ECoB's 3D model of part of the down core made it into the web cast of council Standing Committee.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 25th, 2018



They were determined to make it a bigger part of the public record – they just had to find a way to do it.

A delegation was being given by the son of Lesley Imber, a family that lived in the downtown core west of Brant.

Remy Imber was one of two boys who had constructed a 3D model of the downtown core out of Lego. It was part of an ECoB initiative to give the public some idea as to what the city around city hall would look like once several of the high rise towers were completed and occupied.

Remy was giving the delegation, which he did very well. Part of his delegation was on the belief that the city would not create a 3D model that would show what the city core would look like. At that time city manager James Ridge said that he didn’t have the staff, the financial resources or the data to create a model of any kind. It wasn’t something Ridge wanted to do but he did say that if he were able to have a model created it would be sometime in 2019 – late 2019.

That wasn’t going to deter the ECoB people – somewhere along the way they came up with the idea of making a 3D model out of Lego – the idea may well have come from the boys. The struck me as the type that had creative nimble minds.

When Remy had completed the delegation ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward made mention of the 3D model and asked where it was – “out in the hallway” replied young Remy.

Downtown model

Remy Imber during his delegation along with his 3D model of the downtown core.

Bring it in suggested Meed Ward. That wasn’t something chair Craven wanted to do but Kelly Childs, part owner of Kelly’s Bakeshop, had used a copy of Money Magazine to illustrate how important her Bakeshop was to the image of the city in her delegation. There was a two page feature in the magazine which she had on hand to show everyone.

If Kelly could use a visual prop then Remy could certainly do the same thing.

Within minutes it was being carried into the Council Chamber and set out for the Council members to see and get included in the web cast of the meeting.

Both sides of the downtown core debate were getting in every debating point they could.

Politics had become theatre – which of course it always has been.

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ECoB - We need to call a truce. We have tried everything possible to bring a sense of balance, to bring a better vision, to bring a complete plan and we are exhausted.

opinionandcommentBy Lisa Kearns

April 25th, 2018



Engaged Citizens of Burlington (ECoB) is a not for profit group working towards a better Burlington for generations to come.

Kearns direct smile

Lisa Kearns – part of the ECoB leadership team. Is there more than ECoB in her future?

Working within the civic process, we are particularly concerned with issues of planning and development. The group is energized to bring voices and action to challenges that will affect the quality of life today and in the future, we are advocates for good planning across the entire City.

In the months from inception, ECoB has held an open meeting, a rally, a municipal elections workshop, hand delivered thousands of flyers, displayed hundreds of lawn signs, received press, appeared on community television and radio, grown our social media base, inspired a record number of delegations, met with provincial and municipal elected officials, city planning, business owners, developers and most importantly residents.

We have reflected on our position on the matters contained in the Draft Official Plan and truly reflect to objectively determine if we are the outliers, to see if were the radicals, to see if there was any truth to the tactics used to silence us. And here’s the thing, we are not. What we are – are concerned residents and now we are engaged.

From fragmented pockets across the city have woven together to tell the same story – we are not against growth – we are against excessive intensification and loss of community. The same Provincial Policy Statements are used in every development justification report and the same committee and council allow the most obtuse interpretation of these guidelines to promote efficient land use and development patterns. The same policies that govern Toronto and Mississauga have only one safety net in place and that is our Municipal Official Plan. That is why today is so important.

In previous delegations, residents and ECoB have set out specific areas for reconsideration. We asked to have the bar set higher – in the spirit of vibrancy to increase the uses in the Brant Main Precinct, we were successful in receiving a “should” contain three uses in the three storey podiums that extinguish our unique downtown retail. We talked about employment land designations and the ability to keep the door open for future considerations, we saw uproar that ensued from our agricultural friends.

Kearns at podium

Kearns at the podium during the ECoB candidates meeting.

We know you are aware there is a deficiency here and that is why the City has actively taken steps to ignore and deduce the consistent wave of pushing into this process.

The number of drafts that have come out, the inability to build a model that neighbourhood kids could complete, the inadvertent scheduling conflicts, the refusal to meet by some Councillors, the letter from the City Manager to silence instead of collaborate, thrown out petitions, NIMBY lawn signs in every ward, minutes of grow bold videos that hardly scratch the surface #growbold, #goodplanningmatters, and the most stinging “just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t good planning”.

Right down to the special meeting of Council scheduled directly after this Committee meeting – how is anything from the 30+ delegations today going to receive due process and influence the vote tomorrow?

And aren’t quite done. There is still the Transit Plan, the Transportation Plan, the Mobility Hub Plan, the secondary phase of the Downtown Area Specific Plan. The challenges are still ahead and if we cannot all be on the same page with the most important City document, we most certainly will be challenged in the phases that shape our future.

Here’s the thing, planning is suggestive and without doubt a challenging task and profession. While we know that we’ve been a pain we also want you to know that we do respect the work that has been done and hope that if anything, this pressure will give you more support to create a plan that is built exclusively for our great city.

We need to call a truce.

ECoB Dec 13 #2

ECoB’s first large community meeting – they had traction and a following.

We are not against growth, we are not against change. But we are against it done poorly, done in a way that contravenes protection of established neighbourhoods, a way that cannot audit the 5% growth, cannot protect our own green space, and in a way that will ebb and flow as supporting plans come forward. We have asked for a complete vision and are no where close.

We are asking for help because it is not Ok to extend permissions for 18+ stories abutting low density residential, it is not Ok to allow in-congruent infill, it is not Ok to allow hundreds of town homes that double the density permissions, it is not Ok to push residents in Alton village, Pinedale, Bluewater/ Avondale, Dynes, Aldershot and more to the very edge – where the only option is seeking relief from the municipal tribunal.

It is not Ok to leave every resident wondering when they are going to have to become experts in the planning process that they have entrusted to those before us. Let’s make sure that the balance in in our favour now.

The province has mandated growth, we recognize that there needs to be growth, but is it councils responsibility to protect community. The question is does any of this document actually enforce a successful and complete community. We need the Committee to insist that amenities are included not just residential. It is about quality of life and not quantity of people. We seem to be more focused on getting people out of the city instead of keeping people in the city – embedded into their communities through a live, work and play approach.

We have tried everything possible to bring a sense of balance, to bring a better vision, to bring a complete plan and we are exhausted. We have asked, does the city want to fight with the residents or against the residents, only you can decide with the vote today.

And so, with the last chance to address this Draft Official Plan today we ask you to let down your guard, let us in, and really hear your residents. We continually hear Staff ask – “is this plan defensible”, and yet the bigger question is “is this plan accountable?”.

This is the last chance to be accountable to residents today and residents in the future.

Lisa Kearns is a downtown Burlington resident who has been instrumental in creating ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington.

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Muir - This new OP is not complete. Let the planners do their job.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

April 24th, 2018



I have a number of comments and concerns, based on some of my experience for the last several years, regarding the staff bring forward of this new OP with recommendation for adoption.

1. This new OP is not complete, and not good planning practice to adopt at this time with piecemeal structure and many loose ends. It is lacking in accuracy, details, and clarity.

There are 3 Mobility Hubs Plans that are an inherent part of this OP, that are incomplete. These will not be reviewed publicly and given Planning Act due diligence process until possibly early 2019.

The PPS/Planning Act specifies the need for a transportation systems plan, freight support plan, a transit support plan, and an active transportation plan. There are none of these complete and available to inform council, the public and decision-makers.

All those thousands of unaccounted for vehicles are not going to disappear because the planners refuse to recognize they exist.

There are other components of the proposed plan needing publicly settled that are incomplete.

The truth is the important planning pieces that are needed are data and facts, not all kinds of assumptions and fact-less assertions.

Taken collectively, the assertions, assumptions, and conclusions, made in support of recommending adoption of the proposed OP, are not substantiated by an evidence-based research design that can predict the future, and are professionally frowned on statements that overreach the research design.

growbold-847x254I cannot say, or agree, with the ability of the City and staff to deal with this lack of key information, and failure to implement the Planning Act/PPS, and yet they still recommend adopting an incomplete OP that has demonstrated such a lot of public opposition and continues to demonstrate this opposition tonight.

Again, I say this is not good planning, and this should be obvious, and seems to be to ordinary citizens.
You owe it to us all that you pretty much need to know, and be able to tell us on facts, that this Plan is going to work as you say. But you don’t know that.

However, what people do know is that walk, bike, and bus is not going to work for people, not in Burlington for a lot of practical reasons, so open your eyes and see.

With your focus on intensification, everything else is assumed to fit, when you should be doing the planning to make it fit.

Residents want you to be able to make the intensification fit so the Plan can fly. Plan it to work, now.
Right now, for numerous current applications – Plains Rd, Brant St, Downtown etc.- the density asked for simply has to be based on reduced standards of everything in order to squeeze it in, and if that has to be done then it doesn’t meet the PPS and needs of the existing OP and by-laws.


Pigs don’t fly?

This won’t work because the parts don’t fit together. Pigs don’t fly.

