Two North Burlington residents asking the community to support their legal fight against the libel actions taken by the Air Park

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

December 6th, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Two north Burlington residents who have been sued by the Burlington Air Park have turned to the community with a fund raising drive that wants to raise $100,000 to cover their legal costs.

Monte Dennis and Vanessa Warren have been sued for libeling Vince Rossi, president of the Air Park.

Pepper Parr and the online Burlington Gazette were also sued but neither Parr nor the Gazette are part of the fund raising efforts.

There are a number of online fund raising operations that are referred to as “crowd-sourcing – that let anyone appeal to a public for financial support.

The legal battle between the Burlington residents and the Air Park began in April of 2014. There was a court case and then an appeal of that decision.

There is now a second court case that is awaiting a decision.

These court cases were between the city and the Air Park.

Other than a lot of paper between the lawyers – the libel suits involving Par, Dennis and Warren have gone no further than the Examination for Discovery stage. The wheels of justice move slowly – but they do move. At some point this charade will come to an end.

Slapp #2

Fund raising site: residents being sued for speaking out against the illegal dumping of land fill that is believed to be impacting the water table are asking the public to help out with the legal costs.

When asked why $100,000 was being raised one of the defendants said: “We are going by past costs to defend SLAPP suits and that is what these things typically cost. These things drag on – we think the $100,000 is a reasonable figure.

Warren and Dennis refer to SLAPP suits (SLAPP is an acronym for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) in their appeal for funds. A SLAPP suit is a legal action taken by someone who basically wants to shut someone up. Having someone appear at your front door with a document saying they are going to ask a Judge to award them $100,000 because they don’t like what you wrote or said publicly about them does make you think twice before you speak – which of course is exactly what the person suing you wants – it is a tactic that bought about provincial legislation designed to stop this kind of lawsuit.

The problem for Dennis and Warren is that the SLAPP legislation did not exist when they wrote or spoke. Their continued reference to SLAPP suits muddies the water.

Dennis is being sued because of a Letter to the Editor published in the Hamilton Spectator. Here is what

erty

Trucks carting land fill onto the air park. The owners of the air park did not file a site plan with the city – which a Judge later said they were required to do – the land fill is still in place.

If the letter was libelous, and few believe it is, then why wasn’t the Hamilton Spectator included in the lawsuit? That would call for Air Park president Vince Rossi to take on the TorStar, the public company that owns the Toronto Star, the Hamilton Spectator and almost every other significant newspaper in Ontario.

The defendant suggested “we look at what Rossi has already cost the city: John Taylor, ward 3 city Councillor is reported to have said at a town hall meeting the other evening that the Air Park issue has cost the city, in legal fees alone, about $800,000 to date and his case is not over yet.

Vanessa and Monte were sued because they spoke out against the Burlington Airpark dumping of millions of cubic feet of construction fill, some of which they believe is contaminated, onto Ontario Greenbelt lands. The courts have ordered a stop to the dumping of more fill, but the damage has been done, negatively impacting the neighbours and potentially the environment.

Dennis and Warren believe our democracy is based on freedom of speech, public dialogue and social fairness.

While Dennis and Warren look ask the public to support them financially Vince Rossi awaits a decision on the most recent court case; one in which the city of Burlington asked a Judge to compel the Air Park to remove the fill that was put on the land and to also compel them to file a site plan.

A decision is expected in the New Year – whichever side wins the Superior Court case – it will, in all probability be appealed.

Airpark dumped more than 30 feet of landfill without a Site Plan. Owner of the adjacent property stands on her property line and wonders why anyone can build a "small mountain" next to her property without getting approval. She is also retified about what the hill is doing to the vlue of her property and what the leaching out of the landfill is going to do to her well water.

Airpark dumped more than 30 feet of landfill without a Site Plan. Owner of the adjacent property stands on her property line and wonders why anyone can build a “small mountain” next to her property without getting approval.

This battle has been going on since April of 2014 when the first law suits were issued. They are expensive but defending them is essential if the public is to continue to have the right to speak its mind.

Earlier this year the Gazette published a short article in which we reported on an Examination for Discovery that took place. Days later there was a letter from the Air Park lawyers demanding that we retract the article or they will sue.

That is how people who don’t want information in the hands of the public operate.

If you want people who care about your community to be able to speak freely and openly, support Dennis and Warren. The link to the site is HERE.

 

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Will the Skyway arena get a major makover or will the city build a brand new building? Might depend on what gets done with the Lakeside Village Plaza.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 25, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

The Skyway arena is getting a really close look from the people who do the thinking at the Parks and Recreation department. It might be in for minor changes or it could be replaced with a totally new building.

The Parks and Recreation people had to decide a while ago that the city did need 11 ice pads – which meant that the Skyway Arena was going to continue to be part of the total ice pad compliment.

wdfrt

The Skyway Arena – due for an upgrade – potential for some significant changes.

The challenge then was to decide what to do with the building that needed more work than any of the other arenas.

There was considerable discussion as to whether the place should have one or two ice pads – that wasn’t totally resolved.

Jennifer Johnson at Lakeside Plaza visioning

Jennifer Johnson, an engineer with the city, listens to a ward 5 resident who explains where he would like to see development take place

Knowing the rink was in poor shape, there was no viewing section that was elevated and warm, accessibility was very poor and the mechanical used to maintain the ice has seen better days.

Mountainside entrace BEST Johnson and planner

The lobby area of the recently opened Mountainside Recreation Centre

The Mountainside arena was recently given a major upgrade – almost a rebuild. Gone was the look of an old style arena – the place was given more space for community use and much improved lockers.

The city was prepared to do the same for Skyway and just yesterday awarded a contract to ZAZ, the company that did the work at Mountainside.

The three options the architects are going to look at include:

1: like for like – upgrade the structure giving the community a more efficient to operate facility.

2: like with enhancement and improvements.

3:  replace the existing structure with something new and integrate it into the community.

The architects will create a number of concepts that are expected to go to city council sometime next year – the thought was this might be during the 2Q of 2016

When that comment was made the audience broke into applause.

Denise Beard, Manager of Community Development Services wanted the audience to talk about what they would like to see – rooms where games of cards could be played, space with small kitchen facilities.

Mountainside has two very nice community rooms that have screens that can be dropped down for showing videos; there are small microwaves in the rooms with a sink.

Mountainside has the advantage of having an outdoor swimming pool – Skway has the advantage of having a large park as part of the property.

Linking the parks

The high level thinking is how to fully integrate a re-developed Skyway Park and arena into a re-developed Lakeside Village Plaza an tie both into Burloak Park that is also undergoing a remake.

There is going to be a change – and the community is in on the changes right from the beginning.

The thinking that is being applied to the Lakeside Village plaza is going to be applied to the Skyway arena and park as well as Burloak Park – it will be interesting to see what is in place in five years.

The potential for something really beneficial to the community is certainly there.

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Ward 5 residents meet to say what they think should happen to the Lakeside Plaza and the Skyway arena.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 25, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was close to the largest citizen’s meeting this reporter has seen in Burlington. And no one was angry.

More than 350 people crowded the cafeteria at the Robert Bateman high school to learn about changes that may be taking place with what is sometimes referred to as the Skyway Plaza or the Lakeside Plaza but is now to be known as the Lakeside Village.

Lakeside Village - visioning meeting Nov 24-15

More than 350 people filled the Robert Bateman high school auditorium to hear what was being planned for their community and to give their views as well.

The reason for the get together was to go through a visioning exercise, “To create an economically successful mixed-use development incorporating residential, commercial and public uses resulting is a community-centered and vibrant development which positively impacts residents.”

It took a while to get to the pencil and paper work – an exercise that had 8 to 10 people at each table with a city hall staff member guiding the group through a series of questions –

Denise Beard at Lakeside Plaza visioning

Denise Beard, a manager in the Parks an Recreation department worked with are residents to take down the ideas they had for the plaza and the park.

What is your vision for the Sky Park and the arena?
What do you value in the neighbourhood?
What is missing in this community?
How could the existing homes be better connected to the plaza and the arena?

Lakeside Village visioning - Kaitline with man sneaky look

Kaylan Edgcumbe from the Planning department listened and took notes at one of the more than 20 tables.

The audience was being asked to go right back to core values and say what they wanted to see the plaza and the park become and how they could be better integrated.

Before they got to the “visioning” ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman, took the audience through what it had taken to get everyone to this point.  Sharman was quite a bit different with his presentation – he read from notes – which he seldom does and started off on a very positive note by telling the audience that Food Basics had let it be known that they were going to be a part of whatever change might be made and that the arena was going to remain. What about Shoppers Drug Mart someone asked “we don’t know yet” replied Sharman.

Rob Peachey, the man at city hall responsible for the development of the parks system gave a brief overview of where things were with the Burloak Park.

Denise Beard who manages community development for the Parks and recreation department talked about the thinking that was being done for the Skyway Park and arena.

Linking the parks

The bigger picture was to develop the arena, shown in light green, upgrade the plaza shown in light yellow and tie both to the Burloak Park at the edge of the lake.

The hope seemed to be that at some point an arena that met the needs of the community would be developed; that Burloak Park would be tied in more tightly to the plaza and that the plaza would take on a whole new look and become a much more vibrant part of the community.

There is a lot of work to get done before anyone does any building. Zahoruk hit the nail on the head when she said “development is risky and complex”. Getting the views of the area residents is a first step – having them on side is critical – but it is just a first step.

The main purpose was to do some “visioning” about Lakeside Village – it was also a meeting about St. Elizabeth Anglican church and the exercise they were going through; it was an update on the development of Burloak Park and setting out how the city was approaching what they were going to do with the Skyway arena.

It was a full schedule – and it progressed smoothly.

Lakeside Village Goldring - Zahoruk and Emilio

Mayor Rick Goldring talks to architect Cynthia Zahoruk and property owner Joe Elmaleh

Cynthia Zahoruk, the architect on the project said at the end of the evening that it has “gone better than I expected”. The next step is to pull together the notes taken by the facilitator at each table and get a sense of what the 350 people thought about what could be done and should be done with the site.

The site graphic

The potential to take a site that is worn down and certainly seen better days yet situated in a community with a balanced mix of single family dwellings, townhouses and high rise with as many as 19 storeys.

The property is owned by United Burlington Retail Properties Inc., (UBRP) a holding company with a number of interests in the areas. Joe Elmaleh, a director and vice president with the company didn’t want to say anything about any other properties other than they were a holding company and added that the property was acquired in 2001 and treated as a long term investment.

The property was beginning to deteriorate and had taken on a run-down look. The theatre and the bowling alley that were part of the property had not been used for years. The 9.5 acre site has 112,000 sq. feet of commercial space with a lot of it empty.

There was an interest in improving the site – the trick at the time was to meet with the property owners – and that wasn’t easy to do.  Sharman had the devil of a time getting in front of anyone at UBRP – during one of his visits to the property owners he couldn’t get past the receptionist.

Sharman at Lakeside Village visioning

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman, who organized the meeting talks to an area resident.

Frank McKeown, executive director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation inserted himself into the process and in the fullness of time meetings were set up with the property owners.

They hired Cynthia Zahoruk as their architect and she brought in Dana Anderson as a planning consultant – both women work out of Burlington.  Anderson was with the Oakville Planning department at one point.

The group decided to meet with the public and hear what they thought.

It was a very good public meeting – no decisions were made. The city explained what it was doing in the area and they wanted to hear what the public thought.

“We don’t have any answers” explained Sharman and “none of the agencies have looked at anything yet.”

The property owners and their agents had meetings with the Planning department but there isn’t an application on the table yet.

Joe Elmaleh said UBRP was a long term investor and had a strong relationship with the city. That statement was a bit of a stretch – it had taken a long time to get them to the table – but they were there now and seemed prepared to listen.

The evening was planned as a listening event.  In 2014 Council issued a Staff Direction:

DIRECTION REGARDING LAKESIDE PLAZA

Direct the Director of Planning and Building and request the Executive Director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation as follows:

Prepare a series of re-development options for the site based on intensive mixed use re-development and approach the owners of the property with the redevelopment plans; and
Investigate and report on the authority available to permit the use of incentives for re-developing the site, and
Provide an estimate of the resources needed to prepare and implement a Community Improvement Plan.

Lakeside with trees

The real hope was the trees – in an early stage drawing of the plaza. which is a pretty miserable looking place right now, the architect shows what the site could look like if the asphalt was peppered with trees.

It was that Staff Direction that got the ball rolling.

Now to hear what those 350 people in the Robert Bateman high school cafeteria had to say.

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A new tax coming our way - storm water management tax is thought to come in at $50 to $100 for a small household - malls and churches will take a big hit.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 23, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Storm water management began getting all kinds of attention soon after the floods of 2014 but it had been on the city’s radar screen well before that.

Former city manager Jeff Fielding had some ideas that would have resulted in a separate corporate entity that would have managed storm water and create a new revenue opportunity for the city – but that didn’t even get off the ground.

Flood Fairview plaza

The plaza and mall operators can expect to see a significant tax added to their operating costs – the smarter ones will begin looking for remedies.

While Burlington was spending millions getting an understanding on why so much damage was done –other municipalities were developing plans to collect revenue for a problem that was now being looked at by everyone.

At the Budget review meeting held last week Councillor Lancaster asked how Waterloo handled storm water and was told that they had done a lot of public engagement and had a program that offers a credit of up to 45% of the stormwater utility fee for properties that manage their stormwater.

