City has begun to gather data that will be used to shape the Cycling Plan.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

February 4th, 2018



City Hall is inviting the public to share their thoughts and ideas about what would improve cycling in Burlington.

The feedback will be used to help shape the city’s new Cycling Plan which will guide the future of cycling infrastructure in the city.

Burlington is at a unique time in its history. In the past, growth has meant the development of new neighbourhoods but growth in the future looks very different for Burlington because our city has very little room left for traditional suburban-type development.

Cycling survey photo

Cycling as the city seems to want to portray it. Is it a realistic picture?

Instead of growing out, Burlington City Council has made the decision to grow up and intensify in key urban areas. This direction, approved through the city’s Strategic Plan in April 2016, will enable Burlington to curb sprawl, protect the rural area and make efficient use of land and infrastructure.

The 2016 Census data shows Burlington grew by 7,535 people between 2011 and 2016 – a 4.3% overall growth rate. The provincial Places to Grow policy mandates that Burlington plan for a population of 193,000 by 2031, however, the city will reach this population number within the next few years.

As the city plans for future population growth with documents like the proposed new Official Plan and Mobility Hubs, it must also plan for how people will move through the city.

Over the last 30 years, Burlington’s transportation network has accommodated growth by building more roadways. This strategy is no longer sustainable. The city does not have the space to build new roadways and the financial cost to maintain a larger network of roads is significant.

A 21st century city is built around a different transportation model, one designed to provide people of all ages and abilities with more travel choices for things like walking, transit and cycling.

Burlington’s Cycling Plan was last updated in 2009. Since that time, the following cycling investments have been made:

Implementation of over 200 kilometers of on-road and off-road cycling infrastructure

Trail - CentennialFour metre-wide multi-use paths paved along hydro corridors

The New Street Pilot Project was an experiment to reduce road capacity and add on-road buffered bike lanes.

That idea didn’t work out; after considerable public reaction the city decided to abandon that initiative. What city hall learned was that is was going to have to be much more transparent when new initiatives are being brought forward.

Among current initiatives are:

Consideration given to include cycling facilities as part of all new road reconstruction projects with a preference for implementing on-road bike lanes

The use of bright green pavement markings at major intersections to clearly mark cycling lanes.

The new Cycling Plan will build on these successes and recommend new programs and policies that seek to provide safe, comfortable, and convenient routes for cyclists of all ages and abilities.

How do people feel about the use of bicycles.  The graphic represents where public opinion was in 2009.  Has it moved very much?

Cyclists by type

The Cycling Plan is now on the public engagement phase – gathering feedback that will be used to help shape the Cycling Plan.

What is confusing is the disparity between what city hall tells the public and what people see on the street.   The city uses a photograph of a relatively young person on a bike in the winter. Cyclist - winterAt the same time city hall and all the members of council tell the public that Burlington is becoming a city of seniors and that the seniors population is where the population growth is taking palace.

This citizen isn't smiling. Was she one of the hundreds that were basically locked in theoir homes during the five days of heavy winter weather because streets were not cleared?

This citizen isn’t smiling. Was she one of the hundreds that were basically locked in their homes during the five days of heavy winter weather because streets were not cleared?

Those seniors are for the most part not going to be riding bicycles.  Pushing walkers is what we will see on the streets,

Opportunities to participate are available through an online survey open until Feb. 23, 2018.

There will be a series of Drop-In events throughout the community.

Staff will be showing up all over the city seeking input and reaction.

Monday, Feb. 5, 6:30 – 9 a.m. – Nelson Recreation Centre,
Friday, Feb. 9 6 – 8 a.m. Appleby GO Station,
Friday, Feb. 9 – 4 – 7 p.m. Mountainside Community Centre,
Tuesday, Feb. 13 – 7 – 9:30 a.m. – Tansley Woods Community Centre,
Wednesday, Feb. 14 – 6 – 8 a.m. – Aldershot GO Station,
Wednesday, Feb. 14 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Brant Hills Community Centre,
Saturday, Feb. 17 – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mainway Recreation Centre

The number of Drop In events is impressive. These began at the end of January – six have taken place so far.

What the city has to learn is just how the public views the use of bicycles – are they a form of family exercise and part of the recreational plan or are they a form of transportation that will replace the car and at times be used instead of public transit.

The city has budgeted funds for where a cycling bridge over the QEW could best be located.

The Gazette is aware of one business person who keeps her bicycle in her office and uses it for short trips in the downtown core.  You are not going to see this lady biking to Hamilton.

Cycling Bus Bike Rack use

How heavily are the bike tacks on buses being used?

The extent of bicycle use the public is prepared to live with is the issue – hopefully city hall will not come up with any surprises.  The information gathering has to follow the education part – a major shift is going to take place in the way people get around their communities – the car has been the mode of choice for the past three or four decades – that is going to change and the public will have to understand why.

Failure to do that will see another uproar that will equal the reaction to the 23 storey high rise opposite city hall and the plan to turn New Street into a road that would have few lanes for cars and lanes on either side of the road for bicycles.

City Cycling Plan – 2009

The New street Road Diet kerfuffle.

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A mobility hub for the downtown core has been in the plans for some time - the problem was the downtown residents didn't know about it.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

February 4th, 2018



Mike Quackenbush, understood to be running for a seat on city council, brought to our attention a map in a Metrolinx Baseline Monitoring Report dated September 2013 that has a Mobility Hub in downtown Burlington.

The report however doesn’t show a hub for Appleby or Aldershot Go stations – it does include Burlington GO as a hub.

Mobility hubs - province wide

Mobility hubs – province wide The 2013 map shows just two hubs for Burlington – one of which is downtown.

Given the rate at which things are moving – it is difficult to keep track of it all. What is clear however is that at one point there was going to be a mobility hub in downtown Burlington.

The Gazette doesn’t recall this being discussed at city council meetings.

Station West A signWhat is interesting is that there is no one council member on top of the mobility hub issue. During the early Strategic Plan meetings in 2015, it sounded as if Aldershot was going to be where the first hub would be developed. The ADI Group plans for Station West had a significant development taking place.

Paradigm from the west Nov 2017

Three of the five tower project are well underway – the one on the left will see residents moving in during 2018.

The Paradigm on Fairview was beginning to get underway. Appleby was a long way off.

The former Director of Planning had just come on board and getting a feel for the department she was responsible for.

Shortly after being appointed Director a decision was made to start the Official Plan from scratch and give up on the idea of doing a re-write. That meant a significant shift in the thinking going on within the Planning department.

The going back to square one brought all kinds of ideas to the surface, the biggest of which was the new tag line for the message being sent out to the public – the planners got good public input on using the tag line Grow Bold – and bold they were.

Once the Planners got into thinking through how they wanted to craft the new Official Plan there was all kinds of hiring going on, significant increases to the base budget – $500,000 – for additional staff and community workshops that left little time for a real life for those who took an active interest in civic affairs.

It became evident that the planners were some distance ahead of the public which brought out more than 30 delegations asking the city to slow down and let the public get caught up.

council with term datesCity council decided not to defer the approving of the plans for the Downtown Core setting out the battle lines for the municipal election that will take place at the end of October.

Related content.

Resident asks: How does the Downtown Mobility hub fit into the provincial plan?

