Bates precinct will be the location of many of the 19th century homes that give the city much of its character.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 6th, 2018


Part four of a multi-part editorial feature on the precincts and mobility hub being planned for the downtown core

The Bates Precinct is a new precinct which formally recognizes the policy direction in the current Official Plan to retain and improve the existing character of the low-rise areas located on the west side of Brant Street, between Baldwin Street and Caroline Street and the west side of Locust Street between Caroline Street and Elgin Street.

Bates precinctThe Bates Precinct also responds to public feedback, which identified a strong desire to protect existing heritage character in the downtown.

Draft Intention Statement:
The Bates Precinct recognizes and preserves the concentrated historic character along sections of Locust and Brant Streets including buildings and streetscapes. The precinct acknowledges that limited opportunities for development may exist and will respect and respond to the existing historic character of buildings and their adaptive re-use over time, through the use of building forms and materials currently existing within the precinct as well as by maintaining the existing parcel fabric.

The proposed Bates Precinct includes a Special Policy Area located at the northwest corner of Elgin Street and Locust Street that recognizes the node created by the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, City Hall, the approved Saxony development and the future extension of the Elgin Promenade.


The Saxony was approved for four storeys – the developer as returned to the city asking for permission to add an additional two storeys to the development.

No mention is made of what height restrictions might be for that Special Policy Area.  If the city is every going to do anything with the existing city hall – that location becomes critical.

Church corner Ontario and LocustThe Bates Precinct includes key policy directions intended to retain the last remaining historical streetscapes, buildings and building fabric as well as to establish a maximum building height of 3 storeys to ensure the compatibility of new development within the precinct and with the adjacent St. Luke’s Neighbourhood Precinct.

What little there is left of that older downtown Burlington everyone wants to see retained is in this part of the city.

Related articles:

Part 1
Part 2

Downtown precincts

Map showing the location of all the precincts in the downtown


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Parks and promenades get special attention from the planners - they are what make the city unique.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2018


Part three of a multi-part editorial feature on the precincts and mobility hub being planned for the downtown core

Parks and a big part of the way people experience Burlington. Stretched out along the edge of Lake Ontario the city was able to keep some of the property public – not all of it – the bit of land between Market and St. Paul got away on city hall but that is another story.

Spencer Smith Park is the largest focal point the city has – the Beachway Park to the west of that will result in a very significant piece of parkland space along the edge of the lake – is a

In drafting a new Official Plan the city decided to revise the precincts the downtown core is divided into and revise some of the boundaries and add new precincts. There are now 13 of them.

Parks and promenades croppedThe Parks and Promenades Precinct is an updated precinct that builds upon the existing Waterfront West/Public Lands Precinct and identifies current and future parks and promenades in the Downtown Mobility Hub as well as the connections between them.

Each precinct has a draft intention statement attached to it.  For Parks and Promenades it is:

Draft Intention Statement:

The Parks and Promenades Precinct will identify current and future parks and promenades within the Downtown Mobility Hub, which will serve the residents and employees of the Downtown Mobility Hub and also function as key destinations for city-wide and regional events and activities. In addition, the precinct will recognize the need to maintain and enhance public access to the waterfront and identify key linkages to ensure pedestrian and cycling access within the Downtown Mobility Hub and adjacent areas.

Pic 1 Spencer Smith Park

A site laden with history and now the prime gathering place in the city.

The key policy directions for the Parks and Promenades Precinct include establishing new promenades including from St. Luke’s Anglican Church south to Lakeshore Road, the multi-modal extension of the Elgin Promenade from Brant Street to Brock Avenue and a pedestrian path along the west bank of the Rambo Creek between Caroline Street and John Street. In addition, this precinct recognizes the Burlington War Memorial (Cenotaph) as a park and identifies a future urban park in the general vicinity of Brant Street and Birch Avenue, which would include a new east-west pedestrian and cycling connection between Birch Avenue and Emerald Crescent.

Knot photo rendering

A series of short promenades are being built that will let people travel through the downtown core without having to be on public streets. When fully completed people will be able to cycle right across the city.

With a big push on cycling the city has taken to the idea of promenades that stretch through the downtown core.

The planners are proposing a futurre park for what is now the location of No Frills supermarket – with the additional population that is going to live in all these condominiums – even if they are only six to eight storeys high – where will people buy their food?

Related editorial:

Where will the millennial’s live.

The park opportunity that got away on the city.

Part 1
Part 2


Downtown precincts

Map with all the downtown precincts.

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Dates and details on the schedule of public meetings on the draft Official Plan.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 5th, 2018



It was never going to be an easy piece of municipal legislation to get passed by Council.

It is a misunderstood document that forms the foundation of how the city is going to grow. Many think that everything in the Official Plan can never be changed – it isn’t that kind of a document.

The Official Plan evolves – it takes wisdom and experience to ensure that the Plan meets the needs of the city.

The public response to the current draft of the Official Plan has been what should have been expected.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. Unbeatable? Some Tory's seem to think so.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward intends to put a motion before city council that would have the approving of a new Official Plan deferred until after the October municipal election. Unbeatable? Some Tory’s seem to think so.

Experienced bureaucrats understand that the public has to be fully informed and listened to; city Councillors need to be fully tuned into what their constituents think and feel. Four of the current council have been in office more than ten years – two have been in their seats for 20 years – part of their job is to educate their constituents – whatever education they did didn’t stick.

So now we have a public that is not happy; a council member who is going to ask that passing the Official Plan be put off until after the next election in October.

The Planning department has set out the next series of public meetings.

OP meet graph part 1



OP meet graph part 2A meeting to recommend adoption of Burlington’s new proposed Official Plan will be scheduled for a committee meeting during the first week of April.

On Nov. 30, a staff report providing an overview of the proposed new Official Plan (PB-50-17), and a staff report with an overview of the proposed new Downtown Precinct Plan (PB-81-17), were presented to Burlington City Council as part of the Planning and Development Committee. Public delegations were considered during the afternoon and evening sessions of the meeting and a subsequent meeting was held during the afternoon of Dec. 1 to provide members of council the opportunity to ask questions of staff.

At the conclusion of the meeting, City Council made the following recommendations:

• Direct the Director of Planning and Building to consider the feedback received through the statutory public meeting process related to the proposed new official plan (version November 2017), and to make appropriate revisions prior to bringing forward the recommended proposed revised new Official Plan for Council adoption; and
• Direct the Director of Planning and Building to advise council at the earliest opportunity of the nature and scope of recommended revisions, including timelines for delivering the revised new official plan.

Mary Lou Tanner, Deputy City Manager said in a media release:  “Following the Nov. 30 Planning and Development committee meeting, city staff and council have heard from the community that there should be more opportunity to influence the process and outcome of both the development of the new Official Plan and the Downtown Precinct Plan. These meetings will provide opportunities for more discussion.”

Burlington aerial

Official Plan is the city’s community vision

An Official Plan is a statutory document required by the Province of Ontario that describes a city’s land-use strategy. It addresses things that are needed for a growing city such as the location and form of new housing, industry, offices, shops, and anticipated needs for infrastructure like streets, parks, transit and community recreation centres.

Burlington’s proposed new Official Plan is the city’s community vision and will guide decision-making on how we use land, manage growth and invest in infrastructure to 2031 and beyond.

The policies in the plan reflect the key directions in Burlington’s Strategic Plan 2015-2040, approved in April 2016. Through the strategic plan, Burlington City Council has made the decision to grow up in key parts of the urban area of the city instead of growing out.

Under the proposed new Official Plan’s current growth management strategy, only five per cent of Burlington will experience significant growth. The majority of this growth is targeted in the areas around the city’s GO stations and in downtown Burlington. These areas are called Mobility Hubs.
2016 Census data shows:

– Burlington’s population is growing. Between 2011 and 2016, Burlington grew by 7,535 people – a 4.3-per-cent overall growth rate.

– The average housing price in Burlington is $632,556, which represents an increase of 177 per cent since 2001.

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Ward 2 Councillor is taking 9 motions to a standing committee and will ask her colleagues to make OP an election issue.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

January 4th, 2018



Councillor Meed Ward goes after free city hall parking. Wants the tax rules to be applied.

Councillor Meed Ward taking nine motions to city council meeting.

In her most recent Ward 2 Newsletter city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward said: “Some residents have suggested deferring approval of the Official Plan till after the October municipal election, and putting the proposed plan to the test of the electorate. I am also open to that suggestion.

In an email to an Aldershot resident Meed Ward said: Thanks – I will be bringing a motion January 23 to defer approval of the OP till after the election.

The feedback we have been getting is that this will be a 6-1 vote – whichever way the vote goes it is going to be a momentous Standing Committee meeting. Seating is limited – get there early – and remember – no clapping, hissing or booing.

Meed Ward has announced that she will have nine different motions to put before her colleagues. Motions have to be seconded – who signed on with Meed Ward – Taylor or the Mayor?

