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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

BURLINGTON, ON

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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Resident beleives it is up to the developer to decide if they want to comply with the city position or take the differences to the OMB.

opinionandcommentBy Jeremy Skinner

December 11th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Where is the 421-431 Brant Street development application going?

If anyone has any concerns as to the City of Burlington’s decision with regards to the 421-431 Brandt St. application, then I suggest that they read the City of Burlington Planning Department’s Recommendation Report PB-62-17 which was accepted by City Council decision on November 13th.

The document in its entirety (all 71 pages) is at

Scroll down to Recommendation report and click on the report.  The Recommendation report is close to the bottom – they don’t make it easy to find.

Upon reading the Recommendation Report, it is my opinion that the applicant (421 Brandt Street Inc.) and City Planning were unable to agree upon what the permitted height for the proposed building should be. I can only surmise that the developer threatened to seek an appeal to the OMB to obtain what could not be negotiated from City Planning Staff. A building height of twenty-seven storeys.

I base my opinion on the words “recommending modified approval” which are found in the Recommendation Report’s Subject line and two statements contained within the report found in the Section entitled “Purpose” documenting the different points of view. They are:

1. “The applicants are proposing to amend the Official Plan (Downtown Core designation) and Zoning By-law (DC zone) to permit the proposed 27-storey mixed use building with a floor area ratio of 10.29: 1.” and

2. “Notwithstanding, planning staff have recommended a “modified approval” which would permit a mixed use building with a height up to 23 storeys, subject to significant design and public realm improvements.”

While the developer has documented their agreement to comply with many City and Region comments made during the application process by submitting a revised application last August, the requested building height remained unchanged at 27 storeys.

421 Brant

Skinner believes the developer has an important decision to make.

In addition, the cover letter for the revised submission written by Mr. Mark G. Bales of 421 Brandt Street Inc. dated 03 August to Ms. Mary Lou Tanner Director of Planning & Building includes the following Conclusion statement: “Further to the comments received, the analysis completed by our consultant team and our comments above, we are requesting that you consider the resubmission materials and move the project forward to City Council for approval immediately.”

It is my opinion that the consequence of City Council’s approval on the 13th of November of the City Planning recommendations implies that the developer must decide between:

1. Complying with City Council’s approval of City Planning recommendation of “a mixed use building with a height up to 23 storeys, subject to significant design and public realm improvements.”

The City is not known to amend the Official Plan (Downtown Core designation) and Zoning By-law (DC zone) to permit development of the site until such time when it receives the developer’s agreement to comply.

Other parties, such as a Resident’s Association, can not seek an appeal to the OMB against the City and/or the developer until the City amends the Zoning By-law.

Should any of these other parties seek an appeal against the City and the developer, they would have to: prove that they made a delegation at the Statutory Meeting held on the first of November; assume the costs of obtaining suitable representation at the OMB; and make the case to the OMB that the City and/or the Developer made significant errors in interpreting Provincial, Regional and/or Municipal Policies, Principles and Guidelines.

The risk in seeking an appeal is that the OMB is an independent tribunal with the authority to approve, change, or reuse planning applications. As such all parties run the risk that the developer will take advantage of the appeal to make the case for the original development application requirements, including the 27 storey building height.

421 Brant 12 and 23

Graphic profile of the proposed development on Brant Street – 12 storeys and 23 storey’s.

The OMB may or may not ultimately side with the party seeking appeal in whole, or in part, based upon the strength of the arguments presented by all the parties for and against the appeal.

2. Appealing City Council’s approval of City Planning’s recommendations to the OMB in the hopes that the OMB will direct the City to “amend the Official Plan (Downtown Core designation) and Zoning By-law (DC zone) to permit the proposed 27-storey mixed use building with a floor area ratio of 10.29: 1.”

The costs to the developer in doing so include the costs of obtaining suitable representation at the OMB and the costs associated with delaying development of the property for between 6 and 12 months pending the OMB decision after multiple hearings.

The risk to the City is that the OMB is an independent tribunal with the authority to approve, change, or refuse planning applications. In other words, OMB decisions take the place of decisions made by Council.

The risk to the developer is that other parties, such as a Resident’s Association who made a delegation at the Statutory meeting held on the first of November, could make the case to promote more restrictive terms than those which were recommended by City Planning, such as to limit the building height to twelve stories, etc.

The OMB may or may not ultimately side with the developer in whole or in part of the appeal based upon the strength of the arguments presented by all the parties for and against the appeal.

It is my opinion that the decision rests with the developer as to where the 421-431 Brandt St. development application is going. Until the developer decides, no one else can and the development remains stalled.

Editor’s note:  ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington have called a public meeting for December 13th at the Baptist Church on New Street to discuss an appeal to the OMB of the city council decision to approve the the 421 Brant Street development.

Related content:

Staff recommendation.

Skinner JeremyJeremy Skinner is a Burlington resident who is a frequent contributor to the opinion pages of the Gazette.

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Engaged citizens of Burlington survived a tumultous series of weekend meetings and will hold its first public meeting on Wednesday.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

December 11th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a hectic week for the newly formed Engaged Citizens of Burlington – ECoB.

They struggled to work with a co-chair that was not in the country and, based on what has been passed along to the Gazette, she was difficult to work with. During what is reported to have been a difficult conference call the “group was blown up by its leader”. People were resigning left and right.

ECOB logoThe phrase “disrespectful” crept into the conversations the Gazette had with a number of people involved in the development of what is intended to grow into an umbrella organization for community groups that want to see a better relationship between city hall and the tax payers.

The small group of people who have been behind ECoB managed to get themselves incorporated, raised $5000 to cover some of their early expenses and put together a sub-committee that was preparing an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) against the city council 5-2 vote to approve the construction of a 23 story tower opposite city hall.

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and the Mayor voted against the staff recommendation.

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

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward with the Mayor. Both voted against the motion to approve a 23 storey tower opposite city hall. They are expected to run against each other in the October 2018 municipal election.

ECoB scheduled a public meeting for Wednesday of this week (the 13th) at the Baptist church on New Street where they hope to hear from as many groups as possible on how they can look for a better way to work with city hall.

The group wants to be at the table and involved in the development of community plans rather than just standing at the podium in the Council Chamber, speaking for their allotted ten minutes and then being dismissed with no follow up questions.

Last Thursday the EcoB people took their appeal to city hall only to learn that they couldn’t file the document because there was nothing to appeal. The city council vote was just part of the process – there are additional documents to be created, including the creation of a Section 37 agreement which sets out what the city is to be given in return for the additional height and density before there is something to appeal.

At this point the ECoB people have a commitment from city hall that they will be advised when the file is complete – at which point they will file their appeal.

421 BrantECoB was not prepared to reveal any of the appeal points other than to say that they believe city council exceeded their authority and that the Official Plan limit for the property is 12 storeys – not the 23 that council approved.

A significant number of people in the city continually ask why an Official Plan is consistently over-ridden by city council.

In an item that was published earlier this week Tom Muir, a consistent city hall delegator, spoke of a conversation with city manager James Ridge in which Ridge is reported to have explained to Muir that development agreements are negotiated with developers. Muir said Ridge told him: “That is good planning”. Which is the rub for many who are opposed to a city that will find its main street not much more than a row of high rise towers.

In a media release put out on Sunday the ECoB people said: “We live in an ever changing world. Our core team remains committed to work towards building a better Burlington for generations to come. We hope to accomplish this goal of building awareness through our online and community presence.

“YES, The meeting is taking place on Wednesday, December 13th from 7-9 pm at Burlington Baptist Church, 2225 New Street (next to Dodsworth & Brown). The entrance to the church is off the Dodsworth & Brown parking lot.

“Discussion will include the grounds for our appeal to the Official Plan and steps moving forward. We encourage all Community Groups to attend and help grow the organization.”

ECoB has created a Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/ECOBurlington

Related news stories:

Citizens group created.

City manager tells resident that negotiated development plans are good planning.

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Planner made deputy city manager - Mary Lou Tanner wins the search for a deputy - this will mean changes to the planning department

News 100 yellowBy Staff

December 7th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington announces that effective December 21, 2017; Mary Lou Tanner will assume the position of Deputy City Manager. Tanner was the successful candidate after a comprehensive internal competition.

