Strategic Plan to be the theme of Mayor Rick Goldring’s State of the City address.

element_strategic_planBy Pepper Parr

January 28th, 2016


The Burlington Chamber of Commerce is hosting Mayor Rick Goldring’s State of the City address Thursday morning at the Burlington Convention Centre – 7:30 a.m. Registration and Breakfast; Presentations 8:15 a.m., Closing Remarks 9:15 a.m.; you will be able to get to the office just a tad on the late side.

Strategic Plan Workbook

The original design of the Strategic Plan cover had the document covering a four year council term.

The Mayor is going to explain the theme of the City of Burlington’s 25-year strategic plan – hopefully he will justify all the time and expense in creating a 25 year plan when traditionally a city council sets out its Strategic Plan for its term of office.

Whatever this council wants to spend time and money on developing a plan – it will have no legitimacy for future Council’s who will want to create a plan of their own.
Were Jack Dennison to every become Mayor he would not want to adopt the plan that is currently at the draft stage level; both – Dennison as Mayor and this draft plan being adopted in the future are stretches of the most elastic imagination.

Strat Plan logo 25 year

The current working document of the strategic Plan covers a 25 year time frame.

During the several occasions when city council met as a Committee of the Whole there was never a statement made saying that this council had decided it was going to produce a 25 year plan and there was nothing said or set out for the record at a city council meeting.   Meeting a Committee of the Whole, one council member said what they were really doing was creating a “25 year plan” – the idea took hold and they all went charging of in this new direction.

The city does get credit for taking the plan to the public – there were at last four public meetings and a lengthy on line questionnaire.  But there was never a statement from the Mayor or any member of council explaining that they were creating a document with a longer time frame.

They just went ahead and did it – maybe that’s what they mean by leadership?

There does not appear to be much in the way of public enthusiasm for the document – it is quite long with a lot of declarative statements and promises of delivering on some of the objectives within a specific deadline.

The new Strategic Plan and has four directions: A City that Grows, a City that Moves, a Healthy and Greener City and an Engaging City.

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The budget debates settled on an increase higher than the accepted rate of inflation - some significant problems on how to manage the costs have become evident.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 27th, 2016


Is it a good budget?

There are few taxpayers who are happy about the rate of increase over last year – and the 20 year projection calls for more of the same.
While the increase year over year is above the rate of inflation – the numbers have to be looked at carefully – they aren’t going to get much better. The biggest thing that appears to have come out of the budget exercise is a realization on the part of council members that they don’t have a tight enough grip on what they need staff to do.
Council seems to be continually blinded sided by one catastrophe after another.


Repaired at a cost of $380,000 in 2012 – the bridge is going to have to be replaced in the near future.

The Drury Lane Bridge had to be repaired at a cost of $380,000 – that was for a five year patch – the estimated cost of replacing the bridge was something in excess of $2 million – which comes due any day now.

The Nelson Pool had to be closed because of problems with the steel structure and is now not going to be re-built and repaired until sometime in 2018.

The families with children that make use of the Nelson Stadium took matters into their own hands and began working with the school board to upgrade the facilities. The Stadium is on property owned by the city and the school board – two organizations who are not known for how well they get along with each other. They don’t even have a structure that has them meeting regularly to resolve shared concerns.

When a citizen’s delegation spoke at city hall they knew more about what was happening than members of council. That was not a pretty picture.
Council members expect staff to do the ongoing analysis that tells when an asset is due for an upgrade.

How did the city not know that the Drury Lane bridge needed work and how did staff did not know that the Nelson Pool was due for a major upgrade. There is asset management software out there that works all this out – and Burlington spends a fortune on software.

Do we have the right people managing this software and the way it is utilized?

Flood Fairview plaza

The one thing we know about the 2014 flood is that it has cost us a small fortune – think in terms of $40 million so far. We also know that climate change is likely to cost us even more in the years ahead.

Managing the financial cost of the 2014 flood and coming to terms with what has to be done in the way of storm water management had $20 million thrown at it. Council has realized that it is going to take an additional $20 million to make the changes that were recommended by the consultants the city hired.

Storm water - flood mitigation map

The scary word in this graph is “initially” It will probably take an additional tax levy to handle storm water.

The Mayor commented that the city was going to have to take a serious look at a special tax levy for managing storm water. The realization that climate change is upon us and we no longer know what our weather is going to be – here we are at the end of January and you could be wearing shorts on some days.

As for city hall and the media people over there – they are doing it again. Messing with the numbers – and totally trashing there commitment to transparency and accountability.

The city’s media release said:
“The City of Burlington has approved the 2016 operating budget with a 3.14 per cent increase in the city’s portion of property taxes, which will result in an overall property tax increase of two per cent when combined with Halton Region and the boards of education, or $17.10 per $100,000 of home assessment value.
Highlights of the approved budget include:

• The base budget increase of 1.28 per cent is aligned with inflation (Toronto CPI 1.86 per cent) which is consistent with the Long Term Financial Plan objective of competitive property taxes.

• The base budget maintains the $4.8 million contribution towards the Joseph Brant Hospital reserve fund to meet the city’s $60 million commitment to the redevelopment project.

