Pushing retail development north of Caroline - part of the endorsed preferred concept.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What kind of a city are we going to have three, five or ten years hence?

City council told the SGL consultants that they were content with the work done so far and then endorsed that work with a unanimous vote. The work being done is referred to as the “preferred concept” which sets out what the city would like to see built.

Enns group

After months of work with the community and hours of thinking by the SGL, the consultants and Planning staff they were ready to put it all on the table. From the left: Paul Lowes, Catherine xxx, Alison Enns and Charles Walker

The reality is – the developer has to look at what the city wants to see and work through what they want to build. The end result is usually somewhere in between.

The consultants,  the people from the Planning department working on this file, now return to their desks and begin developing the policy statements that will make the endorsement law sometime in April.

Not actually law quite yet.

When the scope stuff is completed and inserted into the approved but not yet WORD and then gets approved by Council – it then gets sent to the Region where they put their thumb print on the document and send it back – and THEN we have a new bylaw.

Of course everything that was submitted to the planning department under the old, existing and in force bylaw will be judged and interpreted under that Official Plan.

During the discussion and debate on want were presented as “preferred concepts” council made some significant changes.

Village square architects model

Architectural model of Village Square; a part of the city that has heritage designation. and a rich past but has floundered during the past decade. Council wanted to build on the unique feel the Village has.

They took a much closer look at the Village Square and at the property on Brant, north of Caroline, where the No Frills Supermarket is located.

They also did a deeper dive on the property at Brant and Ghent where the Molinaro Group owns three of the four corners. Mention is made of a park in this location.

The lands on the north side of Fairview where the Paradigm development is ready to start on the final phase of the five tower development are getting a lot of attention. This is where the GO station is located and is designated as a MTSA with the expectation the high rise will prevail. Metrolinx, the authority that runs the GO train system owns a considerable amount of land within the boundary and, the city planners think Metrolinx is going to want to do some development of their own.

There is a lot of Metrolinx parking space on the north and south side of the railway tracks that could meet the criteria for the kind of development the current city council campaigned for in the October 2018 election.

The area that developers have been crawling all over is bound by Brant on the west, Fairview on the south, the railway tracks on the north and Drury on the east.

The following photo essay focuses on the No Frills location on Brant.

Brant Plaza -city parking lot to south

The land to the immediate south of the plaza property has a city parking lot on the east side and rear entrance to Joe Dogs and a tire dealer plus a convenience store. These could be included creating a very strong commercial centre.

John Street runs right into the property. The city has a large parking lot on the south east side of John, which at that point is actually a lane and not a street. Lanes get treated differently.

Council agreed that whatever John is going to be should be extended north to Victoria.

Rambo Creek looking south

Rambo Creek could get an upgrade – maybe a place for swans?

Rambo creek is the eastern boundary. Plans are to clean up the space along the edge of that creek and turn it into a park like setting with benches.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward was very keen on the idea of a park in that immediate area. There are currently two banks, a dry cleaner, a nail shop, a Dollarama, a pharmacy and a Tim Hortons along with a building that has office space.

The city has yet to receive a development application from anyone. The Planners are setting out what the city will be asked to approve.

The property from the southern edge of the plaza to Caroline Street has another bank, two hospitality locations (Joe Dogs and an Italian restaurant  and the Bell Telephone switching station on the corner of Caroline and Brant.

The switching station isn’t going anywhere soon but everything else has development potential and could become a major commercial focus with high rise residential included.

Plaza with No Frills on the left

A super market would be moved close to the street with higher buildings – up to 17 storeys between the supermarket and Rambo Creek.

The planning consultant thinking would move the supermarket to the Brant street side, put parking underground and put residential reasonably close to the edge of Rambo Creek. This of course is all speculative.

In their report to council the consultants, SGL, with Planning staff cheering them on, recommended:

Graphic of plaza

A transportation corridor, not necessarily a road, would be in the space and a park as well as a trail alongside Rambo Creek.

The Mid Brant Precinct will serve as a mixed-use neighbourhood containing a significant amount of retail space including servicing a food store function.

The precinct will function as a major retail centre that serves the day-to-day and weekly shopping needs of Downtown residents.

To support a walkable community the entire area must provide an accessible and attractive pedestrian environment with wide sidewalks, and greenway connections to adjacent residential neighbourhoods.

Future development will also result in the redevelopment of surface parking lots and the intensification of under-utilized buildings.

Brant Street will be enhanced as a Pedestrian Priority Street with wide sidewalks, bringing buildings close to the street and small urban squares adjacent to Brant Street. The extension of John Street will reduce the number of driveways necessary along Brant Street and help to improve the pedestrian priority of Brant Street through this precinct.

An increased open space buffer will be provided along Rambo creek with a walking trail along the west side of the Creek. John Street will be extended north as a local road abutting the open space. Together the open space and John Street will create a significant separation from the low-rise neighbourhood to the east.

To create an appropriate height transition to the neighbourhoods to the east, a 45 degree angular plane will be measured from the western property line of the creek block.

Plaza angular plain

Rambo Creek is on the right.

A new public urban park will also be created in the block. A detailed block plan study will be required prior to applications with the block from Caroline Street to Victoria Avenue to identify the size, location and configuration of the public park; the boundary of the open space along Rambo Creek; the configuration of the John Street extension and the siting of all buildings.

Max. 3 storeys for 20 m. from Brant Street.

3 storeys abutting Rambo Creek

Max. 17 storeys in centre of the block subject to a 45 degree angular plane from the western property line of the creek block.

Later this week we look more closely at the plans for the land around the GO station, the Village Square and then the Brant Ghent intersection.

Return to the Front page

Mayor responds to chippy letter from MPP Jane McKenna - these two women don't seem to want to get along.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 28th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In the world of politics keeping clear communications paths is vital.

It means being nice nice to people you may not have a lot of time for.

A number of people have commented in the Gazette and asked: why doesn’t the city do whatever has to be done to move the boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) which is a boundary the city must have – province says so. However, it appears where that boundary line is drawn is something the city can influence.

When the UGC was created Burlington either didn’t realize they could influence the boundaries or was satisfied with what the province handed down.

As you can see from the map below – that boundary covers all of lower Brant Street which many people don’t believe that’s where the city’s growth should take place.

Urban growth centre

The precincts that are shown are out of date.

The city council elected in 2018 took a much different view and made some tough decisions. They drafted and passed an Interim Control Bylaw which froze development within the UGB – which really upset the development community.

Council also decided to re-write parts of the adopted but not approved Official Plan. That process is close to complete.

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna has written the Mayor offering her services to help with anything the province needs to do. In her letter to the Mayor there were some less than parliamentary comments.  The two women have never really gotten along all that well.

Mayor Meed Ward responded to MPP McKenna in a letter dated January 13th.

It starts out politely enough.

Read on.

Dear MPP McKenna,

Thank you for your interest in the Official Plan Review matters detailed in my January 2020 newsletter. We’re honoured to count you among our readers and subscribers!

Meed Ward hands out frnt city hall

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward in front of city hall.

We’re gratified that you have found the information useful, as have so many of our residents, and that the newsletter has prompted further dialogue about issues in our city, which is one of its purposes.

Please allow me to take the opportunity afforded by your correspondence to summarize the journey we have been on, where we are at, and next steps in the process of reviewing our Official Plan and vision for downtown.

Our current Official Plan was created in 1997 and has been updated more than 100 times since. Our current plan has enabled the city to be recognized at the Best City in Canada, and the Best City to Raise A Family, as well as achieve – 12 years early – our city-wide population of 185,000 by 2031.

We are also well on our way to surpassing our population and growth densities for the downtown of 200 people or jobs by 2031.

Nevertheless, in 2016, the previous council chose to develop a new Official Plan rather than continue to update the existing one. That led to the 2018 Adopted Official Plan, which the current city council is in the process of revising to better respond to the community’s vision for our city, particularly downtown.

To support the review of both the current and the Adopted Official Plan, council initiated two studies in early 2019: the Scoped Re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan related to the downtown policies, and an Interim Control Bylaw to conduct a land use study to consider the role and function of the downtown bus terminal and the Burlington GO station on Fairview Street as major Transit Station Areas and as well to examine the planning structure, land mix and intensity for the lands identified in the study area.

That work kicked off last February, and the one-year Interim Control By-law expires March 5th of this year.

Given the MTSA and UGC currently exist in Regional and Provincial policy and did so at the time we began our review, our work to update our Official Plan was required to conform to the existing designations.

John Street bus terminal

The transit station on John Street, which was once up for demolition as a cost saving measure, is defined as a Major Transit Service Area.

Nevertheless, council and the community are keen to discuss the appropriateness of the designations. As a result, last year, council also directed staff to, at the conclusion of our studies, to review the designations for the MTSA and UGC downtown.

The ICBL land use study has just been completed, with the report released to council and the community in late December 2019. Discussion of this matter is happening at committee on January 14, 2020. The scoped re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan policies is expected to be completed and considered by council in April 2020. After completion of both studies, staff will report to council in May 2020 on any proposed changes to the Urban Growth Centre and Major Transit Station Area designations applicable to the Burlington’s downtown and the Burlington GO that could be recommended as a result of any proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments arising out of the studies.

Over the past year, the City has consulted with the Region on the status and process steps related to the ICBL land use study and the scoped re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan policies. The City will continue to work closely with the Region of Halton and the Province on any further changes that might be proposed regarding the Urban Growth Centre and Major Transit Station designations as the result of the report directed to be brought forward to Council following completion of the studies. It is expected that the process to seek any changes to provincial legislation will be complex. While a formal request to Province would ultimately be required, there would be several steps that would first need to be completed including reporting back to City and Regional Council for required approvals.

The sequencing of steps is to ensure that our discussion on all planning matters, including these designations, is grounded in good planning analysis, policy and principle. This will be particularly important should the City ultimately seek any amendments to the provincial Growth Plan.

