Gary Scobie: 'You can adjust your legacy before you leave or you can leave it to others to try and repair the damage you’ve already done.'

opinionandcommentBy Gary Scobie

July 11, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I expect this will be my last delegation to this Council of eight years. Come October 22nd, we will have some new faces around the table. So please permit me to get a little philosophical.

I am very glad to hear that Council Chambers is being renovated and updated to 21st century standards. The news that the City bought the Sims building for staff accommodation also bodes well for the continuing future of our City Hall.

City hall - older pic

City Hall – always loved it says Scobie

I love the look of City Hall; always have. Do you know that you can see City Hall all the way from Guelph Line along New Street in the winter? You can even see it from Seneca Avenue and New Street in the summer when the full leaf canopy is out. It’s framed by low buildings at James Street in the winter and leaves in the summer.

That’s what I call a gateway.

Now the powers that be in our iconic City Hall – The Planning Department management and Council itself, along with the developers of Burlington have a different idea for a gateway.

How about framing this 8 storey building with twenty-something storey building across the road. Now that’s not a gateway, that’s an insult. With the three to four storey podiums in place, I think I may have to get to James Street from the east in order to see City Hall in the same way in the future, between the twin towers of course.

Dundas - King street

Gary Scobie believes that Burlington has lot the opportunity to keep the scale that King street in Dundas has retained.

I grew up in Dundas. Dundas respects its past while gently conforming to the future. Completed in 1849, the Town Hall is noted as one of the best examples of revival style municipal buildings in Ontario. It requires no gateway and occupies its own block. The classic Post Office building still stands and is repurposed. The downtown is low rise and a mix of newer buildings with older ones with the original facades and buildings intact to their upper floors. It’s always busy with people walking both sides of King Street. Our neighbor was the butcher when I was growing up. When he died, the business was sold to another butcher. That store still operates as a butcher shop. Picone’s Food Market still offers great foods and produce a few doors up the street. It’s the same with barber shops, fish and chip shops, a jeweler and fashion shops. The Armoury is now the Community Centre. Film companies come to make TV movies in the Valley Town as it is known, situated beneath the cliffs of the escarpment, because of its friendly, bustling, charming ambiance.

Hotel on lower Brant Street

While horse drawn carriages and wagons are not what people want to see – many would like some of the charm and the histriy of the city maintained.

Burlington once had that ambiance, but that wasn’t in this century, and a Province and a Council decided in 2005 that urban growth for the downtown was the answer to all of our prayers and declared it an Urban Growth Centre. Please forgive them my fellow citizens, for I believe they knew not what they did nor what it would bring today.

In the last century high rise condos and apartments were built in one-off locations, in groupings like in the east end on Lakeshore Road near Burloak Park, centrally on Lakeshore Road near Torrance, along lower Maple Avenue, and even in my own Ward 3 with a lone 16 storey high rise on Upper Middle Road at Duncaster.

These were seemingly done without much planning for the future or much adherence to the Official Plan in place then. Come into this century and not much changed. New high rises were still being built beyond the Official Plan heights. Meanwhile we had accepted an Urban Growth Centre downtown for reasons never
made fully clear to citizens as to why there; and for future repercussions just now becoming obvious in the past three years or so. We had accepted Mobility Hub densities without any questions or push-back to the Province. We (or our Council for us) had accepted a makeover of Burlington that would transform our city
from something to be proud of to something to be fearful of.

We love being known as the Best Mid-size City in Canada, yet We (that is our Council and Planners) are ready to trade in our little utopia for a future dystopia without question. We citizens must be “managed”, “handled” and “educated” to accept this planners’ nightmare because after all, they are the experts and we’re just the people in the experiment who have to live with the results.

This is the legacy of the City Council of 2002 – 2006 and this City Council of 2010 – 2018. The Council and Planning Department management who, while extolling the virtues over and over again of our beautiful waterfront and our beautiful rural escarpment, at the Province’s urging are now going to mess up forever the cream in the middle of our wonderful cookie, the part that’s not permanent hard water or hard rock, the place that is malleable where 95% of the people of Burlington live.

From Civic Square

The view from city hall if the tower on the right is approved – the tower on the left has already been approved.

Page 26 of the report, point 3 says “Where possible establish maximum building heights which are consistent with existing development precedents”. Well that should be easy. This building at 409 Brant Street is across the road from a freshly approved 23 storey building at 421 Brant Street. So anything up to 23 storeys
should now be a slam dunk. Council and planners didn’t abide to the current OP heights of 4 – 8 storeys or the projected new OP heights of 17 storeys for 421 Brant Street. Why should they or any developer be expected to abide to our shiny new OP height limits now?

Point 4 says “Attract a wider range of demographics and income levels to the Downtown Mobility Hub”. Whoa, that’s not so easy.

It’s never been done yet this century and any window dressing that is being proposed to get young families of modest income into this building is in a word, laughable.

Jeweller after

The view of the proposed Reserve Properties development from John Street which will be the exit for cars from the five level underground garage and the bus terminal.

I predict sometime later tonight or tomorrow, you will vote with a strong majority to accept this recommendation report. I predict you will then have trouble negotiating the conditions with the
developer. I predict the developer with go to the new, untested Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and ask for at least 23 storeys based simply on British Common Law precedent.

I’m asking you to prove me wrong. Turn down this recommendation report. Say no to the whole twin tower concept.

One mistake across from City Hall is your limit and the time is likely up for most of you sitting in those chairs come October 22nd.

Forget about gateways and landmark buildings. Think about the people who elected you to look after our city, not the podium – pushing planners and developers who wish to pack it with more warm bodies than it can take. You can adjust your legacy before you leave or you can leave it to others to try and repair the damage you’ve already done.

At the end of his delegation Scobie got a sustained round of applause – he had spoken for many.  The Chair could not gavel the meeting back to order.

Gary ScobieGary Scobie is a ward 3 Burlington resident who was a member of the now defunct Waterfront Advisory Committee.  He has delegated frequently on municipal development matters.

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Wasn't the debate about the level of intensification the city had to undergo? Nope, the developer tells council that they need to think in terms of 'optimization'.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

And we thought it was all about intensification.

