination will be required from the floor for the slate, followed by a vote.

Committee appointments

Meed Ward wants to increase the composition of elected representatives to the Conservation Halton (CH) board from 1 out of 4, to 2 out of 4, with the remaining two being citizen appointees, subject to an interview process at the beginning of each term of council.

Her rationale is that there should be an equal balance of elected responsibility and citizen voice. CH’s work intersects at key points with our work on city and regional council in the areas of development permitting, flood mitigation, environmental rehabilitation, recreation and more. Given the variety and significance of these matters, a second elected representative directly accountable to the people is recommended.

There is more to this than meets the eye.  A number of years ago former Councillor Taylor wanted to add Meed Ward to Conservation Halton.  At a messy messy Standing Committee what the Gazette referred to as the “Gang of Four” shot that down.  Councillor Taylor took his name off the list and nominated Meed Ward for the role.  It was one of his finer moments.

Recommendation: Decrease the composition of elected representatives on the Burlington Economic Development Corporation from 3 to 2.

In the previous Council Paul Sharman and Jack Dennison both wanted to be on the BEDC – the then Mayor was also on that Board. Meed Ward doesn’t have that many people with a solid understanding of the role BEDC plays.  That organization is in the process of looking for a new Executive Director.  It will be a critical appointment.  The question on this file is going to be: Is the Board of the BEDC in sync with where Mayor Meed Ward wants to go?

Frank McKeown, the former Executive Director, was never convinced that Meed Ward fully understood what economic development was all about.  It isn’t one of her core strengths.

The establishment of a Waterfront Citizens Advisory Committee is a biggy for the Mayor. The issue that she rode to office in 2019 was the Save our Waterfront Committee. When Cam Jackson was Mayor he created a Waterfront Advisory Committee that was disbanded when it became clear that the committee wasn’t getting much done – mostly due to the way the Chair managed the Committee.

SaveOurWaterfront- Meed ward

SaveOurWaterfront- was the issue that Marianne Meed Ward rode to gain the ward 2 seat in 2010. She wants to make it one of the focal points for this Council.

Meed Ward fully understands that Burlington is a waterfront city, without a formal citizen’s voice advising council. This Mayor is going to do everything possible to ensure that the city takes advantage of the opportunity to do something unique with what is left of the waterfront.  She isn’t going to be able to get the land that was sold back  (a travesty of municipal administration) but there is still a lot than can be done.

Transit is key to Mayor Meed Ward. She is recommending that Council establish a stand-alone Transit Advisory Committee that will cooperate with the Cycling Advisory Committee and the Integrated Transportation Advisory Committee.

Rationale: We have over 1 million rides annually on our transit system but no dedicated citizen’s advisory voice to council on transit. Establishing a committee honours the importance of transit in the community expressed during the election campaign and before, and honours the direct request for a stand-alone transit advisory committee from Burlington For Accessible Sustainable Transit and others.

Meed Ward is picking up the idea that Mayor Goldring had with his Millennial Advisory Committee; she wants to make it a permanent advisory committee of council.

Rationale: A formal advisory committee ensures a youth voice on issues in our community that is city-based and not subject to changes in the mayor’s office.

Recommendation: Decrease the council appointees on the Downtown Parking Committee (DPC) from two to one.

Rationale: Most boards and committees have one council appointee. Reducing the composition on DPC better distributes council appointments among the various boards and committees

Meed Ward is going one step further; she wants to have a review of citizen advisory committees, including consultation with the public and committee members.

City council members are also Regional Council members; their role at that level are set out below:

Council and Regional Standing Committees

“Times are a changing” indeed.

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Mayor Marianne Meed Ward: 'leaders do not need to come up with all the great ideas, leaders need to create the environment that lets great ideas come from the community'.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 4th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There was never any doubt as to who was in charge.

There was never any doubt as to what she was going to do

And there was never any doubt as to how the audience felt about the direction Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor was taking. The applause was close to rapturous. There were at least five, heck make that six standing ovations. This was her night.

Moment she became Mayor

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Justice Barry Quinn.

The moment Justice of the Peace Barry Quinn, a former municipal Councillor himself, slipped the Chain of Office around the neck of the stunning red dress Meed Ward wore she was in the driver’s seat.

Meed Ward gave a hint as to just how well she was going to be able to deliver on her election promises when she told the audience that she would have some good news for them “tomorrow”. Expect some word on the “approved” Official Plan being in the mail from the Region and on its way back to city hall.

There was entertainment for the audience; Hayley Verral sang O’Canada, the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry performed, Dan Murray, a Burlington poet read and Dania Thurman sang to close out the evening after which everyone congregated in the family room to munch on cup Kelly’s cupcakes and cheese trays from a local provider.

City council on innauguration Dec 3rd - 2018

The 2018 – 2022 Burlington city council.

The Mayor set out how she was going to run the city when she laid out four themes that she said would define her term of office.

1: Residents first
2: Burlington is everyone’s city
3: Protecting the city
4: Honour the trust and the commitment to serve.

For the most part the Mayor spoke extemporaneously. Marianne did not needs notes or a script, this was an evening she has spent the last ten years preparing for.

Citizens being citizens 2

Citizens being citizens after the Inauguration and the Inaugural address.

Her theme, that respecting the residents was first and foremost, was supported with a commitment to “serve you” by providing more parks and delivering budgets that are not in the 4% annual tax increase range. “We need to do better than that” she said.

