Council will return to the horseshoe at city hall in the middle of September - hopefully they will behave a little better this time.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 25, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

They will be back soon – that magnificent seven that get paid $100,000 + each year for serving as your representative on both city and regional council.
They have been away from the horseshoe at city hall since the middle of July – and except for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario that was held in Niagara Falls – they haven’t had much to do in the way of formal meetings.

Burlington tends to be very quiet at city hall during the summer. The non-union staff at city hall are not that young.

The five year age range of the 129 people who hold leadership positions

2% are 26 to 30 – 3 people
1% are between 31 and 35
9% are between 36 and 40 – 12 people
16% are between 41 and 45 – 21 people
19% are between 46 and 50 – 25 people
32% are between 51 and 55 – 41 people
13% are between 56 and 60 – 17 people
7% are between 61 and 65 – 9 people.

There is a lot of vacation time to be used up.

Goldring-Magi at Budget Bazzar

City hall leadership briefs the Mayor on an issue during the budget preparation process

The other interesting thing is that close to 50% of the leadership will retire within 10 years; something the Human Resources department spends a lot of time thinking about. The pension plan in place for the municipal sector is seen as very good and many choose to retire in the second half of their fifties and try and new career.

As the members of Council drift back into the city and begin looking at their agendas and gearing up for the fall session – which for them begin September when they do two days of meetings at Regional Council where they will look at the Transportation Service 2014 Progress Report; do an On-Site Visit to Verify Potential Threats to Halton Regional Municipal Water Supply; consider changes to Waste Collection Area Boundaries and a look at the Conservation Authorities Act which is being reviewed.

When Council adjourned in July for the summer break there was no holding of hands and singing Cumbia. The period of time from when all seven members were re-elected last October to the July break was as fractious as this reporter has seen – even in the days when Cam Jackson was Mayor.

Differences of opinion are part of serving the public but the nastiness with which these people treat each other is shameful. On December 18th this Council treated John Taylor, a member of Council with 26 years of  experience, terribly. Earlier in that December 18th meeting Taylor was given an long term service award – within a few hours he was basically stripped of committee memberships that he not only deserved but that were dear to his heart.

A few weeks later he came close to having to beg for financial support for Community Development Halton which they needed to cover them until a grant application was approved.

det

Car Free Sunday started as an event to convince people to get out of their cars and walk, bike or use public transit – it became a party put on at public expense for ward Councillors to entertain their constituents – at $10,000 a pop.

Earlier in the session members of Council approved the spending of $10,000 for Car Free Sundays for both wards four and five and ward six. Mayor Goldring commented at the time that the events looked more like politicking than they did occasions when the public got to learn why everyone needed to make less use of their cars. His Worship was right – the events have become political boondoggles; hopefully they won’t be in the 2015 budget.
Councillor Marianne Meed Ward is concerned with the way reports get to Council members and she wondered aloud if two much of the meeting management was in the hands of the Clerk’s Office when it perhaps should be in the hands of the members of Council.

Meed Ward wants to see more “quickly to action” on the part of this council. We are collecting a lot of data but we don’t seem to be getting all that much done. Our growth hinges on creating jobs in this city. While the city does not actually create the jobs is can create the environment and ensure that the services needed are in place.

That means a city hall bureaucracy that serves the needs of people doing business in the city and with the city. We hear of those situations where things don’t work – the complaints, like gossip make the rounds quickly. The good news tends to take a little longer – but there is some good news.

Development activity - Meed Ward workshop May 2015

The public got to see information that was not secret but seldom had they had an opportunity to see a lot of data put before them and then be able to discuss some ideas with developers.

A number of months ago Meed Ward held several workshops to which she invited the public and those developers who were prepared to sit down and talk specifics about a project they were developing.  Meed Ward will complete her write up, pull together all the data and put it in a format that is uiseful to the public.  There will be a final public meeting and then everything gets passed on to planning staff who may issue a report on what they heard.  staff played a large part in the public meetings – they were as interested as Meed Ward was in what the developers had to say and what the public wanted built in their city.

On balance they were a very worthwhile effort.  The final report, which Meed Ward hopes has an impact on the Official Plan Review.

Meed Ward is concerned about the Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the ADI Group development that has been unveiled for the bottom of Martha at Lakeshore Road. Many feel the proposed structure just doesn’t fit and the staff report the city put out made that point quite clearly.

Unfortunately, city council never got to the point where they were able to vote on the staff report which makes whatever case the city has just that much weaker.

ADI filed their appeal to the OMB on the 180th day after they had submitted their proposal. Everyone knew what ADI was going to do – that is the way they do business and what they did was perfectly legal. It is situations like this that bother Meed Ward and many people in the city.

Council she argues is not in charge – we are following – not leading. For Meed Ward the Martha – Lakeshore Road development is a game changer. Meed Ward puts it this way: “There is something wrong with our issues management process” and she wants to see changes made. “We are handcuffed with the current process” she said.

Council vote Dec 18-14 Water Street

Standing up and being counted – Councillor Meed Ward has asked for more recorded votes than any other member of Council. Knowing what your elected member is doing for you is an essential part of the democratic process.

City council meets next on the 14th of September.

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Can we pull it off? The potential is significant and it will certainly change the city in a rather positive way

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 18, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Part two of a two part feature on the development potential for the city

Way back in 1985 council approved the building of what was then referred to as a legacy building that would soar 22 storeys into the sky. One wonders if Niagara Falls could be seen from the top floor.

It took several decades to get the project to the point where all the regulatory hurdles were overcome. There still isn’t a shovel in the ground but there is a sales office and the look of the project is out there for all to see.

Bridgewater from lake on the east

Architectural rendering of the Bridgewater development that will consist of two condominiums, owe 22 storeys and the other seven storeys and an eight storey hotel. The view is from the lake looking west.

It will be a three structure development that will change the look and tone of the downtown core more than anything has since Joseph Brant had his house built on the edge of the lake.

Immediately to the west of the development there are plans to re-develop the Waterfront hotel and replace what is there now with a possible three structures.

The arrangement in place was to have the city come up with two plans and the developer come up with a plan of his own.

If the projected plan for the Waterfront hotel site is done properly Burlington will have a cluster of hotel locations all within a city block of each other sitting on the edge of the Lake with the pier as a place for people coming to conventions to stroll along. Spencer Smith Park will be laid out before people in the hotel; some of the early thinking had the new hotel that would be built opening to the west.

Opportunity Lakeshore and Elizabeth

The potential that two quality hotels in the downtown core is hard to fully grasp – but it is there. When? One of the sites was first approved in 1985. Different players may manage to get some wiggle into the process.

There is tremendous opportunity for everyone here; Burlington needs a downtown core that will attract people, give people a reason to come to the city and take in an event at the Performing Arts Centre and tour the world class ceramics collection.

The Bridgewater development – that is the two condominiums and the seven story hotel – is now in the hands of a quality developer. Jeff Paikin has done some fine work in the past and while this development is quite a bit larger than anything he has done in the past in Burlington – he has the executive capacity and the vision to make this happen. He also has a sincere desire to make his hometown a better place.

Waterfront hotel with pier at foot

Think in terms of the Waterfront Hotel being torn down and the site having three buildings using up some of the space to the rear of the hotel.

ADI rendering second view from SW

The ADI Group development for Lakeshore and |Martha now has a name. They are running advertising in local media and are in the process of turning a retail location on Brant Street into a sales office. They are very serious.

The problem development for many is the ADI Group plans for a 28 story tower at the intersection of Martha and Lakeshore Road which has been named the Nautica.  The development is now before the Ontario Municipal Board; Burlington hasn’t done all that well at OMB hearings and ADI have brought in a top notch Bay street law firm.

The fly in the ointment for project that are not at the OMB is the pace at which things happen in Burlington – everything just seems to take forever – and we get passed by.  The continuity needed to ensure real progress takes place hasn’t existed at city hall. Burlington has been through two city managers with the third just getting the feel of the city.

If you add in the short period of time Pat Moyle was brought in to oversee things while General Manager Scott Stewart basically ran the city – the total is four city managers in five years. They seem to stay for just over two years and then move on. One of the four was shown the door.

Good municipal people tend to leave the city and look for a location that has more in the way of top level management that provides a setting where they can grow their own careers.

There are some exceptionally good people who do fine work on your behalf day in and day out.

Circle of opportunity - Brant Street

If the developments that are well beyond the thinking stage do it right this art of the city could become a new destination which a charm of its own – at least one of the developers just has to do it right and change some of their out of date thinking.

A second very good development cluster is coming together on Brant Street at Ghent.

The Burlington Square Plaza has announced their plans to significantly upgrade the site and add four levels of residential with commercial at grade level.

That site has not managed to attract the commercial tenants it wanted. A new real estate firm has been brought in to rent the space and attract the kind of clientele that can take advantage of everything the site offers.  The patio potential for the location is superb.

A block north at the Prospect intersection with Brant there will eventually be a development that puts a high rise in place – expect the application to be for more than the eight storeys the Official plan allows.

There is an opportunity for the developers of that site to retain some of the city’s heritage by including at least a portion of the GET NAME and date in any development.

A shift in thinking about how to work with the member of council who represents the ward would serve everyone much better.

There is still an element within the development community that feels council is there to hold up projects – the planning department is in place to ensure that the rules are fair and that the public interest is protected.

Land is not there to be exploited by the owners; land is there to be used to the benefit of everyone – not just the owners who are entitled to the best return they can get. Good projects have consistently given a higher return to bot the owners of the land and the community they are located in.

It is time for developers to think more about the city that is being developed rather than just the financial return. There is more than ample evidence showing that quality always pays off – anything less than the best that can be done diminishes everyone.

Molinaro-Robert-two-people1-728x1024

Robert Molinaro works with citizens on some ideas for the property they have assembled at Brant and Ghent

The Molinaro Group has assembled properties on either side of Ghent across the Street from the Burlington Square Plaza. The opportunity for a cluster of buildings that will create a destination further up Brant Street offers another opportunity that we should not let get away from us.

At least one of the Molinaro brothers has taken part in the working group sessions Councillor Meed Ward held recently. Her final report on what came out of those sessions is due late in September – it will be interesting to see what comes out of those public participation events

The opportunity on Lakeshore Road with the planned development s that will put more high end residential development into the downtown core and create a cluster of hotel capacity is only good news.

The city will need to upgrade its Tourism department to handle what will become a very different city that needs a more sophisticated approach to promoting the city.  With two hotels within a block of each other and a Performing Arts Centre a short short walk away and a patio with several good restaurants looking over the lake – the city will be ready for small conventions.

Residents on the Beachway have spent thousands of dollars to upgrade their properties - this is where they live and where they want to stay.  One of the better examples of improved properties is this house on Lakeshore Road

Residents on the Beachway have spent thousands of dollars to upgrade their properties – this is where they live and where they want to stay. One of the better examples of improved properties is this house on Lakeshore Road. It would serve as an important part of a community park if it were retained.

Mixed in with all this is the long range plan to turn the Beachway Park into something that will rival anything elsewhere in this province – indeed in the country.

If a way can be found to keep at least some of the residential component in the park we will have shown the world that we understand the importance of community – which translates to having people who serves as the eyes on the street.

If one were to stand back and look at the potential – one could get a little giddy with excitement – all we have to do is make it work.  The vision is already there – executing on that vision is what the current council needs to do.

 

Links to related articles in the Gazette.

Ward 2 Councillor convinces the developers to take part in her workshops.

Part one of this feature.

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Despite delays with critical reports there are solid reasons to be excited about the development potential and the way city hall is run.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 18, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Part one of a two part feature on the development potential for the city

Each city council, at the beginning of its term, meets for a number of weeks and hammers out a Strategic Plan.

That Plan sets out what the city council wants to get done during the four years they are going to serve the citizens.

There is very little in previous Strategic Plans worth remembering, except for the plan approved in 2011. For the most part they were a collection of pictures and motherhood statements.

I had the opportunity to look at six or seven previous Strategic Plans – something I doubt the majority of the current Council bothered to do.  Councillors Taylor and Dennison were at the table when those documents were approved.

The Strategic Plan approved by the previous council, which was made up of the same people we have in place now, was a very impressive departure from anything done before.

Both Council and staff worked very hard – sometimes at cross purposes – to produce a document that served the city well. There were some very moving occasions when we got to hear how Councillors felt about the city they were leading.

In the closing session Councillor Jack Dennison spoke very emotionally about the need to ensure that the downtown core was given the attention and the resources needed to grow and become a large part of the focus for Burlington.

We also got to see some of the character traits from some of the Council members that were disturbing then and disruptive now.

The city was fortunate to have an excellent facilitator who not only led the group but educated several of them on what works and the way Strategic Plan development gets done.

Perhaps hoping to build on what was achieved the last time around Council set out to craft the Strategic Plan for this term of office. It is not going very well.

Strategic Plan Workbook

It may well be 2016 before the Strategic Plan is approved. will it be as good as what this Council did in 2011?

The city hired KPMG to direct them in the creation of the Strategic Plan for the current term but did not manage to get the same facilitator.

There is now a team in place that is going to do tonnes of research and bring back a large handful of options. Unfortunately,

Taylor and Black

Georgina Black did a superb job of getting a new city council through the creation of a significantly different Strategic Plan. Councillor John Taylor loved every minute of it.