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Bob Wilson: Grow Bold appears to be a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding downtown development, without justification.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

February 4th, 2018



On January 25, 2018 8:15 PM, Bob Wilson, a Burlington resident had questions and concerns about the planned Mobility hub for the Downtown core and the hub planned for the Burlington GO station. He sent in a question to Mailbox, Grow Bold, the city site where people could ask questions.

To: Mailbox, Grow Bold; Subject: Downtown Mobility Hub
“What changes are happening to the downtown core that will make the Mobility Hub there a viable traffic network hub for all the intensification that planners are encouraging there as opposed to north Brant which already has a network hub of size and scale in the form of the GO/VIA station?”

Phil Caldwell, Senior Planner, Mobility Hubs replied on Jan 30, 2018 3:17 PM
“Hi Bob,
“Thank you for your question.
“Metrolinx’s identification of areas as Mobility Hubs is intended to not only recognize areas with significant existing transit infrastructure and service, such as the Burlington GO station, but also to recognize areas which should be a focus for future planned transit improvements. As a key growth area for the City and Region and a location with major government and public services, Downtown Burlington is recognized as an area which should be a focus for future transit planning.

Mobility hubs

Some residents question the creation of a mobility hub on the downtown core.

“At the Provincial level, Metrolinx recently released a draft of their new Regional Transportation Plan which identifies future Provincial transit projects and improvements which are being planned up to 2041. This document identifies various projects which are intended to improve transit service in Downtown and throughout Burlington and the Region. This document can be viewed here: (a word search of ‘Burlington’ may help you find the most relevant sections of the plan with respect to your question).

“At the City, there are a few initiatives underway with respect to future transit planning in the Downtown:
“Firstly, the City’s proposed New Official Plan has introduced a new ‘Frequent Transit Corridor’ concept which identifies key corridors in the City which will be prioritized for frequent transit service in the future. Corridors leading into and out of Downtown, including Brant St, Maple Ave and New St are identified as Frequent Transit Corridors.

“A link to the proposed New Official Plan is provided here: (note Schedule B-2 of the Plan contains the Long-Term Frequent Transit Corridor Mapping).

There was a time when a much larger bus termial existed 25 yards to the left of this small terminal onm John Street - it was where people met. There were fewer cars, Burlington didn't have the wealth then that it has now. We were a smaller city, as much rural as suburban. The times have changed and transit now needs to change as well.

There was a time when a much larger bus termial existed 25 yards to the left of this small terminal onm John Street – it was where people met. There were fewer cars, Burlington didn’t have the wealth then that it has now. We were a smaller city, as much rural as suburban. The times have changed and transit now needs to change as well.

“Secondly, the City is currently developing an Area Specific Plan (also referred to as a Secondary Plan) specifically for the Downtown. Amongst many things, the plan is looking at a variety of transportation matters in the Downtown, including identifying ways to further promote and facilitate expanded transit use in the Downtown. Work on this is currently on-going. You can find out more about this project at

“I hope this helps answer your question. If you have any other questions please let me know.”

Bob Wilson responded on Feb 4, 2018 5:29 AM
“Thank you for the information.
Unfortunately, this did not answer my question on the Downtown Mobility Hub.

“The Metrolinx document makes no reference to downtown Burlington.
“Secondly, identifying routes is not my question. My question was about planned actions, not taxonomy.

“I am very concerned. Grow Bold appears to be a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding downtown development, without justification. Given the Official Plan (OP) policy of downtown intensification and the Provincial per hectare target, I would have expected an answer that outlines the infrastructure investment planned for the downtown hub.

“The Province has committed to investment to provincial and regional transit hubs and express corridors. The OP does not align with that, but instead makes s dangerous distracted focus to a Downtown that already lacks the infrastructure to support the growth.

“That is not “good planning”.

In a comment to the Gazette Wilson said: “City Planners have not thought this one out. Not only is the planned downtown intensification changing the character of the Downtown, (an area that should have a vision statement just like the greenfield areas have), but it lacks a complementary plan for the hub itself. This is in direct conflict with Metrolinx plans for GO station hubs and rapid transit corridors.

Metrolinx hub 1“Attached is what Metrolinx has stated hubs should achieve. City is nowhere close to that. Why are we being pushed towards a future commitment for the downtown that not only is not budgeted for, but would spend taxpayer dollars at the municipal level in direct competition to how taxpayer dollars are being invested by regional and provincial transportation authorities?

“Who is forcing this? It serves no objective other than that of private sector condo developers. Is that who runs City Hall?”

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ECoB to hold a workshop for anyone interested in running for public office.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 3rd, 2018


It is beginning to look like the little engine that could.

ECOB logoECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington was formed in December to oppose the way the city approved the construction of a 23 storey tower opposite city hall.

They took on the city and the way it had approved the construction and made it known that they will appeal the city decision to the Ontario Municipal Board once the Planning department tells council that all the side issues – Section 37 benefits and site plan approvals have been completed.

Until that point there isn’t really anything ECoB can appeal.

ECoB pic 1 Jan 18

ECoB public meeting to set out what they wanted to see from the city on changes to the downtown core.

The organization has always said they were more than a one issue operation. They might be small – and they are looking for more volunteers who can help with spreading their wings into all six wards of the city.

The have announced the holding of a Municipal Election Workshop, on Thursday, February 22nd from 7-9 pm at Tansley Woods Community Centre, 1996 Itabashi Way .

Lisa Kierns ECOB Dec 13

Lisa Kierns, early member of ECoB

ECoB has reached out to seasoned politicians and campaign managers to lead the workshops. Different speakers and material will be presented to help decide if running for office is right for anyone who has an interest.

The Workshop will include the distribution of information on how to organize an election campaign, whether or not they have run before.

The overall purpose of the workshop is to help all potential candidates be successful, and to encourage volunteers to come and learn how they can effectively support the candidate of their choice. We believe strongly in the democratic process.

ECoB Dec 13 # 1

First open public meeting – good turn out – but it was clear they needed more bench strength.

ECoB is demonstrating best practice and developing the workshop based on information from the Ontario government’s site and also using a variation of Democracy Kit’s self assessment guide,

The list of facilitators will be made public as they get closer to the event date.

Today they would like you to SAVE THE DATE and keep up to date with developments on the ECoB web site.

If you have questions – here is the contact point.


Facebook page

Background links:

Ontario government’s site 

Democracy Kit’s self assessment guide

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Intensification is simplified - Mayor tells where he got his understanding of the benefits

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 2, 2018



During his address to the Burlington business community where he delivered his eight State of the City speech Mayor Rick Goldring said he read in a publication titled “Intensification: what it is and what it promises”. The document was on the Neptis Foundation website.

Goldring at Inspire April 2015

Mayor explains intensification at a public meeting.

“Intensification is promoted as a way to achieve several benefits.

“First, if population growth can be accommodated at higher densities, or within existing urban areas, or both, less Greenfield land will be required for new housing.

“Second, research shows that when density increases beyond a certain level, automobile use declines in favour of transit, walking and cycling.

“Third, where surplus infrastructure capacity exists in urbanized areas, adding more people to these areas make more efficient use of public urban infrastructure such as water and sewer pipes, as well as soft infrastructures including schools and social services.

“In short, development in already urbanized areas plays to the city’s strengths rather than spreading its resources over an ever-wider territory.”