The city needed to intensify the population; put more people in less space. Given that Burlington doesn’t have any more land that it can build houses on, developers began to assemble land and build high rise towers.

Brant looking north - Kellys

Developer tells city council they need to think in terms of the best land use optimization and get away from intensification.

At a city council committee meeting yesterday during which the development being proposed for the SE corner of Brant and James was debated at length.

Mayor Goldring has been telling the public that the city has to intensify and that he will ensure that the intensification will be intelligently done.

high profile 421

This tower has been approved – the one across the road wants to be just as high.

When the 23 storey tower on the NE corner of James and Brant was approved people began to question what intensification really meant.

Turns out the city was using the wrong word. They should have been talking about optimization; which is the best possible use for a piece of land.

Legal counsel for Reserve Properties explained to council last night that the 2017 version of Places to Grow, a provincial document sets out that optimization is what municipalities should be focusing on – and the Reserve Properties development certainly does their best to optimize the land they want to assemble.

The meeting Tuesday evening had to adjourn at 10:30 pm – they will be back at it this evening. There are a lot of questions to be asked.

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A mobility hub is a mobility hub - right? Not necessarily according to Mayoralty candidate Greg Woodruff

Letter to the editorBy Staff

July 10th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Candidate for the Office of Mayor and Aldershot resident Greg Woodruff wants the planning department to be a little clearer with the language used to report about mobility hubs.

Greg Woodruff

Greg Woodruff – candidate for Mayor.

In an Open letter to Burlington Council, Woodruff asks that:

“… Council and staff start using the terms Mobility Hub (Metrolinx) and Major Transit Station Areas (Places to Grow) properly for the various GO stations.

Burlington GO south side

There are ten platforms on the south side of the Burlington GO station – which is described as a mobility hub: a place where buses, cars, taxi and even bicycles arrive to drop off and pick up people who have taken a GO train.

“The term Mobility Hub is being used to refer to the 3 GO stations. This is causing confusion with the public as to what exactly our responsibility might be for redevelopment of these regions. The Burlington GO station is indeed flagged as a Metrolinx Mobility Hub and comes under specific recommendations.

Mobility hubs

The city has four mobility hubs.

“The Aldershot GO station and Appleby GO station are not designated as Mobility Hubs by Metrolinx. They are not and never have been “Mobility Hubs” in any way except for the city’s loose language that is now grouping them together.

“The only major specification for Major Transit Station Areas (MTSA) comes from Places to Grow and calls for a modest 150 people or jobs per hectare. This can easily be accomplished with low rise buildings.

Boundaries set out for the Downtown mobility hub.

All the Mobility Hub attention focuses on the three GO stations. The city is referring to the transit terminal on John street as an access hub. Other hubs are identified as gate way hubs. These are the boundaries for the Downtown mobility hub.

“Thus the 30 story hi-rises proposed by staff around Aldershot and Appleby are a complete construction of the City of Burlington. There is no direction from any group that calls for this. The hi-rises in these area are self-imposed. I think it important this be very clear to the public.

“I would request that Council adopt the proper terminology when discussing these matters and direct staff to use proper descriptions of “Metrolinx Mobiltiy Hub” and “Major Transit Station Area” when discussing these areas.”

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Some more of those 1000 word pictures

News 100 redBy Staff

July 10th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

More on those pictures being worth 1000 words.

The Planning department had a handful of renderings done suggesting what the downtown core of the city could look like when the Grow Bold initiative has blown through the community.

Brant st city hall on left looking north

A rendering of Brant Street at city hall looking north. Looks like the kind of thing a real estate agent would prepare as part of a sales brochure.

CITY HALL

The drawing had a nice gentle pastel look to them. Nice enough to frame.

We then came across a photograph of what the properties on the east side of Brant street look like today.

Brant street today July 2018

This is a montage of properties on the east side of Brant street with Brant Florist on the left.

Comparing with the drawings was a little jarring.

The model prepared by some students who lived in the St. Luke community gave the public a bit of a glimpse of what was coming down the pipe.

ECoB model view from the east

Looking west towards city hall through the two towers that might “frame” city hall in the future. The one on the right has already been approved by city council.

A picture is indeed worth 1000 words.

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Affordable housing - the need is great - but real policy direction from council to make it happen isn't on the radar screen yet.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 10th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Affordable housing – an oxymoron perhaps.

In a market where housing prices have risen as much as 20% year over year, the cost of buying a home has skyrocketed – and that impacts directly the cost of rental accommodation.

Rocca partial listing for 2017

Some of the year over year changes were mind boggling – a market run amok.

The Burlington mind set is married to the idea of owning the home you live in – rental accommodation is not for people who are true Burlingtonians – we are all property owners.

Every development that comes before city council has the words “affordable housing” tucked in the application somewhere and the response from the planners pays lip service to the idea.  Members of council will insist that some affordable housing be included in a development.

Carriage Gate agreed to provide the City with a cash contribution of $300,000 prior to condominium registration that was to go towards an affordable account the city appears to have created.

Reserve Properties, the developers promoting a development on the SE corner of Brant and James, have made mention of their plans to contribute something to the need for affordable housing if  their development is approved.

The developers offer up some cash in lieu of actually including affordable units in the condominium.

Where does that cash the developers give the city go?

That isn’t exactly clear. The Gazette isn’t sure if any funds have actually moved from the developer’s bank account into the coffers of the city. Funds from carriage Gate should be in the city bank account by now.

The issue is not about the need for affordable housing – the issue is who is to provide that housing.

Every member of city council knows that housing is a Regional responsibility.

Co-op on Maple close to lakeshore

This high rise close to Lakeshore sets aside 60% of its space for rent geared to income (RGI) tenants. The building is owned and operated by a co-op that works with the Region.

The Region has policies, they have a reasonably clear idea of what is needed. How close they are to that need could be a little tighter.

The Region operates a number of towers that are totally affordable.

They partner with organizations that make space in buildings they own for rent geared to income space.