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Brant Main Street Precinct was created to recognize the unique and fine grain “Main Street” character of Brant and to achieve a pedestrian- scaled environment Pine Street and Caroline Street.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2018


Part two of a multi-part editorial feature on the precincts and mobility hub being planned for the downtown core

brant maint street precinct

The Brant Main Street Precinct responds to the overwhelming public feedback about the importance of retaining the character of Brant Street. The area identified as Brant Main Street Precinct in the draft new Precinct Plan is identified as part of a larger Downtown Core Precinct in the City’s current Official Plan.

Draft Intention Statement:
The Brant Main Street Precinct will continue to serve as the city’s primary retail destination within the Downtown Mobility Hub and city-wide. Developments will maintain the existing traditional main-street character along Brant Street between Caroline and Pine Streets. Mid-rise developments will incorporate a low-rise podium with additional building height terraced away from Brant Street and towards John and Locust Streets in order to maintain the main-street pedestrian experience and character of Brant Street.

East side of Brant Street xx days before Christmas 2013.

East side of Brant Street south of Caroline will be within the Brant Main Street Precinct.

The Brant Main Street Precinct includes key policy directions intended to retain a pedestrian-scaled character along Brant Street through the establishment of a maximum building height of 3 storeys immediately adjacent to Brant Street and 11 storeys along John and Locust Streets, subject to a 45-degree angular plane analysis and the terracing of building heights as well as podium requirements along Locust and John Streets.

Additional directions are included to establish a maximum floor plate size, a requirement for retail and service commercial along Brant Street, a minimum of two uses within buildings and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) and mitigation measures.

The policies for the Brant Main Street also introduce the concept of a flexible street (a street that is designed to transition between vehicular and pedestrian-focused activities and events) on Brant Street from Pine Street to Caroline Street.

The proposed Brant Main Street Precinct includes a Special Policy Area with the objective of creating a civic node at the intersection of Brant Street and James Street, which includes the view terminus of City Hall. The Special Policy Area is located on the east side of Brant Street between the Elgin Promenade to the south and the mid-block connection across from Ontario Street to the north.

James looking at city hall

The entrance to the 421 Brant Street development will actually be on James Street, shown here. The property on the left – the former Elizabeth Interiors site – has been assembled – there is one holdout. The developer with this property had hoped to have a shovel in the ground within 24 months.

Draft Intention Statement for Special Policy Area:
Developments located on the east side of Brant Street and immediately adjacent to the intersection of Brant and James Streets will recognize and enhance the civic and public gathering functions existing at this intersection including City Hall, Civic Square and the Burlington War Memorial (Cenotaph).

Developments will be expected to contribute to the extension of Civic Square to the east side of Brant Street and ensure that view corridors from James Street to City Hall, Civic Square and the Burlington War Memorial are established.

Provision of such public amenities will result in a modified built form and increased building height permissions relative to those otherwise permitted in the Brant Main Street Precinct.

Cellis - vibrant not

Currently the site has offices on the second floor – the restaurant has been closed for some time. The developer has approval to build a 23 storey condominium – the entrance will be on the James Street side

The key policy directions for the Brant Main Street Special Policy Area include the establishment of an enhanced civic node and permission for a modified built form and increased building heights of approximately 17 storeys in order to achieve a significant building setback, sight lines to key civic features and the creation of new public space at the corner of James and Brant Streets to serve as a public extension of Civic Square.

There is an active development application that falls within the Brant Main Street Special Policy Area.

Elizabeth Interiors from Brant

The block on the east side of Brant south of James street has been assembled.

The block to the south of James Street and on the east side of Brant has also been assembled – there is reportedly one hold out who expects to be in his premises five years from now.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has prepared a number of motions she will be putting before city council on January 23rd. Her motion related to Brant Main street will include:

Meed Ward H&S profileMotion 2: Restrict height to 3 storeys along Brant Street with permission to go to 8 storeys along John Street frontage only, and only with the provision of community benefits.

Currently Brant St allows four storeys, and up to 8 storeys with provision of community benefits. The proposed new Brant Main Street Precinct would allow 3 storeys along Brant, with terracing back at a 45 degree angle to 11 storeys facing John St., as of right (i.e. no need to provide community benefits for the extra height). The precinct runs from Pine to the No Frills plaza, and includes the city parking lot on the North East side of Caroline & John, and the retail plaza at the North East corner of Brant and Caroline (which includes Joe Dog’s, the bank and the automotive shop among others).

There is a proposed “Special Planning Area” at the North and South East corners of Brant and James across from City Hall which would allow 17 storeys. This is discussed below.


Restrict the height of the special planning area on the south side of James Street at Brant Street to 3 storeys.

There is a proposed “Special Planning Area” at the North and South East corners of Brant and James across from City Hall which would allow 17 storeys (thatched orange on the map). The current zoning on this property is 4 to 8 storeys, same as the rest of Brant.

A 23-storey building was recently approved 5-2 at the North East corner. Myself and the mayor did not support; the mayor supported 17 storeys. I supported retaining the existing permission of 12 storeys, half of what was approved. The 12 storeys only applies to the land at the corner, and was the result of an earlier Ontario Municipal Board decision. The balance of the assembled properties had a 4 to 8 storey permission.

With the approval of the 23 storey building on the opposite corner there will be pressure for this block to be similar – creating two potential towers facing City Hall and displacing the existing businesses and historic building where Kelly’s Bake Shoppe currently operates. Instead, the zoning in this section should match the balance of the Brant Main Street precinct of 3 storeys, and up to 11 (modified to 8) facing John St.

Part 1 of this series:

The evolution of mobility hubs and precincts.



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New Deputy city manager does a sit down interview with a real estate agent - some interesting comments were made.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 3rd, 2018



The video runs for just over four minutes – you come away with a sense as to part of the direction Mary Lou Tanner had as the former Director Planning for the city and what she expects she will be doing as the newly minted Deputy City Manager.

The interview was done by Colleen DePodestga of Remax Escarpment Real Estate.

During the interview we learned that “Granny flats” are going to be (are?) legal in Burlington. When asked how millennials can get to live in Burlington Tanner said … well it is all in the video – worth listening to.

It is all here.


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In an Open letter to city Council Aldershot resident wants a slow down on the Official Plan - a radical irreversible experiment.

opinionandcommentBy Greg Woodruff

January 2nd, 2018



Staff have recently announced a new schedule for passing the revamped “Official Plan.” The staff proposed timing is completely unacceptable. This new Official Plan represents a radical change to the city. It contemplates eventually increasing the population by hundreds of thousands of people, allowing hi-rises on thousands of properties with no notification to adjacent owners, removing traditional commercial sites everywhere, making completely unknown modifications to transit and imposing completely unknown costs for it all.

Placing the vote on a decades long plan in April, just one month before the 2018 election season starts in May, seems to deliberately avoid democratic input. Even if the timing is quite innocent, the appearance of impropriety alone demands that the vote be moved off to the next elected council. Staff should spend the next months finalizing a completed Official Plan, completed Mobility Hub plan, and completed Transit Master Plan, with costs. Then we can all have an election on the merits of all of these plans, and costs, and move forward with a mandate and the understanding of the population.

The new plan contains no mechanism to preserve the quality of life for residents; each day seems to have less tree cover, less greenery, fewer local services, more people, more pollution and more time wasted traveling around a congested city. These negative effects are imagined to be offset by a plan for a massive switch to non-vehicular transportation that will be discovered in the future, but has not been presented or costed today. It treats existing citizen’s investment in their property, travel patterns and the lives they have built in Burlington as an inconvenience to be swept away. That theoretical efficiencies in energy consumption or land use might occur on a planning spreadsheet is not sufficient justification to draft 185,000 taxpayers into a radical irreversible experiment.

Additionally, the possible closing of citizen delegations before upcoming official plan votes looks equally bad.

ScheduleCThe effects of the rules and definitions in the new Official Plan requires detailed study, and the public needs much more time to provide proper feedback to council. As one quick example – at first the coloured map (Schedule C) shows pink for “Neighbourhood Centre”, and would seem to protect those traditional commercial sites. This is until you realize that the “Neighbourhood Centre” designation requires re-development to “To ensure the in-filling of surface parking lots (”

NebirohoodDesignations Some of the rules attempt to distort the free market further and remove surface parking in exchange for allowing 12 story buildings on the site. It’s completely unclear what replaces all these traditional commercial sites, or how the commodities of living are to be acquired.

MixedUsageCommericalCenterIt seems as if the current population is to just blindly begin these changes then endure whatever local fallout occurs.

Though Councillors have a provincial direction to review and update the plan with staff, they certainly have no requirement to pass the plan in the current term. Population targets are set out at 2031, which leaves a decade or more before any tisk-tisking might even come from the Province. The current time line is simply not imposed by the Province. However, using this as a pretext again makes it seems like the real purpose of the timing is to remove the discomfort of Councillors and staff having to defend something they suspect voters are unlikely to support.

There is far too much focus on intensification for population numbers alone, and too little on positive intensification to enrich our communities. A focus is needed on quality of life, not the quantity of people. If the plan is worth voting for now, then it should be easy to get re-elected promoting it.


Are they prepared to stake their council seats on the Official Plan that is being proposed?

If members of Council don’t think they can get re-elected supporting it, then they should not vote for it now. It’s that simple. Changes this radical require a mandate, and this Council can help more than ever by making sure it exists for the next Council.

