Some big ideas were trotted out at a mobility hub meeting last night.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 22, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A little over 70 people took in an overview of what the Planning department wanted to put before the public as it works its way towards what will be created in the way of a design concept for the Downtown Mobility hub, which is the buzz word being used by the planners put a name on the Grow Bold directive that has been agreed upon by city council.

Panels with concepts June 21-7

It wasn’t a very large audience – but it was one of the most significant meetings held by the Planning department this year.

As significant as what gets done with the downtown core is – it wasn’t enough to draw full council attendance. Councillors Sharman and Lancaster didn’t make an appearance.

The evening was part presentation and part workshop.

The presentation part was what the planners had come up with based on the input from the public at an April meeting. That public input got worked on by the consultants the city has hired and what the planners took away from the public comments.

All that was boiled down to two concepts – both considerable different.

Tanner and Taylor at June 21-17 workshop

Director of Planning Mary Lou Tanner explains a point to ward 3 Councillor John Taylor.

Director of Planning Mary Lou Tanner said the concepts were not a recommendations – they were concepts – something that people would discuss at length – or at least that was the hope.

One attendee wondered why there were just two concepts – and why were they both linked to the height of a building approved more than 20 years ago.
It is going to take several articles to cover just how much is involved.

One attendee said the concepts that were put before the audience would amount to “blowing up the downtown as we know it and starting all over again”.

A critical part of the thinking was the way allowable height was going to be determined. Everything would be place on a scale and made relative to the height of the Bridgewater project that is currently under construction on Lakeshore Road.

Height line for both concepts

Concept 1 at the top with concept 2 beneath. The cross street are Lakeshore Road, Caroline, Ghent and Prospect.

That project, referred to as the city’s Legacy development when it was approved in 1995 – the assembly of the property began in 1985 – reflected what city council wanted to do at that time. Times have changed and the intensification the province has imposed on the city are a lot different today than they were in 1995.

Pauline, who was at the meeting had this to say: “Last night the City and its consultant team presented and obtained feedback from the public on two options for “the ultimate build out” of the Downtown. At a glance, it is difficult to see why so many of the unique an special attributes are shown as being replaced or eliminated – Village Square especially comes to mind, our only grocery store is to disappear and ALL of the parking lots are to disappear.

“The suggestion that John Street could be recreated into a new central spine sure has me scratching my head. In addition, to accomplish either of the options presented, the Downtown would be blown up and redone with low rise buildings.

“I don’t know how many sites were noted on the options but it has to be at least 50. Is this realistic? How much growth is proposed to be included in the Downtown? No one told us that! Wouldn’t it be better to limit the disruption and have fewer strategically located tall buildings?

“At least this way, the key elements that make Burlington special will be kept. I sure hope that there is more public consultation on this. It sure is complicated and Planning Department staff have a lot of questions to answer.

Another attendee was more detailed and specific.

“Two concepts were presented at a public meeting for the development around the Downtown Mobility Hub.

“Why two? Why not five? It reminds me of the old sales closing technique…..….”alternate choice close”. Ask the customer if they want the bungalow or the two storey and by forcing them to choose you make the sale or at least it’s a move closer to the sale! But you can make it even more sinister. Make one choice so unattractive, by default, the customer gravitates to the least worst alternative.”

What could the city look like when what was put in front of the audience look like? The following two videos are a visualization of each concept.

CLICK for Concept 1:

CLICK for Concept 2:

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Has the Planning department got more on the plates of the average citizen than they can comfortably eat?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A comment from an experienced staff member of a developer doing some work in the city highlighted a concern that many have.

“There are so many concurrent planning activities going on in the City, it is quite something” said this well-placed source.

MMW with mob hubs in background

The Downtown mobility hub sits in Councillor Meed Ward’s political turf – some of the outcome of the community engagement exercises may not square with the way she thinks the city should evolve.

Quite something indeed and quite a bit more than the average person can handle.

There is an Official Plan that is being circulated.

There are mobility hub proposals that are getting a serious look – all four of them

There is a transportation study that is also going the rounds.

The Go Bold statement that came out of the planning department some time ago has turned out to be more than just a tag line added to media releases.

Centre ice - fully engaged audience

Planners are besieged with questions from a public that wants to be engaged and wants to understand the bigger picture as well.

The work has to be stressing the planning staff; it certainly has the development community watching carefully.

There are a number of development proposals that are sitting in planner’s limbo while the Planning department works on the bigger picture.

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

Is this to be the epicenter of the downtown mobility hub?

There are developers who feel they have shabbily handled who claim the planners have gone back on their word on projects that were progressing quite well – at last the developer thought so.

Add to all this are the Ontario Municipal Board hearings that relate to some of the ADI Development Group Projects. Things were never tight with the Adi people and the city – when Tariq Adi said:  “Oh yeah, absolutely. “Look, I’m not going to sugar-coat it, I know what’s going on here.” and added that “… what happened at Martha absolutely has something to do with this. That’s fine, that’s part of doing business. We’ll just deal with it.”

Any good will that might have existed between the city and this developer went up in smoke with not much more than bitter feelings left on the table.  Adi will want to describe the Mayor as biased and unfair – words the Gazette has heard before.

Spat between the Adi Group and the city over the Alton project.

Community meeting that had planners listening to the public.

A closer look at what the public had to say about a Downtown mobility hub

There are said to be two development options for the Downtown Mobility Hub that will be presented to the public on Wednesday evening at the meeting scheduled to take place at the Art Gallery of Burlington at 7:00 pm.

What will the city have in the way of surprises for us?

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Will defining Brant Street as the spine of the city put some spine in future development thinking?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 19th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

When Robert Glover, a professional Architect, Registered Professional Planner and an Urban Designer with over 35 years of professional experience told a public meeting that Brant Street should be seen as the spine of the city – just what did he mean?

Glover was explaining the rationale for locating a proposed 28 storey tower on Brant Street opposite city hall.

Robert GloverWhile he was the planner hired by developer he was asking his audience to look at the bigger picture and decide what they wanted Brant street to become.

Study area 7 All + tall buildingsHe 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. Much of his work as a planner in the public sector was with the city of Toronto.

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.

From civic sq

Will it dwarf city hall or will it add some majesty to Civic Square? Downtown will never be the same – and that is probably good news.

His view is that a 28 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”.

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.

“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.”

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

There is a lot of development taking place along Lakeshore Road and south of it.

The impact this has on the feel of the city is critical – Burlingtonians know what their waterfront is about and they aren’t going to give up as much as an inch if they don’t have to.

But what about Brant Street – what works on that street? 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 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 politicians love to refer to city hall as an iconic building.

There is a report in a file at city hall that sets out what the city’s office space needs are and it beleived to have some recommendations on what to do with the existing building – doesn’t appear that report is going to get any public attention for some time.  So much for transparency.

Berkeley

It seemed to take forever for this three structure project to get shovels into the ground. When completed it will bring some much needed life to John Street.

The Carriage Gate group is currently constructing the Berkeley at John and Caroline where they have a three part project that includes a future medical centre, a parking lot and 20 storey condominium.

Getting that property to the point where they were able to get a shovel into the ground took a lot longer than they thought – determining who was going to pay for hauling the hydro lineup the street from Lakeshore revealed some bothersome problems with what Burlington Hydro was expecting of developers.

Their proposal for the property opposite city hall forces everyone to look at Brant Street and do some serious thinking about what the planners think it should look like and what the public thinks it should be.

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 public focus is on the waterfront. Few appreciate that the five structure Paradigm project on Fairview will have 2000 residents when it is complete – that’s a small village yards away from Brant Street.

Further south on Brant there is a proposal for a buildings at the intersection of Brant and Ghent where the Burlington Square, one of the taller buildings on Brant, is going to be enhanced.

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.

Brant street getting ready

Brant Street comes to life when there is a major event taking place.

Which brings things back to the Glover view that Brant can be made the spine of the city. 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 the street.

The Planning department has released design of what intensification could look like on Waterdown Road in the west, Appleby in the east, along with some ideas for the plaza at Guelph Line and New Street and some ideas for what Fairview east of Guelph Line could look like.

Interestingly – the Planning department hasn’t had all that much to say what they think Brant could become.
There is never going to be any commercial development to the west of the Brant – that is a solid residential community that watches what smaller developers want to build. It has to be very good to get past those residents.

But there is significant opportunity for both Brant and John, a street that has yet to figure out what it wants to be.

Hotel on lower Brant Street

They are historic and when they were built they were tall buildings – what are they today?

Glover thinks that if you treat Brant Street as the spine of the city a fundamental premise is in place that can guide future developments. There are parts of Brant Street that haven’t changed at all in 75 years.

The proposal for the high rise opposite city hall is now in the hands of the planning department – they will be sending their recommendation to city council in the fall.

Will a different look for Brant Street be part of their recommendation; it’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

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Mayor is concerned with what might get built on the Waterfront hotel site - citizen rips into that concern - wants to see a WOW project on the waterfront.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 14th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The planners have been working on what to do and figuring out what can be done with the Waterfront Hotel site at the foot of Brant Street.

The owner of the property wants to get more density and the city is listening to what the public thinks and feels.

There has been the one public session in May with another scheduled for early July.

Standing room only

It was a Standing Room only for those who attended the first public meting on what might be done with the site the Waterfront hotel sits on now.

More than 200 people participated in two workshops in May to share their thoughts and ideas about what should be located on this property as the property owner considers redeveloping the site.