2. Over the last few years, I have delegated severally on this OP over the process, and on a significant number of specific applications in Ward 1 Aldershot, Ward 2 Downtown, and issues related to transportation, transit, and the biking plan.

So I know what I have seen and heard, repeatedly, about what needed information is really missing and how some at the City insist that this missing information does not matter, and the city must move ahead without this key business information, and it must be done right now.

I don’t think this is anywhere good enough.

No matter when the proposed OP is approved by Council, and becomes “informative” only, not “in force”, the Mobility Hubs and the other missing plans I mentioned, are still not informative or in force until first approved by City Council, then the Region, which means it does not exist until then.

So then the Planning Act/PPS says the existing OP is required to be used, must be framed in this OP framed local context, and most important, this OP is to implement the PPS.

What is not to be considered is the language of a non-existent OP, and non-existent Mobility Hubs, and non-existent plans for transportation, transit, active transportation, and so on.

I must ask how all this that does not exist yet, is to be complied with in good faith, in such a situation where developers, not to mention the politicians and managers, are steadily trying to indoctrinate the planning staff, (ongoing in time with the proposed OP development), to encourage and approve density and form of a non-existent, not in force, and not policy relevant OP, or planning concepts and ideas?

In my observation and experience in this, I simply have to question how the Planning staff are supposed to retain their professional objectivity, and serve the public interest, when they are bombarded with this language from developers, and more so, in my view, badgered and cajoled by some insistent members of Council, and some City managers, to adopt and to act out the same directions?

With all this shoving and encouraging density and form at them, how can the planners be objective?

I’m telling you to let the planners do their job. I have seen myself some of you just not do that, but interject in questions to planners at meetings.

I have seen, and been told enough, not to think that they are not being unduly influenced about what to do.

We all know there can be a fine scary line between professional integrity and having a job.

I provide here one section from the OPPI Professional Code of Practice for your information.


1.0 The Planner’s Responsibility to the Public Interest

Members have a primary responsibility to define and serve the interests of the public. This requires the use of theories and techniques of planning that inform and structure debate, facilitate communication. and foster understanding. Accordingly, a Member shall:

1.1 practice in a manner that respects the diversity, needs, values and aspirations of the public and encourages discussion on these matters;

1.2 provide full, clear and accurate information on planning matters to decision makers and members of the public, while recognizing both the client’s right to confidentiality and the importance of timely recommendations;

1.3 acknowledge the inter-related nature of planning decisions and their consequences for individuals, the natural and built environment, and the broader public interest; and

1.4 identify and promote opportunities for meaningful participation in the planning process to all interested parties.

I don’t have the time here to explain these, however, I have said what I mean and I say again, let them do their professional and objective duty.

And give the residents and Council the critical information needed to inform us all before things get decided, and to keep the faith.

muir-delegatingTom Muir is an Aldershot resident who has been delegating for more than 30 years. He understands the process better than many of the members of council. He is blunt, direct and usually exceptionally well informed. He is a ward Councillors worst dream. And he loves what he does,

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Now we know why: Jim Young goes on record - Grow Bold, Urban Growth Centres, Downtown Mobility Hubs and Special Development Precincts have simply been a smoke screen.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Young

April 24th, 2018



For years now everybody has known that the OMB was a very developer friendly organization.

Its decisions usually favoured developer’s amendments over official plans and that in any fight for increased density or increased height the developer would win and the citizens would lose.

Jim Young with Kell in background

Jim Young – delegating to city council.

That changed recently. The new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal LPAT will be much more cognizant of city official plans and will apparently favour Official Plans in effect at the time of any appeal.

The current Official Plan is the plan that would have to be considered by LPAT. That’s the plan that has low to medium heights all the way up Brant St. and limits intensification and height to around the go stations.

So if a developer were to take the city to LPAT today, LPAT would probably rule in favour of the heights laid out in the existing plan.

For years developers have bought up land on Brant street, the core and along Plains Rd knowing that the city Official Plan limits would be easily over ruled at the old OMB. City council accepted some drastic amendments knowing that the OMB would do just that.

Now there is a good chance that a similar appeal to the LPAT would result in the present heights in the present official plan being upheld.

That would be good news for citizens but bad news for Developers.

On TV recently Councillor Sharman defended a council position that since developers investments cannot break even until their building plans exceed 16/17 storeys, it is incumbent upon city council to help them achieve this. He repeated this statement at a meeting I attended with ECoB, City Planning and Himself. This philosophy seems to be shared by a majority on council.

So if developers need at least 16 storeys to break even and current city plans limit heights to between 4 and 12 storeys downtown where can a developer go?

They can’t go to LPAT, because LPAT may well favour the current city official Plan Heights and rule in favour of the lower heights.

The only alternative was to go to a developer friendly city council and ask for a New Official Plan that would permit higher buildings in the downtown core making any future appeal to LPAT more plan friendly and therefore more developer friendly.

And that is exactly what our New Official Plan has become. A permit for Developers to build higher while avoiding the risk of losing arguments at the New LPAT.

All the talk of Grow Bold, Urban Growth Centres, Downtown Mobility Hubs and Special Development Precincts have simply been a smoke screen to cloak a very developer friendly plan in a veneer of planning respectability.

That also explains the rush to get the plan on to the books. The longer the old plan remains in effect the longer the developers are left holding properties they cannot turn into profits. This is a serious cash flow and business problem for them.

So from a somewhat banal project to review the official plan starting seven years ago, suddenly as the OMB LPAT differences became obvious last year, the push was on to get this done.

The only delays that were allowed were to help council to be clearer on exactly what was being proposed, to give staff the time to tweak the plan to ensure that the “Special Development Precincts” were exactly where the developers owned property, while dressing it up as “Public Consultation”. We are now at the 3rd or 4th rewrite I believe of this Official Plan.

Jim Young

Jim Young

As I recall the original plan was to have it adopted by council and submitted to the region by November last year. It has now been delayed three or four times, once for council, once for staff once to allow a regional agricultural mapping inclusion. It seems it can be delayed for just about anybody or anything except the people it most impacts. The people of Burlington.

At least one member of council, a large number of private delegations, delegations on behalf of various citizen advocacy groups asked time and time again if this process might be delayed to allow the people of Burlington greater input and real engagement in the process and then put the plan to them in the upcoming election. Every attempt to delay that process to allow greater citizen engagement or input was rejected by council.

Now we know why.

It seems we can delay the adoption of this extremely unpopular official plan for Councillors, for city staff, for developers and even for the region. Yet when your citizens, your constituents, your voters suggest it be delayed we are told NO!

Now we know why.

We are told that the Official Plan is way too important to delay it and allow the final say by the very people it is supposed to be written for, The Citizens of Burlington, Rural, Urban and Downtown who will have to live with it for the next several decades.

Now we know why.

Now that the citizens of Burlington are becoming aware of the reasons for rushing this flawed and developer friendly plan through council, very much against their wishes, they are mobilising to defeat it in the upcoming election.

Across the city from Alton to Aldershot and in every area in between groups are looking for candidates who will oppose and overturn this Official Plan. Candidates who will rewrite it with real input from citizens whose views have been so ignored and overlooked in this truly terrible Official Plan Process. Candidates who will fight to make citizen engagement a reality in Burlington.

The issue you tried to hide from the electorate will be front and centre in that campaign and you will be reminded of the folly of ignoring your citizens when the votes are counted in October.

If you choose to be the candidates who still, after all these delegations, after all these raised protest voices are still not listening, still not getting it, the electorate have the right to ask: “Are you with the citizens or the developers?”

You cannot continue to ignore us and claim you are with both.

Ballot going in box

The choice will be ours.

It is not too late. You can still delay this, still fulfill the wishes of your citizens. Or you can go ahead and adopt it. The choice is yours and in a democracy that is as it should be.

Just remember – come October, the choice will be ours and in a democracy that too, is as it should be.


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The sharks are in the water - they smell blood. Can someone not see how ridiculous this is and push the pause button on the attempt to get the draft Official Plan adopted?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 24th, 2018



It was as if there were sharks in the water who had smelled blood and they were moving in for the kill.

Tough enough that unhappy citizens were delegating and saying the equivalent of “we don’t want you to do this” – add to that some of the best legal talent that the developers are able to hire and land use planners that know their stuff.

Time and again the consultants were asking staff – “where are the supporting documents”.

The phrase – “you can’t do that” was mouthed by more than one consultant.

Staff  are on the ropes – but there wasn’t a referee in the ring to count them out and let them crawl out of the ring with their noses bloodied and their bodies bruised.

Council has been able to scoff at and denigrate the citizen delegations – they couldn’t get away with that with the professional talent that took long strips from their hides.

There is a lot of “splainin” to do.

The pace at which delegations appear – ten minutes of presentation followed by Q&A with the delegator. One delegation told the Chair that she was representing four clients – ergo – 40 minutes.

The afternoon meeting had to be extended for more than an hour – one Councillor had to leave early – health concerns dictated a break.

