Does the public have any idea what is being proposed for the south east core and is city council just going to let it happen?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

September 26th, 2019



There is a meeting taking place this evening at the Central Arena, on Drury Lane road, across the street from the YMCA.

Lakeshore Inc

The public will get a look at what the developer wants to do with the southern end of the “football” the land between Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road.

It is a pre-consultation meeting, a non-statutory meeting to obtain community input on all of these elements prior to the submission of an application. Planning staff will be in attendance to provide information on the development application review process and next steps. The owner and consultant team representatives will also be in attendance to listen and collect ideas and input from the community.

Old Lakeshore Burlington Inc. is the owner of lands located at 2107-2119 Old Lakeshore Road. The City’s current policies provide for the potential development of a tall building of up to 12 storeys on these lands. The owner is currently considering the redevelopment of the lands with a mixed-use tall building of up to 26 storeys.

This is the way development takes place in Burlington.


The properties the CORE development group want to put 26 storeys on.

A number of months ago there was another such pre-consultation public meeting. This one was at the Art Gallery. It went through the same process; there weren’t a lot of people in that room with much in the way of appetite for the development. The developer in that case was the CORE group.

When the Gazette asked for a copy of the presentation made by the developer – they promised to send it along the next day, we are still waiting for that one.

model 3 d 0f the site

A 3D model of what the south eastern core of the city would look like if the CORE development on the table is approved and built. Another developer wants to build a high rise at the eastern end of the Lakeshore and Old Lakeshore intersection.

Both developments, the CORE development and the Old Lakeshore Burlington development, are in the same part of town – what is sometimes referred to as the “football” – referring to the shape of the property that exists between Old Lakeshore Road and Lakeshore Road.

If there was ever an occasion for Mayor Goldring to seek the opinions of others on the Beachway PArk - now is the time to do it and on Wednesday he will have an opportunity to listen to one of the best minds there is on waterfront development. Former Toronto Mayor met with MAyor Gildring at a Waterfronty Advisory meeting a number of years ago. Time for another chat.

Former Mayor Rick Goldring sits beside former Toronto Mayor David Crombie to listen to members of the Waterfront Advisory Committee.

A number of years ago, when there was a Waterfront Advisory Committee chaired then by Nick Leblovic they invited former Toronto Mayor David Crombie to talk to them about how development can be managed so that the wishes and the will of the public are at least heard. Crombie at the time said: You need to put together a committee and ensure that you have a couple of oddballs at the table – they are the people that pop out the interesting ideas.

Then Mayor Goldring sat in on that meeting; nothing ever came of the idea. Sometime later the Waterfront Advisory was put to rest.

Any development ideas were going to come from the development community. And that is what we are looking at today.

The very significant sized developments that abut each other on what is now the most valuable developed land near the lake, across from Emma’s Back Porch and a football field length away from the Bridgewater development which appears stalled.

There is no public protesting; there is no group formed to suggest that this is not the way this part of the city should be developed.

Other than saying the city doesn’t want this type of growth in this part of the city Mayor Meed Ward hasn’t said very much.


All the land within the red outline was public. The city went along with the sale of the pieces in the middle that abutted houses – they kept the piece of land at each end and turned them into Windows on the Lake. A Crown Jewel had been sold.

Burlington lost the opportunity to keep a large part of the waterfront in public hands when it went along with the sale of that land between Market and St. Paul.

Meed Ward, as a Councillor fought a valiant battle to maintain ownership of that property – despite her efforts then, Crown Jewels were sold for a pittance and the province got most of the money.
George Santayana, a noted philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist who once appeared on the cover of Time magazine wrote that: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

It is going to take a lot more than people who attend the meeting this evening saying this is not what the city wants – it is going to take real leadership – not from just the Mayor but from every member of council.

Full council

This is the crowd that is going to have to step up, get creative, be bold and find a better way to develop the land in the “football”.

