Completion of the five tower Paradigm development on Fairview impacted by Interim Control bylaw.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 4th, 2019



They are sometimes referred to as “unintended consequences” and that appears to be the kind of hole that the very successful Molinaro development on Fairview next to the Burlington GO station has fallen into.

Paradigm from the west Nov 2017

Towers 1 and 2 when they were under construction.

The development is going to be a five story project with building 1, 2 and 3 clearly visible on the city’s skyline.

The structures are bold and have been selling very well.

The development was planned as one that would be completed in phases.
The company is now ready to begin the final phase – the last two building that will front on Fairview.

When the Interim control bylaw was dropped on the development community with no notice everyone assumed the Molinaro project would not be included. They were well past the site plan approval stage which was the cut off stage.

Ed Fothergill, the planning consultant who spoke for the firm on Tuesday, explained that complex projects that are approved in principle go through several site plan approvals – partly because as a project is built some things change – mostly minor in nature but the kind of thing for which approvals are required.

paradigm layout

Layout of the five tower Paradigm project on Fairview.

The size, nature and scope of the Paradigm project meant there would be several site plan approvals. One would like to believe that the intention was not to shut down everything that moved on a construction site in the Urban Growth Centre while the city figured out just what it wanted to see done with the land within those boundaries.

The Paradigm has been described as the largest residential property development the city has ever done and may well be the largest for a some time.

When it was first taken to the public the Molinaro’s met with the area residents; they listened carefully and went back to the drawing boards and made some significant changes.

As developers they have set the standard for listening to the public.

Because of the way the development was structured the approval of the site plan for the last two buildings was on hold – there weren’t any problems with the development – it was always understood that there were to be five towers and that the site plan approval for the final two towers would get taken care of when the company was ready to begin construction.

paradigm crash wall

A massive concrete barrier had to be built between the development and the GO train tracks.

Much of the infrastructure for the final two towers is already in place – that work was done when the three towers on the north side was being done.

But – the Interim Control bylaw is clear – if the site plan of a project has not been approved the project cannot go forward.

The ICBL was put in place for very good reasons – no one fully understood what this would do to the Molinaro’s.

Mayor Meed Ward didn’t have all that much to say about the implications on the Molinaro’s at the Standing Committee meeting yesterday afternoon and there wasn’t a word from Lisa Kearns, the ward council member.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith made it very clear that he understood what was happening and that he would do everything he could to correct the situation.

The Molinaro’s are getting ready to put together the marketing plan for the last two towers and expected to be able to begin work on those two towers next year.

paradigm marketing piece

Marketing campaigns don’t get written on the back of an envelope over a weekend.

Marketing plans don’t get put together on a weekend. They are carefully crafted using the most recent data to ensure that the product they are going to market meets the needs of those buying condominium units.

There are additional issues. The actual registration of the condominium units gets held up as well.

City planner Heather MacDonald didn’t appear to be all that sympathetic to the problem.

The new city council had very solid reasons for putting a pause on the rate at which developments were flooding into city hall.

The Councillor for ward 2 said she has had conversations with people who are thinking in terms of towers that are in the 50 storey range – and along the GO station mobility hub this kind of intensification might make sense.

Burlington was seen as the place to make a killing in development; firms with cash and the kind of in-house expertise needed to put projects together quickly couldn’t get to the city fast enough.

The Molinaro’s aren’t a Toronto based operation – they built most of what we have on Lakeshore Road and have plans in the works for developments on Brant street north of Prospect where many felt high rise construction should take place.

There is a solution to the Paradigm predicament – the brain power in the Planning can find it. It may include an exemption.

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7 comments to Completion of the five tower Paradigm development on Fairview impacted by Interim Control bylaw.

  • Alfred

    I don’t think the planning dept. is going to solve anything. It has been my experience that the planners are too terrified to make a decision under the new reign of terror regime. Nice picture though. I thought high paid construction workers were going extinct in Burlington. Sure this isn’t a picture taken back in the day or in another City.

  • Stephen White

    Any business that interacts with legislative bodies or political authorities needs to prepare for contingencies, unforeseen events and political changes. The writing was on the wall last October with the election of a new Mayor and Council. Only the most naive political observer would have assumed that this new Council wasn’t going to enact some control measures on developments. The whole process has been out of control for the past 4+ years. The time to hit the re-set button is long overdue.

    Businesses impose hiring freezes, funding freezes, etc. all the time. They scrap business lines, they institute product cancellations, they cancel planned expansions, etc. Yes, some projects get trapped in the pipeline, contractors are impacted, plans get shelved, and things change, but eventually it gets worked out and life moves on.

    As for Paradigm it is way too big and far too obtrusive. Good architecture, like good art, shouldn’t shock the senses. If we ever have a fire or emergency in this complex I wish Burlington Fire Department good luck trying to deal with it. They can’t get an aerial truck to it from the north because of the train tracks, and they can’t approach it from the east as that will be developed too. The west is the Wal-Mart Parking lot. Oh well. Maybe Adi can provide residents with a parachute.

  • Penny Hersh

    Joe, from what I learned today the site plans for the last 2 buildings were not submitted to the city. It is for this reason that they have been caught up in the ICBL

  • Tom Muir

    I think I can support the Paradigm kind of development in this location, but then I see immediate talk about 50 stories in this article, and the alarm bells go off.

    This is exactly the kind of upward and onward speculative inflationary thing being let lose in this city by the loss of control that necessitated the ICBL.

    It will never end without a fire extinguisher from Planning drowning it out before it consumes every area in town.

    50 stories is a very serious and big deal and the consequences have never been even thought about by the gold rush mentality that is viral even still despite the CBL.

    There has been no open public talk I am aware of, no public consultation or even a plan for any, no Official Plan scoping even, no nothing, and I say this is nuts.

    I understand the situation that Molinaro is in and sympathize, but just exempting the project leads to more calls for other project exemptions as you can buy an argument easily and away we go.

    Can planning inform us as to how serious this is for the going forward with the project within a time delay that is often “normal” for this business?

    I am dead against exemptions, but, … .

  • Joe Gaetan

    During one of my delegations to council I mentioned this was the kind of development I could support. It was in the right place and it helped COB meet its intensification targets, without the negative aspects associated with some of the downtown core developments. It is too bad this project could not have been grandfathered (sorry for the gender reference) as I don’t see any surprises here.

  • Penny Hersh

    It is unfortunate that the Paradigm Development is caught up as a result of the Interim Control By-Law, however, like many other residents I feel that there should not be any exemptions. Once this door is opened it cannot be shut.

    • Joe Gaetan

      Agree with no exemptions, but was there a valid case for this property to have been on the list of properties that were excluded from the ICBL?