They maintain the list of who is looking for affordable housing and they determine who can get into a building and when.  The mix of affordable housing is pretty good.

The problem is the need for a shift from the approach that has language which makes affordable housing options sound like or look like welfare options.

Housing has to be looked at differently.

Search options

The Region has a section on its web site where people can search and see what is available. Waiting times to get a residence is measured in years.

The Region is responsible for the social housing needs of all four municipalities: Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills.

Gary CarrDuring the 2010 election Regional Chair came close to losing it when people were going on about the need for affordable housing at the municipal level – “it’s a Regional responsibility” he almost shouted out in an exasperating tone..

There are some very good people at the Regional level administering the policies and the properties.

In the event that Burlington sends the money it gets from developers to the Region (and that point isn’t clear) the Region does not appear to be committed to spending what it gets from Burlington in Burlington.

Instead of trying to outdo each other in how committed they are to affordable housing Burlington city council needs to get its act together and set out what it would like to see done and then take the Burlington plan to Regional council and fight for it at that level.

That however would require a council that is cohesive and can actually work together.
Burlington is now seeing a new crop of candidates that are younger, have good intellectual chops and want to see a change.

ECoB Crowd Feb 22

ECoB – engaged Citizens of Burlington held a meeting for people interested in running for office – the came close to packing the room.

The city is close to have good solid candidates in all six wards and clear choices for the next Mayor.

In the 2014 municipal election Mayor Goldring said he was quite comfortable with seeing every member of the council re-elected.  And they were all re-elected.  They really weren’t any tough races with the possible exception of ward 6 where Blair Lancaster faced nine candidates.

 

There were two problems with the comfort level the Mayor had chosen.

He wasn’t leading council and council wasn’t taking the city anywhere.

That could be about to change.

The next step is for the people who live in the city to think about what they want and then decide who can deliver what they want.

Then get out and actually vote.

We did a piece recently on a woman who taught the city something about milkweed plants and learned that she had run for public office in 2003 – the turnout in that election was 16%.

No wonder we are in a mess.

The complacent people of Burlington did this to themselves.

As for an affordable housing policy that delivers for Burlington – that has to get worked out at the Regional level and Burlington city council members have to make their case at that level.

They’ve known that for the past seven years.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column reflecting the views, musings, observations and opinions of the Gazette publisher.

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Downtown precincts and what can be built where - is this the only direction left?

News 100 redBy Staff

July 9th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The city usually provides maps that are crammed with information that are difficult to fully understand in a small format. A large map just can’t be displayed adequately on a computer screen.

The city however has prepared and distributed a document that sets out in considerable detail what is permitted in each of the precincts that have been created.

Downtown precinct map

Downtown precinct map

We have set out the downtown precinct map in a full screen page format along with a list of what can be built in each precinct that is colour coded with the map.

Precinct highlight A

Precinct highlight B

 

 

 

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Have you seen these ? If this is what they meant by Growing Bold they weren't kidding....

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 9th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A picture is said to be worth a thousand words.

The following is a set of renderings on the city’s web site that few people have seen.

It is part of what is behind the outrage that many feel over the changes being made to the Downtown core – It wasn’t quite what many had in mind when they first heard the phrase Grow BOLD.

Elizabeth - looking twds lake

Elizabeth looking south towards the lske

Lakeshore at Brant with hist bldg kept

Lakeshore at Brant looking east

Brant st city hall on left looking north

Brant Street looking north – with city hall on the left.

Brant at the plaza looking south

Brant street looking south from about where the shopping plaza is north of Caroline.

Bold indeed.

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Ward 1 candidate says he will fight for the TEC people.

council 100x100By Staff

July 4th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

TEC stop quarry expansion Jul17

TEC has done everything a community group can do to get support for their project. So far no one has come to their aid.

The Tyendaga Environmental Coalition finally has a friend.

Vince Fiorito is prepared to do battle for the TEC people and their fight to have the value of their property maintained and not significantly downgraded when the bulldozers start mining for shale in the eastern most quarry of the site off King Road in Aldershot.

Meridian Brick has had a license since the early 70’s and have been taking shale out and manufacturing brick.

Graphic of TEC quarry

Forterra Brick was the predecessor of re-named Meridian Brick. The graphic, courtesy of the Toronto Star shows where the residents live and where Meridian wants to mine for shale.

The move into the eastern quarry has brought a problem that was always lurking in the background to the front page. TEC hasn’t been able to get any traction with either the Mayor, the ward Councillor or the MPP.

They all said that Meridian has a license and there was nothing they could do.

Fiorito sees this differently and said that one of his reasons for running in ward 1, which isn’t where he lives, is because there is a significant environmental issue in that ward. And if Fiorito is anything – he is a protector of the environment.

Sheldon Creek - farm equipment + Vince

Fiorito has been working at cleaning up ravines in the western part of Burlington – he now wants to work on a solution for everyone in the Tyendaga community where a brick manufacturing operation wants to cut down thousands of trees and begin mining for shale yards from their homes.

“I think there is a win – win possible here and I will be committing myself to working for the interests of the residents who have major economic interest as does the brick manufacturer.”

“No one has managed to bring these two groups together and work on their joints interest” – every one has sided with the brick maker and forgotten the taxpayers” said Fiorito. “That isn’t fair” he added.

The TEC people want to interview Fiorito before they put their support behind him.

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Has the property for the 409 Brant project actually been assembled or has Revenue Properties just said 'we will buy you out if we get the deal we want'.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 4th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When reports are prepared for city council there is some standard information at the top of each document.

Mayor with Reveniue Project developer

President of Revenue Properties in Conversation with Mayor Goldring at a public event.

The report going to council on the 409 Brant project being developed by Revenue Properties has the following information under Applicant.

Reserve Properties Ltd.
2001586 Ontario Inc. (owner, Elizabeth Law):401 and 405 Brant Street
2486157 Ontario Inc. (owner, Elizabeth Law): 403 Brant Street
Elizabeth Law: 409 and 413 Brant Street
Elizabeth Law Interiors Ltd.: 411 Brant Street, 448 John Street, 2012 James Street
Albert Ludwig Schmid 444 John Street

Street - what is being taken down

The Brant street properties that will be be demolished if the 409 development actually proceeds.