Is it really that simple?

One of the ideas that came out of the Mayor’s Reverse Town Hall was to have a “character” study done on the downtown core.

Bought in

Indian Point was a mish mash of different built forms with the community divided on what they wanted the community to look like. They were never able to agree on what should be permitted but the study did show what existed and what was worth saving.

The studies have been done for Roseland and Indian Point. The Roseland study was seen as a success because residents had a lot of input that they felt was listened to and heard.

There is an opportunity for the downtown residents, the Core Group would be ideal, to press the city to have a character study done which would become part of the criteria that developers have to meet.

Waiting for the Planning department to pick this up is not an effective route to take.

Delegate to Council and convince a Council member to put forward a Staff Direction.

The simplistic explanation the Mayor picked up is part of what got the city on the mess it is in.

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OPINION: Not a hope of replacing this city council unless people step up and run for office.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 31st, 2018


Being heard or getting a new council

A Gazette reader commented:

“In a democracy the number of votes really count. If people want the Official Plan then the councilors who feel it is a good thing will be voted in again.

“If people don’t want the Official Plan and are dead set against changing Burlington into another Mississauga, Toronto, etc., then they will not be voted in again and we’ll see what a new group of councillors come up with.

“It will all be in the hands of the voters.”

True – but not completely true.

council 100x100The number of votes does count – providing there is a choice of candidates.

Nominations don’t open until May 1st but Mayor Goldring and Mike Wallace have made it known that they are both going after the same job.

Incumbents have such an advantage especially those who have been sitting on council for more than 15 years.

Anyone expecting to be elected has to begin to develop a profile – and that isn’t hard to do – you aren’t allowed to spend any money but meeting people is not hard to do.

Votes count – when there is a clear choice.

If good candidates don’t come forward and make a choice possible the current council will get returned – the people of Burlington let that happen in 2014. The writing was on the wall in a close reading of the Strategic Plan.

Salt with Pepper are the opinions of the Publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

Strategic Plan

How many votes did the current council get

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Gaetan gives his take on that 'as expected' city council vote.

opinionandcommentBy Joe Gaetan

January 31st, 2018



Goldring - Christmas picture

Mayor Rick Goldring as he appeared on a Christmas card.

“The Vote is as expected”, said Mayor Goldring affirming that the Official Plan will not be delayed until after the fall election. The Mayor’s words underscored the vote of six members of council not to defer the adoption of a new plan.

The lone vote to defer the plan was cast by Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. But before that, all council members had an opportunity to say why they voted “as expected”; here is my take on what was said.

As a Standing Committee chair, Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven is as good as it gets. Handling delegations and accepting the ideas of other people - not as good. But he wins elections.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven

Councillor Rick Craven was adamant in his belief that 34 out of 35 delegators, or in his words the “200 angry people” who were opposed to the Official Plan were not going to sway him because he cares and does listen, and that the Burlington downtown has to take its share of intensification. During the 2014 election 4,772 voters gave Mr. Craven the right to vote as he did.

Councillor Lancaster listens carefully and tends to be cautious; still in a 'learning mode'.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster.

Councillor Blair Lancaster also made the point that she cares and listens and took the time to ponder her decision, but that council sets the policy which is what they were elected to do. During the 2014 election 2,087 voters gave her the right to vote as she did.

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

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

Councillor Paul Sharman said the vote was not about today but about our city 50-70 years from now, he also stated we are kidding ourselves about affordable housing and that he was looking forward to running on this issue in the fall election. During the 2014 election 3,935 votes gave Mr. Sharman the right to vote as he did.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison Councillor Ward 4

Council Jack Dennison stated we need the “assessment growth” (aka taxation revenue), there was “no news in this Official Plan”, that they had to vote as they did and not because “of the 200-people” standing in front of us. During the 2014 election 5,401 voters gave Mr. Dennison the right to vote the way he did.

The Dean of Burlington Council members, Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor fights for what he beleives in. One of the things he wants is more openess and more transparency. He didn't get it this time out.

The Dean of Burlington Council, Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor

Councillor John Taylor opined on the fact Burlington has run out of greenspace, that we need to grow as a city and that we need to start intensifying south of the QEW. During the 2014 election 2,977 voters gave him the right to vote a she did.

Meed Ward H&S

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, cast the lone vote to defer the adoption of a new Official Plan April 4th.

Councillor Meed Ward made several attempts to sway the vote, asking council to put the Official Plan “to a test of democracy”, that citizens had been given little time to review parts of the plan, that citizens only learned about some aspects of the plan in November, that the changes were not minor. During the 2014 election 4,654 voters gave Ms. Meed Ward the right to vote as she did.

Mayor Goldring stated he did not believe there is any benefit to deferring the OP, that there had been tremendous dialogue and good discussion on the  Official Plan  and that OP’s were never perfect, that there was no benefit to deferring, as it would not represent leadership and that council had to finish what it started.

During the 2014, 36,237 voters gave Mr. Goldring the right to vote as he did.

According to Deputy City Manager, Mary Lou Tanner, the citizens have four more opportunities to weigh in on the Official Plan, not that it will make much difference where our downtown is concerned. Why? The fate and future of the downtown was sealed on Monday January 25 by the “Expected vote”.

It appears that the majority of council believe, the voices of 35 delegators have no weight in this matter, are not representative of the majority of Burlington voters, and that they were fairly elected to vote as they did on this and other matters that come before council.

Joseph GaetanJoe Gaetan attended and delegated at the meeting of January 23,2018, and attended the Council meeting of January 29,2018. While a resident of Ward 2 in a Tall Building, he does not live downtown.

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Meed Ward puts locations to her argument for deferral - names 11 sites that will qualify for 17 storeys.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 31st, 2018



The problem people are having with the changes the city is making with its Official Plan is that they don’t fully understand much of the detail and there is a lot of information that needs time to be fully processed.

What will the city look like in five, ten and fifteen or 25 years they ask.


Citizens clutching their notes as they go up against the people they elected to lead them. 30+ delegations later – city council didn’t budge.

During the Reverse Town Hall Mayor Goldring held mention was made of a 3D visual that would let people see what a street would look like. The Mayor seemed to like the idea – it wasn’t possible to get a sense that the Planning department was actually going to do anything. These things are expensive and the Planning department is overwhelmed with new applications.

The housing development sector is keen keen on the opportunity to build in a city where the demand seems to know no end.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Mewed Ward has pushed for a deferral of the plan – her colleagues are holding fast to the schedule, which in itself was a moving target.

The original goal was to have the Official Plan approved by the end of January, which would be today.
Meed Ward asked her colleagues, and the public that she was really speaking to, to imagine 17 storeys at

John - No frills - laneway

Draft Official Plan allows 17 stories on this site.

Accura on Brant
No Frills
James and John
The Poacher
The Lion’s Club
Middle of Village Square
Maria and John
Ukrainian church
John and the Lakeshore
Martha and the Lakeshore
Pearl and the Lakeshore

Those locations are currently zoned for four storeys; 17 storeys is intensification.

Brant lakeshore - Molinaro rendering a

Planning department rendering for the north eat corner of Brant and Lakeshore.

