Dennison comments on the approved Official Plan

News 100 blueBy Jack Dennison, Ward 4 Councillor

April 28th, 2018


Burlington city council heaved a sigh of relief Thursday afternoon and approved an Official Plan. The 400 page document now goes to Regional Council where it will be debated again, perhaps revised and sent back to Burlington.  The Gazette has asked each member of council for a copy of the remarks they made after the Official Plan had been approved. Comments made by Jack Dennison, ward 4  council member. are set out below.

I recognize the desperate need to get our new Official Plan approved so that we are more in line with the Provincial Policy statements on growth and intensification. Our current Official Plan and Zoning By-laws are out of line with those Provincial plans. We the city should be able to successfully defend our new official plan heights and densities, where we were unsuccessful with 374 Martha/ADI/Nautique.


Councillor Jack Dennison at a Strategic Planing meeting at LaSalle Park.

That said, I still have difficulty with the proposed Official Plan where entire city blocks downtown have an Official Plan height of 17 storeys or less. Every property owner thinks their property can be developed to that height without consideration for variety of heights.

To solve this problem, we have to be site specific for tall buildings and shorter variety heights. This would allow movement within the blocks to create variety.

We need to:

• In the Downtown Core Precinct, identify that not every site will be suitable to accommodate a tall building and that design guidelines and the Zoning By-law will establish the minimum criteria which may accommodate different forms of buildings.

• Incorporate an effective transition between development within the Upper Brant Precinct and adjacent low density residential.

• Develop policies that will ensure that the conservation of existing heritage buildings is a priority by retaining heritage buildings on site; and ensuring new development must be compatible with adjacent cultural heritage resources.

• Consider implementing a phasing plan for development which could have significant adverse impact on the downtown infrastructure including the road network affecting motorists and/or pedestrians.

• And earlier we modified the 17 storeys to 12 storeys up to 17 based on additional public parking and employment spaces in the Downtown area, and increased the setback between tall buildings to 30 metres, and we do still have area specific plans and zoning bylaws through which we can continue to shape our community including our downtown.

Further, I want the OP and zoning bylaws to be in lock step and we aggressively defend the new OP and Zoning.

We do not want walls of buildings on our primary roads, Lakeshore, Brant and throughout our downtown.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison the day he announced the sale of Cedar Springs.

But as I already said, I feel I have no choice but to support the approval of the proposed Official Plan which has been substantially modified through the excellent input from many constituents, including ECOB as well as the Council and staff as a team with the residents – This has been a 7 year process that we had to complete. Thank you to staff for their willingness to listen and amend where they could. We are #1 and we will continue to be #1.

I totally disagree with the east side of Brant Street north of Blairholm Avenue having heights of 7 – 25 storeys, immediately adjacent to single-family residential.

The west side of north Brant is proposed at 10-25 storeys but at least has a 3-storey podium next to Brant: with review in 10 years re: additional capacity to add more tall buildings.

Dennison graph on OP


39 proposed by OP team is more than 4 times present and approved.

26 proposed by Jack is less than 3 times present and approved.

Further I want the OP and zoning bylaws to be in lock step and we aggressively defend the new OP and Zoning.

The specific blocks I take issue with include:

1. Gore Variety: instead of 17, 6 and 3 ; have 6, 8 and 3.

2. 421 Brant Street North to Birch Avenue: instead of 3,6,8 and 11 ; have a variety of 3, 6, 8 and 11 with only every second block having an 11-storey building.

409 Brant image

Revenue Properties proposal for the former Elizabeth Interiors location.

3. 409 Brant Street (Elizabeth Interiors): instead of 3 to 17, have a maximum of 3 to 14 storeys and certainly not 24 storeys.

4. Esso Station at Locust and Lakeshore Road: specify 17 storeys at the back by the Parking Garage and 3 storeys at Lakeshore Road.

5. Modify the block at the northwest corner of James and Elizabeth have a maximum height of 8 storeys like City Hall, not 17 storeys.

6. Modify the block on the south side of Caroline Street between Brant and Locust to have a podium of 3 storeys and not exceed 6 storeys instead of 11 storeys.

John - No frills - laneway

No Frills Plaza

7. Modify No Frills plaza to have a maximum height of 14 storeys, not 17, and the Brant Street building to not exceed 4 storeys instead of 6.

8. Modify the Leggat property to have a maximum height of 14 storeys, not 17, and a maximum at Brant Street of 4 storeys, not 6.

We do not want walls of building on our primary roads, Lakeshore, Brant and throughout our downtown.