Time for the newbies to step up to the plate – let’s see what you are made of.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council


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19 comments to Does the public have any idea what is being proposed for the south east core and is city council just going to let it happen?

  • david barker


    How about getting all concerned municipalities to organize protest rallies down at Queen’s Park, like the parents did re autism. We need to physically show the province it is going in the wrong direction. Noisy protesters get noticed. Can your group work with the City to get the City to muster other municipalities to organize protests?

    • Roland Tanner

      Hi David … I have a long answer to this question! Could you drop me an email at

      The short answer is that noisy protests have their place, but you need to get your timing right, and municipalities won’t get involved. They may have major disagreements with the province, but they still have to work with it.

      A lot of stuff has started to happen though that is beginning to put this on the provincial map, rather than just the local one.

  • david barker

    Penny, both during the Q&A session of yesterday’s public meeting regarding the potential development by Old Lakeshore Burlington Inc., of the eastern most portion of the land between Lakeshore and Old Lakeshore , and then after in a discussion with the MHBC representative, I suggested the development community has a PR problem with the citizens of Burlington. I suggested developers are seen as pushing the planning boundaries all the time without regard to the ensuing problems created and which the City is left to deal with. So I suggested the development community needs to do at least two things.

    Those two things being:-

    1. all developers now developing downtown lots or those who might in the future develop downtown lots should be proactive, form a working group which would include the City .The group would work to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with the results of their developments, such as, traffic, parking, schools, the environment and general quality of life. Developers would be well served to be proactive rather than wait to be pushed and prodded by the City.

    2. when making an application which requests approval to go beyond allowable limits (e.g. height), again be proactive and offer to go above and beyond the other minimum requirements (e.g. parking, environmental aspects).

    At last night’s meeting it seemed that a number of residents were willing to settle for the minimum parking ratio of 1.25 spaces per unit. That number is way too low and makes no accommodation for visitors to the downtown versus those visiting the building. I suggest each of these new towers under the application process should be providing a good amount of paid public parking in addition to the parking for residents and visitors to the building.

    Regrettably the moderator of last night’s meeting cut me off when I was asking the MHBC representative if he thought his firm and its principals might support a City/developer group approach to these problems.

    I was also trying to ask MHBC if it might join a group that is investigating the potential pedestrianization of the downtown. Pedestrianising the downtown would immediately eliminate the commuter traffic that uses Lakeshore as a feeder to the Skyway bridge. That commuter traffic would be forced back to the QEW, which is the Provinces problem to deal with.

    Many major European cities have pedestrianised downtown areas. Commuters either take the train or park remotely and take the bus/tram.

    Unfortunately whether 10 or 26 storeys or somewhere in between more and more high rises are coming to downtown. That is inescapable. So we need to be more radical in our thinking in how to deal with the fallout. I personally think pedestrianising the downtown will create a great link to Spencer Smith Park, thereby providing residents and visitors with access to shopping and relaxation without having to fight cars.

    A suggestion put forward to instigate a Downtown Development Advisory Committee has been put forward by another contributor. That is an excellent place to start.

  • Penny Hersh

    David, I agree that the developers and the city need to work hand in hand. I have often said that developers are not the enemy. Developers are in the business of developing and it is up to Council and Staff to work with them to ensure the best outcome for the residents.

    I think the problem is that residents have not felt that this was necessarily done well in the past.

  • david barker

    Penny, you missed my point. Sure incentives will attract developers to build in a specific area. That will not get any developers to turn their eyes away from the prize if developing a piece of the downtown where the rate of return on investment is maxed.

    The genie of very tall buildings us out of the bottle. So in my view we have to find a way to manage what is now likely inevitably more tall buildings. I suggest we must get the developers as a group to work with the City to solve the problems that ensue from development, such as traffic, parking, schools etc. Presently each development is being lobbied by the developer on an individual basis and the City can only respond on a case by case basis. The City needs to be able to negotiate with developers as a group.