Tanner is currently the Chief Planner and Director of the Department of City Building for the City of Burlington. Tanner has been with the city since November 2015 heading the department responsible for planning, building, by-law and culture.

mary-lou-tanner-city-hs

Mary Lou Tanner will assume the position of Deputy City Manager.

Tanner is a well-recognized and experienced leader in municipal planning and development and is a Past President of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and a graduate of the Planning School at Queen’s University.
The Deputy City Manager role is a new position at the City of Burlington which will report to City Manager James Ridge.

Key responsibilities of the Deputy City Manager include:

• Serve as the city’s representative for all Agencies, Boards and Commissions; acting in an advisory and liaison capacity for each organization and helping plan and coordinate major capital projects.

• Being responsible for the diversity and inclusivity portfolio; ensuring a strategy is developed, and implemented across the organization for all services and programs;

• Overseeing the Project Management Office, ensuring the priorities of this office are aligned with the Strategic Plan and corporate work plans and work with the Senior Leadership team to identify and establish priorities across the organization.

A transition plan including an acting Director of City Building will be announced in the near future; however in the meantime Tanner will continue to lead the work on the completion of the city’s new Official Plan.

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

James Ridge on his first council meeting as city manager.

Prior to city manager James Ridge being appointed Burlington had three General Managers. One was shown the door, another retired and a third Scott Stewart took a position as deputy city manager in Guelph. Stewart was a candidate for the city manager position.
Ridge has been running the city with his office being the report to point for all the Directors.

Sometime will be needed to think through just what this small level or re-organization is going to mean to the citizens of the city.

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Filing of an appeal against the city decision to approve the construction of a 23 storey tower opposite city hall is said to be imminent.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 6th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The first meeting of the ECoB Engaged Citizens of Burlington ended with a commitment to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Beard to set aside the decision made by city council on a 5-2 to approve a 23 storey structure across Brant from the city hall.

No word yet on the filing of the appeal “imminent” was the latest we had from the ECoB group who are working feverishly to get things in place for the next meeting which is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13th from 7-9 pm- at the Burlington Baptist Church- 2225 New Street- next to Dodsworth & Brown.

While the OMB appeal of the 421 Brant Street project was at the top of the task list – they were up against a ticking clock on this one – the bigger picture is to create an organization that can serve as an umbrella for the numerous community groups in the city that have concerns with the way city hall is handling the issues that are important to them.

There isn’t a complete list yet of just who those groups are. Shoreacres, Bluewater, Roseland, TEC and Plan B are among those that are expected to attend on the 13th.

The ECoB objective is to have an organization that can hold the current city council accountable and able to direct staff to deliver on what the residents want.

ECOB founding Nov 25 back of heads

ECOB founding meeting November 25th 2017

Few hesitate to express their concern over the make up of the current city council and their desire to see some changes on the makeup of the current city council in the next municipal; election to take place in October of 2018.

The current council was elected in 2010, re-elected in 2014 – most appear to be in the 2018 race. They Mayor has already held his first photo-op of his campaign.

ECoB expects to make extensive use of social media to get their message out to the public.

They have part of the team that did an astounding social media job for the Central high school parents who fought the recommendation to close their school leading the creation of social media, a web site and a Facebook page.

ECoB poster

Posters distributed by ECoB are about as direct as one can get.

The group urged citizens to turn out for the November 30th Standing Committee meeting that was thought by many to be one of the most important Standing Committee meeting at city hall this year.

The meeting was seen as a turning point and sharpen the difference between Councillor Meed Ward who is expected to run for the office of Mayor next October and the current Mayor Rick Goldring who has already declared that he will be running for a third term as Mayor.

The Mayor has stayed pretty close to the positions Meed Ward has taken and on a number of occasions joined her in a vote against a motion.

The tipping point for many was the November 13th council vote to approve a 23 storey tower opposite city hall.

A significant number of very vocal people believe city council is wrong and that the Planner is not in tune with the people who live in the downtown core.

Using the acronym ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington, the group easily raised the first $5000 needed to launch the appeal at their inaugural meeting earlier in the month.

Lancaster as Dep Mayor Sept 28-15

Councillor Lancaster got to serve as the Acting Mayor for an evening. She kind of liked the chair and invited her Mother to join her for a photo-op. Will we see this on an election poster?

Blair Lancaster, Councillor for ward 6 who has supported the residents in her ward over one of the ADI developments that is now at the Ontario Municipal Board, said in her Newsletter that:
“During our most recent rounds of public consultation we heard many comments from residents. While they understand the need for growth they are concerned that:

• Burlington will turn into a big city with big tall buildings.
• Heard from specific residents who border on the growth areas
• Residents found the precinct plans difficult to analyze and understand the impacts.

“As a result of these comments, staff will be meeting with the residents in order to resolve some of their specific concerns and will be working on the communications for the concepts that will be easier to understand.

“Burlington residents should know that the process was visionary, thorough and involved thousands of stakeholders. Lancaster has asked for feedback which she will happily include it in the process for Council consideration.”

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Jim Young asks city council why they have put the cart before the horse as they work at creating a new official plan?

opinionandcommentBy Staff

December 1st, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A city Council Committee of the Whole listened to delegations in an afternoon and an evening session yesterday.

There were three delegations from people representing developers setting out the impact the proposed Official Plan would have on their projects.

This was followed by four people who delegated in the afternoon – in the evening there were nine registered delegation.

The Gazette will report on what those people had to say. We want to pass along what Jim Young, an Aldershot resident, had to say. Young is perhaps the best delegator this Council has seen during 2017. He has been superb and taught this council some badly needed lessons. He was instrumental is convincing this city council to maintain the ten minute time allocation for delegation. Staff had proposed that it be limited to five minutes – and council was prepared to go along with it.

During his delegation on the Official Plan Young had this to say:

I am not here today to condemn or oppose the latest rendition of the Official Plan.

Jim Young

Jim Young

Neither am I opposed to intensification, downtown density or the concept of mobility hubs.
My first concern is a Big Picture concern about the validity and workability of an Official Plan that is contingent upon several other plans, if those contingent plans are not yet in place.

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThe draft Official Plan references the Cycling Plan and the Transit Master Plan, both of which have been in development for several years and are still some time from completion. It also references The Downtown Parking Study, which as we speak is still seeking public input and an Area Specific Plan for the Downtown Mobility Hub which according to your timeline will not be completed until June 2018

There are matters of great importance which will impact the lives of citizens embodied in the official plan which council are being asked to vote upon when the prerequisite building blocks are not yet in place.

Is it fair or reasonable for you to vote on detailed areas of intensification and density before we have the Transit Plan in place to move people through these propose areas of intensification?

Can you really make a decision which will determine the walkability and the transport modal split for cycling to ensure livability in our new high density intensified city, if we don’t have a cycling plan in place to support it?

Jim Young

Jim Young speaking at a public meeting on transit issues. He has led some of the public commentary on how the transit service is not meting the needs of the citizens

Can we plan for a forecast 19,000 new residents every 10 years, many of whom the new intensified precincts are designed for and almost all of whom will bring cars if we do not have a parking plan in place? If buildings are approved with 1.2 parking spaces per unit while the average Ontario household owns 1.7 cars, where will we put the all cars? We cannot just hope people will be less inclined to own a car. We need to have that plan in place.

The proposed intensification precincts are premised upon the success and high level of utilization of the downtown mobility hub; yet the Area Specific Plan for that will not be presented to council until June 2018.

The Official Plan Review team has a huge task on their hands and they have to juggle a number of research projects at the same time and manage to find time for real public engagement. The above sets out the projects that all have to be eventually pulled together to create what will become the city's official plan for the next five years.

In 2012 the Official Plan Review team set out how many moving parts there were in the Official Plan. Young points out that many of the parts are contingent upon several other plans that have yet to be determined before the bigger picture is cast in stone.

How do we intensify around a mobility hub when we don’t have the details of what that hub will look like, how it will work? If it will work?

I am asking how can council and staff move forward on this very complex and, for our city, somewhat revolutionary, official plan if the building blocks of all the other supporting infrastructure plans are not in place?

