City has found a way to permit the Holland Park development: settlement agreement goes to OLT May 6th

By Staff

March 25th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Everyone appears to want the development to be a go – but it isn’t a deal yet.

The proposed xxx story development onFairview betwnn Drury Lane ans xxx is at the settlement stage.

It goes to the Ontariool Land Trubunal on May 6th.

The proposed towers would accommodate a range of purpose-built rental units including 3-bedroom units which will provide urgently needed new rental housing supply in Burlington which are encouraged through the City’s Official Plan and the City’s Housing Study currently underway.

The drawings show seven towers – the city media release reports four to be built in two phases. What happened to the other three?

The development will be done in phases.

The site plan for phase 1 of the development of the site is for two buildings, 33 and 37 stories in height containing a mix of 1, 2- and 3-bedroom units; 100% of the units in these buildings will be rental units.

Phase 2 of the development will include two additional towers of 33 and 35 stories, with 100% of the units in those buildings being rental units.

Phases 1 and 2 account for four buildings – the original proposal was for seven buildings – no mention of how high the other three will be – ot if there will be more than three.

The proposed development has Brookfield Properties, InterRent REIT and CLV Group Inc. as the developers.  CLV Group has been in the Burlington rental market for some time.  A quick look at comments made by some of their residents raises concerns.

The development contemplated by the settlement would consist of a multi-tower residential development on lands within the City’s Urban Growth Centre (UGC) where City Council has directed high-density growth to occur.

Holland Park is shown with a red border. The Molinaro development is west of Holland Park – it will have five towers when completed.

The development contemplated in the settlement will promote accessible linkages for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users with multi-modal access to the Burlington GO Station.

The development also includes private open space for the residents of the buildings and the dedication of land for a public park adjacent to Fairview Street.

The project also has a feature that only a planner could think of:  linear parks, which no one at city hall has ever defined.  Sound like a path with some trees and grass on the side.

In the media release from the city there is no mention of a real park within the development.  No mention of a library or a community centre.

With three bedroom units – there should be plenty of park space.

More on this one when we dig a little and get some comment from the ward Councillor.

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Solid Gold opens - no masks at this location

By Pepper Parr

March 22, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Now open – with a masking protocol

A sign that the new normal has taken on life and that there are places where masks will not be worn

Solid Gold, the Adult Entertainment location in Aldershot is now open.

The site, die for re-development at some point. will have a public park. no word on the size of the park, at the rear of the building.

A location with a lot of traffic will evolve and become a two structure development that will tise to 10 to 12 storeys.

The property owner has said he will ensure that the site has a coffee shop and there is a report that there will be a park at the rear of the development.

Time line – nothing in place yet – the item did go to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

The developers application – yet to be approved

.

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Your Burlington today - the view down Brant Street from Fairview

By Pepper Parr

March 22, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The construction team has not yet topped off the structure.

It is now all about density which means height.

The Gallery, one of the Carriage Gate buildings going up across the street from city hall.

Hasn’t topped off yet.

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Waterfront study and the development application - no recent news on either.

By Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The deadline for responses to the survey put out after the Waterfront Study virtual meeting that took place on February 22nd, was March 1st the last date they would be accepted.

There are two things taking place with the area outlined in blue. The oldest activity is a study of the area outlined in blue which the city says has been ongoing since 2018 – it actually started way back in 2015 when the city had a Staff member doing some work on what would be possible and fit in with the Promenade and Spencer Smith Park when the owners of the Waterfront Hotel decided they were ready to redevelop the property. The area within the red boundary is the property owned by Darko Vranich . In August of 2021 he began the process of providing the City Planning department the information it would need to prepare a report for City Council which would decide to Approve the development, Not approve the development or approve a development with required changes. hotel site was ready. The report from the Planning department has to be before City Council and approved no later than April 17th of 2022

It was a very short survey; two questions – what did you think and where do you live.

The X’s mark the land the city would take as permitted park land allowance.

Shouldn’t have taken all that long to sift through the responses, pass them along to the consultants overseeing the study and share both the results of the survey and whatever the next step was going to be.

There was some interesting news shared during the DATE meeting – the most significant being that the city planned on taking a 20 metre wide piece of land from the west side of the site. The width would run from Lakeshore Road to the southern and of  the the property line.

There doesn’t appear to be any sense of urgency about a study that is intended to “inform” the long term development that will take place.  Wouldn’t the Hotel site development application, if approved, set the pattern for any development in the immediate area.  No?

 

Related news stories:

A time line that didn’t work for the citizens.

What about a land swap

The Statutory meeting

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Shortest survey in the history of the city

By Pepper Parr

February 26th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

The resumption of the paused Waterfront Hotel site study began on the 15th.

On balance is was a good first step – even though it was hobbled by the fact that there is an active development application before the city’s Planning department while the city studies what should be done long term with the property.

One of the things the public learned was that the city has the right to take a certain amount of land as park land dedication.  Burlington, in the past, had accepted cash in lieu of land so often that the development community felt that it was the common practice.

The two red X marks are parkland the city might take from the developer. The Planning Act permits a municipality to acquire a portion of the property as parkland.

It is evident the city will be asking for what it is entitled to in the way of parkland dedication.

At this point the land the city appears to be going after is a 20 metre strip of land on the west side of the hotel running from the property boundary on Lakeshore Road and the southern boundary.

During the meeting city staff announced they had put together a survey that they wanted people to answer.

The Gazette look at the survey questions and found it very limited.  There were two questions, along the lines of:  ‘What do you think’ and ‘what is your postal code’.

We thought we might have gotten it wrong and we asked city staff the following:

I am doing a piece on the survey that came out of the most recent Waterfront Study meeting – finding that all they appear to want is your view on the site development and your postal code

Is that the extent of the survey?

The response was brief:

  • Yes

If the survey responses are going to guide where the Waterfront Site Study is going the answer may well be – not very far.

The survey closes Tuesday March 1st – link to the survey is HERE

Related news story”

Resumption of the Waterfront Hotel site study

 

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Time for the taxpayers to speak up on the Waterfront hotel site development; several Councillors appear to have lost their tongues

By Pepper Parr

February 25th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Quiet, quaint, downtown Burlington may become a thing of the past.

The owners of the Waterfront Hotel have filed a development application to build two towers on the site; one at 35 storeys, the other at 30 storeys with both sitting on a five storey podium.

This is what we have. Some development can be justified – but it has to be the right development for the city.

There is a public that is opposed to a development of this size.  Disturbingly there is also a city council that has been less than vocal in its views on the development.

During the Statutory meeting held earlier in the month the Mayor, the ward Councillor and one other member of council spoke out not totally against the development but certainly against the height the developer was asking for.

The developer would like to make Lakeshore |Road 6 m narrower; they want to put up towers that will rise 40 storeys.

This is what the developer want to build. It is very good design, it could well win awards – it is the location that is wrong.

Of the limited number of delegations (there were six) the one that drove home just what the issue is came from Plan B, a group that has 500 supporters and 5000 people following them on the Facebook page – which you can find right HERE

There are two processes being handled at the same time which to many seems awkwardly odd.  The city is processing a development application while at the same time the city is working its way through a Waterfront Study that will “inform” and guide the development of the area.

Part of the study is a survey that is asking people how they feel about some of the ideas that were put out during the Statutory meeting last week.

Confusing – true – the developers, their legal counsel and their planning consultants are quite comfortable with the confusion – they understand the issues and they have a tonne of money invested in the process.

For parents dealing with the fallout from Covid19, stressed and struggling to run households – finding time to respond to a survey about an issue of which they may not be fully informed, is a stretch.

Two processes – out of which there will be only one result and it may not be made by the city council you elected.

 

The survey isn’t the easiest to navigate.  They appear to be looking for responses from people who live in specific parts of the city.  When you are asked to enter your postal code, you have to know what it is – you get a thank you for taking part.

We live in a time when there are serious decisions to be made – don’t leave it up to the people you elected unless they are fully transparent and prepared to be accountable for the decisions they make.