Does this mean that Revenue Properties does not yet actually own the land it wants to acquire and develop?

That kind of limits the risk doesn’t it?

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Four development proposals will be reviewed and debated on Tuesday at Council

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 4th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It will not be a sleepy summer with lots of time off and getting away early in the evenings for many at city hall. Members of Council are going to be pressed with the size of the work load as well.

There are four developments coming before Council that long term will add as many as 2000 people to the population of the city.

409 with 423 shadowed

Looking south on Brant. The proposed 24 story structure with the approved 23 storey structure shown as shadowed. It will be a different downtown core when these two are completed.

The biggie is the proposed 23 storey structure that will, if approved. go up at the SW corner of Brant and James and run south to the Elgin Promenade and west to John Street. The Planning department (It has been re-named Department of City Building) has written up a recommendation that suggests 18 storeys would be preferred. The recommendation is complex and not easily explained.

The approval of a 23 storey structure on the north side of James and Brant didn’t make the City Building department job for the 409 development any easier.

Mayor with Reveniue Project developer

Mayor Goldring in conversation with the President of Revenue Properties, the developer of the 409 Brant project.

From the “what’s in it for me” perspective there the following reported community benefits if the pro000ject gets built:

$250,000 for purchase of up to 6 assisted housing units by Halton Region, or similar contribution to housing fund held at the city

$100,000 for improvement of civic square

$50,000 for improvement of downtown transit terminal

$25,000 towards a downtown Burlington Farmer’s Market

$25,000 towards active transportation links (walking/cycling) in the Elgin Promenade area

widening sidewalks (Brant/James/John) – indirect benefit of $250,000

public easement at Brant/James of 16×16 – indirect benefit of $75,000

implement streetscape guidelines for expanded setbacks and open space easement for Brant/James/John – indirect benefit of $150,000

retain heritage attributes – indirect benefit of $300.

Opening up to city hall view

The planners are requiring each developer two cut into the corner of their buildings to open up the view of Civic Square. The 421 Brant development, on the right, has been approved. The 409 Brant development is before Council next week.

The really interesting one is the $100,000 to gussy up Civic Square. The city has required the developers of each building on the corner of Brant and James to cut an angle into the corner of the buildings to enlarge the view of Civic Square.

Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner told the Gazette of her fondness for city hall as a structure. Some in the planning department refer to the building as iconic.
There are clearly plans to give the Square a new look – that project didn’t make it to the “fully engaged” public agenda.

The Tremaine Dundas development has been a long time coming. That initiative is in the north west part of the city on the border with Oakville.

The ADI Links development that overlooks Bronte Creek has given life to that part of the city.

At some point the quarry operation and brick manufacturing plant in the area will give way to development and add to the vitality of that part of the city.

Cimmunity use land plan

Exceptional use of land – should become quite a community wen completed.

The site is one of Burlington’s last undeveloped significant Greenfield areas; the Secondary Plan area presents an important opportunity to create a distinct community in Burlington.

The lands are characterized by the presence of significant natural heritage features and areas, potential access to future higher order transit routes and important remnants of the area’s built and cultural heritage.

The purpose of the secondary plan is to provide a planning framework that will guide future development in the Tremaine Dundas area. The plan responds to and develops the area with a mixed use option to accommodate residential, employment and mixed uses while ensuring that identified natural heritage features throughout the area are protected, connected/linked and, where possible, enhanced.

Phasing BEST

There is the potential for a lovely community if the developer does it right. Access to major roads with a lot of green space. This one is a couple of years away.

Plan area is approximately 133 hectares with the developable area being approximately 50 hectares excluding the natural heritage system. The existing uses located within the area include a school bus terminal on Dundas Street and two single detached residences (the Crook- Norton House and a separate property fronting Tremaine Road), the existing Highway 407 right of way, a functional hydro corridor, CN railway line as well as the extensive Bronte Creek valley lands that set the natural environment character for the remainder.

Prospect st development site plan

Most of the intensification is taking place at the back of the property where stacked townhouses will replace less dense housing.

The development on Prospect west of Brant is for two blocks of stacked townhouses, each containing 50 housing units plus 130 parking spaces (including 9 visitor spaces).

Prospect stacked twnhouses

Fifty housing units will replace the eight in place now.

The two existing fourplex buildings will be demolished. The eight-storey apartment building will remain.

This development is classic intensification. The structures that are being demolished left a lot of space for children to play and adults t sit outside.  Times are changing.

Plains Rd at Helena

Townhouses in Aldershot – 38 units.

Another development in Aldershot will redevelop nine standard townhouse units along the northern half of the site, 17 back-to-back townhouse units on the southern half of the property and 12 back-to-back townhouse units on the eastern side of the property for a total of 38 units; 76 parking spaces, plus 5 visitor spaces are proposed.

All the chatter that the developers bring to council about how they are helping the city meet the growth targets the province has set begs the question: Have we not already met those targets? And is there anyone actually counting what is in the pipeline and where is the city relative to the targets?

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Campaigns for Burlington's next mayor begin to take shape - some early surprises.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 1st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The election that takes place October 22nd for a new city council and school board representatives is not going to be the snoozer that the 2014 election was.

That year every member of city council was returned. In the four years that seven member Council sat they made two major decisions.

They approved a new Strategic Plan and they passed a new Official Plan.

Strategic Plan Workbook

Traditionally Strategic Plans were for the term of a city council – four years.

strat-plan-logo-25-years

The current Strategic Plan is for a 25 year period. An incoming council is not bound to a plan created by a previous council.

Up until the 2012 a Strategic Plan was put in place Burlington created a Strategic Plan for the term of office. The understanding was that a current city council could not bind future councils to an objective they might not agree with.

There was never a public debate on lengthening the time frame of the Strategic Plan. The current council decided that it was better municipal governance to create a 25 year plan and tweak it as the years rolled by,

Four “pillars” were defined WHA ARE THESE and they became the base on which the plan was to rest. The city brought in KPMG as consultants who guided council and city staff through the process.
There were numerous delegations done but there was never a OPEN THIS UP

The four pillars for 2015 strat plan

The four pillars on which the 25 year Strategic Plant was built. How are we doing so far?