Residential stormwater management techniques can include rain barrels, trees, cisterns, infiltration measures or rain gardens.

Burlington has yet to create a program to collect any revenue but it is very clear that such a fee is coming our way.
Lancaster wanted to see incentives for people and a program that was easy to administer.

On Friday a group of insurance executives and senior people from Ontario municipalities met at the Royal Botanical Gardens to hear what the insurance industry was thinking and learn what some municipalities were doing.

Mapleview Mall parking - south west side

A storm water management tax is going to hit the bottom line of the malls – might result in significantly different parking lost designs as well. Could Burlington have become a leader in this field.

Mapleview Mall - parking north east side

The mall operators will never put in parking meters but they will be thinking through how to redesign their parking lots to limit the damage storm water does on large space with no effective way for water to run off.

There is certainly going to be a fee. The figure of $50 to $100 was mentioned for the average household with everything being based on how much ground there was.

The focus was not on just what a homeowner would have to pay- those with large parking lots are the ones going to take the hardest hit.

That includes the large malls who will have to build the tax into their cost of doing business. Places of worship that have large parking lots are going to have to find a way to pay a tax as well. Traditionally churches have been exempt from taxes. Those days appear to be coming to an end.

The stormwater credit program in Waterloo is available for commercial, industrial, institutional and multi-residential properties, based on the stormwater quality, quantity and education measures in place.

The good people of Burlington can expect to see something come out of city hall on how storm water management is going to be paid for early in the New Year.

Exactly who will manage the program and where the leadership will come from isn’t at all clear.

City General Manager scott Stewart doesn't take this smile to hospital meetings.

City General Manager Scott Stewart will be taking his smile and his skill sets to Guelph.  we are losing a good one.

Earlier this month general manager Scott Stewart gave his resignation to the city manager and will take up the job of Deputy CAO of Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Services in Guelph; he begins that job December 7th.

Stewart had been in the running for the job of city manager for Burlington twice – he was passed over both times and decided it was time to move on. There was a time when Burlington had three general managers – come December we will not have any – everything will land on the desk of James Ridge who took up the job late in March.

The management team below General manager has also seen a number of changes.

That roster currently includes:

Mike Spicer – Director of Transit
Cathy Robertson – Director Roads and Parks Maintenance
Nancy Shea Nicol – Director of Legal Services and city solicitor.
Joan Ford – Director of Finance
Bruce Zvaniga was the Director of Transportation – Vito Tolone is currently serving as the interim Director.
Chris Glenn – Director Parks and Recreation
Sheila Jones – City Auditor
Christine Swenor – Director of Information |Technology Services
Bruce Krushelnicki was Director Planning and Building – he has been replaced by Mary Lou Tanner.
Alan Magi runs Capital Works
Roy Male ran Human Resources for years – he retired and was replaced by Laura Boyd.

Joan Ford, the city's Director of Finance knows where every dollar comes from and where every dollar gets spent.

Joan Ford, the city’s Director of Finance knows where every dollar comes from and where every dollar gets spent.

The only person who could move into the role of a General Manager would be Joan Ford who does a superb job at finance. She is backed up by a solid team.

James Ridge has his work cut out for him. He has a number of messy files on his desk – none that he created – just past problems that are not going to go away. He has a Strategic Plan that has to be completed; his work plan has about 50 blank spots in it – no reflection on his management ability – he needs to know what Council is going to approve in the way of a Strategic Plan before he can know what he has to do.

Ridge’s biggest task is going to be creating the team that will work with him to move the city forward. The completion of the Official Plan Review is also in the wings. That work was progressing quite well – it has been moved to the back burner while Council focused on the Strategic Plan.

Then it got brought forward again – to the surprise of the Planner working on the file who was left with the impression that it had to be done quick quick quick.

Official Plans don’t lend themselves to quick quick quick.

Andrea Smith has been doing a superb job – better guidance on time lines and where the development of the plan fits into the bigger picture is what she needs most.

If you’re getting the impression that there is a little disarray at the most senior level at city hall you are more right than wrong.

Budget 2014 Jivan - good oblong

Municipal^pal civil servants are for the most part dedicated innovative people who work hard. They need an environment in which they can excel.

The municipal world works at a pace that is significantly different than the private sector. There are some exceptional people who work within the municipal sector – they are creative, innovative and genuinely want to make the cities they work for better places to live. But they have to be led and Burlington has had some challenges at this level.

The current city council is not of one mind. There are very distinct differences between members of Council; there are council members who have been at the table far too long and solid strong leadership from the person who wears the chain of office just isn’t there.

Burlington City Council Group

City Council – This is not a team that pulls together and it certainly is not of one mind.

Every member of the current Council was re-elected in 2014. The taxpayers now have to settle for what they chose. And get used to the idea of an additional tax they will have to pay.

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Architect looking for older pictures of the Skyway Plaza on Lakeshore Road east.

News 100 redBy Staff

November 22, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Do you happen to have any photographs of the Lakeside Plaza taken way way back when it was first opened? During those days when it thrived?

SKYWAY-WITH-SHOPPERS-SIGNThere is going to be a visioning exercise that will involve the community on what the existing Lakeside Plaza might look like as it works its way towards future development.

The team of architects putting together a visual presentation would like to find some old pictures – if you have some you are prepared to loan them – be in contact with Cynthia Zahoruk, 905-331-4480: by email at – cz@czarchitect.com

The visioning event will take place at the Robert Bateman High school cafeteria at 7:00 pm Tuesday the 24th of November.

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City manager opens up his kimono and puts his cards on the table - the ADI development story is getting a little clearer

News 100 blueBy Staff

November 19, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

There has been considerable concern within the community about just where things stand with the ADI Development Group application to build a 26 storey residential building at the intersection of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road.

Tom Muir has been actively pursuing ward two Councillor Marianne Meed Ward for some answer – he wasn’t satisfied with the answers he was getting and the Gazette, as well as a number of other people, did not buy into what Meed Ward had to say about the application.

Adi fence marth lking south

The development site looking south from Martha Street.

Meed Ward advised the Gazette earlier this week that she had asked James Ridge, the city manager, to put together a document that explains the time line and where he believes the city stands as it prepares for the Ontario Municipal Board hearing.

Set out below is the time line Ridge provided.

Chronology;
Application is received September 5, 2014
Notice sign posted September 24, 2014
Public Circulation September 24, 2014 (comments requested by October 24, 2014)
Application deemed complete (i.e. “the clock starts”) September 25, 2014
Neighbourhood Meeting October 9, 2014
Technical Circulation October 17, 2014 (comments requested by November 19, 2014)
Comments from Departments and External Agencies are received October 21, 2014 – March 11, 2015
Staff request a Parking Justification / Reduction Study from the applicant November 28, 2014
Information Report is due to Manager December 8, 2014
Information Report is due to Director December 15, 2014
Information Report is due to GM December 18, 2014
Information Report is due to Clerks January 7, 2015
Statutory Public Meeting (D&I) January 19, 2015
Council Meeting January 26, 2015
Staff meet with applicants to discuss application February 9, 2015
Applicant provides Parking Justification / Reduction Study February 16, 2015
Recommendation Report is due to Manager March 2, 2015
Recommendation Report is due to Director March 9, 2015
Recommendation Report is due to GM March 13, 2015
Recommendation Report is due to Clerks March 18, 2015
Recommendation Report is publicly available online March 23, 2015
“Day 180” since the application has been filed March 24, 2015
Applicant provides notice to Clerks Dept that they are appealing the application March 26, 2015
Recommendation Report Meeting (D&I) March 30, 2015
Council Meeting April 20, 2015

Here are his un-edited comments:

ADI rendering second view from SW

Architects rendering of the structure the ADI Development Group wants to build at the intersection of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road.

One of the key concerns for some involves the mistaken belief that an OMB appeal is automatically triggered when the 180 day threshold is missed. This is not the case. The applicant chooses whether to trigger an appeal after 180 days. In other circumstances where our review has gone past the 180 days, the great majority of applicants do not to appeal. Moreover, an applicant can choose to appeal before the 180 day threshold if they do not like a Council position on their application.

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE CITY OF MISSING THE 180 DEADLINE?
There will be a separate briefing note on this issue released publicly very soon. However, simply stated, the city’s rights and ability to make our case to the OMB are not diminished after the 180 day period, nor are the appellant’s rights or abilities increased. Suggestions that the City’s appeal rights, or powers are somehow compromised by missing the 180 days are incorrect. Again, a more detailed explain of the relevant case law will follow.

WHY DID WE MISS THE 180 DAY THRESHOLD?
Many applications reviewed by the City go past the 180 day threshold. The ADI application was not an isolated or rare event. The key reasons the City misses the 180 day threshold are:

1. The 180 day threshold is almost certainly not long enough given Burlington’s enhanced public consultation process. We have asked the Province for a longer timeframe, either for all municipalities, or municipalities like Burlington who have chosen to undertake greater consultation than required by the Planning Act.

2. Major revisions to a project, which are common, do not trigger a reset of the 180 day clock.

3. Perhaps most significantly, many of the external agencies that must provide comment before we can finalize a report, are delayed in getting their comments to the City. In every case there is a critical date at which point it becomes impossible to finalize a report in time to meet the 180 day threshold if external comment is still missing. These external bodies have very real and legitimate workload and priority-setting challenges of their own and often simply can’t turn around a response in a timeframe that would allow the City to meet the 180 day threshold.

Point 3 above was the key reason the ADI application went over 180 days. In order to have a report written and ready go to Committee and Council cycle for March (to have Council consider the recommendation within the 180 days), the report needed to be completed on February 2nd. But on that date we were missing two critical inputs:

• A key parking study from the applicant

• Comments from a key external partner (out of respect for the partner we would rather not name them).

I want to be clear we are not criticizing either the applicant or external partner for these delays. In each case there were legitimate and real workload and timing issues for them.
In short, as of Feb 2, there was no possible way to complete a report in time to meet the 180 days.

James Ridge - looking right

James Ridge, city manager, former Military Police Officer: Is this a man you want to argue with?

It should be noted that Ridge was not the city manager when most of the above happened, but the problem is now on his desk.
We await with interest, the additional material that is being put together.

We hope as well that the city’s administration will look upon this as a teachable moment and make information public so that people are aware of what the issues are; what the problems are and have some sense as to what city hall is doing.

Ridge is new to the file – he probably deeply regrets that it is on his desk at all – hopefully he will instill in staff, and the communications department in particular, a different approach to the way the public is kept informed.

The Gazette has, since its beginning, said that “an informed public can make informed decisions.

Ridge adds the following information:

Application and approval process

ADI portion of the lot - hoarding

ADI Development Group wants to put a 26 storey tower on a .136 hectare parcel of land at 374 Martha Street. The zoning of the property allows four storeys in height with the potential to increase the height to eight storeys through a rezoning application.

In 2014, Adi Developments submitted an application to the City of Burlington for a 28-storey condo to be developed on a .136 hectare parcel of land at 374 Martha Street. The zoning of the property allows four storeys in height with the potential to increase the height to eight storeys through a rezoning application.

City of Burlington staff in March 2015 presented to the city’s Development and Infrastructure Committee a thorough report that looks at all facets of the Martha Street proposed development. City staff recommended that City Council reject the application, for reasons that include height, parking issues and traffic impact. Council voted unanimously to support the staff recommendation.

Requirements of the Planning Act
The city has 180 days, under the Planning Act, to respond to this type of development application before a developer can appeal its application for amendments to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). However, the City of Burlington does not believe that the 180-day time frame set out in the Act is sufficient, and we have communicated this to the province.

Burlington undertakes additional community consultation steps over and above the consultation that is required by the Act–steps that are not in place in many other cities. As a result, the 180-day threshold is often hard to reach. This was one of those circumstances.

As sometimes happens with complex reports requiring a high level of engagement with the community and government partners, this report went to City Council for endorsement in April 2015, after the 180-day period.

It should be emphasized that while exceeding the 180-day review timeframe was the ground for the OMB appeal in this case, Adi Developments still had the right to appeal the city’s decision if they disagreed with the City Council decision had it been made within the statutory time frame. I would add that in the great majority of other planning applications where the city’s review process has taken more than 180 days, applicants have chosen not to appeal to the OMB. The 180 threshold does not automatically trigger and OMB appeal, that decision is entirely up to the applicant. Even if the City Council decision happens after the 180 days, the city retains full right to make its case to the OMB.

Appeal to the OMB

A pre-hearing is scheduled for December 2015, and a full hearing is scheduled for March 2016. The city will continue to vigorously oppose the proposed development. The city has said publicly that an application for 28 storeys is well beyond what is appropriate in this location, for both height and density.

The city will provide all the information necessary to ensure we balance the development of our city with the preservation of our neighbhourhoods. We are committed to practicing planned, deliberate growth with community input.

ADI Nautique sign

ADI Development Group put up the sign without running it by the bylaw office – a complaint brought the matter to city hall who met with legal to determine if it was a sign, a fence or a hoarding – it was determined to be a sign and it had to be taken down. Civility does not seem to exist in the relationship between the developer and the city.

Signage at the Martha Street site
There have also been complaints about the signage at the 374 Martha Street site. The city has taken the appropriate enforcement actions to ensure that Adi Developments complies with the city’s signage bylaw, and removed the signage.