Please help everyone now by defending the people’s impression of our democracy which has placed Council in a position of trust.

Greg WoodruffGreg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who ran for the office of Regional Chair in the 2014 municipal election.  He delegates frequently at city council.

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Rory Nisan: 2018 - it is not enough to hope from the comforts of the couch.

opinionandcommentBy Rory Nisan

January 2nd, 2018



“May you live in interesting times” — an English expression commonly attributed as a Chinese curse, and an appropriate characterization of the situation in Burlington at the beginning of 2018.

LBP cardWithout a doubt, 2017 was a year of some turmoil in our community. Two of our schools are on the chopping block and the campaign of the Halton District School Board to close schools come hell or high water has without a doubt been a source of civil conflict in our community.

And more recently, Burlingtonians have contended with drastic proposed changes to the city’s official plan, causing outrage among many (and satisfaction for others) as Burlington feels the effects of development agendas.

For those who are engaged on these issues, we enter 2018 with some trepidation. Will the approval of 421 Brant street stand? Will more proposals for sky scrapers at the bottom of Brant street come forward?

Will the 5-2 vote on the Brant street building be mirrored by a 5-2 vote in favour of the new Official Plan?

Miller Diane addressing Wilson HDSB

Margaret Wilson listening to a delegation during the Accommodation Review of the HDSB decision to close two high schools.

Similarly, what will Margaret Wilson’s Accommodation Review of the HDSB Trustees’ decision to close Pearson and Bateman high schools contain?

As easy as it would be to be fearful for the future, I see many reasons to be optimistic. We are busy people: families, commuters and active retirees, among others. We could be forgiven for not always having our fingers on the pulse of local politics. After all, Burlington is one of the best cities in which to live in Canada.

I am truly impressed at how many stood up for what we believe in this year. I have been most active with the Save Pearson team and many of us were not engaged between elections prior to this issue coming forward.

That has all changed.

Now, moms and dads, alumni and grandparents are working together towards common aims. There are bonds forming, political and social, that will carry us into 2018.

We are seeing Burlingtonians coming together across cultural lines as well. Burlington is changing fast — it has never been as diverse. We could either become more inclusive, or more exclusive — neutrality is tantamount to giving permission for xenophobia to creep into our society. After the Mosque attack on 29 January 2017 in Quebec, we organized a vigil for the victims at city hall. The hundreds of people who attended and signed the condolence book were proof that Burlingtonians want and will take action towards a more inclusive city.

After that, we wanted a more happy occasion to celebrate inclusion and diversity, and so with the support of a dozen faith groups we pulled together the first-ever One Burlington Festival. We celebrated our different cultures and faiths with food, music, dancing and games on 22 August. I am excited to help make it an annual event with another One Burlington Festival in August 2018.

Finally, membership on the City of Burlington’s Mundialization Committee has afforded me the chance to meet several younger Burlington residents. I was never anywhere near as engaged as they are in their high schools years. It has been gratifying to mentor some of the younger members of UN Subcommittee in particular. They are truly impressive and now, at 35 years old, I am finally understanding why it is often said that youth are the future. I aspire to be as focused and determined to be an agent of change as these students.

2018The next 12 months promise plenty of excitement. First, in June we will have a provincial election, which will bring fevered campaigning through the spring. Then, Burlington will hold its municipal election on 22 October along with the rest of Ontario. This one looks like it’s going to be interesting, with multiple competitive candidates for the Mayorship, and a strong probability that city council will not be fully re-elected as it was in 2014.

What I will look for in 2018 is how Burlingtonians will build on the actions taken this year to fight for the city we want, with the schools we want, the downtown we want, and the roads and transportation we want, all coming together to build a city fit for purpose in 2020. I am hoping that a 2020 vision emerges through citizens’ engagement and that the upcoming elections unify Burlington rather than divide us, and put us on a path towards the kind of city we deserve.

Of course, it is not enough to hope from the comforts of the couch. It is critical to take action to be a part of the change that one wants to see, and that is what I will do.

Will you?

rory closeupRory Nisan is a long-time Burlington resident and Lester B. Pearson High School alumnus. He has been an active member of the Save Pearson community organization.


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In the matter of trust - this city council isn't doing all that well.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2018



It always come down to a matter of trust.

Do you trust the person you are working with?

Do you trust the mechanic to fix your car?

Do you trust the grocer to sell you food that has not passed its best before date?

Trust doesn’t seem to go as far these days does it?

Learning that the largest supermarket operator in the country has been involved in the fixing of bread prices for more than ten years was a bit of a jolt. Many were stunned when they learned that Volkswagen was playing with the emission test results.

Hundreds of Ontario investors are out a lot of money because of foul play on the part of shady financial operators. These people wonder why the Ontario Securities Commission isn’t doing more to right the wrongs.

council with term dates

Thousands of Burlingtonians are close to furious with what they believe their elected officials seem prepared to let take place in terms of growth in the downtown core which they feel will destroy the city they love and live in.

Those same people question who the bureaucrats are working for and why recommendations they don’t believe reflect what the citizens want are sent to city council.

In 2010 the citizens of the city decided they didn’t like the way the then Mayor, Cam Jackson was doing his job and they turfed him. They elected a council that was quite a bit different led by a new Mayor they trusted.

Hold over Councillors Taylor, Dennison and Craven were re-elected. The sense was that Councillors Meed Ward, Lancaster and Sharman and a new Mayor was enough to change the way things were being done.

The electorate was satisfied enough to re-elect all seven members of city council which then let the bureaucrats foist a tag line on them that said:

Burlington is one of Canada’s best and most livable cities, a place where people, nature and business thrive.

The problem with the tag line is that it isn’t true – the “best city” part comes from a magazine that runs a poll each year and they declared the city was the “best”. The citizens of the city didn’t come to that conclusion – a publisher somewhere made that statement and the bureaucrats fell in love with it.

Far too many of the citizens are disagreeing with that statement – the trust that needs to be there is no longer in place.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of the 2014 budget. What they have yet to have explained to them is the desperate situation the city will be in ten years from now if something isn't done in the next few years to figure out how we are going to pay for the maintenance of the roads we have.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of a city budget.

Make no mistake however that tens of thousands of the people that live in Burlington love their city – the way it is. They are not opposed to change but they want to be involved in the decisions that are made and when they speak they want to be heard.

When a group of well-meaning people take the time to gather names on a petition they don’t want to be belittled and denigrated by a member of council who suggest the names gathered are suspect.

Dennis Monte at Council

Monte Dennis delegating at city council.

Vanessa Warren

Vanessa Warren delegating at city council.

People who don’t have much experience speaking to others don’t want to feel inadequate when they have finished their delegation and are not asked a single question.

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie delegating at city council

Jim Young A

Jim Young delegating at city council

Burlington is fortunate to have some very accomplished people who address council; this writer cannot remember a single situation where an idea put forward by a citizen has been taken up by council. With the exception of Councillor Meed Ward, none of the others offer to get back to the speaker and follow up. They may do so – but they aren’t seen to do so.

It is a trust issue which this council does not appear to hear or even understand.

Staff at Council meeting Nov 30 - 2017

The quality of the image is terrible – the city has chosen not to invest in cameras that will produce a decent image. These are the messengers.

Trustees - Sams - Reynolds - Collard

By way of example – the images from Board of Education meetings are clear – and their vote recording system actually works.

Much of what city council is given in the way of staff reports infuriates intelligent, informed people who expect better. City managers serve at the will of council and they take their direction from Council. The bureaucrats are just the messengers – look to the people the bureaucrats serve for the kind of direction you want – and then press on to ensure that your message is heard.

And good luck – very few new faces wanting to become city council members have come forward.  We are aware of two – need more than that. Four of the incumbents might not even be challenged.

Blame yourselves for what you have.

Salt with Pepper is an opinion column written by Pepper Parr, the publisher of the Gazette.

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The extent of the height and density changes set out in the draft Official Plan has stunned many.

News 100 redBy Staff

December 31, 2017



If this is what Councillor Med Ward has to say on New Year’s Eve, on can only imagine what she is going to have to say at city council when they meet on January 23rd and city staff seek approval to fundamentally alter Burlington’s downtown by adding height and density throughout the downtown.

The video set out below, came from the Meed Ward newsletter released earlier today, is pretty stark; the heights that are proposed will mean hugely different downtown.

Downtown precincts

Precincts that will be created when the Official Plan, currently in draft form, is approved by city Council. The time line for that approval has been moved from the end of January 2018 to the end of April. Many want the plan to be made an election issue.

She makes one vital point and follows that up with the kind of detail the city has not put out.

Her vital point is that the city hasn’t done nearly enough to inform the public that:

Height will go from 4-8 storeys in the Downtown Core Precinct to up to 17. This area covers most of the east side of Brant from James to Pine over to Pearl.

North of Blairholm to Graham’s Lane & Prospect in the new Upper Brant Precinct, height will increase from 4–8 storeys to 25 storeys.

The urban growth centre boundaries have changed to include parts of stable neighbourhoods, including the Lion’s Club park and neighbourhood to the north between Pearl and Martha. This area will see possible density increases to 200 people or jobs per hectare.