“This council is dedicated to your vision, we need to repair the trust” and added that leaders do not need to come up with all the great ideas, leaders need to create the environment that lets great ideas come from the community”.

Statements like that brought people to their feet.

Staff, said the Mayor implement the decisions council makes.

Point number 2. Burlington is an inclusive city. She wants to “fix transit “The meat behind her 3rd point, protecting the city was this: “We will not take on over-development”. The applause was instant. The Mayor added that she was pushing the reset button on the downtown plan.

NGTA No-highway-here1-285x300Point # 3: Meed Ward wants to flood proof the city and protect the green space. She committed to fighting any effort to opening up the green space north of the Hwy 407 – Dundas demarcation line. The same comment was made about any effort to re-open the debate over an NGTA road cutting through Kilbride and Lowville.
Meed Ward gave Mary Munro, a former one term Mayor, a strong nod when she said “Mary committed to saving

Lakeshore Road and not going along with cutting down any trees to widen that road.

Meed Ward was not as successful in her efforts to save prime waterfront land from sliding into private hands.

Throughout her address she was firm in her resolve. “We heard you” said Meed Ward “and we are listening”.

“Stand firm and never back down” she added.

Statements like that make it clear that Meed Ward is firm in her commitment to lead a city council that will be significantly different than the one that was in place from 2010 to 2018.

In expanding on her 4th point Meed Ward told the audience that many felt the province holds all the cards. “Not true” she said and added that “we are going to choose our destiny.

The audience heard a slightly combative Mayor stake out her territory when she said to the audience, quoting Winston Churchill, that you “go from failure to failure without giving up” adding that she lost two elections before she went on to win three.

Wearing chain of office

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward wearing the Chain of Office for the first time.

Before turning the inauguration into a meeting of City Council Meed Ward said “the cause is nothing less than our city. We need you to now go out there and do some good.”

Did Burlington get a look Monday evening at a woman who just might turn out to be a great Mayor? This country hasn’t had all that many great Mayors. Toronto did have David Crombie serve that city as Mayor; Crombie has a soft spot for Burlington and there is certainly a meeting of minds between Meed Ward and Crombie on how the city should protect its waterfront.

Those two should have lunch sometime. Crombie was a strong proponent of a Waterfront Trail – something Meed Ward has some ideas about as well.

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The development application process is grinding down the staff in the planning department

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 30th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The paper work involved in a major development application is extensive. The volume has become more than the city’s Planning Department can reasonably handle.

Add to the volume the fact that there are a reported 30 applications in the pipe line and toy end up with a situation where the developer file an appeal to the Land Planning Administrative Tribunal for not responding in the allotted 120 days.  Some situations allow a 180 day timeline.

The public then howls claiming that the Planning department is inefficient.

Burlington’s Planning department is in one of those no one wins situations.

The paperwork for the National Homes development at 2100 Brant consisted of:

Supporting Documents

Application Form and Covering Letter (PDF)
Site Plan (PDF)
Draft Plan of Subdivision Application (PDF)
Environmental Site Screening Questionaire (PDF)
Enviromental Impact Study (PDF)
Functional Servicing Report and Storm Water Management Report (PDF)
Geotechnical Report (PDF)
Geotechnical Report – Slope Stability (PDF)
Grading Plan (PDF)
Height Survey – Adjacent Building Height Survey (PDF)
Letter of Reliance – Halton Region (PDF)
Noise Study (PDF)
Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (PDF)
Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (PDF)
Planning Justification Report (PDF)
Plan of Survey (PDF)
Planning Justification Report (PDF)
Preliminary Landscape Plan (PDF)
Sanitary Servicing and Drainage Plan (PDF)
Shadow Impacy Analysis (PDF)
Shadow Study (PDF)
Stage 1-2 Archaelogy Letter of Registration (PDF)
Storm Servicing and Drainage Plan (PDF)
Transportation Study (PDF)
Tree Inventory and Preservation Plan – East (PDF)
Tree Inventory and Preservation Plan – West (PDF)
Urban Design Brief (PDF)
Watermain Hydraulic Analysis (PDF)
Watermain Plan (PDF)

Unit layout

A development with this degree of complexity requires time and resources from different levels to prepare a staff report – all within several months. Planning department has not met the target on a number of occasions.

Various levels of expertise are required to understand and assess the contents of the document.  They also have to get sent to other departments for their input.

On smaller developments the paperwork can be manageable – but when there are more than two dozen applications the staff in the Planning department get swamped.  There are 26 planners on staff with one department asking for an additional planner to help lighten the load.

It is never as simple as it appears on the surface.

 

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Brant street development running into timing issues - over-development has neighbours up in arms

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 28, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The first the Gazette heard of the status of the 2100 Brant development that is currently at a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal was a mention at the final city council meeting of the current council.

The discussion took place in a Closed Session so there was no information to report.
Then we got a document that had a letter from the National Homes legal counsel. A portion of that letter said:

Please also be advised that we will be asking the LPAT to convert this PHC to a SETTLEMENT HEARING to approve the settlement which National Homes (Brant) Inc. and the City of Burlington have reached. The settlement is reflected in the planning instruments (the Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment and Plan of Subdivision), all of which are attached to this letter. If you have a concern with the PHC being converted to a settlement hearing please contact the undersigned prior to Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

Also, part of the document we got was an outline on where things were in terms of what the developer was asking for.