Are these three now mute?  Do they not have a view of how the city should grow?

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

Angelo Bentivegna ward 6. While members of Council are elected by the people in a specific ward the have a responsibility for the growth of the city as a single entity.

Kelvin Galbraith, ward 1.

Based on the Statutory meeting last week Councillors Bentivegna, Stolte, and Galbraith have some explaining to do.  And one might ask – where is the most experienced Councillor on this issue – other than his remarks on the failure to come up with a vision, Councillor Sharman hasn’t had much to say.

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Citizen's Group states their case for how the Waterfront Hotel site could be developed.

By Staff

February 23rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

From time to time a citizens group is formed that has a significant impact on decisions made at city hall.  Plan B is one of those groups – it is small – less than five people; all retired or thought they were.

Their concerns started to take shape when they became aware of some of the plans that were being bandied about related to the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel site.

The Plan B people have been at this for a long time – more than five years. They have not always been heard..

The group was solely focused on ensuring that any redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel :

Enhances the Brant Street gateway to Lake Ontario &

Extends the green/ open space of Spencer Smith Park

They acknowledge & respect the property owner’s right to profit from his investment, and that this will necessitate a “reasonable” amount of massing & building height.  What tyey are looking for is a “Win Win Win” for all parties.

 

Emerging Plan B concept from Planning partnership gets close to what they wouldlike to see; it seeks to balance the Developer’s Current Concept with Plan B’s (the community’s) Concepts. The concept is premised on the following:

Achieves the Urban Design objectives for the Downtown

Achieves a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) that balances the base permissions of 5.0 with the Developer’s Current Concept which represents approx. 7.5 FAR

Buildings are located east of the ‘Thin Red Line’ , representing the view corridor south of Lakeshore Road, proposed by the Downtown Mobility Hub Study.

 

  • A new significant open space defined by the ‘Thin Red Line’ located on the west portion of the property, contiguous with the waterfront park
  • Buildings that provide a clear landmark visible from the park, Brant Street, John Street, Lakeshore Road and Lake Ontario
  • A potential development yield that is viable and provides some incentive for redevelopment

Note: PLAN B neither supports nor objects to tower height

There are very significant difference between what the existing rules permit and what the developer is asking for.

The Burlington Urban Design panel, made up of professionals who have no interest in the development put forward a number of recommendation. Few got anything more than the time of day.

The Applicant’s Response to Community Input in Plan B’s Opinion

  • Silent on/ Ignored most Public input & recommendations

–        Waterfront Planning Study re: Key Policy Directives – June 2018

–        Burlington Urban Design Advisory Committee – August 2021

–        PLAN B – Thin Red Line

  • The Application relies heavily on UGC/ MTSA designations downtown to justify intensification

–        While the Complete Application was not submitted until December 17th  grandfathering by the November 10th ROPA order is assumed

The Plan B people assume that the developer is prepared to let their case be determined by the Ontario Land Tribunal.

The thin red line phrase came out of a meeting with city planners – The Plan B people took it and ran with it.

Citizens’ PLAN B recommends:

  1. The Applicant’s proposed Official Plan Amendment (OPA) to eliminate the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study as a prerequisite for this application be REJECTED.

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study will be completed within the statutory time frame of processing this application

The June 2018 Key Policy Directives already reflect key Community Feedback

Collaboration, good faith negotiations needed for a “Win Win Win”

Citizens’ PLAN B also recommends:

The Applicant’s proposed Zoning Bylaw Amendment (ZBA) to fit it’s proposed application should be APPROVED with Modifications.

Key community feedback from the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study, Burlington Urban Design Advisory Committee, PLAN B must be reflected in the application’s modifications

Limit building heights to yield of FAR 6.0:1 (per EPC#3).

A “good faith” compromise between Base Permission of 5.0:1 and Applicant’s aggressive ask of 7.76:1

Plan B thinks this may avert acrimonious & lengthy legal debates before the OLT & an unpredictable outcome for both parties.

The city is seeking response to a survey that closes March 1.  Link to that survey is set out below.

Link to the survey is HERE

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What was learned during the Statutory meeting on the Waterfront Hotel site development application?

By Pepper Parr

February 23rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A Statutory Meeting is required under the Planning Act to allow the public to learn what a development application is about.

During these meetings the city planning department sets out what the application is asking for and what the current Official Plan and Zoning bylaw permits.

Wednesday evening the city presented the following two slides;

The difference between what is permitted under the current in-force Official Plan and what the developer wants is astounding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recommendation:
Direct staff to continue to process the submitted applications for Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments for 2020 Lakeshore Road, including evaluating and incorporating any/all comments received by Committee and the public at the Statutory Public Meeting, as well as the comments received through the ongoing
technical review of this application by agency partners and internal departments.

Plan B, a small citizen group gave an excellent delegation that highlighted just how much the developer is asking and how little they are prepared to give.

The application makes mention of narrowing Lakeshore Road.

They realize that they have to provide some parkland – and have suggested cash in lieu of land would be satisfactory.

This is a complex story, not all that easy to follow yet critical in terms of what the downtown core of the city will look like and what in the way of impact it will have on Spencer Smith Park.

What was disappointing was just how little members of Council had to say when there was an opportunity for them to make comments.  Mayor Meed Ward spoke as did ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns and Councillor Nisan.  The others appeared to be mute.

More to come on this one.

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Public will get a look at what if any changes in the original plan have been made by the developer on the Waterfront Hotel site

By Pepper Parr

February 22, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The event is set up as a Statutory Public Meeting taking place during a Standing Committee this evening, Tuesday at 6:30 pm

Log into the city calendar and work your way to the Committee meetings part and select the 22nd.

That will get you into the meeting where you can watch and take part.

The Statutory Review is required by the Planning Act.  The review is about an Applications to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law owned by Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. Addresses: 2020 Lakeshore Road

There are two process taking place within the same basic time frame.

Many wonder what the one process means to the other.

 

Applications were submitted by owner and deemed Complete on December 2021

The site is : 0.76 hectares; Frontage on Lakeshore Rd: 114 m,  Frontage on Elizabeth St: 50 m

Proposed Mixed-Use Development is as follows:

  • Residential: 557 apartments
  • Hotel: 122 suites
  • Retail/commercial: 4,445 m2
  • Office: 4,348 m2
  • Two tall buildings: 35 & 30 storeys with 5-storey podiums
  • 598 parking spaces
  • Proposed Floor Area Ratio: 76:1

What it works out to is set out below.

This is what the owners of the Waterfront Hotel want to do with their space. It is your city and your park. Is this the best the city can get?

What will the site look like from different streets that leads to Lakeshore road ?

 

The question the Gazette is asking is set out in the graphic below..

 

Take part in the Statutory meeting this evening and if you don’t like what you see stand up on your hind legs and bark.  Do the same thing if you like what you see.  It is your city – it is your park.

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It is your waterfront - let the city know what you think of the current concept for the Waterfront Hotel site

By Pepper Parr

February 18th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is the development that will change for decades what the core of downtown Burlington is going to look like.

And while 110 people took part in a virtual presentation on what the issues are – there didn’t seem to be all that much in the way passionate interest.

There were more questions about parking during the virtual meeting than there were about what the impact would be of two 35 storey plus towers sitting on a five storey podium perched at the edge of Lakeshore Road and Brant Street at what the developer called Ground Zero for the city.

The city now wants feed back from the public.  A recording of the February 15th meeting can be reached HERE

The survey can be found HERE

Closing date for public feedback is March 1st – not a lot of time.  Get your views in now – they matter.

The Waterfront Study Plan people and the developer are far apart.  The Study group is suggesting  two 15 – 17 storey buildings and taking a 20 metre strip on the west side as park land along with another small patch on land on the east side at the southern end (lake side) of the site.

The developer has proposed two towers – one 30 storeys high and the other 35 storeys high – both sitting on a five story podium.

Parking for both would be underground exiting and entering off Elizabeth Street to the east.

While the study is for the area shown below – all the attention up to this point has been on the Waterfront Hotel site.