    I firmly believe a part of the solution to traffic, downtown visitor parking, vitality of downtown business is to make the downtown a pedestrian only zone (vehicle access for residents and businesses). Downtown visitors could park at remote locations like the two malls, Go Stations etc. The City could provide a shuttle bus service that links all the parking locations and the downtown to each other.

  • Penny Hersh


    Unfortunately we have to work with the hand we are dealt with. Presently LPAT is in full force and while I would love to see it gone, I don’t think this will change as long as Doug Ford is in power.

    In Hamilton, what they did was defer the development charges per unit until the units were sold, and there was a deadline that had to be met. There was no loss of money to the City. It was a win/win. The City got the developers to build in the area they wanted, and the developer didn’t have to put out development fees until the units were sold.

    My hope was that if the city made it more lucrative for developers to build elsewhere in Burlington, the rush to build downtown would stop.

    Perhaps this is just wishful thinking, but doing what we have been doing under the present system will simply end up with appeals to LPAT by the developers and major cost to the taxpayers of Burlington.

  • Gar Scobie

    This kind of high rise canyon chasm was predicted and fought ten years ago by Save Our Waterfront. As a matter of fact, I attended a meeting at the Seniors Centre on September 28, 2009 where a person new to me named Marianne Meed Ward presented a very worrisome scenario where high rises were being predicted along Lakeshore Road at Old Lakeshore Road and would create a physical barrier for seeing the lake, a canyon effect at this eastern entrance to the downtown along Lakeshore Road, complete with major shadowing, wind tunnels and likely traffic snarl-ups.

    I was impressed with Marianne and the presentation and asked a few questions. She suggested I join her group. I thought about it and felt it was a cause worth supporting and that the Waterfront and the Downtown were worth fighting for. I ended up joining and also serving on the official city Waterfront Committee and then the unofficial Burlington Waterfront Committee. I got more and more interested in unreasonable development in the Downtown over time.

    Fast forward to today and what was predicted then was only temporarily stalled. There is a major onslaught underway, starting about five years ago, but culminating now in too many high rise development expectations to keep track of. They’re virtually everywhere now, south of Caroline. The 3D model was appreciated earlier this summer (no one had ever done anything so detailed, even though a young ECoB supporter did an excellent Lego model of the 421 Brant development opposite the City Hall), but also quite scary to look at. A concrete jungle was approaching Downtown fast from the lake and from both the east and west sides. What was predicted is now upon us. The Manhattanization of Downtown Burlington.

    We have a new Mayor and Council that want to try and tone this down, but we are still up against the Urban Growth Centre and Downtown Transit Hub designations (I call them the evil twins) supporting this over-development in the Downtown, aided and abetted by the OMB/LPAT (I call them the devil’s duo), all thanks to a Province that wants to ram more people into our Downtown, crushing the life out of it just because it can. I hope Council can pull this off, but am very worried, and I don’t even live Downtown! Time for a Save Our Downtown organization?

  • Tom Muir

    I don’t and won’t do Facebook, so don’t see ECoB alerts. I suggest emails so everyone is in on the info.

    For Ward 2 I rely on Councilor Kearns but I didn’t see it in her September newsletter and I just looked again right now and it’s not there.

    The City ought to live up to its talk about citizen engagement, and send an email to everyone who has signed up for the OP review, or any development application or proposal information in the City.

    There aren’t that many to make it a problem.

    Or is this talk about engagement and information just talk?

    • Roland Tanner

      Hi Tom (& Carol),
      There was very short notice on the latest Carriage Gate development, so there was not much time to get the news out. I’m sure that was ‘coincidence’ on Carriage Gate’s part. I and several other ECoB exec members couldn’t be there as we were already committed to interviewing one of the federal candidates.

      Your point re ECoB communications with members is well made. As of 2 days ago we have created a new team to focus solely on the issue. We do have to balance methods of communication as too many emails turns people off too, but there has been room for improvement.