A lot of common sense there. Using a well-worn phrase Young pointed out that the Planners had ‘put the cart before the horse.’ He got that right.

Good questions – Jim Young didn’t get any answers – staff have yet to comment on the points brought up during the delegations yesterday.  That is supposed to take place when the Committee of the Whole resumes this afternoon.

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Citizens force council and the Planning department to allow more room for public discussion of the draft Official Plan. Many want it to become en election issue.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

December 1st, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The citizens of the city got what they have been pushing for – they didn’t like the pace or the rate at which the draft of the Official Plan was being pushed by the Planning department.

The Gazette asked this early on November and Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has been asking this question for months as well.

During Committee of the Whole meeting yesterday afternoon and evening Council heard again and again that the pace was far too fast.

Paul Brophy, a downtown resident said “The community is only just now becoming aware of the transformative change this plan, in its current draft format, will impose upon Burlington residents” and asked “Why rush such a fundamental change to the look and feel of our downtown. Remember once the plan is approved there are no do overs – city council with the assistance of planning staff must get it right the first time.”

“Frankly much of the community has a perception that the planning staff is running the show and council not so much. This perception must change with deliberate transparent action from council that clearly shows you have Burlington resident’s best interests at heart.”

Sharman July 2016

Councillor Paul Sharman

Brophy took exception to a comment made by Councillor Sharman who was chairing the meeting and for the first time in our recollection a delegator pushed back and told the Councillor that his remarks were offensive.

Lisa Kearns told the Committee that more time was needed and asked that any decision be moved back to June of 2018.

Councillor Dennison pointed out that the city would be in full election mode by then – which was the point Kearns was making and that the end of March might by a better date.

Earlier in the meeting Sharman said the Planning department was looking for a way to tinker with the dates and come up with a way to give the public the time they were asking for.

Kearns introduced Council to ECoB – Engaging Citizens of Burlington – a group that took shape very quickly – managed to raise the first $5000 of needed funding, had their Director appointed and were in the process of incorporating all within a week.

ECoB plans to make extensive use of social media; part of the team that kept Central high school off the list of schools the Board of Education put forward last June has signed on with ECoB.

Kearns set out what their long term objectives were but chose not to mention that one of those was to appeal the decision council made earlier in the month to approve the 421 Brant development by a 5-2 vote (Meed Ward and the Mayor dissented on that one).

Tanner and Taylor at June 21-17 workshop

Director of Planning Mary Lou Tanner at a public meeting with Councillor John Taylor. There is yet to be a solid meeting of Council minds and the Planning department.

There appears to have been some back channel conversations on a later date for the draft Official Plan to get to Council. The Planners wanted it to be by the end of January, now they appear to be thinking in terms of late in March – those who delegated on Thursday are pushing for June.

This issue isn’t over yet – watch for as a boisterous city Council meeting on December 11th, when this gets decided.

Make a note then of how closely the Mayor stays to whatever position Meed Ward takes – he can’t afford to be too far from her politically.

There is a shift in the role the citizens of the city are going to play in the way the city is developed. Get ready for more – there are a number of groups across the city grumbling for better civic leadership. Expect to see them come together – some within that group talk about a slate of candidates that can clean things up at city hall. The words “reform” and Burlington now get used in the same sentence.

The late John Boich would be proud.

What’s the rush?

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Paul Sharman takes a chance and uses some spare committee time to let people just speak extemporaneously to council - and it worked.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 30th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was an absolutely remarkable hour and a quarter.

The afternoon session of the Standing Committee meeting was basically complete – all the developers who had things to say about the draft Official Plan had completed their delegations. The Halton Hamilton Hone Builders Association once again made their point that more time was needed before attempting to pass the Draft of the Official Plan

Each of them had what they felt were strong and compelling arguments for the points they were making and the ask they had of Council.

Gloria Reid, on the right with her husband - a welcome addition to the BurlingtonGreen board.

Gloria Reid gently suggested to Council that they could learn to do things differently – that were other community engagement tools they may not be aware of.

Jeremy Skinner gave a superb delegation – if there is an award for the best delegation to Council this year – it would go to Skinner. We hope to be able to publish that delegation in the near future.

He was followed by Gloria Reid who delegated on behalf of BurlingtonGreen. She gently suggested to Council that they were talking the talk when it came to civic engagement but they weren’t necessarily walking that talk. We will report in more depth on what the “teachable moment” from Reid was.

There was still about an hour left on the clock and Committee chair Paul Sharman decided to open up the meeting to anyone who wanted to come forward and address the committee.

Sharman at Lakeside Village visioning

Councillor Sharman was exceptionally engaging with speakers that were invited to talk to committee.

What followed was truly remarkable. The atmosphere was relaxed. No one had anything prepared – they were just winging it – and what we got to see was real dialogue.

No one had rock hard positions – the speakers were told that they had ten minutes. Every one of them ended up being at the podium for at least twenty minutes while back and forth questioning and answering took place.

Sasha Menzies spoke, Christine Dobbs spoke, Don Fletcher spoke.

we

Hearing Councillor talk about Aldershot grow by 27,000 was a stunner.

It was relaxed – we learned that Fletcher once lived in Aldershot and while talking about intensification mentioned that he and his wife had four children in five years – someone on Council mention that that was certainly intensification – and no one was offended. Fletcher added that he is a sculpture who works with nude female models.

Fletcher learned a lot about how the Official Plan is going to get to the point where it is the law of the land and how it will get revised going forward. Few people in the city understand how complex that process is.

Several of these “add-on” delegation thought the Official Plan should be made an election issue.

Dobbs wanted to know how “information gets out there” and came up with half a dozen ideas straight from the cuff that Council members wanted to talk about.

One of the speakers thought the city should rename itself and use Tyendaga and let that reflect our heritage more accurately.

During the conversation there was an astounding bit of information from Councillor Craven. At maximum build out Aldershot will grow by 27,000 people. That should shake up some of the good folks in Aldershot.

Fletcher talked about the “polarity of this council” – that this Council was not uniform on its vision for the city.

Remembered, respected

Remembered, respected and never to be in the shadow of an office tower.

Menzies didn’t think the Cenotaph should ever be in the shadow of any building. She talked of her 9/11 experience and what she referred to as the “sniper” experience in the United States. She spoke movingly of what it was about Canada and Burlington that she appreciated. We sometimes have to hear from others just how good things are for us in this country.

Sharman as chair of the meeting took a chance and opened things up – not what we usually see from him.

What Council saw was that they are capable of dialoguing with members of Council – and that citizens do have a contribution to make.

Will any of it stick? Gloria Read made the point that “these things take time”. And they do but city council got to see what it is like when they open things up a bit and listen and dialogue with people.

It does work.

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I am pro development, but I am NOT pro development of a canyon of 25 storey condo buildings up the entire length of Brant Street.

opinionandcommentBy Deby Morrison,

November 390th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is unacceptable to be rushing this Official Plan through Development and Committee tonight to head to Council for a vote when the public has been given 14 days to comment on such major and drastic changes to the future of this City. Defer the approval of the Official Plan to June, 2018. Defer approval of the Downtown Mobility Hub precinct plan and Official Plan policies until June, 2018.

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThe Official Plan was released November 9, 2017 to the public, an email went out Nov 13/17 and the public was given 14 days to Nov 27/17 to comment. After only 14 days, why is this plan being considered today, November 30, 2017, at a Planning & Development committee meeting to be sent to Council for a vote? Noted, there were three public open house presentations of this plan from November 16 to 20th, 2017, 4 days, during which time I was out of the Country; I am sure that I am not alone in this situation. Many Burlington residents are still unaware that the Official Plan has been released.

This Plan is recommending drastic changes to the City and is going to forever change the landscape and culture of Burlington and our Downtown. This should not be rushed to Council prior to a specific, detailed design of the Downtown Core has been established and further public consultation and discussion. I haven’t had time to review the entire report, but I do not agree with raising heights to 17 to 25 storeys from 4 to 8 storeys in entire precincts and changing precinct borders without a more refined, detailed design of the Downtown Core.

Burlington aerial

The fight is for what kind of growth there will be on Brant Street – the spine of the Downtown core.

