Changes planned for Civic Square are going nowhere - until Council has had a look at the final design - which they claim not to have seen yet.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 11th, 2019



At just about every city council Standing Committee meeting there are a number of reports that are listed as part of the Consent Agenda.

These are reports that the Clerk’s Office doesn’t feel will require debate.

Any council member can ask to have an item taken off the Consent Agenda – which is what happened Monday evening when Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan asked that the report on changes to the design of Civic Square be taken off the Consent list – he had some questions – which led to close to an hour of discussion and a number of council members with their noses out of joint.

Civic Square Dec 2018

What Civic Square looks like today. The holding of the event to recognize the loss of a member of Walk Off The Earth and the Burlassic Park site for the Raptors games have changed the way the city sees the use of the space.

The only reason the item was on the Consent Agenda was because the cost of the project had gone over the permitted delegated spending level.

Rory Nisan

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan spotted a problem with a report – saved council and the city from a major embarrassment.

Councillor Nisan had problems with the process that was used and pointed out that Civic Square was a flagship location and the level of public engagement should have been much higher. He argued that there was no opportunity for Council to comment.

Nisan wanted the report deferred so that Council could get to see what the final project was going to look like.

It was explained that the Capital Works people were up against a very tight deadline in terms of the work that had to be done and the need to get that work done before a March 2020 date which is when the funds that came from the provincial government would no longer be available.

Mayor Meed Ward jumped on that issue saying she shared the concern and wanted to know why the design was not in the report and added that what she was hearing from people was a significant level of being “underwhelmed”.

Fig 2

The objective was to create a shade structure(s) to complement planned upgrades to the small gathering place in front of City Hall.

Staff had come back to Council for approval to spend more than they were permitted to spend – council got huffed over not being asked to approve the final project.

There were two public information sessions and an on-line survey.

Fig 3

The city describes Civic Square as a small yet vital gathering space located in the heart of downtown Burlington and acts as the front entrance to City Hall. In addition to providing residents and visitors a space to stop and rest, Civic Square is also home to a variety of arts and culture events.

Had Councillor Nisan not asked the Executive Director of Public works some questions this project to re-design what Civic Square was going to look like would have been a done deal.

Deferring it to the next Standing Committee cycle would have created timing problems on several levels – so Council decided to have the Capital Works people return the next day with a detailed report on what the site was going to look like.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns was fully aware of what was planned – she clearly dropped the ball on this one.

There will be some scrambling on Tuesday while Council scurries to recover from this gaff.  Staff didn’t think they had a problem. The shade devices will be gone by the time council finishes with this matter.

The Gazette reported at length on the project – council members missed that one.

Link to related news stories: Gazette new story in February – it was all there for anyone to read.

Gazette story in December of 2018 on the changes coming to Civic Square.

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1 comment to Changes planned for Civic Square are going nowhere – until Council has had a look at the final design – which they claim not to have seen yet.

  • Penny Hersh

    The designs presented to the public did not represent in my opinion a city that was going “Green”. They were too contemporary for the space and the surroundings. The designs were cold and uninviting with a lot of metal and hard surfaces. Would not metal attract and absorb the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter?

    The designs presented, in my opinion, would become dated. They reminded me of the design for the Elgin Street promenade adjacent to Kelly’s Bakeshop – grey and concrete.

    Why not some natural shade – like trees and plants?