The Chair had to clamp down on the audience – no clapping.  One delegator came close to being asked to leave the podium – he was smacking them.

Far too often the documents weren’t on hand and at times the material was so detailed and dense in terms of content that time was needed to read it over a couple of times and think about it.

It was hard to keep up with the number of deferrals that were being asked for.

Does staff and or council not have the capacity to pause and ask: We are not there yet – is that because we are going in the wrong direction?

Not only is this embarrassing, it is so unprofessional. There are some really fine people in the Planning department who just might be freshening up their resumes – the Burlington Planning department is not the really decent place to work that it was when a different Director of Planning was in place.

And it isn’t over yet – council meets again this evening and again on Wednesday and on the 30th if need be.

Is there not a doctor in the house that can step in and put a stop to the planning carnage?

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections, observations and opinions of the publisher of the Gazette

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Ward 2 Councillor will oppose much of the 421 Brant Street community benefits agreement at council this evening.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 23rd, 2018



City council is going to consider community benefits, which are set out in Section 37 of the Planning Act, at a city Council meeting this evening.

Community benefits are an agreement a city signs with a developer who has been given more height and density for a project that asked for a zoning and or Official Plan amendment.

The agreement the city planning department arrived at with Carriage Gate, the developer of a 23-storey tower on Brant Street opposite city hall, has a number of people wondering why there isn’t all that much for the community in the agreement.

421 Brant

The benefits the community is to get for the added height and density doesn’t seem balanced to some people.

The tower was approved by council last November, on a 5-2 vote and gave the developer almost double the existing OP heights of 12 storeys (on the James/Brant corner of the property only) and 4-8 storeys on the balance of assembled lands.

There will be several motions from the ward Councillor who wants to modify staff’s proposed Section 37 Community Benefits.

Marianne Meed Ward will also raise what she calls the “larger issue” of how the city handles the use of Section 37 Community Benefits.

Meed Ward doesn’t think residents are getting a good deal and will be referring her colleagues to an alternative model she thinks the city should explore – Community Benefits Agreements.

According to Meed Ward, they are used in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada and the United States. She supports using CBAs instead of Section 37 because they give residents a seat at the table.
Meed Ward points out that Section 37 Community Benefits are only available if council grants height and density above the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw. Burlington residents want their council to respect the Official Plan and the Zoning bylaw.

Meed Ward argues that “ Section 37 Community Benefits represent only a fraction of the value uplift of the extra height and density granted to the developer. The calculation of benefits is based on the difference in value of the land at the current OP/Zoning permissions, and the amended OP/Zoning permissions. Then a factor of about 25% of that value is applied, to represent the city share. Community benefits are not based on the market value of the new units.”

MMW speaking Ap 11

Marianne Meed Ward announcing her decision to run for the office of Mayor earlier this month.

Third, said Meed Ward “Section 37 Community Benefits can be either cash or “in-kind” benefits, both of which are used for 421 Brant. What gets included in the in-kind benefits are often things that in my view should be a standard part of any application or be provided via the city’s budget — such as public art — rather than having to exceed our OP/Zoning to get these items.”

Fourth, Meed Ward says “the cost of Section 37 Community Benefits are often passed on to purchasers. This has happened in at least two developments I am aware of: the ADI mid-rise on Guelph Line, and the Molinaro development on Maple, where residents were required to pay $1 million to buy the Geo Thermal System. This pass-through of costs erodes affordability, something we’re told is a goal of high-rises in the first place.”

Burlingtonians have opinions - the city manager wants to hear what you think - become part of his Insight panel.

Councillor Meed Ward wants public representation at the table when community benefits for increased height and density are being negotiated.

Meed Ward’s fifth point is that “residents don’t have a seat at the table when negotiating Section 37 Community Benefits. These discussions take place behind closed doors between staff and the developer. The Ward councillor is consulted, but also doesn’t have a seat at the table, and their input can be ignored. Staff develop a proposal for benefits for council consideration; the public consultation kicks in when the report comes to Committee and Council for approval. Residents are forced into a reactive posture, rather than working together to get the best outcome. During the public discussion residents can ask for changes; council members can bring motions for changes.

Meed Ward believes that “granting extra height and density on any property fuels land speculation, which increases property values and tax assessment. That’s because properties become priced not at the current OP/Zoning permissions, but at the new height/density granted.

“This erodes the value uplift used to calculate Community Benefits, as land is priced assuming whatever was granted under an OP/Zoning amendment will be granted in future. So residents get a smaller amount of the pie.

She adds that “the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation takes land value into account when assessing properties for tax purposes, so residents and businesses face spiraling tax assessments. In the downtown, that is passed on to business owners, increasing their cost of doing business.


The Berkeley under construction on Maria at John Street is close to being topped off.

Seventh, Section 37 Community Benefits are voluntary — a developer does not have to agree with them — and can be renegotiated later via a council vote. We’ve already seen this occur with the Carriage Gate development at Caroline/John/Maria/Elizabeth (the same developer as for 421 Brant St). The original proposal included a community benefit of roughly 75% affordable units, calculated at Halton Region’s affordable housing rate.

This was later renegotiated via a council vote of 6-1 to roughly 25-30% affordable units. Meed Ward said she did not support the change.

“With all these drawbacks, Section 37 Community Benefits aren’t the community benefit they propose to be” said Meed Ward and adds that there is an alternative — private Community Benefits Agreements.

Meed Ward is Councillor for ward 2 and a candidate for the Office of Mayor in the October municipal election.

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Open letter to City Council: Staff update to official plan language regarding neighbourhood protection is not acceptable.

News 100 blueBy Greg Woodruff

April 18th, 2018



Staff recently updated the language in the official plan regarding neighbourhood protection. The language as presented is not acceptable. And a proposed motion by Marianne Meed Ward does not go far enough.

Meed Ward said she is” Working on language for motion (meeting staff tomorrow) but intent will be to remove towns from low density neighborhoods. Apartments already out.

The language as proposed by staff would essentially green light semi-detached housing in all areas of Burlington. Townhouses and apartments could also be approved if they are “compatible with the surrounding area”, respectful of the “physical character” and provide an “amenity area.” This is the same subjective language that is a problem all over the city. People have to know what to expect and we have seen the planning definition of all these terms can be very far from what residents expect. This subjective language and the ability to convert houses into semi-detached needs removed from the “Residential – Low Density” definition.

Woodruff opinion visual

Part of an advertisement running on video screens in some Tim Horton’s locations in Burlington.

Secondarily the definition of “Residential – Medium density” allows all sorts of unexpected and unwanted development. The language allowing for 4 story buildings with a rooftop deck in “Residential – Medium density” areas is also unacceptable. The difference between “Residential – Medium density” and “Residential – Low density” is largely invisible to residents. I doubt anyone knows what zone they are in and you have to check the map embedded in the 600-page official plan to have any idea.

We do not need to get into a discussion of the wisdom of these changes; We need to deliver the advertised protection to residents. The city is running ads on video screens in Tim Horton’s locations explaining how your neighbourhoods will be “protected.” What many people take that to mean is “protected from significant change.” Letting loose with semi-detached and 4 story buildings next door is a significant change.

If the city advertising said; “in neighbourhoods we will be limiting development in some areas to semi-detached and other areas to small apartment buildings” – then my complaint would be blunted. However the advertisements are very clear neighbourhoods will be “protected” and will “not change”.

We are setting up years if not decades of people that will have all sorts of legitimate anger directed to the city. We can leave the fate of the neighbourhoods to future OP battles. More than enough change is generated at the moment for people to absorb.

Direct staff to:

1) Remove the reference to semi-detached from 8.3.3(1).1

2) Remove 8.3.3(1).b entirely

3) Remove “non-ground-oriented dwellings”, “back-to-back townhouses” and “low-rise” from 8.3.4(1).a

4) Remove “non-ground-oriented dwellings” “back-to-back townhouses” and “low-rise” from 8.3.4(1).b

5) Modify 8.3.4(1).c to read “the maximum building height should be comparable to the average height of the highest points of the rooflines of existing residential buildings on the immediately adjoining properties sharing lot lines with the lands under application.“

We all need to get involved! Please like, share, tweet this post or e-mail a link to friends.

Greg WoodruffGreg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who ran for the office of Regional chair in 2014.  There are those who believe Woodruff will seek public office during the 2018 municipal election.

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Tyandaga residents still working at getting answers from different levels of government before the brick manufacturer begins cutting down trees and mining for shale.

News 100 greenBy Staff

April 16th, 2018



It is an issue that impacts the health of those who live in the community and has the potential to impact severely the value of the homes that are going to be yards away from the excavation of shale close to high end homes on West Haven Drive in the Tyandaga community.

The issue is complex and literally every level of government has done their best to steer clear of the problem.


The site and the size of the problem.

A license to mine a quarry for shale, issued in 1972 is the stumbling block. The company that owns the property and holds the license to manufactures brick wants to begin excavating on the most easterly of the three quarry cells.  The residents want tighter rules around any excavation that gets done.