During the years leading up to the creation of a new Official Plan there were several speeches given by the Mayor on intensification and what it was going to mean to the city.

Rick Goldring chose what he believed was the safe political route to take – assure people that there will be changes but they aren’t really going to change very much. About 5% of the city would experience change.
The document that set out what intensification was really all about was a provincial policy statement – Places to Grow. It set out where the growth was going to take place and just how much growth there was going to be.

That process for Burlington had the decision made at the provincial level and the deciding of specifically where the growth was to take place made at the Regional level.

Downtown precincts - all

The Downtown part of Burlington is broken into precincts. There are development rues for each precinct. A precinct is not always one contiguous area. Confusing at times

Burlington had all kinds of input in that process but very little of it was as public as it could have been and there was certainly no public debate or information sessions on where the residential growth was going to take place and where the jobs would be located. That was done by the Planning department.

Mobility hubs

There are four mobility hubs -n Burlington these are centered around the four GO stations. Significant development, of both commercial and residential is planned for these locations. The development around Burlington and Aldershot GO stations is well underway.

Included in all this change was the mobility hubs; a concept that was never explained to the public in the early stages. The two words made sense – what wasn’t clear to the public, and to some of the members of council as well, as to what it did mean.

During some of the Strategic Plan meetings it looked as if the mobility hub at the Aldershot GO station was where the first stage of growth would take place. At the time the Paradigm project had broken ground and it soon became clear that the Burlington GO station was where all the early action was going to take place. Land on the north side of Fairview between Brant and Guelph Line became the real estate hot spot. Deals were being done weekly with several property owners holding out to get a better sense as to which direction the wind was blowing.

Downtown core precinct

This is the downtoen precinct – it is within the downtown core. Many felt that the high rise development should have been clustered further north. It may be too late for that – most of the property has already been assembled.

The public attention however was focused on the downtown core. The first of the high rise condo’s was before the planners. The developer came in with a 27 storey proposal on the NE corner of Brant and James that got whittled down to 23 which city council approved on a 5-2 vote.

Prior to this the ADI Group development at Lakeshore and Martha that had gone to the OMB where everyone was certain it would be scaled back. Didn’t happen – the city didn’t make its case and the OMB said the xx storeys were just fine.

Many felt the die was cast and that Burlington’s downtown core was to become a forest of 23+ storey condominiums.

high profile 421

The beginning of the change for the downtown – this one will go up opposite city hall.

Many of the citizens were aghast – how could this happen?

Members of city council knew how it happened – they let it happen.

All this led to people wanting to stop this level of change from taking place.

The election scheduled for October was going to be their chance to elect a new city council that would create a new direction.

Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward became the spokesperson for those who said they were not opposed to development – they just wanted responsible and properly phased in development. The developers saw a blazing hot market and they were not of a mind to wait. The current city council seemed quite prepared to go along with them.

The Mayor is on the ropes, Meed Ward has her loyal following – and then Mike Wallace makes it known that he will run for the office of Mayor.

Wallace and Gould

Mike Wallace congratulating Karina Gould on her win of the federal seat in Burlington.

Mike Wallace lost the federal seat as the Burlington Member of Parliament to Karina Gould. Mike loves being in power.

He was never seen as a big thinker but he brought millions of federal dollars to the city and he decided he could knock off Goldring and beat Meed Ward.

The Tory machine that didn’t deliver for him in the xx federal election still existed and Mike was going to take a shot at making it work for him at the municipal level. To be fair to Mike – he was facing a very popular Liberal leader whose coat tails Gould rode into office.

Each of the three major contenders, Goldring, Meed Ward and Wallace made early announcements, then each held their campaign kick-off events.

Rock at Kick Off - crowd

Mayor Rick Goldring at his campaign Kick Off

Goldring’s was tepid at best – he just didn’t say very much.

Meed Ward made her event a kick-off and a fund raiser – it cost $25 to get in the door.

Wallace held his event in the same room at Emmas Back Porch where he had conceded the federal election to Karina Gould.

This time Wallace had something to say – he spoke of two planks of his election platform.

He would ask council to approve an increase in the size of council – he thought going from a seven member council was now necessary and felt that nine was a good number.

Bronte MeAdows - BurlOak side

Bronte Meadows – owned by the Paletta interests, zoned as Employment land and included in the package of GTA properties that were in the offering to Amazon who were looking for an eastern headquarters – dubbed HQ2

He also said he wanted to create a community that would attract the young people back to Burlington where they could live and work and proposed the development of a large community. He didn’t say where he thought this development should take place and he didn’t say how large it should be.

There is only so much land that residential housing can be built on. The size of the land needed to do what Wallace has in mind is owned by Paletta’s.

The large property at Upper Middle Road and Bronte – known as Bronte Meadows – is zoned as Employment land. The Paletta’s have been trying for years to get that changed to residential or at least mixed use.
Wallace said that he was the kind of politician who could get things done; that he knew how to pick up the phone and talk to people.

The province now has a government that looks at development a lot differently hat the previous Liberal government.

Can one assume that Mike Wallace has talked to Angelo Paletta. I’d bet on that.

If, and this is just an if, those conversations have taken place does that mean the developers are still in control. Many people feel they have controlled the current council for some time.

MeSalt with Pepper are the opinions, musings and observations of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette

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Letter to the Editor: Resident frustrated by the self-righteous rhetoric of Deputy city manager.

opinionandcommentBy Carol Victor

June 29th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

mary-lou-tanner-city-hs

Mary Lou Tanner – former Director if Planning – now Deputy city manager.

Many of us are frustrated by the self-righteous rhetoric of (Deputy city manager) Marylou Tanner and the decisions made by the planning department in Burlington. Stop telling us what you want us to want, start listening to what we do want.