If you would like more information about the proposed Martha Street development, please visit this link for more information about the proposed development, reach me by phone at 905-335-7600, ext. 7608 or respond to me by email.

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There is something fundamentally wrong with the way city council has chosen to inform its citizens about a significant downtown development project.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 16, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Your city council just might be doing some thinking and getting prepared to issue some kind of a statement on just why and how the ADI Development group application for both an Official Plan change and a zoning change was managed.

ADI rendering second view from SW

Twenty six storeys on a very small lot – city council didn’t manage to formally vote against the development.

When development applications are made the city has 180 days within which to respond. This time line is in place because at one point some municipalities sat on development applications they didn’t like. Now they have to respond within 180 days.

When that time line was passed ADI took their application to the Ontario Municipal Board and asked them to make the decision the city didn’t appear to want to make.

ADI portion of the lot - hoarding

This is is the lot a developer wants to build a structure that will reach 26 storeys into the sky.

Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident, wanted to know why the city council did not vote on the application within that 180 day time frame.

He put his question to the ward Councillor and didn’t get a response. He then put the question to the Mayor and the city manager and included the ward Councillor who did get back to him.

The Mayor also got back to Muir asking for some patience and said he would get back to Muir with a “meaningful response”.

Muir never did hear from the Mayor other than to be copied on a comment he made to Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. The developmental, to be built at the intersection of Martha Lakeshore Road is in ward 2.

John Was, another Burlington resident advised the Gazette “that all six councillors have been asked for a response regarding the 180 day timeline. The resident was also kind enough to say that our “efforts and persistence are appreciated”. At least two people like us

The one response that Was did get is disturbing:

It went as follows:

“I think Council is accountable for the end result, but responsibility for administrating this file rests with the Planning and Legal Departments.”

We have deliberately not identified the writer of that statement but will say that it was neither Councillor Meed Ward nor the Mayor.

The balance of the response went as follows:

“I still do not have a satisfactory explanation of why the timing requirements were not met and I also don’t have a complete understanding of the consequences of the late submission. I will respond back further when I have those questions answered.”

Burlington City Council Group

Which member of this council does not have “a complete understanding of the consequences of the late submission.”

The response is astounding – one of your elected official does not seem to know what may well turn out to be a very expensive Ontario Municipal Board hearing that has to potential to change significantly the way the eastern part of the downtown core works.

We will leave it to the Council member to identify himself.

On the same issue – it appears that there are efforts being made to put together something in the way of a response to the public.

Muir adds that he is “concerned that this has been going too long already, and the information being prepared appears to be for unspecified questions.” He adds: “How long is this information going to take to get to residents?

Meed Ward did say to Muir that the “city is preparing some additional information for residents in response to some of the questions that have been raised. Suggest waiting for that to determine if and whether additional correspondence or a meeting needed.”

What no one can understand is – what’s the problem? And why all this obfuscation?

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Block opposite city hall is reported to have been sold - another condo development?

News 100 greenBy Staff

November 12, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

The downtown block that Elizabeth Interior’s currently occupies, is to have been bought and will be developed as high-rise condo’s,

Elizabeth Interiors from James

The whole block is reported to have been sold – opposite city hall. View is from James Street.

The owners of Elizabeth Interiors are reported to have recently purchased the Ethan Allen building on Fairview and will be moving the business there.

Her current Fairview location, “Liz@Home”, will likely continue to operate.

Our source said: “If he were a “betting man” the Molinaro Group would be his wager on the developer.

Elizabeth Interiors from Brant

View of the Elizabeth Interiors from Brant Street -was everything bought ?

Condo’s are spring up all over the place – what size and what price and what will they have in the way of amenities are the critical issues.

During the Strategic Plan discussions members of Council have agonized over the lack of those critical 25 – 34 year olds that are energetic and want to make Burlington their homes where they can live and work and begin to form families.

The water front and the Escarpment will only take us so far – what prospective employers want is a work force that is educated and local that can be employed.

Downtown looks as if it will become a concentration of condominiums – where are those high tech jobs going to be?

No one seems to be prepared to work at bringing commercial properties to market.

Interesting times for a city that is still trying to figure out what it wants to be – hopefully Council will do the job before the developers and the market make the decisions for us.

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Aldershot resident takes a strip off the Mayor - accuses him of evading questions.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

November 6th, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Tom Muir is not happy.

He asked what he thought was a pretty simple question about a development in ward 2 – the downtown part of the city. It seemed logical to Muir to ask Marianne Meed Ward the questions she had; the project was in her ward and she had a reputation for getting back to her constituents.

Muir making a point

Tom Muir just wanted to know why the city failed to vote on a development application and found itself defending the failure to do so at an OMB hearing.

While Muir didn’t live in the ward the Council member had a reputation for helping everyone – no matter where they lived.

For reasons that aren’t clear, Meed Ward didn’t get back to Muir – she apologized later for the oversight.

When Muir didn’t get a reply he sent a second email and this time copied the city manager and the Mayor.

Meed Ward then responded and proceeded to give Muir reams of information – none of which Muir later said actually answered his questions.

There was a lot of back and forth of long answers from Meed Ward and even longer follow up questions from Muir – these two clearly deserved each other.

Things got to the point where other people jumped into the discussion and Meed Ward decided a conversation was the best thing to do. She invited Muir to call and ask for a meeting.

Muir wanted to know who else would be at the meeting: the Mayor and city manager perhaps?

uy

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward gets tripped up by a resident who writes longer messages than she does.

Meed Ward didn’t see it that way – she was prepared to meet with Muir and address his questions. Muir came back with: “Addressing questions is not answering them. So what exactly do you mean?”

While all the back and forth was going on the Mayor finally got back to Muir and apologized for the delay asking him to be patient and that he would in the fullness of time give Muir a “meaningful response” – words I am sure the Mayor now regrets.

ADI rendering second view from SW

Tom Muir wanted to know why the city failed to hold a vote on the application to build a very high building on a very small lot.

Muir thought about a meeting with Meed Ward – decided it couldn’t hurt – but what he really wanted was an explanation from someone as to why the city failed to vote on the ADI Development application for what is now believed to be a 26 storey (not 28 anymore) structure at the intersection of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road.

Then out of the blue Muir gets a response from the Mayor – sort of. What he got was a copy of an email from the Mayor to Meed Ward thanking her for answering all Muir’s questions.

Muir then gets back to the Mayor with “Your message – “Thanks Marianne for addressing all of Tom’s questions” – is ambiguous.

Muir adds: “And the meeting invitation that you replied to with this message has not yet taken place. So nothing at all, including questions, could have been “addressed” yet, never mind answered, or provide anything to be thanked for.”

Muir continues: “Marianne has not answered any of my questions, and there is no evidence of answers for you to thank her for. So your use of ambiguity obscures and evades, and is to me a case of political double-talk.”

Muir points out that on October 8 the Mayor wrote me the following;

HI Tom, – You will receive a meaningful answer.
I was away recently for 10 days and am obviously behind in responding to some emails as well.
Please be patient. – Thanks – Rick

Goldring at Inspire April 2015

Mayor doesn’t appear to be evading questions here.

Muir then be begins to lace into the Mayor:

“You have been a recipient of all the correspondence on this matter, so you are familiar with all the questions I have asked.

“You promised to provide a “meaningful answer”.

“You have not lived up to your word.

“You have provided nothing yet, except what appears to me to be a double meaning spin.

“You appear to be evading the questions.

“You asked me to be patient, and I think that waiting a month and more is patient.

“Please provide me your meaningful answer.

“Thank you.” – Tom Muir

You can see where this is going.

Tom Muir delegates at council meetings frequently. He is a dog when he gets a bone in his mouth – something the Mayor should have known.

Informed citizens are not to be trifled with – tread carefully and provide considerate answers – never blow them off.

Political pundits often describe politicians who don’t quite get it when they are ‘doing politics’ – as people who have a “tin ear”.

They might well be describing the Mayor of Burlington.

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Part two of the visualization exercise council recently went through - what might our city look like?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 4, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Second of a multi part series on how the city thinks intensification could be managed.

Last month the Gazette did an article on what intensification could or might look like at a number of locations around the city.

We passed along what planners thought could be done under the current zoning and what could be done with enhanced zoning

We showed what the plaza at New Street and Guelph Line could look like and the number of people + jobs that would be attracted to the area.

Urban corridor scenario 2

In an earlier article we published several drawings of the kind of development that planners thought could be done along Fairview at Cumberland.

We showed what could be done with parts of Fairview – a part of the city that is certainly car friendly but not a place for people or bicycles for that matter.

We showed what would be possible in the way of changes along the widened Waterdown Road, which the Gazette sees as the hot spot in the city when it comes to growth – the challenge out there will be convincing the citizens that the growth is in their best interests. Aldershot is a part of the city where many of the streets do not have sidewalks – and they like it that way.

The purpose of what the planners called a vizualisation exercise was to give city council an idea of what things would – could look like as the city works its way towards a bigger more populous city.

This city council, with the possible exception of ward 5 Councillor Jack Dennison, would prefer not to see any growth. That there will be growth is because the province is telling us we have to grow – and they are telling the Region how much growth there will be – and the Region will decide how much of that growth lands on our streets.

Council has to find a way to make the growth happen and to keep the taxpayers happy by ensuring them that their part of the city isn’t going to have to absorb that growth.

Existing Official Plan and Zoning By- Law permissions can accommodate 200 people and jobs per hectare within the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) by 2031

This amounts to 22,800 people and jobs within the UGC by 2031

There are no wide swaths of land that the developers can put residential housing on – well there are a couple. The growth in residential is going to have to be up – which means higher density.

We are seeing that with the Molinaro project beside the Burlington GO station and with the Nautique structure that ADI development wants to put up at the intersection of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road.

The visualizations are intended to provide a high level understanding of:

What intensification could look like
The level of development that can be generated through intensification
How well the City’s current planning framework supports intensification

Another development hot spot is the downtown core – specifically along Lakeshore where shovels will go in the ground for the Bridgewater development that will see a 22 storey condominium, a seven story condominium and an eight story hotel operational by sometime in 2018.  Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward wanted to see more interest in developing the downtown core and getting high quality office space built which would attract new corporate clients.

The final two locations that were given a vizualization treatment were Appleby Line north of Upper Middle and Harvester Road at the Appleby GO station.

Uptown existing

Appleby Line north of Upper Middle Road – described as Burlington’s Uptown – the street as it looks today

Appleby Line has seen some very good development south of Upper Middle – the streetscape north is waiting for something to happen.  The street width is very good and the depth of many of the properties is exceptional.  Are there developers that will see the opportunities or will current property owners see an opportunity to improve the return on the land they own.

Uptown scenario 1

Appleby Line north of Upper Middle – a drawing setting out the kind of development that could be done today under the existing zoning. The direction Burlington wants to go in includes well marked bicycle lanes and public open space at either intersections or beside buildings – they are looking for a livable city look with plenty of trees and foliage.

The planners envision three storey retail and high rise up to eleven storeys.  significant increases in the number of trees and wide strips of grass between the sidewalks and the clearly marked bicycle lanes with benches almost anywhere one can be fit in.

The planners want to see open space at the intersections with benches and plants.

Uptown scenatio 2

In order to achieve the intensification targets the province has imposed on the Region – greater density might be needed. This drawing suggests where additional height might might be permitted

Urban employment - existing

Entrance to the Appleby GO station on Harvester Road as it looks today.

An Urban Employment area near the Appleby Line GO station was also reviewed.  Burlington has become quite keen on the idea of hubs – places where commercial, residential and transit would all be in very close proximity to each other.  The city identified five such possible hub locations and appears to be very close to making a decision on which they would like to focus their energy and efforts on.

The extent of possible development around the south side of the Appleby GO station doesn’t appear anywhere near what was thought to be possible suggesting that the planners don’t see this part of the city as that significant a possible hub.

urban employment scenario 1

A vizualization of what current zoning would permit close to the entrance to the Appleby GO station.

What they pointed out could be done under the existing zoning is shown below.

During the discussion and debate that took place as the visuals were shown and at the Strategic Plan creation meetings that have been taking place at the same time were several comments from Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward who wanted to see the Downtown core as a place where office space was being built.

Meed Ward argues that the hope for a future Burlington is not the attraction of the seniors – but the attraction of young people who want to live and work in the city – and ensuring that there is housing they can afford. She argues as well that the core needs more people to make the retail and hospitality sectors more viable.

These vizualizations are ideas – what could be done if all the people involved – the owners of the property – the residents in the community, the different agencies who are part of the approval process and city council working from advice their planning staff give them found themselves in agreement.  There were no decisions made, nor were  recommendations put forward – the meetings were an occasion for staff, council members and the consultants that were hired to advise to look at some ideas and and discuss some potentials.

Part 1 of the vizualization exercise.

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Ward Councillor suggests the development blight in the east end of the city might be coming to an end - hope for the Lakeside plaza?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 3, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

There is apparently some development movement in the east end of the city – Lakeside Plaza is said to be breathing and not dead; it was described as a “blight”by the ward councillor.

Transit - Paul sharman

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

SKYWAY-WITH-SHOPPERS-SIGN

Lakeside Plaza in east end Burlington – might be getting a major refurbishment. Public being asked what they would like to see.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman told Council that after years of work the city is now talking to the owner of the property who, according to Sharman, is now interested in working with the city. He said they now “wished to develop” the area and come up with something “empathetic” to the community.