Aerial of the site

Vacant for years, the land had been donated to the Catholic church and then bought by a developer who had big plans – too big for the neighbours

The development application was at LPAT because the city had failed to respond to the development application within the 120 day timeframe required.

The application was to permit the development of 233 townhouse consisting of 27 dual frontage townhouses, 123 standard townhouses and 83 street townhouses at a density of 43.4 units per net hectare.

The documentation on this development is complex and constantly changing.

Residents from the Havendale community put together a very well written and data supported response to the delegation.

Area resident’s point out that “a lame duck outgoing Council exacting some final tribute likely instigated by the retiring ward Councillor. There are so many planning failures and empty information boxes on so many critical things in the OMB/LTAP Notice that it is a repugnant rip off of the democratic and due public process in the planning and normal sequence outlined in the Planning Act.

Landscape master plan

Traffic issues with just the one street running through the development that exist onto Brant and Havendale

“There will be no staff reports on important matters such as: stormwater and groundwater flows in this escarpment location and how they are to be managed to achieve pre-development runoff rates, and to prevent impacts downstream; a full staff recommendation report with comments from various City departments and the public on the amendments and 19 or so variances requested; a Committee meeting with delegations and debates, and a vote; a following Council meeting with delegations, debate, and a vote; and then an opportunity for appeal.

“All of this democratic process and more is being arbitrarily taken away in this move by a defunct Council.
Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident said “I was told that the planner in charge of the file, Lola Emberson, wrote the basis for the amendment – there is no signature or otherwise identification – and that she agrees with it. Frankly, it looks more like it was written by the developer consultant than an objective planner. It’s a disgrace for a professional and objective planner, working for the residents of the City, to sign off on such a deficient basis for an approval of all the amendments wanted.

Park distances

The lack of a park within the development is a major issue.

“Anything built on such a vacant site as this application would meet the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) targets for intensification, including a reduced build that would address and meet the existing OP and substantial resident comments and submissions suggesting revisions to the application that would satisfy all the PPS and intensification needs.

“It is notable that this appeal by the developer was made possible by the City neglect to make a decision on the requested Official Plan amendment within the 180 days’ timeline.

“This City neglect to make decisions on requested amendments extends also to amendments on zoning by-laws within the 120 day timeline on several other applications, appears to be a policy-like decision to sidestep the normal democratic public process, described above, for the planning process.

Built form

Traditional look to the built form.

“The developers love it as it removes any negative public and planning objections from the process of deciding the application. The public is effectively shut out of any due process, rights of appeal, and the City Council cannot do anything of its own volition without going through the OMB/LPAT. In the end, only one or two LPAT Chairs make the decisions.

“There is another appeal by National Homes on their 484 and 490 Plains Rd application for zoning by-law amendments based on the City failure to make a decision within 120 days. Again, this appeal is designed to sidestep the democratic due planning process, and is facilitated by the City planning and legal staff in an apparent deliberate fashion in ignoring the lapses of the mandated timelines for making decisions. There is a pre-hearing conference meeting set for December 19, 2018, one day after the meeting for 2100 Brant St.

“It’s the same developer, and similar logic, so it is a logical question as to whether this application can be approved without due process, just like the 2100 Brant St application.

“We ought to be concerned that such a planning ruse like these appeals can be used throughout the City planning and development process to undermine public participation in a democratic way of transparent decision-making based on a discussion of the merits and demerits of applications.

Brant street frontageMuir said: “And we should definitely be concerned that the existing planning, legal and senior managers have seemingly organized themselves in such a way as to allow this failure to occur. All I have heard in my complaints to city planning is a litany of possible things that could have happened to allow such a failure to occur, from inadequate staff for processing applications and studies submitted by the developers.

Muir making a point

Tom Muir has pointed out many of the problems with a development he feels is being rushed.

Muir believes “This is a management and policy failure that must be fixed right now.

All this will land on the desks of the new city council that will roll up their sleeves and figure out how development applications are going to be handled.

The Planning department is swamped with applications. There are a reported 26 planners on staff who have to manage the reported 30 development applications in the pipeline.

It is close to an untenable situation and must be emotionally draining for the planners, who for the most part are young, well educated and personally motivated to do good work.

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Bryce Lee: Wants more than any city council could get done in its first 100 days; doesn't think the new Mayor will last more than one term.

100 daysThe Gazette has invited residents for their thoughts on what the new city might try to achieve in its first 100 days.  A lot of wishful thinking and some misunderstanding of how the city actually works.  Interesting comments.

 

By Bryce Lee
November 28th, 2018
BURLINGTON, ON

Have often thought the ward boundaries should shift, to accommodate two extra councillors account some wards are geographically larger than others. Even the load so to speak.

No more structures blocking the view of Lake Ontario.

The lake is perhaps the greatest asset this City has, do not lose it to developers!

No more fancy homes on Lakeshore east to Guelph Line.

The issue is the portion shown as parkette. The city had three options: keep the land and develop it as a parkette, lease the land to adjoining property owners until the city decides on its long term use or sell the land. The want to sell it.

The issue is the portion shown as parkette. The city had three options: keep the land and develop it as a parkette, lease the land to adjoining property owners until the city decides on its long term use or sell the land. The city sold it.

