Cooling saw the writing on the wall - she now wants to make the best of a bad situation.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 17th, 2018



Joelle Goddard-Cooling said it all – “I can see that the writing is on the wall” – Brant Street is going to have at least two tall buildings opposite city hall.

Despite strong arguments for something significantly different, Ward 2 city Councillor and candidate for Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, city council voted 5-2 to approve the Staff Recommendation for a 17 storey building with an additional floor with amenities


Joelle’s on Brant

Cooling, in a letter to members of Council said she and her husband operate a business on Brant Street and are “bracing ourselves for years of construction, noise, traffic interruption, mess, parking issues, loss of business. With my resident hat on, I have spoken to many of my friends and neighbours downtown and concern is very real – I hear that “this is not why we moved here” a lot.

“That being said, we have chosen to do business here and have had continued growth in our business for twenty two years this September. We landed at 457 Brant Street after three previous moves, at that time there were very few businesses surrounding us. We have been given credit for encouraging some of the revival we saw happening on Brant Street over 15 years ago. In fact, I personally was presented with a Queen’s Jubilee Award for my encouragement, mentoring, BDBA volunteering and genuine marketing and promotion for the downtown. We have watched businesses come and go, developers assemble parcels and leave unsightly empty spaces and we have also watched businesses come and thrive.

Centro market

Centre Market tucked in a parking lot for Sunday only operations – gives the core a level of civility other parts of the city just don’t have.

“Development on Brant will definitely displace some of the anchor, destination businesses – ones that have created like minded environments for our longtime customers and who support downtown through lease hold improvements, street beautification and branding and marketing. A shining example is the Centro market every Sunday which suits the customer we are all trying to attract and which provides and amazing sense of community for the local residents.

“This is a lot of work for the organizers and volunteers and it is not a money making opportunity for Centro but a genuine community benefit. I have spoken to numerous other business owners who have shared their thoughts with me. Some have a good relationship with their property owner and are actively contemplating relocation. Others with a deep history confessed their worry with options of retirement, bankruptcy, and the challenges & uncertainty through the construction years.

“Those new to the retail area have hedged their bets on our amazing downtown and I can’t answer their questions on if Brant Street will be down to one lane through the construction? What types of retail can we look forward to once these building are erected? It seems that it has been difficult to fill this type of space over at Pearl and Pine.

Will there be many small spaces for (higher than now) rent in the future? What stipulations are being put into place to ensure that what goes in has value to all of the new residents and helps to build a sustainable downtown – the one that is visioned?

“Will we have additional police presence, garbage and street cleanup and snow removal? Will city staff, the developers, the BDBA, Economic Development and the residents be able to work together to address all of these issues and concerns? We have loading zone issues and parking struggles now. These are all priorities to businesses new, old and to come.

BDBA logo

Keeping it all there is the challenge.

“What can we do now to set up the downtown for success in the future? Discussions with Brian Dean recommend that you endorse a retail study by the BEDC, with the support of BDBA that takes a true and very hard look at current and future retail trends downtown.

“This is mandatory as a tool to guide redevelopment. It will outline the need to retain successful businesses, adapt the size of commercial units to meet the needs of small business, help existing and future business understand the impact of demographics and spending habits of the next generation of downtown residents. It will guide and help the BDBA in partnership with commercial developers better merchandise and recruit meaningful and sustainable businesses that will help to optimize our commercial mix.

“I will go one step further and ask that you consult with the retail, service and hospitality experts that already exist downtown who are very aware of who their customer is and what is needed to flourish. Value in this study is through internal resources – we are at a critical point where the people that live this every day need to have their retail experience leveraged. We would welcome this opportunity.

To recap, here are some of the concerns we hope can be addressed:

Transition planning and support for the current tenants – relocation, assistance through construction street closures – giving this business value and seeking their input

Sidewalk closures – we need the sidewalks open, this construction will create a dead retail space from the Elgin Promenade to Centro if not kept as a pedestrian through way on both sides of the street

Parking lane closures cannot happen, parking is a huge issue now and during construction

What is the traffic flow plan? The traffic study was highly defended last Tuesday night but people are not buying it. We need confidence in a plan here.

Loading zones – how do we attract businesses that will sustain a walkable community without these?

Cleanliness, Beautification and Pollution. Our streetscape has been neglected for years while undergoing the streetscape study, now with the development we are told to wait until the development is done to fix the sidewalks. We have been the closest to the development of the Berkley – what will be done to keep Brant Street enjoyable under the unavoidable noise, congestion, construction materials, detours etc pollution?

How is the coordination of TWO tall buildings AND a hydro burying project on James going to be managed by the City?