Spencer Smith Park defines Burlington. Few cities in Canada sit on the edge of the largest body of water in the country. It is host to some of the biggest public festivals in the province.

Will 40 storey structures take away from what the park offers the citizens of Burlington; will they diminish what is left of the small ton feel of Brant Street?

Do you think the big flashy buildings are what the city needs. A decision is going to be made – get your two cents in now when it matters.

Children playing innocently – a man having snooze under a tree – the Spencer Smith Park we have today – will that change if there are 40 storey towers looming over everything?

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Community Planning comes up with a 2022 Preferred Concept for the Waterfront Hotel site

By Pepper Parr

February 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Something like this is probably coming your way.

It is labelled the 2022 Preferred Concept for the Waterfront Hotel site that was put before about 110 people that took part in a virtual presentation Wednesday evening,

Proposed 2022 Preferred Concept – half the height of what the developer is asking for and a lot more park space.

It is considerably different than the plan the developer has before the city Community Planning department; basically half the height and much more park space..

There are two towers in the concept but they are between 15 and 17 stories each rather than the 30 and 35 storeys the developer has before the Community Planning department.

The two towers rest on a 3 storey podium instead of the five storey podium the developer is asking for.

The biggest difference is a 20 metre wide piece of land on the west side of the site that  runs from Lakeshore Road to the southern end of the property.  It was described as a needed addition to Spencer Smith Park which was described as closes to full capacity on many occasions.

There was some additional park space to the lower right of the 2022 Preferred concept.

Evan Sugden, the Bousfields Inc., planning consultant hired by the developer was  taken aback when he saw the concept and asked where the justification was for taking land to be used as park space.  He wanted to know where the report was that set out the need for additional park space.

All developments are required to provide park space, either in land or cash in lieu.

The developer wanted two soaring towers that would be 40 storeys including the podium.

While well attended the virtual meeting ran out of steam at the one hour point of a meeting that was scheduled for an hour and a half.

All members of council were reported to be in attendance but other than the Mayor none had anything to say.

The Mayor did take a shot at having a straw poll done on the spot – that didn’t work out – the consultants running the event said i would not be appropriate at this point to hold a straw poll.

Next step?  The city wants opinions and feed back from the public.  They are fully aware that this development is going to go to the Ontario Land Tribunal for a decision and they want to build the strongest case possible.

The city wants feedback from the public no later than March 1st.  For those who did not take part in the virtual meeting – the presentation was recorded and will be available on the GetInvolved section of the city web site.

 

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Waterfront Study to re-start on the 15th - meanwhile Planning department processes an application to build two towers

By Pepper Parr

February 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington Planning department is working feverishly on an application development to build two towers – one 35 and the other 30 storeys that will sit atop a five story podium.

This application has to be presented to council not later than April 15th or it can be taken to the Ontario Land Tribunal for a non-decision appeal.

Municipalities have 120 days to respond with a decision on a development application.

At the same time the City of Burlington is resuming work on the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study. When the study is completed, it will provide guidance in the redevelopment of this site.

Located next to two of Burlington’s most significant landmarks, Spencer Smith Park and the Brant Street Pier, the City is asking for input to make sure the new development reflects a high quality of urban design that enhances the community’s access to the waterfront and the downtown.

The fact that there is a development application for land in the centre of that waterfront study area would suggest that the die has already been cast.

Within the same general time frame, February 22nd, there is a Statutory Public meeting on the development application which will have the Planning department setting out the issues and the developer explaining what they plan to do.

Virtual Public Open House – Feb. 15
Residents are invited to join a virtual public open house to talk about the study process and hear from City staff and the consultant team, The Planning Partnership, who will present the preferred concept plan for the site. There will be a Q & A period following the presentation. The open house is on:
Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022
7 to 8:30 p.m.
Zoom or dial +1 647 374 4685 by telephone and enter meeting ID 813 0521 1078

Residents also have the opportunity to learn more about the planning study on the City’s online engagement platform, Get Involved Burlington.

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study is separate from the development application process.  This sentence fails to add that there is an application for development approval before the Planning department now.

2020 Lakeshore Rd. Statutory Public Meeting – Feb. 22
The City will hold a Statutory Public Meeting under the Planning Act to consider the City staff report concerning the development application for 2020 Lakeshore Rd. City staff will be recommending that Council direct staff to continue to review and process the application. Due to COVID-19, this Statutory Public Meeting will be held virtually.

This meeting will take place on:

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022
6:30 p.m.
Virtual Meeting that will be on the city web site

To view the meeting details, the Meeting Notice [PDF] or to register to delegate, visit burlington.ca/2020lakeshore.

This is the developers architectural rendering of what they would like to build.

Planning Study Background
In 2017 and 2018, the City began the planning study to guide the redevelopment of the waterfront site at Lakeshore Road and the foot of Brant Street, including the Waterfront Hotel at 2020 Lakeshore Rd. City staff gathered feedback through visioning workshops, public and stakeholder engagement.

In mid-2018, the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was placed on hold due to other Council directed priorities such as the New Official Plan process.

On Jan. 11, 2022, City staff presented Council with a study update through staff report.

Why the study can resume
The City is able to resume the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study at this time because:

• the re-examination of the New Official Plan Project, including Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown, has been completed,

• approval of the new Official Plan (under appeal), as well as

• the Minster of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approval, with modifications, of the Regional Official Plan Amendment 48.

City staff, with support from the project consultant, will pick up the work where it left off in 2018, and complete the study. The work is estimated to take four months and will use community input to-date to help develop a final preferred concept.

The City has this work remaining:
• Phase 4: Report and Recommendation of Preferred Land Use Concept, Q1 2022
This phase of the study involves the selection of a preferred concept and the preparation of a Planning Justification Report.
• Phase 5: Official Plan Policies, Zoning and Urban Design Guidelines, Q2 2022

The fifth phase of the study includes the development of draft site-specific official plan policies, zoning regulations and urban design and implementation guidelines. This phase will also include a public open house, presentation to Committee and final delivery of the implementing Official Plan Amendment and

Determining what should be built on the waterfront hotel property has gone through a number of concepts. The Waterfront study restart will pick up where things were back in 2019 when it was paused.

Marianne Meed Ward – moments before she was sworn in as Mayor.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward made the following comments:
“We know the Waterfront Hotel is a key site in our city, right next to our cherished downtown waterfront park. We know we have to get it right, and the time is now, with the Waterfront Hotel study starting up again, and an active application for redevelopment filed. We also need to ensure the public has every opportunity to share their feedback. That’s why Councillor Kearns and I worked together on a motion to direct staff to complete the study and the application review within the required statutory time frames — so we can record a decision as a community on this site, and not risk an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal for non-decision within the deadline. The best way you can shape the future of what happens here is to participate in both the study, as well as the development application review. ”

Ward 2 City Councillor Lisa Kearns spoke a little more forcefully: “We have heard loud and clear that residents place an extraordinary value on Burlington’s Waterfront. Development concerning the Waterfront Hotel site is extremely important to Ward 2 residents and to residents across our city. The outcome of an active development proposal is paramount to the future of our Waterfront and Spencer Smith Park, not to mention our downtown businesses and residents alike.

Lisa Kearns – ward 2 Councillor

“I encourage everyone to get engaged with the study information, subscribe to the Get Involved page for updates and attend the meetings on the Hotel Study on Feb. 15. and the Statutory Public Meeting on Feb. 22. The City will make a decision on this planning file to ensure that the decision is made at the local level. Let’s come together to give our feedback and make sure the new development results in a property that supports the community’s waterfront and downtown experience.”

Related news stories:

Is there a better way to develop this critical part of the city?

If you haven’t heard of Plan B – check them out.

The Plan B web site:

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Councillor takes small group on a tour of Ground Zero - did she give them the complete story?

By Pepper Parr

February 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

“A terrific turnout” said ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns, who took a small group on a downtown development tour last Saturday.

“We embraced the chilly weather and learned about various developments in different stages, the planning process and Council’s vision for development.

“It was an interactive afternoon and one more way to connect with my office about our community. Thank you to everyone that came out, stay tuned for the next one in April.”