But as I already said, I have no choice but to support the approval of the proposed Official Plan.

Dennison closed his comments with the observation that there were only four members of the public in the Council chamber.  That was because for the most part the public did not know exactly when the special meeting of Council was to take place.


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12 comments to Dennison comments on the approved Official Plan

  • Susie

    What a wacky comment Mr. Dennison of having “no choice” but to accept approval of the OP! I do believe you were voted in as a Ward Councillor to be an individualist not a follower! Your rights and voting privileges on behalf of your constituents, does not accept this irrational thinking What kind of leader representative do you call yourself – obviously not on the same page to those who put you where you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    What everyone should be doing is bypassing the Municipal level and dealing with the Provincial level on this OP. Oakville was successful, our MP for Burlington should be swamped with delegates notes with our firmness for change to the OP downtown location for high density, to areas along the GO station mobility hubs that can accommodate such intensification. I don’t see her present or mentioned in any of our discussions???? Has there ever been any negotiations with the Provincial Government regarding our legit concerns for the downtown, or is our City just choosing the easy route of following the OP plan as written? Has anyone asked Oakville how they managed their successes to keep their downtown free of sky scrapers and do their intensification along the Go areas? I guess, we, citizens have to do the work for the people we pay to work on our behalf??????? Such dysfunctional dynamics to all this!!!!!!

  • John Sweeny

    Another ridiculous commentary! Mr Dennison had no choice and had to vote for this OP even though he didn’t like portions of it? I think that is what the process to file motions is specifically designed to allow him to do. Ms Meed Ward utilized this process why didn’t Mr Dennison? He was elected to represent the citizens of this City. Clearly he didn’t do that as I haven’t met or heard a single person that is in agreement with the contents of this OP. Now, what this statement says is that Mr Dennison will not even stand up for HIS OWN principles. How can we ever expect him to stand up for us? Please Mr Dennison don’t even file nomination papers!

  • Lynn Crosby

    It’s pretty rich to note that there were only four members of the public in attendance at 9:30 a.m. … I don’t see him noting the large number of members of the public who have come out time and time again to delegate, to write letters, to attend their meetings. But none of that matters? How many times does the public have to keep coming back to be ignored or worse?

    I notice that when citizens delegate for the first or second time on this topic, they are asked why they haven’t delegated before, and why they haven’t been here for the past 6 years, and if they answer that they didn’t know about this until now, or that they were busy doing their jobs and looking after their families and assuming council was looking after things until now, they are essentially dismissed as being too late for their opinion to be relevant. If, on the other hand, they have been participating for a long time and are regular delegates, remarks are made such as “well, you have been here many times so you know the rules” or “thanks for delegating YET AGAIN” (that particular wording was used just last month), with a tone that implies that it’s just the same people saying the same thing over and over, no need to listen to them.

    I look forward with hope to a future where citizens are welcomed to council chambers, they are heard and respected and their words matter, whether they are saying them for the first time or the 40th.

  • Eva Amos

    Why do we even have a municipal council if we have “no choice” ,if we are mandated provincially to do what they dictate. What are the penalties or consequences of not following their mandate.

    Why not impose our own demands if this is the direction the province wants us to go. One key demand would be transportation funding. We cannot efficiently move the population we already have, let alone add to it. Look ahead 20 years. The population is aging and as much as I know there is a push to get people out of their cars and I agree with this, we need to provide alternative transportation people will use. Putting a separated bike path on New Street from Guelph Line to Burloak to the tune of $5M will not serve to get an aging population out of their cars.

  • Jim Young

    I’m old enough to recall Brian Mulroney ending John Turner’s political career with the now famous line:”You did have an option, Sir!”
    You too had an option Jack. The choice was yours to make and you chose.

    • Stephen White

      Good one Jim!

      I remember Flip Wilson’s performance on the old Ed Sullivan show, and a skit he used to perform. The famous line: “The Devil made me do it”. Maybe Jack can try this line during the election campaign when taxpayers ask him why he voted for something with which he purportedly disagrees.

      Someone needs to tell Jack that it is a physical impossibility to suck and blow at the same time….unless of course one happens to be a politician.

  • D.Duck

    I wonder how Oakville does not allow monstrosities towering in their downtown core?
    I wonder why Oakville has a private tree bylaw (especially for developers) and Burlington does not?
    I wonder why it took 7 years to rectify this mediocre OP?
    I wonder why we must follow the Provincial Policy statements on growth and intensification to the letter?
    I wonder why this OP was approved now, after all this time, instead of waiting for the October election?
    I wonder why council opened the flood gates to the developers instead of standing up to them like Mayor Hazel?
    I wonder why the sun does not illuminate the sidewalks or small shops btw the concrete corridor on Lakeshore?
    I wonder why we voted in the same council 4yrs ago?