I am pro development, but I am NOT pro development of a canyon of 25 storey condo buildings up the entire length of Brant Street. What a sure way to kill the Downtown core for people and entrepreneurial business and encourage car traffic. What is being proposed would create a most unfriendly environment for people and create a congested traffic mess. This City is going to end up with what King Street in Toronto has become.

Toronto is spending millions trying to figure out how to end the daily traffic gridlock and bring people back to King Street at night. We have history and lessons close by to draw from, why would we do this to our Downtown Core? Who is benefiting from this type of Development and why are we in such a rush to move forward in this manner?

I attended many of the public sessions on developing the new official plan and the grow bold initiatives and was left with the impression that the majority of residents did not support this level of increased height and density in the core. The City is on target to meet their intensification targets of 200 people/jobs per hectare as we are already at 174 jobs/hectare, without this level of intensification in the Core.

It would be irresponsible to change these zoning laws without having a Downtown Design, Transit, Traffic and Infrastructure Plans in place. The traffic and construction time and effect of these buildings will gridlock the downtown in the near term and forever be a detriment to the appeal and draw to our downtown core. Any successful City needs a successful Downtown.

Downtown core precinct

Proposed Downtown Core precinct

Making zoning law changes for Developers over these past years has led Developers to overpay for downtown properties as they gambled on whether or not they would be able to build 23 storeys vs. the zoned 4 to 8 storeys. These Developers have allowed the Downtown Core to become somewhat shoddy as they have not kept their properties in good repair nor have they allowed entrepreneurial business owners to sign long term leases. Developers wanted to be ready to go when “the height was right”. Should Developers be rewarded for these actions; driving up property prices and encouraging decaying property conditions. Why should the residents of the City have to pay the price because Developers are lamenting that they can’t make a profit on 4 to 8 storeys as a direct result of their own decision to overpay for property. Should Developers be driving the design and future of our Downtown Core? Or should the citizens of Burlington be the driving force behind the design of our Downtown?

A wonderful Downtown ‘culture’ has been emerging the past few years with interesting entrepreneurial businesses bringing residents and tourists alike to our Downtown Core. Kellys, a major draw for residents & young people from far and wide, Centro Garden Store & their Sunday Farmer’s market & Maker’s Markets, Tamp Coffee, a major meeting hub for business & residents, the Burro, draws a younger crowd from far and wide, just to name a few and none of these businesses will survive the higher rents these new high rise condos bring.

In fact, Kellys has been given their walking papers by a Developer, Centro is slated for a 17 storey development and we won’t get these businesses back. We should be nurturing and encouraging these business owners, as against all odds, they were building a culture and environment that was drawing young people, residents and tourists to the core. If there’s any doubt about that just look at the current businesses at ground level in the current high rise condo towers: real estate, bank, mortgage, franchise, medical, empty; absolutely no draw or culture to be found.

Sometimes what’s in the buildings is more important than the buildings and we have an opportunity to foster and create that environment in our City. Part of the Downtown Core should be developed into an area where these businesses can flourish, perhaps a Pedestrian Promenade. This should be designed prior to any change in the Official Plan. We only have one Downtown Core, there is no where else in our City for these businesses to relocate or this type of Pedestrian friendly area to be developed. I’m sure if this type of project was tendered to Developers, we’d see some wonderful plans.

We have a gem on the Lake, let’s be careful going forward and foster a thriving “Niagara-on-the-Lake” destination, not a “Toronto Queen’s Quay Nightmare” on the Lake.

I am pro development downtown, however, I am for reasonable, responsible development with a defined design plan prior to pushing forward.

Deby Morrison is a member of the Core Residents Association.

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This official plan in not an attempt to create some higher form of density that enriches the lives of the population with choices. Woodruff would like it to become a long serious debate during the 2018 election.

opinionandcommentBy Greg Woodruff

November 29th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington released it’s “official plan” recently; a 500 plus paged tome with a plan to pass it as quickly as possible. They may as well have called it “Hi-rises and traffic jams.” Believers in this plan have two precepts. 1) That they have found “good” and efficient ways for people to live. 2) It’s the government’s job to enforce it on the unwilling. The result will be a cost free infinite growth utopia. Here is the net effect of Burlington’s official plan:

Greg Woodruff

Greg Woodruff

First it’s designed to make it difficult for future councils or citizens to limit the construction of high buildings almost anywhere. High-rises are encouraged in the “down town” in the “up town” (Appleby and Highway 5) around the Aldershot GO, Appleby GO, Burlington GO, Walkers GO (if province builds) and any “intensification zone” which is basically along any major road.

If you want to build higher then specified – don’t worry plenty of underlying “denser is better” principles are sprinkled through to allow you to win a OMB or tribunal at the provincial level. Placing new heights into the official plan this way effectively overwhelms the original zoning on thousands of properties by writ.

Snow on street - lady - walker

Walking is going to be one of the options in the forthcoming Master Transportation Plan.

Second it’s designed to create city wide grid lock. You can stay tuned for the “master transit plan”, but I can pretty much tell you what it says, “don’t drive anywhere.” Because if you do stupefying city wide gridlock will take place. The city’s solution will then mainly be to hector the population into busing, walking, biking or abandoning travel. Secondarily will be a push to remove parking around stores and GO stations (yes GO stations) with heroic investments into park benches, speed bumps, stop signs and traffic signaling. The theory being the faster the road system is unworkable the faster people will “come to their senses” and be hostages for city provided alternatives.

Third it bakes in the idea of “infinite sustainable growth”. Burlington is set on a vision to first looking like Vancouver, then Manhattan, then eventually like that episode of Star Trek where people were trying to escape population density via fatal disease. No limits or systems on when over building has occurred in an area. The formula for infinite cost free population growth has been found; people will just have to ration.

Even if this all seems great to you the manner in which this is going on should trouble us all deeply. You would think a city which represents it’s citizens should would want a long serious debate on all these plans.

Instead they are trying to rush this massive change through lest it become a long serious debate during the 2018 election. I remember this answer in 2014 when I ran; “The official plan is done” becomes the response when you question the judgement of those involved. That’s the purpose of the rush; to limit the scrutiny of the less involved citizen that might tune in for the 2018 election.

East side of Brant Street xx days before Christmas 2013.

East side of Brant Street weeks days before Christmas 2013. Not a lot of vibrancy here – not much height either. This city does not yet know what it wants.

This is not an attempt to make Copenhagen or any other livable European city. Those places have mainly strict 6 floor limits and specific building specifications. The problem from a city planning overlord perspective is that those places can’t “grow forever.” At a certain density – that’s it. They don’t let you come back and bulldoze down the 6 floor buildings cut down all the trees put up high-rises, because that affects the livability of the city.

This official plan in not an attempt to create some higher form of density that enriches the lives of the population with choices. It not about creating sustainable green transportation options or there would be some concrete proposals to do that. It’s a just magic voodoo to allow infinite sustainable “cost free” growth to be the operational policy of the government. And we will be left with the problems when the snake oil salesmen have moved on to the next town.

Greg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who comments frequently on city wide issues.  He ran for the office of Regional Chair in 2014 and suggests aqt times that he will run for Mayor of Burlington in 2018

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Meed Ward lays out her concerns about the rush to push through the Downtown Core Mobility Hub and the kind of changes that can be expected.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 29, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The battle lines are being drawn for a fight that will get settled in October 2018 when the next municipal election takes place.

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

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

In that race at this point in time are Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, Rick Goldring, the current Mayor and Mike Wallace, a former city Councillor and Member of Parliament for Burlington.

The only candidate that has actually declared is the Mayor who seemed to have found a way around the rules. Nomination can’t be filed until May 1, 2018

George Wale, Director of Programs at the Art Centre, on the right, thanks Burlington MP Mike Wallace for the funding from the federal government.

George Wale, Director of Programs at the Art Centre, on the right, thanks Burlington MP Mike Wallace for the funding from the federal government.

Between now and then it will be a battle royal with Meed Ward screaming from the roof tops that the end of the Burlington she believes most people want is in sight

Councillor Meed Ward, in a recent Newsletter said: “If this plan goes through as is, it will fundamentally change downtown, replacing the low-rise character and historic buildings with modern tall buildings.