Meridian Brick points to the taxes they pay and the value of their operation to the community. The community comes responds with its own tax number – they pay the city more money in taxes than the brick company.

In his blog Mayor Goldring sets out the fact that “Meridian manufactures an estimated 55% of the clay brick produced in Canada, and 45% is made here in Burlington.” He adds that the “quarry produces Queenston shale, and this is the only type of shale used for brick making in Ontario today. While the economic benefits cannot be overlooked, this must not be at the expense of negatively impacting the community.”

Excavation equipment 2

Residents are not looking forward to this kind of equipment operating yards away from their homes.

What many residents are asking is – why was the residential development approved when city council knew about the shale mining operation? Residents point out that if the mining of shale had started at the western cell the problem the community is facing today wouldn’t exist. In that blog the Mayor seems to agree: “Looking back on how Burlington has evolved, clearly if we were beginning to plan our City, a quarry within the urban area would not be the appropriate location.”

Amen to that would be a TEC response – they now want the city to work with them on an approach that deals with the current problems (air, noise and dust) and deforestation.

The residents of West Haven are resolute; they have organized as the Tyandaga Environmental Coalition (TEC). Hired legal counsel and been very aggressive in going after the bureaucrats in the different provincial ministries.

Westhaven looking toward lake

The street was once a preferred community – then word of the excavation work began to move to a quarry closer to the homes – many have sold their homes and quietly moved away. Property values are not improving.

They have been relentless with the Mayor and the ward Councillor and there is now at least some dialogue between the community and the brick company.

Their reports are filled with acronyms that matter only to those involved – they can be mind boggling. TEC has not been able to get this issues down to  headline issues:  environmental, health and the value of the homes people live in.

TEC reports that there has been one very useful meeting, arranged by Minister McMahon that included Burlington residents, TEC, Minister McMahon, Mayor Goldring, Councillor Craven, Meridian Brick, MOECC, MNRF, Conservation Halton and Burlington Green staff.

The meeting took place in January 25th, addressing a number of our concerns but because of the limited time-frame an in-depth discussion was not possible. As a result it was agreed to have ‘follow up’ meetings and, in addition, several key questions that arose from this meeting should, in the meantime, be presented, in writing, to the MNRF for their timely response – these questions were prepared and delivered on February 6th but so far TEC has no reply from the MNRF.

In November 2017, Donnelly Law, TEC’s legal team, submitted an EBR “Request for Review” application which essentially requested the “Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO)” to review our (TEC) concerns with respect to the proposed Meridian quarry extension.

David Donnelly

David Donnelly TEC legal counsel.

The results of the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) decision were received. TEC was partly successful in that the noise study is now being re-evaluated because the Meridian’s Quarry Operational Plan had changed and the conclusions resulting from the theoretical noise study were very dependent on the accuracy of this Plan.

The MNRF (who are responsible for the ‘integrity’ of the Meridian quarry operation) has, to TEC’s knowledge, never routinely monitored the Aldershot quarry operation for air quality compliance (including carcinogens) and noise compliance and noise compliance but rather relied on standard reports that were filled in and submitted by the quarry operators.

TEC points out that Meridian commissioned SS Wilson (the consultant who did the four previous noise studies – two for the Westhaven Drive developer and two for the quarry operator) to monitor the ongoing quarrying noise for the proposed quarry expansion TEC see’s this as extremely irresponsible  – in effect it offers SS Wilson the unique opportunity to police their own predictions – TEC asks: How can they defend this action? They maintain it is an action that shows contempt for and an absolute lack of transparency. It also indicates, at least to the TEC people, the potential subservience of the agencies to the aggregate owners/operators!

TEC members met with Minister Karina Gould (MP) in February to introduce her to TEC and to explain our issues with the “urban” quarry since this has federal relevance:

• Meridian is an American/Australian owned company doing business in Canada (NAFTA)
• Indigenous & Métis is a federal matter – for example, “Duty to Consult”;
• Environment and climate change is a federal matter – COP21

Meridian yard gates

Meridian has a significant investment in the quarry and a license they don’t want anyone meddling with the license they have.

TEC was astonished that Minister Gould suggested that this was not a federal matter, a position that TEC does not agree with. They maintain all levels of government have a role to play in effectively representing all citizens and fulfilling their commitments as elected politicians especially on matters of health, welfare, and the environment. It is important to note that Ms. Gould, a Burlington resident and our representative at the federal level, has known about the TEC community issue since she attended Meridian’s (then Hanson) first meeting in September 2015. To date, she has offered no support.

TEC has tried to get in front of City Council asking that the Meridian matter be added to a meeting agenda to enable residents the opportunity to delegate and present their case to Council – this request came after TEC members met with each Councillor to seek their advice and support (note: to date only Councillors Meed-Ward and Taylor offered any support and “real” advice on the matter). In what appears to be a usual response, Council decided to once again “dismiss, “deflect”, and “redirect”’ our request to be added to the meeting agenda.

The response: “In consultation with the City Clerk and the Chair of the Committee of the Whole, please be advised that this item will not be placed on the Committee of the Whole agenda for February 26, 2018. I understand that this matter is being worked on by the MPP with the support of Mayor Goldring. In addition, as this is not a municipal matter and falls under provincial jurisdiction, your request should be sent to the appropriate ministries”,

TEC points out that having comprehensive City, Provincial, and Federal ‘environmental’ regulations without professional, independent, continuous and thorough monitoring is the equivalent to having no regulations at all! There are many unknowns that have been skillfully ‘deflected’ in the past, but as D-Day (Deforestation and Dig Day) approaches

TEC say they need

• Answers to our MANY questions – this is imperative if we are to define our way forward;

• Progressive and engaged leadership from our City council and planning staff, who go beyond
“listening” and find a way forward that benefits ALL;

• An enforceable MZO (Ministerial Zoning Order) to limit Meridian Brick’s quarrying activities to within a safe distance of the Tyandaga Community;

• A comprehensive review of the mitigation plan for the endangered species on lands and nearby;

• A ‘signed and MNRF approved” Operational Plan so that we can define the height and position of the berm and enable full compliance to be reviewed DURING the operation;

• Independent monitoring of the dust and noise for full compliance;

• A commitment from the City / Province (MNRF / MOECC) to monitor the operation and to be on-call for non-compliance;

TEC has concluded that the time MNRF has taken to respond to their very general questions is because they are having difficulty getting the answers – When did the MOECC / MNRF last monitor the air quality resulting from the shale extraction?

“Surely, this should be just a matter of looking at the last ‘Official Report’. Have the MOECC / MNRF ever monitored the air quality in the Tyandaga neighborhood? Again, this information should be readily available in the ‘Official Report’, unless of course, there are no reports since that has been no air quality and / or sound measurements ever performed on a regular basis by these agencies – a situation that is very disturbing!

One of the reasons for the January 25th meeting, mentioned previously, was for TEC to get to know the other parties and to also get an indication as to the concessions that each party was willing to make. Because of the time limitation not much progress was achieved other than to voice ‘individual’ concerns and to get a better appreciation of the attention (or lack thereof) that we can expect from the city, provincial, Regional and federal officials.

TEC Nov 16-17 crowd

TEC always gets a significant community turnout o events. Early in their community events the ward Councillor and the Mayor brought their tin ears to the meetings.

TEC’s view is that the City and the provincial ministries clearly want to politically distance themselves from the Meridian Brick Aldershot quarry matter by a ‘Defer, Distract, and re-direct’ policy providing all the choreographed lip service but taking none of the accountability that comes with their elected positions – again a situation that is very disheartening for the residents but further encourages the aggregates!

As a community TEC said they “must decide on our next course of action as Meridian begins to implement its plans for the clear cutting and the subsequent quarrying commences.

At this time, they say they can go in a number of diverse directions – from legal action (which requires fund raising) to a negotiated compromise of the proposed Meridian operation. For example, trying to reduce the area to be quarried, limiting the closeness of the quarry to the neighbourhood, professional monitoring of the noise and dust, penalties for non-compliance and alternate land uses.

TEC stop quarry expansion Jul17

In Burlington community groups have to struggle to get heard.

Any of these require dialogue and a willingness on the part of Meridian to come to the table as a transparent and accountable corporation and elected officials who will accept their responsibility to oversee what takes place and call to account those who do not .

It has been a long and expensive exercise but whenever TEC holds a meeting they get audiences of about 200 during which people offer their financial support – one resident donated $5000 to the cause.

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Gary Parker wants to know if the 421 Brant community benefit package put forward by the planners is a done deal.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 13th, 2018



It is getting harder to communicate with the seven people who were elected in 2014 to serve the interests of the city.

421 Brant

Many citizens didn’t like the idea of a 23 storey tower in the downtown core – many more don’t like the benefits the community is being offered for the additional height given the developer.

