Councillor Taylor now in save the waterfront views mode - he wasn't there in 2015 when it really counted.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 14th, 2017



Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor was Ok with a 23 storey tower opposite city hall. His focus was on saving the waterfront view.

He called it the view the  jewel of the city.

“The lake is the prize” he said, “we have to protect that view.”


What a view. Councillor Taylor, along with the other members of Council except Meed Ward, voted to sell it to private interests.

Taylor needs to be reminded of the position he took in 2015 when he voted to sell lakeside land to property owners whose homes abutted land the city owned.

There were several small parcels of land owned by the city and the provincial government.

A staff report on what was to be done with property that was referred to as “windows to the lake”.
The Staff report set out three choices: Do nothing, lease the land or sell it.


The graphic tells the story. The city owned the land inside the red boundary line. Three property owners had land that abutted the city property. The city sold the land they owned for peanuts. Taylor voted for the sale of that “prize”.

Residents whose property abutted the land saw an opportunity and moved quickly to make an offer. The succeeded in convincing the city to sell them the land and today those property owners have a superb view over the lake and no longer have to put up with the public walking past the edge of their property.


Councillor Taylor – protecting those waterfront views.

During that debate Councillor Taylor grumbled about creating new parkland saying that there was a public park less than a block away. And indeed there was a public park – Port Nelson Park – a small patch of land that has a very good view of the lake.

Taylor said at the time that the public didn’t need anymore parkland in that part of the city.

Taylor was quite right – the “lake is the prize” – then why did he go along with selling lakefront property to private interests in 2015?

We will never know – and that magnificent stretch of land will never be in the hands of the public again.

Indeed the lake is the prize.

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Dennison dismissive towards citizen presenting petition to city council.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 14th, 2017



Has there ever been a citizen petition that Councillor Jack Dennison thought had some merit?

He certainly didn’t have much time for the petition Joanne Arnold presented to city council last night when the decision to approve the bylaw necessary to allow the developer to proceed with the next step as being debated.

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

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison – not a fan of citizen petitions.

We have yet to see Councillor Dennison ever accept a petition at face value. He consistently challenges the contents of a petition – last night he asked Ms Arnold if she could verify the 144 names that were on the petition – she could not.

“Were they all from Burlington” Dennison asked. Ms Arnold said that some of the people who responded may have been out of the country and responded from wherever they were.

Dennison managed to discredit what the delegator believed was a demonstration of commitment.

He was having none of it.

So much for encouraging people to express their views.  It will be sometime before Joanne Arnold chooses to appear before city council

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Meed Ward leaves the city council meeting with her head held high - bloodied but not bowed.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 14th, 2017



She did what she always does – hammers away at the point she wants to make.

421 Brant

If there is going to be any grass near the now approved 23 storey condominium the city is going to have to lay sod in the Civic Square.

During the lengthy city council meeting Monday evening Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward asked each of the delegations what they thought was an appropriate height for the condominium tower that has been proposed for the north east corner of Brant and John Streets – across the street from city hall.

Meed Ward knew what the answers were going to be – there wasn’t a single delegation that was for the 23 storeys that were recommended by the Planning department. The developer had asked for 27 storeys.

Councillor Shar,man with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions. Both are strong contributors to Council and Committee meetings

Councillor Sharman with his back to the camera debates with Councillor Meed Ward during Strategy Planning sessions. She doesn’t back away from a difference of opinion. Neither does he.

Meed Ward has always been opposed to height in the downtown core. She has a following and represents the views and feelings for the city that many want to retain.

The Mayor sort of shares her view – he just isn’t as good as she is at making her point and sticking to it.

Meed Ward is the only member of Council who consistently asks questions of delegations and staff.

She’s not shy about saying she doesn’t understand something. She sees her role as that of getting the answers she needs and doing the same for her constituents.

Monday evening was a disappointing night for Marianne Meed Ward on several levels – she didn’t make as much as a dent in the position four of the members of council had taken.

She is never going to get a change of mind or a change of heart from Councillors Craven or Sharman.

They had every reason to be smiling. Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster pose with five members of the Friends of Freeman Station after the Council meeting that approved the entering into of a Joint Venture that would have the Friends moving the station and taking on the task of renovating the building.

Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster pose with five members of the Friends of Freeman Station.

She will get a smidgen of acknowledgement from Dennison. She and Councillor Lancaster have never been close – except for the exceptional work the two of them did in saving the Freeman station.

Meed Ward sits beside Councillor Taylor – if anyone was going to side with her philosophically it would have been Taylor – he didn’t budge.

So – what does Meed Ward take away from the decision? She certainly keeps her followers happy – are there enough of them to elect her as Mayor in the October 2018 election?

If Burlington is going to elect Meed Ward as Mayor they want to ensure that they elect people who share some of her views – or this city will face four years of political grid lock.

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Elgin Street closed, Locust Street to Blathwayte Lane, Nov. 14 - 15, 2017

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 13th, 2017


Elgin Street between Locust Street and Blathwayte Lane will be closed on November 14 and 15, 2017 from 7:00 am to 7:00 p.m. for excavation work.

Signs and barricades will be up.

The Saxony development has had excavation problems related to water that wasn’t originally evident.


Excavation work at the Saxony development site.

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Whose city is it? Muir asks: Who do you represent? - You're not representing the citizens that elected you.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

November 12th, 2017



Tom Muir has been delegating to city council as long as the current members have been keeping those council seat warm. John Taylor has served the longest – close to 25 years. Muir is relentless. When he gets his teeth into a bone he just doesn’t let go.

The city is facing a point where it has to decide how it wants to grow and where that growth should take place,

The focus is on Brant Street at this point where a developer has assembled property and taken a proposal for a 27 story condominium to the city’s Planning and Development department where is was recommended but reduced to 23 storey’s.  City Council’s Planning and Development committee approved the Staff recommendation on a vote of 5-2. Monday night it goes to city council where it will be approved, revised or nor approved. Here is what Muir thinks of the process so far.

Dear Councilors,
I provided written correspondence on this item to the P&D meeting of Nov. 1, but I was unable to attend that meeting personally.

At this stage in the process, with Committee approval, the conversation here is largely political. With this in mind, a quote credited to Councilor Meed Ward, summarizes accurately and succinctly a question I have been wondering about in terms of how I see this Council operating.

Burlington aerial

Whose city is it?

“Whose City is it?”

To which I must add from my own experience; Councilors, Who do you represent?

From the evidence that I have been easily able to gather, on this matter, you are, most of you, not representing the citizens that elected you. You appear to have been immunized against the opinions of your constituents.

It is their city, but you do not appear to be hearing them. They are telling you loud and clear that they don’t want these building heights/density, with the associated problems, and they want to know why you are not enforcing the existing laws.

I looked at several recent staff report sections containing public comments. Many of these comments were lengthy and reasoned.