Burlington wasn’t able to get Georgina Black back – she was the facilitator who did such fine work with council in 2011.  Much of the work that KPMG is going to do was already being done by Frank McKeown, the Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation. McKeon wasn’t able to attend the meeting at which all the research work KPMG is going to do was discussed.

McKeown explains that he wasn’t told of the meeting until two days before it took place and that he was already committed to be elsewhere.

McKeown adds that he had not seen the agenda. When it was brought to his attention – I think we heard him gulp. McKeown will resolve that problem and will have the needed discussions with KPMG.

The creation of the 2014 – 2018 Strategic Plan is not off to a very good start. Council will not meet on this matter until the second half of October. They will have been in office for a year by that time

There are going to be some very sticky Governance issues that do not look as if a reasonable resolution is going to be found. Despite the comments made regularly by Mayor Goldring – his is a very fractious council that is deeply divided on some critical issues.

The amount of time, attention and financial resources to be given to community based initiatives will be limited by budget constraints due in no small measure by the cost of the 2014 flood.

Some exceptional work has been done within the cultural sphere – the city now has two new people running major cultural institutions. Robert Steven is running the Art Gallery of Burlington and Susan Haines will take over the running of the Performing Arts Centre in September.  Hopefully the Centre Board has retained retiring Executive Director Brian McCurdy to serve as a consultant for three to six months to oversee the transition.

The Performing Arts Centre had gotten itself to the point where it was finally stable financially and the program being offered was working. Community groups were now a real part of the program offerings. There is every reason to believe that Haines can continue the work McCurdy did and eventually grow her board to the point where she can put her own stamp on the place.

Brant Museum rendering

The concept might have merit but there is no way this kind of an installation is going to work on a single lane road that is the main entrance to the hospital once the redevelopment has been done. Lakeshore Road has to be widened for the hospital traffic.

The Museums have their work cut out for them but it doesn’t look as if they are going to draw on the city for financial support. There is however, some very hard thinking to be done on just what happens to the Joseph Brant Museum. The plans on the drawing board are just not going to work – someone needs to have the courage within the Museum Board to look at the facts and the changes that are going to take place on Lakeshore Road when the hospital re-development is done.

Ireland House on the other hand is a gem; it offers some exceptionally good programming.

Development: what does the city want and where does it want any development to take place – and what kind of development as well.

Waterdown Rd from QEW looking south

Waterdown Road is being widened – a precursor to some significant development. The Aldershot GO station was named a transportation/development hub – the developers may get their shovels in the ground and have walls up before the city arrives at some decisions.

There is all kinds of development taking place in Aldershot – there is some dissension amongst the more active citizens and the council member does need to learn to listen a little better. Understanding who he represents would be a useful contribution Rick Craven could make to the quality of civic government in this city.

Councillor Meed Ward continues with her, unique for Burlington, approach to involving the people she represents.

There are two areas of development that can re-shape the kind of downtown core Burlington is going to have – both are in her ward.

Before going into any detail on those two opportunities – the culture at city hall needs a closer look.

There are departments that work exceptionally well – finance is perhaps the best run shop at city hall. The team if focused and well led. They were given the task of revamping the way budgets were prepared and presented to the public and told to make personal accountability part of the way city hall does business.

Details

Scott Stewart and former city manager Jeff Fielding – they were quite a tag team for as long as it lasted. Fielding always let you know what was in the works – the new city manager has yet to reveal a management style.

Then city manager Jeff Fielding challenged the finance department to bring about the change – then he departed for greener pastures and became the city manager in Calgary to the work that gets done.

The finance department did deliver; unfortunately there isn’t a champion on city council to ensure that the work done is continued and that staff get the direction they need.

A significant cultural change is taking place within the planning department; the hiring process for the new city planner is at the short short list. That decision may have already been made.

This is a critical choice – the department is in the middle of completing a much delayed Official Plan Review; we may not see that document until the end of the year.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of the 2014 budget.  What they have yet to have explained to them is the desperate situation the city will be in ten years from now if something isn't done in the next few years to figure out how we are going to pay for the maintenance of the roads we have.

A rapt audience listened to an overview of the 2014 budget. What they have yet to have explained to them is the desperate situation the city will be in ten years from now if something isn’t done in the next few years to figure out how we are going to pay for the maintenance of the roads we have. Add in the cost of the 2014 flood and the city has a whopper of a budget to explain.

Public engagement is a sorry mess – few remember the recommendations that came out of the Shape Burlington report that every member of this council heartily endorsed and then forgot about.  There are reports of an initiative the city will announce in the fall that is neighbourhood oriented – it will be interesting to see the details.

The current city manager doesn’t seem to have all that much appetite for real public engagement, the communications department is asking the public what they think about City Talk, a magazine format distributed to every household, that does more for the members of city council than anyone else.

Council members love the thing; the communications department spend endless hours making revisions and the public for the most part doesn’t know it exists. There is a savings opportunity there.

Now to the development potential in ward 2.

Part two of a two part feature.

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Where do we put 35,000 people in the next 25 years? And what will the city have in place in the way of roads and transit to move these people around?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 5, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

What would Burlington look like with 100 Strata’s built around the city?

Strata

This is what the Strata looks like. Councillor John Taylor thinks the city is going to need 100 of these in the next 25 years to meet the intensification target set by the province.

What’s a Strata?  That’s the condominium the Molinaro gropup built on Maple Avenue.

That was the potential ward 3 city Councillor John Taylor tossed on the table during a city council Committee of the whole recently.

Taylor with Black smiling

John Taylor, Councillor for ward 3 and the Dean of Burlington’s city council

Taylor puts the city’s current population at 175,000 people – the signs as you enter the city say 176,000.

The Growing in Place program – that is a provincial government directive, calls for Burlington to have a population of 195,000 by 2031

That number is thought to rise to 210,000 by 2041. The projection for 2041 number is something that is still being worked out by the Region and the four municipalities in Halton.

We can quibble all we want but the bald fact is that between now and 2041 the city is expected to add 35,000 people to the population total.

And because there is no development north of the Hwy 5 – 407 line – all those people have to be tucked in south of that line
Taylor says his math works like this.

Assume the 35,000 number for 2041 is real – assume two people per unit that means we need 17,500 housing units.

The Strata has 175 units – add two 0’s to that number and you have what is needed

100Stratas

Are 100 Strata’s really needed to reach the intensification target. Where would they get built> The Strategic Plan and the review of the Official Plan are the documents that will guide and inform these decisions – but they may not see the light of day in their final form until sometime next year.

Therefore Taylor points out you are going to need 100 Strata’s to house those 35,000 people.

And that is going to put intolerable pressure on the city’s transportation network.

Those cold hard facts are also why the ADI Development Group bought up the land at Masonry Court in the west end – they will do exceptionally well with that project financially. And they will have little difficulty getting the approvals they need – if city council doesn’t approve the project – off ADI will go to the OMB. That is what they are doing with the 28 storey structure they want to build at Martha and Lakeshore Road.

ADI rendering second view from SW

The ADI development planned for the corner of Martha and Lakeshore Road will help meet the intensification target – what would it do to traffic and the look and feel of the downtown core if the Ontario Municipal Board approves the project.

The city is battling on two fronts – dancing with developers who point out that the housing has to be built and we have just the project for you.

While the transportation people point out that the infrastructure we have in place now cannot handle the traffic those 35,000 people will create.

It’s a tough one, especially for a city council that is one – not united on how to handle this problem and two; a council that has never been transit friendly.

Add to that a city that still doesn’t understand how to communicate with its citizens.

The Mayor is reported to be thinking in terms of a population growth of from 1% to 1.5% population growth.  The Mayor hasn’t been available for comment on these number.  He has been softening up the public for the intensification that is inevitable.

There is a lot for the public to think about – but before they can think through the issues and arrive at conclusions – they need facts from the city.

Seen any facts from the city on these problems lately?

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Transportation department tells city council that behaviour has to be changed if the city is to avoid consistent traffic congestion.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 5, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

When the draft of the Transportation Master Plan was put before city Council, which was meeting as a Committee of the Whole, Councillor Taylor commented that “it was a lot to take in at one sitting – and indeed it was.

The presentation itself took well over an hour with Interim Director of Transportation Vito Tolone working as a tag team with planner Kaylan Edgcumbe.

The gist of it all was that the intensification the city was going to have to undergo to absorb its share of the 1 million additional residents the Region of Halton was going to have to accommodate between now and 2031 meant a level of congestion “Burlington didn’t have much tolerance for”.

In surveys done by the Transportation department there were two almost diametrically opposed sets of comments – one from the over 55 set and another from high school students.

Using the dictum that a picture is worth a thousand words the two graphics below tell very different stories.

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT

Hundreds of students responded to the questionnaire that asked for comments on modes of transportation.

The planners and the transportation experts needed to know how high school students looked at public transit. They knew that the older than 55 set thought – getting them out of their cars was going to require crow bars.

Senior engagement

The Senior set didn’t appear to be ready for much in the way of change. Transportation staff made the observation that “Burlington doesn’t have much tolerance for traffic congestion” Without a change in the use of transit – congestion is about all we have to look forward to.

The transportation met with the principal at Charles Beaudoin school and asked if they would participate in a “bike” week program with the city. “The principal wasn’t all that keen on the idea at the beginning” explained Tolone “but he came around and we learned a lot – they also learned what they needed to know, which was that younger people weren’t married to the car to the same degree as their parents.

Bikes at Beaudoin school 2

Bike to school week at the Charles Beaudoin school saw a very strong uptake on bike use that held after the event. Can it be made an ongoing habit?

The week before “bike week” there were 60 students at Beaudoin using their bikes to get to school. During bike week there were 260 using their bikes. After bike week more than 75% of that additional 200 were riding their bikes to school.

Bikes at Beaudoin school

This is the kind of congestion the transportation department wants to see.

Tolone saw hope on the horizon. His research tells him that with intensification now an inevitability and no room to build additional road capacity – and no desire on the part of the city to do so either – other ways had to be found to move people around.

Expect to hear a lot of the phrase “complete streets” added to the “modal split” we are already hearing about.

Last week the province introduced that acronym HOT for high occupancy toll lanes – if you want to use those lanes intended for high occupancy vehicles with just one passenger in the car – you pay a toll.

The longer term objective is “behaviour change” we just don’t have the road capacity to handle the traffic that intensification will bring with it.

Councillor Taylor opined that the number of people the Region is going to set as the Burlington target will amount to 100 Stratas – a bit of an exaggeration perhaps but he made his point.

100Stratas

Councillor John Taylor said there would have to be an additional 100 towers the size of the strata on Maple Avenue – claims he has the data to back that up.

Strata is the name given to the Molinaro condominium of Maple Avenue.

The Committee of the Whole meeting was short two of its members – Councillors Dennison and Meed Ward were not present. Meed Ward was recovering from the concision she suffered when her car was rear ended.

At the conclusion of what was a long meeting city general manager Scott Stewart made the comment that “this is a web cast we will be looking at more than once”. Indeed they will because there was no clear sense of direction from the five members of Council in the room.

Transportation and intensification are words that are now linked together and we are going to hear a lot more about both in the years ahead. In order for the needed changes to be made behaviour is going to have to be changed and in Burlington that is no small matter.

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Changing the culture at city hall; bringing in the department leadership needed - and getting a Code of Conduct in place for the politicians.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 26, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

It is difficult to find a developer in the Burlington area who will say great things about the city. It is easy to find developers, particularly the smaller ones, who do not have a complaint they are quite ready to share with you.

The “counter” – that’s the place developers first go to when they want to talk to people in the planning department, is often the focus of the complaints.
Developers will complain that they can never get a straight answer from the planning department and that just when they think they have everything the city needs in the way of reports – they find that yet another report is needed.

The planning department doesn’t see it quite that way – but they didn’t want to talk for attribution.

Stewart Scott blue sweater - more face

Scott Stewart loves that sweater – has he had it since 1967?

Scott Stewart, the General Manager for Infrastructure and Development is serving as the Interim Director of Planning – and he is a lot different from the recently retired Director of that department.

Stewart wants to see a culture change within the department and has moved some people around and adds “there are some noses out-of-place” in the department but there will be a change”.

The bringing in of a new director for planning is a Stewart hire to make and he is pretty clear in his mind what the city needs.

James Ridge, city manager, has some planning experience in his background – he and Stewart should be on the same page on this one.

Burlington’s city council members don’t, at times, fully appreciate the command structure at city hall. Council hires the city manager and he runs the city for them. Council creates policy and issues Staff Directions – the city manager follows those directions.

The city manager is there to advise and guide council – but the marching orders come from Council. Decisions get made by city council based on policy and specific votes made by the seven council members.

They don’t do the actual hiring – a source has suggested to the Gazette that the Mayor wanted to be in on the actual interviewing of the short list for the director of planning – that shouldn’t happen.

The story is told, from a sterling source, of the Council member who said he thought Council should be involved in the hiring of everyone down to the Director level. The person who told the story said to the council member: ‘You clearly have no concept of what staff accountability is all about.’ With this Council it is referred to as “getting into the weeds”.