Meed Ward provides an excellent video on where the growth will take place – it moves quire quickly – you might want to keep your finger on the pause key.

Downtown core precinct

The Downtown core precinct is of particular concern to many.

Planning staff also recommends permitting semi-detached homes in the St Luke’s and Emerald Precincts, and all low-density downtown neighbourhoods. Protection to limit semis to the same lot coverage as single family homes, at 25%, and the same Floor Area Ratio, to avoid monster semis covering most of the lot will be considered later.

All these changes are to ensure that Burlington reaches the intensification levels set by the province. Meed Ward argues that “The downtown is already on track to meet its growth targets with the current plan.

She adds that “This is a bad deal for Burlington – by giving away height and density – the city gets nothing new – just tall buildings and more congestion.

As she too moves into election mode Meed Ward urges people to: “Tell council to vote no on January 23rd. Canada’s best mid-sized city deserves a better plan.”

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ECoB's evolution is in a gestation phase - they will have to put something real on the table very soon.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 26th, 2017



ECOB logoECoB – Engaging Citizens of Burlington got off to a pretty good start.

There is some money in the bank, the web site is up and running – plans are being put together for a crowd funding page.

All good – and then – nothing or not very much.

In our travels we meet with people who comment on what is taking place in the city – the good stuff, the not so good stuff and the inevitable question: Is she going to run?

Of course she is going to run. Even if they took all her high healed shoes away from her, Marianne Meed Ward would still run for the office of Mayor in October of 2018 – ten months away.

But we digress.

Some of the more serious minded people who are firm in their belief that the city needs a strong citizen based organization ask if the people who got ECoB off the ground are going to be able to give it the momentum it needs.

The group seems very small – are there new people becoming part of the core team?

We were told there is a bigger picture and that the intention to appeal the city council decision to approve a 23 storey tower opposite city hall is not their sole reason for being.

There has been a bit of a timing glitch and any appeal has to be done under the newly created Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT)  which replaces what we knew as the Ontario Municipal Board.

The appeal application is the matter that is on the ECoB front burner right now.

What is being done to reach out to people in the wards that are not part of the downtown core?

When Lisa Kearns took to the lectern at the December 13th meeting she told the audience that they “had to do their homework” and there is a lot of it to do.

ECoB home page

ECoB has a very well designed web site that set out he events their membership needs to pay attention to – the response to the web site has not been overwhelming – to be fair it was launched in the middle of the biggest holiday season of the year.

Understanding just what the issues are is the starting point and then stick handling the appeal application as well as building ECoB so that it reflects all of Burlington and not just the downtown core.

At this point the leadership team is three people – the founder spends much of her time in Florida and the co-founder is experiencing some health issues and isn’t going to be as available as he would like to be.

This leaves the organization in the hands of Lisa Kearns, Dania Thurman and Penny Hersh.

Kearns is the conceptual thinker – she fully understands the issues. Thurman is the social media leader who got the web site up and running and is ready to move on the crowd funding level once the holidays are behind them.

Penny Hersh is doing community outreach and is handling the funds that have been raised.

It is going to take far more than these three very capable woman to make this work.

A few people have complained that ideas they have sent the ECoB have not been responded to – that could well be because the team in place at this point is run ragged.

421 Brant

Is it a doomed project that is going to get tangled up in a bureaucratic quagmire where assets slide down a drain rather than into concrete.

The organization has to be both advocates for change, the organization that leads in the education of the public and at the same time do the strategic thinking that is vital.

They have to work with a city hall bureaucracy that many feel has a tin ear and is not capable of listening to the citizens. They have to cajole the existing city council into learning to do things differently.

They have to contend with a developer community who may see projects delayed, their costs increased and disruption to plans that have been in development for some time.  Many believe that every piece of property on the east side of Brant Street south of Fairview has either been acquired by a developer or is under an option.  There are huge amount invested by the developers and they don’t like to lose.  Burlington has been very good for the development community for a long time.

There was a time, about twenty five years ago when the city had a very strong active community group. It worked very well for a period of time but then interest fell, the urgency was gone and it just dried up.

Carriage Gate team

Two planners, and a Carriage Gate vice president at the first Carriage Gate development public meeting. From the left: Robert Glover, Ed Forthergill and Mark Bales

When the 421 Brant project was first put before the public there was very little in the way of objections. At the public meeting held at the Art Gallery there were people asking when they could make deposits.

Some very solid, credible planner spoke of the project with sound explanations as to why Brant Street had to become the “spine” of the city.

When the project got to the Planning and Development committee there was one lone delegation opposed to the project.

Yet when it got to city council where it was approved on a 5-2 vote, the ward Councillor and the Mayor were opposed – there is a dynamic behind those two no votes that needs s bigger understanding – citizens, especially those in the downtown core were almost taking to the streets.

ECOB Dec 13 #3

Residents at the first ECoB public meeting.

This shift in opinion and the opposition to the project grew very quickly and caught everyone off guard. It took on a life of its own and now, assuming the appeal is successfully filed a large city shaping development will be put on hold while close to half a million dollars gets spent on legal fees and support from the professionals.

Woven into all this and at the same time feeding it, is a community that is finding its voice while the members of city council prepare to move into election mode.

To add to the mix is the fact that the province changed the turf on the playing field creating a shorter period of time for election campaigning to take place and put new rules into effect on where campaign money could come from.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring.

That dynamic between the two city council votes opposed to the project – the ward Councillor and the Mayor, is underscored by the fact that the Mayor has already held his “I am running again” announcement – some thought he was offside on that decision. The only thing Marianne Meed Ward has not done is announce that she is actually going to be a candidate for Mayor.

She has been eyeing the Chain of Office the Mayor wears since the beginning of her first election campaign in 2010 for the ward 2 seat.

Human nature is complicated and in the world of politics anything can happen.

The creation of a city wide citizen’s organization will be a little like trying to herd cats. Each local organization has its own agenda and it will take some gifted ECoB leadership to recognize the individual community group needs and at the same time see, if not create, the bigger picture.

If ECoB can find the oxygen to survive we will see more of them in the New Year. The milieu within which they have to work is daunting.

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Skinner: Impact of Demographics on the City of Burlington Urban Planning

background 100By Jeremy Skinner

December 21, 2017



This article is designed to stimulate the conversation as to why the residents of Burlington need to accommodate intensification, otherwise known as to Grow Up.

Demographics 1
The recent Halton District School Board Burlington Secondary School Program Accommodation Review confirmed once again that we in Burlington have a serious demographic problem. By 2020 there will be approximately 1,554 (1,179 located south of the QEW and 376 located north of QEW) available student spaces across Burlington’s seven high schools. Because of the declining student enrolments, some students in Burlington’s seven secondary schools would not be provided the same equity of opportunity as other students within the Halton District School Board, and even fellow students enrolled in larger Burlington secondary schools. The reasons for Secondary School over-capacity relative to student enrollments are fivefold:

1. The rapid development of Burlington South of QEW suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s and North of QEW in the 1980s and thereafter.
2. The Provincial decision to create the Separate School Board alternative;
3. The more recent Provincial decision elimination of grade 13;
4. Empty nesters prefer to live out their retirement years in the family home; and
5. Families with children are no longer able to afford the cost of a home in Burlington.

D 2
I digress for a moment to counter any arguments as to the large turnover of residential real estate this past year will make a significant difference in emerging student enrollments.

Zolo research into Burlington real estate transactions reveals an average house turnover rate of 199 houses per month with a peak of 238 houses last April out of a potential market of 53,170 dwellings comprised of detached, row and semi-detached houses based upon 2016 Canada Census Data. Please note that Zolo does not track transaction data associated with apartments or condominium units. Apartments represents 24% or 17,265 dwellings according to Canada Census data. Note that while there is currently a surplus inventory of approximately 500 houses looking for a buyer, the selling to asking price ratio remains high at 97%. These houses are simply taking longer to sell.

This data indicates that we must not expect a watershed moment when considerable number dwellings will transfer hands between legacy old and new families, including those with children, and instead focus our efforts to build family with children friendly new dwellings.

D 3
The mayor has been quoted that “almost one-third of the city’s population is 55 years of age or over”.
See the red boxed age groups. 19.3 per cent of the city’s population is 65 or older and approximately 13 per cent is between the ages of 55 and 64.

It is my opinion, that almost one-half of the city’s population are in the child supporting ages of between 30 and 65 years of age.

See the green boxed age groups. 12 percent of the city’s population is between the ages of 30 and 39, 23% percent of the city’s population is between the ages 40-54, and 13 percent of the city’s population is between 55 and 64. The challenges we face in the near future is how to accommodate those in their retirement years and those who are entering the labour force.

Permit me to depict this same information using a different chart style so that we may contemplate the future as more households move into retirement. We simply move the graphic to the right to visaulise how the population ages. The peak demographic group of 14,350 people currently aged 60 to 54 will enter retirement in just over ten years. We also need to contemplate what will happen to those currently less than 30 years of age. It is doubtful that most will be able to afford a non-apartment style dwelling assuming that one becomes available.

D 5
Chart 5 outlines the distribution of singles, couples without children, couples with children and other groupings residing in Burlington’s 71,375 dwellings at time of Census.


