Developer backs away from residential proposal along western part of Caroline.

September 23, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was going to be Maurice Desrochers jump from operating properties he had bought up as “executive rentals” into a fully-fledged developer who would develop a city block west of Brant street in a part of the city that is settled and knows what it wants and knows very well what it doesn’t want.  And they didn’t want the development Desrochers was proposing for a stretch of Caroline Street between Hagar and Burlington Streets.

Residents believe the developer has focused solely on the positive nature of the aesthetic – they are concerned about density and the intrusion of anything other than single family homes.

Desrochers had bought up a number of properties and then developed a plan that he felt fit in exceptionally well with the neighbourhood.  Somewhere along the way there was a major disconnect between the developer and the community – when more than 70 residents showed up for a Saturday morning meeting in May to give the idea a big thumbs down.

The resistance in the community was too much for the developer who we understand has decided to sell off some of the property purchased and either move on to some other project or stick to the “executive rentals” business.

Desrochers did one project for which Burlington has been and will continue to be forever grateful and that was the saving of the Gingerbread house on Ontario Street.  Desrochers wasn’t able to translate the good will generated from that project into acceptance from the community that he could build housing that would be consistent with the way most residents saw their community.

Barry Imber, one of the people leading the group, explained the concern at the time when he said:  “Communities evolve over time during which small changes take place and are absorbed into the community and a new norm gets created”.  “These are incremental changes” he adds.  “What Desrochers wants to do is something revolutionary – he wants to tear down a complete block and put up housing that is not permitted under the existing Official Plan or the zoning.

Desrochers was looking for both an Official Plan change and significant rezoning.  Councillor Marianne  Meed Ward made it clear that she would support the rules that are in place now.

The rules in place for the part of Burlington west of Brant are complex. When Burlington did its last Official Plan Review, completed in 2008, it created a number of precincts in the city.  Brant Street was given a zoning of 7 storey’s as of right now with the possibility of going to 12 storeys. 

Residents believe the developer had focused solely on the positive nature of the aesthetic – they were concerned about density and the intrusion of anything other than single family homes.

The thinking behind the creation of the Precincts back in 2008 was to create communities with a clearly defined zoning by law set in place to protect the character of the community. They called the land between Brant on the east and close to Maple on the west and from Baldwin on the north down to the Lake – the St. Luke’s Precinct – which was anchored by St. Luke’s Anglican Church which has land that gives it a view to the Lake.  That property was given to the Anglican Church by the Joseph Brant family.

The precinct boundary has all kinds of wiggles and squiggles in it but it is basically west of Brant.  The community has many styles; some single story, some two and two and a half.  There are some apartment buildings as well but the core is single family homes and the residents want to keep it that way.  That’s what the Official Plan gave them in 2008 and they don’t want to give that away.

Maurice Desrochers talking to residents about his Caroline street project during a Saturday morning community meeting.

Was this an inappropriate development or a tussle between a developer and a group of citizens who didn’t like the pace of change that was being proposed?  We will never know.  Hopefully Desrochers will have realized some capital gain on the purchase and sale of the properties.  Failing that all he has for this effort is invoices from consultants and some nice poster board with drawings of the dream.

Maurice Desrochers did not make himself available for comment.

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1 comment to Developer backs away from residential proposal along western part of Caroline.

  • Zaffi

    Great news.
    Personally I don’t like the look of Toronto’s Waterfront with it’s sky-scraping “Urban Elevators”. In the last couple of years Torontonians started saying their Waterfront is ugly. And not just because of the Gardner.
    Wouldn’t like to see Burlington follow in Toronto’s footsteps.