A 1.44 per cent increase dedicated to the renewal of the city’s infrastructure.

An additional $20 million in funding has been provided to accelerate roadway renewal needs over the next four years.

An additional $20 million of funding has been provided over the next 10 years for surface water drainage projects.

$613K in funding (0.43 per cent) to increase service levels in areas such as winter maintenance and stormwater management.

For those that qualify, the Senior’s Property Tax Rebate has increased from $450 to $525 in this budget.
“There are many competing demands for city tax dollars as well as an urgency to find inefficiencies and minimize tax rate increases,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “We have tried to balance all the city’s needs, prioritize them and forecast with great thought and care to deliver a responsible budget that serves everyone.”

“This budget continues to provide funding to priority areas of infrastructure renewal, the city’s contribution to the hospital redevelopment and maintaining existing services,” said Joan Ford, director of finance. “In key areas, service levels have been increased.”

That’s their story and they are probably going to stick to it.

You won’t get another viewpoint on the budget – the print newspaper distributed in this city didn’t have a reporter at the meeting. My colleague Joan Little who writes a column for the Spectator will undoubtedly make a comment.

Financial impact 20 year

Is this an acceptable rate of tax increases? Does this Council think it can get re-elected in 2018 with these numbers?

Take a look at that 20 year projection again. Did our city Councillors deliver a good budget?

The Mayor has asked the city manager to look for new revenue sources.  Until he has a much better handle on how to manage the problems he has on his table now there isn’t much James Ridge is going to be able to do in the immediate future.\

He needs to get his strategic plan passed – it is close to a year overdue.

Can the current Council provide him with the advice and direction he needs?  Two of the seven members have been on Council for more than 20 years.  Will they run again in 2018?  Will their constituents re-elect them?

2017 is going to be an uncomfortable year for this council.

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Tireless advocate for transit disappointed with what has been budgeted for bus service - but he does see some hope.

burlbudget2016By Pepper Parr

January 20, 2106


Every chance Doug Brown gets to talk about transit – he shows up. Brown is part of Bfast (Burlington’s Friends and Supporters of Transit) an organization that advocates for improved transit.

Bfast Transit group logoBrown is one of those people who tirelessly make delegation after delegation – he speaks with authority because he does his homework and has a good grip on transit facts and figures.

More often than not, Brown will complete his delegation and Council doesn’t ask a single question. Brown turns away from the podium quietly and returns to his seat.

He must have been pleased to listen to the delegation that Robert Lovell and James Young made supporting the proposal in the budget review document that transit be free to senior citizens on Monday’s.

Brown however was surprised and disappointed to see that the budget for transit in 2016 was the same as it was in 2015 – which from Brown’s vantage point meant they were getting less because there was no allowance for inflation.

Doug Brown and Susan Lewis look over a 1982 copy of the city's bus schedule.

Doug Brown and Susan Lewis look over a 1982 copy of the city’s bus schedule.

It is worse than that according to Brown. The province gives municipalities a portion of the gas tax they collect. The funds the municipalities get is based on a formula that includes population and ridership.

Burlington has a population that grew a bit – but transit ridership was less in 2015 than it was in 2014 which meant we got less in the way of that gas tax funding.

Doug Brown, chair of Bfast, wants to see a bus schedule with routes that work for people and not the current bus route set up in place. It doesn't work claims Brown.

Doug Brown, chair of Bfast, wants to see more funding for transit and the development of a long term transit plan.

Brown has been toiling away as an advocate for better transit but quietly says: “We have a long way to go” and point to Waterloo which has a council that understands the need for good, reliable, affordable transit.

Waterloo has a population of 97,475 – Burlington has a population that is at the 173,000 level. They can develop a progressive transit system – why can’t we?

Brown points to the city’s Official Plan and the Strategic Plan that calls for a modal split that has 11% of the transportation choices being transit. We are currently at 2%.

Free student passes are also something Brown would like to see.

If the amount of gas tax Burlington gets from the province is based on ridership – would it not make sense to boost ridership?

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Crane operator and his rigger get a close up look at the Paradigm site under construction on Fairview

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 18, 2015


There is that phrase “build it and they will come” and it might be true but if your sinking millions into the construction of a five tower project that is going to change significantly a part of town that didn’t have much vim or vigour to it – you don’t just build – you sell.

People driving along Fairview can see a smart looking one storey structure with a lot of glass and the liberal use of pink paint. If they stretch their necks they might see the two construction cranes – but traffic moves along Fairview at a pretty swift pace.

Paradigm - Roger Park at the site level 2 being poured

Project manager Rodger Park looks over the second level of the parking garage of the West Tower.

In behind the construction hoardings there is a big hole out of which is rising the West Tower – the first of three Paradigm towers that will rise out of the ground and up to a height of 22 storeys at the back of the project.  Two additional 18 storey towers will be at the front closer to Fairview.

Project Manager Rodger Park is on the site very early each morning waiting for the arrival of the crane operator who will climb up the 215 foot ladder and get the electricity running to the crane – and in the winter get the heaters turned on as well before the serious construction on the ground can begin.