Gary Parker gave a strong delegation at city council earlier this week and said to the Gazette later that : “After hearing in the Carriage Gate delegation that the deal was done and not subject to public input I wrote to Councillor Rick Craven, who was chairing the meeting and asked him why, if this was in fact the case he didn’t challenge that assertion and if it was true, why the public was invited to delegate on this issue? ( albeit with little notice and obscurely posted)

In his initial response he advised that “the city doesn’t negotiate real estate deals in public”. I challenged him on this description and again asked: “Is this a done deal or not.”. In his final response he advised “not until a vote of four to two takes place”.

Rick Craven

Ward 1 City Councillor Rick Craven

“It was a bit like pulling teeth to get the answer and I can’t help but feel, vote or not, this really is a ‘done deal’.”  Parker said he thinks “almost everything included in the indirect community benefits part of the package is not in fact a benefit to the citizens of Burlington at all.”

The Standing Committee that heard the delegation recessed at just after 10 pm and will reconvene as part of a Standing Committee meeting scheduled for April 24th.Burlington flags

Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward, now a declared candidate for the Office of Mayor, has said she is going to bring a motion asking that the matter be moved back to a May 8th meeting.

The Parker delegation.

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Resident takes a dim view of the community benefits proposed by the developer and agreed to by the Planning department.

opinionandcommentBy Gary Parker

April 13th, 2018



In preparing to delegate on this issue I carefully read section 1.8 of the new OP which covers Community Benefits. I could find little in that document that exactly fits the agreement you’re being asked to approve tonight.

However the verbiage in this section is vague enough to allow for a wide scope of interpretations. In fact you could interpret the wording in this section in a way that would qualify even the most obscure contribution as an indirect benefit and that appears to be what has happened here.

421 Brant

The development has been voted on – 5-2 for the 23 storey tower opposite city hall. Residents are now gulping at the benefit package to the city for all the additional height.

Despite that ambiguity the underlying concept that the benefits should be proportional to the added height or density is made very clear. It’s also clear that the monetary value assigned to indirect benefits should reflect their real contribution to the community. It is in this area that I see major faults in this proposal.

To determine a rough estimate of what should be offered to the citizens of Burlington I used Mayor Goldring’s approved amendment to the new OP that stipulates 8 additional parking spaces or 190 sq. metres of commercial space per floor of height beyond the ‘as of right’ limit – in this case 17 storeys. How that applies to this already approved development is not clear to me but a calculation based on that formula using Carriage Gate’s own estimate of a $50,000 valuation per parking space tells us that the developer should be liable to provide over 2 million dollars in public benefits.

No exact dollar figure is available for the alternative of commercial space but based on land economics and the per storey formula, the value associated with that option is certainly close to a million dollars. The package of community benefits claimed in the document to be voted on totals 1,775,000 dollars.

That amount would represent a fair compromise if all the benefits claimed were properly priced, but in my opinion, they’re not. In fact a reasonable accounting of the benefits in the listing amounts to only $500,000, more than a million dollars less than what’s being claimed. So let’s look at what our planning department has agreed to for this benefit package:

To assist with affordable housing, a discount of $300,000 to be used against the purchase price of up to 10 dwelling units within the subject development, or an equivalent cash contribution to the city.

While we would prefer to see a real community benefit equivalent to any amount of cash, this is at least a measurable benefit assuming of course, we take the cash. Interestingly this concession by Carriage Gate represents the same amount it paid in lieu of meeting its commitments on its Berkeley development.

One (1) publicly accessible car share parking space (indirect non-cash benefit assessed at
$50,000) and a car-share vehicle for a minimum of two years (assessed at $50,000)

What possible benefit does the community at large derive from this one vehicle and its parking space? If it represents a benefit at all that benefit is being provided not for the public, but for the eventual residents of this building?   The $100,000 assessed in this category should not be recognized.

UW crowd at civic square

Civic Square

$50,000 contribution towards the future expansion of Civic Square

Is this potential expansion a reference to the next point which describes the set back at the north east corner of Brant and James? We need to be told specifically how this expansion is to happen in order to assess whether this money really qualifies as even an indirect CB.

And while on the subject of the contribution the set back and its purported enhancement of the civic square is to provide I draw to your attention to the architectural rendering of the Carriage Gate building and surrounding area. Appreciating that these renderings are by nature glorified versions of the eventual reality, this one is particularly flattering to the project.

Where’s The Traffic?
Presented as it is, it conveys the impression that our civic square extends to the local horizon at the base of the Carriage Gate tower.

Unless we’re planning to deny vehicle access to this busy intersection the reality is that there is no real  connection between these two spaces other than on the few days Brant Street is completely shut down.
◦ public access easement for lands located at the northeast corner of Brant Street and James Streets, the minimum dimensions of which are in the form of a triangle measured at 16m by 16m (128m2) (indirect community benefit assessed at $75,000)

This project was approved by city council in large part because of this very easement. Its inclusion was part of the ‘lesser evil’ rational our planning department used to recommend that approval. Now we are being asked to include it as a community benefit? The $75,000 assessed here should be removed.

Eight (8) visitor parking spaces (indirect community benefit assessed at $400,000)

The ratio for parking per unit in this building is already constrained so competition for these 8 spots will be intense. I would suggest that the approval for 23 stories would never have been granted if the developer had indicated it would not provide sufficient visitor parking spaces.

My own research indicates that, at least in the world of rental apartments, noise complaints are the most numerous followed by the issue of the building’s residents parking in already limited visitor spaces. This is to be a condominium complex but can we not expect the same scenario here?

To suggest that providing 8 visitor parking spots for 8 people from our community of over 180,000 residents that might be available if they ever chose to visit here and value that access as an indirect benefit to our community valued at $400,000 makes absolutely no sense!

Remembrance Day wreaths - dozens at cenotaph

Remembrance Day wreaths at the cenotaph.

Increased building setbacks, including widened sidewalks on Brant Street, James Street, and John Street, and view corridors on Brant Street and James Street to City Hall and the Cenotaph (indirect community benefit assessed at $250,000)

Again, these are factors that have already made their contributions in the context of why a 23 storey building was approved on this site. How many times does a developer get credit for committing to the same thing? This $250,000 of indirect benefits should be removed.

$150,000 towards the public art reserve fund to be used within the publicly accessibly privately owned easement area referred to above and/or in the future Civic Square expansion

This benefit potentially benefits both parties. Therefore only 50% of the donation should be allowed at least until we know where this piece of art will be located.

Implement green technology and sustainable architecture elements into the subject property in accordance with either LEED certification standards and/or compliance with the City’s Sustainable Building and Development guidelines (indirect community benefit assessed at $300,000)

How is being ‘in compliance’ with established standards a community benefit. Once again, the use of green technology for this building was sold to city council as part of the approval process and does not fit the definition of a community benefit. This represents another $300,000 that should be eliminated based on a true assessment of its contribution.

Implement City of Burlington Streetscape Guidelines Standards within the Brant Street, James Street, and John Street public realm areas, including the expanded building setback areas at- grade and the publicly accessible open space easement area outlined above (assessed at $150,000).

Here again we are asked to see conformance with guidelines and creating set backs that were already committed to as additions to what was expected of this development. Another $150,000 of dubious benefits to be removed.

I was in attendance the night city council approved this development. I came away from that meeting with a clear understanding that the approval granted was subject to the provision by the developer of appropriate community benefits beyond what we had been presented with in the rational for approval. In this delegation my aim is to point out to you that most of what you’re now being asked to approve was already recognized as part of the approval process.

There’s is little on offer here by way of direct community benefits and the monetary values assigned to the questionable indirect benefits are grossly inflated. These monies were obviously added in order to meet the percentage value required by the ‘uplift’ formula regardless of their merit!

I would also point out that those championing the Reserve Properties proposal that seeks approval largely based on what was accepted at 421 Brant, will be closely watching this process. If the at best dubious benefits and inflated valuations included in this document are accepted I would suggest you can expect to see them duplicated in the future.

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There are direc benefits and there are indirect benefits - the most direct benefit available to voters is the ballot box.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 12th, 2018



Mayor Rick Goldring used his blog to comment and explain a Staff Report on the proposed Section 37 Community Benefits for 421 Brant Street.


Mayor Rick Goldring explains the Section 37 deal the city is getting ready to give Carriage Gate.

The Mayor puts his comments in context saying: On November 13, 2017, Council approved applications to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law, as modified by staff, to permit a mixed-use development with a height up to 23 storeys at the north-east corner of Brant and James Street across from City Hall.

He adds that he “did not support the approval as I believe the height is excessive for this location.”
Section 37 of the Planning Act is a planning tool which allows municipalities to accept “community benefits” when granting increased density and/or height through a change in zoning or official plan policy.

He then explains that there are direct and indirect community benefits. For many this will be the first time they have heard of that distinction.

A direct community benefit is a monetary contribution.

An indirect community benefit has a public interest but doesn’t involve a direct monetary contribution.

The direct benefits listed below have been negotiated under Section 37 by Planning staff. The indirect benefits were identified as part of the development proposal outlined in the November Planning report in support of the approved 23 storey development.