In his report to the citizens of the city the Mayor recently said: “As I have shared previously, I am very concerned about the impact any redevelopment in this area could have on our waterfront. I believe open space in any redevelopment option needs to be considered to ensure Burlington residents continue to enjoy access to the waterfront.

There will be more opportunities to share your feedback about the waterfront site as we move into the summer.

graphic with bldg heights

Those numbers are the height of the buildings – can you see where this is going?

In one of the illustrations used in May event the issue is made bluntly clear – it is about height – who has it – where it is and where it isn’t.  No rocket science to figure out what is coming our way.

What kind of height are we talking about?  Nothing specific at this point but the city’s Urban Design Guidelines give a hint.

Three illustrations – a map showing which part of the cit we are talking about and then a series of illustrations showing what the planners call the “building envelope” for specific sites.

Block 23 - located

This illustration identifieds where the specific block o property is located and what the Urban Guidelines will permit. No reference to height – that gets negotiated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Urban design guidelines - block by block

We know what is being built on the left hand side of each of these four illustrations – the Bridgewater project – it is what can be done on the right hand side. Look very closely at figures 81,82 and 83

With 2018 an election year for city council the Mayor just might be looking at this redevelopment situation as the kind of campaign issue he can focus on as he looks for a third mandate – assuming he actually wants to go through the current term again.

Other than saying he is concerned – the Mayor hasn’t been very specific.

There are others who are very specific with their views. One downtown resident had these comments about the May event.

It was a typical public information/workshop meeting.

It is the way that the City “placates” the public.

1. Present as little concrete info’ as possible
2. Ask for input from the public
3. The public feels better because they’ve had their opportunity to vent and participate (this is a very real need for the public….everyone needs the opportunity to express an opinion)

It is a political process at best. Maybe a few good ideas come out of it…….

I find Marianne’s continued efforts to push her personal agenda annoying. She claims to be a “listener” but first she tells people what to think and say.

The presenters created a little confusion and didn’t set it up well. I didn’t think she was “smooth”. I thought she was confusing and used too many “buzz” words from the planning world.

And Rick’s previous public comments about green space/parkland didn’t make sense in the context of a private land owner.

It’s first steps towards an application and the politicians will feel good because they’ve gone through the process.

The public will feel somewhat empowered by the process. At the end of the day, not sure it helps create a quality exalted project or in fact the end product is simply the lowest common denominator. I’d love to see an iconic, beautiful, piece of architecture on that site with graceful lines and lovely public spaces. Something we could all say WOW – look what our city has done.

Bridgewater from the north looking south

The space between the condominium on the left and the hotel on the right is not as large as this rendering suggests. The space to the left of the high rise condominium as in the imagination of the artist.

A beautiful point tower of 30 storeys was designed originally for the Bridgewater site. It took up less than half the site and was stunning. It had all sorts of “air” around it. Funny, 30 storeys doesn’t seem so high now. But twenty years ago, no one could conceive of it. The compromise became what we see today being built – 3 block buildings (with a tower in one of them) virtually covering the whole site (except for a piazza on the lake side, not visible from the street), 8 storeys + 22 storeys creating a “wall” on Lakeshore Road, with a little “peek a boo” between the two buildings. Mark my words….it’s going to be ugly from the Lakeshore Road side.

We need to be more “forward” thinking. What will our city look like in twenty years?

This was more than a rant from a disgruntled resident – this one is in the thick of development in the city – our Mayor needs to hear from these people – but in Burlington we are far too polite to say what we think and feel.
Wait until the public sees just how little of the lake that will be visible when the Bridgewater site is completed. It will be “we was robbed” and of course far too late.

On July 5, residents have a chance to take part in a design day where participants will be divided into small working groups to explore options for things like buildings, land use, public access and open space.

Two sessions will be held at the Waterfront Hotel in the Blue Water Ballroom. The first session starts at 1 p.m. and the second session will be held at 6 p.m.

 

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Provincial government releasses four significant reports on what they want to see done with the land we have.

News 100 redBy Staff

May 18th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The provincial government announced today the release of four significant reports that will impact the lives of everyone within the provinces border.

They are referred to as Land Use Plans.

COVER Niagara Escarpment Plan - thumb

Does the province still want to ram a road through the Escarpment?

They are changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan

The Golden Horseshoe plan and the Niagara Escarpment plans are the ones that impact on Burlingtonians are the latest step in the government’s reform of Ontario’s land use planning system.

The government’s announcement has these four documents solving every problem known to man – and given that they are heading into an election in 2018 they will put a significant spin on this.

Cover - Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe - cover

Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

The four plans work together to:

Build compact, complete communities with a diverse range of housing options that better connect transit to where people live and work

Retain and attract jobs

Support a thriving and productive agri-food sector

Strengthen protections for our natural heritage and water resource systems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Provide public open spaces for recreation and enjoyment

Help municipalities better prepare to minimize the negative impacts from a changing climate, such as more frequent and intense storms and flooding.

These updated plans, said the provincial government, will help ensure growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe that is sustainable by making more efficient use of land, resources and infrastructure to reduce sprawl, protect farmland, water and natural resources, and promote better-designed communities that support a high quality of life for everyone living in the region.

COVER Greenbelt Plan - thumb

Greenbelt Plan

“Building complete communities and protecting the Greenbelt is part of the government’s plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

“The Greater Golden Horseshoe is forecasted to grow by approximately 4 million people over the next 25 years and will be home to more than 13.5 million people, working in 6.3 million jobs by 2041.

“The updated plans build on the Provincial Policy Statement to establish a unique land-use planning framework for the GGH that supports complete communities, a thriving economy, a clean and healthy environment and social equity.

“Other reforms to the land use planning system include releasing an updated 2014 Provincial Policy Statement, reforming the Planning Act and Development Charges Act through the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act and proposed reforms to the Ontario Municipal Board.

There are a lot of changes taking place and people with very significant interests are deeply involved. The objective is to ensure that the public voice is clearly hard.

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Downtown residents give their response to some critical questions about the kind of city we build.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 21st, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The room was full. It was a rainy night but under 100 people showed up for an information session on their vision for the downtown part of the city. The focus was on mobility hubs.

The Gazette will do a more in-depth report – this is a first look at the kind of questions that were asked and the answers given

There were some surprises.

Clicker being used

A participant using the hand held device to record their answer to the question being asked.

There were 12 questions asked.  The question was put up on a screen – the people in the room had been given hand held clickers that they could use to indicate their choice.

We report on two of the questions in this early look at what was an important event.  There will be a follow up meeting in June for the people in Ward 2.

The intention is to hold similar session for each of the four mobility hubs that city has identified.

This is city building at its best.  How it will roll out is going to be interesting to watch.

Transit question

These answers are going to surprise the Bfast people and give Burlington Transit a lot to think about.

There were a number of developers in the room along with just about everyone that mattered from the Planning department.  On the political side – Councillors Taylor and Meed Ward were in the room along with the Mayor who opened the session. More to follow.

Family oriented

So much for the argument that we need more people downtown to make the core the vibrant place everyone appears to want it to become.

 

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A chance to roll up your sleeves and get your ideas on what the downtown could-should look like and how the new Official Plan can make it happen.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 19th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is another one of those opportunities where ward 2 council member Marianne Meed Ward invited people to a meeting where they could roll up their sleeves and put some of their ideas on paper.

Goldring makes a point at Downtown Destination event May 2015

Mayor, on the left talks to citizens about plans for downtown development during a Downtown Destinations event put on by ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.

The meeting – this Thursday at the Lions Club – at 6:30 is a continuation of the Destination Downtown series of meetings that began in 2015

At that time the city was working on a re-write and update of the Official Plan. Since that time the decision was made to scrap the Official Plan we had and start all over again.

The DRAFT of the new plan has been released and will be going through a series of public meetings.

There is an opportunity for the Planning department to explain what an Official Plan does and does not do.

Burlington has this huge fear of a development application coming in – finding that it isn’t all that keen on what was put in front of them but worried silly that the developer will appeal a city decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Molinaro-Robert-two-people1-728x1024

Robert Molinaro explaining the plans for a development in ward 2 during a Downtown Destination event.

The good news at that level is the province is currently reviewing the OMB and its role.

Early signs are that the public might see a vastly different OMB role – one that would limit what developers can do.

The problem with that is one ends up with a municipality that gets the NIMBY (Not in my back yard) infection and nothing gets built.

Finding a balance is the challenge.

Members of Council are beginning to voice their views and concerns – so far they have been talking about the issues within their wards – the Plan is a city wide document. Are we seeing early signs if NIMBY?

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Public peek at what the mobility hub planners are doing amounted to some maps and a lot of cupcakes.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 13th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We were unable to cover the Open House the city held at the new Go Bold offices that have been set up for the planners that are doing the big think on the four mobility hubs that have become the hot new buzz words at city hall. Mobility hubs seems to have replaced intensification.

Mobility hubs

The downtown hub is the first of the four that is going to get the “community engagement” treatment.

Earlier in the week the city’s communications people set up a conference call that allowed us to exchange views with Mary Lou Tanner, Director of Planning.

The Gazette had a very poor connection – not sure if the problem was on our end or theirs – but it was difficult to have an in depth conversation with Tanner, who is usually quite willing to explain and put forward the reasons for the decisions made and the work being done by her department.

What we did learn was that the mobility hub intention is for people to be able to walk within the defined area of each mobility hub – and that the longest walking distance would be around a mile in length.