Crane cabin

John Caronello spends his shift in a crane 215 feet above the construction site

John Caronello, the crane operator with 32 years experience behind him, gets his communications gear on and does the sound checks with his rigger Ryan Vandermeer on the ground so the buckets of concrete or loads of steel can begin moving.

The people building the project are focused on getting each level of the building completed on time – and with Park running the show – schedules get met. The construction crews will tell you how big each building is going to be – but oddly enough they don’t know all that much about what the building is going to look like other than what they see painted on the construction hoardings.

When first interviewing Caronello and rigger Vandermeer, we needed a warm place to sit and talk about the job they do so we slipped into the sales office – a place construction workers have no reason to walk into with their muddy boots.

sophie showing

Ryan Vandermeer on the left along with John Caronello  and Paradigm sales agent Sophie look over the model of the development site.

Crane operator Caronello and rigger Vandermeer had never seen the model of the site – all they see are the drawings that indicate where the forms are going to be set up for concrete pours and where the steel beams have to be placed so that they can be bolted down tightly.

John was delighted at what he saw when Sophie, the sales agent on duty when we dropped in, explained how the buildings were going to be set on the site and how it all comes together.

Interesting that highly skilled construction workers would move tonnes of material around a construction site and get it to exactly where it is supposed to be with no mistakes and no injuries to anyone on the site don’t have the time to look at the model and see what they are building – and making sure they get it right.

Yards away from the cranes and the excavators and the big dump trucks there are sales agents’ explaining how the community being built is going to work and where all the amenities are going to be.

The construction crews arrive early in the morning and leave at the end of the day tired and ready for the drive home – looking over models of a building isn’t something they have much time for – they build.

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Strategic plan that is now out for [public consultation has four strategic directions. Pure pablum says on resident - another adds that no one does strategic plans anymore.

element_strategic_planBy Pepper Parr

January 8th 2016


Strategic plans are by seldom an easy read. They are however important – they set out where the politicians you elected want to see growth take place.

There was a time when Burlington had acres of farm land that was developed over time – the two malls we have were once very productive farmland at a time when Burlington was known around the word for the quality of its produce.

Ghdent Gillies Garden of Canada

The city – then a town – was once a produce garden known around the world. We grew and we now need a strategy to guide the growth,

We shipped so much fresh fruit and vegetables that the railway had two tracks coming into what was then a town.

That was then – developers bought that farmland and put up a parking lot and added some stores along the edges. The old Burlington began to change and the downtown core that once was a place where people did gather began to wither.

The four pillars for 2015 strat plan

Strategic Plan is based on four strategic directions.

The city believes it needs a Strategic Plan and spends a considerable amount of time and significant financial resources putting a document together and looking for public comment.
The draft version of the Strategic Plan that is now ready for public comment has four Strategic Directions: a city that moves; a city that grows; a healthy and greener city; and an engaging city.

This report takes material from the draft report and adds comments to put what the draft Strategic Plan is saying in context. See the draft plan as a piece of sales literature with one side of the story. The Gazette has added comment based on its five years of covering this council and attendance at all the meetings for the 2011 Strategic Plan and most of the meetings for the plan that is ready for public comment. The commentary is set out in bold italic.

Everything your city council wants to have happen in Burlington as it grows – and the city has to grow because the province says we must – is pinned to the four strategic directions. There was no public input on the choice of those four strategic directions. They came out of discussion and debate and wordsmithed by the consultants.
First strategic direction is related to growth. That growth is identified as coming about as the result of – economic development, intensification and smart population growth.

Each of these has a list of strategic initiatives the city will undertake and then a list of progress indicators telling us what real progress has been made.

Council wants to promote economic growth. Local incomes have risen and Burlington continues to be a prosperous city due to the co-ordinated action of the city, region, province, educational institutions and industry. The very significant increases in the selling prices of housing has made a difference as well; a recent report had the increase at the 9.2% year over year level.

More people who live in Burlington, work in Burlington and targets for employment lands have been met (15,000 new knowledge-based jobs by 2025) through the creation of an employment lands vision to unite the community, developers and industry.


An empty lot on the North Service Road at Walkers Line was to be the home of a new IKEA – that didn’t work out but a six storey office building got built a couple of hundred yards away.

The development community has been banging away at council to let quite a bit of the land set aside for employment be converted and used instead for housing – which is a lot more profitable.

The draft report claims that employment lands are connected to the community and region and include transportation links and options that are easy to access and contribute to a sustainable and walk able community. That statement is more than a bit of a stretch. A report earlier this week in the Spectator said that those who attended the Pan Am games didn’t make much use of public transit – and there is nothing wrong with the GO service.

Burlington hasn’t taken to the idea of public transit yet. When a significant number of seniors find that they can’t drive or find the traffic too congested to drive – they will make their concerns known to council and then watch how quickly city council comes onside and starts spending the gas tax rebates on transit – which is what they were intended for.

Small businesses contributes to  the creation of complete neighbourhoods. Commerce aligns with land-use planning goals so that residents are close to goods and services.

Innovative, entrepreneurial businesses have settled or developed in Burlington. The city has helped create the technological support, business supports, infrastructure and educational environment to attract start-ups and growing businesses.

The people who write these reports keep saying things that are just not true – they seem to feel that if they say something often enough it will become true.