Here is the list of community benefits that Planning staff are recommending for approval: Three are direct and six are indirect.

Sweet! For who?  The city needs a better negotiator – and having at least something in the way of public participation in this process is a must.

A smart developer would have gone out to the community asking for ideas.

• To assist in the pursuit of long-term affordable housing, the Developer agrees to a discount of $300,000 to be used against the purchase price of up to 10 dwelling units within the subject development, or in the event that a purchase(s) is/are not to occur within the subject development, the Developer agrees to provide the City with a cash contribution of $300,000 prior to condominium registration. [Direct benefit]

• The Developer agrees to provide a direct community benefit of $150,000 towards the public art reserve fund to be used within the publicly accessible privately owned easement area referred to in subsection (v) and/or in the future Civic Square expansion area. [Direct benefit]

• The Developer agrees to provide a direct community benefit of a $50,000 contribution towards the future expansion of Civic Square. [Direct benefit]

• The Developer agrees to provide one (1) publicly accessible car share parking space (indirect community benefit assessed at $50,000) and contribute to the City’s emerging car-share network by accommodating a car-share vehicle for a minimum of two years starting from the first occupancy (indirect community benefit assessed at $50,000), or equivalent.

This might be of some benefit to the people who will live in the building – what about the rest of the people?

• The Developer agrees to provide public access by way of an easement to be registered on title for lands located at the northeast corner of Brant Street and James Streets, the minimum dimensions of which are in the form of a triangle measured at 16m by 16m (an indirect community benefit assessed at $75,000).

Opening up some space is nice – this one sounds more like a direct benefit – could perhaps be a location for an imaginative Pop Up

• The Developer agrees to provide eight (8) visitor parking spaces (indirect community benefit accessed at $400,000).

Great if you are visiting people who live in the building – great sales feature as well.

Remembered, respected

Remembered, respected

• The Developer agrees, and it is enshrined within the amending zoning by-law, that increased building setbacks, including widened sidewalks on Brant Street, James Street, and John Street, and view corridors on Brant Street and James Street to City Hall and the Cenotaph (indirect community benefit accessed at $250,000).

How did this get valued at a quarter of a million dollars?

• The Developer agrees to implement green technology and sustainable architecture elements into the subject property in accordance with either LEED certification standards and/or compliance with the City’s Sustainable Building and Development guidelines (indirect community benefit accessed at $300,000).

Nice for the environment – should be standard on every new building put up in the city.  Not a benefit – a given

• The Developer agrees to implement City of Burlington Streetscape Guidelines Standards within the Brant Street, James Street, and John Street public realm areas, including the expanded building setback areas at-grade and the publicly accessible open space easement area outlined in (v) above (an indirect community benefit accessed at $150,000).

How did the value get determined?  Doesn’t appear as if there was anyone in the room his was negotiated in to speak up for the people.

A government that speaks for the interests of the tax payers would be nice.  Ballot boxes are nicer.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Gazette.


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Is there going to be a real election in October and not just a return of all seven incumbents.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 11th, 2018



Why now?

And why in the wilds of Aldershot?

MMW speaking Ap 11

Meed Ward announcing her running for the office of Mayor.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward announced today that she was going to run for the office of Mayor.

No surprise there – she has been working towards the job since her first successful run in ward 2 in 2010.

She said in an interview that she announced today so that anyone thinking of running for the ward 2 council seat would have some time to get their papers in order and be able to march into city hall on May 1st and file their nomination papers.

Michael Jones, a ward 2 resident, has said he would run for the seat just as soon as he was certain Meed Ward would not be running.

MMW and Leah Reynolds

Marianne Meed Ward and Leah Reynolds

Ward 1 and 2 school board trustee Leah Reynolds has been seen by some as the heir apparent for the city council seat. When asked recently what her plans were as a trustee Reynolds said she wasn’t prepared to make any comment at the time.

There is a third possible candidate that is keeping her powder dry – but the signs the Gazette is seeing suggest she will run.

There are two credible candidates for the ward 3 seat and a ‘wanna be’ that has run in at least four elections.

There are hints that incumbent John Taylor will resign.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison always has an eye open for an economic opportunity - sees a great one for the city: sell the golf course.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison

There is now a candidate ready to give ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison a good run for his money. Expect an announcement on that in a day or two.

No one yet in ward 5, a “possible” in ward 1.

Ken White has said he will run for the ward 6 seat against incumbent Blair Lancaster.

Will it be a different city council on the 23rd of October?

We thought it was going to be difference in 2014 and they all got re-elected, so we too will keep our powder dry.

Why announce in Aldershot?  Meed Ward claims an attachment to the community; her children went to elementary school in Aldershot and she said she felt that Clearview Street was a near perfect example of what is wrong with the changes that are taking place in the city.  The announcement was made on the street

There might also be some truth that she chose ward 1 to rub it in Rick Craven, the ward Councillor – no love lost between those two.

Salt with Pepper are the musings, reflections and opinions of the Gazette publisher.

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City Council ran out of time - couldn't finish the debate on the community benefits before it was time to go home.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 11th, 2018



It was a meeting many did not want to see take place due to the lack of in-adequate public notice – but it did – and due to the hour the Council Standing Committee decided to adjourn and continue the meeting as part of the April 23rd Standing Committee meeting.

Meed WArd at PARC

Ward 2 city council member Marianne Meed Ward

421 BrantWard 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward explained that Section 37 community benefits are a public report decided by council in a public session. That’s why we were all there. It can be changed by motion like any other report. I will be bringing several motions for change.”

She added that: “Negotiations happen between staff/developer behind closed doors but discussion by council and final decision takes place in public.” I was consulted once for input. I suggested affordable housing be a priority.”

Meed Ward said: Staff and the developer negotiated the items. Staff write the report. I saw the final list of recommendations 6 days ago at the same time as the Public Report was released.

The Tuesday evening meeting was planned as an occasion when two Statutory meetings on new developments were to be heard. The Staff report on the Section 37 community benefits that are part of the 421 Brant development was added to the agenda.  The 23 storey 421 Brant tower has already been approved by council on a 5-2 vote.

421 James street rendering

Based on the debate so far – the citizens aren’t going to see very much for the additional height and density the developer has been given.

No decision made Tuesday evening.  Due to late hour (10:10) and three delegations to be heard it was referred to council meeting of April 23. Meed Ward had suggested referral to May 8 committee. She does not support the benefits package in the report and will bring motions for change.

This story isn’t over yet.

Related new story:

Muir: It’s just a bad deal for the citizens

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Councillor Taylor beats around the Bureaucratic bushes explaining why the draft OP has to be passed ASAP.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 10th, 2018



We are beginning to get a little more detail on why the city chose to hold an additional public meeting on the draft Official plan that a number of people want to see moved back until after the municipal election when they hope they will have a different city council to deal with.

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

Rural lands and how the province is determined they are to be used is the most recent hiccup with getting Burlington’s draft Official Plan adopted and sent along o the Region.

John Taylor, Councillor for ward 3 explains to Jim Young, an ECoB member, that the meeting in Alton last night “really has nothing to do with the Official Plan Review process at either the City or Region of Halton.

“The blame rests solely with the Province of Ontario and their February 9 unilateral decision to gazette their error filled mapping of agriculture lands and natural heritage systems for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and require full municipal compliance. As this was at the end of the city’s OP process this required us to delay our process for an additional public consultation.

(When Taylor refers to the gazette he is not referring to the Burlington Gazette but rather to the publication the provinces uses to formally issue its decisions.)

”The way forward is not completely clear at this point and I have requested senior planning staff from the Region and City to meet next week in an attempt to resolve this mapping issue and how to make our new OP fully compliant with provincial legislation at the same time as the new regional OP is adopted. I will expect city staff to report back on these issues at the April 24 Planning and Development Committee meeting.”

Young replies saying:

Jim Young

Jim Young delegating before council – reminding them who put them there and what they are expected to do while they are there.

“I was commenting that it seems perfectly acceptable to delay the adoption to clarify one item for council while the many other outstanding concerns for citizens are blithely ignored in the rush get this really unpopular OP through council before an election.

“This OP does not belong to council or staff. It belongs to the people of Burlington whether urban, rural, farming, commuter, working or retired.

“Clarity for Councillors is not the criteria by which it should be judged, delayed or implemented.

“Clarity for the people of Burlington should be the only criteria and the fiasco at Haber on the mapping issue is simply one more indication that people are not clear on how this OP affects them and when they become aware of some of its impact they do not like what they hear.

“Again I ask, Why the Rush? Why not Clarity for All?

Tanner and Taylor at June 21-17 workshop

Councillor John Taylor on the left n conversation with then Director of Planning Mary Lou Tanner on the far right

Taylor’s rationale for moving forward with all possible haste is set out in this statement: “As for intensification it is in the best interest of Burlington as a whole to adopt the official plan now in order to put forward a new defendable reference point on this issue. To continue to rely on a way out of date OP is irresponsible and will only invite further land speculation.”