A number of years ago Burlington city council said it was very interested in working with the property owner but were not able to communicate with them.

Sharman is understood to have gone to the company’s office in Toronto but couldn’t get past the receptionist – an unusual experience for Sharman.

The Burlington Economic Development Corporation was heavily involved in getting the owners of the property to the table.

An architect has been working on very early preliminary drawings and the people trying hard to make something happen in the east end are going to meet with the public and perhaps do a show and tell.
There is a small single pad arena behind the plaza, buses turn around at the plaza and there is a large park as well.

The Burloak Park is yards away – which Sharman sees as the opportunity to create a stronger sense of place and community.

The public is going to be asked what it would like to see. Councillor Sharman expects a lot of people to show up which is why he has had to choose a location outside the ward for the public meeting which will take place Tuesday, November 24th at the Bateman High School cafeteria from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

The question will be, said Sharman, what would the public like to see? The Gazette will follow this development carefully.

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Citizen is perplexed; Council member misleads and Mayor gives a whole new meaning to meaningful response

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 2, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

The Mayor blows off a constituent – publicly, and the most proactive member of city council disappoints – all over a development project that city council has said they don’t want to see built and which planning staff advised council to reject.

The ability to manage the file got taken out of the city’s hand when it failed to give the developer a decision within the prescribed time line. .
The matter is now before the Ontario Municipal Board where the city case looks shaky to many

Why is this happening?

Muir making a point

Active whenever development issues are being discussed publicly – Tom Muir wants to know how and why the city failed to vote as a Council on a development application for a project at the intersection of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road

For reasons that no one has been able to sensibly explain to Tom Muir, the citizen who fist asked the question – why did the city fail to vote on the ADI Development project proposed for the north west corner of the Martha Street Lakeshore Road intersection within the 180 day deadline mandated by the Planning Act?

Muir put together a time line that makes it clear the Planning department report was ready in plenty of time for both the Standing Committee to debate and send a recommendation to Council and for council to vote on.

Marianne Meed Ward was just a citizen when this picture was taken - now she is on the other side of the podium, sitting as a Council member. Should make for greay political theatre when the Medicca One zoning matter comes before committee.

Marianne Meed Ward was just a citizen when this picture was taken – now she is on the other side of the podium, sitting as a Council member. As a citien delegating frequently she was vocal and persistent. Some feel she dropped the ball on the ADI Development in her ward.

Meed Ward in her responses to Tom Muir wanders all over the place – she even suggests at one point that failing to vote on the application was no big deal and that it would not harm the city’s case now that the matter is at the Ontario Municipal Board.

And she wants to be Mayor? Yikes.

What is difficult to understand is this – why is it so hard for the Mayor to come out with a formal detailed response to the questions Muir asks? They are important questions.

Mayor has yet to hold a formal media conference this term of office – and if memory serves us correctly he did just the one during his first term of office. The last one done in the previous term of office had to do with the pier and at that time the Mayor had then city manager Jeff Fielding answer the questions.

This Mayor doesn’t perform well in public/media sessions.

Does this city know how to deal with controversial development applications and if they don’t what can citizens do about that – other than vote them all out of office in 2018.

Muir wrote Meed Ward because the project was to be built in her ward and, to some degree, because she has a reputation for getting answers to questions and tends to fight for her people.

MeedWard

Usually always on top of every issue in her ward and frequently on top of issues in other wards – much to the chagrin of other council members.

Meed Ward was in a very serious automobile accident in June that left he with a concussion that was not immediately treated. Her recovery has taken longer than even she expected.

wefr

“Meaningful response” seems to have a different meaning for the Mayor of Burlington.

But we cannot hang this one on the council member – this is a city issue – which happens to be taking place in her ward – the responsibility belongs to council which is led by the Mayor.

We are in the awkward position of having retired the Planner who managed the file and is therefore not available for questioning. And, we found ourselves with the committee that heard the debate being chaired by the city solicitor acting as Interim city manager at the time.

We keep shooting ourselves in the foot and stumbling around like a bunch of rural rubes who don’t know any better.

When political leaders fail to inform their public – rumour, innuendo and all kinds of conspiracy crap comes to the surface.

Was the decision not to have Council vote deliberate so the issue would go to the OMB and the city could blame them for approving a building that many think is high and adds too much density to the area?

Was not voting a slick way to up our intensification numbers – and blame it on the OMB as well?

The city deserves better.

Related news article

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Citizen finds the meaningful response from the Mayor a little on the disappointing side - and feels he still doesn't have an answer to questions everyone agrees are important.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 2, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

The doggedly going after Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and the Mayor for answers to questions on why the city did not manage to vote on the development application ADI Development made to put up a 28 storey structure at the corner of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road before the 180 days the city had to approve or turn down the project continues.

ADI Nautique sign

The differences of opinion and the different interpretations as to just what is a city council vote for or against a project is centered on the ADI Development project planned for the intersection of Martha Street and LAkeshore Road.

Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident found that he couldn’t follow the time line that was being put out by the city and the ward 2 Councillor and wrote Meed Ward asking her to explain why the city failed to vote on the development application before the 180 day time period the city had to decide on the ADI Development application.

Meed Ward had put some information on her web site but it was confusing.

Muir’s first note was a simple six line request – there was no response.

Muir wrote Meed Ward because he thought her to be a very proactive Councillor who stayed on top of the developments in her ward. He followed up with a second note and copied city manager James Ridge and the Mayor.

Muir had asked “be informed about how the decision was arrived at to allow the 180 day period, mandated by legislation, to elapse before the Council vote was made?”

“I would like an explanation of how the staff report on this project did not make it to Council within the 180 days”, he asked

Muir said that to the best of his knowledge no one has ever been told why city council did not get to vote as a Council on the staff report that had been prepared and approved at the Development and Infrastructure Standing Committee level.

Muir added saying “I would like to know the line of responsibility for this failure that allowed ADI a free pass to the OMB where they now do not have to argue an appeal on a reasoned planning argument. Because the city did not officially vote as a city council against the development ADI is able to argue that the city took no action within the 180 day time frame required under the Planning Act.

“I am asking you this question as the Ward Councillor, but also copying the Mayor and the City Manager as they are the Chief Executives of Council and Staff respectively.

Meed Ward responded:
Thanks for your inquiry and my apologies for the delay in responding. You raise a number of very important and thoughtful points, and these required time to provide an equally thoughtful reply. I trust you will not read anything into the delay other than it took some time to prepare. I acknowledge that it would have been helpful for me to simply acknowledge initial receipt of the email when I got it, and let you know I was working on a reply – I will do that in future so you know I am working on a reply and that it will take some time. My apology for not doing that in this case – I’m sure it would have helped.

Meed Ward at kick off

All smiles during her campaign for a second term on Council – Marianne Meed Ward asked her constituents to give her their trust.

As this is now a legal matter before the Ontario Municipal Board, I will attempt to give as full a reply to the issues without jeopardizing our case at the OMB and while maintaining confidentiality of any legal matters. The questions you have asked raise important issues of principle and I will attempt to speak to them at that level.

You ask why the 180 day time elapsed, allowing the developer to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board for a “non-decision” within the legislated time frame. Based on the information I have received, and documented in the time line on my website, this file simply took longer than 180 days to process because of the complexity of the project and the number of agencies that needed to provide feedback. That often occurs with more complex files. We have dealt with several files at recent Development & Infrastructure Committee meetings that have gone beyond 180 days, and developers on these projects have been prepared to work with the city so long as they are assured the file is moving forward and being processed.
The timeline I provided in an earlier article helps to tell the story of the amount of work required on this particular application and that staff worked diligently throughout the process to complete the report in a timely fashion. The staff report had been prepared and the committee was four days away from a vote when the appeal was launched. Typically, an appeal is launched for non-decision when the city is dragging its feet on processing an application. That wasn’t the case here.

Nevertheless, I believe it is a worthwhile question of principle to ask in general: why isn’t every Official Plan Amendment and Rezoning application processed within 180 days and what would it take to make that happen? We know that most applications we will see in Burlington are infill, versus greenfield (having run out of large greenfield areas for redevelopment). We also know that these applications by nature are more complex and take more time to review. So we must ask: what changes would we need to make at City Hall to ensure we can nevertheless even process these more complex applications – all of them – within the timeframe? It is a good question; you and other residents are raising it; and I have asked this of staff internally and we will continue to discuss this over coming weeks and months until we have some suggestions going forward. In my view, if the timeline is there we need to do what we can to meet it, and we need a better understanding of what it will take on these more complex files to achieve that outcome. I am committed to doing what it takes to achieve that outcome going forward.

You have also raised the question of whether the appeal for non-decision within 180 days impacts our position at the Ontario Municipal Board. A non-decision within 180 days is one route to the OMB; the other is disagreement with the decision by council on an application. It is worth noting that the staff report recommending refusal of this particular file was available before the 180 days elapsed.

The developer knew staff were not in support of the project. So the question is: does it make a difference whether a file is appealed for non-decision within 180 days or because the project has not been supported by staff and ultimately council? It’s a good question and one that is being asked on behalf of residents by myself and council. I will continue to investigate this.

However, at the end of the day, the OMB makes its decision based on the planning merits of the application more so than by which route the file ended up at the OMB, whether it was because the 180 days elapsed or because of disagreement with the decision. The planning merits or lack thereof are primary matters for consideration. The city will present our case, outlined very well in the staff report, that the project does not meet the criteria for good planning. Those are the matters that will be considered at the OMB in rendering a decision.

Some residents have asked: does the fact that committee and council voted on the project after it was appealed have an impact on our position at the Ontario Municipal Board? The unanimous vote at committee, upheld by council, to support staff and refuse the project will be part of the information forwarded to the OMB when it is deliberating. So the voice of the residents, via your elected representatives, will be heard and will be part of the information presented at the board.

Muir didn’t like the response he got and called Meed Ward to account with the following;

Muir making a point

Tom Muir, a persistent critic of developments that stretch the zoning and Official Plan wanted to know how the city managed to miss an deadline that resulted in a development going to the Ontario Municipal Board. His review of the time line suggested there was more than enough time for staff to produce a report – which they did. The bureaucrats couldn’t seem to get it onto agendas in time to be voted on. Muir wants to know why?

“To cut to the quick, I must say that, sadly, you did not meaningfully answer my September 16 and October 8 requests to be informed about how the decision was arrived at to allow the 180 day period, mandated by legislation as default grounds for OMB appeal, to elapse before the Council vote was able to be made on the staff recommendation report on this project.

“As part of this request, I also asked a number of questions concerning the administrative management staff motivations and thinking that led to this decision. These questions were also not answered, and in fact, were never addressed.

“Instead, your message is a narrative of excuses, rationalizations, and blame-shifting that does not fit the facts contained in the record of city proceedings and timeline in this matter. You also wrote several extended digressions, that collectively muddle, and side-step, the direct point of my inquiry.

“I acknowledge that to some extent you are, as you say, basing your remarks on information you have received from others, and documented in the time line on your website, but there is no attribution on this, and of course, you are responsible for your choice of words. Whatever, I would be careful who you listen to in the future. They may be more interested in self than in you.

“The timeline you document in your March 31 website newsletter, commented Muir is not complete.
“Recall that the prescribed time frame or timeline of 180 days started on September 24, 2014, and elapsed on March 24, 2015.

“Over this entire timeline there were a number of public meetings, staff reports and correspondence available for people to examine. There is no evidence to suggest the planning staff were not in control of the processing timeline, or that they found the file too complex to process in time.
In fact, the ADI project was generally opposed by the public and Council – the Mayor had made it clear he was not on for the project. The staff report was a thorough, fair, and strong planning based recommendation to refuse the application. There are no apparent complicating factors to make the file too complex or unwieldy to process on time, as you imply it was.

“There is also no reason to expect that the refusal recommendation would lead ADI to be prepared to work with the city beyond the prescribed timeline, as you uncritically, and therefore misleadingly, state other developers might do if their application is moving forward.

“I can’t imagine this happening in the face of a known refusal, and the staff record shows that ADI had no intention of negotiating changes. So you certainly can’t shift blame for the failure to meet the timeline to ADI for doing what they did, as you appear to.

“I find your stated insinuation, that despite working diligently, staff were unable to overcome unspecified factors of complexity and time slippage, as you claim, and were only able to prepare the staff report four days before the Committee meeting date to be incorrect, misleading, and totally unfair to the staff working on the file. They cannot defend themselves or set the record straight.

“In fact, the timeline indicates that the staff recommendation report was presented to the then Director of Planning and Building, Bruce Krushelnicki, on March 2, which is 22 days before the 180 day timeline elapsed.

“The staff recommendation report was made public and sent to the Development and Infrastructure Committee on March 13. This means that the staff recommendation report was in Mr. Krushelnicki’s hands for 11 days.

“One has to ask why this 11 days was needed if the planning staff process for the 180 day timeline was considered, as you claim, to be behind time, and if the responsible planning management staff was actually respecting the timeline. Did Mr. Krushelnicki really need 11 days to decide to support his staff, and where is the record of that decision process?

ADI project - rendering from LAkeshore

All the fuss and kafuffle is over a tall building on a small lot that stretches the zoning from an acceptable eight storeys to a requested 28

“There is no apparent explanation of this seemingly excessive use of time, given the situation, and its use as an excuse for the failure to meet the deadline of March 24.