Elizabeth Interiors from Brant

This just isn’t a vibrant downtown – the site has been sold with yet another condominium being planned for the site – right opposite city hall.

Two statements that need to be dealt with honestly – Burlington’s downtown is vibrant and thriving with greater intensification. The downtown isn’t vibrant – hasn’t been vibrant for a long, long time. Better minds than mine may know how to make it vibrant – but we aren’t there yet.

Much of the rural property is in the hands of speculators who limit what can be done with the land. There are farmers north of Dundas that would like to grow different crops but the owners of the property limit what they can grow. The City of Burlington’s rural areas will be economically and socially vibrant, producing commodities and providing unique recreational activities for the city.

How will Burlington make the growth wanted actually happen?

These are some examples of actions and measures of success:

Create an employment lands vision that drives investment and growth in the Prosperity Corridors.

Masony Road ADI rendering TH + Pahse 2Getting the people who own the land to work with the city and develop with long term viability is the first step – some of the plans on the table for the land around the Aldershot GO station leave a lot to be desired.

Develop and put in place a redevelopment and intensification strategy for the Prosperity Corridors

Build one economic development brand for the City of Burlington that reflects the city’s economic development vision

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

Develop a post-secondary attraction strategy.

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

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

There was a time when the DeGroote campus now on the South Service Road was going to be downtown on land that is currently the Elizabeth Street parking lot. That on got away on us. There has been some rumbling about perhaps getting some of the Mohawk College courses delivered in Burlington. Mohawk president Ron McKerlie  says that isn’t going to happen. The one post-secondary institution we did have pulled up their stakes and moved on.

Molinaro paradigm projectDevelop a business-friendly environment that attracts investment. The real issues is to find investors who look for long term returns and not the getting in and getting out to turn the fast buck.  There is a project in the west end that the developer wants to get approved that doesn’t include very much, if anything in the way of amenities.  There are developers building forms of housing that are not built that often.  And at the same time there are developers prepared to work with city hall and the ward Councillors and not grab every last square foot of density available.  There is a developer currently building what will amount to a new community that will house more than 2000 people.

Create and invest in a system that supports the start-up and growth of businesses and entrepreneurship.   There are a lo of people who would love to know what such a system would look like.  The role of government is to create the conditions needed for economic growth and then stay out of the way and let business people do what they do best.  Keep the taxes low – provide services that people need fix the pot holes and keep the snow off the roads and sidewalks.

Progress indicators:
How will we know we are getting to where we want to get to?

• Median household income will rise
• Labour force by industry will tell us ho we are doing
• Industry location targets will be clearly identified
• Income distribution will be known to track inequity
• Percentage of families with low income will be lower
• Rural economic health indicator will exist
• Number of hectares of farmland under active cultivation
• Year-over-year employment land absorption
• Jobs per hectare in the urban boundary
• Percentage of the community that does not work in Burlington
• City’s gross domestic product
• Employment and unemployment rates.

There is a bit of a problem with this list of data – the city does not have a demographer on staff and without one it will be very difficult to report on any of the above.  There was no mention made of hiring a demographer during the strategic plan discussions.


Growth is being achieved in mixed-use nodes and corridors, including mobility hubs and urban centres.

Mobility hubs

The city defined four possible “mobility hubs” They appear to have settled on the Aldershot location.

Mobility hubs are developed near each GO Station and in the downtown.

Aging plazas are being redeveloped and transformed into mixed-use neighbourhood hubs.

New/transitioning neighbourhoods are being designed to promote easy access to amenities, services and employment areas with more opportunities for walking, cycling and using public transit.

Older neighbourhoods are important to the character of Burlington and intensification will be carefully managed to respect this character.

Energy-efficient buildings and other onsite sustainable features are the norm, thereby improving Burlington’s environmental footprint. Existing buildings are being renovated to improve efficiency.

Intensification is planned so that growth is financially sustainable and supported by appropriate funding and service delivery.

Burlington has an urban core that has higher densities, green space and amenities, is culturally active and is home to a mix of residents and businesses.

Architecture, sustainable buildings and urban design excellence are being achieved through a commitment to creating public spaces where people can live, work or gather.

The city will create and implement an awards program to recognize and celebrate excellence in architecture, urban design and sustainability in all developments.

Aldershot 2

Waterdown Road was recently widened from Hwy 403 to Plains Road. As part of an intensification exercise the planners prepared visualizations of what that Road could look like if there were some commercial development. This is what they thought possible.

Aldershot 1

This is what Waterdown Road north of Plains Road looks like today.

How will Burlington make this happen?
These are some examples of actions and measures of success:

Strategic Initiatives:
The city will focus intensification to mixed-use nodes and employment corridors by updating intensification targets and co-ordinating infrastructure to achieve growth objectives. The city will incorporate revised intensification targets into 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 in two years but will not limit prioritizing/directing intensification in the shorter term.

Through policy, the city will influence the redevelopment of aging plazas and transform them into mixed-use neighbourhood hubs.

The city will work with Halton Region and other partners to develop a servicing plan for intensification areas.