Over a long time that entire area should become a linear park. Selling those lots on Lakeshore Road between Market and St Paul to home owners was stupid and short sighted.

Let the council delegations be heard, good amplification is required; citizens must not be ignored. They voted the current Councillors in; they can just as easily be voted out in four years!

421 Brant

Approved – all but impossible to change the decision

Looking north from Queens Head

Developer is expected to appeal the council decision to keep the structure to 17 storeys – developer wants 24 – same as the approved building across the street.

As to the planned monstrosities opposite the current city hall and elsewhere; the so-called Official Plan needs to be reviewed. Such tall buildings should be fronting the edge of Metrolinx railway line, not in the downtown area. Keep the downtown building height to six stories, set back from the new wider sidewalks.

Have affordable shops on perhaps the ground floor or even the second floor.

Motorized vehicle parking should be at the rear of said structures or below level; 1.5 vehicles per household please. Employees should also be afforded parking, below street level.

Traffic barriers in place on LAkeshore for the Car Free Sunday last year were expensive and not really used. The event was poorly attended.

We are an automobile based society

We are an automobile based society regardless of the method of propulsion; make charging stations available payable by bank card. The car park with Elizabeth on the east and John Street on the west should be a many level parking garage with retail shops and professional offices on the ground floor and second level, shops to be fronted on the streets mentioned above.

Maintain, if possible, the residential areas of old Burlington below Ghent Avenue; homes constructed post WWII, and occupied for the most part by baby boomers.

Keeping those aforementioned residences allows residents to walk to most locations; The Brant Street No Frills plaza needs to be retained; grocery outlets are few and far between in this City unless one has suitable transportation.

City sponsored transportation should have free Sundays and free all the time to seniors.
Ensure all of the provincial subsidy is used; smaller electric powered (solar?) buses with frequent service is required.

And if the current Provincial Premier wants to merge Oakville and Burlington to Hamilton, tell him he too could be voted out of office, sooner than later!

Meed ward election night 1

Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward

My own thoughts on Meed-Ward: she will be a one term mayor, as were the two previous female mayors of Burlington.

She was wonderful as a Councillor however a mayor requires a whole different mindset.  She will stumble and in four years be out of office.

As for the other newly elected Councillors; being a ward Councillor requires time; time far beyond what the incumbents know. A Councillor is a 7/24/365 job; no rest during the four years; while  elected.

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Seems like housing issues have become a political football being kicked around by everyone.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 26th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

See if you can find the news in this media release from the province.

Last week, Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing issued this statement in recognition of National Housing Day:

“Twenty years ago, National Housing Day was declared after municipalities, members of the public and community agencies across the country called on all levels of government to take action on housing – specifically community housing.

Steve Clark Minister of Muni affairs Ontario

Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

People said “What can we do to help those in need of a safe and affordable home?” Answering that question is something our government cares deeply about. And while the full answer is complex, at its core it’s simple: we need more housing.

Building more housing will help Ontario create good jobs across the province. Employees need affordable places to live and getting shovels in the ground will bring more construction jobs to Ontario.

But the road to building more housing has been challenging after a decade of mismanagement by the previous government. There is too much red tape that is choking the system – from complex approval requirements, to high costs and government fees. We need that to change.

Our government for the people promised we would remove the barriers to home ownership. My ministry in particular is taking concrete action, we are consulting with the people of Ontario about how the government can remove those barriers and build the right kind of housing in the right places. Their ideas will help us create a housing action plan to boost housing supply.

We know all housing is important. We also need to work together to sustain critical community housing, to repair and renew aging buildings and to maintain the financial viability of housing providers across Ontario.

On this National Housing Day, I want to stress to you as the Minister responsible, that we are committed to fixing the mess left by years of neglect.

National Housing day - structure - tent like

Part of the demand for more and better housing.

National Housing Day began as a call for all levels of government to do more about housing. I agree – we need to work in partnership with our municipal and development partners. They are big financial contributors, and they are on the front lines, helping people every day. Our government is committed to making a difference. This commitment includes working collaboratively with my colleagues in other ministries.

However, the federal government needs to step up. Their National Housing Strategy barely maintains the status quo. I believe they must do more. If we are going to renew Ontario’s housing stock and provide the housing people across Ontario need, the federal government needs to invest more.

I believe we all have a role to play when it comes to maintaining and building more housing in our communities. Today, let’s reflect on how important it is to have housing that is affordable for the people of Ontario. Housing that meets their needs and offers more choice for their families. The people of Ontario should expect nothing less.”

Did I get the message in this provincial media release?

Housing is needed, more affordable housing as well and Ontario is waiting for the federal government to do something ?

Ontario has announced that it is going to take rent increase legislation off the books for any new houses that are built.

In December of 2017 Habitat for Humanity took part in the announcement of a National Housing Strategy.

At that time, Members of Parliament Pam Damoff and Karina Gould, as well as Andrew Balahura from Halton Region were in Habitat for Humanity’s Halton-Mississauga’s Burlington ReStore today to celebrate a historic initiative from our federal government.

All three, along with our affiliate’s CEO John Gerrard, spoke about what the NHS means for our community. MP Gould and Damoff both had a role in the development of the strategy, and were instrumental in broadcasting the message from our community – that a National Housing Strategy is of the utmost importance. This message sprouted from a roundtable hosted by our local MPs, and we believe has a lot to do with our country finally developing a National Housing Strategy of its own.