421 Brant St. Neighborhood Meeting: 22 comments – 20 opposed 2 supportive, of which 1 was in the development business.

421 Brant St Statutory Meeting: Of 10 comments, with no exception, the original proposed height of 27 stories was unacceptable – not just a little bit, like 23 is okay, but it was a rejection. For representative examples you can see my P&D correspondence.

421 Brant St. P&D Meeting Nov. 1. There was 1 personal delegation opposed.

There were 3 letters of correspondence, of which 2 were opposed, and 1 offered support for redevelopment but wanted to see compliance with existing OP and bylaws.

So out of 36 public comments received, 33, or 92% are opposed.

And the city says the public is broadly consulted, and uses that claim to defend decisions that are clearly opposed by the public in these consultations.

So who is represented here, and whose city is it really?

Muir glancing

Aldershot resident Tom Muir.

Going further in my findings of public comments on current proposals, let’s consider the Molinaro proposal for 22 (or 24?) stories on Brock St.

Molinaro Brock St. Neighborhood meeting: 9 are opposed, and none spoke in support.

Molinaro Statutory Meeting of Nov. 6/17: There were 4 personal delegations and all were opposed.

There were 13 additional written comments, 12 of which are opposed, and 1 was neither clearly opposed nor supportive, but had several issues and concerns.

So on the Molinaro proposal, there are 26 public expressions of comments, of which 0 speak in support, 1 is equivocal, and 25 are opposed. So basically 100% do not support the proposal.

We can go to the Waterfront, and see the same dominant opposition to the city planners and developer proposals. Or elsewhere, and let’s not forget the ADI Martha St. proposal.

Comments are often lengthy, and basically express the same issues and problems. Consistent concerns are always height, density, no respect for bylaw limits and creeping up proposal by proposal, staff traffic, congestion, parking assertions that are completely at odds with public comment and concern and reality even, and many others you can read.

And adding insult to injury, city and Council can’t wait to hear the residents comment on what they think of the new OP, bylaws, and Mobility Hub ideas before voting to go far beyond anything in those documents for this location.

The draft plan ideas are still just that – not vetted, not discussed or debated, and have no approval and are therefore not policy relevant or legal. Given this, the Committee approval here makes a farce out of the formal consultation to come before it even happens.

To me this erases all doubt that the city, planners, and Council don’t respect or really care to hear what the public thinks of these plans, and wants for what is their city.

Muir making a point

Muir delegates and is an active participant at community meetings.

Instead of waiting, as is legitimate and appropriate, decisions are made to go over and above even the 17 story limit proposed, but not approved, for this site in the new Mobility Hub Precinct ideas.
The existing limit is 12, the proposed is 17, but the City Manager and his planners, want 23. And Committee voted 5 to 2 in favor

Is that how Council wants to be seen as representing the people? In a way that drives cynicism?

Some of you say “tall buildings are the future” and “citizens need to get over their concerns”. Well, “tall” buildings in Burlington are anything above 11 stories. So the present permissible of 12 is tall. And certainly the 17 proposed in the Mobility Hub Brant St Precinct is tall. So we are there already.

Consider that the draft 17 is about half way between the existing 12 allowed, and the 23 proposed, perhaps that would be a satisfactory compromise, a hair-splitting solution, to meet there, half-way.

There are other buildings nearby that are tall, so perhaps, in that context, the citizens “could get over their concerns” with this height, if they saw something of their wants being heard.

The people have spoken pretty loud and clear – note the almost 1300 (as of Sunday Nov. 12 at 5:00PM) who signed the petition opposing the proposal.

My ask is this. I read that the Mayor and Councillor Meed Ward, in voting against approval at Committee, suggested that 17 stories was something they could live with, since we seem to be going in that direction in the draft, but not approved plans.

Burlington City Council Group

Who do they represent?

So I ask one of them to move, and the other to second, a motion to debate modifying the proposal to 17 stories, and for Council to approve that modification, and send it to staff for appropriate action.

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A petition that wants to have 1500 signatures has reached 1300 a day before city council meets to vote on the development for a 23 storey tower opposite city hall.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 12th, 2017



421 Brant

The seven members of city council, sitting as members of the Planning and Development Standing Committee, voted to send the proposal to city council for approval.

A petition has been created for those who want to oppose the Planning and Development committee approved development.

Five of the seven council members recommended that a revised development proposal go to city council where it has to be approved if it is to go forward.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and the Mayor opposed the development. Those two are expected to run for the office of Mayor in 2018.

The people who started the petition are looking for 1500 signatures – at this point they have more than 1300. Petition

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

Marianne Meed Ward with the Mayor.

City council meets Monday evening at 6:30 where approval of the Standing Committee will be debated. A number of delegations are registered to speak for five minutes each.

To sign the position CLICK here.


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A former Mayor said to the current Mayor that ...


opinionandcommentBy Staff

November 11, 2017



What does a former Mayor say to the current Mayor on issues they disagree on?

Munron Mary

Mary Munro – Burlington Mayor 1997 and 1998

Mary Munro, Burlington’s Mayor in 1977 and 1998 has said to Walter Mulkewich Mayor from 1992 to 1997 that she didn’t ever vote for a high rise on Lakeshore Road.

The Bridgewater project was approved during Mulkewich’s term as Mayor.

Now Munro wants our current Mayor to know that she isn’t particularly impressed with what he is doing either.

In a Letter Munro said:

Dear Mayor Goldring:

First of all, I was bemused the City Manager, James Ridge, led off @ what was a Planning Committee discussion of a proposed project. Also bemused by his statement of the desirable merits of the project, leaving no doubts about his support. I wonder about Ridge’s history and his planning experience, let alone the propriety of his intervening @ the outset of discussion — would it be he wanted to forestall the usual agenda, i.e. Planning Dept.’s introduction and explanations of the effects of the project? or to discourage interveners’ arguments or presentations ?

James Ridge - looking right

Burlington city manager James Ridge

I believe Ridge’s statements were prejudicial to the aim of the public meeting, i.e to hear from Burlington citizens their views, and to let City Councillors debate the issues without the bias, possibly formed by Ridge’s remarks.

On the merits of the project , as an active and involved Burlington resident since 1959, I somehow “blew it” by long before now, not being aware of the changes to the Official Plan and Zoning By-Laws that allow dense development on Burlington’s “Main Street “. I thought , obviously wrong, we all had a vision of Burlington following the wise moves of our sister communities on the shores of Lake Ontario to stand against density in their downtown and to promote historical and profitable enterprises in their town centres.

It seems to me, B has little likely hood of becoming more than a city of tall towers, not treasuring it’s history and wonderful attractions. More than that, it might be possible to affect change, so late in the game, by looking carefully at candidates in our next City election.

Ask yourself, do we really want reps who say “The future is in tall buildings.” Or one who called “the project fantastic”. Or one who said ” Councillors have to view everything from a high level'”.

This is your city evolved by truly dedicated people — so why not take ownership of your own interests in how we live?

