City of Burlington looks to challenge Ontario Land Tribunal Ruling on Lakeshore and Pearl Street 29 storey development

By Staff

October 28th, 2021



Yesterday, the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) released its decision on Lakeshore Inc.’s proposal at 2069-2079 Lakeshore Rd.

The City strongly disagrees with and is shocked by the ruling, which allows for a 29-storey building at that location.

It’s tall – but not THE tallest development in the works. There is a developer with a 32 storey idea for Brant Street.

It’s This decision is not at all reflective of the planned context for the Downtown as expressed in the new Official Plan. It not only ignores the citizens of Burlington and Halton Region, and their Councils, it has ignored the stated intent of the Minister of Municipal Affairs to change the planning context by adjusting the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) boundary.

City Planning and Legal staff will review the decision in more detail to determine if a review of the decision by the Tribunal or a Court should be pursued, including their findings on the City’s motion regarding the impact of the Urban Growth Centre (UGC).

At a special meeting of City Council on Nov. 3, staff will present these potential options and next steps in-camera.

Burlington’s revised new Official Plan (OP) was approved by Halton Region on Nov. 30, 2020. The new OP includes stronger protections for green space, heritage, jobs, the rural community, established low-density neighbourhoods and a special focus on preserving the character of the downtown. The modifications presented in the final Notice of Decision address the issues of non-conformity, changes to Provincial Plans and policies, and Official Plan Amendments and the need to balance Regional and Provincial conformity requirements. In addition, the modifications capture endorsed policy modifications related to two areas identified by Council for re-examination and refinement. The policies of the Official Plan with the recommended modifications establish a comprehensive policy framework to a planning horizon of 2031.

Things are getting crowded downtown. A number of developments in the talking and planning stages are not shown.

At the hearing, the City argued that Lakeshore Inc.’s proposal for 29-storeys was not appropriate for that location for a number of reasons, including the fact that the proposal far exceeded the height limits of 17-storeys allowed in that area, the City’s vision and planned context for the downtown as expressed in the new Official Plan, and the proposed building’s height and mass were not compatible with or provided appropriate transition to the surrounding area. In its decision, however, the OLT states that the development should be allowed as because provincial policy in the Growth Plan directs new residential growth to the Urban Growth Centre in a significant or ‘optimized’ manner.

The decision underscores the importance of the future boundary adjustment of the UGC to the Burlington GO station and the need for the new downtown policies in the new OP to be determined and brought into force. The OLT stated “The Tribunal finds that there is no evidence of negative impact or any other justification for the modifications as advanced by the City to support a 22-storey tower instead of the 29-storey tower under the Lakeshore Proposal. Moreover, there is also no basis for the resultant substantial reduction in the number of residential units stemming from the City’s proposed modifications. The height reduction alone would eliminate between 63 and 77 residential units. Reducing the tower floorplate to 690 m2 as proposed … would eliminate a further 64 to 80 residential units.”

The City further argued that it is on track to meet or exceed provincial growth targets and regardless, the number of residential units should not result in a development that is incompatible with the existing area.

This decision is not indicative of the best planning outcome for Burlington residents or City of Burlington planning goals.
Burlington is a City where people, nature and businesses thrive. As residents continue to rediscover many of their favourite spaces and activities in the city, City services may look different as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19. The City’s commitment to providing the community with essential services remains a priority.

The 29 storey development will be marketed under the name BeauSoleil

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns had this to say in a prepared statement they rel;eased jointly:
“This is a devastating and shocking decision imposed on our community, which completely disregards the vision of residents, council and staff for this area. And so, Council will be examining all of our options for a review of this OLT decision.

This decision completely dismisses the considerable feedback from residents in opposition to this file – and their valuable suggestions for what would be appropriate. This decision ignored over 100 people who took the time to attend a community meeting, delegate to council, and write pages of letters. There was no acknowledgement of our community’s voice in this decision.

We once knew it as the Pearle Street Cafe – those were the days.

The decision highlights the inappropriate application of Provincial Planning Policies to justify over development and underscores the importance of a speedy decision from the Minister to remove the Major Transit Station Area designation from downtown and adjust the boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre to the Burlington GO Station, where this scale of development should be. We will continue to work to defend our plan and put growth where it belongs.”


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11 comments to City of Burlington looks to challenge Ontario Land Tribunal Ruling on Lakeshore and Pearl Street 29 storey development

  • Tom Muir

    Indeed, not shocked at all. Just follow the money again. There is no evidence or reasons given for the OLT decision, just false negatives and statements of opinion. It’s the way OLT works and decides – by Edict. It’s really a ridiculous subversion of the planning process.

    Now the money trail. The story reports that the OLT says it wants to give more that height adds 63 to 67 units. Also, giving a larger floor plate adds another 64 to 80 units. No mention of the kind of residential unit or the need.