She added to that – “the disconnect between what we are told and what we get” and points to the 421 Brant project (approved for 23 storeys)

Meed Ward H&S profile

Meed Ward sticks to her push for deferral of adopting the Official Plan until after the election

Meed Ward is clearly not done with getting the approval of this plan deferred until after the election.
She told her colleagues that “this is not our plan, this is the citizen’s plan.”

There were fewer than 15 members of the public at the city council meeting on the 29th when the modifications were put forward at the two day Planning and Building meeting. The public seems warn out.

There are still a number of dates when the public can speak and there is going to be a whopper of a document available to the public on February 7th on the city web site; printed copies will be available at city hall.

This document is being call the February 28th revision and will show all the changes that have been made since November 30th.

In February 6th, there will be a Planning and Building meeting to “continue the conversation” and focus on the “growth plan”

On February 12th there will be a drop in – meeting with the planners at the Haber Centre; 6:30 pm

On February 15th there will be s similar meeting at city hall in room 247

On February 27th and 28th there will be a second Statutory meeting – one does not have to register for this event.

Meed Ward wanted to know what the last possible date there is going to be for the public to have their say. Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner said somewhere around March 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

This is going to be a long march – and it is far from over.

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ECoB claims Council made a mistake; Mayor explains why the decision not to defer approving an Official Plan until after an election was the right decision.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 27th, 2018



In a statement released on Friday ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington said that: “Once again Burlington City Council has chosen to ignore the voices of the very citizens it is elected to represent.

Public at councileet Jan 23 - 24

Packed Council chamber during a Planning and Building meeting.

Jim Young, an Aldershot resident and one of the ECoB founders said “For a city that boasts its level of engagement with its citizens the irony of this seems to escape them. In rejecting Councillor Meed Ward’s motion to delay a decision on the New Official Plan until after the election, council not only overruled the one Councillor who truly understands engagement, they flagrantly silenced the majority of citizens who since November have sent more delegations, more letters and raised their voices more often than any other time I recall in 36 years in Burlington.

“It is difficult to decide which is worse; the ongoing disrespect by council of Councillor Meed Ward and her advocacy for her constituents, or the growing disrespect for the voices of citizens when raised to suggest improvements to the long term plans which can alter their lives.”

ECoB is developing plans to host an All-Candidate Workshop for potential candidates who want to run for office in the October municipal election.

Jim Young

ECoB member Jim Young

Young points out that “… it is this very refusal to give electors a voice in October that will do most to ensure the New Official Plan becomes an election issue for those Councillors who hoped it might not.

“Citizens may not be aware that a new council will be able to revisit the issue in a new three year session. It is our responsibility to elect a new slate of Councillors who will not only revisit the issue but will do so in an atmosphere of real citizen engagement and respect that has been missing in some of council’s interactions with citizen groups.

“Not only have council ensured that this will be an issue in the October election, they have brought an element of negativity to their positions which may not serve their electoral ambitions well.”

Engaged Citizens of Burlington will work to oppose those who have chosen not to hear our voices in the next election and support potential candidates who, regardless of political affiliation, will help guide our city to a real level of public engagement in the years ahead, and re open to revisiting the Official Plan in the next Council Session (2018 – 2021).

The ECoB position is clear. Mayor Goldring put out a statement on his blog where he explained why he voted against deferring the approval of an Official Plan until after the election.

“There are significant benefits to having a Council approval decision sooner rather than later. This will actually better address the significant public concern and interest for establishing greater certainty in the planning process.


Mayor Rick Goldring

“A new Official Plan means we can move away from a site by site negotiation and instead bring more certainty to the application process. This is what residents have been very clear about.

“Staff confirmed that the City will be in a better position to plan within a clearly defined framework with an updated Official Plan that can be defendable by today’s standards.

“Staff will be able to use the new Official Plan when working with developers even though the Official Plan won’t officially be approved by the Halton Region until sometime likely in 2019.

“Staff will continue to develop a detailed Downtown Area Specific Plan which includes matters such as transportation, parking and servicing.

“I believe that it is not only important for the reasons I have outlined, but a responsibility of this Council to bring as much certainty as possible to our downtown planning. Our current council has the necessary understanding of the development of the Official Plan. It’s important that this Council complete the process.”

Wallace at council meeting

Mike Wallace -sitting in on a Council meeting.

No word yet on where candidate Mike Wallace stands on the question of deferral of the approving of an Official Plan.  Wallace did sit in on council sessions.

Deferring a vote on an Official Plan has to be seen on light of the number of people who will run for office in October.

Nominations cannot be filed until May 1; at this point there are just two people who plan to run for a council seat – both are eyeing the same ward.

Burlington could end up with a Council close to identical to the one in place now.

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All kinds of shenanigans at city hall - where is all this coming from?

News 100 redBy Staff

January 25th, 2017



It was an interesting start to a significant meeting on the direction growth in the city of Burlington is going to take.

Ward 2 Councillor set out in her Facebook page what took place.

At the beginning of the meeting I discussed the lack of respect in the proceedings and called on all of us to set a higher standard. We may disagree, but need to be respectful. There’s no place for name calling, false allegations and the like.

My full opening statement on a Point of Privilege is here:

I would like to raise a point of privilege before we begin.

My goal in raising this is to ask all of us to commit to respectful dialogue.

Meed Ward H&S

Councillor Meed Ward raises a Point of Privilege at council meeting.

Point of privilege is used “when a member wants to draw attention to a matter that affects the integrity, character or reputation of an individual/group”

· Last night a delegate say planning staff should be fired; it’s not the first time our staff have been unjustly criticized publicly; I hope it will be the last.

· Another delegate said residents are NIMBYs, motivated only by self interest

· The same delegate said my motions were “political interference” a serious allegation – he chose to criticize the woman who is bringing motions, but had no similar criticism for my male colleague who is also bringing motions – some of which are similar to mine.

· Finally, a 14-page memo has been submitted to the public record from Mr. Mark Bales from Carriage Gate Homes, we all got a copy Monday. Mr. Bales has never spoken to me about my views about the OP or the downtown, and yet in his memo he presumes to know my motives, calls into question my integrity and character, and makes allegations with no evidence.

* and the Burlington Post being told they are “not a real newspaper.”

All of this has to stop. None of this is helpful to our discussions.

Like many women who have been subjected to personal attacks for having an opinion, and saying it out loud, I have mostly ignored these things in the past, assuming they’re simply part of being in public service. I can take it – I have a tough skin – 22 years as a journalist and 7 in elected office does that.

But I’ve realized this isn’t about me; it’s about all of us and the culture and example we’re setting. So it’s time to speak up.

When people see others exposed to personal attacks, it discourages them from participating in the community conversation. And we lose that input. I know people who will not stand at that podium because of the way they have been treated.

When personal attacks go unaddressed, it sends the message that these are okay. They are not. We can’t have one standard for people we agree with – letting their comments go unchecked – and another for those we don’t.

It’s time for this to stop.

So, I am asking that we all – everyone around this horseshoe and all members of the community – commit ourselves to a higher standard of respectful dialogue and mutual respect.

This is in keeping with our Engagement Charter, and referred to in the draft OP Chapter 11: “Mutual respect for citizens, staff and members of City Council is the basis for the development of constructive relationships and successful citizen engagement.”