D 6
With only one greenfield left for residential neighbourhood development located in the North-East corner Appleby Line/Dundas St. in Burlington, the decision was made to close and Lester B. Pearson Secondary School in end of June 2018 and Robert Bateman Secondary School end of June 2019. By attempting to balance student populations across five schools, each student would be provided the same equity of opportunity as other students within the Halton District School Board, and even fellow students enrolled in larger Burlington secondary schools such as Nelson, M.M. Robinson and Dr. Frank Hayden.

Student enrollments at Aldershot Secondary School and Burlington Central High School will be monitored. Note that Aldershot Secondary School currently includes a contingent of Grade Seven and Grade Eight students in the same building. This implies that it is imperative that we provision more accommodations for families with children in the Aldershot area or be prepared to lose the school in ten years time.

This leads us to the conclusion that families with children need to be attracted to Burlington into more cost-efficient accommodations, especially in those areas located below the QEW where underutilised community assets including parks, playgrounds, sports arenas, libraries and schools are located.

Let us spend a moment and contemplate the potential demographic effects on Burlington’s retail market.

D 7
Canada Census has a model which illustrates the total expenditures by average Canadian primary householder. Note that the total and more importantly retail specific peak for the age groups of between 30 and 65 are normally related to families supporting children. The delta between peak $34,959 associated with ages between 40 and 54 and a floor of $21,984 associated with 65 and over represents a decline in retail expenditures of $12,795 or about 1/3. In other words, the more we age, the less we consuming from a retail perspective.

D 8
Taking this a step further identifies expenditures by retail category by primary householder age group. This chart may be useful in determining which categories of retail establishments are disproportionally impacted due to an aging demographic.

From top to bottom:

• Blue line indicates Foods purchased from stores;
• Light Orange line indicates Household Operations (includes household repairs, furnace/hot water purchases/rentals, cleaning & storage supplies, garden products & care, pet products & care);
• Brown line indicates Recreation (includes toys, video games, sports equipment and facility costs web-shopping target);
• Green line indicates Clothing, shoes and accessories (web-shopping target)
• Navy Blue line indicates Health & Personal Care (including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, hair care, medical doctor, dentist, massage, etc.)
• Dark Orange line indicates Food and alcohol beverages purchased from restaurants
• Light Blue line indicates Household furnishings & equipment (appliances web-shopping target)
• Dark Grey line indicates Miscellaneous
• Light Grey line indicates Tobacco products and alcohol beverages (not purchased in restaurants)

The emergence of retail desserts indicates that the surrounding shopping population can’t support the retail establishment or can’t access the retail establishment, or the establishment real estate lease costs prohibitive in the area.

Let us consider where these retail establishments are currently located.

D 10
Areas depicted in orange represent retail corridors such as along Plains Rd and Fairview Avenue and the approximately fifty shopping plazas which typically are located at the intersections of major streets. Each has been identified for intensification and thus are mixed use sites. The challenge with many of these intensification nodes are that they will need to be rebuilt to accommodate residential units above and to provision parking for cars below. These rebuilt buildings will need to be carefully designed if reasonable transitions to bordering residential neighbourhoods are to be maintained. These sites will likely have a taller building component in the centre of the site or closer to the intersection and may be optionally surrounded by townhomes along some of the edges. Note the provisioning of underground parking changes the retail dynamic of the convenience shopper and those concerned about safety and accessibility.

The areas depicted in red relate to the existing downtown and uptown urban centres (located at Appleby Line & Upper-Middle Rd.). The proposed 3 Mobility Hubs are to accommodate future retail and residential opportunities housed within mid-rise mid-height and tall tower buildings surrounding the existing Appleby, Burlington and Aldershot GO transit stations.

Looking to the future, I have found two Canadian market sources which attempt to outline the future retail trends.

CBRE Real Estate Market Outlook – Retail Key Trends
• emphasize location and smaller, more efficient footprints,
• creating experiences that cannot be replicated online,
• seamless integration of the online and physical store network,
• logistics – upgrading systems and innovative fulfillment solutions

An illustration of Retail Real Estate Focus can be found at Main and Main which is a retail-centric, mixed-use developer.

Key site factors:
• Location – the hard corner, high visibility sites with maximum pedestrian traffic
• Growth – demographics and growth to drive retail sales.
• Lifestyle – neighbourhoods with the transit, arts and culture, and mixed-use vibrancy that consumers are looking for.
• Functional, inviting and efficient space for shoppers and tenants.


With no more land with which to expand the number of dwellings out over, we have no choice but to build up.

How well we manage this implied intensification will have a significant impact as to the quality of life amongst the residents of the City of Burlington.

Recent publications including City of Toronto’s Children in Vertical Communities Policies and Performance Guidelines may offer the Development Community and the City of Burlington with improved means to build more attractive condominiums for new families. I hope to review this document in a future article.

To do nothing, will likely imply higher taxes and fewer community and retail assets with which to access.

Skinner JeremyJeremy Skinner is a research who has worked with IBM and a major bank. The author cannot assume any liability as to the methods, associated data or conclusions which are depicted. They are simply provided for visualizing purposes only. This article expands on some of themes expressed by the author to City Council as part of the Statutory Meeting on the proposed New Official Plan.

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City imports an interim city planner from Hamilton - gets his business card for Christmas.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2017



That didn’t take very long.

Breaking News – Bill Jannsen a retired planner from the City of Hamilton has been hired by the City of Burlington as its Interim Direct of Planning.

Aerial view - skyway bridge

The interim Director of Planning can now experience the joys of crossing the Skyway bridge each morning.

At one point Janssen was the Hamilton Director of the Open for Business program. His most recent position with Hamilton appears to have been as Acting Director, Strategic Services/Special Projects at City Of Hamilton.


A copy of the Draft Official Plan will be on the desk of the interim city planner.

Not much on the man – which is unusual for people in the municipal sector.

Mary Lou Tanner, who becomes the Deputy City Manager on the 2st, today, will turn things over to Jannsen.

Tanner at one time worked for the city of Hamilton.

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Scobie puts Mobility Hubs and Urban Growth Centres in perspective.

opinionandcommentBy Gary Scobie

December 19th, 2017



I am a citizen who has taken an interest in issues at or near our waterfront and in the downtown core over the past seven years. I am concerned when I see attempts at over-intensification being made in Burlington, especially in our downtown core.

Click to view report

If we go back in time, it all started with the Provincial Places to Grow Act of 2005. This was the first attempt by the Province to control urban sprawl, preserve our Greenbelt for nature and agriculture and plan for better transit options in the Greater Toronto to Niagara area. The Growth Plan of 2006 followed, designating increased densities of population and jobs in most municipalities of Southern Ontario and calling these Urban Growth Centres.

Cities did have some say in these designations. For instance, Oakville decided not to intensify its downtown to Provincial targets, but rather to expand population and jobs dramatically around its GO Transit Station at Trafalgar Road. This would be its Urban Growth Centre. It would intensify its downtown using its own zoning rules in its Official Plan. It would intensify its downtown more gently than an Urban Growth Centre.

Burlington Council at the time appears to have bought into the idea of the Downtown Urban Growth Centre, as suggested by the Province. I can find no counter debate or decision to intensify around our GO Transit Stations instead of our downtown. This decision to go with the Provincial flow would lead nearly ten years later to where we are today – the rush to over-intensify the Brant Street corridor and nearby streets to the east and west under a new Official Plan.

Getting back to the past, Metrolinx was conceived in 2007, shortly after the Growth Plan was enacted. It was all about transportation across the regions to support intensified population and job centres.

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.

Less than three years ago the transit terminal was going to be torn down – now it appears to be the “anchor” for a mobility hub.

It focused on the GO Transit network of stations for the most part, but also added in subway, light rail transit and bus rapid transit routes, established and suggested for the future, as connecting links to GO Stations to move people in the this large region, mostly to and from jobs. Hence the Big Move nomenclature that was attached.

Soon the term Mobility Hub would be added to the vernacular in 2008. These were supposed to support Urban Growth Centres by linking them through the transit networks of municipalities and GO services. They were originally supposed to be locations where a number of modes of transportation came together as a network to facilitate the movement of people easily between these modes.

GO parking wide view

The Burlington GO station – an obvious location for a mobility hub.

GO Stations would all naturally qualify as Mobility Hubs because they link car, train, City and GO bus, bicycle and pedestrian modes of travel together in one place, with parking provided at no extra cost. Only recently have I seen the designation of Anchor Mobility Hub used to describe those Urban Growth Centre hubs that fail to qualify as true Mobility Hubs. The Burlington Downtown Mobility Hub is one of those Anchors. It has no trains, no light rail transit or rapid bus transit. And it has no free parking for cars.

It seems that Urban Growth Centres and Mobility Hubs have been linked together for quite a long time, dating back to 2008. This linkage is not accidental. It seems that to be an Urban Growth Centre, you had to have or plan for a Mobility Hub and vice versa.

These linkages were known to municipalities since 2008 and some decided, like Oakville, to chart their own course and preserve their downtowns from over-development by accepting the Urban Growth Centre/Mobility premise, but set in places best suited to dramatic infill of high rise condos and some retail and office space. GO Station locales were the obvious choice in this case.

