Citizen agrees that they are being asked to do to much to quickly - wants the city to slow it down and get it right.

opinionandcommentBy Stephen White

June 21st, 2017



There are far too many initiatives in play, and far too little time to fairly and effectively read, review, understand and absorb the cumulative impact that all of these development proposals will have upon the City.

This process is not being effectively managed and the Mayor and Council need to wake up to this reality.

A closer look at the proposed 2012 city budget called for some thinking and some animated discussion at the Burlington Artr Centre session last week.

Citizens do show up for public meetings and are very willing to participate – but the number of meetings being held now is more than most can manage,

Citizens are attending meeting after meeting trying to get a grasp on what is going on. These meetings make a mockery of public participation because they assume the average citizen:

1) has had the time to review materials;

2) is able to attend public meetings and forums despite other personal and business commitments;

3) has reviewed content online; and

4) has had sufficient time to ask and receive informative answers to poignant questions.

Add to this separate meetings and discussions around smaller planning projects, school closures, etc. and it is a lot to absorb.

We are all being held hostage because of Kathleen Wynne’s intensification mandate.

This sad, sorry, pitiful government has one foot in the grave and despite the Gazette’s optimism it is not a certainty that their re-election is assured.

BC election

Citizens are replacing their governments when they are unhappy – Burlington will have its next municipal election in 2018.

The Liberals should take a long, hard look at recent results in B.C. and Nova Scotia if they want confirmation of that.

Add to that growing public dissatisfaction with the Trudeau government, and recent policy initiatives that will prove incredibly costly and problematic to implement (e.g. a 32% increase in the minimum wage by January 2019) and you have an election minefield ready to explode.

At a minimum the timeline for review and implementation of these planning initiatives should be extended by a year to eighteen months.

Let’s agree to take the time and do it properly and fairly rather than subscribe to an artificially imposed timeline.

White StephenStephen White is a Certified Management and Executive Coach and founder of Competitive Edge Coaching based in Burlington, Ontario. Stephen is a member of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce and also serves on the Chamber’s Political Action Committee.

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11 comments to Citizen agrees that they are being asked to do to much to quickly – wants the city to slow it down and get it right.

  • James Smith

    Good article Stephen! I do have to quibble with your statement “We are all being held hostage because of Kathleen Wynne’s intensification mandate.”. Intensification is how all progressive cities in North America are growing. The Liberal’s, plan has the support of the Tory mayor of Toronto. A great read on the subject is Pamela Blais’ book “PERVERSE CITIES”

  • Brian

    Interesting comments, truly showing different views.

    Burlington rushing to approve developments? City Hall moving too fast?

    As I understand it, the Bridgewater was approved back in 2006. It took 9 years to break ground, and, correct me if I’m wrong, I believe that the process started back in 1985 or so. The Berkeley has been in the works since 2007 or so, was approved in 2016 and started construction shortly thereafter, but is also looking at least a 10-year period to go from initial planning to completion.

    There has been construction activity in the Downtown over the few years, however, if one were to truly look at it, I think you would be hard pressed to find that more than 10 projects have been completed in the last 20 years. That is an average of one project every two years.
    The Bridgewater and The Berkeley are ongoing and are the largest projects in the Downtown Burlington in many years. If you take the Saxony into consideration, then yes Burlington appears to be moving at an incredible rate of construction. However, when you consider the year and half to two years needed to compete these projects (note Saxony appears to be at a standstill) and the fact that the most recent prior two projects (Pearl and Pine Retirement and Building at Brock and Elgin) were completed almost 3 years ago, Burlington is still on par at the rate of about ½ a project per year.

    In reference to the article, yes, the City appears to be pushing through the Mobility Hub Studies, Official Plan and Tall Building guidelines rather quickly. Perhaps this is because some deadlines are looming on the horizon?

    I believe what Philip is referring to with his comment; “I understand we are far ahead of the intensification targets here in Burlington.” is the minimum growth density required for Burlington’s Downtown Urban Growth Centre (UGC). The UGC it is not mentioned too often in studies or meetings, however it is perhaps what is the driving force behind the push to complete the other studies. Burlington is required to have a density of 200 people and jobs per Hectare in its 117 Hectare UGC by 2031. I have heard it mentioned that we are at either 135 people and jobs per Ha or that we are at 75%. Even in the best-case scenario of being 75% there, this would mean that 5,850 people and jobs need to be added to the UGC in the next 13 years or so.