Ann McIlroy and Associates are on a three year contract to work with the Go Bold mobility hub team. The McIlroy team have done a lot of work with and for Burlington in the past. One of the more recent assignments was the detailed planning for the new Beachway Park. A lot of the very early design work was done by McIlroy.

beachway-full-view-with-scobie1-853x1024

Much of the original design work for the Beachway Park concepts was done by Ann McIlroy and Associates – they are advising the city on the mobility hub thinking.

Tanner described mobility hubs as a “higher order of transit” and said there was some science behind this kind of transportation thinking. The intention was to have “area specific plans” for each of the mobility hubs with the downtown hub being the first to get attention from the planners and the Grow Bold team.

The first meeting, the one that took place Wednesday evening, was intended to introduce people to the concept. A colleague of ours, comes out of the real estate sector, described the event as “underwhelming”

“I went to the Mobility Hub Open House. Just a few maps up on display and an “ask” for emails addresses so we could be kept informed. Lots of treats (cakes and candy) and coffee.”

There is another meeting scheduled for June 2nd that will focus on that downtown mobility hub with additional meetings to follow in the fall. Each of the hubs is to get this multi-meeting community engagement touch.

Jennifer Johnson at Lakeside Plaza visioning

The public was heavily involved in community engagement meetings where people poured over plans for a proposal the city had encouraged for the east end Lakeside Village Plaza.

When the community engagement and the deep thinking is complete a report will go to city council where the Planner will ask for directions.

The approach for the Official Plan, which also comes out of the Planning department, where Andrea Smith, Manager of Policy and Research has been focused on getting the new Official Plan ready for the public. Smith spent years working on a revision of the old Official Plan. When Mary Lou Tanner was appointed the new Director of Planning she decided to press the reset button, take a pause and ask if the old Official Plan was worth a revision.

This is the Escarpment we are talking about. Our country, our rural country - forever.

The Escarpment is basically out of bounds from a planning perspective – except for some growth in the hamlets – Kilbride and Lowville.

Tanner apparently decided that a totally new plan was needed – and that is what the city is now looking at.
The draft Official Plan that is being reviewed now is meant to align with the Strategic Plan; the approach being that the Official Plan is expected to create rules and regulations for developers to have a clear idea of what the city want to get done on the next 20 years. At this point we know that we are to grow up and not out – and that all this has to be done within the urban boundary. The Escarpment is out of bounds.

There are going to be three months of discussion and community engagement with perhaps ward specific meetings.

Municipal politics is like any other form of government – new brooms can be brought in and the Strategic Plan scrapped – the planners then have to tinker with and revise the Official Plan – an action that drives people in this city bananas.

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Three developers doing their bit to ensure the city achieves its intensification target. We are 3/4 of the way to the 2031 target date.

News 100 redBy Staff

April 9th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

According to Ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward Burlington has 73% of the intensification it is going to have to take on by 2031 – which is beyond the scope of the much vaunted Strategic Plan. She seems to be saying we are already there.

Does that mean we can stop building? The developers certainly don’t think so. There are currently a number of developments taking place in the city – and not all of it is in the downtown core.

The Adi Development Group is in what looks like close to the mid-point in their Link – a rather adventurous looking set of buildings on Dundas and Sutton; cheek to jowl to Bronte Creek.

The Adi group has always had strong design; nothing beige about these people. Their buildings should take awards for the look and, except for the Martha and Lakeshore project that is mired down in Ontario Municipal Board hearings, locations.

The project on Guelph Line just north of Mainway is a fine building.

The Link will appeal to the people who like to live in buildings with a smart progressive look. No word yet on just where the project is in terms of sales. But the cranes are in place and the building is rising floor by floor.

Link2 sutton side

Link2 – seen from the corner of Sutton and Dundas.

Link2 Dundas side BEST

Link – seen from Dundas Street. The eastern side of the project borders on a path that runs along the side of Bronte Creek.

The development does have some OMB history attached to it.

If the information on the ADI Development web site is accurate this project is very close to be sold out.  The offered 1 BED, 1 BED + DEN, 2 BED, 2 BED + DEN, 3 BED + DEN and 4 BED + DEN.

Not much of anything left but developers may play the game the big show entertainers play when they announce that a new block of whatever they are selling has been released.  The development business calls for a lot of cash up front – they do what they have to do to manage the demand for their product and keep the prices where they want them to be.

As scrappy as they can be on matters regulatory and legal – no one can take away from them the design flare they have shown.  The are brash, direct and know where they want to go – and are in the process of creating a brand that will signify value and a certain flare.

Linx2 will have 154 units and is scheduled to open Fall of this year.  That could actually happen.

The Molinaro Paradigm project on Fairview is in the process of changing the city’s sky line. Tower A has reached its full height with just the mechanical that will sit on the roof to be completed. Towers B and C are under construction.

Paradigm April 2017

Tower A of the Paradigm project has reached its peak while Tower B and Tower C to the east begin their climb to 21 and 19 storey heights.

Paradigm - A B C across the back April 2017

Towers B and C of the Paradigm project on Fairview next to the GO station and across a parking lot from Walmart.

 

 

It is a large site that will eventually consist of five buildings.

In the downtown core the Carriage Gate people are close to the bedrock level they need for the three levels of underground parking.  The condominium will  be a combination of a 3 storey stone and precast podium that will accommodate a select group of upscale retail establishments at ground level and professional offices on levels two and three.  Atop the podium there will be a 17-storey glass tower with condominiums.

Medica One or the Carriage Gate project - pick the name you like best - will go up at the top of John Street and consist of a medical offices building, an above ground garage and an apartment/condo complex. It will bring significant change to the intersection and drive redevelopment of the plaza to the immediate north, A transit hub a couple of blocks to the south then makes a lot of sense.

This is a three part development with a condominium tower, a parking garage and a medical center. Each has its own name. Berkeley for the condo – garage for the garage and Medica One for the medical centre. The development will get build in stages.

The project is to consist of three buildings when completed. The condominium will be the first to get built, followed by the eight level parking garage and then the eight story medical building that will border on Caroline.

Berkeley at bedrock - yellow demarcation line

The Berkeley at bedrock – bottom floor of the three levels of parking with 19 storey’s of condominiums. The yellow line at the top is the demarcation point for the condominium and where the eight level parking garage with a grass roof will be.

The project will give John Street a bit of a much needed boost in terms of what the street looks like.

Parts of the street look more like a back alley than a street that will have one of the mobility hubs at its base.

The city is going to get a chance to learn more about just what a mobility hub is and how it fits into the development of Burlington in the longer term.  The draft of the Official Plan that was released last week suggests that major development is going to be located around the four mobility hubs.

At least one developer who was coaxed into putting funds into a creative and much needed development in the east of the city got a bit of a shock when they learned that the project might not get lift off.  There are others that see the mobility hub concept at somewhat limiting.

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Resident doesn't like the look of the transportation ideas - thinks planners are saying - support biking, stay home or get out of Burlington.

opinionandcommentBy Greg Woodruff

April 6th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

City council will begin discussion of the draft Official Plan this week.  Opinions are already being formed.

There are so many problems with Burlington’s official plan update that it’s hard to zero in on the most problematic element. Leaving alone for a moment the massive green space loss or the complete lack of any mathematical forecasting, the transit plan is truly insane.

My largest problem when running for Regional Chair in 2014 is that I just could not get people to accept what the cities future transit plans actually are. People would just say “That is crazy” and look at me like I must not understand the plan. Either read what is coming out of the city or take my word for it. The future of Burlington is city wide deliberately induced gridlock.

I realize that this is so divorced from reality that the average resident of Burlington simply cannot accept this is the cities plan. It is simple – keep jamming people in until roads are mostly impassible and largely slower than walking. People will then seek “alternatives” once they realize they can walk or bike to a location in just hours vs multiple hours of driving. If you are disabled, elderly or have a schedule that doesn’t support biking, stay home or get out of Burlington.

The first problem is that I would say you need a public mandate to do this. This certainly does not exist. The draft says the public must “Reprioritize decision-making relating to mobility” (Page 14 in the link below). Right now for example you might like to drive to the gym. In the new city walking and biking should be your forms of city recommend exercise. In the future city staff will decide what you do, how and when you move around. The city needs to execute the mandate of citizens, not try to force everyone to do as they think we should.

The second problem is that the transit plan cannot withstand even light mathematical examination. It can’t possibly achieve its own goals. You won’t see numeric calculations coming from the city – because they won’t add up. To believe that 300,000 people are place-able in Burlington with “No New Car Capacity” (Page 15 in the link below) is to believe we will have pedestrian rates orders of magnitude higher than Paris France. As I delegated to council:

Even if you line up Paradigm developments along every possible place all the way down Plains road – you will never get a pedestrian commercial base. There is no mathematically possible pedestrian city on a single straight road. Cities are built in grids for a reason – it is the only way to get transit time low and have the density for a partly pedestrian customer base.

The last problem and most deeply troubling aspect of this is the underlying theory behind it. This mentality places the city in direct opposition to you. Your goal might be to take your kids to soccer practice. This “unsustainable transit pattern” makes the city wish you didn’t. You want to visit your Mother after work – the city wishes you didn’t. It’s all to pretend that intensification doesn’t need increased infrastructure to support it. That an infinitely increasing population doesn’t cost anything in money or environment because the city now rations “what is” out.

They can’t figure out a transportation strategy for this mess of intensification. So now “untransportation” is desirable. Not enough water – the public must “Reprioritize decision-making relating to bathing.” Not enough parks – the public must “Reprioritize decision-making relating to sports activities.” This “reprioritization” is to no longer do what is best for yourself, but instead do what city planners have rationed out for you.