In Burlington’s case, as stated before, it appears that no disagreement with the Province’s suggested choices for a downtown Urban Growth Centre/Mobility Hub ever arose in City Council meetings. The Province chose our downtown as both and our Council at the time (somewhere in 2008 – 2010) accepted, possibly without public debate. Council may have thought that the downtown needed improvement and this pathway, as mandated by the Province, was as good a way to get it done as any “made in Burlington” solution. And the Province could always be blamed if it didn’t work out quite right. I should note that one of our GO Stations, Burlington GO Station, was designated a Mobility Hub by Metrolinx (ie. the Province) and also accepted by Council.

There is a private, non-partisan charitable foundation known as the Neptis Foundation ( that researches and reports on regional growth plans and initiatives. It has done some excellent reports on the Growth Plan and Urban Growth Centres that describe in layman’s language the Province’s plans and the repercussions to Ontario municipalities starting with 2006 people/job densities and projecting the changes required for 2031 densities. I would invite you to check out their reports.


Many want the Mobility Hubs kept out of the Official Plan.

Some municipalities have integrated the Province’s growth plans into their Official Plans in major ways. Burlington is one of these municipalities. Other municipalities have done less or even no integration. There is no prize from the Province that I can detect for doing so, nor any penalty thus far for ignoring the Province.

The Ontario Government reviewed the 2006 Growth Plan in 2016 and reported in July 2017 a revised Growth Plan going all the way to 2041. It can be found at

It should be noted that right from the beginning, expectations for each municipality were “directing growth to major transit station areas”, “identifies priority transit corridors”, “complete detailed planning for major transit station areas on these corridors to support planned service levels”, “plan for a range and mix of housing, including second units and affordable housing” and “accommodate a range of household sizes”.

Mobility hubs

Having Mobility hubs at the GO stations is something everyone agrees on – it is the idea of a Mobility Hub in the downtown core that has many opposed.

How is Burlington doing in these initiatives? Well, all three GO Stations in the City have been named Mobility Hubs and each are planned to house many thousands of people/jobs by 2031. So growth is being directed to our major transit stations. Will there be any affordable housing and accommodation of a range of household sizes? That’s an unanswered question thus far.

I thought that Burlington was mandated to grow to a population of 215,000 by 2031. I have since been informed the target is 185,000 minimum. We are at 183,000 now. Recently at a Planning and Development Committee meeting, the Ward 1 Councillor stated publicly that Aldershot was set to grow by another 27,000 people by 2031. This would likely be near the Aldershot GO Station or along the Plains Road Corridor. Adding another 11,000 jobs there would bring the additional people/jobs total to 38,000 by 2031 and a 300 people/jobs per hectare goal, as per a Planning Department report dated Nov. 9, 2017.

Similarly, Planning Department reports also dated Nov. 9, 2017 for the other GO Stations show the Burlington GO Station Mobility Hub adding 22,000 new residents and 9,500 jobs by 2031 and the Appleby GO Station Mobility Hub adding 20,000 new residents and 43,000 new jobs by 2031. Both would also reach the 300 people/jobs per hectare goal.

All together, the three GO Station Mobility Hubs are planned to add 69,000 new residents to Burlington’s population by 2031, far exceeding any goal of 185,000 or even 215,000. We’re headed to a quarter million people by 2031, without touching the downtown.

So it is clear to me that we can reach all Provincial goals easily using intensification of people and jobs at the GO Station Mobility Hubs. There is no need to further intensify the downtown at all. It could be left to gently intensify, like Oakville has planned, using current Official Plan zoning rather than dramatically intensify as the Planning Department has advocated in its new Downtown Mobility Hub Plan and the new City Official Plan.

Anchor Mobility Hubs were originally expected to support an area with a minimum of 160 people/jobs per hectare within a 500 metre radius that would be serviced by a light rail transit or a bus rapid transit system.

The City is using a 200 people/jobs per hectare goal, which may be the revised mandate. I understand that City Planners and most of City Council are backing the people/jobs density downtown, but I see no evidence that there is an LRT or BRT system in place to deal with this influx of people/jobs, other than an LRT label being affixed to Brant Street on maps. A label isn’t a plan unfortunately.

I also see no evidence that jobs will flow into the downtown, even to just replace the ones lost when current buildings are demolished awaiting construction of new buildings. The podium style high rises with 3 to 4 storey glass and steel walls along Brant Street will replace individual and unique store frontages we have today. Is this better or worse at enticing jobs and vibrancy to Brant Street?

I am a person who believes that a deal is never a done deal if there is still an opportunity to question and possibly change people’s minds for the better of the community. And I think that we do have that opportunity.


John Taylor, the Dean of city council would have been part of any debate there might have been about accepting the provincial approach to mobility hubs.

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 – a member of council in between 2008 and 2010 when Scobie believes city council made the decision to follow the provincial lead.

Four members of the current Council were members of Council when all these Provincial demands were rubber-stamped. I would ask them to search their memory banks and their notes and inform the public how they decided to acquiesce to the Province’s demands for intensifying our downtown, why they didn’t make the logical suggestion for intensification around GO Stations instead and if they did go ahead with the plans without public consultation.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison, a member of city council for more than 20 years would remember how the decision to accept the provincial direction – somewhere between 2008 and 2010 was made.


Mayor Rick Goldring was a council member when the decision was made to accept the province’s approach to transportation hubs, possibly without public debate.

The current Council certainly did not acquiesce to the 374 Martha Street proposed high rise a few years ago. Yet this same Council voted 5 – 2 in favour of a 23 storey condo on November 30, 2017 across the road from our 8 storey signature City Hall – going past the 12 storey current storey zoning and even going past the recommended 17 storey zoning in a Downtown Mobility Hub Plan not yet approved.

This decision has ignited public opinion against the over-intensification of the downtown. They see high rises coming on many corners of Brant Street, and with many mid-rise condos in between. And they see many high buildings destined to come on nearby north-south streets east and west of Brant Street.

During the Vietnam War an infamous sentence was uttered by a field commander which showed the absurdity of war – “We had to destroy the village in order to save it”. Brant Street and our downtown does not need to be destroyed in order to save it.

Gently intensifying the downtown will continue as it has in the past, using appropriate zoning already in place. City planners and City Council need only enforce our current Official Plan and use the concepts already in place in our Tall Building Guidelines and soon to be in place in our Mid Rise Building Guidelines that the Planning Department has committed to.

Our downtown Bus Station is not a Mobility Hub and there is no plan to make it one. Our downtown does not need to be over-intensified through a designation as an Urban Growth Centre. I am asking City Council to inform the Province that Burlington can and will meet its 2031 growth target through dramatic intensification around our three GO Stations, the appropriate place for high rise condos with retail and office space.

That’s where the thousands of new residents will be housed, hopefully with a good number of affordable, family-sized units.

The downtown will intensify too, but not in the dramatic fashion envisioned by the Planning Department.

I am asking City Council to request that the terms Mobility Hub and Urban Growth Centre be removed from the Provincial Growth Plan for the Downtown Precincts and instead be placed on all three GO Stations.

Let our downtown, which admittedly does need to change, do so in a measured and controlled fashion that adheres to reasonable and defendable zoning restrictions already in place. Do not follow through on an Official Plan that would create the “Metropolis” of Halton in our downtown.

Gary ScobieGary Scobie, a long time resident of Burlington is a frequent opinion contributor to the Gazette.  He was a member of the Waterfront Advisory Committee and has been a strong advocate for maintaining public access to the waterfront.

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ECoB now has a home on the internet - bookmark this one.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

December 18th, 2017



I want you to look at this time line.

Sometime in October 2017 – First email about the idea of creating a city wide citizens movement.

November 26th, 2017 First group meeting

November 30th, 2017 First delegation to city hall

December 13th, 2017 First Public meeting

December 17th, 2017 Home page for their web site – up and operational.

Bookmark this one:

To follow is the setting up of a crowd funding account to raise the funds that will be needed.


ECoB home page – a web site you will want to book mark

A former Mayor of Burlington once told me that “city hall can be beaten” – the more cynical citizens would say they knew that – the developers do it all the time.

When the elected fail to hear what the electors have to say – change takes place. We once heard a council member say that the citizens of the city get to choose their leaders every four years and given that he had been re-elected for more than 20 years the electors must be happy.

ECoB Dec 13 # 1

This crowd of 150+ people did not come out on a cold winter night because they had nothing better to do. They are upset with the direction they see their city going in and they wanted a bigger voice to amplify their concerns – now thay have one.

Voters trust those they put in office – the expect them to do what is right and best for the community. They expect those they elected to look after the minor matters that impact them directly and at the same time to bring wisdom and experience to the bigger picture.

The only reason protest movements get any traction is because those elected to office don’t listen or who wear out their welcome. The smarter politicians leave at the top of their game.

421 Brant

To the developer who brought this project to the city – the protests might seem unfair, they did eveything they were required to do and put significant assets at risk. It was the Planning department that failed to paint a more detailed picture for the members of council. Council also appears to have had cotton in their ears and not heard the voices that saw the development of their city quite a bit differently.