To maintain some beauty in the area, empty storefronts need to be addressed. How about working with the property owners and developers to utilize space in a positive way – ie pop ups, creative art installations, a unified expectation of maintenance and appearance, pest control, co-operation with the BDBA for improved window coverings or branding? What can we expect here?

General Safety of the area is a concern, we know the City works hard to keep us safe, we did experience a gas line problem at the John & Caroline site and it was scary. We need a sense of protection for emergency management – ie power failure, gas lines, water table issues

Vibrancy? Will the developments be built in a way that will accommodate rooftop or first floor restaurants? Will there be attention made to create the charm and character desired by the residents at the first floor level? Will the public space be useful – what will be happening here in the open area(s) that isn’t happening in the Elgin Promenade or City Hall open area(s)?

Joelle 2

Joelle Goddard Cooling

“We have talked heard the phrase win-win the past few weeks. Residents, business owners and everyone who cares wants to be involved. I truly hope that beyond the mandated development this council put value in what exists here now and has been here in the past.”

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6 comments to Cooling saw the writing on the wall – she now wants to make the best of a bad situation.

  • Too bad our small business owners must suck it up, capitulate and honorably take the high road to try to find a way to graciously make do with what was foisted upon them. Why, because others, some of whom have no stake whatsoever in the area, have a different vision of what and whom should live play and work in our downtown.
    Yes, we want vision, and people who have vision, true visionaries, are a rare breed and often see what other cannot. Demolishing character to make way for multi-story tall buildings is not visionary.
    What is missing in all of this is foresight, the ability to predict the results of our actions, or what will happen, or is needed in the future? Our downtown is, sorry was, an enclave and it is about to disappear, forever.
    Over the years myself and members of my family have had businesses located in London, Kitchener and Waterloo, Hamilton and Burlington, all these cities had enclaves, and our downtown was one of them. London has Wortley Village, Kitchener has Belmont village, and Hamilton has Locke St. What those cities have in common and what we had in our downtown were the enclaves, now we have little in common. Burlington is now the City of False Hope.

  • Penny

    I know that I sound like a broken record, but here goes. It is the hope that a new council will be open to the formation of independent committees, made up of residents and professionals that will be a stakeholder at the table when new development applications come into the City. Oakville has been doing this for years, why not Burlington?

    By the time a staff report comes to council it is too late.

    As Joelle so eloquently stated the face of the downtown will be changing, let’s do what we can to preserve the feel of what exists now and also find solutions that will allow the existing businesses to thrive during the construction period.

    City advisory committees are NOT the answer.

    • Stephen White

      Hi Penny. Rather than independent committees perhaps it should be ratepayer associations. Ratepayers pay the taxes and elect the Mayor and Council. Advisory committees are nothing more than advocacy groups dominated by special interests and business elites who are beholden to real estate developers.

      Oakville has a far better model for reviewing development applications. I watched Mayor Burton speak about it a few weeks ago on a Cogeco broadcast. Consultation with citizens starts much earlier in the process, and citizens are a key participant in the discussions, not an inconvenient afterthought. Oakville also has many more active ratepayer associations throughout their community, and their capacity to impact the municipal agenda is well known as was evidenced during the Glen Abbey debate, cell towers, etc. Half the crap that goes on here in Burlington would never be tolerated in Oakville…or pretty much anyplace else for that matter.

      • Shannon

        ALL residents of Burlington elect the mayor and council–not only ratepayers. The city belongs to everyone. Not just to people who pay taxes. Not just to people who have been here for 20 years. It belongs to the person who just moved here from Mississauga in March and is paying rent. It belongs to the person who has just immigrated here from another country AS MUCH as it belongs to the resident who has been here since birth. Let’s never lose sight of that.

        • Stephen White

          Yes Shannon. We know residents elect the mayor and council. And a democratically created ratepayers association would be open to all residents in households within a ward who are entitled to vote, regardless of whether they are homeowners or renters.

          As for your comments around immigrants, I take great offence with your characterization that I would even suggest they be excluded which is not the case. If you are going to criticize please make an effort to get your facts right and don’t imply what was neither stated nor intended.

          • Shannon

            Please don’t twist my words. I implied nothing and it’s unfortunate if you inferred otherwise. I was simply giving different examples of people who may not be ratepayers or lifelong residents of Burlington–whether they’re from another part of the city, another city, another province, or another country altogether. The word “ratepayer” is generally synonymous with “taxpayer” so it’s wonderful that this particular ratepayer association of which you speak would be open to all residents whether they pay property taxes or not because my main point was that ratepayers are no more citizens of Burlington than non-ratepayers.