Most municipal governments have well qualified, committed professional staff. They do have a pension that is not available to most people and it might seem as if they get a lot of time off. When senior staff are taking part at public meetings in the evening – are they required to be at their desks first thing the next day? Many people in Burlington think they should.

When the budget is going through its final phases – the team that creates that document, based on instructions from city council, work well into the night frequently to complete the budget.

Whoever the city hires as its next Director of Planning, hopefully will be with the city for several terms of office. The elected officials come and go – in Burlington they don’t seem to go very often which is unhealthy but until the voters in town decide they want different leadership we’ve got what we elected.

There is a bit of a leadership crisis at city hall; there are culture changes that need to be made in several of the departments.

Details

Scott Stewart on the left,and former city manager Jeff Fielding, put a number of major changes in place – but then Fielding saw a greener pasture and headed west for Calgary.

Burlington has had three city managers in five years plus an interim filling the chair until a new city manager was hired.

Every management leader needs time to create the kind of work force and working environment that results in the kind of service delivery the public wants. Some good people have left the city for other jurisdictions because the lack of solid consistent leadership that would allow them to grow as civil servants wasn’t in place.

Burlington now has a city manager who has yet to make his mark. James Ridge isn’t a Jeff Fielding, his predecessor. He is more cautious and quite a bit quieter and appears to be a stickler for the rules. A deal maker he isn’t.

We need another year of observing Ridge to get a clearer sense as to what kind of a staff he wants to have in place to deliver the program he understands the city council wants.

We have watched Ridge admonish this Council ever so slightly when they appeared to be resisting the making of a decision. Ridge will, in his quiet way, hold their feet to the flames.

Ridge is not a big believer in the concept of Master Plans – Burlington has been in love with the things for years.

Ridge thinks they create silos and he seems to want a more homogenous approach to the way staff think through their problems. It is going to take him some time to determine where staff changes have to be made and then implement those changes.

Fielding was exceptional at getting out and talking to people; you always knew when he was in the room. Ridge is a quieter person – we are only beginning to get a sense of his decision making process.

Council has handed him a hot one – the Code of Conduct that has been kicking around for far too long and should have been agreed upon by this Council at its last meeting. Some fancy procedural foot work on the part of Councillor Sharman, aided and abetted by Councillors Craven and Lancaster, to reverse a change that had been agreed upon at Standing Committee preciously resulted in the whole matter being referred to the city manager who would work with it as part of the governance section of the Strategic Plan.

Strategic Plan sessions are frequently, if not always, done off site or in a room at city hall where there is no web casting capacity.
The scallywags on this council like it that way. It’s going to be messy.

Staff observes these changes and turn to their city manager to save them from this kind of unprofessional behaviour.

James Ridge Day 1 - pic 2

James Ridge the day he was introduced to the public at a council meeting – he didn’t say a word.

Is Ridge up to the job – can he manage the Mayor and the rest of |Council and hold a draw a clear line or will he choose to become “friendly” with council and fetch water for them rather than pour cold water on silly, expensive ideas that they come up with and expect him to find the money to pay for

James Ridge has the summer to work this one out. How he resolves this will tell what kind of a city manager we have; what kind of a culture will prevail at city and what kind of a city we end up being.  This assumes that he completes his five-year contract.

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New federal regulations will require the Burlington Air Park to talk to their neighbours - what will THAT do to their court case?

airpark 100x100By Staff

July 21, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

The following is as dry as toast.
You have to be a bear for punishment to read through it all.
We have highlighted what we think is really relevant in bold
What you are about to read is the publication of changes the federal government wants to be made applicable to WORDS

The federal government recently released a draft of new rules and regulations that will apply to air parks and aerodromes once the public comment period has ended.

wderg

The photograph is dated – the runway cutting across the north south has been upgraded considerably and the land leveled for planned development. No one other than the imagination of Air Park president Vince Rossi knew what the plans were – and they kept changing.

These proposed Regulations would address the current identified gap in regulatory requirements by ensuring that there is a consistently applied notification process in advance of aerodrome work. This proposed amendment introduces clarity, predictability and increased communication for all stakeholders. The proposed Regulations are expected to provide an overall benefit to Canadians directly impacted by aerodrome work as the Regulations would compel proponents to engage stakeholders and solicit and mitigate their concerns in advance of construction. Industry will experience greater planning and cost certainty. A consequential benefit is an increase in coordinated land use between proponents and land use authorities.

These new rules will impact the ongoing legal battle between the city and the Burlington Air Park that has been in the court for close to three years.

Operators wishing to develop a new aerodrome or to significantly modify an existing aerodrome, whether it is certified or not, are not currently required to conduct consultations with affected stakeholders. Matters integral to aviation fall under federal jurisdiction, including aerodromes. However, the federal authority, unlike municipal and provincial authorities that have consultation processes in place for significant changes to land use likely to have an impact on the community, does not have a public engagement requirement to identify and mitigate stakeholder concerns in advance of aerodrome development.

The municipal and provincial stakeholders do not necessarily have to be consulted prior to the development of a non-certified aerodrome within their own jurisdiction. As a result, the lack of coordinated development planning can lead, for example, to inefficient land use and increased complaints from local constituents due to the impact of unexpected development.

Rossi and Lancaster in Warren barn

Vince Rossi, in the red sweater on the right sits next to ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster at the only community Rossi attended. His comment to the many requests made at the time was that he would “take them under advisement”.

Operators and stakeholders seeking aerodrome certification are required to have a consultation process but do not have a federal standard to guide them on what constitutes meaningful consultation. The implications for industry and other stakeholders include inconsistent approaches to consultation, insufficient information shared with affected stakeholders, and costs and delays for proponents or operators who, upon completing what they deem to have been an appropriate level of stakeholder engagement, find themselves caught in legal disputes over the validity of their process instead of commencing with their development.

Air-Park-Fielding-city-lawyers-+-Air-Park-counsel-1024x766

Burlington city manager at the time, Jeff Fielding, taking a strip off Glenn Grenier, who was advocating for the Air Park corporation at a city Council meeting. City lawyers stand aside at the right.

The Government of Canada has exclusive jurisdiction over aeronautics in Canada and has established a legal framework through the Aeronautics Act (the Act) and the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) that sets out robust safety requirements for the civil aviation industry.  There are approximately 2 000 registered aerodromes, of which 547 are certified, and there are an estimated 5 000 unregistered aerodromes.

It is understood and recognized that aerodromes are engines for nearby communities, that they are vital to the growth of a number of Canadian industries, and that the current legislative framework for activities at aerodromes has generally worked well, particularly during the initial growth of aviation in Canada.

What has bothered the economic development thinkers in Burlington is just what does the Burlington Air |Park have planned.  Almost everyone has found it very difficult to get any useful information from |Vince Rossi, president of the Air Park corporation.

These factors, coupled with the need for a strong aviation transportation system, illustrate the need for increased communication in advance of aerodrome development to help understand and mitigate public concern, promote Canada’s aviation sector, and satisfy the growing need to keep moving people and goods.

A common concern raised by stakeholders to the Minister is the absence of a regulatory requirement for proponents and operators of aerodromes to notify affected stakeholders prior to aerodrome development, including the establishment of new aerodromes and expansion at existing aerodromes.
In 2014, the federal government amended the Aeronautics Act to provide the Minister of Transport with the authority and necessary tools to effectively respond to an increasing number of aerodrome issues pertaining to development, location, land use and consultation. The amendment also provided the Governor in Council with the authority to make regulations to prohibit the development, expansion or a change to the operation of aerodromes, as well as the authority to require proponents and operators of aerodromes to consult stakeholders prior to the development, expansion or change to an aerodrome or its operations.

The federal government wanted to encourage responsible aerodrome development and operation by requiring proponents and operators to consult affected stakeholders in advance of undertaking aerodrome work through a structured notification process.

Vince Rossi, president of Burlington Executive Airpark Inc., at a meeting with members of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition that took place in a barn a couple of hundred yards from the end of his largest runway.

Vince Rossi, president of Burlington Executive Airpark Inc., at a meeting with members of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition that took place in a barn a couple of hundred yards from the end of his largest runway.

To strengthen the consultation process for aerodrome work by providing details within the CARS that will introduce greater clarity and predictability around developments, compel increased communication to identify and mitigate concerns in advance of development, reduce post-construction complaints from affected stakeholders, reduce the chance of delay and costs associated with process-related challenges brought on by affected stakeholders, and allow for better coordination of land use by all interested stakeholders.

The proposed Regulations amending the Canadian Aviation Regulations were born out of the concerns raised by interested parties adversely affected by aerodrome development, by proponents and operators frustrated by costly administrative and legal delays, and by the general aviation community concerned for its future in Canada. The nature of the concerns centre on improved communication in advance of construction between proponents of aerodrome development and those most likely to be affected by the development. Requiring consultation in advance of commencing construction will allow for many concerns to be proactively raised and mitigated.

Residents of ward 6 have been arguing this point from the day they learned of the tonnes of land fill that was being dumped on the air park property.   Both the citizens of that ward and the Gazette were very pro-active, a little too proactive for the owners of the Air Park who sued Pepper Parr, Denis Monte and Vanessa Warren along with the corporate parent of the Gazette – that case is winding its way through the judicial process.

The current regulatory requirement to consult is limited to those seeking to certify an aerodrome, and they are only required to consult local land use authorities. The proposed Regulations broaden the requirement to consult by way of notification to include anyone seeking to undertake a prescribed aerodrome work, whether creating a new aerodrome or making a significant change at an existing one, certified or not. The Regulations also provide minimum expectations for how the notification process should be conducted, including timelines, whom to notify and under what circumstances.

The proposed Regulations define aerodrome works that require advance consultation as constructing a new aerodrome and building a new runway at an existing aerodrome. The lengthening of an existing runway has also been included but, in recognition of the differences between small and large aerodromes and so as not to capture all extensions as well as to focus primarily on those likely to lead to an increase in level of service, only extensions in excess of 100 m or 10% of overall length (whichever is greater) will be subject to the proposed Regulations.

To ensure that those most likely to be affected by proposed works receive information about them and have an opportunity to share comments and concerns, proponents and operators of aerodromes will be required to notify interested parties prior to undertaking the prescribed aerodrome work. The proposed Regulations outline a list of interested parties to be notified, which is geographically determined as follows.

In the case of an aerodrome work that is located in or within 4 000 m from a built-up area of a city or town, notice must be given to
the Minister;  the local authority responsible for collecting property taxes; and  the public within a radius of 4 000 m from a built-up area of a city or town.

This will certainly be good news to property owners on Appleby Line and Bell School Road who have been glamouring for an opportunity to get their comments on the record.  The city of Burlington will also take some comfort as well from these proposed changes

werv

Minister of Transportation Lissa Raitt attended an Air Park social function. Vince Rossi wears a red sweater, second from left.

The proposed Regulations prescribe minimum requirements for consultation. Although flexible enough to accommodate the differing complexities of projects that could be undertaken at Canada’s 7 000-plus aerodromes, the minimum requirements are prescriptive enough to introduce certainty for proponents and for stakeholders alike, so that engagement is conducted in a meaningful manner. The proposed Regulations allow all parties to understand under what circumstances consultation is required, what information about the aerodrome work must be shared and the manner in which it is shared, what the opportunities are for affected stakeholders to provide feedback, how concerns are dealt with, and that the Minister will have the responsibility for making decisions on unresolved objections. It is anticipated that, by increasing the amount of information shared in advance of construction, most concerns can be heard and addressed proactively with the goal of mitigating negative impacts to the greatest extent possible.

The proposed Regulations prescribe a minimum of 75 days between the notification and the commencement of the aerodrome work. Transport Canada recognizes that more than 75 days may be required for more complex works and the Regulations allow for additional time to be added as needed. The proponent is required to notify all interested parties by way of a notice and by placing a sign in plain view of the public where the aerodrome work will be undertaken. The notice and the sign must include a drawing and description of the proposed works, the estimated start and completion date, the contact information of the proponent and the deadline for comments to be received (which must be at least 45 days from the initial date of notice).

Within 30 days of the end of the notification period, the proponent will be required to prepare a summary report of the consultation and submit it to the Minister. It must contain a description of the proposed works, the persons who were notified, a summary of the comments and objections received and the proposed actions, and any objections that were not or could not be addressed. The report must also be available to anyone who requests it for a period of at least five years.

Within 30 days of receiving the summary report, the Minister will send the proponent a notice that either provides confirmation that the works may begin or that requests information required by the Minister to be able to evaluate any outstanding objections or measures for the purpose of making a decision. The proponent of the aerodrome work may undertake the aerodrome work at the end of 30 days if there are no outstanding objections or on a date specified by the Minister. The proponent must start the aerodrome work within five years of the submission of the summary report. If more than five years pass, the proponent or operator will be required to undertake a new consultation.

Heli-pad drawings Air park June 28-14

A drawing showing the location of what are believed to be helicopter landing pads less than 25 yards from a residents drive way on Appleby Line.

Transport Canada recognizes that there are some circumstances in which these Regulations should not apply. The following exceptions are therefore provided:  Heliports and aerodromes primarily used for helicopter operations;

This exception will put the willys into Barbara Sheldon who has property cheek by jowl to the air park; there were plans to located a helicopter facility beside her front yard.