“The magnitude of changes represents over intensification and high rise congestion with no clear reason – since we can meet our growth targets under existing plan limits.

“We’re giving away height and getting nothing, like negotiating affordable housing, family units, public parking or heritage protection in exchange for more floors.”

There are many who don’t have a problem with additional height. Meed Ward’s support seems to be concentrated in the downtown core – the people in that part of the city don’t want their part of the city to change. Traffic congestion is a big concern and losing much of the retail and commercial space is a concern.

The 421 Brant Carriage Gate development will go to the OMB if the resolve that was displayed at a meeting of citizens who have been cheeky enough to use the COB that city hall types like to use and added an E to it to come up with the acronym ECOB – Engaged Citizen of Burlington.

They should be incorporated by the end of the week and have their OMB appeal papers filed with city hall shortly after.

During a two hour meeting in the Party Room of Buntin’s Wharf on Saturday they elected a set of Officers and raised $5000 on the spot.

There are some impressive people behind this effort.

Meed Ward sets out where the changes will take place in the downtown core and her take on the impact all this will have.

She focuses on the “added congestion, loss of small town feel, and loss of key retailers in some of our older buildings, like Kelly’s Bake Shoppe” Kelly Childs is in the process of becoming the ‘poster girl’ for downtown Burlington. We could do worse.

Where Meed Ward is absolutely right is the timeline the city is working to: “This process is proceeding far too quickly. She “will ask for an extension of time before approval”.

The Official Plan review started six years ago, half way through, a newly appointed Director of Planning changed what was an update to a total rewrite.

The downtown policies were made public at the end of September; the revised version was made public two weeks ago. The Area Specific Policies were made public in June.

Mammel - surprise

Suzanne Mammel, Executive Officer of the Halton Hamilton Home Builders Association is less then impressed with the way the Planning department seems to be rushing the new Official Plan.

“Three weeks is not enough time to review and digest these documents, much less invite public comment” said Meed Ward. “ We cannot rush. The Official Plan is the most important document in the city, setting the stage for development for decades.”

Meed Ward plans to ask for several amendments, including revisions to height permissions and deferring approval till June “when we can consider all policies at the same time, and allow more time for public review and comment”.

The Halton Hamilton Home Builders Association (HHHBA) are threatening to take the Official Plan to the OMB –just as soon as it is passed. They tool feel the process is being rushed and have complained about the way the Planning Department has responded to their issues.

The new plan, with the downtown policies, staff reports and “track changes” version is over 2000 pages of reading to be ready for a committee meeting next week.

That is about as irresponsible and as unaccountable as a bureaucrat can be. It smacks of insolence on the part of the men and the women in the Planning department who let things like this happen. Surely there is a planner in the department who would ask if the public has been given enough time to read the documents.

The proposed downtown precinct plan will be discussed at committee November. 30 at 1:00 pm and in the evening at 6:30 pm. It appears there is going to be plenty of time to debate a document that few will have been able to re3ad in its entirety.

The plan is expected to be approved in January, with more detailed Area Specific Plans coming in June 2018.
Meed Ward provided a lot of graphics that help people see and understand where the growth is going to take place in each of the 13 precincts(up from 8) that have been created.

There are boundaries within boundaries and then precincts – each of which has its own zoning criteria.

Growth centre boundaries:
The downtown is divided into 13 “precincts” (up from 8 in the current plan) each with their own height and zoning permissions. Where heights previously ranged up to 14 storeys (excluding specific sites granted more height through an application), they now include as-of-right heights up to 25 storeys. More details on the precincts are below.

Boundary map - index

Map with different boundaries – see Index

 

 

Brant Main Street precinct
Brant St from Pine to southern edge of No Frills Plaza: (Brant Main St Precinct orange area on map) up from 8 storeys to 11, and 17/23 at Brant/James (thatched orange area on map)  Existing permissions are 4-8 storeys, will now be up to 11. The South-East corner of Brant & James is a special policy area (thatched orange) allowed to go to 17 storeys. The North-East corner across the street has already been approved for 23 storeys.

Emerald and St Lukes precinct

St Luke Precinct on the west of Brant and Emerald precinct on the right – both are solid residential communities – that don’t want development moving into their part of town.

The downtown urban growth centre boundaries have changed to include parts of the stable low density neighbourhoods in the Emerald and St. Luke’s precincts. This is very serious as it will put pressure on these neighbourhoods to meet the growth centre’s target of 200 people or jobs per hectare. This change was apparently done by the province and region in 2006 and has not been reflected in our current OP, nor even come to light until now.

upper-brant-precinct

Upper Brant – the part of the Downtown core where a lot of people think the height should be located.

• There are a number of heritage buildings in the Downtown Core Precinct where heights are projected to go from 4-8 storeys to 17

Upper Brant Precinct (royal blue area), from 6 storeys existing, up to 25 storeys
Brant St at Graham’s Lane/Prospect/Ghent/Olga/Blairholm (Upper Brant Precinct) from 6 storeys to 25 (blue area)
• Existing permissions are 6 storeys, will now be up to 25

Downtown core precinct

Downtown core precinct – some are of the belief that every property is in the hands of a developer.

John St, Lakeshore, Martha, Maria block: (Downtown Core Precinct) from 4-8 storeys up to 17 (light blue)

Existing permissions are 4-8 storeys, will now be up to 17. The block at Maria/Caroline/John/ Elizabeth has existing permission for a 17 storey condo (currently under construction), 6-8 storey parking garage and 6-8 storey medical centre.

There are a number of historic buildings in the Downtown Core Precinct, along James, Elizabeth Pearl, but heritage protection policies and site specific reviews won’t come till the Area Specific Plans are complete in June 2018. We’re giving height away without getting these protections in place, putting pressure on these sites to be developed to the max. It will be difficult to “downzone” development permissions after the fact where we want to protect heritage down the road.

Cannery precinct

Cannery precinct – so named because at one point there was a tomato canning factory at the foot on the east side of Brant.

Cannery Precinct, up to 22 storeys (salmon colour). Waterfront Hotel site marked with asterix.

This precinct includes two parcels: the existing Bridgewater Development at Lakeshore/Elizabeth/Pearl, currently under construction with a 22 storey condo, 8 storey hotel and 7 storey condo; and the foot of Brant/Lakeshore on the North East Side bounded by Brant, John, Pine and Lakeshore.

Understanding the scope and the scale of what the Planning department is proposing is close to mind boggling.

If what is being proposed had the enthusiastic support of at least half of the population this would be a great plan – it would indeed be Growing Bold.

But most people don’t even know what the city is planning.  Those in the downtown core have begun to understand what is going on.  Those north of Prospect are in the dark – getting little if any information from their city Councillors.

Whenever a developer asks for a change to the Official Plan people get upset and ask  – ‘What is the point of having an Official Plan if all a developer has to do is assemble some land and trot over to the Planning department and propose a change to the Official Plan and the zoning’.

Now the public has a 1500 page + document that they are expected to read and absorb in a very tight time frame.

Someone has to show the leadership needed to explain what is happening and why – without that leadership the public will clue in at some point and vote in a council that listens.

Problem with this is that there isn’t exactly a line-up of people who have indicated that they want to be a city Councillor.

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Support for the newly created citizen's group is small but it is very early in the process - let's see what they get in the way of traction.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 27th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What might turn out to be one of those pivotal events took place on Saturday when 25 people meeting in the Part Room of Buntin’s Wharf decided to put their money where their mouth is and raised $5000 in minutes to take an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board asking that the 23 story tower that was approved by city council not be permitted to proceed as a tower that high.

The group took on the acronym ECOB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington and decided to incorporate and create a city wide citizen’s organization to keep city council both transparent and accountable.

Burlington aerial

Do the citizen’s of a city like Burlington have it within them to create a city wide movement that will holds the men and women they elect to council accountable?

Within hours of the news story published in the Gazette two comments were posted. The first wanted to know where to send money.

#1
Congratulations to this group for attempting to restore both democracy and planning/development sanity to Burlington. Once your group is legally incorporated, please let everyone know where we can send financial support. I applaud you for doing what our elected councillors (MMW excepted) refuse to do–represent the people of this city.