      My personal view is that these ‘open houses’ in most cases are ‘engagement’ at its absolute worst. The developer in this case has no interest in hearing from the public. I would certainly rather have attended, but it brings out the worst in all concerned. For the record, I don’t particularly blame the developer for the approach they take. There is nothing written in law that says they should take resident opinions into account and it’s their prerogative (and current law encourages them) to go through the motions until the development inevitably reaches LPAT for a decision.

      That doesn’t have to be the case, and some developers do hold the meetings in good faith, but if 5000 residents had turned up last night to register their displeasure, it would not make an iota of difference. In the absence of a change of provincial government, residents and the city need to find different approaches to get the kind of development, and the complete communities, everybody wants.


  • david barker

    Penny, all very good suggestions as respects Appleby Go area or any other area where the City would like to encourage development. But the question here about the downtown core us how do we disuade developers from developing the downtown adverse to the community’s desires. If it is allowable to discount development charges to encourage development is it possible to surcharge on development charges in areas where development is not wanted?

    I understand that Burlington and other municipalities have called for the abolition of LPAT. If that is the case, I would like to see all those municipalities organize a protest movement in support of our common aims. A protest movement where citizens get bussed to Queens Park to loudly protest this Provincial governments actions against its citizens’ wishes.

  • Penny Hersh


    ECoB put the information concerning this public meeting on its Facebook Page last week.

  • Judy Gilbert

    Too many high rises, too much traffic and extra construction for these new issues. Now they want to add another 26er. No one is going to want to go near our downtown any more!

  • Penny Hersh

    The game has changed and it is time that residents realize this. If the new Official Plan does not align with the Provinces Places To Grow Policy and LPAT ( which has returned to the OMB) developers will challenge the City, and the City will not win.

    Perhaps we need to change direction. Encourage development in other areas of the city. The area around the Appleby Go Station comes to mind. I have been told that this area is zoned commercial ( if I am incorrect, please tell me). Why not convert some of this to mixed use/residential? Companies operate differently than in the past. It seems that companies don’t keep stock on hand. People are doing more online shopping.

    Hamilton is one Municipality that has encouraged development in a particular area of the city by making it easier for developers. Below is information ECoB received from CATCH.

    “Hamilton currently discounts development charges by about 70% for growth in its downtown core. This is legalized by declaring the downtown a special policy area, but I think it’s generally not acceptable to provide reduced DCs for a particular development, or at least not without a specific council decision. Note that all reductions in DCs must be made up from taxes or water rates, so instead of growth “paying for itself” the costs are covered by existing ratepayers or property taxpayers. I’ve put “paying for itself” in quotes because that’s just the claim of provincial and municipal government officials and developers. In fact, DCs (if they are fully collected – no blanket discounts or exemptions) probably pay for only about 75% of actual growth costs. Check out items 21 and 22 in the minutes found at You may want to search back for staff reports related to these items.”

    Take the time to go onto the website and check out items 21 and 22.

    I asked a developer if Burlington ever presented them with this option, I was told NO. If this is incorrect I ask that city staff tell me.

    My question is WHY NOT?

    ECoB will be looking into this more thoroughly to find out if any other Municipality has done this with development in their Community.

    I, wholeheartedly agree with residents attending public meetings. Doing this shows our councillors what residents think, however, I don’t necessarily think that this will change the outcome.

    • Chris Ariens

      As much as I would like to see more mixed-use and residential development near the Appleby GO station, realistically it’s not going to happen so long as the Fearman’s plant is in that location. The plant employs quite a few people, and chasing away employment to put in more housing is really the last thing we should be doing if we want to reduce the stress on our transportation networks.

      The strongest cities and towns generally build around a walkable core that enables residents and businesses to function with a minimum of expensive infrastructure and benefit from greater interactions between them. The core is where the tax revenues per hectare of land are greater than the costs of sustaining them. More spread-out, automobile oriented areas are far, far in the red from a fiscal perspective. If we’re really looking to set the city on a sustainable path and help reduce residents’ tax burden, the core is really the best place to focus our efforts. Building out “there”, far away from residents who don’t want the impacts of higher density, just means that we will continue digging the same hole. Putting towers out where people have to drive several kilometres to do anything, just makes the problems we face even worse.

