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

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

November 6th, 2015


Tom Muir is not happy.

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

Muir making a point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

ADI rendering second view from SW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goldring at Inspire April 2015

Mayor doesn’t appear to be evading questions here.

Muir then be begins to lace into the Mayor:

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

“You promised to provide a “meaningful answer”.

“You have not lived up to your word.

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

“You appear to be evading the questions.

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

“Please provide me your meaningful answer.

“Thank you.” – Tom Muir

You can see where this is going.

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

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

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

They might well be describing the Mayor of Burlington.

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

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 4, 2015


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

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

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

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

Urban corridor scenario 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uptown existing

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

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

Uptown scenario 1

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

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

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

Uptown scenatio 2

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

Urban employment - existing

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

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

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

urban employment scenario 1

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1 of the vizualization exercise.

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

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 3, 2015


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

Transit - Paul sharman

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

November 2, 2015


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

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

Why is this happening?

Muir making a point

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

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

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

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

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

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

And she wants to be Mayor? Yikes.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The city deserves better.

Related news article

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

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 2, 2015


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

ADI Nautique sign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meed Ward at kick off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muir making a point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADI project - rendering from LAkeshore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADI aerial photo red line marking Bridgewater site

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meed Ward did say:

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

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

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

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

The time line that Muir put together:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there a fast one being pulled?

ADI storefront

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

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

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

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

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

Mayor and chair

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

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

Something doesn’t smell right.


Opinion: Salt with Pepper

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

element_strategic_planBy Pepper Parr

October 28, 2105


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

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

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

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

Strat Plan 2nd side room

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

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

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

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

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

Appreciate that these are draft concepts and might see some changes

Strat Plan meeting part of crowd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For growth these were:
Accelerate economic growth:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

“This will be complete within two years.”

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

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

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

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

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

Another rash statement.”

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

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

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

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

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

Strat plan other part of room

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

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

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

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 26, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burlington aerial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do the pictures drawn tell us?

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

Aldershot 1

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

Aldershot 2

One scenario, possible under existing zoning

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

Aldershot 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Urban corridor - existing

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

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

urban corridor scenario 1

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

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

Urban corridor scenario 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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