We may disagree about many things today and going forward; I expect we will. But let’s commit ourselves to this: let’s assume that each one of us around this table and in the community wants the best for the future of our city, even as we have different perspectives about how to get there. Let’s allow for that difference, and maintain mutual respect.

News anal BLACKThe delegate who made the comment about residents being NIMBYs who are motivated only by self interest deserves a closer look.

Glenn WellingsGlenn Wellings is a planner by profession who works for clients in the municipal sector.  He was the last delegator to speak and was one of the three that was supportive of the plans and ideas that had been put forward by the planning department.

Who chooses the order at which delegators speak?  That decision would be made by people in the Clerk’s Office.  Are speaking slots determined by the date at which the request to delegate are received by the Clerk’s office?

Can people ask to be allowed to speak at a particular point?  People who cannot get to a day time meeting will ask to be heard in the evening.

Wellings didn’t add much to the information Council was given.  The Gazette learned that Wellings, representing a client in Halton Hills, had urged the public to participate in the public dialogue – but he did something quite different in Burlington.

Wellings Planning Consultants Inc. lists the following as clients:

  • Township of Amaranth
  • Township of East Garafraxa
  • Town of Grimsby
  • Regional Municipality of  Halton
  • City of Hamilton
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
  • County of Hastings
  • Town of Milton
  • Regional Municipality of Niagara
  • Town of Oakville

He was doing what his client wanted in Halton Hills.  Did Wellings have a client he was representing in Burlington? He didn’t say he was representing anyone; neither did he say that he has a relative working at city hall.  Nothing wrong with that.  The relative worked in Human Resources.

The relative did at one point work in Planning where the responsibility was related to the development of the downtown core.  The relative did some very good early work on the background related to future changes of the Waterfront Hotel.

What the Gazette was surprised to learn was that in January the relative was transferred from Human Resources to the Office of the City Manager where all the strategizing is being done on getting the draft version of the Official Plan approved by city council.

Wellings could have given full disclosure and told Council about the relative that worked for the city.

Related news story.

Wellings urges citizens in Halton Hills to get out and support a development; in Burlington citizens are NIMBY’s – concerned only about their self interest.

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City council changes height limits for properties along Lakeshore Road.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 25th, 2018



It was a tough and probably expensive meeting for the developer that owns the north side of Lakeshore Road between Brant and John Street.

The property was put in a new precinct called the Cannery where the height limit was set at 22 storeys.

Cannery precinctDuring the two-day debate on what the limits were going to be for the 13 precincts the downtown is now divided into the property got moved out of the Cannery precinct and into the Downtown Core precinct where the height limit is 17 stories.

Brant lakeshore - Molinaro b

This rendering of what a building at the north east corner of Brant and Lakeshore could look like – the rendering was not provided by the owner of the property.

The motion to have this happen was put forward by Councillor Taylor who said that he did this because it was what he promised to do when he agreed to the staff recommendation that allowed the 23 story 421 Brant project.

The rules in the draft Official Plan call for all tall buildings to be built on a three story base.

The planners wanted to ensure there are good sight lines to the lake and that the $14 million Pier (original price was $7.5 million) could be seen by everyone.

A little later Councillor Marian Meed Ward tried to get the 17 storeys reduced to 15 but that didn’t pass.

The property opposite city hall on north east corner of James and Brant was approved at 23 storeys.  The land to the south, where Elizabeth Interiors was once located, has a height limit now of 17 storeys that the Mayor said he felt should be the same as the 421 Brant building which is 23 storeys.

There is an attempt to keep some of the historical look of Brant street by retaining the building on the corner of Brant and James.

The public shouldn’t expect to see shovels in the grounds any time soon – but this is what they want the Lakeshore Road and Brant part of the city too look like.

A citizen group has some thoughts for what a re-developed Waterfront Hotel could look like.  Known as Plan B it moves a hotel development to the east opening up public space and creating a grander look to the Pier.


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Meed Ward motion to defer approval of Official plan to after municipal election defeated.

News 100 blackBy Pepper Parr

January 24th, 2018


The clarification I did not have when this was first written is now in hand. The Planning department expects to be able to take the final draft of the Official Plan to council on April 4th.

The die has been cast.


Council Meed Ward led the fight to defer the approval of the Official Plan until after the municipal election – the motion was defeated.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward put her motion on the floor to defer the approving of the Official Plan to after the October 28th election – it was defeated on a vote of 5-1; Councillor Dennison was absent.

The approval of the draft plan is scheduled to come before Council is either April, May or June – there is some confusion as to which month applies.

There were 35 delegations; two were in favour of not deferring – the remaining 33 were crystal clear on what they wanted: defer until after the municipal election in October.

During the afternoon session today staff did admit that there had been a problem in explaining all the changes to the public and there is agreement that staff will work on a communications program that will be visual in nature. No commitment to a date when the visuals will be ready.

The planners and a number of the council members made the point that the city has been working on this for seven years – Meed Ward pointed out the public has only seen the document and graphic material since last September.

There is a tonne of information to convey in news reports. In due course we will get the details to you.

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Planner who seemed to support the sentiment of most of the Council members gives them a way to get the Meed Ward motions off the table.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2018



Why is it that a person supporting the view that council has usually get to speak last?

News anal BLUEGlen Wellings, a planner in private practice, told council that the public comments about the planners was “reprehensible”. He added that he thought the expected Meed Ward motions should be sent to the planners for consideration.

Wellings objected to the “special interests” trying to control the agenda yet when he spoke in Georgetown in 2016, encouraging spectators to voice their opinions in front of Halton Hills council during the public meeting on March 1.

“Go to the meeting on March 1 and let [council] know how you feel,” he said.

Glenn Wellings

Glenn Wellings – planner.

He assured council that the sky was not going to fall and that they should get on with the job they were elected to do.

The objective is to get the damn things off the table so that they don’t have to be voted on.

Council appears determined to rush the draft Official Plan through – to what end is not at all clear. Perhaps because they can.

The citizens have done their best – and there were some exceptionally good delegations. Debby Morrison and Gary Scobie plus Catherine Crozier deserve to be nominated as Burlington’s Best. If you’re reading Catherine – please send us that delegation – it deserves a wider audience.

A rough calculation would be that 250 people attended the public meeting.

The prospect of the Meed Ward motions making it are dim but there was a point when keep Central high school open looked dim – remember how that worked out.


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Delegations at Planning meeting are consistent - put off a decision until after the election.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2018



The Planning and Building committee that met this afternoon and this evening, and possibly into another day if everyone is not heard today does have an agenda which is to:

Receive Department of City Building report PB-11-18 regarding supplementary information with respect to the proposed Downtown Mobility Hub Precinct Plan and associated Official Plan policies; and

Direct the Director of City Building to proceed with the proposed Downtown Precinct Plan, as described in report PB-81-17, and incorporate into the proposed New Official Plan; and

Direct the Director of City Building to incorporate Additional Supporting Policies for the Downtown, as described in report PB-11-18, into the proposed New Official Plan.

The report staff took them through before delegations began was impressive – quite why this wasn’t delivered to the public several months ago is difficult to understand.

What became evident from the get go was that people wanted more time and they wanted more detail before decisions are made.

Brian Dean delegating on behalf of the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) asked that any decision on both the Downtown Mobility Hub and the Official Plan be put off until June.

Ask Grow Bold

Citizens are telling city council that they don’t want to be quite as bold as the Planners are suggesting.