No invite for the Burlington MPP - was this a mistake or is it petty politics.

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna was first elected to the provincial legislature in 2010 , lost the position to Eleanor McMahon in 2014 and regained the seat when she defeated McMahon in 2018.

We believe the analysis provided by both studies will be immensely helpful to the Province, Region and City of Burlington as we move into the next step of discussions together about the MTSA/UGC designations downtown.

We welcome and will need your involvement and assistance in this next step and appreciate the offer in your letter to work with myself, the city manager and council on these matters.

I look forward to the next step in this journey and am grateful for your continued assistance in these matters.

Signed The Mayor of Burlington.

When it comes to pecking orders – MPP’s trump Mayors. The city is required to work with the local MPP.  Meed Ward does not have the best of relationships with the current MPP nor did she have a particularly strong relationship with the former MPP, Eleanor McMahon.  Based on this observer’s experience the chemistry between the Mayor and the MPP’s just wasn’t there.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page

Fine tuning a Staff Report with amendments: city building that reflects community input.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 27th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

How did city council spend an afternoon and well into the evening hearing what Director of Community Planning Heather MacDonald had to say about the process being used to review the material prepared for the Scoped Review of the Downtown portion of the adopted but not approved Official Plan and get to the point where they received and endorsed the document?

Staff presented its report, explained what they did to get input from the community; council then asked Staff and the consultants that were hired to come up with ideas as to how the downtown could be developed – those ideas then had to be codified – put into language that became the rules used when development applications were being considered by the planners.

Land Use cover

The cover of the report sets out the challenge: pictures of the Burlington that is – with a building site ready for a construction crane.

Getting input from the community was no small matter. Planner Alison Enns went more than that country mile coming up with ideas that were interesting, innovative and did aide in getting a clearer picture of what the public wanted.

This time Planning Staff did the work – the public could have done more.  Burlington has a small stable of people who delegate and comment – that stable could be a lot larger.

Enns is reported to have spent her Christmas holiday writing and revising so that documents were ready in time.

The Planners were first asking that the report could be received – it could have been deferred.

They then wanted endorsement of the report – which Enns explained wasn’t approving everything in the document but it was telling the planners that they were going in the right direction.

However before the endorsement was recommended by the Standing Committee there were a number of amendments that came from Mayor Meed Ward and ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns who had spent all of the weekend prior to the Thursday meeting going over the recommendations in the SGL report; combing through them precinct by precinct and writing up the changes they wanted to make.

The Staff report they were working with was titled: Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown: Preliminary Preferred Concept“, January 2020.

The first step was to:

Direct the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation, and Mobility to consider the following during the development of policy modifications to the adopted Official Plan:

appropriate built form;

enhancement of transition provisions in the Downtown East Mixed-Use Precinct, to ensure an appropriate interface with the areas to both the east and the north;

enhancement of provisions to protect the existing character and streetscape of the Downtown East Mixed-Use Precinct, with particular attention to the pedestrian experience on Elizabeth Street;

appropriate built form in the V2 area of Village Square Precinct, with appropriate performance standards to avoid or mitigate potential impacts from new development on the existing low-rise buildings on Martha Street and existing low-rise buildings west of Pearl Street;

policy or mapping-based solutions to acknowledge, protect, and enhance existing community institutions or other private organizations that provide public services or amenities; and

Recognize the need for a transportation corridor through the Mid-Brant Precinct without presupposing that it must be a road, to allow consideration of the appropriate function of the new transportation corridor during the block planning exercise; and

Upper Brant mixed

Upper Brant Mixed Use precinct. The numbers refer to the different height limits that were being proposed. The hope was that there be some form of parkland as well.

Direct the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility to consider, during the development of policy modifications to the adopted Official Plan, enhancement of transition provisions in the Upper Brant Mixed-Use Precinct north of Ghent Avenue to ensure an appropriate interface with the established neighbourhoods to the east; and

In order to send the recommendation to council the Standing Committee first had to pass them.

Direct the Director of Community Planning to prepare detailed modifications to the Adopted Official Plan to implement the recommended concept as discussed in community planning department report PL-02-20 and in the report titled “Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown: Preliminary Preferred Concept“, January, 2020, prepared by SGL Planning & Design
CARRIED

Amendment
Moved byMayor Meed Ward

Endorse the recommended concept in PL-02-20, Appendix A, subject to the following modifications:

Exclude from endorsement, subject to the considerations in 2, the recommended concept for the lands identified as:Village Square Precinct V2 sub area; and

Meed Ward style

Mayor Meed Ward worked through a weekend with ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns on crafting amendments to a staff report on what the changes to the approved but not adopted Official Plan would permit.

Lisa Feb 4

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns worked with the Mayor during a weekend to craft amendments to a Staff report. Baggy gym pants were the dress of the day according to Kearns.

Downtown East Precinct located east of Elizabeth Street and south of Lions Park, and the block bounded by John Street, Maria Street, Elizabeth Street, and James Street; and

Direct the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation, and Mobility to consider the following during the development of policy modifications to the Adopted Official Plan:

appropriate built form;

enhancement of transition provisions in the Downtown East Mixed-Use Precinct, to ensure an appropriate interface with the areas to both the east and the north;

enhancement of provisions to protect the existing character and streetscape of the Downtown East Mixed-Use Precinct, with particular attention to the pedestrian experience on Elizabeth Street;

appropriate built form in the V2 area of Village Square Precinct, with appropriate performance standards to avoid or mitigate potential impacts from new development on the existing low-rise buildings on Martha Street and existing low-rise buildings west of Pearl Street;

policy or mapping-based solutions to acknowledge, protect, and enhance existing community institutions or other private organizations that provide public services or amenities.

CARRIED

Amendment
Endorse the recommended concept subject to the following modification:

Mid Brant - park and road + tower

Mid Brant precinct

Recognize the need for a transportation corridor through the Mid-Brant Precinct without presupposing that it must be a road, to allow consideration of the appropriate function of the new transportation corridor during the block planning exercise.
CARRIED

Amendment
Moved byMayor Meed Ward

Direct the Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility to consider, during the development of policy modifications to the adopted Official Plan, enhancement of transition provisions in the Upper Brant Mixed-Use Precinct north of Ghent Avenue to ensure an appropriate interface with the established neighbourhoods to the east.
CARRIED

There was concern over what was going to happen to the heritage structures in the Downtown which resulted in a Heritage study staff direction.  They resolved that as well.

Heritage locations

The red sites are designated heritage properties. The blue are on the municipal registry

Moved by Mayor Meed Ward

Direct the Director of Community Planning, in consultation with Heritage Burlington, to assess the heritage value and appropriate protections (including possible Heritage Act designations) for the potential built heritage resources and potential cultural heritage landscapes identified by ASI in their September 2019 “Cultural Heritage Resource Assessment of the Downtown Mobility Hub”, with funding source to be determined, and report back to Council with the assessment and associated recommendations by Q4 of 2020.
CARRIED

The concern over the development that was taking place at the Lions Park. staff direction

Moved by Mayor Meed Ward

Direct the Executive Director of Legal Services, working with the Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure, and Community Services, to report back with options for the future of Lions Park.

With the recommendation motions put on the table, voted upon (all the votes were unanimous) the city was days away from having a bylaw that significantly modified an Official Plan pushed through by the previous council, despite a clear signal from the community that the plan did not meet the desires of a very significant community voice.

Was that group of people a majority? The election results suggest there was a majority – there was certainly a group of people who paid attention and advocated for a change.

Appeals are possible of course and something might come “out of the blue” at the Special Council meeting to take place on the 30th of January, but in the words of Standing Committee Chair Shawna Stolte “we are bringing it home” and those of the Mayor who said “we are close but we are not there yet” the city had an Official Plan that they believed met the immediate future needs of the city, gave the development community enough for them to be able to work with the city and was defensible should it get taken to the a Local Planning Area Tribunal (LPAT)

Some would say when and not should.

There are reports of up to three appeal applications to LPAT for non-decision on the part of the city.

 

 

 

Return to the Front page

Private sector planner pushed the accepted professional behaviour boundaries a little too far - Mayor offended.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 27th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With so much money involved, those who are in the business of developing properties will do everything they can to assure their concerns are heard and understood – and at the same time look for a way to find a solution that will meet the needs (in Burlington some call it greed) of the developer.

There are limits as to what the planners, lawyers and other professionals can do to advance their interests.

Glenn Wellings, a land use planner who works in the Region with a decent client base, appears to have crossed the line when he sent a letter directly to the consultant the city had hired.

The rules allow stating your case but you have to put your case before the city and not the people the city hires.

Enns told Council that he had received a letter from Wellings, a private sector planning consultant

Paul Lowes,on the left, told Council that he had received a letter from Wellings, a private sector planning consultant.

Wellings sent a letter directly to Paul Lowes, the SGL Inc., group of consultants who prepared the Land Use Study for the city, who said he forwarded the letter to the city and said at the time that he has known Wellings for some time and wasn’t offended.

Land Use coverMayor Meed Ward was offended and said so during the Standing Committee that was discussing the Land Use report.

It appeared to some that Wellings was trying to influence the consult – not something one wants to try and do with this Mayor.

Sean Baird who is accused of trying to influence the results of the 2018 election that resulted in Meed Ward being elected Mayor finds himself in Court facing several Criminal Code offenses.  While Meed Ward has not said she was the person who took a complaint to the police, any information that has gotten to the public has come from the Mayor’s office.

This Mayor is clearly not one you want to get on the wrong side of – unless you have a rock solid case or are prepared to take her head on.

 

Return to the Front page

Metrolinx weighs in on Land Use Study - they want more height at the Fairview station.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 27th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Metrolinx sent the city a letter outlining their concerns with “the materials presented on January 14, 2020 for the Interim Control By-Law (ICBL) Land Use Study and the related proposed Official Plan (OP) and Zoning By-law (ZB) Amendments being considered by Council on January 30, 2020.”