The second wanted to join.
#2
How can one join (and/or contribute to) this group?

ECOB founding Nov 25 back of headsIt will take some time to determine whether or not the group can achieve what it has set out to do. They are working within a very short time-frame.

Assuming they do manage to get all the paper work done – incorporate, get their bylaws in place, open the bank account, draft the first version of the OMB appeal and file it at city hall – the development of the tower comes to a screeching halt and will be in one of those OMB limbos waiting for a hearing to take place.

Something to watch.

Original news story:

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Citizens group plans to appeal the city council decision to approve a 23 story tower to the OMB. Council voted 5-2 for the development.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 26th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Will the meeting in the Party Room at Buntin’s Wharf Saturday afternoon be seen as the event that changed the way Burlington citizens relate to their elected officials?

ECOB founding Nov 25 back of heads

Jim Young chairs the founding meeting of ECOB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington. Just 25 people – but they are determined to make a difference,

Just over 25 people met in a building that changed the way the downtown core looked 15 years ago. Buntin’s Wharf, a 14 storey condominium was completed in 2004 – it is part of a collection of condominiums that changed Lakeshore. The people in those buildings – there are five of them don’t want to see much more in the way of high rise development in the downtown core – they would like to see it take place a little further up Brant Street.

It was a chilly afternoon with the Festive Season lights up in Spencer Smith Park.  Many of the people who attended were there to find out if this group was real.  “I’m here and will be reporting back to my friends who care about what happens downtown”.   The people who attended take great exception to the city saying that they truly engage the citizens – they see what the city does as “something of a disgrace”.   “When we delegate they just sit there and listen – and seldom ask questions of us.  It’s insulting was the way one person described what she had gone through.

421 Brant

The wrong height and in the wrong place was the view of a group – ECOB – that plans to appeal the 5-2 city council approval of a 23 storey tower opposite city hall.

It didn’t take long for the direction this group wanted to go in – they had named themselves Engaged Citizen of Burlington – took on the acronym ECOB – elected a set of officers – there will be seven of them.

Resolved to be incorporated by the end of the week, open a bank account and deposit the $5000 they raised on the spot in less than ten minutes.

They put in place a social media pro who headed up the very successful drive Central high school parent drive to keep their school of the to be closed list.

They set up three sub committees – one to take the 421 Brant Street development to the OMB – they expect to file papers at city hall for that initiative very soon – they are fully aware of the ticking clock.

The ECOB people have a bigger agenda – they want to create a city wide residents association that wants to change the way city hall makes development decisions and be a force that holds city council accountable to the people that elected.

This group has had it with this council. “They don’t listen” was the refrain heard again and again.

This is not a group of wild eyed NIMBY types.

There was some very smart talent in the room. When discussion on the incorporation was going on – one of the participants was on the phone to a local lawyer – “he’s in” she said and with that the process of incorporation had begun.

They had financial commitments before they had a treasurer in place. One participant said he came to the meeting with a cheque in his pocket – he just wanted to know who to make it out to.

One of the team briefed them on the “Bay Street lawyer” who was in the process of doing a “conflict review” to ensure that they could represent the group before signing on.

What is it going to take financially – they seemed comfortable with raising $100,000. One of the sharper minds in the room told the group that money wasn’t the issue – that will come – setting out what it is we want is where the attention has to be paid.

Another participant asked: What is it we want the OMB to do – no point in taking our argument to them until we are focused on the objective.

“We can’t just ask the OMB to stop the development” said one participant.

The developer has a 12 story approval on one piece of the properties assembled – “we aren’t going to see anything less than that.

Mediation got talked about – arbitration got talked about. They all realized they had a tough row to hoe – but they were in for the long haul.

The ward Councillor who was not in the room – they didn’t want here there.  They don’t want their organization to be seen as a front for a member of council.

There were some very savvy people in the room – they asked that they not be individually identified at this point.

The discussion between the 25 people was a model that city council could emulate.

Jim Young

Jim Young – the man who did one of the best delegations this city has ever heard.

Jim Young, an Aldershot resident chaired the meeting, filling in for Susan Goyer who appears to be the one who got the ball rolling a number of weeks ago. She was in Florida.

Assuming these people get their OMB appeal filed within the deadline – development decisions downtown are going to be different.

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Residents opposed to a city hall decision told they cannot meet at city hall.

Newsflash 100By Staff

November 23, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Jim Young sent us a note earlier today – a group of people who are very unhappy with city council’s decision to approve a 23 storey tower on Brant Street opposite city hall want to find a way to appeal that decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Jim Young

Jim Young

Young is the Aldershot resident who took city council to task over their attempt to limit delegations to five minutes from the current practice of ten minutes.

421 Brant

421 Brant – a 23 storey tower approved by city council by a 5-2 vote.

He mentioned to us that the group, Engaged Citizens in Burlington, planned a meeting under very short notice – it was to take place at City Hall, but had to be hastily rearranged when city officials banned the group from using the city hall room.

Banning seems to have become a bit of a practice at city hall. It can only be described as an astonishing decision by people who have a limited understanding of what community engagement really means.

The group was able to pivot quickly and will hold their meeting on Saturday, November 25th at Bunton’s Wharf, Brant St. and Lakeshore, 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm. The entrance to the building is on the Brant Street side

Young describes the now approved tower as a “23 story monstrosity, so out of character, in conflict with city height bylaws and opposed by 1435 signatures on a petition collected over just one week, may be the final straw for people who are opposed to downtown development.

Both the Gazette and Spectator columnist Joan Little have written about the need for new forms of engagement in Burlington

Little suggested it may be time for the good people of Burlington to organize to fight back against their city council’s refusal to listen to their concerns. Citizens feel ignored on new street bike lanes, under funding for transit, lake shore hotels and condo developments and most recently on the 23 story tower on Brant Street just across from City Hall.

City hall has this annoying habit of thinking that if you say something often enough it will become true.  In the comments made by the judges hat gave the reward they said:

 

  • The city knows “How to make P2 a part of everyday practice in the city of Burlington, through the Burlington Community Engagement Charter adopted in April 2013. Engagement was included as a strategic direction in 2016 Strategic Plan.”
  • “Employees now ask how to engage — not whether.”
  • “Engagement is part of the annual budget, has a dedicated, full-time staff person, and communications personnel promote and coach on P2.”
  • “Demonstrates an organizational long-term commitment to P2, beginning in 2013 and now enshrined in the 25-year Strategic Plan.”

Really!

 

Related article:

Young takes city council to task.

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Engaged citizens of Burlington off to a slow start - headed for the OMB. Those gates might be closed.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is when ordinary people see a decision made by a level of government that they do not agree with and turn to their neighbours and friends and decide to become agents of change that a city grows.

Susan Goyer has created Engaged Citizens of Burlington; a non-profit group working towards building a better Burlington for generations to come.

Engaged citizens FB pageThey will be virtual – all on-line, creating a community presence to help to build awareness on issues affecting Burlington residents and the community as a whole.

Small org – big hearts; a diverse group of residents and business people who want only the best for Burlington.

They want you to call, text, email and share their Facebook page with “those you would like to mobilize, and remember you’re not selling them anything or trying to convert them to a new religion.”

They are a grass roots based community trying to save a parcel of land – their fuel is passion which they find “ irresistible!” If you are excited about this cause and discuss it with those around you, they will naturally become engaged and interested in helping. Their virtual home is a Facebook page.

They define themselves as “caretakers of our environment and resident of Burlington who have a responsibility to ensure that building a better Burlington is a lasting legacy for generations to come.”

They talk a good talk: “All it takes is a few minutes of your time to advocate for a better Burlington.

“Volunteer: Recognize how your contribution is important to the people of Burlington. Leverage your amazing skills, we loved to be wowed, and we would be missing out if we didn’t have you!

Susan Goyer

Susan Goyer, first member of the Engaged Citizens of Burlington Facebook page would like people to like kittens.

“There are many opportunities to help, by helping to build our network, mobilize people in your community, and serve as an ambassador.

“Qualifications: Authentic, open minded, enthusiastic and a willingness to take on assignments to solve problems.