The planning department and Councillors who supported the decisions to “protect what residents value” better known as the “department that is destroying our beautiful city” have failed to listen to what engaged citizens have been saying for the better part of a year. They ploughed ahead with numerous presentations, emails, meetings, and brochures while failing to hear what the citizens don’t want. I attended many of the council meetings and was dismayed that so many delegations were heard and nothing was done.

mmw with supporters

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward with some of her supporters.

One of the developers at a February meeting printed and had available for the public copies of a letter where he expressed his disdain for the one Councillor (Marianne Meed Ward) who had voted against this extensive development. This was a disgusting prank . Ms. Meed Ward deserves much credit for truly expressing what many of us feel. She was joined by one other person on council who voted against revising the official plan.

However in the case of the other individual, this was purely a case of optics as he clearly knew that the motion would pass despite the two dissenting votes. A lack of leadership is clearly missing when so many citizens take the time and energy to thoughtfully express their visions for the city they love.

Burlington aerial

The Burlington Carol Victor loves; she moved here nine years ago after 40 years in Toronto.

I moved here nine years ago after living in Toronto for 40 years. It was a breath of fresh air with an unencumbered and accessible waterfront, quaint shops downtown, no traffic gridlock, lots of green space and wonderful amenities. How things have changed!!!! There emerged this spring a great shadow over Lakeshore between Elizabeth and Pearl Streets. Lower Brant Street as we know it will soon disappear.

high profile 421

What family will move into a 23 storey tower with 1 and 2 bedroom condos.

As for meeting the demands of intensification, this is nonsense, what family will move into a 23 storey tower in what will be 1 and 2 bedroom condos, with one spot for parking, no nearby schools, grocery shopping that will soon be gone and traffic gridlock. If you don’t live near the downtown, I would suggest that you visit soon as you won’t recognize it in the near future. We will look like every other suburban off-shoot of Toronto; a western Mississauga with no character, a myriad of shopping malls with chain stores and a series of concrete towers without a real downtown. Why are we giving this away?

werv

werv

The only power we have now is at the ballot box. The function of our Municipal Government is to serve the citizens of the city. Going forward we need to elect people who listen to its citizens and truly respect the democratic process.

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Planners opting for 18 storeys at the SE corner James and Brant opposite city hall. 23 approved on the NE corner.

News 100 blueBy Staff

June 21st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ward 2 city Councillor and a candidate for Mayor Marianne Meed Ward reports that City staff are recommending modified approval of an 18 storey high-rise at 409 Brant Street, opposite City Hall and across the street from the already approved 23 storey building at 421 Brant St.

409 with 423 shadowed

Looking south on Brant with the approved 23 storey structure shaded.

The developer, Revenue Properties were looking for 23 storeys – matching what has been approved on the NE corner of the intersection.

The recommendation from staff will go to the Planning and Development Committee; recommendations from this committee will go to City Council for a final decision.

The detailed staff report outlining the recommendation and rationale hasn’t yet been released, but should be available online and at City Hall by Friday June 29.

Meed Ward does not say how she got the information.

The city is circulating a notice to residents who participated in earlier meetings on the application and left their contact information; that my have been the source.

Staff will be recommending modified approval of the amendment to the City’s Planning and Development Committee of Council. Staff recommend approval of a mixed use building with a height up to 18 storeys (17 residential floors plus roof top amenity area), including 760m2 of commercial space at grade and 365 m2 of commercial or office space on the second floor, subject to significant design and public realm improvements, and a parking rate of 1.25 spaces per unit.

From Civic Square

Looking east from Civic Square – the approved 23 storey Carriage Gate project is shaded.

Meed Ward gives us her take on the development application:  The property is currently zoned Downtown Core Zone which permits mixed use buildings up to 4 storeys in height.

The property is designated Downtown Core which permits mixed use buildings of 4 to 8 storeys.

Some might wonder if the developments approved and proposed for the eastern side of Brant street opposite city hall don’t need a reality check.

The planners and city council approved a 23 storey structure on the north east corner of Brant and James; the Ontario Municipal Board ruled that a 27 storey structure could go up at Martha and Lakeshore; the Bridgewater is going to have a 22 storey condominium and the talk around the redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel site includes mention of a possible 30 storey building.

Street - what is being taken downShould the developer of the 409 Brant property not want to accept the staff recommendation – they can appeal – but the appeal procedure is quite a bit different – the old Ontario Municipal Board process usually had the developers wining.  The Local Planning Act Tribunal is a new game that is yet untested,  Bet on the developer taking the staff recommendation to the LPAT.

 

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Candidate for Mayor wants to see commercial space included in the Solid Gold development

News 100 blueBy Staff

June 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

During the Statutory meeting two weeks ago on the two tower development being proposed for the Solid Gold property on Plains Road, Mayor Goldring asked Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident, about the commercial space potential.

The proposed development is for a 12 storey apartment building that will run along Cooke; the ten storey will run along Plains Road. The rules call for 874 parking spaces – Vrancor, the developer proposed 581. The plan is for 450 units

Greg Woodruff, a candidate for the Office of Mayor claims: “This building could be configured to offer 32,000 square feet of contiguous commercial and 10,000 in the other building serviced by 100 surface parking spaces.

“That is actual commercial guys, and it’s possible in this building right now – this would give the Home Hardware a workable location or many others. We are driving businesses out forever.

Solid Gold replacement

Plains Road at Cooke.

Instead, they are pitching 99 residential surface spaces with residential units along Cooke Boulevard? This a no-no even in the most hard-core urbanist “lens”.
You don’t have living space at grade along a major street or residential parking. The “ground” is the limited resource.

There is not a single blade of grass on the thing. What a dystopian nightmare.

Solid G from south west corner PlainsThis is terrible urban design – does not represent good land use planning or compliance with the Provincial Policy Statement.

It’s clearly incompatible with the existing homes on Clearview Ave.

Compatibility is based on the neighbouring existing usage as far as I understand, not some imagined future usage.

Woodruff would make the “first level totally commercial, reserve the surface parking for the commercial.

Reduce the west tower to 6 stories. Reduce the east building to 3 stories for compatibility with the existing residential usage.