Metrolinx’s interest is related to the proposed OPA and ZBA on the lands at and surrounding Burlington GO Station within 800m of the station and within 30m of the rail corridor.

Burlington GO south side

Burlington GO station – south side

“Burlington GO Station is served with regional rail service, which will be increased to headways of 15-minutes or better under the GO Expansion program by 2027. To capitalize on provincial investment in regional transit and to realize the intended benefits, Metrolinx is undertaking transit oriented development at and adjacent its stations to increase ridership, improve the customer experience and to offer more choices in modes of travel. Transit oriented development is, at its essence, mixed-used high density development well integrated with transit and all other modes. These objectives are consistent with the policies of the Growth Plan (2019), and 2041 Regional Transportation Plan.

“With regard to the proposed Burlington Official Plan and Zoning By-Law Amendments arising from the ICBL Land Use Study, Metrolinx requests the City:

• retain existing land use permissions and not approve the Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments for the study area at this time;
• undertake additional analysis to demonstrate that the proposed land use and height permissions, at a minimum, support the Growth Plan density target of 150 people and jobs per hectare for the Burlington GO Major Transit Station Area (MTSA);
• consider greater densities within the MTSA, in order to incentivize transit oriented development and support the massive investment in regional transit currently underway as part of the GO Expansion program; and

• further engage affected stakeholders and landowners, including Metrolinx, in detennining the proposed land use framework for the ICBL study area, prior to presenting a revised proposal for City Council’s consideration.

More detailed comments on the ICBL Land Use Study and proposed OPA and ZBA are below.

Scope
Metrolinx’s comments on the ICBL Land Use Study and proposed OPA and ZBA are focused on our lands located at 2101 Fairview Street and 2120-2144 Queensway Drive, and those lands adjacent to and/or within 30 m of the active rail corridor where Metrolinx has an interest to ensure safety, operational, and policy compliance.

Comments have also been provided on proposed policies that may impact how future and recent GO customers access mid use Burlington GO Station.

GO train Go Bold

15 minute service by 2027 – imagine?

Land Use

• Metrolinx supports the conclusion in the ICBL Study that the highest and densest buildings be located closest to the GO station. The study however, effectively down-zones lands in the M’I’SA at a time when the Province is-promoting transit oriented development that can leverage the benefits of the significant capital and operating investment in regional transit. This is of great concern to Metrolinx.

• Analysis should be provided by the City to demonstrate that the proposed height and land use permissions, at a minimum, allow for achieving the Growth Plan minimum density target of 150 people and jobs per hectare within 500 to 800 metres the Burlington GO station, which is a designated MTSA.

MetroLinx understands that the exact boundary of the MTSA will be determined through Halton Region’s Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) and that an interim boundary may be required for the City’s analysis. The boundary used previously in the Burlington GO Mobility Hub Study should be considered until the limits of the MTSA are confirmed by the Region.

• Metrolinx encourages the City to consider permitting densities above the minimum established in the Growth Plan, taking into consideration:

o the surrounding community context, including the existing land uses and block structure which provide any opportunity to transition between tall buildings on underutilized sites at the core of the MTSA, to lower density residential neighbourhoods:

o the frequent rail service being provided to Burlington GO Station;

o the Provincial interest in incentivizing transit oriented development to support the massive investment in regional transit currently underway as part of the GO Expansion program.

Land Use cover• In addition, and with regard to the specific permissions proposed in the OPAs, we note the following:

o Recommendations in Section 14.2 of the Dillon Land Use Study and in Part Ill, Section 7.2.3 of the proposed OPAs in Special Planning Area “A'” significantly constrain feasible development on Metrolinx lands. When combining proposed public space allocations, maximum building floor plates, mid-block public right-of-way, and associated setbacks with existing rail corridor safety standards and setbacks, it becomes difficult to implement transit supportive development. A more fulsome investigation and analysis of the net result of these recommendations, coupled with rail safety standards needs to be undertaken.

o We note that the draft outputs of the on-hold Mobility Hub Study did not restrict development to 24 storeys and that the Mobility Hub Study conclusion was reached through extensive consultation with Metrolinx staff, other landowners, agencies, and the public. Until further consultation and analysis is completed, the existing height permissions should be retained.

Connectivity and Circulation

• Metrolinx supports conclusions in Section 6.2.1 of the Dillon Land Use Study relating to improved mobility and connectivity to Burlington GO Station and between the station and Downtown. Through the 2016 GO Rail Station Access Plan Metrolinx has identified several complementary recommendations that would integrate well with the ones proposed in the Study.  It is encouraging to see that sustainable and active travel modes are being prioritized to move people within Burlington and to the station.

Bld heights for Fairview GO

Metrolinx wanted quite a bit more height than the Planning department is proposing.

• Metrolinx also supports recommendations in Section 6.2.2 of the Dillon Land Use Study that support improvements to the local transit network and its operations; particularly the implementation of bus priority along Brant Street as this is also identified in the 2041 Regional Transportation Plan.

• Map 4 (Schedule M-1 MTSA Special Planning Area) from the proposed OPAs and Diagram SA from the proposed ZBAs note a new mid-block, public right-of-way running east-west between Fairview Street and the rail corridor.  Metrolinx does not support this road bisecting the existing bus loop at the Burlington GO Station. If this proposed road were to be implemented, significant impacts to bus operations could be expected and bays, which are already at a premium, would be reduced. This concern was previously shared with City staff from the Integrated Mobility Team so it is concerning to see the road included in the proposed amendments.
Process

• In Appendix A, the overview and timeline details activities between 2006 and 2022. The anticipated future schedule of the Burlington GO Mobility Hub Study is requested to be included as it is understood the forthcoming Secondary Plan for the Burlington GO Station area would replace the ICBL recommendations.

• Metrolinx requests to be included in the Technical Advisory Committee and Landowners’ Group when the Burlington GO Mobility Hub Study (as well as Aldershot and Appleby GO) resumes.

• Metrolinx also requests further consultation on the delineation of the Burlington GO MTSA boundary and identification of height permissions and density targets through City of Burlington secondary planning and Region of Halton Municipal Comprehensive Review process.

One hopes that the GO trains run on a better schedule than the letter sent to the city.  The public meetings on this issue are all but complete – they go to a special session of city council later this week.

At least Metrolinx is on record with their position.

Return to the Front page

Residents getting value from its city council

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They were close to bringing it home.

Standing Committee chair Shawna Stole, who proved she could manage a committee very well, told her colleagues that “we are close to bringing it home” as they worked through the final steps of recommending that the Preferred Concept presented by the consultants be endorsed.

MMW looking screen

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

It had been a long day and the group of seven were getting a little giddy. Mayor Meed Ward blurted out “Good Grief” when she spotted something that surprised her. That’s not a phrase heard often from this Mayor. “Awesome” is usually her preferred word.

Sharman confused

Ward 4 Councillor Paul Sharman, aka The Grinch

A little later Ward 4 Councillor Paul Sharman said that he would vote for the several amendments the Mayor had put on the table. Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns, who had worked long and hard with the Mayor during the previous weekend on the amendments turned to Councillor Sharman and with a wide smile said: Are we seeing the heart of the Grinch get a little bigger.

This city council is certainly a very different group than what the city had from 2010 to 2018. There are certainly philosophical differences and personalities at times get little awkward but they are getting important things done.
Five people with no previous experience have taken their seats at the Council table and shown that the voters got it right. Some are doing much better than others, some may have chosen the wrong place in which to serve the public – but collectively – the city is getting real value.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page

Council endorses Preferred Concept for the Downtown section of the adopted but not approved Official Plan: policy work now begins.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

It was a long but very fruitful session of the Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Standing Committee. (CPRM)

In a phrase, Council recommended the endorsement of the Preferred Concept for the Downtown core section of the approved but not adopted Official Plan.

Alison Enns, who steered the creation of the Taking a Closer Look at Downtown reports, explained that “endorsing” does not mean a final decision has been made.  All the endorsement amounts to is being told that they are going in the right direction.

Enns group

From the right: Thomas Douglas, Alison Enns, Catherine Jay and Paul Lowes of SGIL Consulting.

Enns and Thomas Douglas did more than a yeoman’s job on this file.  They were everywhere, trying every community engagement tool they could find.  They held Action Labs, Food for Feedback Sessions, Walking Tours; they even managed to convince several Councillors to hang around the library to try and engage people to talk about what they wanted for their city.

For Burlingtonians it was all about the Lake; they wanted a clear view and easy access to the lake and they wanted Brant Street to serve as the frame for that view.

Suzanne Mammel - shooting from the hip

Suzanne Mammel, of the Halton, Hamilton Home Builders Association (HHHBA)

There were seven delegations; the development community, represented by Suzanne Mammel, of the Halton, Hamilton Home Builders Association (HHHBA) resented the short time frame her organization had to respond to the Preferred Concept. She took the view that the 20 metre set back that was being proposed for Brant Street would result in very little actually being built.

The planners settled on a total of seven precincts for the city and took the meeting through what each of the precincts would likely look like once development began to take place.

There was a lot of discussion over the “numbers” how many residences were going to be built, how many jobs would be created, how high might a building be and when would all this actually happen.

The Gazette will report in detail on what the plans are for the precincts.

When it came time to put forward a motion that would approve a recommendation that would go to Council.  Mayor Meed Ward, as is her practice, came forward with a number of amendments that were eventually approved.

Those too, will see the light of day once all the documents become publicly available later today.

The Mayor did put up a graphic that she has marked up to give people a sense of what she had in mind.

MMWammend

A portion of a graphic used during the meeting with scribbles and notations from the Mayor.