The city will conduct and implement an intensification plan that will include a specific focus on the Urban Growth Centre, and will develop a strategy for the downtown core that will promote residential and appropriate niche/boutique office development

The city will develop energy and sustainable site feature guidelines to require new/ renewed buildings to promote energy-efficient technologies.

The city will complete a city-wide fiscal impact analysis of all forms of development

The city will put in place the recommendations of Core Commitment in the downtown and extend, where possible, recommendations to other urban centres.

The city will create an independent capacity study to understand and comment on real estate economics and trends.

The city will create a design review panel and put in place an awards program to achieve excellence in architecture, urban design and sustainability.

Progress Indicators:

Percentage of aging commercial plazas that have redeveloped

Percentage of mobility hubs that are developed

Intensification (Jobs/people per hectare) for mobility hubs, urban centres, urban corridors, commercial plazas and urban employment areas.

Smart Population Growth:
Burlington is an inclusive city that has a higher proportion of youth, newcomers and young families and offers a price range and mix of housing choices.
Seniors are supported by a strategy that promotes health, recreation, transportation and aging in place.

How will Burlington make this happen?
These are some examples of actions and measures of success:

Strategic Initiatives:

urban corridor scenario 1

Fairview was seen as a street with people walking and lanes for cyclists. That’s not what it is today.

Future development will be higher density, walkable, accessible and transit- oriented. The city will become a leader in walkability scores in the province, and will be fully aligned with provincial strategy and goals.

The city will prioritize one mobility hub, and will work with partners to ensure resources are available to allow the development to proceed in a timely way. The prioritized hub will be included in the Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan. Stakeholders will be consulted to help gain consensus.

Within two years, the city will develop a strategy in co-operation with other levels of government to support young families:

Housing supply will allow young families and newcomers to locate in Burlington
Infrastructure will support the economic, social and community goals of youth, young families and newcomers.

Within four years, the city will develop an economic migrant outreach and liaison office to attract investor/entrepreneur class immigrants, while remaining a destination of choice for all immigrants, including refugees.

An Age Friendly strategy for seniors will be developed within three years to ensure sufficient seniors’ programming space is provided throughout the city.

The city will improve its ability to monitor, track and understand Burlington’s demographic growth trends and profile.

If you give them enough rope – they eventually hang themselves – what’s with all the “within” dates?  Do your best and try not to set yourselves up for failure by attaching a specific date to something you may have little control over.

Progress Indicators:
Walkability score applied to intensification and population growth
Population by demographics
Median age
Immigration numbers and percentages
Household size
Median housing price
Mix of available housing types.

More data is always nice – the capacity to make decisions is what taxpayers both  look for and expect.

The remaining three Strategic Directions will be detailed in a follow up article.

There are three more public information sessions on the draft Strategic Plan; January 13 and January 18th.

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What was the first reader comment for 2016 about? The Beachway park and the houses that have to be torn down before very much can be done.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 1, 2016



It wasn’t the kind of comment from a reader that we really wanted to see as the first to come in – but the news takes its own form.

A Beachway resident who swears she will be one of the last to leave the community “probably kicking and screaming” as well wonders if “using millions of tax payers’ dollars to create a park just another smoke and mirrors project.”

There are about a dozen that are the true believers, people that have no desire to sell or to move; others are angling for the best price they can get while one has residences that are short term rental properties – seen as a great place to do business.

Henshell house BeachwayAt this point the reality is that a splendid park is going to be created in what once a very vibrant community was seen by some as the kind of place “nice girls didn’t hang around – you can guess which city Councillor that remark came from.

The Region’s planners are designing the park with significant input from the city and the consultant brought in to do the work.

Beachway - federal pier

Western end of the |Beachway community will undergo significant changes when the park is built – but there are a lot of houses that have to be torn down before anything happens.

The homes that have been purchased will at some point be demolished. Keenan G. Lane, Manager, Realty Services for the Region advises that “remediation of the property is already underway. We have a number of houses being demolished both in the beach and within other project areas and these works are let as part of large contracts to obtain the best pricing. Actual demolition of the structures on site here should commence in early December and should be short work given the form of construction.”

The crunch for those who want to hold out to the bitter end will come when the Region is ready to actually begin construction of the park – which probably won’t be until construction of the Joseph Brant Hospital re-build/redevelopment is completed – that is targeted for 2018 – which happens to be the year that municipal elections take place.

The decisions made by one Council are not necessarily decisions that are kept by the next council – unless of course they all get re-elected in 2018.

Imagine that?

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What happened the last three months of last year? Some pretty good stuff actually - and one more small pier story.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 31, 2015


The last quarter of the year – what mattered most?

There was some movement, finally, on the Strategic Plan; the school board finds itself taking a very hard look at the level French will be taught; intensification is getting good discussion. Many think we have already reached the intensification level the province will expect us to grow to  in terms of population increase the subject got a lot of public discussion.

Showtime AGB - poor lighting

Walt Rickli’s sculpture – Showtime at the AGB.

Rickli sculpture unveiled at the Art Gallery – donated by Dan Lawrie.

Active transportation: Never heard of it ? You will – a Burlington school board has some ideas she wants to see become policy.