The public is going to discover that the Bus and Go that is imagined in future doesn’t go to anything except rows of condos and small offices. That’s not an attractive urban city, it’s a nightmare.

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Just what is intensification going to do to Burlington - more than we have been told.

background 100By Pepper Parr

June 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There are decisions being made now about what this city is going to look like in five years.

With the possibility of an appeal of the city council decision to approve the 23 storey tower at Brant and James opposite city hall now dead and a building permit either issued or in the works one can ask – Is this building just a one off or is it the shape of things to come.?

Cogeco TV has a program hosted by Mark Carr – The Issue. It has a spotty audience, there was one occasion where no one called in for what was basically a one hour call in show. So – not much of an audience – but here are at times very good guests.

In a recent program Marty Staz and Mike Wallace, both realtors were talking about the matter of intensification and what it was going to do to us.

Marty Staz with Mak Carr

Mark Carr interview Marty Staz on Cogeco’s The Issue.

Marty has the look and the bearing of a serious executive – he is the vice chair of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce and is currently a candidate for the ward 1 city council seat. Mike Wallace is a candidate for the office of Mayor. He is a former city councillor and Burlington’s Member of Parliament for xx terms.

This edition of The Issue is well worth watching. Staz sets out what he thinks the city is faced with. The segment runs just shy of i5 minutes – worth your time.

The October election is going to be about how the next city council deals with what we are facing.
Link to the program is HERE

 

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Greg Woodruff wants to be Mayor - files nomination papers.

council 100x100By Staff

June 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Greg Woodruff

Greg Woodruff

Aldershot Greg Woodruff has thrown his hat into the Burlington Mayoralty.

That decision has the potential to tip the scales – not in Woodruff’s favour.

Woodruff ran for the office of Regional Chair in the 2014 municipal election.

He has never held public office nor has he served on any Advisory committees.

His web site is at: gregwoodruff.com

Woodruff page

Related news story

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ECoB withdraws its appeal - 421 Brant development is now a GO!

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It has been a bumpy road for ECoB. One of the small but very effective grass roots citizen organizations has lot yet another board member.

Jim Young threw the organization a serious curve when he suddenly resigned which reduced the organization to three board members.

Kerns - head slanted

Lisa Kerns one of the original ECoB board members resigned when she announced she was going to run for city council.

Lisa Kerns, a very effective ECoB member resigned when she announced her intention to run for the ward 2 city council seat.

ECoB – Engaged Citizens for Burlington was formed when some in the downtown core were appalled with a city council decision to approve a 23 storey tower opposite city hall.

The first ECoB meeting was held on the recreation room of one of the Lakeshore Road condominium recreation rooms. A number of people showed up with cheques in their pockets to fund the nascent organization.

It wasn’t all that clear what the organization was going to do. Were they in place to oppose the building a high rise towers in the downtown core?

Were they going to appeal any city decisions?

It took ECoB some time to find their footing but they did. When Mayor Goldring held what he called a Reverse Town Hall to address the concerns people had over intensification downtown the ECoB people came close to taking over his meeting when they walked into the meeting with a resolution that had been passed by ECoB group hours earlier.

Weeks later ECoB held a meeting that drew about 85 people and raised far more money than they expected.

421 Brant

The 23 storey Carriage Gate development will now get its building permit.

Their agenda began to become clearer. They would appeal the city decision to the LPAT, the organization that was created to replace the OMB.

That proved to be easier said than done. The number of days hat were available to file an appeal was not clear.

At one point the ECoB people showed up at city hall and were told they were too early – so they waited.

They were fortunate enough to have an experienced, retired municipal planner who was able to advise and counsel them on the process and procedures. Working ones way through municipal procedures is another world.

Model with Tanner

Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner, on the left, looking at the LEGO 3D model ECoB made showing what the downtown core could look like if high rise developments were permitted.

ECoB had a knack for catching the public’s imagination.  During the early debates on downtown intensification citizens wanted to city to create a model of what downtown might look like with high rose building.  The city said these things take time to create and they didn’t have the resources – ECoB found a way to let people know what the downtown core could look like if there were a lot of high rise condominiums – they creted their own 3D model with Lego.

ECoB did register an appeal to LPAT on the Council’s decision to allow the construction of a 23 storey building on the corner of Brant and James Street on June 13th, 2018.

They then withdrew the appeal?

Jim Young

Jim Young

– Why – Two Reasons – a letter of resignation from Jim Young, chair of ECoB which was sent to the City Clerk’s office indicating that he was not in favor of the appeal going forward on June 14th.

There were a number of issues behind the Young decision. One was an article that ran in the Toronto Star that mentioned a developer in Markham who was suing the City of Markham and two Markham residents who had signed the appeal application. They were being sued for ten million dollars.

This kind of law suit is issued by developers and people with a lot of money when they don’t like what media writes.

The Gazette was sued by Nicholas Leblovic in October 2012 for $1 million. The writ turned some of the blonde hair on the head of the wife I had at the time into grey – it marked the beginning of the end of that marriage.

Waterfront Advisory committee in happier days. City council voted to shut the committee down at the end of December. Chair Leblovic is thught to havebeen an ineffective leader that wasn't producing the results the city had hoped for.

Nicholas Leblovic, on the right, at the time Chair of the Waterfront Advisory committee on a tour of the Pump House in the Beachway.

The law suit went nowhere. Leblovic issued the writ then failed to follow up. The Gazette had to cover the costs – the lawyers are not cheap – and Leblovic got to go his merry way.

Issuing this kind of writ has been seen as an abuse of process; there is now legislation in Ontario to put a stop to this kind of thing.

ECoB questions a system that encourages residents to appeal decisions made by municipalities, yet fails to protect them from developers who can threaten lawsuits.

ECoB decided to withdraw the appeal. The city can now issue Carriage Gate a building permit and the 23 storey tower can be built.

Earlier this week Jim Young sent the Gazette a note saying: “I have put together a timeline of the events leading up to my resignation from ECoB and my reasons for resigning. It is fairly long and detailed. Are you interested in it?”

The Gazette said it was interested but we have yet to hear from Jim Young.