Since we still live in a democracy – it will not work. Once the main streets are nothing but micro businesses very few trips will be to them; just past them. The constant gridlock will be the largest issue and people will not care beyond mobility. This will give rise to and elect a class of politician that will run on and expand the road base. Though since staff have worked deliberately to make this difficult, the roads will now expand in ugly and awkward way.

If you want 300,000 people in Burlington then we need developments totally concentrated in the down town core – it’s the only place with a grid. Yes, you will need an aggressive walking, biking and public transit strategy. But you will also need the major arteries of Burlington expanded to 6 lanes, plus a dedicated bike path, plus a large public walking space. You can get into fanciful debates as to what you want to do in those extra lanes – single passenger cars, rapid bus transit, street car, etc. But they need to be reserved and planned as if they will exist.

There is no possible benefit to this gridlock – hundreds of thousands of cars idling and caught in congestion will have a far higher environmental footprint than a hand full of bikers can ever offset. Congestion helps big box retailers and hurts small business – this can only lead to greater commercial concentration. The idea “if you build roads people are going to use them” so if we stop building them people will then not use to road we didn’t build.

This is just idiocy. If you feed starving children they are just going to keep eating and eating; to a point yes. If you provide houses with water people are just going to keep bathing and bathing; to a point yes. However I consider the ability to feed, bath and get my kids to soccer – all as positives.

I’m pretty sure the rest of Burlington does as well.

Background link:

Official Plan report to city council committee

Greg WoodruffGreg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who rant for the office of Regional chair in the last municipal election.

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Project that will put a high rise opposite city hall gets a good response from its first presentation.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 5th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was the same room, basically the same crowd three years later, but the mood was a lot different.

Last week the Carriage Gate group told the public what they had in mind for the corner of Brant and James Street – across the street from city hall.

They set out a number of charts and large blow ups at the front of the room of the 27 story tower they wanted to build – one got the impression that the developer was going to talk about the project. Everything seemed to be out front.

Three years ago the Adi Development Group was in the same room. There were no large blow ups of the project they were about to explain to the public and the audience was in no mood to listen. That project kept going downhill from the moment the architect began to explain the project and is now before the Ontario Municipal Board.

From civic sq

Twenty seven storey’s high – directly across the street from city hall.

The mood was so positive that if the Carriage Gate people had had some sales agreements on the table there were people in the room  quite prepared to sign on the dotted line and put down a deposit.

There were some who thought it was a “terrible” idea and the issue of traffic and parking reared its head. Burlington and cars have always had an awkward relationship.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who is no fan of tall buildings, got the meeting off to a decent start. The Mayor and ward 3 Councillor John Taylor were on hand along with a couple of other people from the city’s planning department.

Mobility hubs

Four mobility hubs are in the planning process. The plan appears to be to focus on the downtown hub first.

The public got to hear about the group that has been created to study and develop the concept of “mobility hubs” – something that has become the most recent buzz word for planners.

Kyle Plas, the senior city planner on this project explained where the project was from a planners perspective and took the audience through the process of getting it before city council where a decision is made.

Carriage Gate is looking for both Official Plan changes and zoning changes. This project would come under the existing Official Plan which is now more than 20 years old and as Mark Bayles, the Carriage Gate manager who would be overseeing the development of the project, explained in his opening comments “the existing plan no longer reflects where development is going.

Carriage Gate team

From th left, Robert Glover, an urban planner, Ed Fothergill, planer and Mark Bales, project manager with Carriage Gate

Carriage Gate has assembled a solid team to shepherd this through the approvals process.

Ed Fothergill, a planning consultant who has advised on many of the Molinaro projects and was the advisor to the Carriage Gate people on this project explained the planning environment that everyone has to work within.

Statements PPS, Big Move - Greenblt

Policy documents that set out the rules planners have to work within and comply with.

It includes the provinces Provincial Policy Statement in which the province sets out where the growth is going to take place; the Greenbelt policy, which for Burlington means the Escarpment and The Big Move which is the framework that the GO transit people work within out of which comes the mobility hub concept.

The GO train service west of Toronto is going to be improved to 15 minute service and eventually it will be electrified.

The improvement in GO frequency is intended to get cars off the QEW and handle the expected population growth.

Podium portion along Brant St

Close up of the Brant street side of the building. The city wanted smaller shops at the street level; the developer had no problem complying. The restaurant on the site is to be included in the building.

Many in Burlington don’t like the idea of growth – but the population of the city is going to grow – the province has said that is what is in the cards, and because we can no longer grow out, – there isn’t much more left for development within the urban boundary for new development the growth will be up, not out. Thus the high rise.

Given that there are going to be buildings in the 27 story and higher range where should they go?

Robert Glover, an architect and planner with the Bousfields, a community planning firm that has handled some of the more impressive developments in Ontario gave the audience his take on how Burlington and high rise buildings are going to learn to live together.

Where big buildings are

Tall buildings in Burlington tend to be away from the downtown core and on either side of Brant Street.

He explained that Burlington has a lot of tall buildings – mostly in the 8 to 12 storey range that are set out in different parts of the city with a concentration along Maple Avenue.

Glover said his view was that with buildings all over the city Brant Street was sort of an orphan with very little that would attract pedestrian traffic. The view he put forward was that Brant needed to become the spine that buildings would be anchored along. The Carriage Gate project was to be the first. The development that is known at this point by it’s address  – 421 Brant – they have yet to release the name for the project.

View from John Street side

The view from the corner of John and James.

Glover set out how he thought the city and the high rise development that is on its way would evolve.  Brant Street would become the spine on which development would be anchored.  The Street would have one of the four mobility hubs at the bottom one block to the east and a second mobility hub at Fairview – a part of a block to the east.

The public in general doesn’t know all that much about mobility hubs – the city has planned a public meeting for April 12th where people can get to meet the Mobility Hubs Team.
The houses in the city are now so expensive – we are seeing $1 million homes in what are described as normal suburban communities.

Nick Carnacelli

Nick Carnicelli

The principles in any development seldom take to the stage.  They sit in the audience and listen carefully trying to get a sense of the audience and how they feel about the project that is being explained.  Nick Carnicelli sat off to the side and seemed satisfied with the way the meeting had gone.

He had every reason to feel satisfied – his people had put on a good presentation; they answered all the questions and didn’t duck any of the issues.

Parking seemed to be the one that bothered people the most.  The plan presented called for 183 parking spots; one for each unit in the building.  If there is going to be a problem with this project that is probably where the city will ask for changes.  The design calls for four levels of parking.

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Draft of a NEW Official Plan has been released - will it be approved by the current city council?

OPdraft ABy Staff

March 27th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

At just about every city council meeting when there is a recommendation that council accept a request to change something in the Official Plan residents ask:

“Why bother having an Official Plan is almost anyone can come along and ask for a change and get it?

That has been the way things got done at city hall in the past. Most recently there have been two projects, both from the same developer that city council didn’t buy into.

The city has been working its way through the creation of a new city plan. It has been a long labour and it is nowhere near birth yet.  A review of the plan started back in 2012 and seemed to stumble again and again when there were staff changes in the Planning department, sudden departures, the resignation of the Director of Planning and the imposition of a 25 year Strategic Plan.

Then the city decided to scrap the review of the existing Plan and write a brand new plan.

All that got us to where we are today.

The document is now on the table in DRAFT form ready for public consultation – all 530 pages of it.

The forward of the document says:

“The City of Burlington is at a turning point in its evolution and is transitioning from a suburban to an urban community. The City’s growth is shifting from building new greenfield communities to accommodating more residents and jobs within existing areas through re-development. This intensification is being directed to targeted areas in the City. This is to ensure that denser land uses are carefully co-ordinated with infrastructure, either by encouraging development in areas that make efficient use of existing or planned infrastructure, or to effectively co-ordinate any infrastructure enhancements to accommodate future growth. Also, this targeted approach ensures that existing residential neighbourhoods of the City are protected from major change.

PostIt notes left by citizens at an Official Plan review meeting. Peter Gordon isn't the only one who doesn't agree with the city planner.

PostIt notes left by citizens at an Official Plan review meeting in 2012 Has anything changed since then?

“The focus on accommodating growth through intensification within the existing Urban Area aligns with the City’s interest in protecting and strengthening the rural community and in retaining the special character of North Aldershot as a distinct, identifiable area. It supports the protection of agricultural lands and agricultural operations and the protection of natural heritage and water resources in line with the City’s Strategic Plan and Provincial plans and Policies.

“Provincial plans and policies have directed that Burlington must grow and must grow within the existing Urban Area. The City has developed a new Official Plan in recognition of the challenges and opportunities ahead as it continues to evolve into a complete city. A complete community provides for all of the daily needs of its residents, providing convenient access to an appropriate mix of jobs, shopping and personal services, housing, recreation and open space.

“The Official Plan is a policy document that sets out the City’s directions for growth and development, and continues the commitment to building a complete City. It was developed through planning analysis and research but also through significant collaboration and dialogue with the community as well as internal and external stakeholders. The Official Plan fuses the local community interests with Regional and Provincial policy direction and articulates the City of Burlington vision to 2031 and beyond. It includes policy to manage physical change in relation to land use and development, transportation, infrastructure, the natural environment, heritage, parks, and social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Watch-what-Toronto-does2-1024x579

Citizens let the Planning department know how they felt at a public event in 2012. Has anything changed?