    Also not shocking is the fact that none of these units has any resemblance to “affordable housing”, which the City really needs. Indeed, a shock it would really be – no fat chance of that, and no mention by OLT.

    The Gazette reported average market high rise housing unit prices a few weeks ago at $700,000 per. The price downtown for many can be estimated here for example at $1,500,000.

    Again, we don’t have to quibble about these numbers as they are pretty typical market, downtown especially, from what I’ve seen. Try your own if you will.

    So with these numbers, the added height (63 to 77 units) adds sales revenue potential between $44,100,000 for 63 units and $53,900,000 for 77 units at the low price. For the high price, this is $94,500,000 and $115,500,000.

    For the added floor plate (64 – 80 units), the low price adds similar potential revenue of between $44,800,000 and $56,000,000 at the low price. The high price would yield between $96,000,000 and $120,000,000 in potential revenue.

    These two density sources of units added together by OLT decision decree add up to 127 to 157 units, for a range in value that spans approximately $100,000,000 to $200,000,000. And don’t forget, this is all on top of what the City was willing to approve in the first place.

    Not a bad payoff for a relative minimal appeal cost for paid consultant opinions at appeal. Note that all the planning reports and associated costs required by the City as a complete application are already spent, they are sunk costs of whatever they can get.

    Even if the developer appeal costs are $100,000 to $200,000 this is still a 1000 fold return on the winnings and a whole lot less than the entire project cost.

    Following the money, as always, shows how this development appeal OLT Casino is rigged for the appellants to play the game so as to win – a prize every time.

    • Bob

      How much would a house in the same lot have sold for?
      I highly doubt it would be a either affordable or less than your $1.5 million price tag so the affordable argument is mute. The real argument is whether those who already live in the core (Self disclosure, I live downtown) want the downtown to be closed to new development and keep our downtown private or do we want it inclusive and welcome to all?
      James has a very valid point about affordable housing, we aren’t going to achieve it by not building up and with carbon and green space being the buzzwords of this decade, paving over north of Dundas doesn’t work either. What I see too much of is that intensification is OK elsewhere, just not downtown. Every city I’ve ever visited had its largest towers not in the suburbs but right downtown.

    • Don Fletcher

      Agreed Tom. Going to the OLT for the developers is akin to going to the casino as a “house guest”. You literally can’t lose!

  • James

    The only thing that’s devastating and shocking is this Mayor’s and Councillor’s efforts to stop new housing for those who can’t afford $2 million detached homes and want to live within walking distance to the amenities downtown has to offer. They talk about the need for affordable housing, but without these types of high rise developments, where else can you buy anything new in Burlington for under $650,000? People need housing, and that’s as affordable as it gets nowadays in the GTA!

  • What new approved official plan? The evidence in the hands of parties and participants shows it never got past the adopted stage.

  • perryb

    It is time for our MPP to man up and press for vacating this order and for that matter, the whole OLB/LPAT/OLT process and organization. They have run roughshod over Ontario communities for far too long (over 100 years!). There is more to smart development than counting up floorplates and walking away.

  • Lynn Crosby

    Not shocked at all actually.

  • Don Fletcher

    This is the price the City of Burlington pays for lifting the ICBL, without having all of the appeals dealt with and the OP 2020 locked down. We blinked first, and I’m not sure why. The application would have preceded our actual OP 2020 submission to and approval by the Region so it may have been a lost cause no matter what.
    The developers are certainly giving us a tutorial in hard scrabble, and it’s long overdue that we return the favour!


    Look what we have started!! I fear Downtown Lakeshore is lost!

  • Penny Hersh

    “Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns had this to say in a prepared statement they rel;eased jointly:
    “This is a devastating and shocking decision imposed on our community. etc.”

    REALLY – When the picture appeared this summer with the Mayor touting that the change in the boundary of the Downtown Urban Growth Centre had been approved by the Province I chuckled to myself. Why? The Minister had not signed off on this and it was too little too late.

    The current mayor as well as some of the councillors campaigned on saving the downtown, and residents believed them and voted in 5 new councillors and the mayor. The current mayor had been a councillor for 8 years, she had to know that this was not possible. If she did not know how is this possible?

    This is not over, failure to protect this area as well as the area known as “the football” (located between Old Lakeshore Road and Lakeshore Road) will be the next to have tall condominium towers.

    Failure to properly defend the City at the appeal for the ADI Development on Lakeshore/Martha street, set the bar for all the other proposed developments in this area. This building is now being constructed – 26 stories, most with very small units that will do nothing for families. Current advertising indicates that the cost of these units will be $1,000.00 per square foot.

    Imposing the ICBL simply angered the developers and created appeals on proposed developments as soon as the applications were submitted to City Hall.

    Fact Checking should be a priority for residents when councillors/mayor start campaigning for the next Municipal Election.

    As I have said previously – FOOL ME ONCE SHAME ON YOU. FOOL ME TWICE SHAME ON ME.