Through its principal means of reaching out to industry — the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council (CARAC) Web site and by way of email to 525 stakeholders — Transport Canada shared a preliminary assessment document to determine how best to proceed with the creation of the proposed Regulations. Based on the significant feedback received from stakeholders, a focus group was established. The primary purpose of the aerodrome focus group was to discuss the regulatory proposal that would require an aerodrome proponent or operator to notify affected stakeholders prior to undertaking prescribed aerodrome work.

Transport Canada held a number of focus group meetings; June 2014 to have a policy-level discussion on the regulatory proposal and February 15thl.

One of the concerns  was about the subjective nature of the wording, including the lack of definition of certain terms, such as “reasonable” and “acceptable.”

The association groups and the municipal governments highlighted an issue with the definition of an “ad hoc aerodrome,” stating that there is no outlined responsibility for tracking the 30-day period, which would cause issues with enforcement. Individual organizational comments are highlighted below.

Municipalities want to be included in the consultation process even if the aerodrome is proposed in a neighbouring non-built up area, i.e. they want the radius to be increased.

They felt the duration of the consultation process was too short;  Transport Canada should require land owners adjacent to aerodromes to consult with operators before any new land use activity commences to assess the impact on aviation safety and aerodrome operations.

A second focus group meeting was held at the end of March 2015 to modify the proposed Regulations in response to industry concerns regarding the scope, applicability and prescriptive nature of the requirements. Transport Canada addressed these concerns by clarifying the intention of the proposed Regulations and working with focus group participants to make changes to the scope, applicability and prescriptive nature of the NPA. For example, the kinds of developments or changes at existing aerodromes that would trigger the notification process were defined and the requirement to have a community meeting as part of the process were dropped, since it was felt that the result of sharing information and soliciting feedback could be achieved without it. To address the concerns raised by provincial officials and Canadians relating to aerodrome work in or near protected areas, the requirement to notify nearby federally protected area authorities was added.

The majority of the annual aerodrome work will be undertaken at smaller aerodromes, not at the major international airports. Of the 13 major international airports in Canada, only 3 have planned future development expected to take place over the next 15 years.

For proponents of aerodrome work at smaller certified airports or registered aerodromes outside of 4 000 m of a built up area of a city or town, the c

Air Park entrance uly 2013

The Air Park has yet to file a site plan with the city of Burlington which would suggest that anything they want to build going forward would have to be discussed with the city and the property owners close to the air park. A sign indicating work was planned would have to be erected on this location, among others.

These amendments will be enforced through the assessment of monetary penalties imposed under  the Aeronautics Act, which carry a maximum fine of $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for corporations, through suspension or cancellation of a Canadian aviation document, or through judicial action introduced by way of summary conviction.

Interested persons may make representations with respect to the proposed Regulations to the Minister of Transport within 30 days.  The regulations were published July 11 which gives people until August 11th to comment.  All representations must be in writing and cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice and be sent to Marie-Anne Dromaguet, Chief, Regulatory Affairs (AARBH), Civil Aviation, Safety and Security Group, Department of Transport, Place de Ville, Tower C, 330 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N5 (general inquiries – tel.: 613-993-7284 or 1-800-305-2059; fax: 613-990-1198; Internet address: https://www.tc.gc.ca).

 

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Which is it ? Maranatha project doesn't look like what was approved at city council.

News 100 redBy Staff

July 15, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Which is it?

The one that was approved by the city at a council meeting or the one that is on the sales sign on the property?

Maranantha-revisions-8-and-7

The initial proposal was for an eight story building – that got whittled down to seven. Many felt there was still too much massing.

When Maranatha Gardens was first proposed it was a seven story structure that some felt had too much massing.

A lot of jaw boning with the people in the planning department brought about a revision that seemed to keep most people happy. The Mayor said he believed that some of the people who were opposed to the size of the building would eventually live in it – now there’s an endorsement for you.

Maranantha-6-storey-version

With even more jaw boning the project got cut down to six floors with a large open space to cut down on what many thought was a massive wall in a location that wasn’t appropriate

A community group took the matter to the OMB – but soon gave that up and for all intents and purposes the project was a go.

The lot has been cleared and there is some kind of a construction schedule.

Maranatha sign - difference

The what’s being offered for sale sign doesn’t look at all like what was approved at city council – why’s that?

And there is a sign on the property offering units for sale – it isn’t a picture of the building that was approved – it doesn’t look anything like the plan that was approved at city council – so – which one is it ?

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Figuring out what a Transportation Master Plan should recommend is no small task - and you want to get it right the first time - Part 2 of a series

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 9, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 2 of a series

City council got their first detailed look at the draft of the Transportation Master Plan.  They didn’t exactly cheer when the presentation was finished – it is going to mean some hard political decisions – which this council tens to do its best to avoid.

The draft plan however laid out a number of realities the city has to face.  In the first of this series we set out the players involved in transportation planning and the rules, regulations and provincial policy that impact on decisions the city makes.

With those limitations – and they are not insignificant, the transportation department is beavering away at completing the study and aligning it with the Official Plan in order to support and expand upon new and updated policies.

While the transportation department works on its plan – the planners work on the review and revision of the Official Plan and a team at city hall, plus city councillors develops the Strategic Plan the city wants to work to for the next four years.

Mobility hubs

What also has to be added to the transportation mix is what role mobility hubs will play in future thinking.

The transportation people, led for the time being by Vito Tolone, are doing a solid review of transportation trends in conjunction with our changing demographics, travel patterns and future community planning. Part of the team is planner Kaylan Edgcumbe.

They are Identifying the transportation facilities and services that will be required to meet the needs over the next twenty years and then develop the policies, guidelines, plans and actions that will guide day to day transportation programs and provide a basis for future capital budgets.

That is a mouthful!

What is NOT included in the TMP is a detailed analysis of specific intersections and roadways nor will it consider site specific impacts.  Detailed assessments will be addressed through project specific studies and may be recommended as a result of the TMP

What happens if the city doesn’t complete the TMP ? Well, all hell isn’t going to break loose but over time things will stop working the way people want them to work.

Day to day transportation programs would not be current with community needs or emerging trends; Capital infrastructure planning and budgeting would not be able to address evolving development trends and growth management policies.

Council and staff would not be able to respond to changing development standards and major planning considerations.

Regulating agencies at the Region, Ministry of Transportation and Conservation Halton would not be apprised of Council’s transportation vision and its preferred strategy for moving forward.

dfer

It sounded like a good idea at the time but there was too much that both IKEA and the city didn’t know about what Conservation |Halton and the Ministry of Transportation had to say about putting a large retail operation on the North Service Road at Walkers Line

Burlington ran into this problem when IKEA announced it wanted to move its location from Aldershot to the North Service Road at Walkers Line – that proved to be something that wasn’t possible given the views of Conservation Halton and the Ministry of Transportation. Tuck Creek was a significant conservation problem and the MTO couldn’t do what needed to be done with the QEW/Walkers Line intersection in time – which brought an end to any IKEA moved and put a significant dent in the careers of a number of people involved in the project.

Had there been stronger policies in place and a clearer planning vision, and better communication between the parties, a couple of years of grinding away at something that couldn’t happen might have been avoided.

Will a solid TMP avoid problems like that? Maybe – but what is clear is the need for a plan that fits into the requirements the province and the Region lay on us; that meshes well with the Official Plan and helps achieve the Strategic Plan – and is possible with the budget the city creates.

Council vote Dec 18-14 Water Street

Council members have to stand up and be counted – Councillor Meed Ward wasn’t with the majority on this vote

For all those people who think our municipal council doesn’t have a tough job, that they don’t work all that hard and it is really a part time job – think again.

This is hard work that requires the ability to think at several levels at the same time. Every member of the current council is challenged daily to keep on top of it all. Some of them don’t do all that well at it either.

The Transportation Master Plan study will:

Identify transportation policies and initiatives that are working in other areas that could be considered in Burlington
Ask citizens – where do we want to to go – how do we want to get there and how do we develop a solution that meets the needs of all residents.

Develop actions and policies that will guide day to day transportation projects providing a basis for future budgeting activities

So what is Burlington dealing with?
The infrastructure we have was designed for the car – what we have was designed to efficiently move the automobile and that has left us with urban sprawl. That urban sprawl is no longer sustainable

Population auto trips

Auto trips are rising faster than the population – building more roads will not get us out of this spiral.

90% of all trips in the city are by car

Levels of congestion are increasing; Commuting time is increasing; Cost to operate and maintain the current infrastructure is increasing; City revenue are not increasing at the same rate as growth or congestion.

This is not sustainable.  And we cannot build our way out of congestion

Modal share 2011The way we move around the community is heavily influenced by where we live, work and play. The way we travel impacts our quality of life, our health and relationship with our community

The majority of the trips are SOV – single occupant vehicle

To reduce congestion on our roads other travel modes must be available for both local and long distance travel.

Length of trips taken

Can those 2 km trips be made using a different mode of transportation? Is the car the only option? The current transit service is not going to coax people out of their cars and there are limits to how many people are going to ride bikes.

In 2011 over half of all daily trips in Burlington were 5 km or less. These trips could be easily replaced with walking, cycling or taking transit.

Where our workers livr

40% of the people who work in Burlington also live in Burlington – that means 60% of the working people use some form of transit

Where we work

Most of our residents work outside of the city – that represents a major transportation challenge.

Is the answer to all the questions that get raised in the data we have?  Because there is a lot of data.

Part 1 of the series

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A transportation master plan - what will it do for us and why do we need it?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 9, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 1 of a series

Planning is making sure that all the pieces are in place before doing anything. Before that you have to be sue you know what all the pieces are.
The key document is always the budget – that tells you what the costs are and where the money is going to come from. It will be coming from your pocket – but then you knew that.

Municipalities are creatures of the province – they set the policy and municipalities work within that policy. Cities have to adhere to Regional policies as well.

The population of the country is growing; people gravitate towards the larger cities – Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver – you name it.

The province told the Region of Halton – you need to grow your population by a million people by the year 2041. The Region takes that number and divvies it up between Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills.

When Burlington gets its number we have to ensure that our policies allow for that kind of growth.

The developers are very aware of the policies and they bring forward development proposals that meet the policy.

Masonty Court proposed site plan

The top part is the plan for 300+ townhouses, the bottom is the “thinking” for apartment buildings that would be in the 5-6-7 storey range for a development in the west end of the city walking distance from the Aldershot GO station.

Thus you get the ADI Development Group going to the city and saying they want to put 300 plus homes out on Masonry Court – and try to convince the city that the project meets all the rules – the biggest of which at this point in time is our need to intensify.

That need to add to our population bothers a lot of people – they want things to remain just the same – they like it the way it is. The one thing everyone can be absolutely certain of is this – nothing is going to remain the same.

There will be more people, there will be more traffic in Burlington. For those who don’t like the growth – they can move further out into the country; that’s just a hard fact we all have to live with.

Burlington has to figure out how it is going to handle all those new people who want to drive their cars on streets that weren’t built for the volume that is coming our way.

Burlington is developing a Transportation Master Plan (TMP) that city council was given a peak at a few weeks ago.

The plan, which is some distance from complete sets out some of the realities the city faces – one of which is a decision made in the 90’s not to make Fairview a seven lane road.

In the lengthy presentation that set out a lot of facts – some of which the public is not going to like – the transportation department also offered up some idea. Get used to hearing the phrase “complete streets”

What is the Transportation Master Plan? It is a blue print that will be used to guide planning and implementation of a future transportation system, that is to be guided through the development of a sustainable, balanced transportation system.

The goal is to have a transportation system that is convenient, affordable and efficient – one that provides choice and allows residents to travel whatever way they please.

Traffic barriers in place on LAkeshore for the Car Free Sunday last year were expensive and not really used.  The event was poorly attended.

Traffic barriers in place on Lake shore Road  fora  Car Free Sunday.

That sounds very nice doesn’t it? – travel whatever way they please – hard to do if the road you want to drive on is clogged with traffic.

All this thinking loops back to the city’s Strategic Plan – what do we want ? What can we afford and how do we do all this and keep taxes at a level that are bearable?

The transportation department and the planning department are working together to produce a document that will give both city council and the public some choices.

One of the more immediate problems for Burlington is that we don’t have a Director of Transportation nor do we have a Director of Planning – which should be telling you the tax payers something. Why don’t we have these people in place today?

The former Director of Transportation decided that he wanted to try living in a different part of the country – he was ready for a change so he took a transportation job in Halifax. Same kind of job – just in a different city.

The former Director of Planning came to the conclusion that it was time to retire – that may not have been just his decision.

The city is without significant leadership in two critical departments and we are working with a city manager who is still figuring out where his bench strength is – truth be told – there isn’t all that much bench strength. James Ridge, the city manager, is down to a single General Manager who is stretched pretty thin at times.

Background links:

The ADI Development in Aldershot

The opening of the King Road underpass

To be continued…

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Dennison OMB hearing ends after two days - decision expected in a couple of months.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 30, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

 

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

Jack Dennison had his hearing before the Ontario Municipal Board earlier this week where he is appealing a decision of the Committee of Adjustment that turned down his request to sever his property on Lakeshore Road,

The Gazette was not able to attend the two day hearing but has interviewed a number of people who did attend.