Well now, there was a lot more to the tour than the Councillor is revealing.

In the photograph below, the Councillor is in front of the Waterfront Hotel, a site that will be demolished and replaced by two towers that will be more than 30 storeys high – both sitting on a five storey podium.

Lisa Kearns on the site of a planned two tower development.

It is the most controversial development the city has had to cope with and if it proceeds the way the developers want – the quaint Burlington downtown you now know will be history.

The site Lisa Kearns is standing on will have what you see below.

Rendering of what the intersection of Brant and Lakeshore will look like if the development proceeds.

Developers’ rendering of the two towers they want to build at the intersection of Brant and Lakeshore road – the site of the Waterfront Hotel

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Urban Design Advisory Panel comments on development slated for Waterfront Hotel site

By Staff

February 5th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A number of years ago the Planning Department decided they wanted input from outside professionals who were not in any way involved in a development project.

Recognized professional architects were invited to apply to serve on the panel.  The current panel membership is made up of:

Members of BUD

present absent / regrets
Ken Coit (Chair) ü
Jana Kelemen (Vice Chair) regrets
Alexandru Taranu regrets
Jackie VanderVelde ü
Jessica Hawes ü
LeAnn Seely ü
Matt Reid ü
Michael Barker regrets
Nigel Tai regrets

Cynthia Zahoruak

The impetus for this approach came from Cynthia Zahoruak, a respected Burlington based architect.

The Community Planning Department asked the Burlington Urban Design Advisory Panel (BUD) for advice on the following key issues:

 

1. Response to Context
Please comment on the integration of the proposed development with its surroundings including: streetscaping on Lakeshore Road and Elizabeth Street and interface with Spencer Smith Park to the west and south.

2. Public Realm – Access & Connectivity to the Public Park & Lake
Please comment on the proposed atrium at the foot of John Street, with consideration for bird-friendly design, the preservation of public views from John Street to Lake Ontario, and the objective of maintaining and enhancing public access to the waterfront.

3. Architectural Design and Design Excellence
Please comment on the design of the proposed buildings, with consideration for the landmark location of the site and the need to achieve compatibility with surrounding context, as well as the proposed arrangement of uses and location of building entrances.

4. Location & Amount of Outdoor Amenity Spaces
Please comment on the proposed amenity areas (rooftop and at grade) with attention to opportunities for publicly accessible spaces.

Design Team Presentation

The developers Design Team provided an overview of the history and context of the site. It was noted that the site is a premier site at the foot of Brant Street, a core street in Downtown Burlington. A landmark vision that functions as a landmark destination for the city and downtown core is therefore proposed. The history of the site as an entertainment destination and its contribution to hotel enjoyment of the waterfront is intended to be reflected in this project.

The proposed building consists of a podium with ground floor commercial and hotel and office space above, and two towers with residential uses. The hotel will be located on one side of the podium, while office space will be on the other. A bridge connecting the two sides of the podium will contain amenities for the hotel and residential uses. All parking will be underground.

The project architect walked the Panel through various views of the proposal. It was noted that the site is intended to respect the existing landscape of the park and the steep topography between Lakeshore Road and the waterfront. The proposal is intended to provide visual and physical connections from the street to the lake.

With respect to building design, the design is meant to be iconic and reflect water waves. Terraces are used to create a gentle curve along the tower façade and provide residents with views of the city and lake. Complementary materials, textures and colours connect the tower and the podium.

A plaza and an atrium that the public can walk through or stay in to enjoy waterfront views is proposed. The connection from Lakeshore Road to the Waterfront Trail continues through to the landscape with patio opportunities for coffee, restaurants and to create a gathering space for people to enjoy the location.

Panel Questions:

The Panel asked the following questions of clarification:

• Is the tower floor plate largest at the 6th floor, and smaller as they rise?
o Yes. There are no bulges proposed in the towers.

• What are some of the environmental features of the building and site design?
o Green roofs accessible to each use are proposed to reduce heat loss. Local materials will also be used to help with LEED certification. The new energy code will be adhered to. Glass in various opacities will be used to reduce heat loss. Bird friendly design will be used at the podium level with optional fretting throughout the tower above.
o The lower area of the podium will have more solid materials (e.g. brick, stone).

• Are the towers predominately glass?
o Yes.

• What are the setbacks on the east, south and west sides of the podium from the property lines?
o North: 7 m; west (waterfront and Spencer Smith Park): 2 m; south (to property line): 4.9 m; and, east (Elizabeth Street): 2 m

• What is the intended programming for the atrium?
o The atrium will be a covered space that the public can freely access and move through from the Lakeshore Road side of the building to the plaza and waterfront on the southside and vice versa. It is also intended to be a gathering place to get to other uses within the building (e.g. offices, hotel).

Panel Advice:

Question #1: Response to Context – Please comment on the integration of the proposed development with its surroundings including: streetscaping on Lakeshore Road and Elizabeth Street and interface with Spencer Smith Park to the west and south.

The Panel commented that taller heights and densities with a broad mix of uses are warranted at this site given its prominent location. However, the Panel felt that overall, the proposed building is too large for its context, and that the height, massing, proportions and scales of the podium and towers should be reevaluated in the context of their comments below. Additionally, more transparency overall in the ground floor plane, with more open semi-private spaces, should be provided.

The Panel felt that the height and length of the podium is too large for this context.

Lakeshore Road & John Street
The Panel felt that the height and length of the podium is too large for this context. The podium height could be reduced in consideration of the surrounding context. For example, it was noted that existing buildings on the north side of Lakeshore Road range in height from 1- to 2½- storeys and include heritage buildings that should be considered. Although the large setback of the proposed building helps to mitigate this juxtaposition, a reduction in height would further help with integration. To break up the length of the podium, it is recommended that the atrium be replaced with an open-air area and that more articulation be incorporated.

The Lakeshore Road streetscape was noted as being well done with the triple row of trees, extensive setback and opportunities for patios. However, the Panel was concerned that the atrium would cast shadows onto Lakeshore Road and obstruct views from John Street. Although glass material is proposed for the atrium, glass does not always appear transparent. Replacing the atrium with an open-air corridor was recommended.

The breezeway leads to the view of the lake from the John at Lakeshore Road entrance.

Lastly, it was noted that proportion and scale of the towers appear inconsistent between drawings in the submission package, causing the Panel to caution the overall tower massing and orientation. It was noted that a proportional balance needs to be struck between the narrow and broader sides of the towers, and that appropriate tower placements should be provided to mitigate their built form impacts such as shadowing on Brant Street.

Transitions to Spencer Smith Park and Waterfront Trail
The Panel highlighted that appropriate transitions to Spencer Smith Park and the Waterfront Trail are currently lacking. The existing path along the west side of the property, as well as Brant Street and the Waterfront Trail were noted as being busy pedestrian corridors. There is an opportunity for the west side of the site to provide a stronger connection to these areas.

Specifically, the Panel recommended that the building setback adjacent to this west interface be increased, the façade treatment better articulated, and open space landscaped to create more of a public realm and transition to the existing open space. Also, instead of a podium-tower condition on this side, the tower could be brought all the way down to the ground plane as an iconic vertical element (no podium) to provide interest and the podium could be replaced with landscaping.

It was noted that the west tower appears to have significant shadow impacts on Brant Street, and that the view down Brant appears to terminate at the towers. Relocating the west tower can also help address these issues.

There is also an opportunity to provide 180-degree views from the central area (between the podium) by extending it south of the podium.

Lastly, underground parking should be designed to protect the context of the park by allowing for mature trees.

Transitions to Elizabeth Street
On the Elizabeth Street side, the Panel noted that Elizabeth Street is a prominent frontage for the Bridgewater development to the west of the site. The Panel flagged that the height, location and orientation of towers should be carefully reviewed for their shadow impacts on Elizabeth Street.

The Panel agreed that locating back of house activities for the subject site off Elizabeth makes sense but cautioned that it should be carefully treated to support what is being achieved at Bridgewater. Elizabeth Street itself could be specially treated to signal to vehicles that it is a pedestrian area.