June is the furthest forward date so far – what was going to get made final at the end of January got pushed to February, then April – and now the business people want June.

The larger public wants the whole caboodle put off until after the election in October when they say the city council will actually have a mandate to do that they are doing.

The back and forth during the 11 delegations in the afternoon got a bit testy at times. With some 80 people in the Council Chamber – that dropped off to under 40 after a short mid-way break.

The Gazette will report in more detail once the evening session adjourns – they have 20 delegations to listen to – and there is going to be a request that delegations be taken from the floor – that is people who did not register be allowed to speak.

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Chair of the Planning and Building committee is in for a rough evening - 31 delegations have registered.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2018



Getting in front of members of city council to speak is proving a little awkward.

ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington are determined to bring this city council to heel and insist ob being heard.

A Planning and Building Committee meeting scheduled for this afternoon and this evening has 12 registered delegations this afternoon and 19 registered delegations for this evening.

ECoB sent a notice to Chair, Committee of Planning and Development Councillor Paul Sharman

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

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman will be asked to deal with some procedural issues at a Planning and Building meeting this evening.

Please be advised that members of Engaged Citizens of Burlington have notified the Clerk’s office that there were system interruptions with the Delegation Registration link last week. Confusion has ensued it is unclear if delegates will be turned away or refused the opportunity to address Committee at the November 23, 2018 Planning and Development Committee. We wish to provide clarity to our members.

Per Section 37.7 of the Procedural Bylaw 64-2016, Delegations will be permitted without prior registration during any public meeting as required by section 14.1 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.13. Delegations are strongly encouraged to register before the standard delegation registration deadline and will be asked to fill in an attendance form to fulfill legislative notice requirements.

Please confirm if a Procedural Motion is necessary or will be presented to allow anyone eligible in attendance to speak to the matters relating to Proposed New Official Plan (PB-50-17) & Proposed Downtown Mobility Hub Precinct Plan and proposed official plan policies (PB-81-17).

EcoB has developed the ability to be heard – they also know how to ambush the Mayor at his own meetings.

The group had planned a meeting for volunteers then learned that the Mayor called a meeting of his own to listen to people.

ECob held their meeting, prepared a list of things they wanted the Mayor to do and zipped over to the Mayor’s meeting to put their demands in front of him.

The Mayor promised to respond – nothing so far.

ecob signIn preparing for the meeting this evening ECoB is arguing that the Planning department has basically ‘run amuck’; citizens were urged to delegate and appear to have found that the system that handles delegate registration wasn’t working properly.

This council has never had to face a well-organized and angry group of citizens like this in their seven years of service.  Should be an interesting meeting.

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The fight to make the approving of an Official Plan an election issue.

background 100By Staff

January 23, 2018



There is probably a large part of the city that either doesn’t even know what is going on at city hall or are totally confused over what is taking place.

The Planning department has presented a number of very significant changes to city council – and city council has gone along with them.

Municipalities are required to review their Official Plan every five years. Burlington is in the midst of that process and there are a lot of people who don’t like what they see in the plan so far and are aghast at the speed with which the document is being approved.

It was originally to be completed by the end of January. That date got pushed forward to April.

The changes are so significant that some people, an admittedly small group, want the Official Plan made an election issue. That election is to take place late in October of this year.

Goldring reverse town hall

Mayor did a Reverse Town Hall.

The Mayor got concerned enough to hold a Reverse Town Hall where he listen to 100 + people who made it very clear to him that they were not happy campers. He was hearing seniors tell him that he has betrayed their trust. Not words any Mayor wants to hear heading into an election.

Wallace and Gould

When Karina Gould took the Burlington House of Commons seat Wallace decided he could serve as Mayor of the city.

Mike Wallace a five term former city Councillor who went on to become the Member of Parliament, got beaten by Karina Gould which sent Wallace back to square one, said in his campaign announcement on Monday that the QEW divide in Burlington has to be overcome.

It is almost as if there were two cities.

Every viable city needs a core; Burlington has one but the recommendations coming out of city hall and being approved by city council are seen as extreme by some. A 23 storey tower opposite city hall is too much for some people who don’t think this city council has a mandate to foist that level of development on the citizens.

That first tower is just the beginning – the city is reported to have 22 new applications for high rise buildings that are working their way through the Planning department.
City council is literally under attack and reeling from the assaults coming from a small organization known as ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington. The group claims they knew they were making headway when the city manager threatened them with legal action over some of the wording on their web site.

SaveOurWaterfront- Meed ward

Marianne Meed Ward rode the Save Our Waterfront movement all the way to city hall – can the Official Plan put her in the Mayor’s seat?

The Mayor is reported to have announced that the decisions being made about how development will be done on the downtown core have been moved forward to sometime in June. ECoB is pushing to have all this stuff made dependent on the election outcome.
Downtown ward 2 councillor Marianne Med Ward is very vocal about what she thinks is all wrong about what is taking place and she plans to present a number of motions at city council – one which is to put the approval of the city Official Plan on hold until the municipal election has taken place.

The developers have convinced themselves that what Meed Ward wants will be the end of Burlington.

Meed Ward has not announced that she is running for the Office of Mayor

In her Newsletter, which is widely read in every city ward she recently said:

421 Brant“Ever since council approved (5-2) the 23 storey building at the North East corner of Brant & James, people have become more aware of the proposed changes in the new Official Plan to the downtown, and elsewhere in the city including the neighbourhoods surrounding the Aldershot, Burlington and Appleby GO stations.

“I have heard from residents across the city, and the majority have said they aren’t happy with the proposed changes, especially for the downtown, and the entire Official Plan process seems rushed. They are asking for more time to review the most recent draft Official Plan and revised downtown policies (released in November), the track changes, comments and supporting documents, as well as additional analysis and mapping for the downtown released in mid-January 2018 – all of which is more than 2000 pages.

“Though the Official Plan began in 2011, it started as an update, and the downtown was not included in the scope. On Oct. 31, 2016, the project changed from an update to a rewrite of the Official Plan. The first draft of the Official Plan was released in April 2017. The downtown policies were not ready. The new downtown policies were first released in September 2017, with a revised draft in November. The revised draft Official Plan was also released in November. The mobility hubs were discussed at committee for the first time in December.

“So, we’ve had less than three months to digest and make the best decisions for the downtown, the mobility hubs and the city.
“We need to give ourselves and the community more time to make the right decision for our city. Residents also want to put the Official Plan to the test of democracy by postponing approval till after the October municipal election and asking candidates to campaign on the OP.

“There is no need to rush. Municipalities are required to review our Official Plan every five years, but there is no deadline for completion. We’ve been at our OP for six years without penalty, so what’s a few more months? City business has continued throughout the review, receiving and processing development applications. Nothing stops while we work to get it right.”

You can see where this is going and for parents who are busy getting the kids out to hockey games or wondering just what the teenagers are doing – an Official Plan is not top of mind.

Tell them that it is important and they will agree and add that that is what they have a city council for – to do the right thing.

Most of the people involved in the protesting say – that’s the problem – they aren’t doing the right thing.

The council meeting Tuesday night is going run late.

What is astonishingly remarkable – the public is hearing nothing from the other five members of Council.  The Mayor is vocal – he is running hard to keep his job.