There was a lot of discussion on the shopping plaza on east side Brant, north of Caroline where the No Frills supermarket is located. The thought was that a park could be put in place, a trail could be added to the edge of Rambo Creek which runs along the eastern edge of the property and John Street would be extended north through the site.

Paul Lowes, the SGIL consultant, told the meeting that what was put in place did not have to be a road but did think there had to be something in the way of a transportation route to take some of the traffic pressure off Brant Street.

The information that came out of the meeting was lengthy, detailed and highly relevant; the Gazette will set out to report in as much detail as possible.

Return to the Front page

First change in the direction of development growth was approved on Tuesday - the second gets heard on today..

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 16, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With one long, exhausting day, during which city council accepted the recommendation from the Planning department that came out of a dense and complex report from Dillon Consulting, the public and council move to the next phase of the city getting what the Mayor refers to as a ‘better grip on the kind of development that takes place”.

Many felt that getting the Land Use Study part right was essential – and that if council did get it right they could then move onto the Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown report; if they didn’t get it right there was no point in doing the second part.

It is too early to determine if council did get it right on Tuesday.

There were some surprises and still some confusion as to just what the process is for moving the boundary of the Urban Growth Centre and then – how does the city get rid of the MTSA designation that was slapped on the bus terminal ?

Urban growth centre

Burlington had to have an Urban Growth Centre. It has to be a certain size. The boundaries of the Burlington UGC were determined by the province – the city wants to change those boundaries. The above are the current boundaries.

Heather MacDonald didn’t come across as being totally committed to the level of citizen participation that the people who packed council chambers on Tuesday expected.

Some people were upset over the lack of time the public had to download a 135 page document and wade through it all.

There was a lot of data – making sense of it was the hard part.

MacDonald - JAmie - Commisso

Heather MacDonald outlined the purpose of the Statutory meeting and, when needed, spoke to issues that needed clarification. Jamie Tellier, on the right aided while City Manager Tim Commisso observes. He said little.

MacDonald said that there was no requirement to promote the Land Use Study meeting.  One wonders why one of the two critical meetings, Taking a Close Look at the Downtown, was promoted mercilessly while the other got very little promotion.

Angelo watching Roru

Councillor Bentivegna was brought up a little short by Chair Stolte when it wasn’t clear if we actually asking a question. It was nicely done.

The Tuesday meeting was legally a Statutory meeting – something the city was required to hold and follow strict rules as to how the meeting is conducted.

It started at 9:30 and ended just before 8:00 pm – with breaks for meals.

Committee Chair Shawna Stolte did an excellent job of keeping things moving – she was able to curb Councillor Angelo Bentivegna’s penchant for asking questions that were less than clear.

There were conflicting statements from the Planning people on what the city can do about the Urban Growth Boundary (UGC) boundary and the status of the bus terminal.

Heather MacDonald did explain why nothing has been done yet.  She argued she felt it was vital that she have motions from the city making it clear why they wanted a change.  She also wanted evidence and data to support the request.  The Land Use Study certainly has loads of data.

The understanding is that the province doesn’t care where the Urban Growth Centre boundaries are – but that the city does have a growth centre.

The consultants the city hired said the province has never said yes or no to such a request – because no one has ever asked.

Council was not prepared to direct the Planner to do just that.  Such a request would be political and it would be appropriate for it to come from the Mayor to the Minister.

There is considerable concern over how the Planners decided to keep the Waterfront Hotel within the Urban Growth Centre.  Don Fletcher, heavily involved in the Plan B initiative said he believed the “Waterfront Hotel + Old Lakeshore Road Precinct + Brant Main Street Precinct should be moved out of the UGC, and define a similarly sized area (roughly 11 ha or 10% of the total 106.4 ha) within a suitable precinct north of Prospect Street on Brant/ Fairview.”

The view of many is that the UGC should be moved north and not include the Brant –  Lakesh0re area; that will be a different debate – and not an easy one.

werv

The John Street bus terminal has the same status MTSA – Major Transit Station Area as Union Station which everyone agrees is dumb, The city wants to have that status lifted from the terminal.

As for the status of the bus terminal – it appears that this is something the Region can do on its own – and that any request for a change has to comply with ROPA – which is the Regional Official Plan Amendment.

Waiting until city council has dealt with the Land Use Study, which determines whether or not the Interim Control Bylaw is lifted.  It is due to expire on March 5th.  The ICBL has been an expensive experience for the development community and for one developer, the Molinaro’s quite unfair.

Meed Ward at her old city hall office - the desk is as cluttered in her new space where she tends to fill up her voice mail box and overspend her postage allowance. She promises to get back to people within 24 hours - and delivers on that promise. Now she wants to deliver onher promise to keep spening in line with what is in the bank.

Meed Ward in her first city hall office – the desk is as cluttered in her new space . Her eighth floor office is a lot more spacious and tastefully decorated.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward made her views crystal clear and pleaded for the community to trust council when she said:  “It was identified in this study that there are significant gaps in our own policy and provincial policy. To be able to define the downtown bus depot that it doesn’t function the same as Pearson/Union (even though designated the same), it also doesn’t function as a bus depot. Now we have the evidence that this designation downtown is odd. I greatly appreciate that work from the consultant and staff. We now have a policy framework in front of us and can better manage the pressures of over development in the downtown. That’s what the community asked us to do & that is what this Council has done. I can appreciate members of the public don’t feel that way. I would plead to the community to hear us when we say we have heard you, understood & taken steps to control over development pressures. That was the start of this journey. We have independent research and policy tools to help us now. The one thing I think we all agree on is the downtown isn’t the same as the GO and will never be.”

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna jumped into the fray in January when she sent Council a letter that only served to further muddy the waters.

McKenna letter

The day long Standing Committee sessions produce recommendations that go to a Special Meeting of Council for approval on January 30th.

Related news story:

Planning preferred concepts for downtown core.

 

Return to the Front page

ECoB delegation urges the city to resolve the confusion over the urban growth centre and the John Street bus terminal.

opinionviolet 100x100By Roland Tanner 

January 14th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Glenn Nicholson delivered this delegation on behalf of Roland Tanner who was out of the country.

EcoB’s position with regard to the ICBL study is as follows. While there are elements within the report which we support, there is a key area where we believe the staff recommendation is in error.

Dwyer-Tanner-preg lady

Roland Tanner, co-chair of ECoB taking part in one of the Action Labs that were part of the public participation events that were part of the Taking a Closer Look at the Down Report.

Firstly, we would like to recognise the good work in the staff recommendations in their acknowledgement that the Burlington Go Station area needs improved zoning and height regulation. While we believe the Go Station is a far more appropriate location for a dense Urban Growth Centre neighbourhood connected to mass rapid transit, we do not believe this is an argument for bad development. For the Go Station area to become a vibrant new neighbourhood it is essential to have excellent zoning that insists on commercial space and retail and places reasonable limits on height. It is an opportunity for a truly complete community properly connected to transit. We support the staff recommendations in this specific regard.

Secondly, however, we do not support the recommendations regarding the downtown MTSA.

We acknowledge that current debate around the downtown MTSA revolves around which change is possible in which order. What these recommendations state is that we pass a new Official Plan and put in place zoning that builds the MTSA into all our city planning documents, at exactly the same moment as city planning staff have acknowledged that the John St bus terminal simply does not, never has, and never will function as a MTSA.

The staff solution to the assessment that the John St Bus terminal is not an MTSA perhaps makes sense from the perspective of municipal procedure, but it makes no sense from the perspective of logic or reality. The city must come into compliance with the Region, says the ICBL report, even if though, to put it bluntly, the Region is not in compliance with the laws of physics. The staff recommendation is therefore to continue to build the MTSA language into our planning documents, but to redefine MTSA, in this one instance, to mean what we want it to mean.

EcoB does not think this recommendation makes sense. To be flippant, if something does not look like a duck, or walk like a duck, or quack like a duck, and a consultant agrees that it is not a duck, and never will be a duck, is it really so unreasonable to insist that we stop calling it a duck immediately? If it’s instead large and grey and has a trunk and is a completely inappropriate resident of the local duckpond, does it make any sense to redefine the word ‘duck’ to describe something that everybody can see quite clearly is an elephant? We don’t think so.

Bus shelter - John Street

Debate centered to a large degree on the John Street bus terminal that most people didn’t think should have the status of a MTSA Major Transit Station area. Others want significant funds spent on upgrading the site. All the city has seen in the last six months is upgrade to the transit shelters.

A better way to square the circle of legal requirements and practical reality would be to make a clear statement that Burlington does not believe downtown is or can be an MTSA, and that zoning and density targets should reflect the impossibility of major mass rapid transit ever coming to downtown Burlington, regardless of higher level designations.

Because the fact downtown is not an MTSA gets to the core of the entire debate we have been having in recent years. Places to Grow and the subsequent growth plans were all predicated on the sensible objective of placing people near mass transit. Oakville asked its Urban Growth Centre to be placed in midtown because its downtown could not support mass transit. Our council did not, no doubt still thinking in a car-centric manner of the proximity of the QEW exit, and not of what the province was actually trying to achieve.

Places to Grow and successive provincial governments asked cities to place intensification near transit. That is the alpha and omega of planning logic over the last 15 years or more. Rightly. Burlington has gone down a road of saying transit existed where it does not and cannot exist. Yes, even if shuttle buses can be provided, as they should, from downtown to key areas and transit hubs across the city, that will still not make downtown a major transit hub. Because of this fatal misdesignation, we are in fact concentrating development in a place the Province was at pains to avoid – somewhere separated significantly from a major transit node.

Surely the time to stop pretending downtown is an MTSA is now. Right at the moment when staff have acknowledged it is not – in any practical way – an MTSA. Not in two or five or more years when we can persuade the Region to change. And not after playing games with language which developers and LPAT are unlikely to respect or acknowledge and might well appeal.

In short, building more inaccurate language into our documents must be an error, and we urge council not to accept the staff recommendation on this matter.