“The Official Plan sets out a clear vision and establishes strategic priorities for sustainable growth, complete communities, environment and sustainability, economic activity, infrastructure, design excellence, land uses and public participation. This Plan sets out development-ready provisions and guides development within certain parameters allowing for private sector flexibility while ensuring the public interest is maintained. The Official Plan also includes criteria for when and how changes to the Plan are to be considered. At times, refinements to policies of the Plan may be appropriate. The Plan will be used to guide the decision making and approval processes of the City, ensuring that all new development contributes to Burlington’s long-term vision.”

Decisions-OP1-1024x511

Look carefully at where the red dots are and where the green dots are. This was what people thought and felt in 2012.

The content and details of the DRAFT Official Plan cannot be covered in a single article. The Gazette will endeavour to break that task into smaller pieces and explain as much as we can and then follow the process that has all the interested parties commenting on the document.

The Planning department set out a number of principles that will guide all land use decision making to achieve sustainable development a complete community in accordance with the City’s four key strategic directions.

A CITY THAT GROWS:
A CITY THAT MOVES:
A HEALTHY AND GREENER CITY:
AN ENGAGING CITY

The city planners felt it was time to take a stronger, bolder stance and came up with a name for the process: We were to Grow Bold.  The public was given a couple of name choices and they settled on growing bold.

In the DRAFT OP there is a paragraph that is indeed bold.

No by-law may be passed, and no public work undertaken by the City, which does not conform with this Plan. The capital works program and the capital budget are intended to provide the infrastructure required to implement the land use vision, objectives and policies of this Plan.

There will be some gulps from the development community over that one and the remark that “I will believe it when I see it” from literally hundreds of citizens who have experienced situations where that just did not happen in Burlington.

This sign tells the sad story of Burlington's commercial development problems. Developers want to take land out of commercial zoning and move it into residential. They fight like crazy to get the zoning changed - all the way to the Ontario Muncipal Board - where they all too frequently win.

This sign tells the sad story of Burlington’s commercial development problems. Developers want to take land out of Employment Lands designation and move it into residential. They fight like crazy to get the zoning changed – all the way to the Ontario Municipal Board – where they all too frequently win.

Part of the Planning process is setting out the zoning of specific pieces of property and determining what land is going to remain as Employment Lands.

We will return to the DRAFT OF THE Official Plan Again – shortly.

The document gets presented to city council officially April 6th.  while the planners may have a schedule in mind for getting the Official Plan approved by city council – the seven that are in office may nit be there by the time the document gets passed.  It then has to go to the Region and chances are that someone will appeal it to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Going to be a long ride.

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City releases a draft of its new Official Plan on a Friday afternoon close to 7:00 pm. Why on a Friday when everyone is gone for the weekend?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 25th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In the news business we get used to seeing documents released by a government late Friday afternoon. The hope for the government releasing the document is that there will be no one around to pay any attention to it and by Monday people will have moved on to something else.

Which is what surprised us when we saw a media release come in at 6:52 Friday evening announcing that a DRAFT of the New Official Plan will be released for community consultation.

Planning staff prepared a report titled: “Release of Draft New Official Plan for Community Consultation” that will go to Committee of the Whole on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 1:00 p.m.

The intention is to have the plan adopted by City Council in the fall of 2017.

The staff report includes a series of recommendations related to the Official Plan Project, the Transportation Master Plan and the Integrated Mobility Plan.

It is going to take some time to wade through the 530 page Official Plan and the nine appendices.

 

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Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the Adi Development Group proposal to build 26 storeys at the Martha - Lakeshore Road intersection to begin on Wednesday. It might be a very short hearing.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Wednesday morning at 10:00 am the person chairing the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing will call the meeting to order and the scheduled 10 day hearing will begin.

Those attending might see some rabbits pulled out of a hat as the Adi development Group begin their argument that they should be given approval to build their now 26 storey condominium on the comer of Martha and Lakeshore Road.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

In terms of design the proposed building i several grades above what Burlington has seen in the past the level o intensification and the location are what have citizens upset.

The last OMB level event was a request the ADI Development Group made to have their argument go to mediation.

There has not been a report from the OMB on how the mediation process went – did it even take place?

If it did was the mediation successful and if it was successful what did the mediator conclude?

The OMB meeting on Wednesday might be to have the OMB officer hearing the arguments decide to accept the recommendation from the mediator.

There hasn’t been a word from either the city or the OMB.

This mess, and that is the only fair word to apply to the 23 month saga that began at the end of March in 2015, when the city failed to make a decision on the application the Adi Group made to build what was originally a 28 storey stricture at the intersection.

The rules call for the city to respond to an application to either approve or not approve an application to revise the Official Plan within 180 days. These are often site specific revisions to the Official Plan.

The city got their lines crossed and was not able to give the developer an answer – the Adi group went to the OMB very shortly after the 180 day period ended.

The Adi Development Group had every right to do what they did even though the practice has been to allow some leeway. It was evident that Adi was quite prepared to bulldoze their way through the process.

ADI Nautique detailed sketch

The site for the planed condominium was enlarged when Adi did a property swap with the Carnacelli group. The block between Martha and Pearl is now owned by the two developers – if the Adi development is approved – watch for a second building the same height to go up in that block. Is there no limit to what the Burlington market can absorb in the way of new residential units?

Adi, perhaps realizing that they had a problem, did a land swap with another developer that had a small property to the north of the site making it larger – they reduced the height by two storeys as well.

The city had every right to ask the OMB to not hear the application because it was now a new and different proposal. The city chose to not force that argument. Had they done so Adi would have had to reapply for whatever they wanted from the city.

The city in essence gave Adi a pass.

It has been a badly managed file on the part of the city from almost the day the proposal was made public at a public meeting at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

Wednesday morning we will see what direction the OMB takes.  This one could go in almost any direction.

The city solicitor, the city manager, members of city council know if there is a recommendation from a mediator.

If there is – the plot thickens.

Two sources, both close to this story are suggesting that the city has gone along with a structure that will be 18 storeys in height.

Adi - Saud and Tarif

The Adi brothers.

A developer working in the same general area has said that in order to make a profit the Adi people need approval for eighteen storeys.

The Mayor has asked several people what they thought of a ten storey structure.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has stick to her guns and said that the Official Plan and zoning for that property allows eight storeys and that is what she wants to see approved.

The property along the north side of Lakeshore Road between Pearl and Martha is owned by two developers.

Should the OMB hearing decide that Adi is to be given the right to build 26 storeys expect to see some almost identical built on the western side of that block.

wer

A 19 storey condominium plus a parking garage plus a medical building approved for this site. One block south and one block west the same developer is proposing a 26 storey tower opposite city hall.

Brant Street rendering

Partial view of a proposed development opposite city hall on Brant Street.

With the Carriage gate development now underway at Maria between Elizabeth and John Street going up 19 stories and another Carriage Gate development announced for James Street and Brant, opposite city hall the downtown core of Burlington will not resemble anything like the city many people seem to want – something quieter and small – and with less traffic.

Speaking of traffic – where do things stand on the road diet pilot study the city is struggling with on New Street between Guelph Line and Walkers Line?

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Is Burlington's rural-urban boundary at risk?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 17th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The GTA benchmark price for various types of housing sold last month hit $705,900 up 22.6% from a year earlier and a 60.8% surge from five years earlier.

Wendell Cox, an Illinois based urban policy consultant who is a senior fellow at the Winnipeg based Frontier Centre for Public policy said that the provincial government “needs to relax restrictions on the Greenbelt – protected land on the fringes of the GTA”

Cox added: “When you have a boiling pot and you put a lid on it, the pressure only gets worse. Unless land use policies are reformed to allow for sufficient supply in the urban fringe prices will continue to go up”

These 600 people did not want a highway through the Escarpment - and the Minister of Transportation just might be hearing what we have to say.

These 600 people did not want a highway through the Escarpment.

The urban fringe supply they are talking about is our escarpment – and at some point there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on the Regional government to allow development north of the Dundas QEW border that is the current urban-rural Burlington boundary.

The province just might decide to tell the Region that the dividing line is going to move.

Recall the attempt to ram a highway through the escarpment a number of years ago.

NGTA No-highway-here1-285x300The province sprung that one on the city with little notice. A tremendous effort by the No Highway group brought it a halt – as much because the province began to question their own thinking – the drive was coming from the provincial Ministry of Transportation that saw serious traffic congestion with trucks needing to get to the American border.

President Donald Trump just might solve that problem for us. However the plans to construct a new bridge river the Detroit River ensure that there will be even more traffic heading out of Ontario. At the rate Trump is babbling away he might well be gone before any bridge is completed.

None of this of course changes what can happen to Burlington’s rural area.

The city needs to have a clear defined and well-presented public opinion which calls for some leadership at both the Regional and municipal levels.

Market-Lakeshore-foot-of-St-Paul-looking-west3-1024x6821

It used to be public land – now it is privately owned and will remain that way for a long long time – probably forever. Mayor Goldring’s gift to the city.

City council had no problem selling off a chunk of waterfront land between Market and St. Paul streets along Lakeshore Road when the only pressure that existed was from a couple of property owners that saw an opportunity to make an offer for the land that existed in a city document. That small patch of land put an end to a really solid Waterfront Trail.

To add insult to injury – the city got very little in the way of cold hard cash – the bulk of the money went to the Ministry of Natural Resources that owned much of the land.

If the people of Burlington want to maintain what they have – they will have to be forever vigilant. And look for leadership that will be vigilant as well.