“Key Responsibilities: Attend city council meetings, events, raise awareness and achieve a win/win where gaps exists

Reflecting their sense of humour they suggest being “able to leap tall buildings; like kittens, puppies, like all animals really.”

Their first task is to take the city council decision on the 421 Brant project to the OMB. They are asking people to become part of a small (and growing) but mighty team to submit an appeal to the OMB on the recent approval of a 23 story building on Brant Street?

They maintain the approval by Burlington’s City Council exceeds the current 12 story limit for downtown Burlington. They want to have that decision reversed.

They plan to meet on December 13th to get the OMB appeal started.

Home for the Facebook page is HERE.

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Expect to hear a lot about Plan B - if city council is smart they will adopt it quick quick before they totally annoy the people that put them in office.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

November 19th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 3 of a multi-part series.

Residents of the city, especially those in the downtown core, have been bombarded by Mobility Hub proposals – there are four of those; an application for what many believe is the first of many 20 + storey high rise buildings on Brant street, (the first one has been approved by city council); a new Official Plan that is now in draft form and a proposal to tear down the existing Waterfront Hotel and build a couple of high rise towers on that property.

Bridgewater from the north looking south

The land for this development was assembled in the mid 80’s; approved by city council in 1995.

While all this is going on the Bridgewater development, first approved back in 1995, rises floor by floor to its 22 storey level.

There is a group of people who have organized themselves behind the working name: Plan B.

Yes, they will have a petition but this group has some well heeled residents who have had enough – they are not going to tolerate changes to their waterfront.

They have the support of the Mayor and the Council member for ward 2, Marianne Meed Ward – which they feel they don’t particularly need. They are working towards getting the support of a much wider – city wide – public that the politicians will want to get behind.

PLAN B

Plan B – stands for Better

So where did Plan B come from?
Well there’s the Plan B organization and then there’s the Plan B – Waterfront Hotel Redevelopment proposal.

First things first. The people.
The City Planning Department’s September 14th Workshop 3 on the Waterfront Hotel Redevelopment left a lot of residents feeling disenfranchised with the process. The Emerging Preferred Concept, largely based on the previously presented Concept 1, was introduced and the rationale for it’s selection was hastily presented.

Emerging concept

What about the green space that everyone had pleaded for in previous workshops? Oh, that would be between the two buildings. Really!

This was followed by a “prescriptive” (the Mayor’s words) workshop to critique the proposal, at each table, most of which had a tactical member from Mr. Vranich’s organization. (Draco Vranich is the owner of the Waterfront Hotel)The problem was that few attendees believed what was being sold and for good reason.

The Emerging Preferred Concept (above) included a 14-18 storey building on the west end of the property, abutting the east border of Spencer Smith Park, effectively making the park gateway down Brant Street a right-hand turn only! What about the green space that everyone had pleaded for in previous workshops? Oh, that would be between the two buildings. Really!

How could anyone believe The Planning Partnership’s recommendations when their evaluation of a design with a building on the west side (previous Concept 1) was that it could provide the exact same a) step back from Brant Street corridor b) transition to surrounding context c) create a gateway at Brant/ Lakeshore and c) provide transition to Spencer Smith Park, as a design with no building on the west side (previous Concept 2)?

And when the attendees tried to ask questions and raise concerns, there was just not enough time or microphones! Some of those disenfranchised citizens decided to do something about it, so Plan B was born.

It’s not rocket science.
The Plan B design simply employed the City’s own Concept 2; reducing the height of the buildings from 20 & 30 to 22 & 14 respectively, and effectively stepping the buildings down to the lake and the south eastern pathway of the park.

They just did what they thought the Planning Department should have done in the first place when they produced their Emerging Preferred Concept; provide the owner with the opportunity to develop his property in a fashion that respected his as-of-rights in exchange for more green space available to the public at the east end of Spencer Smith Park. A natural win-win!

Part 1: The background – how we got to where we are.

Part 2: Citizens want input.

 

Plan B rendering

This is the Plan B design – notice how it has both Brant and John Street emptying into the park.

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Developer tells city Council what his project is all about - council approves it on a 5-2 vote.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 16th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We are at a point in Burlington when a developer can have tonnes of abuse heaped upon them when they bring forward a project that many do not like.

Developers have to work within a set of rules and it is the job of the Planning department to ensure that the rules are adhered to.

Carriage Gate team

The planning advisor, Robert Glover, the planning consultant, Ed Fothergill and the building executive Mark Bales before a public meeting at which the citizens got their first look at the 421 Brant project that has been approved by city council.

When all the studies have been completed, when the staff within the Planning department have had their internal discussions a report is written and sent to a city Council Standing committee where there is extensive debate – often lasting hours.

It is interesting to note that during the Standing Committee debate there was just the one public delegation.

One also has to note that at that particular Standing Committee, James Ridge, the city manager inserted himself into the debate with comments that are seldom heard from a city manager.  Planning issues are the domain of the Director of Planning.

There is a segment of the Burlington population that does not like what it sees happening to the downtown core of the city.

Developers bring a project to a city Planning department; a report is prepared by people with designations that qualify them to make planning decisions.

That report gets debated by a city council, the people the citizens of the city elect. The current city council was elected in 2010 and every one of them re-elected in 2014. That is the democratic process we have and depend on.

Nick Carna take a picture of with Mayrose planner on right

Nick Carnicelli, centre, takes photographs of a city planning department presentation of his 421 Brant Street development

There is nothing corrupt about city council, they are not “in the pockets of the developers”.

With very few exceptions every home in this city was built by a developer that had to get a project through the planning process and then approved by the city council that was fairly elected.

Why we feel we have to beat up on as developer who followed all the rules is difficult to understand.

Nick Carnicelli, president of Carriage Gate, was the last delegator at the city council meeting last Monday. Here is what he had to say:

We are very proud of our project and the design excellence that it brings to the Downtown. A new building that enhances the streetscape and pedestrian experience while at the same time building on and enhancing important elements in the Downtown is very exciting.

We have assembled a team, including many pre-eminent planning, design and technical professionals. With their assistance, we have ensured that our project is comprehensively planned to address all relevant planning issues – it may well be the most comprehensively planned application that the City has ever received and builds on and enhances the most significant elements of the Downtown.

Our application has been reviewed within an emerging statutory framework for the Downtown based on the City’s Strategic Plan and will bring not only much needed housing to the Downtown BUT also new contemporary and usable retail and office space

In response to a rigorous review and scrutiny of the application by the City of Burlington, the Region of Halton and several other commenting agencies, many significant revisions have been made, with special attention being given to how people and land uses relate and work together at ground level and City-building initiatives:

The magnitude of the overall development has been reduced by approximately 25%. This has been accomplished by a number of changes related to not only the height of the building but also the size of the floor plate of the tower, the amount of the site that could be developed at-grade and revisions to the design of the building.

The entire building is pulled back from the property lines on all three sides – both the podium and the top to establish view corridors that do not exist today to frame City Hall, Civic Square and the Cenotaph. This has resulted in the buildable area of the site being reduced by 20% yet opportunities are provided for enhanced street-scaping, patios, tree planting, street furniture, paving materials and lighting to reinforce how special this site really is.

The lower podium adjacent to Brant and James has been cut back to provide view corridors – The original view corridor at the corner of Brant and James was 5 X 5 metres. It has been expanded to 16 X 16 square metres. This increases the size of the view corridor by over 500%.

The expanded view corridor in conjunction with wider sidewalks has resulted in a reduction in the amount of retail space – 17% not 30% as inadvertently noted by City staff. The benefits of the widened sidewalks, enhanced street-scaping, the view corridors and the construction of new contemporary retail space far outweighs the benefits of retaining a notional amount of outdated, obsolete and undesirable retail space.

The top floors of the building are pulled back even further and the height has been reduced by over 12.5 m. – 4 storeys

Tower floorplate has been reduced from 800 sq. m. to conform to the City’s Tall Building Guidelines and provide a slender tower.

The area of the proposed tower is well over 25% smaller than those that exist at adjacent buildings. In comparison, 478 Pearl Street built over 40 years ago is an 18 storey building with a floorplate of over 960 sq.
n. This is the equivalent of a 23 storey building built to current standards.