Bylaw prohibits feeding of wild animals – including coyotes – does not go into effect for one year. City wants to educate people particularly around Fairchild Park.

Summer school enrollment increases in public secondary schools – grew by 15%

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

Geraldos at LaSalle Park and Spencers on the Waterfront asking for lease renewals – one of them wants to lock in parking spaces for 15 years.

Parking to get a serious review: what do we have – what do we need? Consultants being hired.

Mary Lou Tanner

Mary Lou Tanner – city’s new Director o Planning.

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

Council finds the city manager’s Work Plan a little on the ambitious side and lacking prioritization.

The province wants to put more money into off road bike paths where would Burlingtonians like to see those paths built?

Public meeting to learn what the board thinks it should do with the French and English programs at the elementary levels.

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

Public hears what the HDSB thinks could be done to manage the trend to increased interest in French immersion.

Grade 9 math test scores for Burlington public high schools release: Robinson and Pearson don’t rank all that well. Why?

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

Burlington is now represented by three women in Ottawa: Gould, Damoff and Raitt

Public school board posts policy documents on its web site – not that easy to find – Gazette provides instructions.

Henrys pier #1

A smaller pier.

The pier – a footnote.

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Roseland residents wonder where the Dennison OMB decision is - been sometime since the hearing took place.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

December 29, 2015


There are people over in Roseland who, in the dark of night, click on their computer mouse looking or the Ontario Municipal Board web site.

Maybe there will be as decision today? They don’t see a decision, wait all day before they try again. Then they hear that the decision is coming tomorrow. Some say maybe the OMB will clear files before year end, the never ending promise of delivery.

Council went into a closes session recently to hear from their lawyer and to get a update on the cost for their many legal issues. Councillor Dennison had a conflict of interest – his appeal of a Committee of Adjustment decision is among the legal costs the city is dealing with.

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

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison.

One wag asked: Did the Mayor actually make him leave the room? Dennison didn’t wait to be asked – he left on his own.

Was there new information about his hearing? The public will never know – but the good people of ward 4 did re-elect Jack Dennison.

There are those who maintain that a developable lot in Roseland comes in at about $1 million now- a lot of money can be made for someone who understands the system. Dennison has consistently argued that he has the same rights as any citizen property owner to apply, talk to staff, and citizen committees about his personal property.

But, as one citizen points out “citizens don’t make the laws, hire the staff, and appoint the Committees” members of Council do this.

A designated home, bought under a power of sale on a HOW WIDE LOT which the owner. Councillor Jack Dennison wants to have severed into two lots.

Bought under a power of sale, the owner sought a heritage designation and later sought a severance to create two lots. Committee of adjustment turned down the request – the property owner, a member of city council, appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.

The world is getting ready to move into 2016 – the year that municipal conflicts of interest can be dealt with by the Provincial Ombudsman, and since Burlington’s city council does not have a Code of Conduct, the Ombudsman may be the place to take a complaint.

Another wrinkle – if, by chance, the OMB decides the Dennison appeal application is to be granted then are the two lots not to have the Heritage designation Dennison is so proud of?

This story is far from over.

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In six years time there will be a community of 2000 people settled into the Paradigm project on Fairview in between the GO station and Walmart.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 28, 2015


Roger Park stands on the observation platform at the back of the construction office that is in behind the sales office of the Paradigm project on Fairview Street east of the Walmart, south of the GO Station, watching a crew complete the concrete pour of the second level of the garage.

Paradigm - Roger Park at the site level 2 being poured

Roger Park is one of those rough, tough guys that people don’t mess around with. Described as having a bark that is worse than his bite – you don’t want to test that statement. He is the man managing the building of the five structure Paradigm site on Fairview that can’t be seen yet but is rising floor by floor.

Roger tends not to look at people when he is talking – his eyes are constantly moving over the site where different crews of men and doing different tasks. The weather has been exceptional and work is slightly ahead, which suits Roger, because construction projects tend to fall behind.

He is overseeing the construction of tower A – it will rise to 22 storeys. The first of five towers that will be built by the Molinaro Group on the 1.75 hectare site they acquired.


Tower A under construction with the second level of parking being poured. GO station crossing from the North parking lot to the tracks is shown. Tower A is expected to be completed in 2017

The scale of the project was determined by a 2008 Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ruling and permits a mix of retail/commercial and multi-storey residential uses.

The OMB decision sets out specific requirements and development rights for the property, such as height, access, road improvements, public safety and noise mitigation measures, among other things.

The public involvement in the project was unique for Burlington; the Molinaro’s decided to involve the public. They decided to work with the community and listen to what the public thought. It was a novel approach for a Burlington developer and involved the ward Councillor who believed this was the best way to build community.

The Molinaro’s presented their plans to local residents first, ironing out any issues before submitting their plans to the City.


Layout of the five structure site on Fairview just south of the GO station – Tower A in the upper left corner is now under construction. The complete project is expected to take six years to complete.

“The workshops were great,” Sam Di Santo, General Manager and Vice-President of the Molinaro Group, said. “We were skeptical at first, because you never know what the outcome is going to be, but we informed the public, we gave the ability to give feedback and went through every single point and made a list of changes.”

The process has been phenomenal and it is exactly what we want to see going forward,” added city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.