Question #2: Public Realm Access & Connectivity to the Public Park & Lake – Please comment on the proposed atrium at the foot of John Street, with consideration for bird-friendly design, the preservation of public views from John Street to Lake Ontario, and the objective of maintaining and enhancing public access to the waterfront.

The atrium is appreciated but does not provide a true visual corridor between John Street and the waterfront because of its glass reflections and pinched width.
Furthermore, for this connection to succeed as a physical public connection, it is important that it feels like a public space. It currently does not feel that way because the size of the podium and atrium is the same as the front elevation. An open-air connection is recommended instead.

Since there is value to having cooler, covered spaces, if an atrium is desired, it could be designed to provide more vertical articulation in the podium and give the podium an appearance of two separate buildings.

The Panel appreciates the detailed submission package, as well as the proposed streetscape design along Lakeshore Road and setback of underground parking to allow for the preservation and growth of mature street trees.

Question #3: Architectural Design and Design Excellence – Please comment on the design of the proposed buildings, with consideration for the landmark location of the site and the need to achieve compatibility with surrounding context, as well as the proposed arrangement of uses and location of building entrances.

The Panel commented that the buildings are beautifully designed and achieves the goal for an iconic design. It works well with the shape and curve of the pier.  However, the massing of the building should be reviewed from multiple angles. The towers appear bulky from certain angles.

The design appealed to the architects on the Burlington Urban Design Advisory panel

The Panel was also concerned about the sustainability of the building. Considering climate change, buildings made of mostly glass are no longer a sustainable option. Impacts of the building over its lifespan in terms of carbon neutrality and sustainability should be closely reviewed. Also, with the site being close to the water, having sustainable stormwater management features is important.

Lastly, there is an opportunity to take advantage of the location of the site being within the cultural centre of Burlington by incorporating public art, designed with public input. Ideas include unique vertical elements such as colorful large-scale windows or a mural up one side of the building and an object at scale at the foot of John Street that brings a connection back to the lake and history of the site.

Question #4: Location & Amount of Outdoor Amenity Spaces – Please comment on the proposed amenity areas (rooftop and at grade) with attention to opportunities for publicly accessible spaces.

The Panel commented that much of the outdoor space between the podium is devoted to access ramps and stairs down to the park. Consider increasing the upper/lower plaza space and provide an elevator down to park level instead. The proposal introduces a lot of new residential units, which will need to be balanced with a lot of amenity space and different uses.

The Panel also recommended providing a porous interface with the park, rather than having a harsh boundary between public and private space, through measures such as incorporating some semi-private spaces and a variety of outdoor amenity spaces. More accesses through podium to the park should also be considered.

The Panel reiterated that focus should be placed on the edges of the building and the public realm to ensure that the design reflects its unique and special location. Also, the Panel reiterated that while a tall landmark building is warranted at this location, the proposed podium and towers are too tall and should be reduced to ensure that the building is compatible and fits in with its surroundings, including both the existing and planned context.

Application: Official Plan Amendment and Rezoning Presentations:
City Staff: Thomas Douglas, Community Planning
Design Team: David Falletta, Bousfields Inc.; Anh Le Quang, Lilia Koleva Neuf Architectes LLP;
Mario Patitucci, Adesso Design Inc.

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Waterfront study resumes February 15th; expected to last four months - meanwhile Planning staff work flat out to complete their work before an April 17th deadline.

By Pepper Parr

February 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City is resuming work on the Waterfront Hotel Site Planning Study.

When the study is completed, it will provide guidance in the redevelopment of this site.

The white dotted line is the boundary of the site – the dark blue in the centre is the site of the hotel property

Located next to two of Burlington’s most significant landmarks, Spencer Smith Park and the Brant Street Pier, the City is asking for input to make sure the new development reflects a high quality of urban design that enhances the community’s access to the waterfront and the downtown.

Virtual Public Open House – Feb. 15
Residents are invited to join a virtual public open house to talk about the study process and hear from City staff and the city consultant team, The Planning Partnership, who will present the preferred concept plan for the site. There will be a Q & A period following the presentation.

The open house is on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Zoom or dial +1 647 374 4685 by telephone and enter meeting ID 813 0521 1078

Residents also have the opportunity to learn more about the planning study on the City’s online engagement platform,

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study is separate from the development application process.

And that is where this gets messy – very messy.

The Planning department is working furiously to have a report to Council before April 17 with either

A recommendation to approve the development
A recommendation to approve the development with changes
A recommendation to not approve the development.

The information given to the public last September was for two towers; one 30 storeys and the other 35 storey – both sitting on a five story podium.

The very painful truth with this development is that far too few people know very much about it.

The public first got wind of it when a pre-application community consultation took place.

Graphics and raw data on this project have been very difficult to come by – the Gazette had to threaten legal action to get a copy of what was a public report. The entrance to the site was to be from John Street, one block east of Brant. The light blue space in the very centre of this graphic will be a breezeway leading from Lakeshore to the steep steps that will lead into Spencer Smith Park. The light green will be amenity space for the tower residents. The tan coloured space will be open and where the public can gather The new hotel is shown in darker blue. The residential towers are in pink. The Gazette has not been able to have conversations with the developer’s planners.

The Gazette has been reporting on this situation for some time – all the way back to 2015 when the city was putting together some ideas as to just what could happen with the Waterfront Hotel site when it was eventually re-developed.

Centre – former city Councillor John Taylor in conversation with Linda Davies, owner of the leading condo real estate sales broker on the right and Dee Dee Davies at one of the public meetings in 2018

The city put together a process that had the developer agreeing to pay the full cost of a review that would include significant public input.

And those meetings took place – there were  four of them out of which came a number of concepts – but no consensus – and then for reasons which look pretty weak, the city put a pause on the waterfront study.

The developer didn’t pause.

As early as August, the Burlington Urban Design group was meeting and providing comment on the development.

They engaged planning consults and architects and met with people in the Planning department to advance their development application.

Members of Council knew what was taking place – but the public didn’t.

Members of Council are still saying very little – they have all taken the position that they cannot make statements until they have a Planning Staff report in front of them.

So here we are with two very different streams of activity taking place at the same time about the same piece of land

The developer pushing their application – and the city reviving a study that should have been completed years ago.

Close on the heals of the study re-start is a Statutory Public meeting required under the Planning Act that is to take place on February 22nd at 6:30 p.m.  It too will be a virtual meeting.

In a media release from City Hall on Thursday we learned that Planning Staff will be recommending that Council direct staff to continue to review and process the application.

Planning Study Background
In 2017 and 2018 (the Gazette interviewed a member of the Planning staff in 2015 on this study proposal) the City began looking at a planning study to guide the redevelopment of the waterfront site at Lakeshore Road and the foot of Brant Street, including the Waterfront Hotel at 2020 Lakeshore Road., City staff gathered feedback through visioning workshops, public and stakeholder engagement.

In mid-2018, the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was placed on hold due to other priorities in the Community Planning Department.

A number of design concepts have come forward – no consensus yet.

Why the study can resume
In its media release the City said it is able to resume the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study at this time because:

• the re-examination of the New Official Plan Project, including Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown, has been completed,
• approval of the new Official Plan (under appeal), as well as
• the Minster of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approval, with modifications, of the Regional Official Plan Amendment 48.

City staff, with support from the project consultant, will pick up the work where it left off in 2018, and complete the study. The work is estimated to take four months and will use community input to-date to help develop a final preferred concept.

The City has this work remaining:

Phase 4: Report and Recommendation of Preferred Land Use Concept, Q1 2022
This phase of the study involves the selection of a preferred concept and the preparation of a Planning Justification Report.

• Phase 5: Official Plan Policies, Zoning and Urban Design Guidelines, Q2 2022

The fifth phase of the study includes the development of draft site-specific official plan policies, zoning regulations and implementation guidelines. This phase will also include a public open house, presentation to Committee and final delivery of the implementing Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Bylaw Amendment.