Having been a member of a city council that has dithered away with the writing of a new official plan for years, during which time the developers were quietly assembling properties, it is a little disingenuous of Taylor to claim that the barn door has to be shut when we can see all the horses in the fields.

The Planning department is now flooded with development applications. The developers have got this figured out. They are doing what any good business does – look for a good business opportunity and make the best of that opportunity.

Citizens were expecting their council to protect them.

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An almost total cock up on the part of the Clerks office - they will refer to it as a 'learning moment'

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 10th, 2018



Back to the way the city administration communicates with the people that pay their salaries. A very controversial item was due to be put before city council – the Section 37 agreement with the developers of the 23 storey tower approved by city council.

421 Brant

How does a development that has some merit manage to get so much undesirable publicity?

Many people were not aware that the item had been placed on the Agenda of a Planning and Development meeting for this evening.

A resident who is particularly good at digging out information and some of the ECoB people were able to find the mention of an item that was added to the agenda – the added item doesn’t appear on the actual agenda – confusing? – Welcome to the world of municipal government.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward explained that she too had difficulty finding the agenda item – and she uses the city calendar feature regularly and urges people to use it.

Here is what Meed Ward had to say about access to notice of an item on a meeting agenda:

Meed Ward H&S

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward is expected to ask city council to defer hearing the Planning until the public has been given adequate notice.

“I have received multiple emails from residents who were not able to find the Section 37 item on the Agenda for tonight’s meeting.

“I myself couldn’t find it initially after I was told it had been posted and spoke to clerks. (I am paperless, so rely exclusively on the electronic record for my agendas and reports). They showed me where to find addendum items – these are items that are released late, after the agenda for the meeting is already published.

“But without that knowledge gained speaking to clerks, I wouldn’t have found it, and it’s not where the public would think to look.”

Meed Ward is apparently going to ask council to defer this item until the public has been properly notified and made aware of the item being on an agenda.

What Meed Ward hasn’t said so far is where she stands on the Section 37 agreement the Planning department is passing along to council for approval.

Related news stories:

Muir hammers city council.

It was the late Paul Newman who once said in a riveting movie: What we have here is a failure to communicate.

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Angry rural residents vent at a public meeting, Councillor Lancaster sends one packing

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 10th, 2018



A little more on that public meeting last night in the Alton Village at the Haber Recreation Centre.

A source reported that ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster told a citizen who was reported to be shouting at people that he had to leave the room.

Councillor Blair Lancaster gets out to almost every photo op there is and has served as the lead spokesperson at a number of NGTA community events with crowrs of 250+. Her constituents are not happy with how she is handling the Air PArk issue.

Councillor Blair Lancaster – can be one tough cookie when she thinks she has to be.

The man was said to be more than six feet in height – being ejected by Lancaster must have been a sight.

The event was an Open House at which the Planning department provided maps showing the changes on how land use in the rural part of Burlington was going to change.

The “farmer” was angry over changes to what he was going to be able to do with his land.

In attendance were Councillors Sharman, Taylor, Lancaster and Meed Ward. Our source was not able to say if any other council members were in the room.

Debate Warren

Vanessa Warren during the 2014 municipal election.

Vanessa Warren, a candidate for the ward in the 2014 election was certainly in the room commenting on what was shown on the maps that were on display.

Warren is an exceptionally able researcher – she would know what she was talking about.

Our source reported that there were a lot of angry rural residents at the event.

A Gazette reader who was at the meeting commented: “I attended last night, and it was an embarrassment to this city. The Enraged Citizens of Burlington or whoever these people were have every right to be upset, I am too, but you can’t behave like that. It was borderline violent at times, with people so out of control with rage that they had to physically be removed from the building. Right or wrong, it crossed a line. Security Guards, real ones, not night watchmen, might be a good idea for the April 24th meeting. We’re supposed to feel safe at these meetings. Last night, for the first time, that safety was called into question. Come on Burlington, we’re better than this.”

Quite a build-up to the October municipal election.

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There is room for some decency in the way the city administration and the elected officials treat the taxpayers.

News 100 blackBy Pepper Parr

April 9th, 2018



This is getting just a little ridiculous.

City council approved a height of 23 storeys for a condominium opposite city hall.

421 BrantFinal, final approval was subject to a Section 37 agreement being put in place.

ECOB logoECoB – Engaged citizens of Burlington, were waiting for that Section 37 agreement to be put in place so they could appeal the decision to the OMB.

The city releases the Section 37 agreement – astounding is the best way to summarize what the citizens get for giving the developer an additional 11 storeys of height.

A citizen writes a stiff rebuke on just what the Planning department has apparently agreed to.

No date is given as to when this Section 37 agreement for the development known as 421 Brant is going to be put in front of city council.

On Tuesday evening there are two Statutory meetings scheduled for the Planning and Development Standing committee. Statutory public meetings are held to present planning applications in a public forum as required by the Planning Act.

There is no mention of anything else on the agenda for the Tuesday evening meeting.

421 James street rendering

Is the 421 Brant Street development too close to city hall? We are not talking distance here. –

The ECoB people learned that the Section 37 agreement for the 421 Brant development will be on the agenda.

They advised the Gazette that:

City P & D have sneaked the section 37 community benefit proposals for 421 Brant St on to tomorrow night’s agenda without announcing it on the agenda made public on the city website. We found it by digging around elsewhere after Tom Muir made us aware of it.

Penny Hersh, part of the ECoB leadership sent the following to media: it was addressed to ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward

“It has come to our attention that Section 37-Public Benefits for 421 Brant Street will be discussed at the Planning and Development Committee tomorrow evening.

“It is only by searching the City’s website does this appear. No change to the Official Agenda.

Added agenda item graphic

The item added to the Planning and Development meeting Tuesday evening doesn’t appear in the agenda – but it did appear elsewhere on the city web site. Citizens should not have to search for information.

When was this “additional item” placed on the website and why was the Agenda that most residents would check not updated?

“What is staff afraid of? What is the thought process, definitely not transparency? It certainly gives one the impression that they are trying to get this done under the radar. The hope that no one shows up to question this travesty of NON Community Benefits for increased height and density. This is yet another reason why residents have no trust in staff and Council.

“Staff seems to forget that they work for the residents and Council elected to protect the interests of the residents.

“I am asking that Council direct staff to defer discussion of the Section 37 Benefits for 421 Brant Street to the April 24th meeting.”

This situation is intolerable. Last week the city discussed the adoption of a Good Governance model for the members of council. They are going to need more than a model on how to govern to get past this mess.  The optics on this just stink.  It is going to take quite an explanation to convince anyone that this was not deliberate.

Both the city administration and the members of council are duty bound to ensure that the public is fully informed.  The city did put out a notice saying maintenance work was being done on the city web site:

While we are making changes, please note that some online services will not be available on Monday, April 9 from 9 to 10 p.m.:

• Online business license renewal
• Online Property information requests

There is room for some decency in the way the city administration and the elected officials treat the taxpayers.

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Citizen anger over draft Official Plan erupts at public meeting.

Newsflash 100By Staff

April 9th, 2018



A Burlington resident attending the public meeting taking place at the Haber Recreation Centre in the Alton Village reports that “there is a shouting match going on at Haber right now.”

The city Planning department was holding an information session on the most recent changes being made to draft of the new Official Plan.

growbold-847x254The Planners are expecting to bring the latest version of the Official Plan being prepared to a city council meeting April 24th and have set aside time on the 25th if needed to be able to take the document to a special meeting of city council where they expect the document to be approved and sent along to the Region where it will sit for a period of time before t is approved at that level.

Burlington’s Official Plan must comply with the Region’s plan.

The Burlington document has been the subject of a lot of delegating by residents who do not want the document approved until after the municipal election in October.

Tension between the elected council and citizens has been growing – it appears to have blown a gasket at this most recent public meeting.

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What might be the last single family detached homes project in Burlington is underway.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 9th, 2018



They aren’t going to be building many more of these; detached single family homes.

Close to the last development project for detached homes is underway at the intersection of Dundas and

Walkers and Dundas housing

Single family detached homes under construction at the intersection of Walkers Line and Dundas is close to the last the city will see.

Walkers Line is underway.

Former Director of Planning, now Deputy city manager, Mary Lou Tanner said a number of months ago that the land available for single family homes will permit not more than 800 new homes.

What the city can expect to see next are townhouses, stacked townhouses and back to back townhouses with much less space and a lot less in amenities.

National Homes image

A graphic from a development proposed for 2100 Brant shows the change that Burlington is experiencing. The existing community, shown in blue has 736 homes: the planned community, which is much much smaller is projected to have 233 units. That is what intensification s all about – and the locals don’t like it.

A development planned for 2100 Brant has raised the ire of residents in that community – National Homes has an application for 233 units that will be some form of townhouses with no park proposed for those 233 families.

It is going to be a different Burlington when they are all done.