Note a word so far from the other five members of council.

Taylor John slight side view

John Taylor – Dean of the city council with 25+ years of service.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison has served for more than 20 years.

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster - both first term members. Will they both be returned?

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster were both elected in 2010 and returned in 2014.

Councillor Craven could make ammends and spearhead a drive to get the Freeman Station located in Spencer Smith Park where it belongs. That would mean getting along with Councillor Meed Ward. Can Craven get beyond his problems with Meed Ward and see the greater good for the city?

Councillor Craven has served for more than a dozen years.

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Pivotal council meeting on Tuesday; chamber is expected to be packed.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

January 21st, 2018



It will be a pivotal meeting and it will run for a long time, it might even need an additional day for everyone to be heard.

The delegations will be repetitive which doesn’t work for this city council. They would rather hear something said just the once; they don’t appreciate just how deep the feelings are about what is being done to their city.

Some will make up their minds on how they will vote in the October election based on how they see the current council reacting.  Sitting and listening to people in stone cold silence is not going to cut it this time.  Should someone offer the results of a survey many will be watching how the Councillor from ward 4 will respond.

ECoB rally posterWill the chair of the meeting once again tell the people who pay the taxes that they cannot applaud when they hear something they support and yet have to accept the applause that is given when the Mayor hands out a proclamation  or certificate of appreciation.

A citizen has said that: “In my view the City’s communication on the whole OP has been woeful. They are in part the masters of their own misfortune on this issue. They have been completely outplayed by the ECOB group and the no tall buildings crowd. I think part of the issue is that a lot of this is pretty complex stuff with a lot of moving parts. It’s not as simple as do you want tall buildings in the downtown or not. That’s no excuse however for not being able to explain complex concepts to the citizens of Burlington over the last year or so.”

Indeed ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington have kept the focus on the downtown core; others have picked it up and the message has swelled.

Blair Smith said: Quite simply, the Official Plan is too important to Burlington’s future to be rushed to approval. There are still too many pieces that are incomplete or in conceptual form for “The Plan” to be finalized. Regardless of where one stands on the many issues that the new OP raises, I think that it is fair for the people to speak at the polls in October. Although legally it is within the mandate of the current Council to approve a new Official Plan, it would be ethically and morally wrong to do so.

“In 2014 the people of Burlington did not give the current Council a clear mandate to determine the City’s landscape for the next 50 to 100 years. In fact, given a 34% voter turnout in 2014, the people barely gave Council a mandate to exist. I hope that Council will do the “right thing” and defer approval of the Official Plan and establish a clear and unambiguous referendum around the OP as part of the election in October 2018. Then the people can truly speak and be heard.”

Democracy in action is certainly vibrant.

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No shovels in the ground yet for the 421 Brant Street project.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2018



There was one piece of information given out by the Mayor that didn’t elicit much in the way of a response.

He said near the very end of his two hour Reverse Town Hall meeting that the 421 Brant project had been approved by city council and that he didn’t see anything that would change that decision.

421 BrantThe Mayor was one of two council members that voted against the 23 storey project – he had said he could live with 17 storeys.

ecob signECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington is said to have an appeal to the OMB they are ready to file at city hall but have yet to do so – they apparently need to wait until some certain conditions have been met.

We asked Councillor Mead Ward what the different options are including if the city council procedural bylaw permits the city to change their minds. Her answer was yes and no; it was illuminating.

“Technically, the final decision on 421 Brant has not been made; that won’t happen until the amending bylaws come forward for a council vote. Usually, the bylaws are presented at the same time as the vote on the application, except when community benefits are negotiated. Those are negotiated after council votes on an application, and the benefits come back for final vote alongside the amending bylaw.

“As community benefits are being negotiated for this development, because of the increased height/density, the bylaws and community benefits will come back at a future date (likely in the spring) for council vote. That vote will be the final decision on the matter.

“Council could choose at that time NOT to approve the amending bylaws, which would stop the project. That is unlikely but technically possible.

“The fact that the final decision on this matter hasn’t yet been made is why in December the Engaged Citizens of Burlington could not file an Ontario Municipal Board appeal of the council “decision” on 421 Brant; a decision hasn’t been made until there is a vote on the bylaws, which hasn’t happened yet. The bylaw vote triggers the appeal period to file an appeal with the OMB (or the new Land Planning Appeals Tribunal).

Meed Ward H&S

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward chair a Standing Committee meeting.

Reconsideration Motions:
“In general terms, council can choose at any time to “reconsider” a vote – (but that doesn’t apply in this case because as explained the final vote hasn’t occurred). A motion to reconsider an item requires a 5-2 vote; You can’t even reconsider a decision unless the 5-2 motion passes.

“If the reconsideration motion passes, council can then discuss/debate the item and make a different decision; a simple 4-3 majority is required.

“Only someone who voted in the affirmative on the original motion can present a motion to reconsider the decision.”

That means either Councillor Taylor, Sharman, Craven or Lancaster could put this matter back on the table. Given that none of the four attended to Mayor’s Reverse Town Hall and didn’t get to hear how angry people are there is little likelihood of anything like that happening.

Councillor Dennison was at the meeting and he did vote for the project. No one made any comment on Dennison.

Of this project is going to be stopped the citizens are going to have to hope that ECoB has a strong argument and can find the funds to fight the case at the OMB.

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Mayor Goldring gets an earful at his Reverse Town Hall; four of the seven member council fail to show up for what was really a face the music meeting.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2018



They gave him a lot to think about.

Their concern was that they weren’t at all certain he knows how to listen.

News anal REDThe Mayor held a Reverse Town Hall at the Art Gallery – an audience of about 150 came to voice their concerns. The Mayor stressed that he was not there to explain very much – even though he did –he said “this is your meeting, I am here to listen.

He got more than an ear full.

Of the 20 plus people who rose to speak – one was positive about a structure that has citizens close to up in arms – he owns a bar that will benefit from more traffic.

Three of the developers were in the room, the Molinaro Group, New Horizons and Carriage Gate sat quietly together.

Two of the seven members of Council were in the room: Marianne Meed Ward and Jack Dennison and the Mayor. Councillors John Taylor, Paul Sharman, Blair Lancaster and Rick Craven did not make an appearance – all four voted for the 421 Brant development that will see a 23 storey condominium rise opposite city hall.


Voted for the 23 storey condo – didn’t attend a “face the music” meeting

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about - civic engagement

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster voted for the condo – didn’t attend the Mayor’s meeting.

Rick Craven

Councillor Craven voted for the condominium

The theme that was consistent was the building was just too much, it was not what the vast majority of those in attendance wanted for their city. Development was not their issue, it was the height that had gotten to people – and they didn’t think high rise buildings were appropriate for the Brant – Lakeshore Road part of the city.

Transit was a concern and parking was another and the rate at which the Official Plan was being “rammed down our throats” was mentioned by several.

The meeting started with the Mayor trying to put some rules in place – he wanted people to be respectful of each other and then suggested that clapping might not be appropriate. He lost that one – people clapped loudly when a good point was made. Larry Griffiths, a 70 year old ward 4 resident said the intensification being done was going to drastically change the city and we are in jeopardy of losing what we have”. Griffith referred to Port Credit that has the feel Burlington residents want to keep.