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While the city figures out which lawyers will represent them at the OMB hearing on the Adi development in Alton, a citizen reflects on how we got into this mess.

opinionandcommentBy Pepper Parr

January 15th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The development that council voted not to go forward with in the Alton Village got punted to the Ontario Municipal Board faster than the lawyers could lick the envelope and get the postage on it.

The city now has to go looking for legal talent to represent them on what is going to be a difficult case.
The city planner did her job – she asked council for specific direction – got it and set out working with the developer.

The project gets brought back, the community delegates against the project and council votes it down

The developer says he is “shocked” and notes that he never did like the Mayor; we now have personalities introduced to a sticky legal case.

Alton-project-apt-towers

Planning department and council talked past each other on this project. Did the city manager not see the disconnection? Apparently not.

How did this mess happen?
A regular reader, who is not identified for good reasons, wrote some comments that are strong enough to be passed along.

The writer is well qualified to make the comments:

“It’s obvious the city has a monumental challenge at the OMB, having to hire outside planners against the staff recommendation.

“I found watching the meetings on video revealing and alarming at how decisions are made at city hall. What struck me is how the planning department and council talked past each other, not understanding what the other was saying and what they were agreeing to. The planning department was presenting a new approach to handle the application – yet no one seems to have a hand on the tiller, guiding the process so ensure good decision making and mitigate the city’s risk.

mary-lou-tanner-city-hs

Director of Planning Mary Lou Tanner

“Back at the July 11, 2016 meeting, the Planning Director was clear what she was asking for. Her focus was on seven design principles she identified and pointed out that she did not yet have agreement with Adi because two of these principles were not yet met:

Principle 5 – Implement tall building best practices. The modified design recommendations from staff (below) achieve this principle.

Principle 6 – Provide appropriate transitions between buildings. This is achieved with the modified design recommendations.

“She was asking council members to endorse the design approach and recommendations and direct staff to prepare an official plan and zoning bylaw amendment subject to these design recommendations (i.e. the remaining two principles) being met.

“When the majority of council voted in favour of the Planning Director’s requests, she thought she had their support to negotiate with ADI to make these design changes and develop recommendations based on the outcome of these negotiations.

Lots of talking; not enough listening.

“Back at the July 11, 2016 meeting, a few council members, including the Ward 6 councillor, expressed concern about the tower height. However, the report they approved never committed to reviewing the number of storeys, only “to optimize building placement and ensure an appropriate fit and transition in scale.”

council-at-he-adi-alton-delegations

Is this city council so deeply into a group think that they no longer know ho to listen?

“People were talking around the horseshoe, but seems like there was not enough listening. With no amendments to the report, it’s surprising that council would be surprised that the December report contained no changes to the number of storeys.

“Most of council didn’t seem to know what they were voting for, given the comments that this was just “going forward for discussion”. It wasn’t – the planning director was asking for approval to negotiate several design changes – but nothing to do with height – and in fact she did just that and brought back the file for approval. Their approval set off the chain of events that directly lead to Adi appealing to the OMB. We’re now in the soup we’re in because of that ill-considered decision and poorly thought through process.

“The director of planning never corrected the statements that this report was “just to continue discussions:” She should have been very clear about what she was asking. That lulled everyone, including the public, into thinking substantive changes were coming when clearly they were not – only the two design tweaks staff mentioned in the report. So the public didn’t show up in force till the 11th hour, and then council flips because as Tom Muir said, “it’s politics stupid”.

“Meanwhile, the public was ignored for months – with many council members waking up to their firm opposition only at the December meeting.

The lesson here is to:

a) know what you’re voting on;

b) get the public involved EARLY not at the end. I suspect (hope) this is the first and last time this process will be followed on a planning file given the mess it has created.

Chasing the shiny new object:

“The Planning Director’s recommendations were based on the Tall Building Guidelines – not the Official Plan or public input.

“The influence of outside consultants like Brent Toderian are obvious. From a professional perspective, city planners are captivated by the Vancouverism urban form, which they regard as the exciting, fresh approach to planning. They’re keen to import his thinking to Burlington.

“The Planning Director rushed through these guidelines earlier in the year, with most of council supporting her request, with only an “interim” proviso slapped on it.

“However, no effort was expended to get public input. Planning staff calls them “best practices”, but the guidelines have never been evaluated or debated to determine if Vancouver’s urban form is right for Burlington neighborhoods.

“An honest discussion on intensification desperately needed. This slipshod decision-making process is in the context of never having a healthy public discussion and getting broader buy-in on the right kind of intensification for Burlington.

brent-oderian

Consultant Brent Toderian – the chief evangelist for the tall narrow buildings on a podium-planning model.

“The mayor had a “rah-rah” presentation at his Inspire Series – leaning heavily on Brent Toderian – the chief evangelist for the tall narrow buildings on a podium-planning model.

“We should be asking if intensification is the city’s highest ambition, or is it simply a means to a higher goal. Instead all we get are the empty “Grow Bold” platitudes.

“The lack of clarity on the meaning and limits of intensification, the disregard for the Official Plan and the embrace of the Tall Building Guidelines, coupled with the public being bypassed raises concerns about the nature of the relationship between the city’s planning department and the development industry.

“These factors breed uncertainty in our community for who decides what gets developed where.

“Once again, I wonder whose city is it?”

Indeed!

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ADI - OMB citizens

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 7th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington has always choked when it comes to matters that go to the Ontario Municipal Board.

And yet when the Nelson Quarry took the application for an extension of the quarry on Mt Nemo PERL (Protecting Escarpment Rural Land) fought that battle and managed to win.

It took $2 million out of the legal department's budget to pay for the tear long tribunal that decided the Jefferson Salamander was important and that an expansion of the existing quarry should not be poermitted. It was rural Burlington residents who were the force behind that battle - they were not to be trifled with.

It took $2 million out of the legal department’s budget to pay for the year long tribunal that decided the Jefferson Salamander was important and that an expansion of the existing quarry should not be permitted. It was rural Burlington residents who were the force behind that battle – they opposed an expansion – shown as the lower part outlined.

The cost to the city was $2.1 million.

Is Burlington’s problem with the way the planners make decisions and write their reports? Or is the problem with the legal department who don’t effectively read the lay of the land?

Whichever, and it might be something altogether different, there is a problem.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016The city now faces a local developer, the ADI development Group, on two development proposals – the Nautique that they want to build at the intersection of Martha and Lakeshore Road and the two 19 storey apartment buildings with a collection of townhouse they want to build at the edge of the Alton Community just south of the 407 at Appleby Line.

There is an interesting emergence of events that is worth watching.

The Burlington Planners recommended approving the Alton development after a lot of negotiating and the involvement of a deelopment designer in the process. Anne McIlroy’s group has done some solid work for Burlington in the past, quite why she didn’t say this is the wrong place for this project is difficult to understand. One gets the sense that the planners and the design consultant went into the review exercise committed to make it work – when the community was adamant that is just didn’t work.

altom-project-apt-towers

Two towers 19 storeys high – in a community made of up two storey homes – being proposed in the name of intensification. Residents didn’t buy it and convinced council to reject a staff recommendation.

The Planning department, after considerable negotiation with the developer recommended that city council approve the requested changes to the Official plan and changes to the zoning that had applied to the property.

The result would be a property that was zoned for a possible ten storey height being increased to 19 storeys – and there would be two of them.

tammy-xxx

Tammy , planner leading the xxx

The community was incensed.

City council did, in their wisdom, vote against the staff recommendation.

Before the ink was dry on the city council decision the Adi Development Group had an application in to the OMB asking for a ruling – they were cheeky enough to ask for an expedited ruling.

When they took their Nautique project to the OMB they argued that the city had not made a decision on the development application within the required 180 days. When that application did get in front of the OMB, Adi, the developer asked for a delay while the city considered what to do with the abutting piece of property Adi had bought which made it a considerably different application.

Adi then asked for a mediation by the OMB. Are you getting the picture?

With this going on in Burlington, the province is doing a review of the way the Ontario Municipal Board operates. Burlington along with many municipalities that want to see some reform made in what the OMB can and cannot do.

The province is holding a consultation on Ontario Municipal Board Reform that has five key themes.

• Theme 1: OMB’s jurisdiction and powers
• Theme 2: Citizen participation and local perspective
• Theme 3: Clear and predictable decision making
• Theme 4: Modern procedures and faster decisions
• Theme 5: Alternative dispute resolution and fewer hearings

The review process details and background can be found here: at:

The Regional government wrote a Joint submission on behalf of City of Burlington, Town of Oakville, Halton Hills, Milton, Conservation Halton, Grand River Conservation Authority, and Credit Valley Conservation that identified three key recommendations, as outlined below:

1. Scoping appeals
Amend the Planning Act to restrict the scope of matters that can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (e.g. municipally-initiated comprehensive and area wide official plan amendments)

Amend the Planning Act and OMB procedures to effectively scope matters under dispute to restrict appeals that are broad and without basis (e.g. require appeal letters to provide a sound planning rationale for the appeal and include specific policy wording and mapping for those changes being requested).

Restrict appeals (especially third party appeals) that implement municipal comprehensive reviews establishing urban structure.

2. Mediation
Amend the Planning Act and OMB procedures to utilize Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a ‘first’ solution to resolve land use disputes rather than OMB hearings.

Service delivery of mediation – improving timelines to expedite resolutions.

Apply a merit based approach to appeals.

3. De Novo Hearings
As a decision making authority, the OMB currently has the ability to hear land use planning matters “de novo” (i.e. from the beginning) even though the matter was previously considered by a municipal council.