“What is also inexplicable is that the staff recommendation report was scheduled to be presented to the D&I Committee on March 30, and to Council on April 20, which puts it outside the 180 day deadline of March 24th. Absolutely too late in the circumstances, and guaranteed to facilitate an ADI appeal to the OMB.

“Even more inexplicable is that there was already a scheduled Council meeting for March 23, one day before the 180 day timeline elapsed. The opportunity for a Council vote on the proposal was squandered with nary a mention.

“Despite all this, four supposedly responsible senior managers ( Bruce Krushelnicki, Director of Planning (now retired and the senior executive overseeing the work of the Ontario Municipal Board); Blake Hurley, Assistant City Solicitor; Scott Stewart, General Manager of Development and Infrastructure; and Nancy Shea Nicol, Interim City Manager at the time and Director of Legal Services), who would have known all these facts especially the expiry of the 180 days on March 24, and the already scheduled Council meeting on March 23.

“In effect, this decision left the back door open for ADI to appeal on the easiest of grounds – that Council had not made a decision within the 180 day mandated time period. The will of the public, and the staff recommendation report, were dead on arrival at Council – this seems to have been done on purpose.

“What were these managers thinking or not thinking? Is this a deliberate action, taken regardless of the consequences for the city and public trust, or just stupid non-thinking?

“My experience in this matter has not been given what I consider to be respect for me, or for the public’s right to be informed with honest and truthful information, and meaningful answers to questions posed.

“I asked serious questions about matters with substantial financial and development implications for the city and residents, and have not received honest and truthful direct answers deserving of respect. Most of what you have said in our correspondence serves to divert attention from the questions, and to prevent understanding of what happened, with a selective set of remarks and excuses that reshape the discussion away from the central issues I raised.

“And while you claim to invite dialogue and debate, you say your response is complete and you have nothing more to add here except by repeating yourself. It’s like you are finishing the job of sweeping things under the rug, and then shutting the lights out on the matter.

“What it looks like is that the city, and senior management (the responsible participants named, earning together about $1 million a year), can do what they want but don’t tell anybody, and they don’t have to account for, or explain, anything about their decisions and actions, or the consequences. They seem to be above having to be answerable, and you look to support this.

ADI aerial photo red line marking Bridgewater site

The orange box is where the planned ADI project would bebuilt – the red marker is where a 22 storey condominium, a seven story condominium and an eight storey hotel are to be built – ground will be broken early in the New Year.

“Or is it worse, a case of creative bungling that sabotages the city interest and control over the rational planning of development within the existing Official Plan and policy prescribed framework? This situation could do a lot of damage to the aspirations of city residents to develop according to a plan and process they have chosen.

“How can we trust the legal department to present the city case at the OMB when they participated in this unbelievable muddle – headedness?

“They took the city’s legal right to decide on this development proposal and refuse the application, and gave it away to ADI, and someone from the OMB to decide.

“Is this what the public is supposed to trust and have confidence in as proper, credible administrative implementation of the rules, regulations, and laws?

“Tell us please, how this decision to kill the staff refusal recommendation serves the public and city interest? I want these managers called to account for how the interests of the city and residents are better served by what they have done in this case?

“These points are what most of the other questions in my October 8 reminder message were asking. The responsible staff managers need to be called to account for what they did.

‘In all of this there is a role for the members of council, but particularly yourself, the Ward 2 Councillor, who would know, or be expected to know, all about what I have described here.

‘You knew about the March 24 expiry date of the 180 day prescribed timeframe, and that the scheduled Committee meeting, and particularly the required Council meeting, where the staff recommendation report was on the agenda.

“And yet you remained silent, and went along with what was happening, and what eventually did happen. Why did you remain silent? Did someone advise you to do this, or did you just drop the ball?

“‘You are even musing that maybe the killing of the city will on this development, and the forced OMB hearing, are not such bad things. This is bordering on delusion.

Muir closes with the comment that “We are on a very slippery slope, poised to lose control of development and our Official Plan to speculators.
The debate on the failure of city council to vote on the development application has gone on for some time with two citizens; John and Tom Muir, leading the discussion.

John, a retired engineer, who lives in ward 3 has lived in Burlington for 60 of his 62 years, is proud of the city that his family has called home for three generations, chooses to be anonymous. The Gazette has talked to John – he is real.

He got into the debate with these cogent points with which he refutes several points Meed Ward makes:
“If council had taken the initiative to vote within the 180 days, they would retained their decision making and have shown support for the community input.”

“By voting within the 180 day timeframe, council would have retained the decision making for the city and possibly had the appeal dismissed.”

“We have no guarantee that this appeal would have been filed or if ADI would have the grounds necessary to satisfy the OMB to grant one”
John added: “I believe this is where the city legal team should take over, helping to clarify some of the possibilities during your review.”

John closed his comments to Meed Ward with: “There are many disturbing issues and questions that have come forward as a result of this file, your review is a start.”

The simplest and obvious way to avoid such possible questions and inferences is for the city and participants to explain their decisions and actions, as I initially asked. However, in the present situation, nobody is talking, the stakes are high, and the ADI sales promotion, public relations, and propaganda mill is getting in full swing. So what are people to think? We are not stupid.

I hope you are not suggesting that we the public – in order to be “respectful” – avoid hard questions of trust, transparency and accountability because they are, to quote you, distractions from important issues worth discussing and debating?

October 28th Meed Ward responded with: “Happy to meet to discuss further and clear this up. It seems clear email correspondence is adding more confusion and concern because of how writings are interpreted.

Muir took initially took a pass on the offer to discuss the concern any further with Meed Ward. He was still waiting for a “meaningful answer” from the Mayor.

Meed Ward did say:

Even more important staff will provide further clarity on what, if any, impact it has on our standing at the Ontario Municipal Board that an application arrived at the OMB for exceeding the 180 days, or arrived at the OMB for disagreement with the decision. Our understanding has been that it has little, if any, impact on the outcome of a decision how an application gets there. Nevertheless, I’ve asked for more clarity on that.

I invite dialogue and debate within the community and welcome differences of perspective; that makes us stronger and deepens each of our understanding of important issues. I have always requested that this dialogue be respectful, not make personal attacks or assume negative or ulterior motives of any of the participants. Your communications were not respectful of the participants in this matter, which is unfortunate because it distracts from important issues worth discussing and debating.

John comments that: “We will have a glimpse in December and a complete story in March or April, it will make fascinating reading.

Meanwhile the ADI people continue to actively market the property and Tom Muir continues to wait for the WORDS promised by the Mayor on October 8th.

The time line that Muir put together:

The time line for the ADI project began on September 24, 2014, and elapsed on March 24, 2015.

Over timeline there are a number of public meetings, and staff reports and correspondence available to examine and there is no evidence that the working planning staff were not in control of the processing timeline, or found the file too complex to process in time.

The staff report was a thorough, fair, and strong planning based recommendation to refuse the application. There are no apparent complicating factors to make the file too complex or unwieldy to process on time, as you imply it was.

The timeline indicates that the staff recommendation report was presented to the then Director of Planning and Building, Bruce Krushelnicki, on March 2, which is 22 days before the 180 day timeline elapsed.

The staff recommendation report was made public and sent to the Development and Infrastructure Committee on March 13. This means that the staff recommendation report was in Mr. Krushelnicki’s hands for 11 days.

There is no apparent explanation of this seeming excessive use of time, given the situation, and its use as an excuse for the failure to meet the deadline of March 24.

What is also inexplicable is that the staff recommendation report was scheduled to be presented to the D&I Committee on March 30, and to Council on April 20.

On October 29th Councillor Meed Ward published a piece in her Ward Newsletter in which she attempts to convince her constituents that city council did indeed vote against the ADI project.

Council did no such thing – what Council did do was accept the amended report from the Development and Infrastructure (D&I) committee that met on March 30th.

Meed Ward in her Newsletter said: “The recommendation from D&I to endorse staff’s recommendation to refuse the proposed development went to the April 20 council meeting. Council voted to uphold that recommendation as part of the motion to affirm the recommendations from all standing committees.

To have standing as a decision, city Council had to actually vote on the question. They did not do so – to suggest that they did is a slight of hand usually seen by gamblers who want to pull a fast one.

Is there a fast one being pulled?

ADI storefront

Sales office for the Adi Development at the corner of Brant and Pine. The project is being heavily promoted with bonuses and benefits for the real estate agents who deliver clients.

It is hard to tell – why this Council cannot just admit that they screwed up and while they are at it explain why the report was in the hands of the Planning Director and not on its way to the Development & Infrastructure Standing Committee where it would be debated and sent along to city council where a vote that has legal standing would be made.

As for that promise made by the Mayor to Tom Muir on October 8th when he wrote

In an email to ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward and copied to Tom Muir on October 31st, the Mayor said:

“Thanks Marianne for addressing all of Tom’s questions.”

Mayor and chair

Mayor fails to deliver on his “meaningful response” to a citizen who questions why city council failed to vote on a major project within the legislated time frame – resulting in the project going to the OMB.

The Mayor basically washed his hands of the matter – so much for his understanding of what a “meaningful response” is – the public still doesn’t know why city council didn’t vote on one of the most controversial development applications to come before it in some time before the expiry of the 180 day deadline that everyone knew about.

Something doesn’t smell right.

 

Opinion: Salt with Pepper

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First glimpse of the draft Strategic Plan for the balance of this term of office - some rash deliverable dates were put on the table.

element_strategic_planBy Pepper Parr

October 28, 2105

BURLINGTON, ON

After a long summer break when meetings with more than 70 groups or individuals were held by KPMG, the consultants working with the city to create the Strategic Plan that will guide the city for the balance of this term of office the public finally got to see where the city is going with its Strategic Plan

The 2014 – 2018 Strategic Plan is being done in a significantly different way than the 2010 – 2013 plan. This time the consultants are doing much more of the early work; in the previous plan members of Council and staff met on more than eight occasions and debated a lot of the issues that were being put forward.

In the 2010 to 2013 Strategic Plan, the Mayors Chief of Staff was a major participant – so much so that more than one member of Council to Frank McKeown as the “seventh” council member, not always in a positive tone of voice.

At a meeting in July staff, Council and the consultants laid out what had to be collected in terms of data and how it was to be presented in the fall.

Strat Plan 2nd side room

Councillor Craven on the far left chaired the meeting – Councillor Dennison was out of the city. Mayor Goldring, his city manager is out of sight to his right. City General Manager Scott Stewart was surprisingly quiet during the first day of discussion and debate

The meetings held last week didn’t see all that much data – what Council and far fewer staff than in the previous plan saw was an early draft of what will become what the public gets to see.

The document will go through more “wordsmithing” and the addition of some data along with the comments members of Council made as the consultants went through the four “pillars” that the Strategic Plan will rest on. Each of the “pillars” has a rationale WORD that everything else flows from.

Those four “pillars” that are creating Burlington as a city for the balance of this term of office are

A city that grows
A city that moves
A city that is healthier and greener,
and a city that leads.

Appreciate that these are draft concepts and might see some changes

Strat Plan meeting part of crowd

Council members and staff were arranged around a rectangle with the consultants facilitating most of the discussion. The Regional CAO, Jane MacCaskill and Regional Chair Gary Carr took part in the discussions – they were not participants in the 2010-2013 Strategic Plan.

The 2014-2018 Strategic Plan is being led to a considerable degree by a consulting team from KPMG. They have done most of the research and put together draft versions of the Strategic Plan which council members and some staff comment on and debate. The debates get prickly at times.

By growing they mean that Burlington will continue to grow as an independent community by increasing its population in targeted intensification areas and by becoming a magnet for talent and economic opportunity.

By a city that moves they mean: People and goods will move throughout the city more efficiently and safely. Regional flows of traffic inbound and outbound will increase in efficiency. A variety of convenient, affordable and green forms of transportation that that align with transportation patterns will be developed.

A fair amount of gobbledegook in that statement – it is a draft so perhaps some clarity will works its way into future versions of the document.

The focus on a “healthier and greener” city was not something that we saw much of in the previous Strategic Plan. The vision this time is that the city be a responsible steward of municipal air, land and water while encouraging healthier lifestyles.

To become a city that leads Council wants to be seen as a leader in governance, citizen engagement, excellence and innovation in service delivery.
So far what we have heard is a lot of high flying rhetoric with statements that may not connect very well with the average Burlingtonian on the GO train or stuck on the QEW.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

The winner for the most ludicrous remark was Councillor Paul Sharman when he said: “We have to get the best bang for our buck right from the get go.”
The meeting, which took place during two half day meetings at LaSalle Park, was billed as a “Strategic Facility Check In” during which the first draft, written entirely by the consultants was reviewed.

The review included the strategic directions and supporting initiatives and the proposed performance indicators.
Each of the pillars –
Growth
Moves
Greener
Leading
had a rational statement attached to it with a number of Strategic actions and preliminary initiatives.

For growth these were:
Accelerate economic growth:

“Establish employment land targets that drive economic growth and create an employment lands vision that drives investment and growth in the highway corridor.”

Upper Middle Road looking east towards Burloak - primer commercial.  No takers?

Upper Middle Road looking east towards Burloak – designated as Employment lands. At least one member of Council would like to see this converted to residential.

There are a number of developers who have property classified as Employment Lands which they would love to see converted to residential where the return is much higher.

The city is required to ensure it has the Employment land it needs for future growth. One of the more lucrative pieces of property is along Upper Middle Road and Burloak owned by one of the larger property owners.