    What I do know, is that you did have a “choice” and your “choice” was wrong for most but right for a few!

  • Gary Scobie

    While it is very useful to have plans for different heights up Brant Street and preservation of certain storefronts, this is something that should have been in plans going back to 2006 when Burlington Council accepted the Province’s Places to Grow and Growth Plan and incorporated our one and only Urban Growth Centre in the downtown in the 2006 Official Plan.

    Since that time, tall buildings have been allowed to invade our downtown here and there because the City had no valid justifications on why they couldn’t. The Provincial rules for intensification have been around for a long time and Council should have understood what it was accepting in 2006.

    It’s obvious today that Council was somehow unaware just what it had committed to and unprepared to control the process over time. Now the onslaught of applications and approvals shows that our justifications to stop one-off buildings are missing in action. Attempts now to limit heights by address going up Brant Street seem admirable but are in reality only fanciful. I am sure each Councillor can create a unique take on his/her height mix going up Brant, but this is not helpful because it ends up looking like we are planning by the seat of our pants (or yours in this case) without the necessary planning justifications that must be in place to defend each unique height limit in public, through an Official Plan or at the OMB or LPAT.

    The developers and their experts know how to deconstruct any argument for height limit on “their property” we can make when in truth we live under an intensification umbrella that Council has no interest in escaping. It’s not always raining in the downtown, but it might as well be since the umbrella will be there going forward unless Council requests that it be collapsed.

  • George

    We in Ward 4 look forward to our new councilman after October 22nd, 2018

  • Penny

    Adopting this new official plan at this time is another fiasco. The City will constantly be chasing their adopted OP to put in place all the necessary amendments and studies required to justify it. Once again Burlington Council and Staff have put the cart before the horse.

    On Thursday when this plan was adopted, two things happened – at one point in time there had to be 8 planners huddled over the Agenda and supporting documents to let the Council know exactly what needed to be voted on first, Council had not idea – quite honestly it could have been a skit on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

    It is no wonder this happened, staff probably had to work through the night to get something together prior to the morning meeting. This was to be voted on Monday, April 30th, not Thursday, April 26th. I guess no one wanted to ruin anyone’s weekend plans.

    The other thing was when Jack Dennison commented that there were only 4 members of the public present. Well it is difficult to know that one could delegate or that this would be voted on when the public was not even aware that this was going to happen. Also many people don’t have the luxury of taking time off work to attend a 9:30 Council meeting on a Thursday morning, especially when they don’t even know it is happening.

    We sat through and listened as Council members spoke and basically patted themselves on the back for a job well done. Well they adopted an Official Plan that seems to work for no one but themselves.

    This is not over, the residents should be aware that until this adopted plan with all the amendments and studies that have to be submitted is NOT OFFICIAL until the Region passes it. The CURRENT OFFICIAL PLAN is still in effect. Let’s see if Council and staff remember this when dealing with new development applications.

    Residents need to work to get some new faces on Council – this is one of the most effective ways to have this adopted, not passed Official Plan changed or scrapped.

    For those of you who are asking this question. ECoB ( Engaged Citizens of Burlington) will be moving ahead with its agenda. – Burlington needs to GROW SMART.

  • Phillip

    You had “no choice” Jack? Just like the New Street Bike Lane Fiasco in which you
    supported the Cycling Lobby without consulting or listening to your constituents, this time you are supporting the development industry–again without listening to your constituents. You had “no choice” is a cop-out. But the good news is that I have a choice on October 22 and it won’t be you!

    • William

      I agree Phillip, the Ward 4 councilor comes across as disingenuous. He repeats the false claim that the existing OP is out of line with Provincial Policies, the typical maneuver of a politician blaming another level of government. The city was ahead of its growth targets, and the new plan takes us well beyond provincial mandates. He did not have to vote for this.

      He also implies the false claim the city lost at the Adi appeal at the OMB because of the out-of-date plan. In truth, the city lost because it no longer defended the existing plan. As soon as the city planner testified they were prepared to go to higher to 11 storeys without providing any justification, the developer pounced and it was game over.

      His opposition to specific elements of the plan while accepting the whole plan is his usual modus operandi, so he can go back to his residents with palatable messages.

      Will his constituents ever see through his insincerity – we’ll see.