Habitiat and the NHS announcement

From left to right: Habitat Halton CEO John Gerrard, Burlington MP Karina Gould, Oakville North Burlington MP Pam Damoff and Halton Region’s Andrew Balahura

 

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Can the residents of this city make a Mayor out of Marianne Meed Ward or will she become a one term wonder?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 22, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In December of 2014, the city council that was first elected in 2010 sat behind a table on the stage of the Performing Arts Centre waiting to be sworn in. his was the first time the swearing in ceremony took place at that venue.

Trumpeters from the Burlington Teen Tour Band were in the gallery to the left of the stage; the sound of blaring trumpets heralded the event.

While the council being sworn on December 2014 was a repeat of what residents elected in 2010 there was still some electricity in the air.

As each member of Council was announced, after they had been sworn in, the applause for Marianne Meed Ward was just that much louder, lasted just that much longer than the applause for anyone else on that stage. If two people had stood up and shouted “bravo” and clapped loudly I swear she would have gotten a standing ovation.

Meed ward election night 1

Mayor Elect Marianne Med Ward at the Polish Hall on election night

Mayor Goldring may not have recognized what was going on but the 2018 election campaign had begun.
On Monday, December 3rd, Meed Ward will be recognized as Mayor and the trumpets will blare. The Meed Ward supporters will see this as the beginning of a new dawn.

It is far too early to tell if Marianne Meed Ward is going to grow into a great Mayor. There are still a lot of people out there that do not wish her well.

She is going to have to work with five people who have never served on anything that has had input into city policy considerations. Angelo Beneventigna is familiar with a lot of the people at city hall and has more in the way of understanding as to how the city works than most of the others.

What Beneventigna has to figure out and realize is that he wasn’t elected to be a “friend” of those who handle the day to affairs of the city but to assure that they are always accountable to council and to the wider public they serve.

Meed Ward will be something of a den mother for the first 18 months.

Paul Sharman, a man that Rick Goldring once said was the best strategic thinker he has ever met, will be sitting on the same stage.

Councillor Shar,man with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions. Both are strong contributors to Council and Committee meetings

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during the 2011 Strategy Planning sessions.

Sharman will be the odd man out on this council. He brings a reputation for abrasiveness and a tendency to be abrupt with people. He is more comfortable getting his own way.

When he became BFF (Best Friends Forever) with Councillor Craven there was little hope of there being much in the way of collaboration. Sharman consistently referred to Meed Ward’s “ideology” which wasn’t one he shared. He was more comfortable with his own. The Gazette began to refer to Sharman as “Mr. Data”; he always wanted more data. Over time we realized that the request for more data meant that Sharman didn’t have to make a decision.

Goldring saw Sharman as the best strategic thinker he had ever met – We won’t test the veracity of that statement. However, Paul Sharman does come at what he does from a strategic perspective.

tr

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

In 2010, to the surprise of many and shock to others, he fist nominated himself for Mayor. When Rick Goldring filed nomination papers for the office of Mayor, Sharman muffled his ambitions, withdrew the nomination for Mayor and nomination himself for the ward 5 council seat that Goldring was vacating.

Meed Ward needs Paul Sharman to get through the first 18 months. He is the only person on the new Council that can get a budget passed. He might even manage to somehow produce a budget with a 0% increase. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars in city reserve accounts; – Sharman knows those accounts better than any of the newbies..

Could he find a way to loosen up some of that money?

The option the LaSalle PArk MArina Association hopes is chosen through the Environmental Assessment due MArch 2013.

Funds to pay for the break water barrier were found – all the city had to do was raid the Hydro Reserve fund.

If the outgoing council could find a way to use $4 million plus that was in the Hydro Reserve find for the breakwater facility at the LaSalle Park Marina – Paul Sharman can find a way to wiggle some funds out of other reserve accounts.  This of course will drive the Director of Finance bananas – that department likes nice thick reserves earning solid interest for the city.

Many people are watching how Meed Ward handles herself in the first 18 months. The people she took political power from are quite willing to see her fall on her face.

The pressure will be immense, which will be nothing new to Meed Ward. The current council has bullied and harassed this woman for the past eight years. Some of the behaviour bordered on the kind of thing you report to authorities that can take corrective action and ensure that there is due process.

Her council colleagues were not the only level that harassed Meed Ward; the failures in the Clerk’s department are legion.

Meed Ward tried hard to establish a good working relationship with Mary Lou Tanner when she was first appointed as the Director of Planning. Her efforts didn’t take.

In the months ahead, expect Councillor Sharman to go into his “smarmy” mode and do his best to charm the newcomers. He has reached out to all of them.

He will sit and wait patiently and should Meed Ward not be up to the job she has taken on – Paul Sharman will try to convince the city that he can do the job – for he was the best strategic thinker Rick Goldring had ever met.

Red jacket at city hall

The mandate is thin – the hope runs very deep.

Meed Ward’s mandate is thin. However, she has the goodwill and high hopes of many of the people who want to see the core values that are Burlington be recognized, kept and built upon.

Too early to tell if the battle lines for the 2022 election are drawn.

For her fans, and her supporters – stop lauding and convincing yourselves she can walk on water.  What Marianne Meed Ward needs is to be held accountable day in and day out.

In 2014 she asked people to trust her – they did and she changed the way the city operates.

She will need that trust going forward.