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.

A designated home, bought under a power of sale on a lot which owner Councillor Jack Dennison wants to have severed into two lots. The Committee of adjustment said no – an appeal was made to the Ontario Municipal Board – a decision is expected in a few months.

“There were body blows given by both sides” said one well informed observer. Did Dennison have a case we asked?
“Yes Dennison had a case – did he make it is a different question and did the OMB Commissioner buy the Dennison argument.” Our informant wasn’t prepared to say, however he did say that Dennison as the appellant was the first to speak and his people took up the best part of the two day hearing. “They took all the oxygen out of the room” was the way the proceedings were described.

By the time the city got to make its argument things were getting a little rushed and people didn’t have the opportunity to be as fulsome as they may have wanted to be.

The OMB Commissioner who heard the appeal said that he had never experienced a hearing on this kind of issue that ran for two solid days.  The hearing was the result of an appeal Councillor Dennison made against a Committee of Adjustment decision not to allow the request for a severance of the Lakeshore Road property.

Dennison - Committee-of-Adjusatment-May-2013-1024x501

The committee of Adjustment that voted 3-2 to deny Councillor Jack Dennison the severance he wanted for his Lakeshore Road property.

That hearing was a long contentious one that did not produce a unanimous decision.

One person we interviewed suggested that the cost of the hearing will run at close to $200,000 – assume a little less than half that a cost the city will have to cover and we are looking at costs that amount to more than the city pays Dennison to serve as a Council member for a full year.

Heritage took a hit said our commentator, the character of the community was a significant part of the city’s case and while some thought that case was well made others didn’t see it quite the same way.

The city’s planning department is in the final stages of completing a “character study” of the community – many had hoped that study would have been completed and available as evidence at the hearing.

It is difficult to find very many people in the community who will speak openly in support of the severance Dennison sought.  The community was so upset that at one point they denied his application for membership in a community association.  However, in the 2014 election Jack Dennison won his seat again by a more than respectable majority – the voters did speak.  In a few months to Ontario Municipal Board will speak and the development direction for the Roseland community will be set to some degree

Background articles:

Width of the proposed lot becomes public.

Property with a complex financial history

Committee of Adjustment meeting

 

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Craven’s behavior gives a whole new definition to politicians being in bed with developers.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper

June 26, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Some people in each community listen carefully, ask probing questions and trust their member of Council to keep them up to date on what is happening in their community and to protect the best the community has.

Every member of a city council has their own unique style; something that defines who they are and the way they see their job.

In Burlington there are a number of different political styles. Councillor Marianne Meed Ward was once out on Christmas Day picking up garbage when a resident called her t complain.

During the flood last August Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison walked into hundreds of basements to personally see the damage done.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman put his heart on his sleeve when her spoke to a group of Rotarians during the Rubfest launch and pleaded for help for the people in his community.

Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor doesn’t hold meetings for his constituents – they are more like family get togethers – he has been in office that long.

Blair Lancaster - almost holding court with her constituents at a corn roast.

Blair Lancaster – almost holding court with her constituents at a corn roast.

Blair Lancaster in ward 6 tends to have two different public styles; one that gets used for those south of Dundas and another that gets used when she is politicking north of Dundas; there is nothing duplicitous ion this approach – she is dealing with two different mind sets and adjust her message to meet her understanding of each community.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven, who gave up talking to the Gazette when we wrote something about him he didn’t like, held a community meeting.

Last Wednesday evening Councillor Craven held a community meeting to talk about the 324 townhouse project on Masonry Court being developed by the ADI Group. It wasn’t a particularly unpopular project – the meeting didn’t cheer when the presentation was over – they just thought the developer could do something that was more “livable” and “imaginative”. “Not very creative” was the most stinging comment.  He was speaking to an audience of about 40 people who were for the most part involved in their community and wanted to know more.

Councillor told them that the population of Aldershot had grown by just 4000 people in the last 15 years and that without more in the way of growth the chances of there ever seeing a grocery store in the west end of the community were very slim.

Rick Craven: Best committee chair the city has; not big on the warm fuzzy stuff through.  Needs a hug badly.

Rick Craven: Best committee chair the city has; not big on the warm fuzzy stuff through. Needs a hug badly.

Rick Craven

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven – seems to have forgotten everything he knew about the ADI project on Martha at Lakeshore Road.

The meeting was just like most community meetings in Aldershot; people listened and asked questions and for the most part got fair answers.

Until ..

Until one woman asked the speaker from the ADI Group to tell her a little about the company – she’d never heard of them before.

The company representative told their story – sort of. He skirted totally the situation with the 28 storey application that ADI had made to the city for an application at the corner of Martha and Lakeshore Road which the city and planning department was completely against – including Councillor Craven.

ADI rendering second view from SW

The ADI Group’s 28 storey development proposal on the downtown core was not mentioned at a meeting about their Masonry Court development.

The rules that govern development applications are such that if the planning department doesn’t do something with an application the developer can take their case to the Ontario Municipal Board. Burlington city council didn’t get to vote formally on the project within that 180 day window.

On the 181st day ADI had taken their case to the OMB.

The project is one that the city feels is a mistake from a development point of view and has been consistently vocal about.

But not a word about this issue from Councillor Craven when a constituent asked to know more about the company.

Councillor Craven had an obligation to tell his constituents that there was a problem with a major ADI development application and they were playing a very sharp game – albeit within the rules of the game.

Craven’s behavior gives a whole new definition to politicians being in bed with developers.

Background links:

Aldershot community meeting Wednesday June 23rd, 2015

Full profile on ward 1 Councillor.

Councillor chooses not to represent his constituents; property expropriated.

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Dennison says no to Cadillac class sidewalk in parks but runs up a biggy biggy legal bill for the taxpayers to pick up

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 23, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Perhaps it was an attempt to make up for the expense the city is incurring during the Ontario Municipal Board hearing taking place now at which Councillor Jack Dennison is asking that a Committee of Adjustment decision be overturned.

Dennison-home-Lakeshore - small version

Councillor Jack Dennison wants to sever this Lakeshore property.

Dennison wants to sever a part of his Lakeshore Road property and the Committee of Adjustment said no.

Dennison is appealing that decision at considerable cost to the city.

Last evening he spent more time than necessary arguing that concrete does not have to be used on pathways being created for the three Windows on the Lake that are being created to give the public some access to the old Water Street road allowance.

Too expensive said the Councillor – this is the Cadillac of pathways which are not needed.

Dennison - Committee-of-Adjusatment-May-2013-1024x501

This Committee of Adjustment said no. Dennison is appealing their decision.

The rest of Council, with the exception of Councillor Craven who sided with Dennison (we don’t know what Councillor Sharman thinks – he didn’t make it to the council meeting) took the position that concrete paths were required at these locations but not necessarily at all park locations and asked the city staff to come back with a criteria they would use to determine whether asphalt or stone screenings or wood chips should be used on park pathways.

Councillor Dennison made the same argument for asphalt at the Standing Committee last week.

wd

Councillor Dennison is never one to shy away from controversial decisions – likes getting right into the middle of an issue. He is certainly in the middle of one now.

Earlier on Monday Council was involved in a Strategic Plan meeting which Councillor Dennison missed – he was arguing his appeal of the Committee of Adjustment decision not to permit the property severance

Councillor Dennison was missing in action for this meeting as well.

Councillor Meed Ward involved in part of the Strategic Plan meeting and managed to attend Council. She has advised her constituents that she is going to be on limited duty for awhile as she recovers from the concussion she experienced in an automobile accident.

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Bruce Krushelnicki leaves city hall to enjoy the first summer vacation he has had since he joined the city 11 years ago.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 1, 2105

BURLINGTON, ON

Today is the first day of a summer vacation he never had in the years he was been with the Planning department in Burlington.

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

Bruce  Krushelnicki was frequently at the table working with citizens, listening to their ideas and explaining the why and how things were done.  The reports his department issued were frequently as good as they get in the planning business.

Lakeshore looking east to Brant north side

Insisting that there be commercial space at grade level was not an easy conversation with the developers of the Buntin Wharf project on Lakeshore Road between Locust and Brant – imagine that part of the city without this look?

Bruce Krushelnicki left city hall on Friday afternoon and summarized for the Gazette what he managed to get done during his time with the city and some of the things that haven’t happened yet.

Planners build on the shoulders of the people who came before them explained Krushelnicki I didn’t plan the Alton Community – my job was to implement the plan and ensure that the original design was adhered to.

Krushelnicki was heavily involved in the creation and implementation of the Plains Road Village Vision (PRVV) which has changed radically the road that used to be the only one that got you to Niagara Falls.

We had to do a lot of talking to the Shoppers Drug Mart people to get them to see things our way – we wanted the entrance to the store open to the street and they did build the door – but it is locked.

We wanted a two story building – and they did that – now there are doctors’ offices on that second floor – what better place to have a doctor’s office.

Plains Road is no longer just a major traffic artery – it has been going through a process of change for a number of years – that job is far from finished.

Getting developers to see the longer term potential for their properties can be a time consuming process explained K. We had many conversations with the Molinaro’s about street level store fronts on the Buntin wharf property that stretched between Locust and Brant. Can you imagine Brant Lakeshore Road without that stretch of patio space?   They make that part of the city feel like parts of Europe added Krushelnicki.

For some developers talking wasn’t enough and the building permit they had been issued was pulled. Drewlo learned that lesson when they made major changes to the way vehicles were going to enter and leave the underground garage of the multi building apartment complex they were building on Plains Road.

Maranantha-revisions-8-and-7

Early version of the Maranatha design had more massing then the planning department was prepared to accept.

Maranantha-6-storey-version

After a lot of negotiating and discussion the final look of the Maranatha project looked like this. Preparing the land for construction has begun

The Maranatha project on New Street that is now having the land prepared for construction was another project that Krushelnicki believes benefited from intervention by the Planning department. The building has significant massing and even though it was set back from the street further than most people realized it was a large building. By tapering the ends and creating a large glass section in the middle the building is much easier to look at.

There are those who still feel it doesn’t fit in with the neighbourhood to which Krushelnicki replies – neighbourhoods change – they are supposed to change – but at a pace that fits with where planners feel the city is going.

Most of the two storey properties on Brant Street have four storey zoning as of right and can get eight storeys once they have worked with the planning department to ensure that what is planned fits in with what the residents of the community – and the city believe is appropriate for the area.

Krushelnicki knows now that the malls created in the 70’s do not meet the needs of the community the way they once did and that they need to be re-developed to include a residential and commercial component.

Making more efficient use of land will mean changing the way some sectors of the local economy use the space they have. Krushelnicki points to Mississauga where they created a part of the city that was for the automotive sector. Burlington doesn’t have that Krushelnicki of space available anywhere in the city but Krushelnicki does see the possibility of automotive dealers going up rather than continually going sideways.

The land at the corner of Fairview and Brant has too much value to serve as a parking lot for used cars – the same would apply to the automotive dealers along Fairview and Guelph Line. The planning department did have conversations with most of the automotive dealers in town to talk about different configurations that could be used. “They weren’t ready for a change yet” explained Krushelnicki at a committee meeting.

In the world of planning and development the Ontario Municipal Board is the 800 pound elephant in the room – it is an organization Krushelnicki understand very well. He served as an OMB Commissioner for a period of time and wrote one of the more definitive texts on just how the OMB works.

Lksh Riveria looking east

The walkway that was built at the bottom of what was once the infamous Rivieria Motel was the result of a land swap Krushelnicki put together with Mayrose Tyco the developers of the property that will house a 22 storey, a seven story condominium plus an 8 storey hotel. The hotel was originally going to be open for the Pan Am games which isn’t something you can blame on the now retired planner,

While many of the decisions on what would be built on the waterfront were made before Krushelnicki  joined the city as the planner 11 years ago he does get credit for coming up with a land swap that extended the waterfront the public could use a little further to the east and gave the people who were developing what is today called the Bridgewater hotel.

Burlington currently has a major case before the OMB – the ADI development on Martha and Lakeshore that he won’t say a word about because it is before the board.

Krushelnicki taught for twelve years and has until very recently done some teaching at Ryerson and Waterloo. Is there some teaching for a man who is in excellent shape and still holds his truck driver’s license.

There are those who believe Krushelnicki never stopped teaching. On numerous occasions when there was a planning issue of some significance one could see all the junior members of the Planning department in the council chamber – many of them taking notes. And there were always a number of the senior members watching a master at the craft of explaining how planning is supposed to work.

Downtown precincts

The concept of precincts to define neighborhoods was an approach Bruce Krushelnicki brought to Burlington’s Official Plan

Burlington is in the process of re-writing its Official Plan. The Plan that was approved in 2006 was a Krushelnicki creation. We created a precinct approach and grouped interest and gave them a precinct name and applied zoning development guidelines to them. While the word “neighbourhoods: didn’t actually appear in the official plan – it was vital from Krushelnicki point of view that the way people had organized themselves in the city be respected.

Krushelnicki didn’t live in Burlington but he had a feel for the city that must have run through his mind as he came over the Skyway Bridge and saw it set out before him.