Expect the arm wrestling between Council and the development community to get interesting.

“Build one brand for the city that reflects the city’s vision.”

“The city will continue to promote and explore post-secondary partnerships including further developing an educational cluster around the DeGroote site and attracting a major educational facility to the Urban Core.”

There are conversations taking place between two community colleges and McMaster University that Councillor Craven didn’t want anything said about.  Serving as chair of the Committee of the Whole that was discussing the Strategic Plan he reminded his colleagues that there was media in the room.

“The city will develop a holistic strategy for Burlington’s rural area. This strategy will consider economic and social and environmental factors support of the rural community, agricultural industry, natural heritage and water resources.”

wefr

Is the Air Park an opportunity the city is going to take a pass on because it is too toxic legally?

What was both interesting and to some degree amazing was that not a single word was said about the Air Park property in the rural north. Properly developed with an owner that a conversation can be had with outside a court room, Burlington could be a city with a small air park that would make us a very desirable location for a large number of commercial operations.

Promote intensification:
“The city will focus intensification to key mixed use nodes and employment corridors by updating intensification targets and coordinating infrastructure to achieve growth objectives and will incorporate revised intensification targets through its Official Plan.”

“The city will demonstrate its commitment to growth management by preparing an intensification plan to manage projected growth and its related impacts.”

“This will be complete within two years.”

You can bet the barn that that statement will come back to bite someone’s rear end.

“The city will develop aging plazas and transform them into mixed use neighbourhood hubs.”

Smart population growth.
“Future development will be higher density, walkable, accessible and transit orientated. The city will become a leader in walkability measures in the province and will be fully aligned with provincial strategies and goals.”

“The city will prioritize one or two mobility hubs and use mechanisms to fast track the process using land use planning tools, public private partnerships and innovative funding, financing and delivery.”

“The prioritized hub will be incorporated into the Official Plan via a Master Plan for the hub within two years.

Another rash statement.”

“Within three years the city will develop a young family strategy, in cooperation with other levels of government that focuses on: (a) housing supply so that young families and newcomers can locate in Burlington and (b) provide social and economic infrastructure that supports youth, young family and newcomer economic, social and community goals.”

A process will be established to consult stakeholders to help gain consensus around a developable vision.

“The Strategic Plan discussions on a city that moves, is greener and leads will follow. This is complex stuff; it ties into intensification and the revision of the Official Plan that is also ongoing.”

There are at least two more meetings: a stakeholder’s review session and a review by city Council.

There was mention of a possible third meeting. And of course – the public will want to have a say. There wasn’t a lot of discussion about running all of this by the public. Not healthy.

Strat plan other part of room

KPMG consultants J. C Bourque and Mark MacDonald led council and senior staff through a detailed facilitated discussion during which changes to the early draft were made.

There is a lot more to be said about the Strategic Plan that is being put together – stay tuned!

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Planning department creates drawings to show what parts of the city could look like with intensification in specific locations.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 26, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

First of a multi part series on how the city thinks intensification could be managed.

What do you think your city is going to look like in 25 years?

The Bridgewater Hotel will have been open for at least 22 years so citizens will have gotten used to the idea of seeing tall buildings.

We don’t know yet if the ADI Development people are going to get to build the 28 storey structure they have in mind for the corner of Lakeshore Road and Martha.

But we can tell you that your city council is taking a long hard look at different heights for buildings as they think their way through the intensification they believe they have to do to meet the Ontario government’s Places to Grow policy.

At a Committee of the Whole workshop, led by a team of consultants, Council and staff went through a series of visualizations last week that presented various scenarios based on planning, urban design and market trend considerations.

There were visualizations of five locations around the city that showed what a particular road or intersection would look like if the full potential of the existing zoning were used and if the zoning was given a bit of an upgrade.

Burlington aerial

An aerial view of the city before the Pier was completed. The Region of \Halton is expected to grow from half a million people to more than 1 million by 2041 – how much of that growth will take place in Burlington is a key question to those who want the city to stay just the way it is.

The consultants chose a planned mobility hub – (1) Aldershot GO station; (2) an urban centre – Uptown; (3) an urban corridor; Fairview and Cumberland; (4) a neighbourhood commercial plaza – New Street and Guelph Line and an employment area – (5) Harvester Road, east of Appleby Line in one of the Prosperity corridors.

The objective was to give council some idea as to what the city would look like if the properties had their zoning changed or if the owners of the property developed the property to its maximum benefit.

The exercise was necessary because of the Province’s Places to Grow Plan, which calls for higher population densities across the province, will require the Region to grow by as much as half a million people by 2041.

The province will soon announce how many people and jobs have to be added to the Region of Halton. The Regional Council then has to decide how that number of job and population growth is to be distributed between the municipalities.

The exercise council went through was to look at what the city would look like under different sets of circumstances.

Existing Official Plan and Zoning By – Law permit 200 people and jobs per hectare within the UGC by 2031.  This amounts to 22,800 people and jobs within the UGC by 2031.

The objective of the intensification exercise was to support the City’s strategic plan process by generating discussion about:

What we want to achieve through intensification
What intensification could look like
How we’ve prepared for intensification to date
How we can prepare ourselves further to manage intensification

Council wanted to know what could be achieved through intensification.  Higher density growth within our Built-up areas can:

Reduce pressure for Greenfield growth, protecting rural and agricultural areas
Shift dependency from private automobiles towards walking, bicycling and transit
Create a critical mass of riders to support transit service
Make efficient use of existing infrastructure and services
Provide the opportunity to refine the urban environment and public spaces through urban design
Create opportunities to attract new growth

The visualizations are intended to show what intensification might look like in Burlington, and considered two scenarios:

Scenario 1: Current OP and Zoning Policies
Scenario 2: Hypothetical Intensification

Visualizations were developed through a conceptual block planning exercise relying on: Existing conditions, land use policy and zoning and general opportunities for pedestrian-supportive heights, densities, and streetscapes

The exercise was not conducted as a detailed master planning process, or technical planning exercise and therefore does not consider factors such as: transportation, utilities, servicing, site- specific constraints or general zoning requirements such as parking.

The visualizations are intended to provide a high level understanding of:

What intensification could look like?
The level of development that can be generated through intensification
How well the City’s current planning framework supports intensification
There are a number of key factors which drive intensification:
Access to higher order transit;
Other infrastructure condition/capacity;
Housing affordability;
Proximity to employment and amenities;
Land availability/suitability/value;
Urban character; and
Demographics/labour force characteristics.

What do the pictures drawn tell us?

We start in Aldershot on Waterdown Road which was recently widened after the property at Waterdown and Plains Road was expropriated.

Aldershot 1

Waterdown Road looking north. The recent widening of the road and a fresh layer of asphalt are almost a “red carpet” for development. The Adi Development group has already stakes out their claim for a combination of stacked townhouses and five high rise residential building on a site close to the Aldershot GO station.

Aldershot 2

One scenario, possible under existing zoning

Scenario 1.  Under the existing zoning 365 people + jobs can be put on 8.8 hectares of property.  Note the difference in height between on the right hand side of the street in the two scenarios.

Aldershot 3

A second scenario of the same part of the city with a hypothetical zoning that would allow for more density.

Scenario 2 – hypothetical intensification would see 450 people + jobs in27.1 hectares.

For those familiar with this part of Burlington these two scenarios are a huge change in the use of the land on Waterdown Road south of the railway tracks.  It is not clear if any land assembly has been done in that part of the city.

The longer term plan is to develop a commercial hub around the Aldershot GO station.  The ADI Development  acquisition of 14 acres that they  they want to place both stacked townhouses and apartment buildings on would bring residents into the community that could walk the short distance to these office buildings which would fit into the Live, Work, Play many at city hall have for the city.  There would be few complaints about rush hour traffic.

The drawings shown here are what the Planning department thinks could be built on these properties.  Now a developer who is looking for an opportunity will have some sense as to what is possible in terms of development.

If this kind of development took place in Aldershot – and that is a very big if – would it take some of the pressure off Plains Road?  Many Aldershot residents are noisily opposed to anything over six storeys high.

The next possibility – and realize that these drawings are just examples of what could and might happen in different parts of the Burlington as the city looks at how it is going to cope with the need to intensify.  There is no longer any land to grow – so any growth has to be by adding height and density.

The Planning department looked at a variety of locations around the city for these intensification exercises.  They chose that part of Fairview east of Cumberland as an example of an urban corridor.

Urban corridor - existing

Fairview east of Cumberland – this is what it looks like today. Barren, busy and certainly not people friendly. Not a sidewalk to be seen.

This is what the corridor looks like today.  Single storey structures for the most party set well back from the street.

urban corridor scenario 1

The first of two scenarios – this one under existing zoning would allow for higher structures and much more in the way of open space for the public. with this kind of intensification Fairview takes on a community feel rather than just a road o drive along.

Scenario 1 – using the existing zoning would have 250 people + jobs in what is now a 6.8hectare area.  The buildings would range between five and six storeys an be combinations of office and retail or retail and residential.  The drawings show dedicated bike lanes and all kinds of trees.  There are also a lot of open public spaces with benches and a lot foliage.  It is certainly a more civilized looking Fairview Street.

Urban corridor scenario 2

Scenario 2 would require zoning changes and allow for much more height and density.

Scenario 2: Using a hypothetical intensification the street would have eight and ten storey structures that were mixed use allowing for retail, office and rental residential.

During the discussion Councillor Dennison, who is very pro development – within reason for the most part, points out that if intensification is going to be done in locations like Fairview – it makes more sense to go for as much height as possible “because we aren’t going to be able to make those buildings higher ten years later.”

The next part of the city to get a hypothetical makeover was the plaza at the intersection of New Street and Guelph Line.  It is a fairly large sprawling plaza with entrance and exists on to two main Streets – New and Guelph Line.  Well served by transit but rather barren looking places.

Scenario 1a under existing zoning would have 155 people + jobs on the 2.2 hectare site that would look a lot different than what is there today.  Low rise office space with retail at the lower levels and parking at the rear.

Scenario 1b which was detailed in a Commercial Lands staff report would put 210 people + jobs on the site and see buildings that were six storeys and include the public square.

Throughout this visualization exercise of potential intensification sites there was the consistent inclusion of open public spaces with all kinds of foliage.  One wonders if Parks and Recreation would create small skating rinks for people to use – that would certainly animate the space.

Scenario 2 for this commercial plaza ramps the population on the 2.2 hectare space to 285 people + jobs and takes the buildings up to eight and ten storeys.

During the discussion on this site Councillor Dennison who apparently knew the owners of the property well enough to say that they probably didn’t have the funds to undertake the kind of investment needed to change the plaza.

Part of what this visualization exercise was about seemed to be to let developers know what the potential in the city was now and could be with zoning changes.

The discussion on these “growth possibilities” was pretty heady stuff – now to learn what the public thinks about the ideas.

There were additional visualizations done – those  for an Uptown urban centre – Appleby and Upper Midddle;  an employment area, Harvester Road, east of Appleby Line in one of the Prosperity corridors, and an urban employment area – Appleby Line and Harvster Road, will be detailed in a following feature

 

 

 

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Aldershot resident doesn't buy the time line put forward by the ward Councillor on the ADI development project - he asks why she kept quiet.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 22, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Aldershot resident Tom Muir wrote Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward asking her why the city missed the 180 day deadline it had to approve a development application.  His first request was not answered – he sent a second request and copied the Mayor and the city Manager.

ADI rendering from SW

An architectural rendering of the 28nsorey tower the ADI Development group wants to build at the corner of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road

The Mayor promised to get back to Muir with a “meaningful response” and asked him to be patient.

Meed Ward got back to Muir with the following:

Thanks for your inquiry and my apologies for the delay in responding. You raise a number of very important and thoughtful points, and these required time to provide an equally thoughtful reply. I trust you will not read anything into the delay other than it took some time to prepare. I acknowledge that it would have been helpful for me to simply acknowledge initial receipt of the email when I got it, and let you know I was working on a reply – I will do that in future so you know I am working on a reply and that it will take some time. My apology for not doing that in this case – I’m sure it would have helped.

As this is now a legal matter before the Ontario Municipal Board, I will attempt to give as full a reply to the issues without jeopardizing our case at the OMB and while maintaining confidentiality of any legal matters. The questions you have asked raise important issues of principle and I will attempt to speak to them at that level.

You ask why the 180 day time elapsed, allowing the developer to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board for a “non-decision” within the legislated time frame. Based on the information I have received, and documented in the time line on my website, this file simply took longer than 180 days to process because of the complexity of the project and the number of agencies that needed to provide feedback. That often occurs with more complex files. We have dealt with several files at recent Development & Infrastructure Committee meetings that have gone beyond 180 days, and developers on these projects have been prepared to work with the city so long as they are assured the file is moving forward and being processed.

The timeline I provided in an earlier article helps to tell the story of the amount of work required on this particular application and that staff worked diligently throughout the process to complete the report in a timely fashion. The staff report had been prepared and the committee was four days away from a vote when the appeal was launched. Typically, an appeal is launched for non-decision when the city is dragging its feet on processing an application. That wasn’t the case here.