Related news stories:

The day city council beat up Marianne Meed Ward

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Martha street community divided on proposed development south of New Street.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 21, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The meeting room at the Lions Hall on John Street was full; area residents wanted to know more about a proposed 11 storey development that was yards away from an application for an 18 storey development.  A 26 story development has been approved for the bottom of Martha street.  The neighbourhood was getting crowded.

401 Martha - audience

Audience at the Lions Hall listening to details on a proposed Martha Street development.

People were in the room to hear what the LDG group wanted to build on the east side of Martha Street south of New Street. The land they assembled backs onto Rambo Creek which has created some problems for the developer. The ownership of the creek and how the flood plain will be managed are problems that are still being worked on

The developers have yet to file an application with the city Planning department. The new rules for developments is the requirement that they meet with the public and get reaction from the community that is going to feel the impact.

And impact there is going to be on all of Martha south of New Street. Based on the developments that are planned 520 new residences are going to be created in a stretch of land that you could walk in less than ten minutes.

2018-10-17_Martha St_View 5

11 storeys with a set back from the street of two metres – total of 132 units, five of which will be two story townhouses.

The Adi development at Lakeshore, the Martha that will be on James (James Street and New Street cut through Martha Street).

LDG assembled six properties on which there are five houses.

The proposed development will have four levels of underground parking. There will be 135 parking stalls with an additional seven parking spaces for visitors. The current city parking requirement is for 1.25 parking spaces for each unit. It was not made clear if a parking spot was bundled into the sale price – prices have yet to be set.

The developers did tell the audience that the faster they get approval the lower the cost of the units. The audience chuckled at that comment.

There will be two elevators and the developers is looking for some way to include a ride sharing service..

There will be 80 indoor bicycle parking spots and six outdoor spots.

2018-10-17_Martha St_View 1

Some of the units at the ground level will be two story townhouses. Rendering shows a setback from the street of two metres.

The proposed LDG group development will have 132 condo units of which five will be two story townhouses with three bedrooms. These will be built into the street level of the building and have different cladding.

Those giving the presentation continued to point out that the development complied with all the current policies. This development has to comply with the existing Official Plan and not with the plan that was approved by city council and sent to the Regional government where it has to be approved.

While stressing that the proposed development meets all the current policy guidelines Marianne Meed Ward pointed out that a site with medium density should have 185 units per hectare.

Garden at the rear

Open landscaped space at the rear of the proposed building will abut Rambo Creep. The design shown at the public meeting had pathways for the general public – the audience wasn’t all that keen on that idea.

The developer will be asking for the right to build 413 units on each hectare; an increase of more than 200%.
The developers want to create as much outdoor space that can be used and are asking to have a set back from the street of just 2 metres; the bylaws currently call for a six metre set back.

Time line for this development? The developer said getting approval in principle should take about 18 months and two years to build.

Singe bedroom units will range between 650 to 900 sq. ft.

Two bedroom units will range between 850 sq. ft. to 1400 sq. ft. in size

The developers said they met with Mayor Goldring about the development.

Saxony on ElginThe LDG Group is currently building the six floor Saxony opposite the Performing Arts Centre on Elgin Street.  That development was originally set at four storeys – council approved an application for an additional two storeys.

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Don Fletcher suggests the new city council ask the Region to send the proposed Official Plan back so that it can be re-written.

100 daysWe asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the new city council needs to do in its first 100 days.

They get sworn in on December 3rd.  There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; with the thinking  coming out of the Planning department and worried about 4% tax increases.   People voted for a new path to get the city out of the rut many feel it is in.

By Don Fletcher
November 18th, 2018
BURLINGTON, ON

“What a great initiative!

Asking for engaged citizens’ ideas, prior to the swearing in of our new Council.

While not original, I think the primary objective of the new Council has to be to “fix” our proposed Official Plan.

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageBy “fix”, I mean to retract from the Halton Region’s inbox our current proposal, and in particular, modify and resubmit a downtown plan (with community support) to be a mid-rise (4-8 storey) community, as opposed to the proposed high-rise ( 14- 25 storey) alternative.

Why?

Because:

1) This is what our Mayor-elect Marianne Meed Ward campaigned on. Trust needs to be restored.

2) The urgency of the submission was self-imposed and the Region will understand, given the “sea change” based on this issue at City Hall.

3) It’s what most engaged citizens want, because they felt that they were being ignored with its’ hasty approval. It became an “election issue”, maybe the central one.

4) It will unquestionably be the “elephant in the room” with all other matters. Deal with it upfront!

5) The developers need certainty with what is permissible in making future investments.

6) LPAT, unlike its’ predecessor OMB, treats the Official Plan as an enforceable criterion (I.e. teeth).

7) The Official Plan has longevity, unlike many of us.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public. An Official Plan review isn't a sexy subject but it deserves more attention than it is getting.

Planning staff put together charts and posters to advise, educate and inform the public.

Okay.   So nothing radically new there!

I would like to add a “how” we could do this..

Relationship is the medium for results and accomplishments.

I learned this as an executive of a $5B successful Canadian public corporation.

We have a largely new Council with a current understanding of what the residents want, and a staff that mistakenly thought they did.

I’m not a big fan of the one employee of Council, City Manager construct, with all of its’ implications.  It feels as though we, the citizens through their representatives, are having our input constricted through a straw.