It all gets messier and tighter in terms of time frames.

When a developer takes an application to the city – the Planning department has 120 days to make a recommendation to council.  That recommendation can be to not proceed or to proceed with changes or to give it a rubber stamp and tell the developer to bring in the cranes and start building.

The developers submitted their plan on December 17th, the Planning department told Council they didn’t think the application was complete.  There was a lot of scurrying around and the city was able to say that the application was indeed complete.  Close to 30 days of very valuable staff work was lost.  The city will tell you that there was no time lost – don’t believe them.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns brought forward a motion at Council directing Staff to complete their work and make a presentation to Council before April 17th, 2022.   She wanted to be as certain as possible that the city did not find itself before the Ontario Land Tribunal for failing to deliver a report within that 120 requirement.

Nothing was to be built west of the line Plan B drew.

Included in all this are the brave efforts of Plan B – a small group of citizens who objected strongly to the concept designs that were being shown.  They had a concept that would keep development within a “thin red line”.

The city’s Mayor said: “We know the Waterfront Hotel is a key site in our city, right next to our cherished downtown waterfront park. We know we have to get it right, and the time is now, with the Waterfront Hotel study starting up again, and an active application for redevelopment filed.

“We also need to ensure the public has every opportunity to share their feedback. That’s why Councillor Kearns and I worked together on a motion to direct staff to complete the study and the application review within the required statutory time frames — so we can record a decision as a community on this site, and not risk an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal for non-decision within the deadline.

“The best way you can shape the future of what happens here is to participate in both the study, as well as the development application review. We welcome your input and look forward to those discussions.”

Ward 2 City Councillor Lisa Kearns said: “We have heard loud and clear that residents place an extraordinary value on Burlington’s Waterfront. Development concerning the Waterfront Hotel site is extremely important to Ward 2 residents and to residents across our city. The outcome of an active development proposal is paramount to the future of our Waterfront and Spencer Smith Park, not to mention our downtown businesses and residents alike.

The development plans as they stand now will result in a Burlington few significantly than what is in place now.

Renderings that show the development relative to Spencer Smith Park and the Pier.

On the left is the view of the lake from Lakeshore Road at Brant. On the right the view from the same spot looking north up John Street.

What is at stake here is the heart of the city – Ground Zero – the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Brant Street and the look and feel of the downtown core for decades.

How different city Councils let things get to the point we are at now boggles the imagination.

Related news stories:

Plan B was trying to get some traction within the Planning department and with the public.

The time line of a very sad story.

Are there other options.

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Waterfront hotel site study back on - starts February 15th - details to follow

By Pepper Parr

January 27th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

During the Mayor’s State of the City address early this morning we learned that the Waterfront Hotel property study that started back in 2015 and was put on a pause in 2018 – is now back on and will begin on February 15th.

This is what the intersection of Brant and Lakeshore Road might look like – south east corner

The Mayor did add that while the study is back in place – there is an application with the Planning department.  That application MUST be before council in April with a recommendation to

Approve

Approve with modification

Reject.

Quite how the city managed to do next to nothing with the study – which was paid for by the developer, is something no one has ever explained.

The consequences may be terrible.

The new Burlington skyline?

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Well - there goes the neighbourhood! Draft housing report suggests not protecting 'character' of neighbourhoods and permit 4 storey apartments anywhere

By Staff

January 26th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Marcello Alaimo, operator of Exquisite Living released some comment on the draft of the Housing Task Force that is expected to release the report and its 58 recommendation at the end of the month.

The task force that was asked to find ways to make Ontario housing more affordable wants to do away with rules that entrench single-family homes as the main option in many residential neighbourhoods, according to a draft report.

The nine-member Housing Affordability Task Force, chaired by Scotiabank CEO Jake Lawrence, wants to “create a more permissive land use, planning, and approvals systems” and throw out rules that stifle change or growth — including ones that protect the “character” of neighbourhoods across the province.

The wide-ranging 31-page draft report, which is making the rounds in municipal planning circles and could look much different when it’s officially released Jan. 31, makes 58 recommendations.

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

It includes discussions on speeding up approval processes, waiving development charges for infill projects, allowing vacant commercial property owners to transition to residential units, and letting urban boundaries expand “efficiently and effectively.”

It also calls for all municipalities — and building code regulations — not to make it just easier for homeowners to add secondary suites, garden homes, and laneway houses to their properties, but also to increase height, size and density along “all major and minor arterials and transit corridors” in the form of condo and apartment towers.

© Kate Porter/CBC One of the task force’s recommendations is to create rules that would bypass community opposition to adding density in existing neighbourhoods. 4-storey complexes in all neighbourhoods.

But perhaps the most controversial recommendation is the one to virtually do away with so-called exclusionary zoning, which allows only a single-family detached home to be built on a property.

Built by the ADI Group – this four storey could be placed anywhere in the city if the Housing Task Force makes it through the legislature.

Instead, the task force recommends that in municipalities with a population of more than 100,000, the province should “allow any type of residential housing up to four storeys and four units on a single residential lot,” subject to urban design guidance that’s yet to be defined.

According to the report, Ontario lags behind many other G7 countries when it comes to the number of dwellings per capita. And housing advocates have long argued that more modest-projects — duplexes, triplexes, tiny homes and townhouses — are needed in established neighbourhoods, especially if the environmental and infrastructure costs of sprawl are to be avoided.

But neighbourhood infill and intensification is often a hard political sell.
“While everyone might agree that we have a housing crisis, that we have a climate emergency, nobody wants to see their neighbourhoods change,” said Coun. Glen Gower, who co-chairs Ottawa’s planning committee. “So that’s really the challenge that we’re dealing with in Ottawa and in Ontario.”

After last week’s housing summit with Ontario’s big city mayors, reporters repeatedly asked Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark if he supported doing away with zoning for single-detached homes, as other jurisdictions like Edmonton and major New Zealand cities have done.

Clark said he’d heard the idea but did not give a direct answer one way or the other.
© CBC Coun. Glen Gower is the co-chair of Ottawa council’s planning committee. He welcomes the discussion about housing affordability in the task force report, but concedes that allowing four-storey, four-unit dwellings in every neighbourhood could be a hard sell.

Reduce construction barriers, approval requirements
Many of the recommendations revolve around making it easier and faster for builders to construct homes.

According to the draft report, not only would a streamlined process allow dwellings to get on the market faster, but reducing approval times would also save developers money which, in theory, could be passed onto residents.

The report cites an Ontario Association of Architects study from 2018 showing that costs for a 100-unit condo building increase by $193,000 for every month the project is delayed.
That’s why, for example, the task force is recommending that any “underutilized or redundant commercial properties” be allowed to be converted to residential units without municipal approvals.

The draft report also calls for quasi-automatic approval for projects up to 10 units that conform to existing official plans and zoning, and goes so far to recommend that municipalities “disallow public consultations” for these applications.

The report speaks to reducing what the task force characterizes as “NIMBY” factors in planning decisions, recommending the province set Ontario-wide standards for specifics like setbacks, shadow rules and front doors, while excluding details like exterior colour and building materials from the approval process.

The task force would even eliminate minimum parking requirements for new projects.
Politicians say more than just supply needed

The report touches on a number of subjects it believes unnecessarily delay the building of new homes, including how plans approved by city councils can be appealed.

It recommends the province restore the right of developers to appeal official plans — a power that was removed by the previous Liberal government.

And in an effort to eliminate what it calls “nuisance” appeals, the task force recommends that the fee a third party — such as a community group — pays to appeal projects to the Ontario Land Tribunal should be increased from the current $400 to $10,000.

© CBC NDP housing critic Jessica Bell supports doing away with exclusionary zoning, but says many more measures, including building more affordable homes, are needed.

That doesn’t sit well with NDP MPP Jessica Bell, the party’s housing critic. who said “My initial take is that any attempt to make the land tribunal even more difficult for residents to access is concerning,” said Bell, adding the NDP is asking stakeholders and community members for feedback.