This is a city wide issue said Griffith’s who wants the Official Plan put to a referendum which the Mayor said was going to be discussed at a council meeting next week – January 23rd.

“What do you want” asked the Mayor. Griffiths had no problem answering that question – “the Official Plan permits 12 storeys, stick to that.”


Rick Burgess, a past candidate for the Office of Mayor asks the current Mayor to stick with the height limits set out in the current Official Plan

Rick Burgess who once ran for Mayor and has served as an advisor for Goldring said he wanted the city to respect the heights set out in the existing Official Plan.

A woman who operates a hair salon on Brant said “we are feeling the pinch and the parking is hurting us”.
The operator of Martini House told the Mayor “we are in trouble” and told the audience that “some people are buying up the visitor spots in the condominiums at $30,000 a spot”.

Commercial rents were a concern. The audience were told that $45 a square foot is what business people should expect.

A New Street resident wanted to know how the Planning department got from putting out Tall Building Guide Lines in March of 2017 and then recommending a 23 storey building in November.

At a number of points during the two hour meeting the Mayor interjected and explained what the city has been doing. He said that 30 years ago the city began investing in the Downtown core with the Discovery Centre and Spencer Smith Park.

He explained that the Greenbelt plan prevents development north of the Hwy 407 – Dundas and that the provinces Places to Grow Plan made it clear that suburban sprawl had come to an end and the communities were going to have to accept some part of the growing population. Burlington is reacting to those two provincial plans.

For reasons that many just don’t understand or accept is the amount of intensification that is taking place on the lower part of Brant Street.

The developers are just reacting to the demand – the condominium units are selling. The Mayor has been known to talk about people he meets who bought a unit and can’t wait to move in.

What disturbs most people is that they feel this just crept up on them – that they weren’t aware and that the city hasn’t communicated with them.

It would be fair to say that residents haven’t been paying close attention. The Gazette has been reporting on the planning department and the Mobility Hubs for more than a year.


Development was approved at four storeys – developer goes back to Planning department for an additional two storeys.

Residents have difficulty with a project, the Saxony, that was approved for four storeys, construction begins and the developer decides to go back to city hall and ask for two additional storeys. The irony with the Saxony development is that they could have gotten five floors but said at a public meeting that they were happy with four storeys.

Ron Parker, a ward 4 resident said he learned about the plans to redevelop the Waterfront Hotel with a friend while playing golf. He said he had no idea that there were plans to redevelop the site. He said “there is no strategy and we don’t know where we are going … we are in damage control stumbling from decision to decision to decision”.

The audience was a mix of people who discovered the city, fell in love with it and moved to Burlington and those who have been here for a long time. One speaker has lived in Burlington for 73 of his 76 years.

One speaker mentioned the five emails he sent the Mayor – didn’t get a response. He wanted to know how people were expected to read and absorb a 2500 page document which another resident said has “No numbers in it”.

Reverse town hall 2

Part of the Reverse Town Hall meeting hosted by the Mayor.

People were in the room waiting for answers expecting someone to explain what had happened and why.

It was at that point that Lisa Kearns arrived. She had been at the Engaged Citizens of Burlington ECoB meeting and had a six questions she put to the Mayor:

What is the rush to push forward the Official Plan? Residents find the precinct plans difficult to find, analyze, and understand the impacts in all wards. This is still not clear.

Is the City doing enough to defend Zoning and Official Plan limits? Why are the rules changing and why is Development forcing special considerations – profitability?

What are we gaining in the rush for intensification and what tools are available to keep it in control? Is this the City we want to live in?

Why did the City begin engagement on the Official Plan when the supporting plans are not complete, this is not a complete strategy or Plan? We need to see the impact of the: Transit Plan, Transportation Plan, and Mobility Hubs. What is the rush?

Why is downtown an Area Specific Plan if a Character Study was not done on the neighbouring St. Luke’s Precinct and Emerald Neighbourhood? Have the concerns with specific residents who border on the growth areas been adequately addressed? What about uptown?

Do you want to live amongst tall buildings in your neighbourhood? The City of Burlington is changing the rules to turn into a big city intensified with big tall buildings? This is not a provincially mandated Mobility Hub.

Reverse town hall 3

A staffer from the Mayors office captured everything that was said – expect to see much of it in the Mayor’s blog.

Kearns was getting enthusiastic rounds of applause before she finished reading out the questions which the Mayor said he would respond to in his blog.

Many of the people in the room felt that at last there was someone who was speaking for them and was doing something to bring about a change which most of the people listening to the Mayor wanted.

Reverse town hall 1

The Mayor and a Reverse Town Hall participant.

One senior resident told the Mayor that he had lost the trust of the people.

A resident wondered if the city could create a model of what their city is going to look like going forward – people wanted to know what was coming their way. The person with this idea said the city might try having a good visual made showing what the streets would look like.

Lisa Kearns asked if what had taken place that evening was part of the record – was it something the city would include in its thinking. No said the Mayor, the evening was his occasion to listen to the people. He did add that members of Council would certainly now be aware of how people feel. How was that possible of four of the seven weren’t even in the room?

The Mayor closed with a remark former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once made when asked how a meeting had gone. “This has been a good meeting” Trudeau is said to have said “Everyone is pissed off, that’s a good place to start”.

We will let the Mayors closing comment stand on its own.

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ECoB puts six questions in front of the Mayor.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2018



There were two meetings in town last night.

ECoB pic 2 Jan 18

Registration table for the ECoB meeting held at Wellington Square United Church.

One, a Reverse Town Hall, called by the Mayor took place at the Art Gallery, the other, organized by Engaged Citizens of Burlington, took place at Wellington Square United Church; they drew 70 to 80 people and talked about the “need to change council”.

A new group was formed “from ward 1” who were going to meet again and find a way to replace their ward Councillor Rick Craven.

The ECoB meeting ended at about 8:00 pm. Lisa Kierns, an ECoB founder, left that meeting and zipped along to the Mayor’s meeting and presented him with six questions.

• What is the rush to push forward the Official Plan? Residents find the precinct plans difficult to find, analyze, and understand the impacts in all wards. This is still not clear.

• Is the City doing enough to defend Zoning and Official Plan limits? Why are the rules changing and why is Development forcing special considerations – profitability?

• What are we gaining in the rush for intensification and what tools are available to keep it in control? Is this the City we want to live in?

• Why did the City begin engagement on the Official Plan when the supporting plans are not complete, this is not a complete strategy or Plan? We need to see the impact of the: Transit Plan, Transportation Plan, and Mobility Hubs. What is the rush?

• Why is downtown an Area Specific Plan if a Character Study was not done on the neighbouring St. Luke’s Precinct and Emerald Neighbourhood? Have the concerns with specific residents who border on the growth areas been adequately addressed? What about uptown?

ECoB pic 1 Jan 18

Between 70 and 80 people attended the ECoB meeting; at least one with a cheque in hand. Some of the participants formed a group to replace the ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven.

• Do you want to live amongst tall buildings in your neighbourhood? The City of Burlington is changing the rules to turn into a big city intensified with big tall buildings? This is not a provincially mandated Mobility Hub.

One of the meeting organizers, who asked not to be named said: “It was a great meeting with a lot of questions and answers given.”

The ECoB lawn signs were on sale, expect to see them popping up on snow covered lawns.

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