The people writing the new Official Plan are all Krushelnicki prodigies – his finger prints will be all over the document.

Krushelnicki did have his detractors. Many felt he was too restrictive and that he didn’t manage his staff as well as he might. He certainly had strong views and had little difficulty making them know. What made Bruce Krushelnicki so different was the way he would frame and arrange his comments.

He certainly had the best tailor in town and would not take off his jacket when making a presentation. One could not even imagine Krushelnicki wearing a pair of those plaid trousers golfers tend to wear.

During what was really an oration at a Committee of the Whole recently at the LaSalle Park Pavilion the sun was shining directly onto Krushelnicki’s back and the beads of perspiration on his forehead were showing. One of his senior staff who was within his line of sight patted her hip a number of times.

I wasn’t quite sure what she was doing or why – but realized she was sending her boss a signal.  The staff member knew that Bruce Krushelnicki always kept a fresh handkerchief in his jacket pocket; she was trying to remind him that it was there.

The staff within the planning department for the most part adored the man. He treated his people with respect and saw his major role as one of developing them and making them better civil servants.

Krushelnicki was without a doubt the most literate senior staff member the city has. During the crafting of the Strategic Plan in 2011, when asked what form it should take, Krushelnicki said keep it to two pages and write it in Latin.

Tim Horton property - top of bank issue

Krushelnicki must have explained what “top of bank”meant to citizens groups more than 1000 times while he was Director of Planning for the city.

During his time as Burlington’s planner he must have explained what “top of bank” meant more than 1000 times – he also tirelessly explained that approval of some height density on one lot did not serve as a precedent for every lot in the neighbourhood.

Krushelnicki had a style that was very much his own. His ethics were beyond reproach, he had that old school politeness about him and more often than not he knew what he was doing and why he made the decisions he made

Krushelnicki was no where near retirement age – but some took the position that his time had come.

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Air park gets $3500 of city's money for including some wording in an affidavit; plus a six month delay for a constitutional issue.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 25, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

City hall kept getting the feeling that they were being jerked around by the owners of the Air Park on Appleby Line where tonnes of landfill, much of it from sources unknown, had been illegally dumped putting significant sums into the coffers of the Air Park.

Vince Rossi, president of the Burlington Executive Air PArk and beleived to be the sole shareholder of the private company, met with north Burlington residents.  He took all the comments made "under advisement"..

Vince Rossi, president of the Burlington Executive Air Park and believed to be the sole shareholder of the private company, met with north Burlington residents. He took all the comments made “under advisement”..

It took a court case to determine that the city had some regulatory authority over the air park and the winning of an appeal to drive that point home.

The city then asked the Air Park to submit a site plan for the work they had been doing on the property.

The Burlington Executive Airpark was given 30 days, from March 20, 2015, to comply with the city’s site alteration bylaw 64-2014 after months of discussion between officials at the city and the Airpark failed to produce the required application.

The City of Burlington site alteration bylaw 64-2014 regulates the placing, dumping, cutting and removal of fill or the alteration of grades or drainage on a piece of land. Individuals undertaking this type of work are first required to submit an application to the city for a site alteration permit.

wwer

Trucks dumping fill on air park  property.

The Burlington Airpark Inc. has not submitted an application for a site alteration permit for the entire area of the Airpark property where substantial quantities of fill were deposited between 2008 and 2014.

The hearing that was to take place on the 28th was to have a judge compel the Air Park to file the site plan.

On May 21, last Thursday, the Ontario Court of Justice heard a motion from Burlington Airpark Inc. to remove paragraphs from a City of Burlington affidavit supporting the city’s application. Burlington Airpark Inc. argued these paragraphs contain an improper reference to “without prejudice” discussions between the city and the Airpark.

The Ontario Court of Justice granted the motion to remove the paragraphs from the affidavit and awarded Burlington Airpark Inc. $3,500 in costs to be paid by the city.

The court date to hear the city’s application regarding Burlington Airpark Inc. was rescheduled from May 28, 2015, to Nov. 10, 2015, before a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

wefr

Burlington Air Park with two runways.

The November date is the earliest the Court has sufficient time to hear the city’s application and a Notice of Constitutional Question filed by Burlington Airpark Inc.

The notice challenges the constitutional validity of the city’s site alteration bylaw 64-2014.

Most people thought that question had been answered by the Ontario Court of Appeal – this matter is going to go around and around – the Air Park wants – perhaps needs, to buy some time. Drug dealers and other criminals do that kind of thing all the time.

Hearings for discovery of the tree people being sued by the Air Park for saying things President Vince Rossi didn’t like are to take place in June.

Wonder how they should go about getting a delay – is there a constitutional remedy for them ?

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How does a community choose between its heritage and the need to intensify and at the same time treat the owners of property with the respect they deserve and ensure that their property rights are protected?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 23, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

How does a community choose between its heritage and the need to intensify and at the same time treat the owners of property in the downtown core with the respect they deserve and ensure that their rights as property owners are protected?

Burlington has lost a lot of it heritage properties. The city seems to have a problem with wanting to keep buildings that reflect the character of the city as it went through its various development phases.

It was the citizens and two members of city council (both first term members) that saved the Freeman station from becoming kindling for a fire place.

The city has a deep rich history as the “garden of Canada” that many people are unaware of and something that is never celebrated.
That history could be used to create a more acute awareness of the past and use that to build an identity that is more than a magazine’s definition of Burlington as the best mid-sized city in Canada.

Burlington city councils’ have always had difficulty with fighting to save properties that have heritage value.

Studio - Ghent farm house - bigger view

View of the old Ghent farmhouse from Brant Street at the corner of Ghent Street.

There is a property on Brant Street that has very significant historical value that is part of a small land assembly. The property is currently on the municipal registry of historically significant properties and has been given an A rating.

The owner of the property wrote the planning department advising they wished to have their property removed from the registry. Sixty days after such a request the city has to either seek to have the property designated as historical under the Planning Act or issue a demolition permit if one is requested.

The question becomes – is this property significant enough to be designated?

Ghent house - bigger view

A wider view of the former Ghent Farmhouse and its neighbours today.

A Staff report put on the May 11th Development and Infrastructure agenda but pulled when the issue it was related to was withdrawn by the owners of property at 795 Brant.

The Planning and Building Department received a written request to remove the property from the Municipal Heritage Register to allow the demolition of the farmhouse. If the city does not take a position within the 60 day period, a demolition permit must be granted.

Council must make a decision as to whether to designate the property pursuant to the Ontario Heritage Act in order to protect it from demolition or to remove the property from the Municipal Register to allow its demolition.

Ghent farmhouse - rear view

A rear view of the former Ghent farmhouse – numerous additions have changed the look of the building – have those additions made the structure any less significant historically?

With the request to have the building taken of the municipal register withdrawn the matter is moot – but this issue will be back before Council in the not too distant future.

This request is being made to facilitate redevelopment of the subject property in conjunction with 789 Brant Street.

The Staff Direction set out in the report that was withdrawn makes it clear where the Planning department wants to go – that may not be where city council wants to go – and it is the elected officials who make the final decision.

Burlington City Council Group

The developer assembling the property and representing the owner is reported to have lined up at least four council votes. Which of these four are onside for the destruction of the house?

People acting for the property owner are believed to have lined up the four votes on council they need to vote against the Staff recommendation.

Staff asked that the city “State an intention to designate the house and property at 795 Brant Street, Burlington, pursuant to the Ontario Heritage Act.

“Authorize the City Clerk to present the Designation By-law to Council to designate the property at 795 Brant Street, Burlington, pursuant to Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act if there are no objections to the statement of intention to designate in accordance with Section the Act and

“Authorize the City Clerk to take necessary action in the event that there are any objections in accordance with the Ontario Heritage Act.

The property has always been seen as historically significant. It was given an “A” grade when it was evaluated by Heritage Burlington in 1995, and later re-evaluated with the same “A” grade in 2003.

Ghent Gillies Maple Lodge 1902

Maple Lodge was built in 1854 by the Bent brothers, Jabez a brick maker, George a mason, and James a carpenter. George Ghent and his family lived for many years at Maple Lodge. The non-designated 161 year old historic home is in jeopardy of potential demolition, due mostly in part to the intensification policy of the Ontario Government. Maple Lodge is located at 795 Brant Street on the south east corner. This is how the home looked in 1902. Today, it is a commercial property.

Additionally, in 2014, Heritage Burlington retained a consultant to conduct a review of all formerly graded “A” properties on the Municipal Register to determine if they still belong on the Municipal Register. The recent review of the subject property by the consultant provided a grade of 82/100 (based on Heritage Burlington’s newly created “Evaluation Criteria”), and it was recommended it remain on the Municipal Heritage Register.

Currently, the property is within the boundary of “Downtown Growth Area” in the Official Plan; and zoned as “MXG” – “Mixed-Use Corridor Zone”.

The Planning department maintains that the “Maple Lodge” or “William Ghent House” or “Bray-Ghent Farmhouse” is a good example of an early vernacular style farmhouse; and is associated with the early farming in Burlington. “The house is significant as it provides the evidence of Burlington’s past. In addition, it has other important contextual, historical / associative, and physical/design values.”

One of the first families to settle in Brant’s Block was the Ghent Family. They had originally come to North America from Wales, settling in Maryland, then moving to North Carolina. As sympathizers with the British during the American Revolution, they were severely persecuted.

Ghent Gillies Rev David Ghent

The Reverend David Ghent was a brother to George Ghent and another son of Thomas Ghent and Elizabeth Davis. Rev. Ghent was instrumental in aiding William Lyon Mackenzie’s escape to the United States. Historically that was a very significant event. If this were the United states the house would have been saved years ago.

Thomas Ghent came to Canada with his wife’s family, the Davises, and was one of the early settlers in Saltfree Township. In true pioneering spirit, he purchased land from Joseph Brant in 1804, and became one of the founding families at Wellington Square. For 150 years, members of the Ghent family farmed continuously in Burlington.

The two-storey brick farmhouse was built in 1854 by Jabez Bent, who is also believed to have constructed the wall around the Union Burying Grounds and the Calvary Baptist Church (1446 Ontario Street).  Bent sold the house and its farm to Frederick Bray in 1859, and in 1896, the property was bought by William Ghent, who was the fifth generation descendant of Thomas Ghent. In 1909, Ghent divided the farm, including Ghent Avenue, into parcel lots. This house and its lot were bought by Edward Harmon and his sons in 1909. The house was a residence for the Alphonse Brooks family from 1935 to 1975, when it was converted to commercial use.

The Planning department describes the house as the last farmhouse in the area and is a landmark along Brant Street. The house is on its original location; and is a familiar structure in the context of the neighbourhood and downtown. The house is now surrounded by mix of land uses, such as, residential, commercial and mixed-use developments, and various architectural designed buildings.

“The “William Ghent Farmhouse” is a two-storey solid brick structure with end gable roof, and features symetrical three-bay façade and rear additions.

“The multiple rear additions were likely added over the years as the family grew. The rear and side additions feature gable roofs. The central door at the front façade has a detailed wood surround. Other architectural elements of the house include brick chimneys at the two ends of the gable roof of the original house; wide overhanging eaves and paired brackets under the eaves of the original house; and wooden window frames on the ground floor front façade and on both floors of the north-east side façade highlighted by wooden voussoirs.”

“There have been minor changes to the heritage attributes but the original character is retained. Visible changes to the building include painting of the brick façade, asphalt roof shingles, commercial signs, and windows and shutters have been replaced by aluminium framed single-hung one over one windows.

“Additional chimneys and skylights have been added. The rear yard of the property has been entirely paved to accommodate parking spaces and a driveway for commercial use, with the exception of shrub and coniferous trees to the side yards and lawn immediately in front of the house.

These are not minor changes by any stretch of one’s imagination.

The planners argue that “architecturally, the front façade and north-east side of the “William Ghent Farmhouse” is the most significant.

From a historical or associative perspective, the property satisfies the criteria for designation. Staff is of the opinion that the house is historically tied to its surroundings as the development around it (including Ghent Street) was part of the original farm.

“Staff does acknowledge that the house has been converted from its original purpose as a residence to commercial use. Nevertheless, they are of the the opinion that despite the alterations to the building and site, the property has retained much of its original character and fabric.

“The demolition of this unique style farmhouse would mean a significant loss of the property’s historic and cultural heritage values. Each heritage property that is lost incrementally undermines the city’s ability to understand and celebrate its past through tangible physical resources.

Hotel on lower Brant Street

Lower Rant Street with two of the downtown core’s most historically significant structures. Would these two buildings ever be asked to meet with a wrecking ball?

Burlington’s Official Plan contains a number of policies related to the conservation of cultural heritage resources calling for the city to protect, improve and manage its cultural heritage resources in a manner that furthers the heritage objectives of this Plan and sets an example of leadership for the community in the conservation of cultural heritage resources. Cultural heritage conservation planning shall be an integral part of the land use planning process in the City of Burlington.

There are apparently other options. Staff suggests there is a third option which is to enter into discussion with the property owner and recommend that the request for demolition be withdrawn until such time as a comprehensive review of options including the demolition, conservation and incorporation or partial conservation of the house be explored.