Mary G. Munro

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Two very different views on how the Waterfront Hotel property should be re-developed are now on the table. How we got to this point is a long story. It is your city - make your views known.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 10, 2017


Burlington is in the midst of perhaps the most significant changes it has had to deal with in 20 years.  Brant Street is going to look a lot different in ten years; the waterfront will undergo some change.  The way people get around the city will change.  These are all complex matters.  The Gazette will publish a series of articles on what is planned for the Waterfront Hotel site at the foot of Brant Street.  This is the first of that series.

A number of years ago during a conversation with a resident about the planned development of a property that was once the Rivera Motel I mentioned the proposed height. The resident said: “I don’t think you have that right, the city would never allow a building that high on the south side of Lakeshore Road in the Downtown core.”

Bridgewater from the west - higher elevation

Architectural rendering of the Bridgewater project – view is from the lake. The Waterfront Hotel re-development is to the left (west) of the Bridgewater project.

Little did she know that the city had indeed approved – in 1995 – a structure that was originally going to be 30 storeys but got cut back to 22 storeys. They called it a “Legacy” development in those days.

Today it is known as the Bridgewater project: it rises higher and higher each day as the three structure development begins to change the skyline.


Dee Dee Davies, the woman who does a lot of the legwork from the Burlington Waterfront Group sent us a note recently saying there is “Lots happening related to our waterfront.

“This relates to the hotel and private lands at the foot of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road. The city wants to get ahead of the game by determining the resident’s perspective and setting new zoning standards for the updated Official Plan.

Site aerial

The Waterfront Hotel is on the left – the excavated site of the Bridgewater three structure development is on the right.

Following several community workshops, where the city’s consultant appeared to be taking note of the community’s wishes, a preferred concept was presented at the final public workshops on September 14.

That preferred concept “calls for two buildings with various numbers of levels stepped down towards the lake. The west tower would be between 14 – 18 floors and the east tower between 20 – 25 floors, with a 25 metre separation between the towers as public space.

This retains the view corridor along John Street. The buildings would be commercial, residential, hotel, and public service (public washrooms) uses.

Dee Dee Davies went on to say that: “Residents have concerns over this preferred concept on so many fronts. We heard they want only buildings on the east side closest to the Bridgewater complex of less than 20 stories to maximize green space adjacent to Spencer Smith Park. We, along with some of our community partners, are working to develop a concept plan that meets residents needs and present this to city staff before they meet with Council in November.

Dee Dee Davies wants to ensure that the alternative concept put forward by the residents gets serious consideration before it is too late.

On Thursday, Sept. 14, two community workshops took place at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. At the workshops, results from a survey that asked for input on three concepts for the site were shared and an emerging concept for the site was presented. Table group discussions also took place to obtain further input.

The city has said that “With input from the Sept. 14 meetings as well as information from additional technical studies, the emerging concept will be refined. Draft preferred concepts are expected to be presented to Burlington City Council in November 2017.”

Burlington is a different city today – what city council decided to do in 1995 for the Bridgewater project is not what they would get away with today.

Many are very upset with what they see coming out of the Mobility Hub studies. Some are apoplectic over a 23 storey tower going up across the street from city hall. That decision has been made; it was approved on a 5-2 at a Standing Committee meeting and goes to city Council on November 13th for final approval.

Waterfront site

The darker blue area is where the Waterfront re-development is going to built. What the Bridgewater development will look like when completed is on the right.

The work being done by the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study is being led by Todd Evershed and Rosalind Minaji. Their mandate is a study that specifically addresses redevelopment options for the Waterfront Hotel site at 2020 Lakeshore Road. The team has ongoing discussion and dialogue with the planners doing the Mobility Hub planning.

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study Stakeholder Advisory Committee includes Mayor Rick Goldring, Councillor Marianne Meed-Ward, Darko Vranich owner of the hotel, Kyle Plas, Denise Beard, Charles Priddle, Curt Benson, Lisa De Angelis, Mark Eade, Susan Morrissey and Hashem Mousavi

“The Waterfront Hotel planning study will guide the property owner in the redevelopment of the site. Located next to two of Burlington’s most significant landmarks, Spencer Smith Park and the Brant Street Pier, input from residents is needed to ensure the new development reflects a high quality of urban design that enhances the community’s access to the waterfront and the downtown.”

The Planning Study for the redevelopment of the waterfront site at Lakeshore Road and Brant Street, including the Waterfront Hotel, has been underway for some time. Some of the land south of the Waterfront Hotel is landfill which brought the Conservation Authority into the picture.

The city has known for some time that Darko Vranich owner of the hotel has wanted to increase the density on the property and construct a much larger hotel complex.

The thinking, going back at least ten years, was to re-orient the hotel and have its focus westward along what is now called the Naval Promenade. All kinds of reports and studies were commissioned.

When the owner of the Waterfront hotel let the city know that he wanted to add some height to the land there was an agreement struck that the city would hire people to come up with some design ideas. Three teams of designer/thinkers were to be assembled; two would work with the city – a third would work with the developer. And the developer would pay for all three studies.

That got us to where we are today.

But the natives are restless – they have seen where the developers want to take Brant Street and they fear that the Waterfront hotel property development will become yet another development they have no input on.

The city explains that: “The goal of the Planning Study is to establish the Strategic Framework to guide development on the site by generating and assessing Alternative Redevelopment Explorations, through a public consultation process. The result of the study will be an Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment.

The Brant & Lakeshore Planning Study will establish a Strategic Framework to guide development on the site.

They will develop and assess Optional Redevelopment Concepts along with any formal development applications submitted on behalf of the property owner

The redevelopment of this site must meet the City’s urban design and growth management goals, as well as enhance the adjacent public space and waterfront.

All this resulted in a series of Design Charrette sessions. Several frameworks were put in place to guide the design work – Land Use/ Built Form, Public Realm, and Mobility/Access were set out as the guiding principles.

During the design charrette sessions, led by a member of the Project Team, participants developed 8 Explorations for the study area. Four Explorations were developed in both the afternoon and evening sessions.

Each Exploration was developed within a unique framework with varying Land Use/ Built Form, Public Realm, and Mobility/Access characteristics and with the Vision Statement and Design Principles.

These concepts were posted for comment from the public, community groups, City staff, the Stakeholder Advisory Committee and The Planning Partnership team, and distilled into 4 Explorations based on the input received.

Here is what came out of those design sessions:

The ideas that came out of each Exploration session (there were four of them with afternoon and evening sessions) were displayed as a drawing and then as a visualization of the drawing.

Session 1

Exploration 1 Afternoon Cit

Exploration 1 Afternoon session

Exploration 1 Afternoon - Plan

City visualization Exploration 1 afternoon session



Exploration 2 afternoon plan

City visualization of the Exploration 2 afternoon session

Exploration 2 evenin cit

Exploration 2 evening event

Exploration 2 evening plan

City visualization of Exploration 2 evening session.