    I believe that the Berkeley has 120 residential units and the Bridgewater has 150 residential units. At 2 people per unit that is 540 people. Both projects also have jobs involved, so, for argument sake, double that to 1,080 people and jobs are being added by these two projects. Even with these two projects the City still needs 4,770 more people and jobs added by 2031. At 540 people and jobs for each of these projects, this means 9 more projects of the same size projects as the Bridgewater and The Berkeley are needed in the next 13 years in order to meet the requirement.

    Take into consideration that about 10 years have been needed from inception to completion for such projects, it appears that development is not happening fast enough! Perhaps this is why there is a push for all the studies and reports?

  • James

    City Hall moving too fast??? Development moving too fast??? I can’t believe what I’m reading here. Am I living in an alternate universe? There’s nothing happening here!! Burlington has practically fallen asleep!!

    • David Fenton

      I should have clarified my agreement, I live down town in the middle of what can only be described as a giant building site.

  • David Fenton

    Agreed! whats the rush.

  • Phillip

    It’s nice to blame this intensification on the provincial government BUT why the rush. First, I understand we are far ahead of the intensification targets here in Burlington. Can’t we now slow down and get it right. I compare our city with Oakville. Oakville has managed to maintain the integrity of its downtown and residential areas in the south; by comparison, the mayor and council have made a shoddy mess of this City. Anecdotally, I am under the impression from Oakville residents that I know that the town does actively engage its residents; much different from Burlington where the mayor’s faux commitment to public engagement is pure window-dressing. Is Goldring so gung ho to please his Liberal masters to secure a provincial appointment–stay tuned! Second, this Wynne government is living on borrowed time–why not stall the process. By November, 2018, not only Wynne will be gone but so will this mayor and council.

  • Christie Woodruff

    It does seem as though our city is rushing to approve any development that increases density without taking the time to ensure those developments are adding quality to our community. We should slow down and begin more effectively negotiating with developers through density bonusing to provide our community with desirable amenities in exchange for up-zoning. It seems as though any resident who criticizes a high rise or mixed-use development is dismissed as being resistant to change and clinging to cars when this is not often the case. I think most residents just want to take the time to ensure we do density, vibrancy, and walkability well before we desperately give all of our valuable land away to sub-par buildings in an effort to intensify as quickly as possible. We are missing out on big opportunities to negotiate with developers to provide our community with ammentities we otherwise couldn’t afford (e.g. maybe bury the hydro lines in front of their property).

  • Penny

    It never ceases to amaze me that the public actually believes it will have any sort of say in what is happening in Burlington. When I first moved to Burlington I really thought my opinion counted, that my voice was actually being heard and taken into account.

    I learned quickly that this was not so. Smoke and Mirrors. Public engagement without taking the public seriously is a waste of time. As I have been told the Councillors are there to listen, not necessarily to implement the changes that residents would like to see.

    As I walk downtown and see much needed parking spaces being converted to patios for restaurants, that starting shortly restaurants will be able to have live music on their patios ( Looking forward to the din of one restaurant trying to outdo the other to have their music heard) I have to question the logic of some of Councils decisions. Council seems to confuse noise and vibrancy. Vibrancy in my opinion is people in the street, frequenting the shops not a lot of unnecessary noise.

    Hamilton residents were smart enough to stop the live music on patios before it became law. The residents appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board and won.

    I guess Council and City Staff know much better than I do what the residents want and need.

    • craig

      Small correction, Hamilton was about to allow live muisc on patios this summer till some groups filed an appeal to OMB that will either halt or delay live music, but council had okayed it in Hamilton on a 2 year pilot. Story on this at

    • Shannon

      I love those pop-up patios! I wish we had a lot more of them. City parking studies have shown that there’s sufficient parking downtown. As for live music on patios, I’ll take that “noise” made by our local musicians over the incessant roar of leaf blowers any day. Burlington residents love to say they want a vibrant downtown but more people living here? Forget it. More live music and festivals? No way. More bike lanes? WHAT ABOUT MY RIGHTS AS A CAR DRIVER?! More development? No thank you. We like everything just the way it is.

      I’d argue that development in Burlington actually happens at a painfully slow pace. Only a handful of condo buildings have sprung up downtown in the past 15 years. The Carriage Gate project at Caroline and John has been in development since 2009 and it seems like the Bridgewater complex has been in the works since Justin Trudeau was in short pants.