City staff recommended that the property not be removed from the Municipal Register to facilitate demolition and that Council state its intention to designate the property. With the withdrawal of the request to be removed the municipal registry those suggested discussions can now take place.

If the property were to be designated it would be eligible to apply to the Community Heritage Fund for eligible restoration project. This would cover up to 25% of eligible project costs to a maximum of $15,000.

Burlington’s Heritage Property Tax Rebate program could also be available to the owners of the property. Currently, the program is only for residential uses in accordance with the recommendation of Heritage Burlington in its 2012 report, A New Approach to Conserving Burlington’s Heritage, a commercial component will be explored for the 2016 tax year.

Clemens Jim - Heritage

An opinion on what to do with the property will be sought from the Heritage Advisory committee. Chair Jim Clemens will have much to think about with this one.

There apparently isn’t going to be a formal public consultation, however, both Heritage Burlington and staff visited the property and it is on the |Heritage Advisory committee’s agenda.

Should Council eventually accept staff’s recommendation to state its intention to designate 795 Brant Street, the Ontario Heritage Act requires that notice of the intention be given to the City Clerk, and that notice be served on the owner of the property; the Ontario Heritage Trust; and published in a newspaper having general circulation in the City.

What does all this mean to the people who own the property and want to sell it and take their profit and move on?

What does this mean top the developer who is assembling the property and planning a project that will fall well within the Official Plan and the applicable zoning bylaw?

How does a community choose between its heritage and the need to intensify and at the same time treat the owners of property in the downtown core with the respect they deserve and ensure their rights as property owners are protected?

Background:

The history of the Ghent family and their significance to the development of Burlington.

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First of four public meetings to ask: what have we got downtown and what do we want - and how do we get what we want - proves to be a resounding success.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

May 15, 2105

BURLINGTON, ON

It was a smart move, it brought to the public forum a concern that is very real and was done in a way that the concerns came from the people who had them and not from the people who thought they had a solution.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward held a public meeting, the first of four, to learn from people and developers what they wanted. Her focus was the downtown core but the approach could be applied to any ward in the city.

Full room + Keenlyside

It was a full active room with citizens and planners exchanging views – citizen participation at its very best. The city needs more of this kind of meeting.

“What if…developers, businesses and residents could work together to build our downtown – finding common ground instead of fighting? asked Meed Ward.

Small click here - blackMeed Ward works from the premise that people have a right to determine what gets built in their neighbourhood and that the views of the public are as important as the views of the developer who owns the property and the planners that determine if a property meets the Official Plan and the zoning – and more importantly if an application for a change to the Official Plan or the zoning is beneficial to the community.

Many Burlingtonians don’t understand why an Official Plan can be changed – they want the Plan cast in stone. Burlington’s Director of Planning explains again and again that there isn’t an Official Plan in existence that can foresee all the ideas and opportunities that innovative developers can come up with.

About 125 people showed up for the Workshop including the following developers. A few who said they would attend didn’t show up. It was an impressive list.

Robert Molinaro, The Molinaro Group – attended
Sam DiSanto, The Molinaro Group – attended
Matt Jaecklein, Mayrose-Tycon Group – attended
Albert Faccenda, Coral Gable Homes – attended
Andrew and Donna Haid, Welwyn Interests – attended along with their architect Jonathan King and planner David Capper.
Dr. Michael Shih, Emshih Developments – attended
Ken Dakin on behalf of Vrankor Group (Darko Vranich) – attended
Nick Carnicelli, Carriage Gate Homes – attended
Jeff Paikin, New Horizon Homes – did not make it
Saud & Tariq Adi, Adi Developments – did not make it.

Carnacelli

Nick Carnacelli, the developer of the Bentley getting closer to the point of putting a shovel in the ground makes a point at the Workshop

Shie and Desgrosiers SP

Maurice Desrochers and Dr. Michael Shie look as if they are putting together a deal – it was more an exchange of views.

Note that Paletta International, the largest landowner in the city, didn’t plan on attending and didn’t have anyone in the room.  The Reimer’s were not in the room nor was there anyone from Hopewell, the people who own the land on the North Service Road that IKEA had hoped to build on.

The first event ran for a full two hours and if the conversations at the different tables are any indication – there were a lot of opinions floating around.

Before the participants got down to what Meed Ward called the “table work” Andrea Smith, Manager of Policy and Research for Burlington  set out the policy framework within which development in the downtown core takes place.

The working premise for the evening was:

How we got here
Existing policies
Scope of OP/Zoning review
What do we want to achieve

Meed Ward set the current situation which she defined as the city wanting to keep the existing farm land- which is basically everything north of Dundas Highway 407.

She said cutting back on the infrastructure that has to be built will reduce taxes but to do that the city needs to get  better use out of the infrastructure it already has in place

Meed Ward talks of a more walkable city with much more mixed use – which is an attempt to do something other than repeat the urban sprawl that is expensive to maintain and doesn’t do much for really healthy communities.

There are always personal agendas when politicians meet with the public. Meed Ward was letting the city see the kind of leadership she would provide were she to get to wear the Chain of Office that Mayors’ wear.

Andrea Smith

Andrea smith, Manager Police and Research and the planner shepherding the Official Plan review

Andrea Smith,  Manager of Policy and Research – the person heading up the review of the existing Official Plan, put a graphic up on the screen that showed where development is currently taking place. Few had seen this document before.

 

Development activity - Meed Ward workshop May 2015

There is a lot more development approved in Burlington than most people realize.

There are three big project at different stages of development:  Paradigm, Bridgewater and the Bentley – all approved and at different stages of development.

While there are few construction cranes on the Burlington horizon now these three project will keep the construction trades busy for the next five years.

Does the market have the capacity to absorb the number of units that will be built? The developers have those number in closely guarded reports – what do the planners know about what market demand for accommodation in the city?

During a Committee of the Whole meeting recently, Director of Planning Bruce Krushelnicki pointed out that the city doesn’t have any demographic talent at city hall – without it he suggested there is some flying in the dark being done.

The three projects that are in various stages of development cater to radically different markets. The people who buy into the Paradigm are not the same people who will be buying into Bridgewater.

Jaclklen SP + planner

Matt Jaecklein, Mayrose-Tycon Group listens quietly to a city planner. Jaecklein was a patient developer who first got approval for what is now the Bridgewater development back in 1985.

As for the hotel that will be part of the Bridgewater development on the south side of Lakeshore – well that was going to be open for the Pan AM Games which kick off in the middle of June.

Planner Smith then put up a graphic of the parking lots the city owns – they want to unlock the value of that land and get buildings up. Where will cars park? The city is hoping there will be fewer cars in a future Burlington. Does it make economic sense to put up large structures and dig down for parking spaces?

 

Development activity - Meed Ward workshop May 2015

The city has parking lots throughout the downtown core. They will do more for the city’s finances if there were buildings on the land rather than cars. Getting to the point where something can be gotten to the point where there are shovels in the ground is WHAT

Is it possible to grow the residential community in the downtown core and create the jobs in the community that people can walk to or use public transit as the prime mode of transportation?

Planner Smith set out the provincial and regional policy initiatives that Burlington has to comply with and just where the city has wiggle room and where it can do very little.

There are also individual property rights that have to be respected – look at the battle taking place in the Beachway to get a sense of how those situations make for complex problems and then there are infrastructure realities that have to be dealt with.

There are pipelines that run underground through the city that limit what can be done with some properties – the pipeline that runs alongside the Performing Arts Centre and cross two of the city owned parking lots – can’t dig too close to those pipes.

City Council approved what is called an Urban Growth Centre – this was where the growth was going to take place and the rules for that growth were established.

Urban gwoth centre

The Urban growth center is where city council, through its official plan has determined where the city’s commercial development will take place

Downtown precincts

The Planners created precincts which are boundaries that define parts of the city and then applied zoning for each precinct.

All these issues have to get dealt with within the boundaries the Official Plan has created. In the last Official Plan review the city created a number of what they called “precincts” and applied very specific zoning to those parts of the city to protect what was already in place and to allow for any ideas that a developer might come along with.

Muir making a point

Tom Muir, tends to focus more on Aldershot issues – seldom fails to have an opinion on how the city can grow itself in a reasonable manner and still retain its core values.

As the graphics shows there are a number of precincts – names given to different parts of the city with zoning attached to each, Burlington has two residential precincts on either side of Brant Street; the St. Luke’s precinct on the west and the Emerald precinct on the east. The residents of each fight just as fiercely as those in Roseland to ensure that their neighbourhood does not undergo radical change.

The idea of a 28 storey tower on the edge of a residential neighbourhood that has some commercial and professional space in the area has some people frothing at the mouth and also feeling helpless now that the development has gone to the Ontario Municipal Board because the city faield to do anything in the 180 day window they had to respond to the application.  Quite why city council didn’t get a chance to pronounce on the application is another story.

The Wellington precinct south of the downtown core has a number of high rise buildings stuffed into the neighbourhood. When they were approved the thinking was that the residents would spend and there would be decent commercial development – maybe even a super market.

Molinaro Robert + two people

Robert Molinaro explains a point to people participating in the Workshop. The Molinaro’s built several of the condominium high rise buildings along Lakeshore Road and are now developing along Maple Avenue.

The residents in those towers saw life differently – they head south in the winter.
Does anyone know how well the butcher at the corner of Brant and |Lakeshore Road is doing?

The Old Lakeshore precinct is a bit of a mess and a major lost opportunity for the city. It has three sub-sections within the precinct that isn’t much more than a couple of blocks in size.

Two groups were formed and asked to think along the lines of a number of themes:
Parking; heritage; office/retail; compatibility; design; trees; benches; affordability; transit & traffic; height; density; public art; sustainable buildings; jobs and festivals and events.

Burlington aerial

This is the Burlington we have. what do we want t do with what we have – and who gets to make that decision anyway?

The conversation was at times electric and the room at the Lions Hall certainly had a real buzz to it most of the evening.

Too early to tell what came out of the event. All we know at this point is that there will be another; don’t miss the next one.

The second meeting will take place at the Performing Arts Centre on May 27th where Meed Ward hopes to apply the principles in place to two specific sites:

Brant/Ghent
Lakeshore/Burlington

The third community Workshop will take place June 10, 2015, at the Burlington Lion’s Club Hall where Meed Ward hopes she will be able to present areas where there is a consensus and possible draft recommendations.

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West end of the planned Beachway Park will be a lot different than it is today.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 8, 2015

BURLINGTON ON

Part 3 of a multi-part series

The west end of the Beachway Park does not get a lot of pedestrian traffic. Lakeshore Road ends and curves into Eastport; Lakeshore Court is home to a dismal looking cinder block building and a house that was once a grand structure. Times have changed for both structures which are now defined as priority properties that have to be acquired if the park plan is ever to proceed.

The planned park is five different parks rolled into one and if the financial hurdles and finding a way to acquire the homes that are in the way can be found – construction on the park will begin sometime in 2018 – once the re-development of the Joseph Brant Hospital is complete.

The people who did the draft version of the park that was presented to slightly less than 100 people at a public meeting in April have changed much of the west end and turned it into a very active part of the planned park.

They created a section they call the Commons and another section they call Skyway/Federal pier. Both parts border on the Burlington canal which itself is rich in local history. While the canal is not Regional property nor does it belong to the city – it’s federal government property with all kinds of rules and regulations surrounding a vital waterway for Hamilton – the park planners have included it

The Commons and the Skyway/Federal Pier are part of a much bigger picture.

Beachway - Full park

The Beachway Park- from the Canal to the west end of Spencer Smith Park

The plan is very large in scope and while there are no times lines announced yet and there is no budget allocated, the development of the park is seen by the Region as a major development for their parks program.

The plan calls for some changes to the west end of Spencer Smith Park as it merges into the new park at the point where the Joseph Brant Museum is located and Lakeshore curves and leads towards what will be the new entrance to the Joseph Brant Hospital will be located.

Lakeshore Road will be raised as much as one metre at this point and taper down to a new height of half a metre at about where the water treatment plant is today.  At this point Lakeshore Road will be realigned and take a 90 degree turn to the right and run closer to the QEW.

Five sectors to the park

There are five distinct areas within the Beachway Park – each will have its own theme. These are the draft plans – the properties needed to make the part happen have yet to be acquired by the Regional government – residents say they have no plans to sell.

There are essentially five parks, each with different purposes and orientations.  The upgrades to the western end of Spencer Smith make it six parks.

The Living Shoreline will be much different than what people see now – today it is just something people walk past.  The Strand will continue to be the aquatic area where the Pump House stands.

The Wind Beach will see quite a bit of change.

The Commons is a completely new idea and represents the biggest changes to both the landscape and the homes that are in place now.

Beachway Wind Beach + Commons + Skyway-Pier

The Commons is at the extreme west end of the park and will undergo the most significant change in terms of the number of activities brought to the area.

The jetty on the Burlington side of the canal will be incorporated into the park and there will be both shipping and naval interpetation stations.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

These homes are on the lakeside of Lakeshore Road and are considered priority homes by the park planners. The portion of Lakeshore Road in the picture will be moved to the left and align with the QEW.

Lakeshore Road, which currently runs down the middle of the land – will be shifted closer to the QEW so that what is now road will become recreational area.

That recreation will include volley ball courts, lawn courts and Food Trucks.