Session 2

Exploration 2 afternoon cit

Exploration 2 – afternoon session

Session 3

Exploration 3 afternoon public

Exploration 3 – afternoon session

Exploration 3 evening public

Exploration 3 – evening session.

Session 4

Exploration 4 evening public

Exploration 4 evening session

Exploration 4 evening city

City visualization of exploration 4 evening session


Out of all the work done by the design charettes two distinctly different views are now before the public.

The city planning department Preferred Concept and the design put forward by the community group – Plan B.

Plan B rendering

This is the plan that a citizen’s group wants. They have moved all the buildings on the east side of the site leaving a much more open area at the foot of Brant Street.

City preferred

The city planning department has put forward what they are calling the “Emerging Preferred Concept that will have the public access at the foot of John Street and a more limited access at the foot of Brant.


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What's the rush - slow down and let the public decide what should be done during the next municipal.election

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 9th, 2017



What is the rush?

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThe Draft of the Official Plan will be public on Friday – it runs close to 1000 pages. Those with a major interest in the contents of that document are going to have less than 20 days to respond to it.

Suzanne Mammel, the Halton Hamilton Home Builders Association (HHHBA) Executive Officer explains that Official Plans usually go through at least half a dozen versions. The current document is in its second version.

Burlingtonians complain loudly and frequently about how city council fails to uphold there Official Plan.

There are four Mobility Hub studies taking place. The city wants to get the Downtown Core Mobility Hub approved before the end of the year.

Emerging Preferred conceptThere are the plans for the redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel property that the city is pushing with their Emerging Preferred Concept. There are citizens who don’t like what they are seeing.

What’s the rush?

The word is that James Ridge the city manager wants as much of this as possible approved by city council before they all move into major election mode.

There are citizens who want to suggest to the city manager that he lighten up and let these issues become election issues.

Related news stories:
The HHHBA has issues with the draft Official Plan.

What the HHHBA had to say with the first version of the Official Plan

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There is a Plan B for the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel property - a group of residents don't like the ideas the city Planning department seems to favour.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 9th, 2017



Back in 1995 city council approved the building of a hi-rise tower on Lakeshore Road – roughly where the Riviera Motel used to be.

It was originally going to be 30 storeys high. Shovels didn’t go into the ground until 2016 by which time the project became a three building project: 22 storey condo, 9 storey hotel and a smaller 7 storey condo.

Delta Hotel on the right and the 22 storey Bridgewater condominium on the left. Fianlly underway?

The Bridgewater development – seen from Lakeshore Road.

Many people were surprised when they learned of the project – they felt the view of the lake was being lost.

There is now another project that threatens to lessen the view of the lake – but this time city council is not going to get as easy a ride as they did in 1995.

There is a group of citizens that want to ensure that the public has a lot to say about this project before it goes too far.

The project is the plans to re-develop the Waterfront Hotel property.

There have been numerous public workshops – registration was less than 50 people most times.

The Planners want to take their favoured concept to a city council Standing committee at the end of the month.

Not so fast is the approach a group known as Plan B who want to slow the decision making process down to allow for far more public input.

They have a petition and a survey they would like people to take part in. Here is their story.

We are circulating links to a City survey and a Petition that we hope you will complete. The Petition takes about 1 minute and the survey maybe 2. This is your chance to influence what direction the City takes with your waterfront.

Emerging Preferred conceptYou may be aware that Burlington City Staff are in the process of developing a master plan for the property on the south side of Lakeshore Road at the foot of Brant Street where the Waterfront Hotel is currently located. This is required prior to the land being redeveloped by its owner.

Staff will be taking two concepts to City Council on November 28, 2017 at 6:30 pm (City Hall). Their first, Option A was developed by a consultant after several meetings with residents. It didn’t capture what residents were asking for, so they developed Option B. Again, it doesn’t capture what citizens are asking for and in some sense could be considered worse, so they are seeking input.

Plan B renderingOn November 6, three community organizations – Plan B (Burlington Waterfront Hotel Redevelopment), Burlington Waterfront, and Burlington Green met with city staff to discuss an alternative that more closely aligns with what we have heard residents asking for at the public meetings held by City staff.

City staff have a survey on their website asking for input on their two options.
Plan B has a petition asking residents to say no to City’s Option A and yes to Citizen Plan B that mitigates some of the issues of the City’s Option B.

Please open the link to the Petition first to view the Plan B proposal prior to completing the City survey so you can reply with an informed perspective.

Plan B petition – click here.

City staff short online survey

The Burlington Waterfront organization came out of what was once the Waterfront Advisory Committee that was set up by then Mayor Cam Jackson.  The 2010 city council disbanded that committee.

At the time both the Mayor and the then newly elected Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward said they were going to set up waterfront committees.  The Mayor either lost interest or was beaten to the punch by Meed Ward.  She worked with interested people to get them started but never actually ran the committee.

Why didn’t the Mayor and Meed Ward work together?  Not a chance – Meed Ward has wanted to be Mayor since the day she decided to run for public office.

Burlington Waterfront is now a group of people who keep their eye on the waterfront and hold informative public meetings.  Part of that operation is a group called Plan B – they didn’t like what they sensed was the city was going in and they began to organize.

The petition is just the first step.

Burlington Waterfront

Related news story.

What has been happening on the waterfront.


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Ward 2 Councillor produces a no minced words video on her opposition to the recommended 23 storey tower opposite city hall.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

November 9th, 2019



Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has always been a strong social media maven. She understands the technology and as a television broadcaster understands the visual medium.


Marianne Meed Ward at a city council meeting.

She is strongly opposed to the approval of a 23 storey structure at the corner of James and Brant street – opposite city hall.

Council gave the building its approval at a Standing Committee a few days ago. That recommendation goes to city Council on the 13th where it gets made the law of the land. If Council votes for the recommendation that came from the Standing Committee (and given that the same people are on the Committee and city council, the expectation is that it will be passed) a bylaw is passed and that’s the end of that story.

Meed Ward has never shied away from controversy. She is described as divisive – as if there is something wrong with that.

The two votes against the project were from the Mayor and Meed Ward. In order for that committee vote to be changed at city council two of the five that voted for it will have to change their minds. It is a defining moment for the city.

Councillors Craven, Taylor, Sharman, Dennison and Lancaster voted for the development.

Meed Ward produced a video – about a minute and a half long. She doesn’t mince her words.
Check it out.

Kelly Childs, owner of Kellys Bake Shop has also done a video. Hers runs for a full 32 minutes.


Related news stories:

Standing Committee approves 23 storey condo opposite city hall.

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City council decides it can live with a 23 storey tower in the downtown core opposite city hall.

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 3rd, 2017



Well … at least it wasn’t one of those dreaded 4-3 votes that our city council strives to avoid – it was 5-2 to approve the construction of a 23 story tower that will rise at the corner of Brant and James Street opposite city hall.