The tribunal can overturn a municipal council’s “democratically decided law,” she said, “and I would be pretty concerned if it costs $10,000 for a third party to go to the land tribunal and bring up some valid evidence.”

While she was pleased to see the task force address zoning reform to encourage the construction of town homes, duplexes and triplexes in existing neighbourhoods — the so-called “missing middle” between single-family homes and condo towers — Bell said increasing supply is not enough to improve housing for all Ontarians.

“We need government investment in affordable housing,” she said. “We need better protections for renters, and we need measures to clamp down on speculation in the housing market … We need a more holistic and comprehensive approach than what we are seeing in this draft report right now.”

(While the task force was directed by the province to focus on increasing the housing supply through private builders, it acknowledges in the report that “Ontario’s affordable housing shortfall was raised in almost every conversation” with stakeholders.)

© CBCGreen Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner says he’s opposed to the task force’s recommendation to allow urban boundaries to expand.

Expanding urban boundaries another concern
From his first reading of the report, Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner agreed with the zoning recommendations but said streamlined processes need to be balanced with maintaining public consultations and heritage designations.  “One of my concerns with my very quick read of the draft report is that it talks about expanding urban boundaries … and I’m opposed to that,” he told CBC.

Everything to the left of the red line along Hwy 407 and Dundas are part of the rural boundary.

“We simply can’t keep paving over the farmland that feeds us, the wetlands that clean our drinking water [and] protect us from flooding, especially when we already have about 88,000 acres within existing urban boundaries in southern Ontario available for development,” he said.

Schreiner said he’s also “deeply concerned” that the report discusses aligning housing development with the province’s plan for Highway 413 in the GTA.   “I simply don’t think we can spend over $10 billion to build a highway that will supercharge climate pollution, supercharge sprawl, making life less affordable for people and paving over 2,000 acres of farmland

 

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The timeline is a sad tale - no one was in charge of the Waterfront Hotel study.

By Pepper Parr

January 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This report sets out the very awkward situation in which the Planning department finds itself.

If you love your city and you care about what it is going to look like in five years, read on.  The report is lengthy.

The city has had a Waterfront Planning Study in the works since 2015.  At one point the Planning Department advised that they did not have a planner assigned to the file.

Most people thought progress was being made – turns out everyone was wrong.  Nothing (at best very little) was being done.

The boundary for the Waterfront Study area was clear. The study was paid for by the developer who got tired of waiting and decided to move on with his long term plans

While city planners were asleep at the switch the owner of the property wasn’t.

Darko Vranich, has significant property interests in Hamilton and Burlington which include the adult entertainment site Solid Gold in Aldershot and that small motel immediately east of Bridgewater and doors away from Emma’s Back Porch.

The Waterfront Hotel is owned by Darko Vranich, who owns Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Road Inc., the site of the hotel he wants to demolish and put up a two tower development – one at 35 storeys, the other at 30 storeys – both would sit atop a five level podium.

Back in April 28, 2021, the consulting firm, Bousfields (leading the development application team), met with staff in the Planning Department  to determine the requirements for a complete development application.

The developer wanted to amend the City’s Official Plan and Zoning By-law to facilitate the owner’s proposal to redevelop the site with a mixed-use development that does not conform to in-effect Official Plan policies or Zoning By-law regulations.

That meeting should have triggered some action on completing the Waterfront Study – apparently it didn’t.

The city provided the developer and their representatives with a preconsultation package (by email – May 5, 2021).

The preconsultation package outlines the following;

Types of applications required (Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment);
Application fees required;
Requirement to hold a Pre-Application Public Consultation Meeting prior to submitting an application;
Required Information for Complete Application.

In accordance with the requirements set out in the preconsultation package, the applicant consulted the Burlington Urban Design (BUD) Panel regarding their proposed development on August 19, 2021.  At a meeting less than a week ago the Director of Community Planning, Mark Simeone, was not aware that a meeting with BUD had taken place.

Another example of senior city staff not being fully briefed on everything which was now in play.  Staff were fully aware of the scale, size and scope of what the developer had in mind.  The public didn’t have a clue until a virtual Pre-Application Consultation Meeting was held via via Zoom September 8, 2021.

Lisa Kearns, the Ward Councillor and Mayor Meed Ward attended and took part – the news was not new to them.

Years before the pre-consultation meeting at which the public got to see what the developer had in mind, a group of citizens believed there was a better way to develop the Waterfront Hotel site and they formed Plan B and created the idea of a thin red line beyond which there would be no development.

The city, in the meantime, had hired a group to hold public meetings at which different concepts were developed.  The Plan B people were never really sure if they were being heard by the city planners.  When the graphic below became public it was pretty close to what the Plan B people were prepared to settle for.  Was it close enough to the three concepts the city made public?  And, by the way, what are the current concepts the city planners have for the site?  Nothing anywhere that sets out the city’s position.

You can bet real money that the developer knows what they want – at this point all we have is what they presented last September – and that wasn’t a pretty sight.

The green area is what Plan B wants left open allowing a clear view to the lake from Brant Street. 

On October 22, 2021, City staff received a submission package from the applicant requesting amendments to the City’s Official Plan and Zoning By-law to permit the proposed development at 2020 Lakeshore Road.

On October 26, 2021 the City received the application fees set out in the preconsultation package. City staff confirmed receipt of these materials and fees as of October 26 and initiated a completeness review to determine whether the required information and material, as identified in the preconsultation package, had been provided.

The Planning Department, at first, took the position that the development application was not complete but sometime after the January 13 council meeting at which the development application was deemed incomplete the matter was on the January 18th council meeting as an Urgent Business matter.  At that time the application was deemed to be complete.

Sometime on the Friday between the 13th and the 18th meetings new information from someone (either the city planning staff or the consultant for the developer or the city’s outside legal counsel) was provided resulted in the application being deemed complete.

The development application that was deemed incomplete did not have the the following required information:

1. Phase Two Environmental Site Assessment;
2. Park Concept Plan;
3. Angular Plane Study.

Staff notified the applicant that their application had been deemed incomplete.

Subsequently the applicant submitted a request to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) for a motion date to determine if the application was in fact in complete. The OLT never did schedule a date for such a motion to be heard.

On December 17, 2021, the applicant provided the following additional materials to the City in relation to their applications:

1. Phase Two Environmental Site Assessment;
2. Park Concept Plan;
3. Angular Plane Study.

Sometime before January 18th, City staff reviewed the additional materials provided and determined that with the receipt of additional materials described the development application was deemed to be complete December 17, 2021.

The clock was now ticking – starting December 17th, 2021 the city had 120 days to produce a Staff report on the development.

The immediate impact was the loss of about 30 days that could have been used to review the development application to be in a position to complete a review of a very big and a very complex file dumped on a department that was understaffed and had very recently added 15+ planners to staff who had to work in an office environment dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sometime in February, 2022 the city will hold a required statutory public meeting at Council Committee to consider the development applications.  It is expected that the statutory meeting will be virtual, which will crimp the number of delegations made at Council.

Sometime in April, 2022 a Staff recommendation report will be sent to Committee followed by a special Council meeting.

The city has three options:

Approve the application

Approve the application with required changes

Refuse the application setting out the reasons for the refusal

If refused the developer will take the case to the Ontario Land Tribunal

That is not the whole story.

The night Marianne Meed Ward was elected Mayor of Burlington.

When Marianne Meed Ward ran for Mayor in 2018 she told the citizens of Burlington that she wanted the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) to be moved north – to where the Burlington GO station was located.

It took a lot of energy and political guts to take that position but as Mayor, Marianne Meed Ward pushed and pushed and pushed.

And the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing eventually agreed and the UGC boundary was moved north with the southern boundary pushed north from Lakeshore Road to about Prospect.

Unfortunately, in the same decision, the Minister grandfathered a number of development sites and said they would fall under the rules of the old UGC – which ran right to the lake.  Right where the Waterfront Hotel development is to take place.

The decision didn’t help.

Council passed a motion last week that included an amendment.