ECoB points out that it was created to be a voice for the residents. All organizations have internal issues. ECoB always indicated that the Municipal Election was important, in some ways, more important than the appeal.

True change will only come about with changes on Council.

While the withdrawing of the appeal application disappoints some, ECoB points out that it has been very active and will continue to be active.

ECOB Dec 13 #3

ECoB’s first public meeting

– ECoB held a community meeting to bring residents together in December.

– ECoB held a rally at City Hall

– ECoB held a very successful potential candidate workshop in February at Tansley Woods

– ECoB was featured twice on Your TV – The Issue – to bring residents issues about the proposed Official Plan to the public.

– ECoB was instrumental in having a story not only in The HamiltonSpectator, but also the Toronto Star.

– ECoB met with Mary-Lou Tanner and members of her staff to suggest ways of making residents a more integral part in the planning process. This did result in some minor changes.

– ECoB met with Eleanor McMahon to encourage Provincial involvement.

– ECoB met with the mayor and some of the Councillors who were prepared to hear our concerns.

ECoB Crowd Feb 22

ECoB’s meeting for people who were interested in running for public office.

– ECoB has been meeting with potential candidates in the upcoming Municipal Election.

– ECoB has rented venues for Ward Candidate Meetings that will be happening in the fall just before the municipal election

ECoB is more than just about appealing a decision to build the 23 storey tower at 421 Brant Street.

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Development projects being put forward for the Brant Fairview part of the city.

News 100 blueBy Staff

June 11th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Development begins to take place on a part of Brant Street that isn’t downtown downtown.  This one is closer to Fairview

A 91 unit four-storey stacked townhouse development with 137 parking spaces below grade, and five above will be shown at an open house Wednesday June 27, 7pm, at the Burlington Public Library for the redevelopment of 849 and 855 Brant Street, south of Fairview

Brant Fairview proposal

Less than a block to the east the Molinaro Group is completing the construction of the first three of the five high rise towers that will be on the site.

The project would require both an Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendment. The meeting is hosted by the applicants,TRG (Brant-Fairview), an affiliate of The Rosseau Group, to seek public input prior to filing an application.

The site has at least one perfectly good office building in place but the rule of getting the most out of a piece of land has come into play in Burlington.

In the illustration one can see the location of the Discovery Ford dealership on the west side of Brant.

A number of years ago the then city planner held a meeting of all the automotive dealerships in the city to talk about how property might be developed in the future.  At the time none of the automotive people were interested in thinking in terms of redeveloping their locations.  Discovery Ford recently completed a major upgrade of their site with newer signage and upgrade of the outside of the building

Candidate for the Office of Mayor Marianne Meed Ward will be attending.

graphic02

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Development in Burlington: Property along Fairview is being scooped up at feverish pace - said the barber.

background 100By Pepper Parr

June 1st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For woman it is the hair salon – for men it is the barber shop.

That’s where the scoop and the gossip get exchanged.

A loyal and reliable Gazette reader got a haircut yesterday. He has been going to the same barbershop for years and as our reader said: “My guy has had these people as clients for years.”

The people he was talking about are those who own property on the north side of Fairview from the Burlington GO station o Guelph Line

Map

Hottest property acquisition spot in the city. The Walmart development years ago started the trend. When the Molinaro’s began the five tower Paradigm project and the city began the push for the mobility hub concept there was no stopping the developers.

Liz at Home

The shop is said to have to be vacated by the end of the year – according to the barber.

“I think he said that Liz at home on Fairview has just redecorated and doesn’t really want to sell, but maybe the price isn’t right yet.

“Holland Park sold for $45 million, after bickering.

“Better Bitters is said to have sold for $15 million.

“Offered 10, come back at 20, settlement 15.

Fairview and Guelph Leggat

Everything between Brant and Guelph that isn’t already being developed is being bought up. The Leggat dealership on the eastern end of the block of property could become an anchor, said the barber.

“Developers  after Leggat’s property too but Doug Leggat is said to not want to sell – or that’s the story, maybe not right.

“Objective is to get the whole GO block from the GO station west to Guelph Line.”

Downtown the things are close to frantic – surveys are being done, renovations are being stalled. All the big money players in the game are moving rapidly – getting agreements in place with plans for nothing but growth.

The city has said the development is going to take place around the GO stations. These locations are being referred to as mobility hubs and the developers appear to be saying – that’s OK with us.

Speculation is rife.

At the same time there is a group looking for a way to appeal the decision that was made by city council to approve the 421 Brant project.

But it is all barbershop talk of course.

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New Director of City Building appointed - think planner.

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 28th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Heather MacDonald is going to be the new Director of City Building effective June 25, 2018. In the past the position was known as the Director of Planning

Heather_MacDonald COB planner

Heather MacDonald appointed the Director of City Building.

MacDonald is currently the acting Vice President, Project Planning in Planning and Development at Metrolinx.

Previously, MacDonald has worked at the City of Brampton where she was Interim Commissioner, Planning and Development Services and at the City of Mississauga where she held series of progressive roles in human resources and planning, including Director, Policy Planning; Director, Organizational Wellness; and Director, Strategic Housing Initiatives.

MacDonald is a Registered Professional Planner and Certified Human Resources Leader. She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo and is a graduate of the Executive Program at Queen’s University and the Advanced Human Resources Studies program at the University of Toronto.

Bill Janssen, Burlington’s current acting Director of City Building will remain in the role until June 22, 2018.

City manager James Ridge is fleshing out his leadership team. The former Director of Planning, Mary Lou Tanner was made the Deputy City Manager. Ridge reports that: “After a comprehensive recruiting competition, the city is pleased to have Heather MacDonald who will serve as the new Director of City Building. Heather is “an accomplished veteran in the public sector with broad expertise in the municipal environment. As Burlington’s population continues to grow, Heather’s leadership skills and municipal knowledge will play a valuable role in guiding the city’s long-term planning vision, as set out by the new Official Plan.”

Bill Janssen gets thanked for “his guidance in leading the Department of City Building over the last six months, including the adoption of Burlington’s new Official Plan.”

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