421 Brant

When completed it will be the tallest building in the city.

The developer had asked for 27 storeys – Planning department came back with 23 and that is where they settled.

“The future is tall buildings” said ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven who added the “citizens need to get over there concerns.”

Councillor Blair Lancaster was very impressed with the staff work – she saw all kinds of best practices. Councillor Dennison liked it – no surprise there.

Councillor Taylor said he will not support waterfront buildings but did support this one because it was not on the waterfront.

Sharman: in favour of project.

Meed Ward H&S profile

Councillor Meed Ward wanted the height limited to 17 storeys – other than the Mayor no one agreed with her.

Meed Ward was not in favour of the development. She said residents want Brant protected from tall buildings. “We must adhere to our official plan and mobility study. There is a disconnect here between staff and the public. It should be a maximum 12 stories.”

Taylor: no tall buildings on the waterfront. Will not support waterfront build but do support this one as it’s not on the waterfront.

The Mayor said the draft mobility hub plan and official plan (albeit old) should be considered and that he thought 17 stories is best. The Mayor said the city needed to protect Brant south of Caroline.

Sharman: in favour of project.

This city council has decided that they can live with what was proposed. Quite what the difference is between a 23 story structure and a 27 storey structure other than the 4 storeys escapes this writer.

The developer now needs to continue the negotiations with the city on the site plan and what there might be in the way of benefits to the city for the additional height and density.

Require the developer to put up a building that would make everyone proud.

Goldring - Christmas picture

The Mayor thought 17 floors was better and decided to vote against the staff recommendation of 23 storeys.

One observer at the meeting pointed out that the Mayor managed to wait until it was clear which direction the vote was going in and then managed to vote against the development after it was a fait accompli. “So much for his support” said the observer who added that “Marianne Meed Ward is alone on this council with regard to the tall building fight! It seems the other Councillors don’t care if it’s not in their ward.”

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Is six storeys for residential buildings what Burlington wants or should strive for?

opinionandcommentBy Greg Woodruff

November 3, 2017



Lots of talk at last night’s council meeting on developing Brant street.

The thing that horrifies me is that people in support of the 23 story building or against it seem to have no idea why. Developer wants 27 stores, staff want 23 and the mayor wants 17. Average is 22.3 should we go with that? Here is how you should actually decide these things – with math.

Paris apartment - cropped

The typical Paris apartment building – six floors – “people love them”claims Woodruff.

You never need to build buildings more than 6 floors high – ever. Skip the math if you like – down town Paris, France has a density of 210 per hectare and the buildings are limited to 6 floors – people love that place. The province requires 200 per hectare in down town Burlington. So in practice you can see an actual functional example of the density not needing to be high at all.

However for the skeptics lets go through the math and see why that is. I’m going to round these numbers for readability.

1 Hectare = 107,639 square feet
8% loss for roads/sidewalk 100,000 square feet (107,639/0.92)
50% lot coverage 50,000 square feet (100,000/2)
4/6 floors of living 200,000 square feet (50,000*4)
10% Hallway and amenity loss 180,000 square feet (200,000*0.9)
Density of 200 people or jobs per hectare 900 square feet living a person. (180,000/2)

I support large flexible large family apartments so my sizes are 1 bedroom 800 and 2 bedroom 1,200 and 3 bedroom 1,600. This is 6 floor buildings with a floor of commercial at ground floor and a floor of office space and left 50% of the ground open and provided very generous apartment sizes. I still have 5,000 square feet of feet space left over assuming all 1 bed room apartments with 1 person each which is not true in practice. This means lots and lots of space to add back to open space, road/sidewalks or reduce the building to 3 floors along the street which is preferred by pedestrians.

For reference the current density of Burlington is 10 people per hectare possibly 20 per hectare in the non-green belt area. Taking the already build on area to 200 per hectare would mean 2 million people would live here. Even if Copenhagen like ‘alternative’ transportation rates – which there is no evidence at all we could get anywhere close to and have done nothing to produce – road congestion and pollution alone will have reduced this area to a terrible slum long before we get anywhere close to that. The 183 cars proposed in this development alone would stretch out more that 1km in bumper to bumper traffic. That’s half the distance from the lake to Fairview street – from one development. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Which gets back to the decision. We can have high buildings – if the local community gets so much for the building – they want it. Seems the only people who want this building are the developers, city staff and councilors that do not represent Ward 2.

So would I approve it – no. It can be limited to 6 floors (yes I know the zoning is 12 at present) or the developers can come back with a better offer that gets people who live down town on board. The principle is: We live here – we decide.

Buildings larger than 6 floors are not required by any provincial planning document. Target density numbers of 200 people per hectare (down town) and 150 (mobility hub) do not require sky scrapers.

People who tell you large buildings are needed to hit density numbers are either mis-informed or spouting gibberish.

Greg Woodruff

Greg Woodruff

Greg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who has a propensity for numbers and mathematics.  He ran as a candidate for Chair of the Region of Halton in the 2014 election.  He appears to be setting himself up for a run in the Mayoralty race in 2018. His views are his own and are published as part of a civic debate.

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Trained as a classical piano player Suzanne Mammel now directs the Home Builders Association that covers Hamilton and all of the Halton Region.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 2nd, 2017



The city of Burlington Planning department has basically wrapped up their work on the draft of the new Official Plan – a red ribbon and a bow and it will be ready for the public. The document is going to get to the public November 10th.

When Suzanne Mammel heard that she at first gulped and then said to herself – really!

Mammel is the Executive Officer of the Hamilton Halton Home Builders Association (HHHBA); the wording of the Official Plan is critical to her membership and vital to the citizens of Burlington.

Mammel - surprise

Suzanne Mammel is the Executive Officer of the Hamilton Halton Home Builder’s Association

Mammel, who at first says the current Official Plan is sadly out of date and that “if we are going to have a new Official Plan then let’s get it right” feels the most significant document the city has is being rushed through the Planning department.  Why she asks.

Part of her concern with the rush that is taking place to get the document passed by city Council is that they appear to be trying to get it in place before the next municipal election. Besides being a very important document – it is also a very long document. “I spent weeks reading that document – I’m one of the few people that has read every page of it – I took it to Newfoundland and to Hawaii as I travelled.

“This document sets out policy before all the background work has been done.

“Representing my association, I met with the city planners and took them through a 30 page document that set out our concerns – we didn’t get any answers from the planners – they weren’t ready to respond.”

Mammel said she gets the impression that the planners are not going to listen to anyone.

When an Official Plan is written the document goes through several version – sometime six or seven versions – “the differences get worked out”.

Mammel was very surprised that there was not more in the way of delegations


Big rush to get the new Official Plan approved by Council – why? Can’t the city take the time to get it right the first time?

The Official Plan the public will see later this month will have gone through just two versions. Mammel is of the view that her association will not support the Plan and are prepared to take it to the Ontario Municipal Board if that becomes necessary.