The Gazette intends to follow the development of the project that will create 929 units in the five buildings.

The Paradigm is going to change significantly a part of the city that was an empty field with places that had traffic going in and out all the time. No one lives at the GO station or Walmart.

The Paradigm will be home to more than 2000 people when it is completed – that is more than a neighbourhood in itself. That many people will want services closer to them which bodes well for the Brant/Fairview intersection.

All this however is sometime into the future – right now Roger Park wants to get the concrete slabs poured one by one.

He has been doing construction work for the Molinaro family for more than 30 years. His son is now part of the team that puts up the buildings that have made a big difference to the look of Lakeshore Road where they built most of the condominiums.


Architects rendering of the Paradigm project as it will be seen from Fairview.

Tower A is scheduled to be completed in 2017 with the complete project expected to take six years. The three towers at the back of the property will be completed first – the front two towers will then be added.

Real estate market forecasters do their research and project as much as they can – but it is individuals who make buying choices. The proximity of the GO station and the long term plan to make the GO station the centre of a mobility hub with the hope that land along Fairview will shift from current usage – automotive and gardening at this point, to something that is more in tune with the changes the added population will bring about.

Home for Roger is in Sarnia. “The Molinaro’s are very good to me – I can stay wherever I want when I stay over” he says.

“They give me the plans and I put the buildings up – they don’t micro- manage me – they know that I deliver and if there is going to be a problem they hear it from me first.”


Amenities galore suggesting a life style for the younger set.

At some point down the road Roger will get to the building of the party room, the party terrace, the Porte Cochere, the indoor pool and Spa, the Theatre Room, Sky Lounge, Activity Terrace and Guest Suites along with the Indoor Basketball Court for Tower A

For now he has one eye watching the skyline for changes in the weather and the other scanning the work site to make sure everything is going the way it was intended to go.

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Burlington skyline to see more construction cranes on the 2016 horizon.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 22, 2015


As 2015 comes to a close the look of the city during 2016 begins to become visible.

There are construction cranes are in the air where Lakeshore dips south at the Brant Museum and runs along the edge of the lake as the new hospital rises floor by floor.

Brant hospital - part of 4th floor

The Joseph Brant Hospital redevelopment is well underway – scheduled to open in 2018

Early in January Jeff Paikin, the president of the company that is going to build the three structure Bridgewater project, will take part in a ground breaking event that will signal the start of a project that will change the look and feel of the city’s downtown.

Bridgewater from the west - higher elevation

The Bridgewater development that is scheduled to break ground early in the New Year will change the look and the feel of the waterfront forever. It was defined as a “legacy” project when it was approved in 1995.

The Molinaro’s have their cranes up as they begin the development of the five structure Paradigm project.

The Bentley is getting close to the point where it too will break ground at the Caroline and John intersection.

The ADI Group has plans for what started out as a 28 story structure on a small lot. The city of Burlington managed to mangle the file – they couldn’t make a decision within the 180 days the Planning Act gives the city to approve or not approve a development application.

ADI site with new sign Dec 21-15

The ADI Group is seeking Ontario Municipal Board approval to put up a 26 story structure on thus piece of property. The design of the proposed structure is on the sign.

That file is a major mess – with not much credit going to the city – ADI took advantage of the right they had to take their development to the Ontario Municipal Board after the 180 day time frame.

The project has since been downgraded to 26 storeys – the OMB hearing is due to take place in March.

Not sure if we will ever see cranes and construction crews on this site. While not approved ADI is nevertheless selling units – a piece of property is not being sold – the right to purchase a piece of property at a given price is being sold – a common practice in the development business. What bothers many people is that the development is subject to a hearings at which the city intends to vigorously oppose the application

Some are convinced that the project will get OMB approval – others in the real estate industry will tell you that it will not get approved. The zoning on the site allows four storeys with a possible eight storeys which is a heck of a leap to a 26 storey application.

The Bridgewater project is going to soar to 22 storeys – the lawyers and the Planners will argue that one out. The project first got serious mention in 1985 and was approved by city council in 1995.

Councillor Lancaster made mention of the 26 projects in ward 6; there are a number of developments taking place in ward 1 where the ADI people are proposing a two stage project that will create a whole new community that has been named Station West.


The city got it right with this meeting – they held a community meeting and asked the residents what they wanted to see on the Lakeside Village Plaza site that today is a pretty run-down piece of property.

The really run down plaza on Lakeshore close to NAME might get new life if the views of the 300 residents who met to tell city planners what they wanted to see, in what has been named Lakeside Villa Plaza, match with what the developer and his architect have in mind.

Some developers have learned to meet with a community and hear what they would like to see – and if what the community wants is viable the developer will go forward with a plan knowing that the community is on side.


The yellow portion of this graphic is the plaza property – and yes those round green circles are there to represent trees – imagine a shopping plaza with trees.

Ken Greenberg, who was one of the speakers Mayor Goldring brought to the city in his first term, told an audience that the smarter developers have learned to work with a community and develop projects that meet the needs of the community. Add community input to intelligent architecture and an appreciation for the environment and a city planning department that will see itself as part of a collaborative team and you get developments that add to a city and are not seen as mistakes.