Nick Carnacelli

Nick Carnicelli

We are proposing to contribute to the easterly expansion Civic Square which has been presented as a significant City-building initiative.

Opportunities for public art are provided.

All of these changes recognize the importance of this site and its role within the evolving urban fabric of the Downtown. The City has never seen anything like this!

What Carnicelli didn’t say was that Carriage Gate began assembling property for this project ten years ago and that they at one point took a proposal to the Planning that met the 12 storey limit many people want.

It was a pretty plain looking building that used every possible foot of the property – not much in the way of a street-scape – but it met the rules.

The developer and the Planning department worked together to come up with the structure that met the new tall building guide lines that were new and the developer revised the proposal.

City council decided it was what the city needed and with two exceptions, the Mayor and the ward Councillor , voted for it.

Why are we beating up the developer?

 

Related news story:

Planning consultant explains the kind of growth Brant Street could see – become the spine of the city.

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Intensification is reaching into smaller neighbourhoods - land assembly taking place at James and Martha.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 17th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The developers are seeing the opportunities and are picking up bits and pieces of property just outside the downtown core.

The three homes that also serve as business premises on the south west corner of James and Martha, the ROCK Centre is just across the road, have reportedly been sold the Mattamy interests.

James and Martha

The three houses in the lower left hand corner are reported to have been sold.

The council member for the ward, ward 2, lives further north on Martha.

The Mattamy people built a large part of the Palmer Drive part of Burlington. They promote themselves as  Canada’s Top Home Builder · Over 90,000 Homes Built ·

No word on just what Mattamy intends to build – just that at least one of the business operations will be out of their space by the end of December.

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Jim Young tells about what he heard at a city council meeting - palpable feeling that there may have been a settling of old scores between some members of council

opinionandcommentBy James Young

November 15th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

In November of 2016 Jim Young said to city council during a debate on the amount of time a citizen would have to delegate that: “Sometimes it may seem as if we delegates are the enemy of the process. That we somehow stand in the way of the great works and plans you all have in mind for the city.

“The democratic processes of our city demand that qualified, talented professionals like the city staffs and managers, we are fortunate to have in Burlington, apply themselves to a certain vision of the city.

“That they nurse that vision through the often tortuous process to council for approval and implementation, only to have someone like me, a citizens delegate, put a flea in council’s ear, a spoke in staff’s well-oiled wheel and force a review all of their efforts and the inevitable delay that brings.”

Jim comments on the most recent meeting of city council.

On Monday night Burlington City Council, ignoring the more than 1400 signatures on a petition and the 13 delegations opposed to it, voted to break their own rules governing downtown development and allow the development of a 23 story building in contravention of their own 12 Story bylaw. (Only one delegate, the developer, spoke in favour of the project.)

This was a sad display of council voting against the vast majority of citizen opinion, a rejection of local voices made even sadder by the fact that compromise may have been possible. Instead entrenched positions and a degree of “Not in My Wardism” were allowed to carry the day.

Jim Young

Jim Young delegating before city council.

We all know and understand that council cannot be swayed by every nuance of public opinion, we elect them to lead and expect them to do so, but in this instance the opposition was so overwhelming and the possibility of compromise so obvious that the wisdom of the five Councillors who voted for the amendment, in a the year before an election, must be seriously questioned.

Why, for instance, could the developer not have settled on 15 or 17 floors, there would still be ample profit in this, it would still meet intensification targets and be much less intrusive on the character of the area?

Why was there no offsetting land allocation for park or green space? Why does council not hold the developer responsible for affordability units in the development? (Only vague and non-binding considerations on affordability are embodied in the proposal)

While sensible intensification and increased density are supported by all of council, city staff and the majority of citizen opinion, last night’s decision to allow a development so far removed from the official plan, existing bylaws and any sense of building proportion, may well prove to be a tipping point in the eventual destruction of Brant street as we know it. Other developers have already snapped up adjoining properties and now have the green light on non-complying developments.

Ironically, the idea of downtown walk-ability and community vibrancy that the downtown plan seeks are the very things that will be destroyed by developments like this as the floodgates open and they become the new downtown.

On Monday night, there was palpable feeling that there may have been a settling of old scores between some members of council and ward 2’s Councillor Meed Ward. It would be a sad day indeed if decisions of this importance are based on past enmities. Hopefully, electors will such behaviour accountable in next year’s civic election.

Jim Young

Jim Young as he thinks through a point he is making at a transit meeting.

On the subject of elections, if I may be so bold as to offer Councillor Dennison some advice: Questioning the integrity of a well-intended citizen petition is just not smart politics. Even if a few of the more than 1400 signatures were not fully vetted, disparaging the integrity of the signatories as well as insulting a lot of citizens, ward constituents and voters, is hardly the way to encourage civic engagement by well-meaning citizens. If a few signatures were disqualified would 1399 have swayed you?

Mayor Goldring had to remind the gallery of the rules of decorum at the groans which accompanied one Councillor’s suggestion that this would not set a precedent for future downtown development, (by Wednesday, one more developer had requested approval to add two more stories to a proposed building at Locust and Elgin Streets) or that council’s rejection of citizen input is a template for future engagement.

While he insisted, we will listen in future and staff will listen in future. The groans from the gallery suggested: “Then why are you not listening now?”

Burlington City Council loves to parade their national and international honours and laurels for civic engagement. They now have to learn that when you talk the self-congratulatory talk you must also walk that walk!

When you ask citizens to come together, ask for their input, then, when they do, you overwhelmingly reject them, you can no longer claim that high ground on civic engagement.

You either listen to your voters and compromise or they will assume their voices are only heard at election time with all the future electoral consequences that entails.

 

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Is there a way to make what many feel is a minus into a plus for the city?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 15, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The decision has been made.

421 BrantThe condominium that is to be built on the corner of Brant and James Street is to rise up to 23 storeys.

How many parking spaces, the number of elevators, how many, if any, affordable units – all that will get worked out in the months and weeks ahead.

We now know that the land assembly of the block to the south is all but complete – just the jewellery store to be acquired.

What we heard however is that the block to the south – the one that was once the Elizabeth Interiors operation – is going to be limited to 17 stories – a limit that is set out in the Downtown Core Mobility Hub that isn’t cast in stone yet.

That could be both a mistake and a missed opportunity.

We have yet to hear much in the way of negative comment on city hall as a structure. It gets referred to as “iconic” and the city planner likes the building.

Given that we are going to have high rise buildings can we not make the best of it.  If the city hall is really “iconic” (I’ve yet to be convinced) then feature it.

While Burlingtonians hate Toronto being made a reference point – bear with me.

When you drive up University Avenue from Front Street and approach Adelaide there are two towers (Toronto type towers) on either side of the street. Both are Sun Life Assurance buildings meant to frame University as you go north.

University Avenue Toronto

Set aside that the two buildings on either side of University Avenue in Toronto loom over the street – it’s Toronto. Note the way they frame the street.

The photograph we have dropped in isn’t all that good but it makes the point. It is possible to have buildings in place that serve as a frame to what lies beyond.

Now come back to Burlington and place yourself on James Street a block or two along the street and look towards city hall.

James looking at city hall

James Street looking west to Brant Street.

The current Carriage Gate building, on the right in the photograph, which is going to be turned into a 23 story tower. That is a done deal.

The property on the left, now the vacated Elizabeth Interiors store will fall within the rules that are going to govern the development limits for the Downtown Mobility Hub.

There is an opportunity here.

Someone with initiative and a desire to see something significant come out of the decision that has been made could pick up an idea like this and make a difference.

Why not work with Carriage Gate and Revenue Properties (the people who are assembling the block south of Brant and James) and build a better city.

Look for a design that is as close as possible to identical in design and have them rise to the same height. Same set back from the side walk; same trees, same patio set up, same sidewalk furniture.

The public art set outside each building would complement each other.

That is something that people could be proud of and perhaps change the way downtowners look upon their city. For those who need the quaint and historical the Queen’s Head and the old Russel Hotel will still be there.

Can the 421 project be more than just the first high rise tower in the downtown core?

Look at the Sun life building on University.

All this assumes that those opposed to the Carriage Gate building don’t take their beef to the OMB.

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