“We want the city Planning department to do their job properly – let’s do it right and take the time to get it right”, said Mammel.

Where is the problem?

Mammel is of the view that the politicians “are positioning themselves for an election that is less than a year away and they want to be able to say that they have put a new Official Plan in place. The problem with that approach is that once the Plan is final the thing has no teeth to fix it.”

The city has rushed forward with the Mobility hub concept – and are pushing hard to get the Downtown Mobility Hub approved so they can put a check mark in the box and tell the public it has been done.

Mammel isn’t at all sure that the public really understands what it taking place.

People in Burlington complain bitterly that city council consistently allows developments that do not conform to the Official Plan. Mammel explains that is happening because the existing plan is so badly out of date.  She sees the need for a new Official Plan and wants to ensure that the city gets it right.

Mammel is a graduate of Queen’s University where she studied music – she then studied engineering at Mohawk College and has worked in the construction sector since graduating.  She has been with the HHHBA for the past three years.

Downtown hub - parking lot

Ground zero for the Downtown Mobility Hub – no one is all that clear on what the location will look like until the new owners of the site block of properties to the immediate north take their development to city hall.

While the Official Plan is at the top of her list – the Mobility hubs leave her shaking her head. The Downtown Mobility hub was to be a place where people could get public transit to wherever they wanted to go – but the planners seem to want the taller buildings to be further up Brant Street. “Wouldn’t they want the density to be as close as possible to the Downtown Hub?” she asks.

The public struggles to understand the role developers play suggests Mammel – “they build the homes we live in and they have to contend with a regulatory regime that is complex and ever changing.”

“Developers take significant risks – they have to pay for the land assembly – and we are talking about millions of dollars. They have to pay the development charges and for all the studies that have to be provided to justify a development.

“Do they do well financially? Yes they do” says Mammel but there are developers that have lost it all.

The company that is building the Bridgewater today is not the company that started the work. Right now things are very good for developers – but look back to the 80’s and the early 2000’s – it was a very very tough time then.

Elizabeth Interiors from Brant

The block was recently sold – the developer wants to have shovels in the ground within two years – which means Kellys Bake Shoppe is looking for a new home.

The mix of housing available to the public is a challenge for the developers.

The politicians want to see what they call “affordable” housing – by which they don’t mean social housing. The difficulty is that in Burlington property assembling is very expensive. Add to that the cost of the studies that have to be done and you have a very significant investment.  $350,000 homes are a thing of the past.

There are developers in this city said Mammel who have projects they want to go forward with now but the city isn’t ready. Those developers can put their efforts into some other piece of property they have assembled but very few of the developers who serve this city are in a position to move from project to project quite that easily.

Mammel - eye

Suzanne Mammel oversees the interests of the development community for both Hamilton and all of Halton.

Burlington is now attracting new developers who see the opportunities – the Elizabeth Interiors site on Brant Street attracted a number of bidders including National Homes and Reserve Properties  – just two examples.

The provincial requirement that Burlington grow and the lack of very little in the way of “greenfield” space means that the growth will be in the high rise sector. The single residence housing that is the Burlington we have now is no longer possible. The cost of land and the demand for housing, explains Mammel is not what it was 10 – 15 years ago. It is a different market requiring different solutions.

While Mammel was not prepared to go on record with any comment on the municipal election that is ten months away she does wonders if the public is beginning to see the significant differences in the direction the known contenders for the office of Mayor want to take?

Building homes and condominiums and apartment buildings is a business – there are risks and for those who take those risks there are rewards. The public tends to see the rewards and shrug off the risks.

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Developer wants to add two more storeys to an approved project.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 1st, 2017



When the project was first brought to the public the project could have been five storeys – the developer decided to go with four storeys.


Will adding two additional storeys make a big difference to the look of the community?

The development was sold out before a sales office was opened. It was going to be a very high end building with every imaginable amenity,

They had to tear down the Melodia restaurant that was never able to make a go of it.

Then the contractors started digging.

Melodia - Saxony

The design of the site went through a number of changes. In the very early stage the developer wasn’t able to acquire the restaurant site – when that changed the development changed significantly – it got bigger – now it is going to get higher.

That is when the problems started – there was water where water wasn’t expected and it took a considerable amount of time to figure out what the source was and how to stem the flow.

That problems seems to have been resolved – the cost certainly put a dent in the profitability of the proposed building.

The developer is now asking the city’s Planning department to add two additional storeys to the approved four levels.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has said that at this stage she “open to considering the request” for a little more height in that part of the city, which is a block away from the proposed 27 storey structure that Carriage Gate wants to build opposite city hall.

The builders for the Saxony 4-storey condominium at Locust and Elgin have filed an application to permit two additional storeys on the project. The application has not been approved. Staff are reviewing materials submitted by the applicant and will ultimately make a recommendation to city council to approve, refuse or modify the application. Council will ultimately vote on the request.

Meed Ward plans on holding a neighbourhood meeting to seek public input on the request.

Mark Hefferton at has been assigned to the file


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Draft Official Plan to be released to the public November 10th - Council wants to pass it before the end of the year.

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 31st, 2017



Burlington’s proposed new Official Plan is scheduled to be released to the public on November 10th.

The document will then be explained to the public at three community meetings and then be presented to the public at a Statutory Public meeting where the public can comment.

The Plan will then go to city council where it will be approved (unanimously?).

At that point it becomes the law of the land – unless someone appeals it to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThe proposed new Official Plan contains additions, deletions and modifications to the draft new Official Plan that was released in April 2017.

Feedback received from agencies, stakeholders and the public was considered in undertaking revisions to the draft new Official Plan. Also, the proposed new Official Plan will contain the proposed new Downtown Precinct Plan and associated policies resulting from the Downtown Mobility Hub Area-Specific Planning process.

Following the release of the proposed new Official Plan, the city will hold three open houses and a Statutory Public Meeting.

Concept 2 - looking north from Lakeshore

The Official Plan, when approved will determine just how much of this kind of development can be approved.

Open Houses
The purpose of the Open House sessions is to provide the public with the opportunity to review and discuss the proposed new Official Plan with representatives of the city. There will be no formal presentation given.

Three Open Houses are being held to support the release of the proposed new Official Plan:

Thursday November 16, 2017
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Art Gallery of Burlington, Shoreline Room
1333 Lakeshore Road

Monday November 20, 2017
1:00 – 3:00 pm
City Hall, Room 247, Level 2
426 Brant Street

Monday November 20, 2017
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Haber Community Centre, Community Room 1 – East
3040 Tim Dobbie Drive

Upper Brant precinct

The city has created 13 different precincts in the city. Each will have specific Official Plan limitations and zoning attached to guide future development. Sown is the Upper Brant precinct.