There is some very environmentally sensitive dunes in this area – they will be protected.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a cinder block garage at the end of Lakeshore Court steps from the canal

There will be a couple of shaded areas with a structure that will have benches.  There will be a few very small parking lots: 30 space size, along with a number of landscape enhancements to keep any traffic noise the Eastport Road from filtering in.

There will be a lot of activity: an artisan/market; washrooms and a play area along with 28 spaces of on street parking.

There will be a festival park – small in size.

There will be a pond park, additional interpretive stations as well as a Storm Water management pond with a open edge.

There will be a Pond Pavilion as well.

This is the part of the park that has many, perhaps most of the “priority homes” that the park designers have said must be torn down if the design of the park as they see it is to be completed.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Definitely the most magnificent looking house in the Beachway; it backs onto what was once the railway line which suggests that it was built before the rail line was put in. It too is amongst the “priority homes” that the planners want taken out. This home could be moved and restored.

The current residents fall into several categories: those who say they will fight to the bitter end and are never going to move; those that are resigned to having to move eventually and hope that eventuality can be pushed well off into the future.  There are a few angling for the best price they can get from the Region.  So far just three properties have been sold; two of those were an Estate sale.

Part 1

Part 2

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Beachway park will make use of the west end in a way it was never used before - once the houses are gone - when is an open question.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

May 4, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 2 of a multi-part series

Beachway - Full park

The park is close to massive in scale – at least for Burlington. City View Park is probably smaller. It will be a collection of destinations – most of which the public knows nothing.

The Beachway Park Master Plan is essentially five different parks all rolled into one. It begins at the western edge of Spencer Smith Park and ends at the canal.

Its development has been controversial. That part of Burlington was once a thriving, albeit a bit of a down at the heels community

1032 Lakeshore Rd. This cottage was demolished in 1994

1032 Lakeshore Rd. ; a cottage demolished in 1994

1174 Lakeshore Rd. This cottage was demolished in 1992.

1174 Lakeshore Rd.; a cottage demolished in 1992.

Beachway house 1066 Lakeshore

Beachway house located at what was once 1066 Lakeshore. It too has been demolished.

There have been Master Plans for the Beachway as far back as the early 70’s. The current plan is looking at a different reality: the population of the Region is going to increase significantly and the Region wants and needs additional park space – not necessarily for the people of Burlington.

The squabble over the thirty some odd homes that are still in the Beachway park – and these are no longer cottages that look like they need a little work – will work itself out. Expect it to cost the Region quite a bit more than they budgeted for property acquisition.

In part 1 of this series we took a closer look at the first part of the Beachway Park – the Living Shoreline which begins at about where the Joseph Brant Museum stands.

Beachway - Strand 3 sm pk lots

The Strand part of the planned Beachway Park will be where most of the aquatic activity takes place. It is also the point at which Lakeshore as it exists now will end and shift to the north.

To the west is what will be called The Strand. It will be the part of the park where most of the aquatic activity takes place.

It is also the part of the park that will pay homage to the native life that was prevalent when Joseph Brant was given the property and for many years before that.

Several of the War of 1812 battles took place just off the shore line. That part of Burlington reeks with history and the intention appears to be to capture as much of that history as possible and display it in this part of the park.

There will be three parking lots – one will hold 67 cars, the next 78 cars and the third 106 cars. None of these parking lots will be in places where there was housing.

This will be the main swimming area, there will be ramps for non-motorized boats. The Catamaran Club will be in this area; the Pump House is within this area, and there will be a rental building in the area. The water sewage treatment plant will be on the other side of Lakeshore Road screened by large cedar trees.

The Pavilion, which hopefully gets a major upgrade, will also be in this part of the park.

It is as this point in the park that the Lakeshore Road in place now, takes a close to 90 degree turn to the right and begins to align with the QEW.

Priority properties

The blue squares indicate properties the park planners have said they must have if they are to complete the planned development. It is these homeowners who are most threatened.

This is where what were some of what were described during the public meeting as “priority houses” are located.

The area will be populated with play areas, exercise areas, space for Food Trucks, the large outdoor fireplace that has the potential to become a significant focal point will be in The Strand. The fireplace will be fed by a gas line.

Beachway - re-aligned trail and parking

Some parts of |Lakeshore will have parking space – others will not have any room for cars. Shuttle buses will be used to move people from parking lots to different parts of the park. Shown here are two proposed road alignments – one with parking, one without.

quiet trail -Wind Beach area

The intention appears to be to keep some of the quiet trail areas – maintaining this feature will depend on how much pedestrian traffic there is.

The Waterfront Trail will continue through this area. There will be spaces that are created for parking and spaces that have nothing but trees and other vegetation

Moving west there is Wind Beach which will extend right up to the canal and include much better use of the canal area – park benches and perhaps some lighting.

There will be a number of interpretive centres and a Dune Boardwalk.

Beachway Wind Beach + Commons + Skyway-Pier

The Wind Beach – a part of the Beachway that the public doesn’t get to very much – will undergo the most significant change and incorporate the canal area

The Waterfront Trail will extend and curve to Eastport Drive, go under Eastport and on to the federal pier area. This part of the lakefront does not see much in the way of traffic now – that will change.

Lakeshore Road which will no longer come through the middle of the park – but will have been shifted to the north and closer to the QEW – opening up what was the road to recreational uses.

All of the homes in this part of the Beachway will have to be taken out for this to happen. What is currently known as Lakeshore Court looks as if it is going to disappear.

Is the battle over what is going to happen to the 29 homes over? Three have been sold in the past year – two were Estate sales.

Will most of them still be there ten years from now?

Is there a time line for the development of the park?

Is there an approved budget?

Related article:
Part 1 of a multi-part series.

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Strategic Plan deliberations begin - intensification and where people are going to live appears to be the question that will shape the conversation.

element_strategic_planBy Pepper Parr

April 29, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

The creation of the strategic Plan for the next three years began Tuesday morning at the LaSalle Pavilion. Council and senior city staff met as a Committee of the Whole and while these occasions are public meetings – there wasn’t a member of the pure public in the room.

The Gazette was the only media in the room as well. There were two representatives from community Development Halton taking part in the presentation of a social profile of Burlington.

Strategic Plan WorkbookWhat became clear quite early is that the development of the Strategic Plan and the completion of the Official Plan are being done hand in hand – each is going to inform the other.

Who lives in Burlington; who is going to live in Burlington and where will they want to live? These were the prime questions put before the meeting of about 40 people.

Community Development Halton put together a very detailed profile of who we are and what we are worth. This data was set out as the base upon which both the Official Plan and the Strategic Plan are going to be created.

None of this is going to happen in 90 days – the public may not see a completed Strategic Plan until sometime in October.

There will be more public involvement in the 2015 Strategic Plan than there was in the 2011 Plan. The city created a workbook that was made available to anyone who asked. At one point there were just 35 completed but that number “zoomed up to 90.

Knowing what is probably going to be needed in the way of housing tells the planners what kind of development they want to encourage – and developments do get encouraged.

StPl 2015 #1 Population changes

Burlington population growth has flat lined, Milton is sky rocketing and Oakville is pulling ahead. These projections have significant political and economic implications – the Region may well decide that more of the population coming into the Region should land in Burlington.

A presentation of 24 slides told the story – the first was a look at the historic population of the municipalities in the Region

There was a time said Mayor Goldring when Burlington was bigger than Oakville however since then Burlington’s growth has basically flat lined while Milton has grown very rapidly.

StPln2015 #2 population share

Our portion of the Region’s population is shrinking while that of Milton has skyrocketed. When the 2016 census data is available the Region is required to look at where people live and re-balance the political representation at the Region. Burlington’s political clout will be based on the number of Regional Councillors. Right now every member of city council is also a regional Councillor. The make up of out city council could undergo a significant change.clout

The way population was shared within the Region  was interesting.

The change in where people lived is shown in #3. Some communities remained stable while others experienced significant growth. The red dot in the upper half is the creation of the community of Alton.

A large part of the discussion around population was the provincial requirement that population grow in the Region. The province requires Halton to grow and the Region determines where that population was going to go in each municipality.

Each municipality then determines where it is going to put the population growth in its municipality.

One point that got made several times was that Burlington’s growth would be done by intensification and that the older traditional communities would not undergo any intensification.

Mayor Goldring talks about the city being built out – Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward says the city has hundreds of acres of land. One would expect they would both have access to the same data – apparently not.

Every conversation about population growth refers to the seniors and how that demographic is growing. The Molinaro Paradign project that will have five towers next to the GO station on Fairview is not going to house than many seniors – but the mental focus is still on the seniors.

StrtPlan #4 Seniors by municiality

Burlington clearly has the largest percentage of seniors and at the same time we have some of the highest rents and the lowest vacancies. The need for some deep understanding of the demographics of the community became obvious.

Here is what we know: The senior population increased by 17% to 29,720 between 2006 and 2011. The seniors represent 16.9 % of the population seniors over 80 have increased by 21% More than 62% of older seniors are female and 1 in 4 seniors live alone.
What kind of money do these people have? The median income for seniors is $33,280 and the median income for everyone is $40,180

In 2010, 64% of female seniors had incomes of less than $35,000; of the male population that percentage was 38.

The number of children living at home had some surprises – the definition of children for this exercise included people more than 25 years of age.

StrtPlan #6 Seniors income

There were more female seniors with incomes of less than $35,000 than there were male seniors. Income was defined as that which is shown on tax returns.

With older children living with their parents the number of people in a household by themselves was close to astonishing.

StrtPlan #7 Children at home

The number of people over 25 living with their parents is a little on the alarming side. The discussion on this data centered around whether or not this was going to continue or if it is a short term situation.

 

Some of the growth in Burlington is going to come through immigration. The Community Development Halton Development identified the sources of that immigration – it amounts to less than 2000 people

StrtPlan #9 Immigration by birthntry

Immigration into the Region by country of birth. The total is in the 2000 range which the bulk coming from the United States

How is income distributed in Burlington? Everyone has always said Burlington is a wealthy city – the data supports that belief.

On the flip side of the very wealthy is identifying the poor; 9.5% of the population in Burlington is poor.

StrtPln #13 low income children

It would be useful to understand why the number of low income children has remained close to static even though population has grown.

The number of low income children has been pretty consistent the past seven years – why? That question did not come up. We seem to have accepted that we just have them.

The prevalence of low income people is also interesting. It shot up during the recession in 2009 but never really came down to pre-recession levels.

StrtPlan #3 population chng 2006-2011

The numbers beside the dots indicates the level of growth. That big red dot reflects the growth in Alton.

Where does that low income population live? In Burlington we can’t say below the tracks – there are tracks all over the place – but there are clearly identified pockets of low income families

StrtPln #16 Working poor where are they

There is a link between the working poor and the amount of affordable housing in the city. That link is not fully understood by the community.

StrtPln #18 Private apartment avg rent

Rents are experiencing excellent growth – great if you are a landlord. Many of the new developments are being marketed as condominiums that are bought by investors and rented.

StrtPln # 19 Privata apartment vacancies

Apartment vacancy rates are very tight throughout the Region and is Hamilton as well.

Burlington’s working poor as a percentage of the population compared with other jurisdictions – Burlington is low on that scale – at 4.2% – which is 3,500 persons.

Owning an apartment building is a solid investment in the Region. Rents have experienced a solid climb – well in excess of inflation. The difference between Burlington and Hamilton explains why people will drive to get to Burlington every work day.

The vacancy rate is very tight throughout the Region and in Hamilton as well. A 3% vacancy rate is seen as a healthy, balanced market.

StrtPln #21 Commutes to Burliongton

The number of people who commute TO Burlington from Hamilton is very high. A deeper understanding of the dynamics behind these commutes is probably needed.

The number of trips made by people in Burlington to their jobs outside Burlington and the number of people who drive to Burlington to work is really interesting.

What isn’t clear is the why of those trips. Do people drive to Burlington from Hamilton because rents are cheaper in Hamilton.

Do people drive from Burlington to other places because that is where the jobs are?

StrtPln # 22 Commutes from Burlington

The traffic out of the city is due in some degree to employment opportunities. The city has yet to find the formula that will attract employers and reduce the commutes out of the city.

 

The belief is that people who work outside the city are less likely to be engaged with activities in the city – which was put out as part of the reason voter turnout is so low – it has been a consistent mid thirty percent range.

And yet the percentage of people who volunteer is very high in Halton – at the 50% level. The population is relatively generous – a smidgen lower than the Ontario average and lower than Oakville

Understanding the shifts that take place in population: immigrants coming into the country; seniors moving out of large homes into smaller townhouses or condos; young people renting their first apartment and the working poor looking for affordable housing is the work of demographers – Burlington doesn’t have one.

Windsor, a city with a population of 600,000 has six demographers on staff which prompted planner Bruce Krushelnicki to extrapolate that and come to the conclusion that Burlington should have two – Krushelnicki would settle for one.

A solid understanding of what Burlington has in the way of population, how that population is likely to shift and what future population might be  are the building blocks on which the Official Plan and the Strategic Plan will be built.

That process has now begun – by the end of the year city council and the public will have had the time needed to ensure that everyone at least understands what those plans are – getting them to agree is another matter.

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