ECoB was formed to do a number of things. The task on the front burner of their stove is the filing an appeal to the OMB on the city council decision to approve the building of a 23 storey condominium on the corner of Brant and James Streets, across from city hall.

That task has a critical time element to it.

Another task was to get the city to slow down with the adoption of a new Official Plan. On that matter ECoB has already scored a win – the original end of January 2018 date for the approval of a new Official Plan has been moved to a sometime in April date.

ECoB appears to want to argue for the Official Plan becoming an election issue. Ballots for the next city council get cast in October of 2018

There is a critical city council meeting on January 23rd that ECoB will be delegating at.

The longer term objective is to continuing to engage and educate the residents of Burlington through word of mouth and social media. Their tag line for 2018 will be “grow engaged”.

The ECoB core committee is very small – four people. That needs to grow. While there was representation at the December 13th meeting from every ward in the city ECoB is not as in touch as they need to be on the numerous community issues that matter.

To their huge credit they are off to a great start. If all they manage to do in their first year is change the attitude of those elected when delegations appear – they will have done the city a huge service.

Jim Young, one of the ECoB founders, once told city council that the seats they sit in are not theirs – they are held in trust by the elected on behalf of the electors.  That message has not gotten though to this city council yet – it might or they won’t sit in those seats for much longer.

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Doing the homework and really understanding the complex development issues in the downtown core are appears to be a problem. ECoB is trying to bring about a change in the way the city manages all this.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 15th, 2017



There are almost as many views on what Burlington should be doing in terms of its growth as there are people in the city.

ECOB Dec 13 #3

Citizens listening to the concerns community groups have over how developments in their neighbourhoods are handled by the Planning Department. The meeting was organized by the Engaged Citizens of Burlington – ECoB

When Lisa Kearns, one of the ECoB organizers,  stood at the lectern in the Burlington Baptist Church she told the 150+ audience that they had to do their homework and then hoisted a three in loose-leaf binder up and told the audience the information they need is out there – but you do have to work to find it and then offered to share what she had with anyone interested. We didn’t see anyone asking to borrow the binder.

Many of the people involved in what is a complex subject are reluctant to identify themselves publicly. One of those wrote in and said: “Seems that this group is questioning the “Urban Growth Centre” designation in Downtown Burlington. The answer is really, really simple – all people have to do is go back to and look at the original Places to Grow document from 2006 – Schedule 2. The designation is right there. No municipal approval is required. The Province says “this is it” now “do it”. All of this talk about evidentiary materials is a complete waste of time.

The province has $50 billion worth of transit and transportation plans it believes we need - just $16 billion of that is funded. Transit is not free but will we re-elect a government that insists we pay for it?

“People must also consider “The Big Move” which designates the mobility hub in the downtown as an “Anchor Mobility Hub”. Anchor Mobility Hubs are focal points with the potential to transform urban structure and improve transit. In other words … big changes are expected.

“There is an Appendix B which indicates that the downtown mobility hub is expected to accommodate 2,900 boarding per day. The question should be “why is the City not planning for this?” not is it really a hub.

“This same Appendix B includes a population target for the downtown anchor hub of greater than 25,000 people and jobs by 2031. The City is not even close to being able to accommodate this target.

“Most importantly, some people selectively ignore the fact that City Council unanimously approved its Strategic Plan that identifies the downtown as an area where intensification and redevelopment is to be directed.”

Click to view report

Joe Gaetan, a frequent contributor to the Gazette explains that the 2017 Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, was prepared and approved under the Places to Grow Act, 2005 to take effect on July 1, 2017.
Section 2, entitled, Where and How to Grow, contains S, 2.2 Policies for Where and How to Grow, and S 2.2.3 entitled, Urban Growth Centres and contains the following:

“Urban growth centres will be planned to achieve, by 2031 or earlier, a minimum density target of:

b)400 residents and jobs combined per hectare for each of the urban growth centres in the City of Toronto;

200 residents and jobs combined per hectare for each of the Downtown Brampton, Downtown Burlington, Downtown Hamilton, Downtown Milton, Markham Centre, Downtown Mississauga, Newmarket Centre, Midtown Oakville, Downtown Oshawa, Downtown Pickering, Richmond Hill Centre/Langstaff Gateway, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Downtown Kitchener, and Uptown Waterloo urban growth centres;”

Oakville took an approach that attached more importance to Employment and Commerce. Their Livable Oakville committee produced a very detailed report – something Burlington might want t56o at least review.


The Sims building across from city hall is the only office building in the core of the city – the city of Burlington is the largest tenant.

Burlington has never succeeded in attracting commercial operations into the downtown core – parking space wasn’t possible – thus the major concentrations of corporate offices are along the north and south corridors.

“The Burlington Official Plan appears to be mostly silent on job creation or preservation of work land or spaces.

“This should be a concern to all and one more reason why our Official Plan process must be stopped in its tracks.”

Background material:

Where to download a copy of the Places to Grow legislation.

The Big Move – what it is and where to get a copy of the document.


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Citizens opposed to developments and the way city hall is approving them in what is a very complex regulatory environment mandated by the province.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 14th, 2017



Is there a sea change taking place in Burlington politics?

Last week there was a neighborhood meeting in Aldershot about a proposal for a 6 story condo at 92 Plains Rd, right on the edge of a long established Aldershot neighborhood.

News anal REDSome at the meeting felt it was “totally out of compliance with the existing Official Plan and bylaws” and was being promoted as “in alignment with city proposals for the Mobility Hub.”

It was a raucous meeting. Nobody was happy, and many expressed this clearly and often angrily.

The discussion was on the negative impact on nearby property values from a development which Councillor Craven supported.

Rick Craven: Best committee chair the city has; not big on the warm fuzzy stuff through. Needs a hug badly.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven faced a hostile audience while explaining the justification of a development. This photograph was not from that meeting.

Craven got called out a couple of times for not showing any support to residents, and for trying to undercut their concerns.

The city planner in charge threatened to shut the meeting down if the rancor and heckling that ensued was not stopped.

ECoB Dec 13 #2

When a resident stood up and said “We need to tell the members of council that we are not going to vote for them” there was an immediate robust burst of applause – they were sending a message – loudly and clearly.

The recently formed ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington – meeting that took place Wednesday evening had representation from every ward in the city – people were just not happy with the way decisions were being made. They want change in the way city council decides on very complex issues.

The focus at the Wednesday ECoB meeting was a development that didn’t get any negative comment when it was introduced to the public several months ago at the Art Gallery. There was just the one delegation when the development was put on the table at a Standing Committee – but when council voted 5-2 for the development – the dam of feelings burst.

People didn’t want their city changed – they continually refer to a vibrant downtown core when Brant Street is anything but except when the Santa Claus parade and the Sound of Music Festival fills the streets.

East side of Brant Street xx days before Christmas 2013.

East side of Brant Street several days before Christmas 2013.  It isn’t all that different this year.  Not what one would call festive.

Anyone who strolls along Brant street might be taken aback at how little there is in the way of Christmas decoration on the buildings.

New Brant street ECoB

This graphic was put up on a screen at the Wednesday ECoB meeting. The city keeps saying this kind of thing is not going to happen – the citizens no longer believe them.

There appears to be a hankering for a time when things were slower, more certain, safer.
Every politician now faces citizens who are unhappy.

That unhappiness is now being pulled together by a group of citizens who don’t like what they see and tend to exaggerate to make their points.

Interesting times ahead.


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Newly formed citizens group draws 150 + people to a public meeting - they have a message for city council - We won't be voting for you next time.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

December 14th, 2017



They weren’t sure how many people were going to show up. One of the four people that kept ECoB alive said there has been 30 people who said they were going to attend – and at that point there were about 40 people in a large church sanctuary.

But, by the time the evening was about to begin there were more than 150 people gathered in the Burlington Baptist Church on New Street, perhaps more than the church gets on a Sunday.

ECoB Dec 13 # 1

It was a polite audience and a determined one. They wanted a change and they were there to see it happen.

And people kept coming through the doors. So – they has an audience – now to take the crowd and turn them into evangelists for a different form of community organization.

A loyal Gazette reader commented that there was a time when there was an East Burlington Ratepayers group that was very active “But they got busy raising their families and the interest in what they were setting out to do petered away”.

This evening the audience was in the room because they were no longer happy campers. There were some younger people in the room but at least 100 of the 150 were seniors who had been around for a long time.

ECoB Dec 13 #2

By the time the meeting got underway – there were just eight empty seats in a packed church Sanctuary. Jim Young served as the meeting MC.

They didn’t like what they were seeing happen to the city.

Representatives from four community groups spoke for a short period of time talking about what there issue was and how they were dealing with the problems and concerns they were having with city hall.

While the issues that brought them to the meeting was the city council decision to approve the building of a 23 story tower opposite city hall – they weren’t going after the developer – their focus was city hall and in particular city council.

Dave Conrath, a member of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation, set it out pretty clearly for everyone when he stood up and said: “Every one of us has to be on the phone or email the members of city council and tell them that you are not going to vote for them and that you are going to work to elect someone else.” That statement got the most robust round of applause during the two hour meeting.