There is then a Statutory Public Meeting which provides the public with the opportunity to provide comments to Council on the proposed new Official Plan. A staff report concerning the proposed new Official Plan will be available for public review on November 20th. This report will provide an overview of the key components of the new Official Plan and will include staff responses to feedback received on the draft Official Plan (April 2017).

The proposed new Official Plan will be presented to the Planning and Development Committee at a Statutory Public Meeting on:

Thursday November 30, 2017
1:00 pm and 6:30 pm
City Hall, Council Chambers, Level 2
426 Brant Street

It then goes to city Council where it will pass and then sent along to the Regional Council.

The new OP is not a legal document (in force and effect) until the Region approves it.

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Planners have recommended the first high rise for th downtown core - they are on for 23 storeys - developer wanted 27.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 21st, 2017



The city’s Planning department have said in a report to city council that they can live with a 23 storey tower across the street from city hall

They want something in the way of Section 37 benefits and they will require the developer to sign a Residential Development Agreement.

421 BrantThe Planners are recommending a mixed use development consisting of a 23 storey building with a maximum of 169 residential apartment units, a minimum of 365 square metres of office space and 900 square metres of commercial retail space which will rise at the corner of Brant Street and James Street.

The city’s Sustainable Development Advisory Committee is onside. In their report to city council they say: “We support the general concept of this building design if the New Official Plan determines this is where Tall Buildings should be built in the future.”

The report is more than 70 pages long and has six appendices – it will take more time than we have today to get through it all and then report.

The recommendation will be debated at a Planning and Development Standing Committee meeting November 1st.

The direction development in the downtown core will be determined by how city council votes on this application.

Where does the public sand? In the appendices there are a number of comments that range from:

The Growth Plan has been around since 2006. This is bigger than one lady in “the Pink Palace”. There has always been an understanding that that each municipality should accommodate its fair share of growth. I find it astonishing that people continue to refuse to face this reality. Burlington is going to grow. Ratcheting up the rhetoric does not help the situation and does nothing but lead politicians to suggest that they support down zoning. And where do they want this down zoning? In the core of the City! The downtown. The “Urban Growth Centre”!

Like it or not, Burlington is going to grow – ESPECIALLY in the downtown.


My wife has just handed me a flyer regarding a proposed 27 storey mixed use building in our downtown core. I also see that there was a meeting and comments due by the 7th of this month.

If the City has lost their minds and approved this project I would like to know who specifically is responsible for allowing this to go ahead. Hopefully the Burlington residents have been respected.

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City council to debate just how high the first high rise on Brant Street will be on November 1st - this will be the begining of a new era for the city.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 19th, 2017



The serious discussion about just what is going to get built along Brant Street will begin on November 1st when a city council standing committee debates the Planning staff recommendation for the 421 Brant Street application for Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendment to permit a 27- storey mixed use building with retail, office and residential units (including 1-storey rooftop amenity area) in a structure that will be right across the street from city hall.

421 Brant

Planners will put their modified recommendation before city council debate on November 1st.

The proposal is for 179 residential units; 870 square metres of office space; and 1,019 square metres of ground floor retail / commercial uses fronting onto Brant Street and James Street. There is to be four levels of underground parking, with 183 parking spaces, accessed from John Street.

Planning department staff will be recommending modified approval of the amendments to the City’s Planning and Development Committee of Council on November 1, 2017 in the evening.

When the Carriage gate Group first took this proposal to the public they brought in number of consultants who set out what was about to happen to Burlington in terms of the way development was going to roll out.

The need to intensify the way land was used was now at the top of the agenda. The province requires the city to grow its population.

Where are those thousands of people going to live? Burlington doesn’t have a lot of land that the traditional bungalow can be built on – and it didn’t appear to have all that much interest in the number of monster houses that were being built on small properties.

If you can’t go out – then you go up – which means high rise buildings.

There are those who define high rise as eight to maybe 12 storeys. The cost of land doesn’t make a 12 storey building economically feasible.

The question then is – how high will the new buildings be and where will they be located?

Robert Glover, one of the smarter urban designers in the province, explained to the audience when the development was first taken to the public that Brant Street should be seen as the spine of the city.

Robert Glover

Robert Glover

Glover put a large graphic on the screen that showed just where the high rises in the downtown core were located – there were few that were actually on Brant Street – and Glover, who has worked as a planner for both the public and the private sector, was suggesting that some thinking needed to be done about where high rise buildings should be located.

Glover is well aware that Burlington is not Toronto and he thinks that Burlington has a charm of its own that can and should be developed. Cities need a structure – a backbone that keeps the city together.

“The backbone gives a body structure, strength – something that other parts of the city can be linked to, said Glover.

He added: “A spine gives a city a focus – a center and if done properly development can be staged so that the street that serves as the spine does not become a canyon.”

Downtown Mobility Hub Existing Conditions Map

Robert Glover argues that Brant Street should be seen as the city’s spine. The bulk of the tall buildings are t the east and west of Brant. There are applications for at least half a dozen buildings that will reach well above the 20 storey height that seems to be what the planners favour.

His view is that a 27 storey structure will not hurt or harm the city hall – a high rise, if done properly will enhance the city hall – “place buildings around it that feature city hall and the Civic Square”.

Glover realizes that making that happen is what the delicate art of planning is all about – it needs to be thoroughly thought through – “they just don’t plop a building into a space because a developer has assembled a number of properties”.

Members of council are making decisions now that will impact the city for the next two to three decades – there is just the one chance to get it right.

What does work on Brant street now? Not much actually. The Burlington Downtown Business Association continually talk about the “vibrancy” of the street – they seem to feel that if you continually call an area “vibrant” it will become vibrant. It doesn’t work that way.

City hall - older pic

City hall can’t hold all the staff on the payroll – several departments are in the Simms building across the street.

City Hall itself is no longer an efficient building and doesn’t meet the city’s space requirements – a significant amount of space is rented in the Sims building across the street from city hall.

The city’s Tall Building Design Guidelines put in place in January after a rather rushed process with very little in the way of public input.

The Bridgewater development, on Lakeshore at the bottom of Martha, is rising several feet each day. The Berkeley on John Street is doing the same thing. That kind of development attracts other developments and before you know it you have a city with a significantly different look and feel. Change of that kind isn’t something the public takes to easily.

If Glover is right, and his success with previous projects suggest he knows what he is talking about, there is an opportunity to bring some real vibrancy to Brant street.

Concept 2 - looking north from LakeshoreInterestingly – the Planning department hasn’t had all that much to say on what they think Brant could become.

Their response to the 421 Brant Street development will give the public a first look at what the planners think should be permitted in terms of height.

That is the question city council has to ask: How high and where?

We are about to find out.

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Brant Street is getting kind of crowded - developers are tripping over each other buying up properties.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 17, 2017



Elizabeth Interiors from Brant

The owners of Elizabeth Interiors, on he left,are reported to have an offer from a developer – and Kelly’s on the right is also closing.