      In Hamilton, this effect is pronounced by the many decades of neglect of the urban centre. Hamilton has focused on expanding its (less productive) suburbs while letting its core languish and allowing assets to degrade. The city razed much of its core to provide wide freeway-like thoroughfares right through the centre with timed lights to enable fast travel between the Mountain and the steel plants on the waterfront. As a result, it is one of the few cities in the world where the values of central properties were lower than the value of locations on the outside of town. The great thing about Hamilton downtown is that while its infrastructure may be in rough shape, the old bones are still there. Bringing development to the core requires little in the way of new infrastructure, and therefore the city has deemed it wise to encourage developers to take advantage of that and give the city the benefit of additional ratepayers to offset the costs of infrastructure and services. Giving people multiple choices for travel – pedestrian and bike connections that are wide and feel safe, Sobi bikeshare, LRT connections and GO service that are underway or planned have changed the direction greatly for Hamilton. Many young people are moving there because they can’t find affordable places to live here. They also charge far less than does Halton in DC’s generally, including for sprawl on the outskirts of the city. I don’t think their approach makes sense for our situation, which is very different.

      • Roland Tanner

        Many good points Chris. I’d only add that strong towns can have several walkable vibrant focal points, especially when that town has 3 genuine transit hubs. Sure, there will be a ‘downtown’, and it should be densely populated, attractive and vibrant. The town I grew up in had maybe 5 or six ‘centres’. Not strip malls, but historic and organically developed former villages where you could walk and do the majority of you shopping and working and socializing. Each centre retained an identity and character of its own. They were far from perfect – it was not a ‘pretty’ town – but it worked.

        I don’t believe the argument is ‘leave downtown alone, build elsewhere’. I believe the argument is ‘build better, smarter, and more creatively downtown — and at the mobility hubs and local centres too’. The problem is not that we’re getting density, it’s that we’re getting bad density. As I say in another comment below, right now we’re all losers. Including the developers.

  • Carol Victor

    Where is ECOB in all of this? Time/ place of these meetings should be emailed to members.

    • Roland Tanner

      Hi Carol – as well as Penny Hersh’s reply above, please see my reply to Tom Muir, which also answers you. Best, Roland.

  • david barker

    Is not the first step, the first building block and the cornerstone of the City’s defence against unwanted types of development the new official plan, which is soon to be completed.

    I agree it might be a good thing to have a Downtown Core Advisory Committee, made up of ordinary residents, local small business owners and a councilor.

    Hopefully a vociferous “pack of residents” will turn up tonight. I hope we will not be cut off by only being allowed a small time window tonight. I implore the moderator to ensure all questioners get an opportunity to ask ALL their questions

    • Roland Tanner

      Hi David,
      It’s a mistake to put any faith in the Official Plan. It’s ability to deliver the development we want has been massively exaggerated. In essence every proposal that has come forward this year was created with the ‘Grow Bold’ OP as its context, assuming it would be in force. The proposals don’t just exceed Grow Bold, they blow Grow Bold completely out of the water. They go 8, 10, 15 storeys past what we were told was the ‘reasonable and enforceable’ Grow Bold.

      To be frank, when it comes to Urban Growth Centres, Official Plans are not worth the paper they are written on.

      While downtown is an Urban Growth Centre, the (overly large) towers will come, because the UGC basically gives developers the trump card in every single proposal.

      The tragedy in all this is that nobody is getting what they want. Not the city, whose planning department wastes millions making plans that will never be built. Not the residents, who see something they love being lost. Not the ‘urbanists’ like myself and Chris Ariens who want walkable, cyclable, transit-centric cities with complete communities and live-work neighbourhoods. Even the developers aren’t getting what they want – they’ve got a process which, yes, pushes up costs and delays construction, to nobody’s benefit. It’s a perfect storm of utter failure.