Since every element of the logical basis for downtown designation for major intensification was based on the concept of mass transit, and since we have now established that logic was at fault, we therefore ask council to consider a formal motion to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing making a public request for:

A) His clear guidance on how the downtown Urban Growth Centre can be urgently moved or modified, because of the faulty logic by which the UGC was first established.

B) How the province can work with the Region to speedily correct the error that was made when it designated John Street as a Major Transit Station Area.

Burlington MPP goes after Liberals on a point of personal privilige.

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna is said to have a simple answer on how to resolve the MTSA concerns.

We have already received multiple indications from MPP McKenna that the Mobility Hub designations are within council’s remit to designate or undesignate, and we believe Council should do so as soon as practically possible.

Time is of the essence, and we cannot rely on the tortuously slow process of multi-year municipal planning revisions to deliver these essential corrections to the mistakes of earlier councils.

Return to the Front page

The city now has the information it needs to lift the Interim Control bylaw - council approved the study unanimously.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

January 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Fifteen delegations; one lawyer threatening to sue, a private sector planner suggesting that the city planners might want to get some legal advice before they go much further was all part of the mix.  The Council Chamber was packed – not even standing room.

One group of developers complaining that they have suffered a 40% drop in the value of their investment because of what they see coming in the way of changes being made to an Official Plan that has been approved but not adopted.

Snider 2

Scott Snider – lawyer for a group of developers who he claimed were about to take a financial bath.

Sharman hand up

Councillor Paul Sharman

Council Sharman gave a rather lame excuse for the serious failures of the 2014-2018 to do their homework and understand just what the province meant when the created MTSA’s Major Transit Station Areas.

The city had to spend more than half a million dollars on consultants who dove into the weeds and asked the necessary questions – they learned a lot and taught this council a lot.

The city’s solid core of delegations held Council’s feet to the coals and consistently reminded them why they were elected in 2018

The Interim Control bylaw will in all probability be lifted, and if not, several of the developments that were frozen will get an exemption from that bylaw. The Molinaro’s took a significant financial hit when the bylaw was passed.

Dillion consultants Paddy and Justine

Patrick (Paddy) Kennedy and Justine Giancola from Dillon Consulting confer before answering a question at the Standing Committee that was debating the Land Use Study.

The Land Use Study done by Dillon Consulting. while both dense and complex, has served the interests of the city very well.

It will take a little time for the flaws in the report to come to the surface – there are always flaws.

Bld heights for Fairview GO

Developers who invested heavily in land, especially at the Drury Lane end of this area – were shocked when they saw the height limitations that were going to be imposed.

A group of developers were “shocked” (those were the words used by their lawyer) when they saw what the height limitations were going to be for land they had acquired. Those developers are not going to walk quietly into the night.

Council voted unanimously to receive and file the consultant’s report – but before Mayor Marianne Meed Ward put an amendment on the table – which got unanimous approval.

There is much more to say – a lot of detail – but it is late and I have to go home to let the dogs out for their evening constitutional.

At a Special Council meeting January 30th council will vote on what they spent the day talking about – expect the city to have made some good decisions.

Then the hard work really begins – they now have to deal with all those development applications that were stopped.

The developers, their planners and their legal counsel will begin figuring out how they deal with this new regime.

Return to the Front page

Will the lady wear red? Mayor will be a busy woman on January 30th.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Mayor Meed WardThe 30th of January is going to be a very full day for Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.

She is scheduled to deliver the Annual State of the City address to the Burlington Chamber of Commerce. That events starts at 7:15 am and is scheduled to end at 9:00 am.  The event will take place at the Performing Arts Centre.

City Council is scheduled to hold a Special meeting of Council to decide how much of the recommendations that will come out of the meeting held being held today, Tuesday and the meeting on the “preferred concept” for the downtown on Thursday they want to make final.  That meeting is scheduled to be called to order at 9:30 am

The final approval of the two issues: The Land Use Study that was brought about by the creation of an Interim Control Bylaw that stopped development in the Urban Growth Centre and the Take a Closer Look at the Downtown; a report that will put forward where development should be permitted and what the height levels will be.

It has been going to be one heck of a week for the Mayor – and a turning point for the city.

There is a group in the city running a betting pool – will the Mayor wear red?

Return to the Front page

The unfinished business from 2019 is the challenge for the city in the first half of 2020

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 2, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The doors to city hall were open this morning – it isn’t certain that a full complement is in place to get the wheels turning.

Ford on gapping

Joan Ford, City Treasurer, led a team that brought forward a budget that was given a solid work over by Council – her team responded quickly and found ways to meet the 2.99% this council wanted.

Many appear to be adding a couple of days to that magnificent period of time from the Eve of Christmas to the beginning of the New Year and returning to their desks on the 6th. There are a number of people, especially those in Planning and Finance who worked long hours responding to questions from council and revising documents – sometimes on the fly, who deserve any additional time they were able to get over the holidays.

The Clerk’s department has had its hands full; they will be dealing with a significant shake up at the leadership level – will the new Clerk come from within or will Burlington look for a seasoned Clerk elsewhere. There are a number of women in that department who could take on that job – the City Manager is one who could nurture one of several women who have shown considerable promise. A change in attitude within the department will be welcome for those who happen to deal with the Clerk’s office on a frequent basis.

Some members of council were making the best of that opportunity.

Land Uses Dec 2019

135 pages long and dense + the appendices.

The Mayor has said she would be burrowing down and working her way through the several documents that were part of the Land Use Study that was brought about when the Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) was passed last March. The document and its appendices are not for the faint of heart; it will be interesting to hear what Council has to say when it meets at a Statutory Meeting January 14th.

Those who do read the document might well ask if the will of council has been fully discerned by the consultants who wrote the report and the Planning staff team that sent the report to Council.

Lakeshore pic 2 3d

The Taking a Closer Look at Downtown report was a blurred image to many. They get another chance on January 16th to put up a clearer picture.

Two days after the Land Use Study Statutory meeting council will see the second version of what might be included in the Re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan report that didn’t get a round of applause from Council when they reported to Council in December.

At the risk of appearing petty we wonder just how many members of Council reported the gifts they received from developers, National Homes appears to be the one looking for “por favour” from Council – they have two applications that are both at LPAT with settlements that have yet to be given the LPAT seal of Approval.

Lisa excited

Kearns chose to share the gift she got with her colleagues.

Several of the Council members said that they didn’t accept the gift – instead passed it along to a community organization – except for Councillor Kearns who, after explaining in some detail that she does not accept gifts, went on to say that she shared the gift with others on the 7th floor – which is where we house Council members.

Roland Tanner, who actually reads critical documents that come out of city hall, pointed out that the Code of Good Governance , a document signed by every member of Council, as well as being the subject of a half day Workshop, states quite clearly what is to be done with any gift that gets sent along to a Council member.

One of the requirements is to report receipt of the gift to the Clerk, who is required to report annually to the public on who was offered what. We will watch for that report.

The October 2018 municipal election gave the city a new set of wheels to move forward on; the electors chose the candidate for Mayor they believed could best bring about the change they wanted. There was no doubt about that vote.

The five newcomers have had the time they needed to get to know and understand each other; appreciate the different strengths and weaknesses and create some common cause.

In the first six months of 2020 they are going to have to make some very significant decisions – the response to the Land Use Study, getting a rejigged Official Plan in place and sending a stronger message to Staff on just what the will of council is and making sure they understand just what that will is and that it is adhered to – we aren’t there yet. Several news stories and opinion pieces we will publish in the days ahead make that point quite clear.

Football - east end

Proposed for the eastern gateway to the downtown core.

The city and its bureaucrats need to make it as clear as possible to the development community that Burlington is not a community where anything goes.

Meed Ward - tight head shot

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward: Much more than a pretty face.

Mayor Meed Ward has shown that she knows how to take the gloves off and land a solid punch on the nose – when the Grow Bold mantra had lost favour and whatever charm it had, the planners were a little slow in getting the message. Meed Ward made the course correction that was necessary when she said:  would “provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications. Multiple analyses by staff in assessing development applications, downtown in particular, have made it clear we do not need to over intensify in order to meet our obligations under the Places To Grow legislation.”

Stand By says the city motto - for how long one might ask?It is going to be an interesting six months – far too early to suggest that the year will be: a great one for the city – although the potential is certainly there.

That phrase on the city crest Stand By is perhaps the appropriate phrase for the year.

And lastly – do the police have Sean Baird in custody ? And if not – why not?

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Related news stories:

Mayor shows how to get a message to Staff

The gifts that shouldn’t have been accepted.

Come home Sean.

Return to the Front page

Land Use Study a 'disappointment' to some at first reading.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 23rd, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

First published before Christmas; the location of the full report is shown at the end of the article.

In March of last year the city brought in an Interim Control By Law which put an immediate 12 month hold to any development proposals in the Urban Growth Centre, a boundary imposed on the city by the province,

The reason for the bylaw was the rate at which development proposals were flooding into the Planning department; the city was beginning to lose control over what got built where and was working with an Official Plan that was badly out of date and a zoning schema that needed updating.

The 2014-2018 City Council had passed a new Official Plan months before its term expired.  That “adopted” went to the Region for approval.  While the “adopted” plan was being considered at the Region the city held a municipal election – we had a new mayor and five new members on a 7 member city council.

Shortly after the council was sworn in the Regional government returned the “adopted” Official Plan to the city asking for what were some minor changes and added that the city could make additional changes if they wished.

The new City Council, with a new Mayor, took that opportunity to re-write the “approved” Official Pan.  That re-write is currently taking place. In the parlance that is used by the planners these days the land use study will “inform” the re-write of the “adopted” Official Plan

While all that is going on the Planning department was told by Council to bring in consultants to help determine what should be done with the Urban Growth Centre (UGC)

Study area

This map does not appear to be identical to the map we saw when the Interim Bylaw was being put in place. Waiting for some comment from the Planning department

 

The decision to impose an Interim Control Bylaw came out of the blue as far as the public was concerned.