One of those usually reliable sources tells us that the Elizabeth Interiors retail location on Brant Street opposite city hall has an offer for the property that is to close on November 7th.

Our source was not able to say if it is a firm offer or just an option. The firm said to be prepared to put real money on the table is Reserve Properties, a very active residential developer who has been active in the Beach part of Toronto.

421 Brant

421 Brant – opposite city hall is waiting for the Planning department report that will go to city council with a recommendation.

Burlington’s Planning department is in the process of going through an application for both Official Plan amendments and a zoning change to put up a 26 story mixed use high-rise currently known as 421 Brant – just across John Street from Elizabeth’s.

The furniture operation moved out of the space a number of months ago and is now located on Fairview east of Guelph Line.

There probably isn’t a piece of property on Brant Street that doesn’t have a developer looking over what the possibilities are.

Let’s see what happens on the 7th of November.

In the meantime city council is getting ready to receive the first of the Grow Bold Mobility Hub recommendations – the first will be the Downtown Mobility hub – the boundaries of the hub include both properties.

And Kelly’s Cup Cake location is said to be closing – that property is also reported to have been sold.

And, let’s not forget the Elgin Promenade that is being built at the south end of the Cup Cake shop.

Downtown is going to become a construction site.

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35 Plains Road development on the edge of a business park get approved for eight floors of residential.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 12th, 2017



Two men, both from Aldershot, delegated at city council earlier this week – both had similar comments and both had problems getting their material into the record – no one knew what happened.

Greg WoodruffGreg Woodruff, who ran for Chair of the Region in the 2014 election, had comments to make about the development planned for 35 Plains Road. While he didn’t like the idea of an additional two floors of density being given to a site that is zoned for six storeys – that wasn’t his biggest concern,

His objections to the 35 Plains road development were that the building is not of pedestrian scale. It is important he pointed out that we not create buildings which tower over the pedestrian walkway

Woodruff pointed out that the building does not comply with employment usage. This application he said seeks to remove employment space requirement and still want the “mixed use” designation.

The building is close to a transit hub, which allows people to commute to Toronto and would also allow people to commute to employment uses in Aldershot. There are people doing that now in Burlington.

Woodruff thought that 70% was a good requirement because it would create commercial pedestrian densities if enforced. “We are far better served with creating employment usage in the area than just residential. There is no vibrancy or transit enhancement created by people commuting to Toronto and gone from the area all day. Vibrancy requires people here all day – which employment usage properly creates.

35 Plains Road AWoodruff then added that the 35 Plains Road proposal does not comply with the Aldershot Village vision. The vision calls for sites that have large landscaping and large generally open spaces.

Woodruff wants to see a minimum amenity area maintained. Zoning minimums are required because buyers can not asses reasonable levels. Creating a large number of small inexpensive low amenity units create a building were the major selling feature is low cost. Though this looks attractive at first long term it creates problems.

The developer wants the parking spaces reduced from a required 130 to a proposed 100 and have visitor parking reduced to 17 from the required 28 spaces.

Reduction of commercial parking is a mistake. While it is generally available vendors do no keenly enforce it.

Thus a shopper can park at once place and walk the near other businesses. At this site you can see someone using it and the adjacent bank without moving their car. However if customers cannot park easily vendors will enforce it – this requires movement of cars for every trip to every store.

We all know how this has worked out at the parking space at the No Frills plaza on Brant Street.

Woodruff told council of comments made by Brent Toderian at a public meeting. Toderian is a Vancouver based consultant who has done a considerable amount of work for Burlington who was asked:

How do you make density something that communities welcome?

Toderian Brent - blue shirt

The Toderian line of thought – make sure that you’re spending the value on things that make density successful.

Toderian responded: “I don’t support stupid density. I sometimes have as much concern about the YIMBY [Yes In My Backyard] movement as I do about the NIMBY movement. I don’t buy an absolute not-in-my-backyard, but I also don’t buy the argument that we should get rid of our zoning codes and have at it, build as much as we can. Both of those are the extreme.

Toderian was then asked: Explain density bonusing.

Toderian: “You have a base density, but [a developer] can increase to a higher density by negotiating amenities that make that higher density more livable. The key is to make sure that you’re spending the value on things that make density successful. Doing this “… gives the community a sense that the additional density is translating into something that’s going to support quality of life. They can see a connection between the additional density and amenities their community needs, but probably won’t be able to afford.

Woodruff doesn’t think the Planning department has taken to heart the Toderian line of thought. He suggested to Council that they were paying more attention to what the developer was asking for than they were to the zoning in place and the policies that had been adopted.

Muir with pen in hand

Tom Muir recognizes the difference between evidence-based policy-making, and policy-based evidence making.

Tom Muir, who has been delegating to city council for more than 25 years saw the same kind of thing happening but chose different language to make his point.

“In my 45 years of policy and issues analysis I learned to recognize the difference between evidence-based policy-making, and policy-based evidence making. This looks to be the latter – decide what you want first, and then pick the evidence.

Oftentimes, sections of the Policy Framework said to be used, are selectively chosen that support the recommendation to approve. Other parts raising issues of approval are sometimes stated, but not followed up on. As a result, the viability of existing business and commercial economic development is being sacrificed by planning recommendations such as this one. What I continue to find disturbing is the continued de-commercialization of Aldershot.

Muir made it clear that both the Provincial Policy Statement and the city’s Strategic Plan point to the need for commercial uses to be planned for and increased not reduced and the needs of existing business to be accounted for, not sacrificed. “But the proposal” said Muir, “contradicts what the policy calls for. It talks about complete communities, but goes in the opposite direction

“Aldershot is losing retail to residential builds. We are told there needs to be more residents to support retail, which is not generally true except for a grocery store. However, if you get the residents, but no longer have the land supply to build retail/commercial, and a cost structure that is not competitive, you still don’t get the commercial.

What seems to be missing is any representation of the present reality, of the real businesses, with real business value, real jobs with real employees, and real customers, who are being plowed under, forced to leave and maybe drive more. This is happening at an increasing pace. Who of you speaks for these folks? The only one around this table that made sense of this is Councillor Meed Ward.

Muir glancing

Tom Muir: Its pie in the sky to me, promising a Mobility Hub utopia where the business dead will rise again.

Muir argues that “we are told that the mobility hub plans will take us to another place with everything we want, and that we should celebrate, although here fanciful speculations are blurring proper judgement more and more, with each new proposal that comes along. Its pie in the sky to me, promising a Mobility Hub utopia where the business dead will rise again. I can hardly call this “good planning”.

Delegations are made before the meat and potatoes part of city Council meetings.

Council voted 6-1 in favour of the 35 Plains Road development that will be eight storeys in height with the first six floors being basically flush to the sidewalk – no set back and no trees.

Councillor Craven held a community annual meeting last week at which he brought his constituents up to date on the numerous developments taking place in Aldershot – the Gazette will report on that event soon.

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