Amend the Planning Act to limit the opportunities for de novo hearings at the OMB and give validity to Council’s decisions on land use matters.

The Halton staff report contained a detailed response to the OMB Review Public Consultation. That document was approved November 9, 2016 and is commonly referred to as the “Halton Joint Submission” signed by Region of Halton, City of Burlington, Town of Oakville, Halton Hills, Milton, Conservation Halton, Grand River Conservation Authority, and Credit Valley Conservation.

Burlington added comment of their own to the Halton joint submission in which they said:

City staff concur with the recommendations of Halton report LPS118-16. Staff have also identified the following additional items for the Province’s consideration:

1. The current time frame before an official plan or rezoning amendment can be appealed to the OMB based on “Non-Decision” is inadequate; extension of the time frame should be extended to 12 months for OPAs and 9 months for rezonings.

Currently, an applicant can appeal a development application to the OMB if Council has not made a decision within 180 days of an Official Plan amendment application or 120 days of a Zoning By-law amendment application being deemed complete.

This was the justification the Adi Development Group used when they appealed to the OMB on the Nautique development at Martha and Lakeshore.

While it is acknowledged that Bill 73 has provided the option of extending the timeline by 90 days for OPA’s, the City remains of the position that this is not an adequate extension.

Burlington is a municipality that is accommodating the majority of its growth within the built-up area of the city. The applications being received within intensification areas are increasingly complex, requiring significant public and stakeholder engagement, as well as supporting technical studies. The current 180 day and 120 day time periods are inadequate for processing development applications in this context.

Further, the current time frames do not consider the realities of internal report review processes or Committee/Council meeting cycles typical in municipal government.

To place a report on an agenda for Committee/Council consideration typically means that the report is complete up to 1.5-2 months previous to that date. This shortens the period of “Non-Decision” even further to a 4-5 month processing window, placing the municipality in an even more unrealistic position for processing complex applications.

The existing 180-day and 120-day time frames have a number of impacts:
• It puts more applications before the OMB, when the ultimate goal should be to keep applications within the local decision making authority where best efforts are being made to resolve issues outside of the OMB system.

• It penalizes a municipality for striving to conduct a meaningful public consultation process.

• It penalizes a municipality for striving to ensure that quality technical submissions are received to appropriately assess an application.

• It places the municipality in the position of recommending a refusal to Council, taking an adversarial position with the applicant, when in fact, there could still be the opportunity and interest in working through the issues with the applicant, stakeholders and community.

• It places the municipality in a position of risk and uncertainty for making best effort to continue work through issues beyond the 180-days/120 days with increased risk of appeal for every day that passes.

• It does not recognize that it might be advantageous for some applicants to only fulfill the requirements for a complete application, with the intention of triggering an appeal so that a decision would be made through an OMB hearing rather than by a local Council.

• It places a municipality in an unrealistic position for processing a complex development application as it does not consider the time it takes to: resolve issues with the application; fill information gaps in technical studies; consult with the public; and consult with stakeholders and agencies some of which have their own challenges in resourcing application review and preparation of comments.

2. Alternative dispute resolution should be supported by additional provincial funding, and not downloaded to municipalities.

The City is supportive of avenues that reduce the need for an OMB hearing and that places more decision making authority within the local context, and is therefore supportive of the alternative dispute resolution process. However, the dispute resolution process also requires resourcing which should be supported by the Province and not downloaded to municipalities.

3. The period in which to conduct an interim-control study should be an automatic 2-year period, rather than a 1-year period and subject to renewal.

A municipality typically only invokes an interim-control by-law planning tool when a significant matter arises. A significant matter, is often a complex matter, requiring time to conduct a study.

Components of a study process include: issue identification and project scoping; potentially outsourced procurement for technical assistance; public and stakeholder consultation; research and analysis; policy analysis; formulation of recommendations; and, preparation of a staff recommendation report to Council. A one year-time frame can be aggressive, particularly if outsourced consulting support is required as part of the study due to timelines and requirements of the procurement process. The study period should be revised to an automatic 2- year period, rather than a 1-year period, subject to renewal.

4. The scoping of matters that can be subject to OMB appeal should be further expanded and clarified.

To avoid the necessity of re-hearing of local Official Plan matters which have already been resolved by the Province or the Board at the Senior Plan level, the Province should specify that the following matters are not eligible for appeal:

• Regional official plan conformity through local official plan amendments;

• Any local official plan or amendment which is designed as a conformity exercise to an approved provincial plan (except for those provisions of the local plan that may be more restrictive than the senior-level plan).

5. Further clarity should be provided on the Province’s proposal to restrict appeals of planning applications for development that supports provincially funded transit infrastructure such as subways and bus stations.

Staff support, in principle, the restriction of appeals for applications that support transit infrastructure; however, staff question how such appeal restrictions would be implemented. There are many aspects of local official plans, such as the City of Burlington’s current Official Plan, which support transit infrastructure, and many of these aspects will be continued in expanded in future planning, such as the new impending Official Plan and the Mobility Hub Area-Specific Planning which is currently underway. Staff question how to feasibility separate out those aspects of a Plan which are transit-related, and therefore not subject to appeal, from other overlapping aspects of a Plan which are designed to achieve other objectives, and which would be subject to appeal.

6. The Province’s proposal to require land use decisions to reflect current Provincial policy is strongly supported.

Since 2007, the Planning Act has required that land use decisions on applications made after that time must reflect provincial policies in place when the decision is made, not when the application is made. The Province is proposing to extend this change by requiring that all planning decisions, including those for applications made prior to 2007, be based on planning documents in effect at the time of the decision.

Staff strongly support this Provincial proposal. At the present time, there are some dormant pre-2007 applications in the City that were originally submitted in anticipation of new future planning policies coming into force. These applications were essentially submitted as “placeholders” in order to ensure that the previous planning regime would continue to apply, and these applications could be re-activated at any time. Some of these applications are incomplete and do not reflect current planning policies and practices. This proposed Provincial change would ensure that decisions on these applications, if and when they are re-activated, would be able to reflect the current policies.

There will be changes made to the way the OMB works in the future but it is going to take some time for the process to actually see a change.

Will any of this impact the two matters that has the city and the Adi Development group battling it out before the OMB. Hard to tell.

There is one small tidbit of information that makes this really interesting. The Ontario Municipal Board is part of the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario which is now led by Bruce Krushelnicki who was at one time the planner for Burlington.

At some point all the data and all the public input gets placed in front of Burlington's Planner, Bruce Kruselniiki - who will issue a report and city council will make decisions. Creating the downtown the city wants and needs has not been an easy process for Burlington.

Bruce Krushelnicki – former Burlington Director of Planning is now the Chair of the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario that oversees the work done by the Ontario Municipal Board.

The city wasn’t happy with the way Bruce Krushelnicki was doing the job and after ten years with Burlington he moved on.

He now chairs the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario (ELTO) which oversees what gets done by the Assessment Review Board, the Board of Negotiation, the Conservation Review Board, the Environmental Review Tribunal, and the Ontario Municipal Board.

Burlington lost a fine planner but that is proving to be the province’s gain.
Krushelnicki wrote the textbook on OMB procedures. He will direct the process that reforms the OMB – it will just take some time – but it will get done – properly.

getting new - yellow

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Will the future of Bronte Meadows become any clearer in 2017?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 29th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is a large piece of land that you drive by when you head for the Convention centre on Burloak – you pass it without realizing just how big it is.

Owned by the Paletta organization and zoned as “employment lands” the Paletta’s have wanted to convert it to residential for some time.

That doesn’t look as if it will ever happen.

The city planners describe the land as a “large, contiguous and un-serviced area of vacant employment lands that represents a significant and irreplaceable opportunity in the city and its citizens.

bronte-meadow

Bounded by Upper Middle Road on the north, Bronte Road on the east and Mainway on the south this xxx ha piece of property holds significant potential for the city – but no one has yet been able to put together an organization or an institution that wants to locate in Burlington.

“The site has the potential to be a candidate site for a major employer or large educational institution. A city-wide strategy should be initiated to attract a major employer and/or another post-secondary institution to the city, consistent with the Strategic Plan.”

The planners point out that there are “a number of strategic locations within the inventory which require municipal services and more detailed land use planning” including Bronte Creek Meadows. The study also noted that these large parcels of land should be the focus of future land use and infrastructure planning.

5164 Upper Middle Road; 5366 Upper Middle Road; 5470 Upper Middle Road; 5900 Upper Middle Road; and 5201 Mainway collectively are known as Bronte Meadows.

Paletta International Corporation (PIC) applied to amend the lands from “Office/Business Park” to “Land Use to be Determined”. That application was refused by the City. Paletta appealed to the OMB to be determined at the same time as PIC’s outstanding appeals of Official Plan Amendment.

The Bronte Creek Meadows constitutes about 40% of the vacant employment land supply (125 ha/308 ha) and 51% of the effective net supply in the entire City (125 ha/248.3 ha).

In 2009, through Minutes of Settlement the City and PIC agreed to identify a portion of the total lands (approximately 88 acres or 35 ha) to be called Burloak Employment Estates. This portion of the land can be described generally as the land abutting Burloak Drive (generally north of Mainway, west of Burloak, south of Upper Middle and bounded to the west by the proposed realignment of Sheldon Creek). The Minutes of Settlement detailed that PIC would withdraw its appeals related to an Official Plan Amendment and not appeal that portion of the site through OPA 73.

