City asking the people who pay the bills to speak up and take part in the planning for what the city should look like.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

October 17th, 2019



The push is on.

The city wants some of the political oxygen that we are all breathing.

People are focused on the federal election.

The city wants you to remember that they too play a role in how decisions are made and they want you to take part in that process.

They have all kinds of things lined up for you.

It all starts with a feedback report summarizing what the City heard during the first phase of public engagement for the re-examination of Burlington’s adopted Official Plan; that is now available online at

What follows is all great stuff – what is worrisome is that an earlier survey drew 308 responses from a city with a population of over 175,000 people.

308 respondEarlier this year, Burlington City Council directed City staff to re-examine the downtown policies in Burlington’s adopted Official Plan, including the height and density of buildings. As part of this work, the City hosted a series of public engagement opportunities in August and September, designed to give the community the chance to provide meaningful input on the community’s vision for the downtown, both online and in person.

Participants in the engagement were asked questions about the downtown, including what matters most to them; what they like and dislike; what they want to see protected as the downtown continues to grow; and what they want to see more of in the downtown, through the following engagement opportunities:

• Action Labs – two workshops open to the public where approximately 70 people worked together to discuss, identify and prioritize what is most important to them about the downtown

• Pop-up events – 17 pop-ups events across the community where City staff interacted with hundreds of residents from all wards

• Survey – a total of 308 responses were received online and by hard copy. Working with the Halton Multicultural Council, the survey was translated into five languages, including Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish and Tagalog.

What matters most about downtown: What we heard
From the feedback gathered, the themes heard most often from participants included:

• Keep and attract new businesses

Plan B rendering

Plan B hasn’t gotten much in the way of attention lately – it is a citizen led initiative to ensure that when the Waterfront Hotel is torn down and replaced that whatever is built keeps a clear view from Brant Street out to the Pier. The city has never shown much enthusiasm for the idea.

• Protect and enhance existing green spaces, strengthen connections to the waterfront, and plant more trees

• Enhance downtown’s role as a year-round cultural, tourism, shopping, leisure and event destination

• Housing options and affordability

• Enhance pedestrian spaces and provide more transit and cycling options, and reduce congestion

• Mid and low-rise buildings preferred in many areas

Street - what is being taken down

These are the storefronts on Brant Street, opposite city hall that will disappear when the development for the area begins construction. A height of 17 storey has been approved – the developer wants 23 – identical to the property to the north on the other side of James Street.

• Maintain the small-town charm and preserve heritage

• Safer, more usable, inclusive public spaces

• Appropriate parking supply.

How will the feedback be used?
The feedback gathered in August and September is being used to develop two concepts of what the downtown could look like in the future. These concepts will be shared with the public for further review and input starting the week of Oct. 21. Feedback gathered in the second phase of the public engagement will inform a revised downtown concept, presented as a recommendation to Burlington City Council in January 2020.

More public engagement – Phase 2, starts the week of Oct. 21
To create policies that reflect the community’s vision for the downtown, the City of Burlington needs to hear from as many people as possible. Please consider lending your voice at one of the upcoming public engagement opportunities:

• Week of Oct. 21, go online to to view the two concepts of what the downtown could look like, reflecting the priorities the City heard in the first round of engagement

Dwyer-Tanner-preg lady

Action Lab participants in one of the early sessions.

• Action Labs
Working in small groups, discuss and identify what you like and don’t like about the two downtown concepts. Action Labs will be held on:

• Wednesday, Oct. 23, 1 to 3 p.m. or 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lions Club, 471 Pearl St.

• Saturday, Nov. 2, 1 to 3 p.m. at Mountainside Recreation Centre, 2205 Mt. Forest Dr.
Drop-in, registration not required.

• Downtown Walking Tour
Take a walking tour of downtown Burlington to get a first-hand view of the areas where policies are being re-examined, on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., meeting at the No Frills Plaza at 571 Brant St.

• Online Survey
Go online to share your thoughts about the two downtown concepts at Survey available starting Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Blair Smith talking to planner Heaher MacDonald

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility in conversation with Blair Smith.

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility, who is driving much of this public engagement explains where all this is going: “When we set out to re-examine the downtown policies in the adopted Official Plan, one of the objectives we established was to create an ongoing record of the feedback gathered and to report back to the community about what we heard.

“We hope this report is helpful in tracking the progress of the project and in understanding how the input collected may or may not inform the final recommendations to Council.”

“The next key opportunity for public engagement that will directly influence a recommendation to Council starts the week of Oct. 21 and I encourage anyone who cares about the future of the downtown to participate in the conversation.”


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2 comments to City asking the people who pay the bills to speak up and take part in the planning for what the city should look like.

  • Carol Victor

    Agree, Bill 108 has really shot down our municipal voice. What about amalgamation? How will the much awaited provincial report affect us?
    Many people are involved in the Federal election , wish some of this work done in Aigust and September could have waited until or been done before Oct 21st, there would have been much more city centered engagement.

  • Penny Hersh

    It will be interesting to see the two downtown concepts that will be presented to the public shortly. I hope that this will not be “smoke and mirrors”, by that I mean, that if the concepts do not meet the mandates set out by the Province then all the public engagement would be a waste of time.

    The city should not simply put together concepts that residents may want but are not defendable on appeal at LPAT. I hope that one of the concepts presented would be defendable at LPAT, if necessary. Residents need the truth on what to expect moving forward.

    There are some election promises that are unattainable. I think the ship has sailed on controlled development in the downtown urban growth centre, unless major changes if possible, are made, like moving the downtown urban growth centre, and the un-designation of the John Street, anchor/mobility hub.