Deem, in accordance with sections 22.1, 22(5) and 34(10.2) of the Planning Act, that applications submitted by Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law for lands at 2020 Lakeshore Road as made and complete on December 17, 2021, as the required information and materials were provided on that date; and

Direct the Director of Community Planning to notify Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. that the required information and material have been provided for the applications to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law for lands at 2020 Lakeshore Road, in accordance with sections 22(6.1) and 34(10.4) of the Planning Act.

The amendment:

Direct the Director of Community Planning to complete the processing of the application to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law for lands at 2020 Lakeshore Road within the statutory time frames, and bring forward a recommendation to Council and the Community to provide input and a decision before the statutory review period expires.

So what now?

There is a very senior planner on the file and an all hands on deck attitude is infusing staff – many who are working remotely.  Not the best situation to create the sense of team needed to get the very best out of people who have been pushed to the limit for more than 20 months.

To add to the troubled situation, Heather MacDonald, the chief planner as well as an Executive Director with the city, advised the city manager that she was going to retire.  This apparently was not a surprise to the city manager.

Members of Council are limited on what they can say about a development that has yet to be put before Council with a Staff recommendation.   As a result there hasn’t been as much as a peep from any of them.

What was Councillor Galbraith opposed to?

We do know that Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith was not very excited about what took place in those Closed sessions.  He didn’t vote for the decision to direct Burlington’s legal counsel to proceed that came out of the Closed session.  Because it was a Closed session the public will never know what Galbraith was opposed to.

Way back in 2010 Marianne Meed Ward ran for Council as the ward 2 candidate running on a platform to Save the Waterfront.  Burlington may be about to see shovels in the ground by the end of the year putting a dagger in the heart of what Meed Ward set out to do

The Plan B group that wanted the western edge of any development on the hotel site to be limited by what they called a “thin red line.

At one point the Planning department appeared to be onside – no one is sure at this point if the thin red line concept will be applied.

What we do know is that the Planning department is working hard at completing their report that will go to city council and that sometime before it goes to Council there will be a required Statutory meeting at which the developer can tell their story (they are not required to take part) and citizens can delegate on what they don’t like.

It will be quite a meeting.

Lovely design with great architectural features – but is this what the citizens of the city want in the downtown core?

 

Is this the new look of the city skyline?

Is this what the entrance to Spencer Smith Park going to look like?

 

 

 

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Council gets lauded for being leaders at community engagement - then goes mute when the biggest development the city has seen in some time is in front of them

By Pepper Parr

January 17th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Council has been holding a number of Closed session meetings – all kinds of litigation taking place.

What perplexes a number of people is the way the City Clerk words the motions that are used to make holding a Closed session legal. That is shown in the agenda as:  “Confidential update on a litigation matter”; a polite question would be – which litigation matter? – the public has no idea which matter they are talking about.

Providing the address of the property isn’t giving away any secrets and the public at least knows something is taking place.

All the public learns is that: Pursuant to section 239(2)(e) of the Municipal Act, litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality or local board.

This is what you have now …..

Of current concern are the plans for the redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel site,  2020 Lakeshore Road.  This is a very contentious development – quite why the members of city council go along with the city legal Counsel and the Clerk holding their cards so close to their chest, at the same time telling the world that they have the best community engagement record in the country, is what is referred to as talking out of both sides of your mouth.  This of course gets done with the blessing of the city manager who appears to like things that way.

The practice is for Council to come out of Closed session and announce a Staff Direction which goes something like this: the Executive Director of Legal Services is directed to do what was agreed upon in the closed session.

Sometimes, rarely, Council will then go into Open session and there will be discussion about what took place in the Closed session.

…this is what the developer has in mind. They have submitted their development application – city planners say it isn’t complete.

As a reporter, I’ve always wondered why the Chairs of the Standing Committees don’t have the courage to  stand up and report to the public what took place.

Last week, after lengthy Closed session (it started at 1:00 pm and ended at 6:35 pm) Council reverted to an Open session and for a moment it looked as if they were going to say something publicly about what had taken place.  Mayor Meed Ward certainly expected something would be made public and something to the effect that the motion was written to allow something to be said.

Councillor Galbraith and the Committee Clerk didn’t have the same understanding – the Mayor said she would let it go to the Council meeting later in the month.

So we will hear what is happening to the development application for 2020 Lakeshore Road, the Waterfront Hotel Development site, that has been sent to the Planning department, at the next council meeting.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the amount of time the city has to respond to the development application. If they don’t do so within the required time-frame the matter goes to the Ontario Land Tribunal – and we all know what happens there.

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Ward 5 Councillor speaks out on the Regional Growth projections

By Paul Sharman

January 14th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

The following response to residents of Burlington who have emailed City Council members regarding the potential increase in urban boundaries in Milton and Halton Hills.

Thank you for your email regarding release of land for housing in the new Region Official Plan leading to 2051. I respect and understand your concerns. I and my Burlington Council colleagues have received hundreds of emails from Halton residents in response to the campaign initiated concerned residents. I am only addressing this subject from the perspective of Burlington in this response.

Nothing in the Region will be able to open up – maybe next week.

Both Region and City members of Council are committed to maintain rural Burlington as it is. There are no plans to allow housing in our rural lands other than as is currently permitted. Release of land is proposed by the Region in Milton and the Halton Hills only, not Burlington.

Official Plans (OP) have extensive analysis and regulations to ensure existing protection remains in place. You will find OP details for Burlington here https://www.burlington.ca/en/services-for-you/Official-Plan.asp

This is a challenging issue for us all. There are a number of factors that have to be considered:

The first is that the Region of Halton is obliged to craft a plan that satisfies the province’s 1.1m population requirement by 2051.

The second is that the Region must provide substantiation that the plan will satisfy market demand. Scenarios 3a and 3b, which have been considered, provided for significantly greater % of apartment units and very few ground oriented homes than other scenarios and could not satisfy the market test. Indeed, the recent preferred scenario is barely representative of anticipated demand. Keep in mind that Canadian dream is to live in a house with a garage and a yard, as you will understand. The preferred solution is a compromise.

Hwy 407 and Dundas Street are the northern boundaries for development in Burlington. The Alton community would never have come into being were it not for the building of the 407 highway. That decision opened up land that was part of rural Burlington. Alton Village is bounded by the 407, Walkers Line on the west and Appleby Line on the east with Dundas making up the southern boundary.

The third is that because Burlington is essentially built out, we receive all residual population growth that cannot be accommodated in Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills in what ever scenario is selected. In scenario 3a and 3b, that would mean in excess of 80,000 new residents moving into Burlington by 2051, like it or not.

Because Burlington is essentially already built out, under scenario 3b, Burlington will have no other choice but to to accommodate about 90% of new residents in 200/300 mid to high rise apartment buildings.

That would happen in 5 strategic growth areas of Appleby GO, Burlington GO, Aldershot GO, Up Town (Upper Middle Road and Appleby Line) and Downtown Burlington.  We do not know what the distribution of those apartment buildings will be yet, but it certainly means significant densification of all five locations. It creates a tenuous outlook for all five, including downtown, by the standards of most Burlington residents.

The preferred scenario; 1) satisfies Provincial tests to accommodate foreseeable market demand, providing homes for a small number of families who wish to live in a home with a backyard and a garage. That means the Province will likely approve the plan, but not 3a or 3b; 2) increases the number of people who will live in newly constructed apartments representing about 60% across the Region, but more like 90% in the City of Burlington, which is essentially what you are advocating for. Reducing the Burlington allocation to 70,200 population lowers the number of apartment buildings by 25 to 37.5 buildings,  providing a bit of a breather to the community. Please take a moment to visualize what the Burlington skyline, living conditions and congestion is likely to become, even under the preferred scenario.

Keep in mind, this plan follows the 2018 election when the people of Burlington spoke out clearly that they do not wish to see “over intensification” of their hometown. It is not what anyone wanted.

In any event, the City will experience increasing numbers of apartments not only between now and 2051 but even more for years too come. The same will be true for the other Halton municipalities. The preferred scenario simply delays inevitable further densification of Halton.

I will be pleased to discuss this with you if that will help.

 

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