Jim Young, MC for the evening, explained where the ECoB people were with their plans to file an appeal to the OMB on the decision city council made to approve the development opposite city hall.
Lisa Kearns, another member of the ECoB leadership team explained the complexity of what the citizens were up against.

Lisa Kierns ECOB Dec 13

Lisa Kearns

She pointed out that the ECoB already had a win. “It was a big win” said Kearns,” a really big win. When the city revised the time line for the approval of the new Official Plan from the end of January to the end of April – we had won.” She added that it is important to recognize the wins and the celebrate them.

ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington has existed for less than a month – and at this their first public meeting they drew more than 150 people.

A change has begun – how deep and how long lasting only time will tell. This first meeting was another win and it too deserves to be recognized and celebrated.

The Gazette will report in more detail on what took place during the meeting.

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ECoB - a group of people who want to create an umbrella organization that will support the numerous community groups in the city that don't feel they are being heard at city hall.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 13th, 2017



It is an important meeting, being held on Wednesday at the Baptist Church on New Street. Starts at 7:00 PM

It will be the second ECoB meeting, first was a founding meeting at which they decided to incorporate and create a board and raised $5000.

ECOB logoECoB stands for Engaged Citizens of Burlington; they argue that the citizens are not really engaged with the council they elected and that staff really doesn’t engage – they aren’t for the most part, especially at the senior level, even citizens of the city.

Director of Transportation – Hamilton
City Clerk – Hamilton
Director of Finance – Milton
City Solicitor – outside of Burlington.
Director of Parks and Recreation – Oakville.
We are not sure any of the Director’s actually live in Burlington.
The city manager does live in Burlington – Aldershot actually.

The city seldom loses a chance to tout just how engaged they are and point to engagement as one of the four pillars that support the Strategic Plan.

Sprinkled throughout the city are groups that are differing with their city over the kind of development that is taking place in their communities. Several examples:

Plains Road group protesting the height and set back of a building beside the Solid Gold adult entertainment establishment.

Roseland Community Association

Shoreacres community group

Bluewater community group

Plan B


Alton Village group protesting an ADI development in that community as well as serious traffic control problems.

Jim Young

Jim Young will MC the Wednesday evening meeting at the Baptist Church on New Street.

ECob would like every group in the city to show up and show support and then involve themselves in ways to make the city council they elected more accountable. “It isn’t enough to tell us that we get the opportunity to vote every four years and leave it at that” said Jim Young at a delegation he made some time ago.

The rush to push through a new Official Plan bothered many.  That rush has been slowed down with a much longer timeline announced earlier this week.  Anyone who doesn’t realize that public push-back brought this about doesn’t understand what politics is all about.

The matter of the Mobility Hubs is another issue for many.  During the Mayor’s First Live Facebook event he had difficulty explaining to a caller just what a mobility hub is.

ECoB wants to be a city wide umbrella organization that would become a place where community organizations could gather and work together on common issues.  Their objective is not to fight city hall but instead to work with the city collaboratively and be at the table where their money is being spent.

The common issue was a dissatisfaction with the way city council meets with and responds to the public.

The ECoB group that met in November also created sub-committee that was going to file an appeal against the city decision to permit the construction of a 23 storey tower on Brant Street across from city hall.

With what was seen as a very healthy start ECoB slipped into some organizational struggles trying to work with the founder who was in Fort Myers, Florida on winter vacation – a snow bird, and was going to be there at least until January. It wasn’t working and resignations were being tendered.

To their credit the people doing all the grunt work in the trenches managed to keep it together and have put set out a solid agenda for the Wednesday meeting.

Jim Young, who was one of the original co-chairs, will serve as MC for the Wednesday meeting.

Kearns + Josie

Lisa Kearns, standing, impressed many at the founding ECoB meeting. Seated are two people who were heavily involved in the drive to keep Central high school open.

Fleshing out the ECoB board is Lisa Kearns who impressed a number of people when she delegated at a city council meeting.

Kearns was born in Hamilton, attended university in London, Ontario then lived in Mississauga  and has been a Burlington resident for the past six years. Her career experience includes two decades of corporate management, government relations and strategic procurement experience across the manufacturing, advertising and health care sectors.

Her undergraduate degree was an Honours in Political Science from University of Western Ontario with a focus on Electoral Reform and Public Policy.

She has been a key principal in successful Provincial and Municipal campaigns.

She was the first Patron Sponsor for the Good Shepherd Charity advocating for advances in mental health support. She can be found volunteering at the local farmers market.

Dania Thurman H&S Vg

Dania Thurman, the woman that will direct the social media for ECoB.

Working with Kearns is Dania Thurman, one of the team that did the social media work that helped keep Central high school open despite a recommendation from Board Staff that the school be closed. Thurman is very active at Tom Thomson elementary school where she is one of a group that organized the pre-school breakfast program.

Penny Hersh, another Director, brings years of experience at the Seniors’ Centre and is very involved with the Burlington Seniors Community that was created when city hall basically booted the seniors that were running a large part of the program at the city owned Centre.

Burlington has a couple of dozen small community organizations that have formed when they had issues with city hall. Most tended to be local and didn’t draw much attention.

The decision to permit the construction of the first high rise on Brant Street seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

421 Brant

The development that struck a chord with people who didn’t like the way height was going to be located in their city.

The 421 Brant development is a very short walk from the Bridgewater project that is going to have a condominium soaring 22 storeys into the sky and sits on the edge of the lake. It didn’t seem to create the anger that 421 Brant has – a number of people reacted to the suggestion that a city wide group be formed – and ECoB was born

Far too early to tell if it will develop any traction – there are several accomplished people working on this one.

Worth keeping an eye on.

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City adds several months to the time line for approving a new Official Plan.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

December 11th, 2017


The Planning department had initially planned on having the draft version of the new Official Plan ready for a city council vote at the end of December.  Stakeholders and citizens objected vigorously to the timeline.  The following revision was released today.

The following memo, prepared by the city, provides an update on the Proposed New Official Plan – Process. It was prepared for inclusion in the Council Information Package dated December 8, 2017.

growbold-847x254The memo outlines the next steps of the new Official Plan (OP) project, following the statutory public meeting held as part of the Planning and Development (P&D) Committee meeting held on November 30, 2017.

This was the meeting where the live broadcast of the Standing Committee didn’t make it to the network; technical glitch was the explanation given.

On November 30, staff reports PB-50-17 (Proposed New Official Plan) and PB-81-17 (Downtown Precinct Plan) were reviewed by the P&D Committee. Public delegations were considered during the afternoon and evening sessions of the meeting. A subsequent meeting was held during the afternoon of December 1, providing members of Council the opportunity to ask questions of staff, which focused on the downtown. The meeting agenda and webcast is available on the city’s website here and the minutes are available here.

An outcome of the meeting was the following recommendation:

First – • Refer planning and building department report PB-50-17 regarding proposed new official plan (November 2017) to the Director of Planning and Building; and

Second – • Direct the Director of Planning and Building to consider the feedback received through the statutory public meeting process related to the proposed new official plan (version November, 2017), and to make appropriate revisions prior to bringing forward the recommended proposed revised new official plan for Council adoption; and

Third – • Direct the Director of Planning and Building to advise Council at the earliest opportunity of the nature and scope of recommended revisions, including timelines for delivering the revised new official plan.

Next Steps:
The memo provides a follow up to the third recommendation above and outlines process timelines below:

Staff report PB-50-17 , which was previously considered at the November 30 P&D Committee, will be placed again on future P&D Committee agendas to accommodate questions of staff, enable further discussion on the proposed new OP and obtain any further Council motions to amend the new OP. The statutory public portion of the meeting will remain closed and no delegations will be heard in relation to PB-50-17, however members of the public are welcome to attend and the meeting will be webcast.

These upcoming meetings will focus on various topic areas of the new OP, as detailed below:

• January 8, 2018, 1:00 pm: Rural, Agriculture, Natural Heritage and Mineral Aggregates;
• January 16, 2018, 1:00 pm and 6:30 pm: Employment Conversions; and
• February 6, 2018, 1:00 pm and 6:30 pm: Growth Management and any remaining topics areas with the exception of the downtown. The motion recommending that Council receive and file staff report PB-50-17 will be put forward at this meeting.

Grow bold - front door

The planning team overseeing the Grow Bold initiative were set up in office outside city hall. They had their own offices on Locust Street

An information report related to the downtown will be presented at the January 23, 2018 Planning and Development Committee Meeting. This report will contain additional information requested by Council (e.g. background information regarding the Urban Growth Centre boundary; proposed heights as compared to the existing in-effect Official Plan; and key redevelopment sites). Also, this meeting will provide Council the opportunity to direct staff to revise the proposed new OP.

A second statutory public meeting on any revisions to the proposed new OP will be scheduled for February, 27 2018.

A meeting to recommend adoption of the new proposed Official Plan will be scheduled for a committee meeting during the first week of April, 2018.

This revised schedule gives the public and the stakeholders the time they have been calling for the city to provide.

The completion of the new Official Plan process will stay in the hands of Mary Lou Tanner who has been made the Deputy City Manager.

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