Watching and reporting on the public reaction to major changes that are about to take place in the city is something the Gazette looks forward to doing. The upcoming OMB hearing on the ADI development will be interesting to watch as well.

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Regional government buys another home in the Beachway for $405,000 - they have scooped up six so far

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 15th, 2015


It is a little like bowling pins – this great big ball comes rolling down on the pins that are standing there unable to get out of the way. Every time the ball comes rolling – some of the pins take a whack and disappear.

Another pin took a hit – the pin was one of the houses on Willow Street in the Beachway.

Beachway - Willow Street residences

The house in the centre was sold to the |Region for a reported $405,000 with the owner becoming a rent free tenant for two years.

Another house was reportedly purchased by the Regional government which basically puts an end to housing on that street.

The house is reported to have been sold for $405,000 with the owner having the right to remain in the building for two years rent free.

Beachway 1011 sold for $600k

This house was sold to the Region for a price in the $600,000 plus range.

This latest sale brings the total to six out of the 28 homes that are in the community.

While the Regional real estate people pick off the homes one by one people in the Regional Planning department toil away at completing the design of the Beachway Park.

Beachway - Full park

Regional planners are working up a plan that will turn what was once a community that had its own newspaper and was home to hundreds of people. The plan for the park is a splendid piece of planning – but will it meet the longer terms needs of the city – and will it b a safe place?

The park design, at least what the public has seen to date, is splendid. The intention is to purchase the homes in the Beachway, on a willing buyer – willing seller basis – which is a bit of a canard and they do seem to be grinding away.

Quite why some of the homes could not be left in the park making it a safer place when the public gets to use it has never been made clear.

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Will Smart legislation result in smarter decisions? Burlington has a number of opportunities to make smarter decisions.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 7, 2015



The province passed legislation last week giving residents a greater say in how their communities grow and to provide municipalities with more opportunities to fund community services like transit and recycling.

The Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, 2015, which reforms the Development Charges Act and the Planning Act, will:

Help municipalities recover more money to pay for transit services and waste diversion.
It will be interesting to see just what the Legislation has to say and what gets produced in terms of regulations.
Give residents a meaningful say in how their communities grow by requiring municipalities to look at opportunities to better involve residents in the planning process for new developments and enhancing a planning tool that will be developed with resident and stakeholder input

Adi fence marth lking south

Is putting a 26 storey structure on this piddling little piece of land a “smart” decision? The city may find that it is powerless to stop it from happening – how did that happen?

How will meaningful be defined and how will it be enforced? Burlington doesn’t have much in the way of a solid track record when it comes to listening to its citizens.  The city’s treasurer announced at a Standing committee meeting recently that the public would be “informed” about the budget but that they would not be “engaged”. Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward was the only Council member to pick up on that comment. Informing instead of engaging is not likely to go down all that well with people who pay attention to what happens at city hall.

Being concerned about how opinions are heard on the Smart Growth initiative is then a concern.

The provincial report adds that the legislation will:

Promote and protect green spaces by encouraging more municipalities to develop plans that help determine the need for parkland in the municipality.

Escarpment - outcropping of rock

Half the city is rural – can we keep it that way – and for how long?

Close to 50% of the city’s land mass is above Dundas and Hwy 407 – a no go area for significant development. We have plenty of parkland and our system of trails is to be envied.

It goes further: It will

Help municipalities resolve potential planning disputes earlier at the local level, such as through alternative dispute resolution, to reduce the involvement of the Ontario Municipal Board in local disputes .

Where was this when we needed it? Could it be made retroactive and apply to the current dispute with the ADI development Group who are currently tearing the heart of out the Official Plan and putting the zoning bylaws through a ringer – and we seem powerless to stop them.

The Act will:

Make the planning and appeals process more predictable by extending the review of new municipal official plans – plans that lay out how municipalities will grow and develop – to 10 years, instead of five.

It is probably going to take Burlington more than five years to complete the plan currently being reviewed.

The Act will:

Make the development charges system – a system for municipalities to help cover the costs necessary for growth from developers – more predictable, transparent and accountable by creating clearer reporting requirements for capital projects that municipalities are financing through development charges

Make the collection and use of money paid by developers for higher and denser developments, as well as for parkland, more transparent and accountable

Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and one of the best friends Burlington has at Queen’s Park said: “We want to grow Ontario’s communities in a way that creates vibrant towns, cities and regions. The Smart Growth for Our Communities Act provides the people of Ontario with a transparent and predictable system for planning and managing growth within their communities.”

Mary Lou Tanner

Newly appointed city planner Mary Lou Tanner – has a thick file to work from – moving things forward is going to keep her busy, busy.

Municipalities use official plans and zoning bylaws to plan for and control development. The new act is based on input from across Ontario including more than 20 public workshops and stakeholder meetings as well as more than 1,200 submissions on the land use planning and appeal system and the development charges system.

There will be a lot more to say about this piece of legislation once we have had an opportunity and hear what MPP Eleanor McMahon and newly minted city planner Mary Lou Tanner have to say.

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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


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


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


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.


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



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:


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


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


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 –

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


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.

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.

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.

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


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


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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