For the Planning department and the senior levels of the city administration it was a move that had to be made.

Development applications were flooding into the Planning department – staff were overwhelmed and the city was in the process of losing the control it did have over what was developed, how high the towers were going to be and where they would be located.

The decision meant real financial hardship for at least one developer and a retirement home operator.

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility was given a lot of latitude and the funding needed to source a consultant – she was permitted to sole source for this task rather than have to go out to the market.  Her budget was $600,000

John Street bus terminal

It is a building that at one point was recommended for closure by the Transit department. It became a huge stumbling block for the city during an appeal the ADI Development group made on the site for the 24 storey Nautique.

Heather MacDonald,  said in announcing the release of the report “The recommendation to implement an ICBL was brought forward by City staff in response to two primary concerns, including growth pressures that continue to emerge for the lands in the study area and a need to review the role and function of the John Street Bus Terminal as a Major Transit Station Area (MTSA).

With the findings of the study in hand, the city has called for a Statutory meeting January 14th at which the public can delegate and Councillors can ask questions.  Expect this to be a contentious meeting.  Staff will listen, take notes and use what they hear at the Statutory meeting to prepare the recommendations  that will be included in the Staff report they bring to Council later in the year.

Many were concerned that the report could not be produced in the one year time frame – MacDonald surprised many when it was delivered two months early.

The 135 page document with graphics galore needs time and consideration.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said she: “I will be  reading the staff report and accompanying appendices overt the holidays and will have more to say in January. I welcome the public participation. This is another step in the process to get the community’s vision reflected in our downtown. We are well on track to completing this work when the one-year deadline on our ICBL is up

The purpose of the ICBL Study was to:

  • Assess the role and function of the downtown bus terminal and the Burlington GO station on Fairview Street as Major Transit Station Areas
  • Examine the planning structure, land use mix and intensity for the lands identified in the Study Area; and,
  • As required, provide recommendations to the City on updates to the Official Plan and Zoning bylaw regulations for the lands identified in the Study Area.

In the report the consultants said:

“There is a strong policy basis for Burlington’s Downtown John Street Bus Terminal as an MTSA and hence the numerous policy documents at the Provincial, Regional and City levels which identify an MTSA in the Downtown. Lands within the Downtown Burlington are identified as an MTSA in the Big Move, Halton Region Official Plan and the City’s adopted Official Plan (but not within the in force Official Plan). Furthermore, a number of long range plans identify potential for transit improvements along Brant Street to enhance connectivity between the Downtown and Burlington GO MTSAs. The Province’s RTP 2041 includes a “Priority Bus / Priority Streetcar” corridor on Brant Street between Downtown Burlington and the Burlington GO Station; and Halton Region’s DMTR reinforces this opportunity, identifying the link between the Burlington GO Station and the Downtown as a Priority Transit Corridor.

The consultants added:

If there was ever a place to locate a transit terminal - that would be John Street where the only terminal in the city is now located. Transit department is recommending it be removed and tickets sold at city hall. Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward isn't buying that business case

Tough to describe the John Street bus station as a Major Transit Station Area. There was just an estimated 320 boarding/alightings in the am peak period.

“From a policy perspective, the Downtown Burlington John Street Terminal is clearly understood to be a Major Transit Station Area. From an operational perspective the John Street Terminal is estimated to have 320 boarding/alightings in the am peak period, with potential to grow to 1800 boardings/alighting in the future. However, in comparison to the characteristics of typical major bus depots, the John Street Terminal has a number of limitations which underpin its lower ridership levels, including:

  • Limited number of major trip generators in the Downtown;
  • Limited connectivity to Burlington GO Station;
  • Limited station infrastructure; and,
  • Limited number of convergence and limited number transfers.

“With the above-noted limitations in mind, it is important to recognize that not all MTSAs are equal. The various density guidelines (e.g. Growth Plan density targets, Mobility Hub Guidelines and MTO’s Transit Supportive Guidelines) reinforce the notion that there is a hierarchy when it comes to transit, with facilities which operate in dedicated right-of-ways, such as subways, LRTs and BRTs, having the greatest potential for ridership compared to bus services which operate in mixed traffic. And while the current ridership levels are low, despite the fact that the Downtown is the City’s densest area, the John Street Terminal functions as a relatively important transfer point in the context of the City’s system.

“With this in mind, the station alone is not understood to be a significant driver of intensification, however, certain forms of intensification, such as employment uses or other major trip generators would help to reinforce the function of the MTSA. Furthermore, future improvements to services and infrastructure could help to improve ridership.”

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

Shovels are in the ground. A development the city did not want, a development that began the high rise fever and alerted other developers with just what they could get away with in Burlington.

That, unfortunately, was just the argument that the ADI Development Group used to convince the then OMB to approve their Nautique appeal. The idea that transit will be used by people who live in the downtown core suggests a huge failure to understand just how transit is used in this city.

Put a free bus running up and down Brant Street and people will use the service – you don’t need an MTSA to make that happen.

During a Standing Committee the public was led to believe that the Region could, if asked, declare that the John Street terminal was not a MTSA.  The consultant also said that the province has never refused to permit a change in the boundaries of an Urban Growth Centre – but added that no one has never asked the Minister of Municipal Affairs to change a boundary.

This may be one of those occasions where that phrase GROW BOLD, would apply.

The Land Use Study has a number of graphics that give credence to that “a picture is worth more than 1000 words” phrase.

Two that will interest many follow.

Brant St elevations

Top graphic is what the heights on Brant street now look like as you look eastward. Bottom graphic is the opposite direction.

 

Existing built form from the lake

This is the elevations looking north from the lake.

 

Height levels within UGC

Where the height is located.

We will return to a very important document – one that the Gazette believes has to be revised if the intentions of a majority of the current council are to be achieved.

 

The full report can be found HERE

Appendix B is the consultants report.

Return to the Front page

National Homes and the City are reported to have agreed on settlement terms over a Plains Rd. development - Have Citizen Concerns been Swept Aside?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 29th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The National Homes plan to build – what – on the 484 – 490 Plains Rd  site where the Bingo Hall was located, is one of two developments they have before the city.

National development Plains Rd Bingo hall

484 – 490 Plains Rd site where the Bingo Hall was located.

The Plains Road development is at Local Planning Act Tribunal (LPAT)  where things are a little confusing.

There is an LPAT Settlement meeting scheduled for January 21st where the final stage of  the agreed settlement between National Homes and Burlington was to be completed.

Jim Young 2

Jim Young

Jim Young, an Aldershot resident has been following this case closely and reports that “So far I don’t know any details nor do I suspect anybody else does.”  Young is a Participant in the case.

Young adds that Tom Muir has been trying to argue a case that he as a “Participant” should be allowed to present an opposition to the settlement agreement.  The National Homes lawyer, Ira Kagan, is advising Muir that presenting evidence is unlikely on two grounds.

1. Only parties get to present evidence or mount a case and there are only two parties… The City and National Homes.  Participants like Tom or I can submit an opinion but cannot give evidence or present “Expert Testimony”

2. Since the city and Nat Homes have reached a settlement neither of them will need to present any testimony.

The appeal will open, there will be little or no discussion as there is agreement and LPAT will happily accept the settlement and move on.

Young concludes that: “At the end of the day what is agreed will be the outcome.”

“If we as citizens feel strongly enough opposed to it our fight must be with the city who we elect and who agreed to the settlement… not the developer over whom we have no control.”

Muir with pen in hand

Tom Muir: He can be acerbic and difficult at times – but he usually has facts at his fingertips. He did not get a Christmas basket from National Homes. Most of the members of Council did.

Muir takes the position “that some redevelopment of this site can occur, and is permitted by the existing OP, and while not planning policy relevant to this proposal, the proposed revisions to the OP and By-laws also permit some development”

“My concern is that this proposal is asking for variances that go far beyond these stated permissions and represent an over-intensification and over-development of this site. The key question is, when is enough enough? Unfortunately, there is so much scope of redundant, discretionary and arbitrary interpretation of the policy framework used to evaluate proposals, that almost anything can be supported and justified by assertions, based almost exclusively on intensification.”

Muir differentiates between “evidence-based policy-making” , and “policy-based evidence making. This looks to be the latter – decide what you want first, and then pick the evidence. Oftentimes, sections of the Policy Framework said to be used, are selectively chosen and focused to assertions that support the recommendation to approve.

“As a result, the viability of existing business and commercial economic development is being sacrificed by planning justifications such as this one. What I continue to find disturbing is the continued de-commercialization of Aldershot. In this respect, the impacts of the loss of commercial at this site are completely ignored in the planning justification coverage of the Provincial Planning Statement as part of the policy framework.”

The Provincial Policy Statement states that Planning authorities shall promote live/work, economic development and competitiveness by:

a) providing for an appropriate mix and range of employment and institutional uses to meet long-term needs;

b) providing opportunities for a diversified economic base, including maintaining a range and choice of suitable sites for employment uses which support a wide range of economic activities and ancillary uses, and take into account the needs of existing and future businesses.

“I do not see these directions being followed in the proposal by National Homes focused on population intensification. In this regard, the proposal includes 10,748 square feet of commercial, whereas there is almost 50,000 square feet existing, and this commercial is fully serviced, providing maximum potential of uses, with commercial venting, full transport loading facilities and size, adjacent, or nearby, more than sufficient parking, and so on”, said Muir.

“There are no specifications as to what quality of commercial potential is proposed. Moreover, this seems to be inadequate replacement commercial space, and appears to resemble what the development business calls “throwaway commercial”, provided to get the real goal of intensified residential. Concern about the rent for new commercial space.  A public meeting was told that: There is an option for existing tenants to move into new space and that the market will dictate size of units. New development will be set at market prices.”