Angelo Paletta on the left standing proudly with his father Pasquelle (Pat) Paletta

Angelo Paletta on the left standing proudly with his father Pasquelle (Pat) Paletta

The Minutes of Settlement further described that PIC would actively market the lands for a period of at least 5 years. The Minutes of Settlement set out requirements for a sign on the site, disclosure to, and discussions with BEDC. The five year time period has elapsed.

The employment land conversion assessment (Burlington Employment Lands Policy Recommendations and Conversion Analysis report) analysis recommended that Bronte Creek Meadows be retained as employment land. Staff support this recommendation.

Since the writing of the 2015 report the Region of Halton commissioned a servicing study based on servicing for employment uses, for Bronte Creek Meadows. The study is currently in draft form. The preliminary findings suggest that there are no major barriers to servicing this area.

Proposed Direction from the planners is that the city should initiate an area specific plan in the near term. Partnership with the owner of the property to develop the land for employment uses will be an important element related to moving forward.

paletta_intl-hq

The Paletta organization is diversified and into food processing and entertainment. They are beleived to be the largest private land holder in the city. Five years ago they had a Christmas Day meeting with then newly elected Mayor Rick Goldring with a proposal to locate a stadium that would be home to the Hamilton Tiger Cats in Aldershot. That idea died an early death.

Efforts will be made to understand the potential of these lands to support the Strategic Plan of the city.
Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman has said he thought the lands should be a combination of employment lands with some residential permitted.

The struggle between the owners of the largest piece of employment land in the city and the city planners has been an ongoing for many years.

No one has come to the city with an interest in putting a large corporate operation on the site despite its close proximity to both the QEW and the 407.

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

Bronte Meadows from the Mainway side. Defined as Employments Lands, spitting distance to the QEW, minutes from downtown – owners would like to see some of it converted to residential. wants to rezone and make it residential.

In land development it is all about timing. While the general public perception is that developers reap huge profits from development few appreciate that the Paletta’s have carried this property for some time paying taxes and significant legal fees.

The Economic Development Corporation has not been able to market the property – one observer has said that the price Paletta is asking for the property relates to residential development. It is pretty clear at this point in time that the city is determined to retain the employment land purpose. It is a splendid piece of property but no one knows what to do with it from an employment aspect.

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Inclusionary zoning - will it be something Burlington decides it want to permit? Not with this city council.

News 100 redBy Staff

December 28, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The province recently passed legislation that will over time create more affordable housing. The new legislation makes changes to four existing acts that will give municipalities the option to implement inclusionary zoning, which requires affordable housing units to be included in residential developments.

Note that this is an option and Burlington might not want to go this route. It will first have to be approved at the Regional level

inclusionary-cant-affordSecondary suites such as above-garage apartments or basement units in new homes will be less costly to build because they would be exempted from development charges. Secondary suites are a potential source of affordable rental housing and allow homeowners to earn additional income.

Giving local service managers (that would be the Region of Halton) more choice in how they deliver and administer social housing programs and services to reduce wait lists and make it easier for people in Ontario to access a range of housing options.

The legislation encourages inclusive communities and strengthening tenant rights by preventing unnecessary evictions from social housing and creating more mixed-income housing.

The Region will now have to gather data about homelessness and perform local enumeration of those who are homeless in their communities.

What is inclusionary zoning?

liberty-village-inclusionary

It is certainly dense when it comes to development – and it is one of the most popular places in Toronto for younger people. Minutes away from the downtown commercial core. There are affordable units in these developments.

The Torontoist describes it this way: “Typically regulated by municipalities, inclusionary zoning is one way to make sure affordable housing gets built in a way that promotes socio-economically diverse neighbourhoods. It works by requiring developers to include a set portion of below-market units, usually 10 to 30 per cent, either to buy or sell in every residential building of a certain size.

“Inclusionary zoning can be mandatory or incentive-based–also called discretionary or voluntary. The latter offers developers incentives to build units valued below typical market rent or sale prices. Some municipalities may offer density bonuses so developers can build and sell more units, or they may waive development fees or fast-track projects through the approval process. Volunteer programs are often more attractive to developers, and can be for municipalities as well, since they aren’t as likely to inspire opposition and legal challenges the way mandatory programs can. However, they tend to result in fewer affordable units being built.

“Mandatory programs, which were proposed by the Ontario government, don’t give developers a say in how and when to build affordable units–those regulations are set by local governments. Some municipalities that require inclusionary zoning, however, also offer developers breaks, such as density bonuses.

“One potential drawback of mandatory inclusionary zoning is that developers who don’t want to participate may take their project to a municipality where the legislation doesn’t apply. The Province, after all, is only giving municipalities the option to mandate inclusionary zoning, not the requirement to do so. And while Toronto is poised to take advantage of the opportunity, other municipalities may not be.”

When, if ever, will Burlington see inclusionary zoning? Can you imagine what the public debate on this one will sound like?

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A Mobility Hub? Perhaps an Innovation District? Something soon that will result in jobs for the literally thousands of residential units that are going to get completed before the end of 2018.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 19th, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is a developer who has completed a land assembly and is now meeting with the planning department.

And the project isn’t going to go anywhere in the immediate future – because the concept of a mobility hub and an Innovation District are still being thought through within the Planning department.

At a recent council meeting Burlington Economic Development Corporation Executive Director, Frank McKeown pointed out that the city needs to understand innovation districts from a land use perspective.

First problem is that the city’s Official Plan does not recognize the concept of an Innovation District.

Something along these lines was planned for Burlington's downtown core - but McMaster stifed the city when a nicer deal came along.

Something along these lines was planned for Burlington’s downtown core – but McMaster stiffed the city when a nicer deal came along.

The Burlington Employment Lands Policy Recommendations and Conversion Analysis report describes the general features of an Innovation District and provides a series of case studies and research. In general, the research affirms that innovation districts are composed first of an economic development marketing strategy, and that land use policy interventions are used to:

• Implement the vision
• Address land use compatibility
• Provide incentives

There is a role for land use planning policy to support the initiative by enabling area specific planning and working closely with any given anchor institution.

The success of innovation districts requires a mix of attributes and features. The right institutional anchor in place, the unique features of the area (old waterfront, older industrial area, natural heritage/open space), and transit and active transportation options are all critical to the success of an innovation district.

Planning staff have considered the recommendations offered in the Burlington Employment Lands Policy Recommendations and Conversion Analysis report and have determined that there is an opportunity to identify one or more potential innovation districts in the city.

The first step in any innovation district process is the development of the economic development strategy and brand designed to leverage the economic, networking and physical assets of the area. Where a strategy is developed an area specific plan should be initiated in support of the strategy that considers critical elements in support of the district including connectivity and access to the District.

After reading that paragraph you know that there isn’t going to be a near future answer to any of the issues raised.

Station West A sign

Station West – the ADI Development Group project that is currently being marketed.

Station West

It’s an empty field today – expect to see it become an active construction site during 2017. The development will include both apartments and various forms of townhouses.

Burlington decided a few months ago that it was going to go back to square one with its official plan and give up on the mandated requirement to review the existing plan – and has decided to write a brand new plan. That new Official Plan has to fit in with the Go Bold, Go Smart and Go Beautiful mantra that is coming out of the Planning department.

No one is really sure just what the slogan means and there has yet to be a public meeting of any sort to explain it to the public at large.

The Official Plan, say staff, should identify a general framework for identifying an area with potential to function as an innovation district and the approach for supporting these areas through land use planning.

In the near term the identification of a special study area around the existing DeGroote School of Business should be included as a potential innovation district.

Getting something off the ground has always been a front burner issue for the Economic Development Corporation – that dream has been in the works for more than three years. It may well end up still born.

Through the work on the Mobility Hub Area Specific Plans, staff suggest some consideration of connectivity to the potential innovation district should be included. This special study area is located within an area of employment. As such no sensitive uses like residential should be permitted in this innovation district. There is potential for accommodating sensitive uses like residential in proximity to the potential innovation district such as along the Fairview Corridor or in association with the Appleby GO mobility hub.

The ADI Development group appear to have all the clearance they need for their Station West Development in Aldershot and at one stage during the Strategic Plan discussions Aldershot was the hot button choice for the first Mobility Hub – that seems to have cooled of somewhat,

A plan for the area such as a Mobility Hubs Area Specific Plan or considered through an area specific plan for the innovation district would assist in identifying opportunities to cross significant barriers in the area (rail line, creek) and to link the innovation district to the intensification area identified along Fairview Street.

burlington-go-mobility-hub

All the essentials are in place – couple of huge outdoor parking lots and a several floor indoor parking lot. A GO station. Space for private cars, taxis and city buses all converge on the site. Is there the potential to create an innovation centre in the area that now has a garden centre and several automotive dealers along Fairview east of the GO station. Land use economists argue that land in this areas should be used for a more productive use.

There are a couple of monkey wrenches that mess this thinking up a bit.

The DeGroote School of business location on the South Service Road is not one of the Mobility hub ideas being looked at. The four in the thinking stage are at the Aldershot GO station, the bus transfer location on John Street, the Burlington GO station and the Appleby GO station.

The Bureaucrats have to do their work – and credit to the Planning department, there are some very competent people over there who, if we give them the time and the resources needed, they will get it right.

Meanwhile there is a developer with three large junks of land that have been bought and paid for waiting to have the concept meeting with the planners to see what they think. The planners told the developer to come back when they are ready.

Nice – maybe the city could give the developer a tax holiday on the property while they wait?

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