Citizens group plans to appeal the city council decision to approve a 23 story tower to the OMB. Council voted 5-2 for the development.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 26th, 2017



Will the meeting in the Party Room at Buntin’s Wharf Saturday afternoon be seen as the event that changed the way Burlington citizens relate to their elected officials?

ECOB founding Nov 25 back of heads

Jim Young chairs the founding meeting of ECOB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington. Just 25 people – but they are determined to make a difference,

Just over 25 people met in a building that changed the way the downtown core looked 15 years ago. Buntin’s Wharf, a 14 storey condominium was completed in 2004 – it is part of a collection of condominiums that changed Lakeshore. The people in those buildings – there are five of them don’t want to see much more in the way of high rise development in the downtown core – they would like to see it take place a little further up Brant Street.

It was a chilly afternoon with the Festive Season lights up in Spencer Smith Park.  Many of the people who attended were there to find out if this group was real.  “I’m here and will be reporting back to my friends who care about what happens downtown”.   The people who attended take great exception to the city saying that they truly engage the citizens – they see what the city does as “something of a disgrace”.   “When we delegate they just sit there and listen – and seldom ask questions of us.  It’s insulting was the way one person described what she had gone through.

421 Brant

The wrong height and in the wrong place was the view of a group – ECOB – that plans to appeal the 5-2 city council approval of a 23 storey tower opposite city hall.

It didn’t take long for the direction this group wanted to go in – they had named themselves Engaged Citizen of Burlington – took on the acronym ECOB – elected a set of officers – there will be seven of them.

Resolved to be incorporated by the end of the week, open a bank account and deposit the $5000 they raised on the spot in less than ten minutes.

They put in place a social media pro who headed up the very successful drive Central high school parent drive to keep their school of the to be closed list.

They set up three sub committees – one to take the 421 Brant Street development to the OMB – they expect to file papers at city hall for that initiative very soon – they are fully aware of the ticking clock.

The ECOB people have a bigger agenda – they want to create a city wide residents association that wants to change the way city hall makes development decisions and be a force that holds city council accountable to the people that elected.

This group has had it with this council. “They don’t listen” was the refrain heard again and again.

This is not a group of wild eyed NIMBY types.

There was some very smart talent in the room. When discussion on the incorporation was going on – one of the participants was on the phone to a local lawyer – “he’s in” she said and with that the process of incorporation had begun.

They had financial commitments before they had a treasurer in place. One participant said he came to the meeting with a cheque in his pocket – he just wanted to know who to make it out to.

One of the team briefed them on the “Bay Street lawyer” who was in the process of doing a “conflict review” to ensure that they could represent the group before signing on.

What is it going to take financially – they seemed comfortable with raising $100,000. One of the sharper minds in the room told the group that money wasn’t the issue – that will come – setting out what it is we want is where the attention has to be paid.

Another participant asked: What is it we want the OMB to do – no point in taking our argument to them until we are focused on the objective.

“We can’t just ask the OMB to stop the development” said one participant.

The developer has a 12 story approval on one piece of the properties assembled – “we aren’t going to see anything less than that.

Mediation got talked about – arbitration got talked about. They all realized they had a tough row to hoe – but they were in for the long haul.

The ward Councillor who was not in the room – they didn’t want here there.  They don’t want their organization to be seen as a front for a member of council.

There were some very savvy people in the room – they asked that they not be individually identified at this point.

The discussion between the 25 people was a model that city council could emulate.

Jim Young

Jim Young – the man who did one of the best delegations this city has ever heard.

Jim Young, an Aldershot resident chaired the meeting, filling in for Susan Goyer who appears to be the one who got the ball rolling a number of weeks ago. She was in Florida.

Assuming these people get their OMB appeal filed within the deadline – development decisions downtown are going to be different.

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10 comments to Citizens group plans to appeal the city council decision to approve a 23 story tower to the OMB. Council voted 5-2 for the development.

  • Penny

    To become involved with ENGAGED CITIZENS OF BURLINGTON, go to our Facebook Page and become a member or email us a

    We will be holding a public meeting on Wednesday, December 13th from 7-9 pm at Burlington Baptist Church, 2225 New Street, next to Dodsworth & Brown. Please plan on attending

  • David Fenton

    Count me and my money in. Ask yourself this, when visiting other places, have you ever said “Why can’t Burlington be like this.” Where were you? Was it vibrant? Were there coffee shops? Interesting shops? Were there lots of nice people young and older enjoying their day? Was there a mix of old and modern buildings? Did you get a sense that a lot of thought had gone into the planning this place.
    And then you come back to Burlington where the easy (Lazy) button is pushed on every decision.

  • David Conrath

    I too am willing to get involved. The first step is to see what can be done with respect to the OMB. The next is to ensure that those councillors who voted for the development do NOT get re-elected. They obviously have no intention to listen to us. Make sure that those we elect next fall will.

  • Joe

    I’m in, how when and where can I get involved.

  • Chris

    Congratulations to getting Engaged Citizens started! I have been very disappointed in how our Municipal government says they listen and engage citizens for some time. They say one thing and do another. We need new leadership and Councillors who listen, consider, respect and truly appreciate that this is what we elected them for.
    You can count me in. Unfortunately I was out of town so not able to attend the meeting.

    Please add me to the group.

  • Hans

    How can one join (and/or contribute to) this group?

  • Allan

    Good luck fighting City Hall. Developers now control our city and all they are interested in is the almighty dollar.

    Why can’t the City learn from Chicago with it’s undeveloped waterfront or Paris, France where hi-rises are not allowed until 4 miles out of city. They could even learn from downtown Oakville!

    Jamming high rise apartments into the downtown is madness. Our roads and infrastructure can’t handle what we have now.

    • Hans

      You’re right, it’s madness.

      It also begs the questions:
      How are those who voted in favour benefiting from their vote?
      Did they vote – as they are supposed to – to do what is best for Burlington?
      Can they provide a genuine and plausible justification for the way they voted?

      And that tired old “the province mandated it…” answer is not acceptable – that’s just silly BS.

  • Phillip

    Congratulations to this group for attempting to restore both democracy and planning/development sanity to Burlington. Once your group is legally incorporated, please let everyone know where we can send financial support. I applaud you for doing what our elected councillors (MMW excepted) refuse to do–represent the people of this city.

  • Tom Perry

    It is interesting that the Council approval on Brant/James are the same members who have a tradition of not listening to anyone but developers. Check out all the planning decisions during their tenure. Track records are a matter of record. Height restrictions mean nothing to the City.