Nevertheless, I believe it is a worthwhile question of principle to ask in general: why isn’t every Official Plan Amendment and Rezoning application processed within 180 days and what would it take to make that happen? We know that most applications we will see in Burlington are infill, versus greenfield (having run out of large greenfield areas for redevelopment). We also know that these applications by nature are more complex and take more time to review. So we must ask: what changes would we need to make at City Hall to ensure we can nevertheless even process these more complex applications – all of them – within the timeframe?

It is a good question; you and other residents are raising it; and I have asked this of staff internally and we will continue to discuss this over coming weeks and months until we have some suggestions going forward. In my view, if the timeline is there we need to do what we can to meet it, and we need a better understanding of what it will take on these more complex files to achieve that outcome. I am committed to doing what it takes to achieve that outcome going forward.

You have also raised the question of whether the appeal for non-decision within 180 days impacts our position at the Ontario Municipal Board. A non-decision within 180 days is one route to the OMB; the other is disagreement with the decision by council on an application. It is worth noting that the staff report recommending refusal of this particular file was available before the 180 days elapsed. The developer knew staff were not in support of the project. So the question is: does it make a difference whether a file is appealed for non-decision within 180 days or because the project has not been supported by staff and ultimately council? It’s a good question and one that is being asked on behalf of residents by myself and council. I will continue to investigate this.

However, at the end of the day, the OMB makes its decision based on the planning merits of the application more so than by which route the file ended up at the OMB, whether it was because the 180 days elapsed or because of disagreement with the decision. The planning merits or lack thereof are primary matters for consideration. The city will present our case, outlined very well in the staff report, that the project does not meet the criteria for good planning. Those are the matters that will be considered at the OMB in rendering a decision.

Some residents have asked: does the fact that committee and council voted on the project after it was appealed have an impact on our position at the Ontario Municipal Board? The unanimous vote at committee, upheld by council, to support staff and refuse the project will be part of the information forwarded to the OMB when it is deliberating. So the voice of the residents, via your elected representatives, will be heard and will be part of the information presented at the board.

I hope this addresses your questions based on the information I have at this time, recognizing that this is an evolving issue and there are additional learning as we move forward.

Please be assured I am committed to exploring how we can meet the 180 day time frame for every application. City council relies on staff to give us professional advice and see us through the application process; we work together. So I am further committed to ensuring that council, city hall and our planning department take appropriate steps to learn from this situation. The dialogue has started and is continuing.

Meed Ward at kick offAlso be assured that my goal is the same as it has always been: to welcome and support development that respects our existing Official Plan and Zoning. As the staff report on this particular project states clearly – we do not need to overintensify this site or any other to achieve our goals and obligations under Places to Grow to intensify in the downtown area. I will continue to advocate on behalf of residents that we respect our Plan – and if it needs changing to do so within the overall context of an Official Plan Review which takes places every five years.

It has been gratifying that all of city council and city staff, and the vast majority of residents, have been united in our position that this particular application is not good planning, is overintensification, and needs to go back to the drawing board to come back with a more reasonable proposal in keeping with our existing planning goals for this site. As a community, we need to continue to stand together and make a strong case at the OMB to turn this down and seek more appropriate redevelopment on this site. I will continue to work with you, residents, city council and staff to see that through.

Whatever the outcome of this situation, city hall should always be reviewing and learning from major issues in our city as a standard practice and a matter of principle, to learn how we can be better. Please know that I am committed to undertake this review. That said, know that our first and immediate priority is to win this case.

Thank you for your contribution to this process.

Muir doesn’t buy the Meed Ward response and sets out the time line as he understands it.

Councillor,

Thank you for your message.

To cut to the quick, I must say that, sadly, you did not meaningfully answer my September 16 and October 8 requests to be informed about how the decision was arrived at to allow the 180 day period, mandated by legislation as default grounds for OMB appeal, to elapse before the Council vote was able to be made on the staff recommendation report on this project.

Muir making a point

Tom Muir, an Aldershot resident suggests the reasons ward 2 Councillor gave for the city’s failure to vote on an application development and asks: Did someone advise you to do this, or did you just drop the ball?

As part of this request, I also asked a number of questions concerning the administrative management staff motivations and thinking that led to this decision. These questions were also not answered, and in fact, were never addressed.

Instead, your message is a narrative of excuses, rationalizations, and blame-shifting that does not fit the facts contained in the record of city proceedings and timeline in this matter. You also wrote several extended digressions, that collectively muddle, and side-step, the direct point of my inquiry.

I acknowledge that to some extent you are, as you say, basing your remarks on information you have received from others, and documented in the time line on your website, but there is no attribution on this, and of course, you are responsible for your choice of words. Whatever, I would be careful who you listen to in the future. They may be more interested in self than in you.

In evidence, we can consider the timeline you document in your March 31 website newsletter, and examine the city record of proceedings that are contained in this timeline.

Recall that the prescribed time frame or timeline of 180 days started on September 24, 2014, and elapsed on March 24, 2015.

Over this entire timeline there are a number of public meetings, and staff reports and correspondence available to examine in the proceedings, and there is no evidence that the working planning staff were not in control of the processing timeline, or found the file too complex to process in time.

In fact, the ADI project was generally opposed by the public, and the staff report was a thorough, fair, and strong planning based recommendation to refuse the application. There are no apparent complicating factors to make the file too complex or unwieldy to process on time, as you imply it was.

There is also no reason to expect that the refusal recommendation would lead ADI to be prepared to work with the city beyond the prescribed timeline, as you uncritically, and therefore misleadingly, state other developers might do if their application is moving forward.

I can’t imagine this happening in the face of a known refusal, and the staff record shows that ADI had no intention of negotiating changes. So you certainly can’t shift blame for the failure to meet the timeline to ADI for doing what they did, as you appear to.

I find your stated insinuation, that despite working diligently, staff were unable to overcome unspecified factors of complexity and time slippage, as you claim, and were only able to prepare the staff report 4 days before the Committee meeting date, incorrect, misleading, and totally unfair to the staff working on the file. They cannot defend themselves or set the record straight.

In fact, the timeline indicates that the staff recommendation report was presented to the then Director of Planning and Building, Bruce Krushelnicki, on March 2, which is 22 days before the 180 day timeline elapsed.

Then, the staff recommendation report was made public and sent to the Development and Infrastructure Committee on March 13. This means that the staff recommendation report was in Mr. Krushelnicki’s hands for 11 days.

One has to ask why this 11 days was needed if the planning staff process for the 180 day timeline was considered, as you claim, to be behind time, and if the responsible planning management staff was actually respecting the timeline. Did Mr. Krushelnicki really need 11 days to decide to support his staff, and where is the record of that decision process?

There is no apparent explanation of this seeming excessive use of time, given the situation, and its use as an excuse for the failure to meet the deadline of March 24.

What is also inexplicable is that the staff recommendation report was scheduled to be presented to the D&I Committee on March 30, and to Council on April 20, absolutely too late in the circumstances, and guaranteed to facilitate an ADI appeal to the OMB.

Even more inexplicable is that there was already a scheduled Council meeting for March 23, obviously 1 day before the 180 day timeline elapses, and this opportunity for a Council vote on the proposal was squandered with nary a mention.

Knowing all this on March 13, and before, the staff recommendation to refuse could have been scheduled for the March 23 Council agenda. The Mayor has authority to get this done. Why was this not done? Who is responsible?

Despite all this, four supposedly responsible senior managers ( Bruce Krushelnicki, Director of Planning and Building; Blake Hurley, Assistant City Solicitor; Scott Stewart, General Manager of Development and Infrastructure; and Nancy Shea Nicol, Interim City Manager and Director of Legal Services), who would have known all these facts – the expiry of the 180 days on March 24, and the already scheduled Council meeting on March 23 – still signed off on and approved the said, far too late, meeting dates for the staff recommendation report to get to Council.

In effect, this decision left the back door open for ADI to appeal on the easiest of grounds. The will of the public, and the staff recommendation report, were dead on arrival at Committee, and this seems to have been done on purpose.

What were these managers thinking or not thinking? Is this a deliberate action, taken regardless of the consequences for the city and public trust, or just stupid non-thinking?

Or is it worse, a case of creative bungling that sabotages the city interest and control over the rational planning of development within the existing OP and policy prescribed framework? This situation could do a lot of damage to the aspirations of city residents to develop according to a plan and process they have chosen.

How can we trust the legal department to present the city case at the OMB when they participated in this unbelievable muddle – headedness? They took the city’s legal right to decide on this development proposal and to refuse the application, and gave it away to ADI, and someone from the OMB to decide. Now what they want to do is confidential, and things are done in secret, and in camera.

ADI Nautique sign

Nautique – the ADI Development Group project is being heavily marketed with a number of real estate agents offering the units for sale even though the development is the subject of an OMB hearing.

Is this what the public is supposed to trust and have confidence in as proper, credible administrative implementation of the rules, regulations, and laws?

Tell us please, how this decision to kill the staff refusal recommendation, at delivery, serves the public and city interest? I want these managers called to account for how the interests of the city and residents are better served by what they have done in this case?

These points are what most of the other questions in my October 8 reminder message were asking. The responsible staff managers need to be called to account for what they did.

In all of this there is a role for the members of council, but particularly yourself, the Ward 2 Councillor, who would know, or be expected to know, all about what I have described here.

You knew about the March 24 expiry date of the 180 day prescribed time frame, and that the scheduled Committee meeting, and particularly the required Council meeting, where the staff recommendation report was on the agenda, were too late to ensure that the will of residents, and staff, met the planning rules and was therefore legally valid.

And yet you remained silent, and went along with what was happening, and what eventually did happen.

Why did you do this, remain silent?

Did someone advise you to do this, or did you just drop the ball? You are still going along with it, and actually making excuses and rationalizing in support.

You are even musing that maybe the killing of the city will on this development, and the forced OMB hearing, are not such bad things. This is beyond denial, bordering on delusion brought on by the forced acceptance, without protest, of the unchangeable nature of what has happened.

I could go on here and try to address the several digression aspects of your message, but that discussion does not really fit here, and are not what my initial inquiry and messages were asking about. One exception is about what I termed to be a gold rush and unethical mentality, using lies in advertising, and other selling activities, to promote projects that are not approved and at the OMB.

I will only say that if the city does not have bylaws restricting such promotions and advertising of unapproved project proposals, then the city should have one, and has the power to enact one. I suggest this as another policy development digression to add to your list for discussion.

It can get worse, and it is, as exemplified by a project on Plains Rd in Aldershot that advertises a 6 story, 75 unit condo, in preconstruction and coming soon, in an area where it is not permitted in the OP and zoning bylaws, and for which there is not even an application. Nothing is being done by the city about that developer behaviour either, and it is in fact being condoned.

We are on a very slippery slope, poised to lose control of development and our OP to speculators. The ADI situation is a test case that is being closely watched to see how easy it will be to bust Burlington’s Official Plan wide open.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Muir

Is there going to be another round to this argument?

And is Tom Muir ever going to see the “meaningful response” promised him by Mayor Goldring?  Or does the Mayor feel he has a 180- day time line.

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City snags a planner from the Niagara Region: Mary Lou Tanner to head up Planning for the city.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 15, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

It took a while but after a solid search and some internal wrangling to determine how much influence the Chief Magistrate would have over the choice of a new planner for the city municipal planning veteran Mary Lou Tanner, was been named as the City of Burlington’s new Director of Planning and Building effective Nov. 2, 2015.

Tanner is currently the Chief Planner for Niagara Region and was Acting Commissioner of Planning and Development Services for Niagara Region. With over 25 years of experience working in the public sector, Tanner has previously worked at the City of Hamilton and Halton Region where she held a variety of planning roles and led infrastructure planning in public works.

Tanner Mary Lou

Mary Lou Tanner will join the city on |November 2 as the Director of Planning.

“Mary Lou is one of the top planning directors in Ontario and brings extensive municipal expertise to this role,” said Scott Stewart, the city’s general manager of development and infrastructure. “Throughout her career, Mary Lou has successfully led many large, complex projects with multiple stakeholders — her seasoned background will be a valuable asset to the City of Burlington.”

Stewart is the person who made the hire – these comments are expected from him.

Tanner served as the President of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute from 2011 to 2013 and has received numerous national and provincial awards for planning practice.

Tanner is a graduate of the Planning School at Queen’s University.

Scott Stewart will continue in the role of Acting Director of Planning and Building until Mary Lou Tanner begins with the city on Nov. 2, 2015.

With Tanner in place the city now has someone who is going to have to move at the speed of light to get caught up on where the city is with its Strategic Plan – which is now close to six months behind.

The Strategic Plan will inform the direction the city goes with its Official Plan Review which has been put on hold until the Strategic Plan is in place.

Tanner will lead a department that has some very good people in place but some problems with the “front desk” where contractors have to go for the various permits they need.

She would appear to be well connected in the region – let’s see what we can learn about this newest arrival to city hall.

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Mayor promises a meaningful answer as to why city council failed to vote on ADI development - six months after the event.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 13, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Why is it so difficult to get answers out of city hall?

Tom Muir wrote Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward asking why she had not said something publicly about why city council did not manage to vote as a council against the proposed ADI development at the corner of Lakeshore Road and Martha Street.

Muir sent that information request in September 16th and said at the time that he asked for “an explanation of how the staff report on this ADI project did not make it to Council within the 180 days mandated in the legislation as default grounds for OMB appeal.’
He didn’t get a response and repeated his request.

His original request was set out in an email he sent to Meed Ward, the Mayor and the city manager.