Related news stories:

Not everyone is buying what comes out of city hall

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Tom Muir wonders if 'city residents are completely stupid, and fools to be bilked'.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 9th, 2018



There were few people lining up to tell city council how much they liked the building that is to go up across the street from city hall and rise to 23 stories.  City council approved the Staff recommendation on a 5-2 vote; ECoB (Engaged Citizens of Burlington) almost immediately said they ddn’t like the idea and the Mayor nodded in agreement – his was one of the two votes against the project.

No word from ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward but expect her to have some choice words for the Section 37 agreement the city arrived at with Carriage Gate the developer of the building that has yet to be given a name.

ECoB at one point was standing at the counter in the Clerk’s office panting to file an OMB appeal but were told they couldn’t do so until the file was complete – meaning that the city had to agree on a Section 37 – which is a process whereby the citizens get some benefit for the extra height and density a development gets that is above and beyond whatever the site had in terms of zoning.

The site for Carriage Gate is comprised of a number of properties that were assembled, each having slightly different zoning.

No word yet on what, if anything, ECoB plans to do with that plan to appeal the decision the city made.

Tom Muir, let the city knows where he stands: ” unacceptable sweetening of an already sweet deal for the developer.”  Muir has delegated to city council and has provided the Gazette with a copy of the delegation that will get put into the record of the April 10th meeting.

To: Burlington Planning and Development Committee
From: Tom Muir, Resident
Subject: Written delegation to April 10/18 P&D meeting item of Section 37 staff report for 421 Brant St

Dear Councilors;
I am unable to delegate personally to this item, so I am sending this written delegation of my comments for the record of the proceedings.

To simplify my comments I will target them item by item by following a copy of the staff report text that is pertinent.

1. Regarding; “Specifically, the City “may encourage the use of community benefits provisions with regard to the following matters:””

The words of describing a total voluntary nature of the action by the City, and developer, i.e, “The City may encourage the use of …”,makes me wonder if the staff and Council thinks that city residents are completely stupid, and fools to be bilked.

421 Brant

Building without a name – just a street address.

“May encourage” is a double form of contingency that means the City doesn’t have to do anything at all to secure anything at all, but maybe just think about trying to get the developer to deliver something, and this can be enough.

Given the track record of this very same developer in refusing to deliver on a previous Section 37 agreement on the Carriage Gate development, why on earth would the City agree to such terms and a course of action?

Who benefits from this except the developer, and there is no representation of city residents that I can see.
It’s a ridiculous on its face insult to the residents of this City. This is not a Section 37 Community Benefits agreement, but a very bad for residents agreement, presented as such.  It is completely unacceptable.

2. Regarding, (i) “Provision of a wide range of housing types including special needs, assisted, or
other low-income housing.”

• To assist in the pursuit of long-term affordable housing, the Developer agree to a discount of $300,000 to be used against the purchase price of up to 10 dwelling units within the subject development, or in the event that a purchase(s) is/are not to occur within the subject development, the Developer agrees to provide the City with a cash contribution of $300,000 prior to condominium registration, to the satisfaction of the Director of City Building.

This idea is acceptable as long as there are tight provisions to ensure that the units are sold to those demonstrating as needing of affordable housing, and this should be overseen by public agencies involved in such activities.

Provisions must be made to ensure the units are not sold and then appear back in the free market for resale at market prices.

3.Regarding, (iv) “improved access to public transit or implementation of a Travel Demand
Management Plan.”

• The Developer agrees to provide one (1) publicly accessible car share parking space (indirect community benefit assessed at $50,000) and contribute to the City’s emerging car-share network by accommodating a carshare vehicle for a minimum of two years starting from the first occupancy (indirect community benefit assessed at $50,000), or equivalent, to the satisfaction of the Director of Transportation; and (v) “provision of public areas, crosswalks, and walkways, and connections to external walkways/trail systems.”

• The Developer agrees to provide a direct community benefit of a $50,000 contribution towards the future expansion of Civic Square, to the satisfaction of the Executive Director of Capital Works; and

• The Developer agrees to provide public access by way of an easement to be registered on title for lands located at the northeast corner of Brant Street and James Streets, the minimum dimensions of which are in the form of a triangle measured at 16m by 16m (128m2)(an indirect community benefit assessed at
$75,000), to the satisfaction of the Executive Director of Capital Works; and (vi) “provision of public parking.”

All of this is acceptable to me, although I fail to see how this is not part of the negotiated agreement for the added height and density permitted.

As well, I am not sure about the adequacy of the amounts provided, and I see no transparent explanation of how any of these terms were rationalized and arrived at. I would like to see this rationalization.

421 James street rendering

The structure will dwarf city hall.

4. Regarding, • The Developer agrees to provide eight (8) visitor parking spaces (indirect community benefit accessed at $400,000), to the satisfaction of the Director of Transportation;

This is an unacceptable sweetening of an already sweet deal for the developer. I can’t imagine how a negotiation for 23 stories in an 8 to 12 story existing permission (which is also in doubt of validity) can justify no or inadequate provision for visitor parking. And even more so, when parking was a top public concern expressed in the review process.

In my view, this is unjustified to provide this as a benefit to the public when it is really the developer that is benefiting.

5. Regarding, (ix) “protection or enhancement of significant views” • The Developer agrees, and it is enshrined within the amending zoning by-law, that increased building setbacks, including widened sidewalks on Brant Street, James Street, and John Street, and view corridors on Brant Street and Page 5 of Report PB-33-18 – James Street to City Hall and the Cenotaph (indirect community benefit accessed at $250,000), to the satisfaction of the Director of City Building; and (x) “provision of affordable housing, beyond the basic Provincial requirements;”  • See (i) above. (xi) “provision of public art”

• The Developer agrees to provide a direct community benefit of $150,000 towards the public art reserve fund to be used within the publicly accessibly privately owned easement area referred to in subsection (v) and/or in the future Civic Square expansion area, to the satisfaction of the Director of City Building; and (xii) “provision of green technology and sustainable architecture”

The Developer agrees to implement green technology and sustainable architecture elements into the subject property in accordance with either LEED certification standards and/or compliance with the City’s Sustainable Building and Development guidelines (indirect community benefit accessed at $300,000), to the satisfaction of the Director of City Building; and (xiii) “provision of streetscape improvements in accordance with Council approved design guidelines”

• The Developer agrees to implement City of Burlington Streetscape Guidelines Standards within the Brant Street, James Street, and John Street public realm areas, including the expanded building setback areas at-grade and the publicly accessible open space easement area outlined in (v) above (an indirect community benefit accessed at $150,000), to the satisfaction of the Director of City Building.

Before enacting the amending zoning by-law, the applicant will be required to execute an Agreement pursuant to Section 37 of the Planning Act to the satisfaction of the Director of City Building and the City Solicitor, and that such agreement be registered on title to the lands in a manner satisfactory to the City Solicitor, to secure said benefits.

The provisions for community benefits are also included in the zoning by-law.

These features are all acceptable to me, but I have no basis to see on how these were negotiated and agreed to. I also have no rationalization on the values of these, and/or the adequacy of them.

I also have no rationalization of why these features are considered for Section 37, and not a proper included part of the negotiated and Council approved development for the project.

6. Overall, my view is this, and I ask the planners and group that determined these Section 37 “Benefits” for the additional information describing how the “Benefits” are calculated, with transparency.

The fact is it’s cashing in on the City ability to create money with the OP and Zoning permissions.The Benefits should not all go to the developers. – there needs to be a fair share.

Don’t ever think only central banks can create money out of nothing but air (height and density rights written on paper).

This is a powerful wealth creation tool that most people don’t think about really until times like now when the overall “air parcel” bits and pieces, sprinkled all over the place, that is driving the money value, gets too big not to notice.

Just imagine – creating 26 floors of nominal residential space, by converting zero floors of empty space (one can imagine converting 2 or 4 floors) of commercial/retail space with half the unit value, is a mighty injection of wealth created out of practically or comparatively nothing.

The per unit land values, and associated rents, of course inflate in some multiple of proportion of the expected gross return of the build.

I think that the the city planners and someone who works for the City who is in in charge of keeping track of these values for City purposes, can do this, and should be directed to do by Council or the managers. it’s additional information that is needed for financially prudent financial decision-making by Council.

And of course, you have to add in all the negative costs and crap and inflation and lost existing business income that goes along with this set of tear-downs, that gets dumped on residents and businessmen, for them to bear.

So, the city ought to cash in on what it creates, since they control it and it is the city ownership of, and responsibility for, the Plan. It needs a very close look.

If Section 37 benefits are to be calculated, then these are the land value gains, and residents costs, that should determine what these are. I would suggest that the gains as described above be shared 50/50. Those referred to above can provide estimates of these values.

And this is another reason why the city must not give away all the heights to developers “by right”, where there are no Section 37 benefits allowed.

We now know where one citizen stands.

Muir with pen in handTom Muir is a retired federal civil servant who lives in Aldershot and delegates before city council frequently.

Related news stories:

Public involvement in determining Section 37 benefits.

Muir on the city manager’s approach to negotiating.


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