I recommend that the new Council convene an offsite (3-day) planning session, with all the functional heads in the administration (including the City Manager) at City Hall, to work through the City’s values, objectives and plans. A derivative benefit of such a meeting would be to begin developing those relationships needed to move the City forward and in a positive direction.

I know of a few very capable facilitators who could help.

What should I be paid for this idea?

A seat at the offsite meeting table. After all, I am a management consultant.”

Don Fletcher is a downtown Burlington resident who has been a city council watcher for some time.  Before retirement he was a senior vice president with a public Canadian company in the communications and entertainment field.

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Hersh: resident involvement is essential if anything is to be achieved in the first 100 days.

100 daysWe have asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the new city council needs to do in its first 100 days.

The Councillors  gets sworn in on December 3rd – what has to be done in that first 100 days to set a new path and get out of the rut many feel the city is in ?

There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; even unhappy with the thinking that is coming out of the Planning department.

We asked the people we knew, they aren’t all friends of the Gazette, what they thought could be done and should be done.

By Penny Hersh
November 12th, 2018
BURLINGTON, ON

City election logoThe residents voted in a new council with the mandate for change. Will it be what residents expect in what they perceive as a reasonable time frame? That is yet to be determined.

In response to this request and because Engaged Citizens of Burlington – ECoB feels that resident involvement is essential I asked the seniors who attend the current events class I am a part of for their input.

In no particular order this is what was expressed.

– Get control over development.

– Culture change at City Hall – Council needs to direct staff, not the other way around.

– Council needs to stop depending solely on Staff Reports.

– Council needs to work with the Provincial Government – Regarding” Places to Grow” and the demands put on Municipalities to reach the mandated target set out for them.

– Council Meetings should take place throughout the City not only at City Hall. Parking is a problem downtown, and if the meetings take place during the day there is a parking fee.
COMMUNICATION:

– Town Hall Meetings – to explain in “layman’s language” what is happening. Telling people to go to the City’s website is not the answer.

– Newsletters from Councillors that do more than just detail events happening in their wards. High praise for Marianne Meed Ward’s “ A Better Burlington”.

– City needs to hire a Public Relations firm to make Municipal Politics “resident friendly”.

City Hall BEST aerial

Together we can make a greater change in the culture at City Hall, and never again have to wait for an election to make our voices heard.

The change Burlington needs requires commitment from City Hall and the citizens of Burlington alike, and it needs to start now. Together we can make a greater change in the culture at City Hall, and never again have to wait for an election to make our voices heard.

To be part of this change ECoB is asking residents to participate in the resident ward level committees that are being formed. More information can be found on our website Engagedburlington.ca To sign up email us at info@engagedburlington.ca and make your ward level committee a success.

 

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Rutherford: audit planning staff, evaluate previous recommendations and educate planners.

100 daysWe asked Burlington residents that we know and have communicated with in our seven years of operation what they think the city needs to go in its first 100 days.

The new city council gets sworn in on December 3rd – what has to be done in that first 100 days to set a new path and get out of the rut many feel the city is in?

There are a lot of people unhappy with transit; unhappy with the thinking that is coming out of the Planning department.

Here is what Kevin Rutherford thought could be done and should be done.

By Kevin Rutherford
November 12th, 2018
BURLINGTON, ON

1. Perform audits of planning staff and City manager to evaluate the performance of previous planning recommendations. Staff recommendations are wildly different depending on the planner on file, they need to reign this in and provide a consistent message and approach. Performance should also be evaluated based on the time spent reviewing applications and whether they completed the recommendation within the 120 day window, failure to do so allowed the National Homes Developer on Brant Ave to file an appeal and with the Georgina Court Development it forced council to make a decision in haste because of fear of litigation from the developer because they were at roughly 390 days.

2. Come up with a plan on engaging residents more in development plans, and earlier in the game, and treat residents with respect when they are engaged. Current meetings are essentially about checking a box in the process rather than actually engaging with residents.

Parking sign3. Scrap or re-visit the City-wide parking review. They are reducing the parking spaces required for developments creating massive parking issues. The reality is that adult children are living at home longer so more spaces are needed, not less. The justification for their plan is that they want to eliminate cars from the roads and force people to take transit etc… I am sorry I manage rail/transit engineering projects and Burlington needs massive investment before any of their objectives will ever work and in the meantime residents will continue to struggle. In areas of the city where they are exploring street parking permits is just a cash grab and not proper planning.

4. Educate planning staff on the current OP, PPS, Places to grow act etc… They are submitting recommendations that do not comply either due to incompetence or insufficient education. I agree they need to try to ensure they meet the conditions of these plans/policy, they do not seem to understand the basic principles. Even when mistakes are found, they still defend their decisions and fight, forcing developers or residents to file LPAT appeals.

Keith Rutherford is a Senior Project Manager, managing Rail & Transit engineering projects. He is also the individual leading the LPAT appeal for the Georgina Court (Upper Middle Enclave) residents. He reports that “We just received responses from the City staff on our appeal synopsis and record that we submitted and they are still digging in and standing their ground essentially “sucking and blowing” in their response on the issue items.

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ADI development group can now begin construction of the 26 story tower in the downtown core.

Newsflash 100By Staff

November 5th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is not good news – at least not for the city.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016The ADI Development Group can now proceed with the construction of the 26 floor tower they want to put up at the corner of Martha and Lakeshore Road.

The Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) dismissed the city’s request to review decision the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) made on 374 and 380 Martha St.

The OMB released a decision on Feb. 13, 2018, regarding the development application that allows 26 storeys. The city filed a Section 43 review request to the Executive Chair of the OMB in March 2018.

The city requested the review on the assertion that there were four errors made by the OMB: Incorrect Application of the Growth Plan, Improper Regard for Council Decisions and Materials, Improper Exclusion of Evidence and Unreasonable Findings with Respect to Tower Separation.

In making its decision, the LPAT member, Paul Muldoon concluded that the city failed to raise a “convincing and compelling” case that any one of the listed errors or grounds cited in its Rules to grant a review was applicable.

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Turning five citizens into productive Council members - a steep learning curve.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 3rd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

werfgt

Of the five new members of Council perhaps one has attended a Regional Council meeting.

The process of installing a new city council is taking place. The five newcomers to council will be at the Regional government offices learning more about what their role is at that level.

In the week ahead they will be introduced to city staff- meeting the city manager, deputy manager, the clerks and department Directors.

They will probably park their cars in the Lotus street garage and cast a covetous eye on the parking spaces right outside city hall that will be theirs on December 3rd.

Budget book covers

The 2019 budget will be a challenge for the new members of the incoming council.

According to one source they have yet to be given copies of the budget they are going to have to review and make decisions on – the decision they make will give the citizens of the city some sense as to what this council is going to be able to do.

Everyone says the 4% tax increase every year for the past seven years can’t continue – but continue it has. The only time the 2010 and 2014 council ever brought in a budget well below that close to 4% number was in 2011 when it was a 0% increase over the previous year. So it can be done.

As these new members of council learn their jobs the process of healing the rifts with the people that lost in the election has t begin. Traditionally the losers make a courtesy call on the winner, shake their hand, wish them well and head home to lick their wounds.

Wallace and Gould

Mike Wallace congratulating Karina Gould on winning the 2014 federal election.

Mike Wallace had the graciousness to pay a courtesy call on Karina Gould when she took the federal seat from him in 2014.

Neither Wallace nor Rick Goldring visited the Polish hall where Mayor Elect Meed Ward was celebrating with her supporters.

Really poor form – both men were capable of better.

The hard feelings have to be set aside. Ideally, both men, when called upon, can provide some counsel.

The job of setting policy for the city gets debated at the Standing Committee level and then decided by council.

Committee structure:
The city currently has five formal committees of council. They are:

Audit Committee
Committee of the Whole
Committee of the Whole – Budget
Committee of the Whole – Workshop
Planning and Development Committee

A member of Council is going to have to chair each committee, manage the agenda and keep the meeting moving smoothly.

Of the people just elected there are three that have some capacity to do this kind of job. Rory Nisan, Lisa Kearns and to some degree Kelvin Galbraith. The others are going to have to watch carefully and learn quickly.

Kelvin Galbraith headshot_Super_Portrait

Kelvin Galbraith, Ward 1

Lisa Kearns Election Photo

Lisa Kearns, ward 2

Rory Nisan

Rory Nisan, ward 3

Angelo Bentivegna, and Shawna Stolte have a lot of growing to do.

Marianne Meed Ward and Paul Sharman are going to have to carry a lot of the freight during the next 18 months.

Sharman will have to handle the budget and Meed Ward will carry Planning and Development and hope that Lisa Kearns and Rory Nisan are up to doing some of the Committee of the Whole work.

Sharman

Returning council member for ward 5 Paul Sharman will have to head up the Budget committee. He will also have to work on how he wants to relate to the new Mayor.

Meed Ward H&S

Mayor Elect Meed Ward has her work cut out for her. She has wanted the job for more than a decade – now that she has it – can she make it work? A lot of people are depending on her.

Nisan certainly has the background; his experience as a federal government bureaucrat where he served as part of Canada’s diplomatic corps, should serve him well. However, the world of managing and trying to meet competing interests is far different than dealing with bureaucrats from other countries.

Kearns is said to have solid experience in the commercial world; many are waiting to see that experience in action.

Mistakes will be made – and the public will have to cut them some slack.

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Will the public take to the idea of having significant input on what the towers opposite city hall might look like at the ground level?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 3rd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON’

 

What are the issues for this new council going to be?

high profile 421

We know what the developer wants to build; shovels will go into the ground just as soon as the building permit is issued.

There are some, downtowners for the most part, who wonder if the Carriage Gate development, that has now been named The Gallery is really a done deal. We were asked: “Is there nothing that can be done to stop that development?”

421 name - window

Sales office is open.

Has a building permit been issued?

If not then city council can, if they choose to – un-delegated the authority on this project that they gave the Director of Planning.

That has been done before.

There was a project that then Director of Planning Bruce Krushelnicki asked city council to take back from him- and he was duly un-delegated.

The project was given back to Krushelnicki later.

The point is that city council can un-delegate and this might be one of those projects that should be treated this way.

We asked Mayor Elect Marianne Meed Ward:

Would you consider un-delegating the authority the Director of Planning has over that project and bringing it back to council where they will manage the project?

Meed Ward responded with:

“City council by majority vote can un-delegate the site plan from staff back to council for a final decision.

“This does not stop the project or slow it down.

“It allows council and community input into site plan details (including layout, entrances, landscaping and so forth).

“I’m open to un-delegating the site plan.”

 

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