On Thursday, October 8th Mayor Goldring responded to Muir with the following:

Hi Tom,
You will receive a meaningful answer.
I was away recently for 10 days and am obviously behind in responding to some emails as well.
Please be patient.

The Mayor has been away – in China – which is significant from an economic development aspect – and the city has not heard a word about that trip. That is another matter.

Meed Ward also said she would respond but Muir has apparently not heard from her yet. Her response has been to refer people to her Newsletters of March31st and September 16th.

Most people the Gazette hears from find the content of the two newsletter confusing.

Muir making a point

Aldershot resident Tom Muir wrote city hall on September 16th asking for an explanation as to why the city failed to get a response to a developer within the 180 day mandated deadline.

The issue for Tom Muir was – how did the city fail to vote officially on the Planning department recommendation not to approve the development application.

Everyone at all concerned with the project new that when the 180 day deadline was reached ADI would be going to the OMB and asking them to approve the project because the city had failed to provide an answer within the 180 day deadline.

ADI rendering second view from SW

The ADI Development Group sought permission to put up a 28 storey structure on a small lot at the corner of Lakeshore Road and Martha.

The city’s planning department put some of their best people on the review of the project and delivered a sound report that said the project should not be approved.

That report went to the Development and Infrastructure Standing Committee where members of Council voted unanimously against the project.

That recommendation from the Development and Infrastructure Standing Committee is just that – a recommendation.

Recommendations from the Standing committee have to go to Council to become effective.

werv

This city Council never got the opportunity to vote against a proposed development within the 180 days they were required to do so. Many people in the city want to know why this happened. The Mayor has promised a “meaningful answer” six months after the event.

Every member of Council will tell you that they are free to change their minds and the vote they cast at a Standing Committee when a report and recommendation gets to council.

The city’s Planning department was fully aware of the 180 day deadline.

Council meetings are scheduled on a meeting cycle that is public – but, and this is significant – Council can meet at any time at the call of the Mayor.

That the Mayor did not call a Special meeting of council is inexcusable. Had the Mayor done his job and called a Special meeting of Council the city’s position before the OMB would have been a lot stronger.

There still would have been an OMB hearing – but the grounds for that hearing would not be that the city failed to respond.

There are those who are saying the will of the city was clear at the Standing committee – and it certainly was – but that will has no standing until the city council votes on it.

ADI aerial photo red line marking Bridgewater site

The ADI development is shown in the upper right, outlined in orange, the Bridgewater development that will break ground in earlier 2016 is shown in the lower left in red.

All that happened on March 31st 2014, when Paul Sharman, Chair of the Development and Infrastructure committee advised the public that a summary of a planning report would be read but the city would not be voting on the matter because ADI had taken the matter to the OMB.

It is only now that we are hearing the Mayor say:

You will receive a meaningful answer.
Please be patient.

And so a cranky constituent waits patiently while the Mayor prepares a meaningful response – will the Mayor make a public statement on just how he failed to call a Special meeting of his Council and vote officially on this issue?

Or will Tom Muir have to send that response to the Gazette so we can make it available to the public?

This kind of situation crops up again and again with the Mayor and his Council.

There are many in the city who are concerned about what will happen at the Ontario Municipal Board hearing that is due to take place before the end of the year.

It is going to be a tough fight and there is no guarantee the city will win it.

Bridgewater from the north looking south

Two blocks away from the site where ADI sought permission to build a 28 storey structure the city approved the building of a 22 storey tower that will break ground in January.

There is a 22 storey structure two blocks away – the Bridgewater development that will break ground in the New Year. Expect ADI to argue that they are as relevant to the development of the city as the Bridgewater project which was initially approved in 1985.

Far too many people have the sense that this Mayor does not have a firm grip on what the city wants and that he has not grown into the job of Mayor in his second term.

The Gazette interviewed Mayor Goldring when he was running for re-election in 2014. We were stunned at what little he had to say during that interview which took place in the offices of Rick Burgess, a Burlington lawyer who once for Mayor.

During that interview Goldring didn’t give any sense as to what he wanted to do in his second term. At the time it looked as if he was going to be acclaimed.

When Peter Rusin decided to run against the Mayor – the game changed quickly and Goldring had to scramble to find a campaign office and then raise the funds needed to run a campaign.

Goldring defends turf 2

Mayor Rick Goldring speaking during a municipal election debate when he had to run against Peter Rusin and Anne Marsden

There was no comparing Rusin with Goldring. While the Gazette doesn’t think Goldring is doing a very good job – and that view is supported by a significant number of people with standing in this city – Rusin would not have been an improvement.

Anne Marsden ran against Goldring but was never a contender – she was a place for people who were dissatisfied with the Mayor to park their vote.

The Mayor no longer talks to the Gazette – he does not answer emails and we are not able to make appointments with him
When the Gazette was finally able to speak with Mayor he said that he would not talk to us because he felt we were unfair and biased.

That is a legitimate comment – however, Rick Goldring is the Chief Magistrate in this city and that position and title does not allow him to behave like a petulant little boy.

Jan. 10, 2011 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada - - Mayor Ford (right) chats with his brother Councillor Doug Ford (left) as councillors discuss the budget..Mayor Rob Ford today announced his 2011 city budget at City Hall.  There is no property tax increase but

The last Mayor to refuse to talk to media was Rob Ford of Toronto – a rather embarrassing comparison for Burlington,

If he has a concern – he has the responsibility to meet with us and set out those concerns.  The last Mayor to do something like that was Rob Ford in Toronto.

There is more to say on how this Mayor behaves – right now we are waiting to see what his “meaningful answer” is going to be and why it has taken so long for some kind of statement from city hall.

The city would also like to hear what the Mayor actually did in China?

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Tom Muir wants to know why the city missed a 180 day deadline on a major project opposed by almost everyone.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 9, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Tom Muir is an Aldershot resident who takes what goes on in his community seriously – he is a major thorn in the side of Rick Craven, the council member for the ward.

Muir making a point

Aldershot resident Tom Muir is a strong believer in community participation in how the city grows. He has issues with the way city council failed to do its job.,

 

Muir has been wanting to know how the city ended up facing an Ontario Municipal Board hearing over a development that was proposed for the Lakeshore Road/Martha Street intersection in the downtown part of the city.

Muir had written Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and copied the Mayor and the city manager in the middle of September about the matter and thought he deserved at least an acknowledgement. As Muir explains it “I asked for an explanation of how the staff report on this ADI project did not make it to Council within the 180 days mandated in the legislation as default grounds for OMB appeal.

“My initial message was sent to Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward, where the proposed project is located, and cc’d Mayor Goldring and City Manager James Ridge

Muir says he find it disturbing that his initial message has been completely and inexplicably ignored by Councillor Meed Ward.

Not on to be easily deterred Muir wrote a follow up letter asking to be informed about how the decision was arrived at to allow the 180 day period, mandated by legislation, to elapse before the Council vote was made?

“Whether it was deliberate or inadvertent, an explanation to inform citizens is warranted” said Muir.

“I have reviewed all of the pertinent content of the newsletters put out by Councillor Meed Ward, dated March 31, and September 16. There is no explanation there addressing my question; the latest newsletter commentary reads like the decision to let the timeline elapse did not happen.”

“What is written there rationalizes, and pardons, this failure to meet a deadline that triggers an automatic legal grounds for appeal to the OMB. It further denies that this failure matters, or is of consequence, and tries to project the blame for the predictable outcome on the developer ADI.”

Muir points out that the 180 day deadline was not legislated for nothing, so you can’t blame ADI for pursuing their legal rights. The fault lies in the city letting this happen.

The process timeline included in the March 31 Meed Ward newsletter shows that the city planning department recommendation for refusal of the ADI application was made public, and therefore provided to ADI, more than a week before the 180 day deadline. “In this situation” said Muir, “it is irrational planning management for the city to then fail to meet the deadline.”

“The city failure to meet this 180 day deadline is a major victory for the aggressive approach of ADI. It gives them an automatic appeal standing with the OMB, a very valuable legal right.

ADI Nautique sign

Aldershot resident argues that the city’s failure to act properly on a development application almost legitimizes signs like this.

“Further, it apparently legitimizes the several marketing activities they now have underway. These too are aggressive, speculative and misleading.

“These go beyond the controversial billboard on the proposed building site, and the storefront on Brant St being opened by ADI, advertising they are open for business for registration of purchases of “Lakefront Residences”, in what is called “Nautique”.

“Further, for example, I received a post card size advertisement in the mail, from a Loyalty Real Estate Brokerage, selling the ADI project address, but it is called a “Burlington Condominium”. It promises numerous project features, VIP first access, huge discounts, no lineups, instant gain on purchase, and wide selection of units.

“As well, in the Hamilton Spectator real estate section, New Home Living, dated October 3, ADI is advertising “Nautique”, as “arriving soon” and invites registration. Again, it is obviously the proposed project.

“This is spectacle, and where it will lead is assuredly to nowhere good for the city and citizens. It reminds me of a gold rush promotion mentality where shares in a mine site – in this case a patch of pavement and dirt – that has been salted, but not proved, are being hustled for sale.

“It begs the question of what the responsible city staff were thinking to surrender control of this development situation to ADI? What kind of city organization would allow this to happen?

“What kind of development planning strategy and tactics, and business plan does this action entail?

This appears an illogical retreat from a position of dominant planning argument, strength, and public support.

“What is the rationale for revealing, then folding a winning hand, thus letting ADI outflank the city, go straight to the OMB, and then use this to market what they failed to get the city to approve on official planning grounds?

“It could constitute city hall actions based on something sensible, or maybe worse, but how will we ever know with no information and transparency? It really needs inquiry, and needs to be visible.  Transparent decision making processes are part of the foundation of the good governance of a municipality.

“You all know your duties and responsibilities under legislation and policy, and I will not read you chapter and verse, but just give a taste that is most relevant here.”

Section 224, subsection (d) of the Municipal Act is a good starting point. It outlines the role of the municipal council as follows:

“224. It is the role of council,

(d) to ensure that administrative policies, practices and procedures and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council;
(d.1) to ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality, including the activities of the senior management of the municipality;” (my emphasis)

Burlington City Council Group

Aldershot resident Tom Muir wants city council to do the job the Municipal Act requires them to do. He’d also like an explanation as to why they appear to have goofed on the ADI development application.

The Municipal Councillors Guide 2014 states that ,”Clearly, accountability and transparency are a priority in maintaining public trust in council and in the management of your municipality. Section 224 of the Act explicitly includes ensuring the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality as part of the role of council.” Control and responsibility are other givens.

Muir, who doesn’t give up on issues that he thinks are important adds the  “Burlington Citizens Engagement Charter contains similar and identical text, and city commitment and policy. As does the draft Code of Conduct, approved by Committee, and passed to the City Manager by Council for inclusion in the Strategic Plan. You can add in the Oath of Office that Council members take.”

Muir sums up his most recent letter saying: “I hope that you can see your fundamental responsibilities, both legislated and policy, in this matter of providing the explanation I have asked for.

“It’s your duty to ensure the transparency and accountability that underlie credibility and trust.”

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ADI Development markets another project that has yet to be approved: Masonry Court project to be called Station West.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 28, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Have we seen this before or as the late Yogi Berra put it – “It’s like deja-vu, all over again.

On Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at the West Plains United Church there was a community meeting at which the city’s planning staff set out a proposal that had been submitted by the ADI Development Group for the development of land that was south of the rail line, east of Waterdown Road and immediately north of Masonry Road

Station West townhouse portion

Some site preparation works seems to be taking place on that part of the property that will be stacked townhouse along with back to back townhouses.

It was a staff presentation and the first time the community got a look at what the developer had in mind. Using the language of the planner it was an application to subdivide a 5.09 hectare parcel of land located south of the CN Rail tracks on the east side of Waterdown Road.

The subdivision design includes a road running north/south, extending north from Cooke Boulevard, and a 3.08 hectare development block on the east side of the proposed road.

Proposed development for the development block includes 200 stacked townhouses, 64 standard townhouses and 60 back-to-back townhouses.

The ADI Development group put the plan forward. At the time they were looking for site plan approval and a plan of sub-division.

At that time people in the audience expressed some concern over the lack of amenities – that same concern existed within the planning department and additional discussions were expected to take place.

Station West

Just to the west of the stacked townhouses is the land on which the ADI Development groups is believed to want to build apartments in the future. The apartments would be close to the new re-build and widened Waterdown Road.

Since that public meeting took place ADI withdrew their plan of sub-division. City planners issued comments for the developer – those comments are not public – they are comments made by the planners setting out the concerns they have and what it will take to ameliorate those concerns.
The planning department is expecting a revised site plan and perhaps a plan of condominium.

Station West A sign

The content of the sign is perfectly legal – putting them up around the community without a permit on the weekend when the city tends not to enforce the bylaw isn’t kosher.

Sprouting up like weeds in the Aldershot community are A frame signs marketing the site – five of these signs were seen along Plains Road on Sunday. Is a project that has yet to be approved being offered for sale? No – all ADI is doing is letting people register their interest in a possible purchase when the project has been approved.

It is an excellent way to gauge buyer interest in both the layout and design and the price point. All good marketing. The people in ward 2 where the Nautique project is now before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) take heart with the Yogi Berra quote “It’s like deja-vu, all over again.”
To date there have been no revisions to the proposal and a Statutory Public Meeting has yet to be scheduled.

Stay tuned!

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