Muir points out that existing prices are well below market rates and said: ” I have talked to existing business and they say that the rents will double and become unaffordable.

The proposal asks for very significant amendments to the Official Plan and By-Laws asking for increased height, increased density and increased floor area ratio, reduced minimum setbacks, reduced amenity area, and reduced parking standards. The Planning Justification for the proposal only mentions the floor area ratio (from 1.5 to 2.14); net residential density (from 51 to 185 units/ha, to 216); and height (from 2 to 6 stories, to 8) but claims that except for these variances the proposal conforms.

Muir making a point

Tom Muir: It should be about good planning.

There is increasingly a departure from the reality of multiple car ownership per unit. I agree that not every unit will have 2 or more cars, but it’s just fantasy to say and assume that all units will have mostly 1 car, and thus dismiss the parking issue that is a reality. At the present time, residents in the Jazz building across the street are reported by residents and business nearby to be parking in the proposal site at all times of days and overnight. As well, parents of children at the school across the street also use the site to park as they pick up and drop off their kids. All those thousands of unaccounted for vehicles are not going to disappear because the planners refuse to recognize they exist.

“This is not “good planning”, but is making convenient and false assumptions to facilitate what the planners want to do. It’s the residents that are being subjected to the consequences.”

 

 

 

Return to the Front page

Urban Growth Centre land use study is done.

Newsflash 100By Pepper Parr

December 19th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The good news is that the Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) Land-Use Study was produced within the one year time frame Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility, said it would be done in.

It will be formally presented to Council at a Statutory meeting on January 14th. In the meantime the report – 135 pages long – will be closely read and re-read by the development community, their advisors and their legal counsel. All those billable hours will be racked up and billed before the end of the year.

Too early to say whether or not this is a gift to anyone.

Heather_MacDonald COB planner

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility

In a statement released by the city, Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility said: “The recommendation to implement an ICBL was brought forward by City staff in response to two primary concerns, including growth pressures that continue to emerge for the lands in the study area and a need to review the role and function of the John Street Bus Terminal as a Major Transit Station Area (MTSA).

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

Is this John Street Bus Terminal a Major Transit Station Area or just a place where you can buy a bus ticket?

With the findings of the study in hand, City staff will come back to City Council on Jan. 14 with proposed amendments to the current in-force-and-effect Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw that will make it possible for new development in the identified study area to be better informed by the City’s transit, transportation and land use vision.”

The staff recommendation report and proposed amendments can be viewed online.

The full Dillon report is HERE

The purpose of the proposed Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments is to:

• strengthen the integration between land use and transit by introducing policies related to transit-supportive development

• introduce the concept of Major Transit Station Areas and a policy framework

• introduce development criteria for development applications within the study area

• update or add definitions to the Official Plan to align with Provincial policy documents and/or assist in the interpretation of Official Plan policies

• introduce additional permitted uses and heights on lands near the Burlington GO Station.

A review of the Land Use study will follow – soon.

Return to the Front page

Heavy duty foundation work started for 'The Gallery' opposite city hall.

News 100 blueBy Staff

December 10th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

No doubt now about what is happening opposite city hall.

Drill and cement trucks Dec 2019

Tight fit on a small site.

It’s a tight fit for all the equipment on the site – heavy duty drills that are doing foundational work and concrete mixers lined up to pour.

The marketing drive is well underway and Carriage Gate vice president Mark Bales shows up at city council to get the developer view point on the table.

Drill dwarfs city hall

Drill ready to sink steel into the foundation of The Gallery.

The Gallery, the name of the 23 storey condominium that will rise opposite city hall, is the first of three developments that have been approved and can begin construction.

Priced from the $400,000s to over $2 million, the suites at Gallery Condos + Lofts range in size from 600 square feet to 2,200 square feet and feature functional, open-concept layouts with large living rooms, gourmet kitchens and expansive balconies or terraces. Standard finishes include wide plank laminate floors, nine-foot ceilings, two-tone kitchen cabinetry, polished quartz countertops and a modern porcelain tile backsplash.

ADI’s, the Nautique, now has mesh type hoarding around the site – can’t see a thing.

The development south of the Gallery, approved for 17 floors, at LPAT looking for 23.

The Bridgewater does have some work being done on the site – still no clear answers to the questions that are being asked.

Return to the Front page

The disappointment heard around the city.

opinionred 100x100By James Young

December 9th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I attended The Planning and Development Committee on Thursday when Councillor Bentivegna expressed his controversial “disappointment” with a delegation.

Lynn and Blair 3

Lynn Crosby and Blair Smith delegating at city hall.

I heard presentations by city planners and consultants, one doesn’t have to agree with them to find them informative. I heard informative delegations from Lynn Crosby and Blair Smith of “We Love Burlington” and Don Fletcher for “Plan B”, the conscience of our waterfront. I heard self-serving delegations from developers and their professional associations, leaving me wondering: Do developers from Hamilton or Toronto deserve equal consideration with local residents who have to live with the developments long after developers have moved on?

In the evening session I heard a detailed delegation from Gary Scobie, who provided councillors with a concise, accurate and informative planning history of Downtown. I hope council and staff learn as much as I do every time Gary delegates.

Roland Tanner, for Engaged Citizens of Burlington, gave an intelligent dissertation on the compromise inherent in the staff recommendation, to get the Official Plan done now and fight the Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) and Urban Growth Centre (UGC) designations later.

I loved David Barker’s idea of a pedestrian area at Lakeshore and Brant St.

Coming from Glasgow where, in the 1970s, Sauchiehall and Buchanan Streets were pedestrianised and closed to traffic. On a Burlington scale: this is the equivalent of closing Lakeshore from Guelph Line to Maple Ave. and Brant Street from Fairview to Lakeshore. Despite the hue and cry at the time about where will cars go? How will local businesses survive?

Fifty years on, these streets bustle with successful retail, patio cafes and restaurants, buskers on street corners, making it one of the most vibrant and attractive pedestrian precincts in the world. So closing Brant from Caroline to Lakeshore as a pedestrian precinct seems easily achievable if the city will is there.

Scobie 5

Gary Scobie during his delegation.

Then there was the “disappointment” that councillor Bentivegna expressed at some of Gary Scobie’s delegation. This seems to have outraged some Gazette contributors.

I disagreed with the councillor. Gary was spot on in his summation of the Downtown OP Review. But was it outrageous or disrespectful? Have we reached a stage in our sensitivity that any criticism or response to a delegation is somehow offensive? What I saw was a poorly thought out point from the councillor, very ably responded to by Gary in what he later described as the normal thrust and parry of council/delegate debate.

My take on outrage is: “Commentators may not be more outraged than the victims.” I happened to be sitting with Gary and Roland Tanner when Clr. Bentivegna stopped by to discuss their delegations. Neither Roland nor Gary were outraged or offended. For those so outraged by a single word, cast your minds back to a time when five of seven councillors repeatedly offended and were downright rude to delegates like Gary, Tom Muir, Lynn Crosby, myself and many others. While I understand and respect Clr. Nisan’s desire for decorum, perhaps he was a little quick on the draw in this case.

Angelo B

Angelo Bentivegna

I was actually more offended when Clr. Bentivegna appeared to question the legitimacy of Roland Tanner’s ECoB delegation, while he accepted the presence of We Love Burlington and Plan B groups without question. Perhaps he should reflect on the influence of ECoB on the outcomes of last municipal election and be quietly thankful.

I leave readers with two thoughts on the Downtown Proposals:

If an OP is approved based on the existing designation of downtown as a MTSA/UGC, then those designations are rescinded, doesn’t that nullify that OP?

Might developers appeal that at LPAT?

Might the Province or Region resist undoing those designations on the grounds that the new OP was approved based on those designations?

I also worry that the planner’s two options are based on provincially mandated “average” UGC density targets of around 200 people or jobs per hectare. Yet developers will still apply for amendments on a case by case basis, most of which considerably exceed that number.

Judging by past appeals it appears that LPAT adjudicates on this case by case basis, regardless of Official Plan’s average densities. This will inevitably lead to over intensification which will strain infrastructure, roads, transit, traffic congestion, all of which are planned around that 200 average.

Jim Young 2James Young is an Aldershot resident who has delegated at city hall frequently.

Return to the Front page

Tanner: Council has a choice to make, and very little time to make it.

opinionred 100x100By Roland Tanner

December 5th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

This is the delegation I gave at City Hall yesterday on behalf of ECoB. It is, in essence, already obsolete, which I believe is good news for residents. It is obsolete because Council informally signaled its clear intention to get the Official Plan Review process complete in March 2020, to lift the ICBL, and move on to doing everything in its power to take on the Urban Growth Centre, Mobility Hub and Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) designations which currently give additional powers to developers to build what they want.

This may still not be the Official Plan most residents want. In fact I’m sure it’s not. Because the city alone cannot insist on the OP residents want – yet. But if the city can persuade other levels of government to work with us, there is some hope that the clearly expressed preferences for residents for downtown Burlington can still be achieved. Nobody should pretend it will be easy. What residents have asked Council to do in reshaping and removing the downtown designations has never been done before, and there is no formal process to achieve it. But getting the revised OP back to Halton Region in March gives us our best chance of achieving those difficult objectives.

I am delegating today on behalf of Engaged Citizens of Burlington. Engaged Citizens of Burlington is a registered non-profit organisation with over 600 signed up supporters, a growing percentage of whom are paid members. We advocate on behalf of the proper recognition of residents’ preferred solutions in all municipal matters, in favour of a stronger role for residents’ voices generally, and in favour of the reform of the province’s relationship with municipal government.

Roland Tanner

Tanner on ECoB: We exist because the voices of residents have historically had a hard time being heard at City Hall over the last decade or so.

That’s the same phrase I’ve used to start the last three or four delegations I’ve made here. I say it because not everybody in the audience knows what ECoB is, and also to counter the criticism of ECoB made since its early days, and still made frequently on Twitter: namely, that we are a group of angry, unrepresentative and entitled NIMBY’s who represent nothing but selfishness.

We exist because the voices of residents have historically had a hard time being heard at City Hall over the last decade or so, and still need all the help they can get in working, hopefully collaboratively, with City Hall.

But that’s not the same thing as saying ‘what residents want to happen has to happen’. What residents want can only ‘happen’ if it’s legal. But Council can insist on Official Plan that’s ignores the wider planning context, if it wants. It has that right. I suspect that’s the subtext of today’s debate, rather than the two options actually on the table. Should council send these options back to staff for a third time and demand options that reflect what residents want? Or is there another approach that could work?

So I’m not going to do what once would have been expected from ECoB and shake my fist and say that the options presented by staff are an outrage that ignores residents. I’m also not here to capitulate and say this represents a reasonable compromise with the public vision for downtown and we simply have to put up with it. It’s not and we don’t. Downtown’s future should reflect the vision of Burlingtonians. Period. Nobody in this room should have a problem with that. The only question is, how do we get there?

I believe we have two options presented by staff which are a good faith attempt to do what they can to deliver a compromise between what residents want and what is defensible at LPAT. But those options were never going to be popular or reflect the entirety of what residents want. That was very clearly signalled by staff throughout this review. They feel it would be professionally unacceptable to draft a plan that’s inconsistent with the provincial framework.

Why do they believe this? Because of the Urban Growth Centre. That’s the root cause of this entire debate. Regardless of population targets and minimum densities and all the rest of it, while the Urban Growth Centre is in place downtown we are going to get proposals for highrises, and LPAT is going to approve them. That Urban Growth Centre was put in place with little or no consultation, and absolutely no foresight in 2007. The then director of planning was proud that Burlington was the first city in the GTHA to do so. In retrospect it seems like we were first because nobody on that council was paying attention. But that decision informs everything happening now. Everything comes back to the Urban Growth Centre.

So Council has a choice to make, and very little time to make it. The choice is – either, ONE, reject both these options and ask the planning staff for a third time to reconsider their proposals for downtown. Or, TWO, let these options go forward, acknowledging that this is not what residents want, and not what many feel they have the right to expect, but recognising that if we’re actually going to win this battle for a downtown residents like, it’s not going to be the OP that delivers it.

If Council asks staff to think again, if that’s being considered, what will happen? It will mean more delays, with no particular guarantee that staff will even then come back with options that anybody likes. And I presume it will mean the Interim Control Bylaw will be extended, possibly for up to another year. If that happens, my understanding is that council remains unable to address the Anchor Mobility Hub at the John St Bus shelter or the Urban Growth Centre. Everything that has a chance of definitively getting control of downtown remains on hold.

Plan b page 10

What Brant Street could look like.

Meanwhile development applications keep coming in. And they keep getting taller. And while the ICBL is in place the clock keeps ticking on applications, which means those applications are going straight to LPAT for non-response by council. Far from controlling the decisions on those developments, Council is handing them over to LPAT without trying to use the tools at its disposal to achieve moderation. Those developments are not coming back to you. LPAT will make the call. I freely admit that if I was sitting where you’re sitting I would have voted for the ICBL. I have no doubt. But right about now as I see developments being appealed to LPAT for non-response I’d be wondering if I’d made a mistake. I hope I’d have had the courage to change my mind rather than doubling down.

If in contrast Council takes these options and goes ahead with them as the basis for an imperfect OP for downtown, what will happen? The ICBL will be lifted. The city can, we believe, remove the Mobility Hub and leave central Burlington with one perfectly logical transit hub, taking one tool away from developers. The city can start making decisions on the developments coming before it, and residents need you to do that work. The city can begin lobbying the province for help with the Urban Growth Centre.

Tanner standing

Roland Tanner sees hope for the city.

Yes, we know it will not be easy, and there are numerous hurdles to achieving it. But council has something very powerful in its pocket – votes in a marginal riding. We live in a must-win riding for any provincial government, and the current government is on the wrong side of the biggest political issue in our city for this or many generations.

In that context who can say even this pro-development provincial government won’t be willing to listen?

This is EcoB’s position right now. Complete this process as soon as possible and get onto the policies which address where the real power lies. Residents ultimately don’t care about a perfect Official Plan. They care about their downtown, and they want to see a council that is doing everything in its power to address the the many things which are currently taking their downtown away from them.

And if, finally, the Urban Growth Centre can be addressed and placed where it makes sense – where Burlington’s transit already exists and growth is already being focused – could we not then return to the OP and revise it to reflect the new tools that the city holds?

Return to the Front page

Don Fletcher once again explains to Council why Plan B is critical to saving what Burlington is.

News 100 redBy Staff

December 6th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Don Fletcher stood before a Standing Committee to tell them about a Citizens Plan for the Waterfront Hotel site at the foot of Brant street that is already in talks with the city to re-develop the site.

The Planning department had put out their proposed Concept 2 for the site.  The creation of that proposal is what brought the Plan B into existence; they knew something much better was possible.

Plan B page 3

The city Planning department called it the emerging preferred concept 2

On November 28th, 2017 an alternate building design featuring:

i. Extension of Spencer Smith Park
ii. Enhancement of Brant Street gateway to Lake Ontario

was put forward.

One June 5th, 2018 another Fletcher delegation resulted in amendment to key policy direction to “define & consider a building setback from the Thin Red Line”

Plan b page 4

That thin red line would ensure that there would always be a clear view of the lake from Brant Street.

The Citizens’ PLAN B remains committed to process, continuing dialogue with all stakeholders.

The Thin Red Line at NE Corner of Lakeshore & Brant is meant to ensure that there are no building West/ Southwest of Thin Red Line.

Fletcher explained to Council why the PLAN B folks were once again before Council.

– Two precincts, the Brant Main Street and the Lakeshore Mixed Use border on Waterfront Hotel property and Spencer Smith Park.

– That is a concern because changes to the adopted OP for downtown and the intensification designations will impact the application and approval of the Waterfront Hotel redevelopment

The participation that Fletcher saw at the Citizen Action Labs sessions caused the Plan B people additional concern about the process

The Re-examination of Adopted OP Process has a number of assumptions including key designations remaining unchanged.

– John Street bus terminal = Mobility Hub/ Major Transit Station Area

– Downtown Burlington = Urban Growth Center

• Both Concepts 1 & 2 seem designed to meet same intensification goals as former Adopted OP – LPAT defensible.

– Tall buildings permitted in Lakeshore Mixed Use Concept 1 at both NE corner w/Brant & NW corner w/Locust transition poorly to neighbouring precincts, but yield higher density

– Podium setback in Lakeshore Mixed Use Concept 2 of only 3m is to compensate for lower density of mid rise building

Fletcher believes that the electorate voted on Oct. 22nd, 2018 for fundamental change to intensification levels and the enforceability of Official Plan.

He concludes that key OP policies should to:

– Preserve connections & views to the waterfront
– House mid to low-rise buildings downtown with taller ones toward Fairview
– Maintain small town character and preserve heritage
– Reflect the community’s vision for the area

Fletcher argued that many attendees at Citizen Action Labs viewed Concepts 1 & 2 as different versions of same over-development and added that a different result from the 2018 Adopted OP demands a different approach.

Fletcher is concerned that Proceeding Solely As-Is is a mistake.

An Official Plan recommendation, potentially uninformed by the City’s Land Use Study (This is the work being done while the Interim Control bylaw is in place) was not in his opinion a smart thing to do. The land use study is not due until early March.

– Should the Mobility Hub/ Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) or Urban Growth Center designation remains they will permit the over development of the downtown which residents dislike and voted against.

This allowd for continued grounds for LPAT appeals by developers to plan/ negotiate ever greater heights. That would mean a return to “business as usual”, supported by developer-friendly Bill 108, once ICBL moratorium expires

Plan b page 10

This is the Brant Street view looking south to the lake that the Plan B people want to ensure does not happen.

Citizens’ PLAN B proposes that the city continue to refine recommended Concept (1+2)

• Create an alternate What-if Concept to support growth downtown, without Mobility Hub/ MTSA and Urban Growth Center designations

• Accelerate Land Use Study & publish

• Aggressively lobby Region/ Province to change MTSA & Urban Growth Center designations, to establish viability

• Seek public feedback (January-February)

• Present both options to Council in March

• Decide and submit OP for approval to the Region of Halton, dependent upon finalizing designations for downtown

Burlington’s Downtown is at a turning point.

Related news stories:

The first look at Plan B.

Send the Plan back.

Return to the Front page

Angelo Bentivegna displayed the kind of behavior we thought was no longer tolerated at city hall.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 5th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Shades of the previous council.

Angelo BWard 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna  told delegator Gary Scobie that he was disappointed with the delegation he had made.

Before Bentivegna could finish his ill-advised comment – Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan spoke on a Point of Privilege and said he did not want to see comments like this being made.

This is the second time Bentivegna has given Scobie a rough ride – he made a snide remark a number of weeks ago, asking “What do you want – a play by play” when Scobie was asking for a little more detail.

Burlington is fortunate to have people like Scobie who take the time and make the effort to bring fresh ideas, hard questions and imagination to how the city could grow.

Scobie

Gary Scobie – asking a question during the Walking Tour that was part of the outreach to citizens by the Planning department.

In remarks after the Bentivegna choice words Scobie said that everyone knows the city has to grow – and that the growth is needed – he just wanted to see the growth in the right places – in and around the Mobility Hubs.

He told Council that they came to city hall with hopes to put a lid on this.

“We are in a predicament – you are being asked to meet a target you don’t really like – then get rid of the target.”

Scobie who attends most of the public meetings attended the Action Labs and reported that people were confused with what was being asked of them.

He deserved better.

Return to the Front page