Doing the homework and really understanding the complex development issues in the downtown core are appears to be a problem. ECoB is trying to bring about a change in the way the city manages all this.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

December 15th, 2017



There are almost as many views on what Burlington should be doing in terms of its growth as there are people in the city.

ECOB Dec 13 #3

Citizens listening to the concerns community groups have over how developments in their neighbourhoods are handled by the Planning Department. The meeting was organized by the Engaged Citizens of Burlington – ECoB

When Lisa Kearns, one of the ECoB organizers,  stood at the lectern in the Burlington Baptist Church she told the 150+ audience that they had to do their homework and then hoisted a three in loose-leaf binder up and told the audience the information they need is out there – but you do have to work to find it and then offered to share what she had with anyone interested. We didn’t see anyone asking to borrow the binder.

Many of the people involved in what is a complex subject are reluctant to identify themselves publicly. One of those wrote in and said: “Seems that this group is questioning the “Urban Growth Centre” designation in Downtown Burlington. The answer is really, really simple – all people have to do is go back to and look at the original Places to Grow document from 2006 – Schedule 2. The designation is right there. No municipal approval is required. The Province says “this is it” now “do it”. All of this talk about evidentiary materials is a complete waste of time.

The province has $50 billion worth of transit and transportation plans it believes we need - just $16 billion of that is funded. Transit is not free but will we re-elect a government that insists we pay for it?

“People must also consider “The Big Move” which designates the mobility hub in the downtown as an “Anchor Mobility Hub”. Anchor Mobility Hubs are focal points with the potential to transform urban structure and improve transit. In other words … big changes are expected.

“There is an Appendix B which indicates that the downtown mobility hub is expected to accommodate 2,900 boarding per day. The question should be “why is the City not planning for this?” not is it really a hub.

“This same Appendix B includes a population target for the downtown anchor hub of greater than 25,000 people and jobs by 2031. The City is not even close to being able to accommodate this target.

“Most importantly, some people selectively ignore the fact that City Council unanimously approved its Strategic Plan that identifies the downtown as an area where intensification and redevelopment is to be directed.”

Click to view report

Joe Gaetan, a frequent contributor to the Gazette explains that the 2017 Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, was prepared and approved under the Places to Grow Act, 2005 to take effect on July 1, 2017.
Section 2, entitled, Where and How to Grow, contains S, 2.2 Policies for Where and How to Grow, and S 2.2.3 entitled, Urban Growth Centres and contains the following:

“Urban growth centres will be planned to achieve, by 2031 or earlier, a minimum density target of:

b)400 residents and jobs combined per hectare for each of the urban growth centres in the City of Toronto;

200 residents and jobs combined per hectare for each of the Downtown Brampton, Downtown Burlington, Downtown Hamilton, Downtown Milton, Markham Centre, Downtown Mississauga, Newmarket Centre, Midtown Oakville, Downtown Oshawa, Downtown Pickering, Richmond Hill Centre/Langstaff Gateway, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Downtown Kitchener, and Uptown Waterloo urban growth centres;”

Oakville took an approach that attached more importance to Employment and Commerce. Their Livable Oakville committee produced a very detailed report – something Burlington might want t56o at least review.


The Sims building across from city hall is the only office building in the core of the city – the city of Burlington is the largest tenant.

Burlington has never succeeded in attracting commercial operations into the downtown core – parking space wasn’t possible – thus the major concentrations of corporate offices are along the north and south corridors.

“The Burlington Official Plan appears to be mostly silent on job creation or preservation of work land or spaces.

“This should be a concern to all and one more reason why our Official Plan process must be stopped in its tracks.”

Background material:

Where to download a copy of the Places to Grow legislation.

The Big Move – what it is and where to get a copy of the document.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 comments to Doing the homework and really understanding the complex development issues in the downtown core are appears to be a problem. ECoB is trying to bring about a change in the way the city manages all this.

  • susie

    Thank you Tom – real good points! Think a clearer understanding of “mobility hub” needs to be put in place. If they are now saying that “urban growth” is now classified as mobility hub, then that encompasses every road and street in the downtown area, not just the area for movement of people by “buses”. Words will be twisted many ways to try and put a fog on this whole mess, and move plans through as quick as possible.

  • Tom Muir

    As I recall, city planning and Councilor Meed Ward have repeatedly stated the target of 200 residents and jobs per hectare by 2031 for the Burlington Downtown Urban Growth Centre, and that the city is on track to meet that target without accelerating the growth beyond current plans.

    The 25,000 population target was deemed reachable in that timeline. But if it is missed in some measure, the sky won’t fall, and the OPP won’t be coming to take us away for not obeying our provincial masters.

    I recall no mention that Burlington Downtown is a Mobility Hub. That I thought was restricted to the GO stations, but now I have heard some loose talk that Urban Growth Center means Mobility Hub.

    Other loose talk says that Brant St will be lined with towers under proposed plans, and developer ownership pressure. Councillor Sharman told us here in the Gazette the other day, that such builds would be “only a few”.

    What is really going on, needs clear and officially proven, and publicly vetted, evidence provided.

    No wonder the OP and Hubs plans need to be on full stop.

    The air is full of conflicting and confusing tongues.

    This is a clear failure of public engagement and unambiguous explanation.


  • William

    The downtown is at 170+ residents/jobs per hectare – we’re well on our way to reach the 200 per hectare target. The city will meet its 2031 growth targets in a couple of years – check the latest census numbers.

    No reason why we need the excessive number of high-rises the planning department imagine will somehow make the downtown vibrant.

    Joe Gaetan hits the bulls-eye by asking why more effort isn’t made for commercial attraction. Anyone with a cursory reading of Jacob’s Death and Life of Great American Cities knows cities, parks, neighbourhoods are truly vibrant only when infused with diverse uses (i.e residential, recreational, employment).

    One of Burlington’s problems is the BEDC is not serious about job attraction – particularly for our downtown. The Executive Director is distracted by pet projects like TechPlace (an appropriate 80’s moniker); Fresh Insights Consulting; partnerships with Appeldoorn and old-fashioned ideas about business parks and prosperity corridors.

    The city agreeing to put McMaster U. in the middle of a field by the QEW instead of the downtown was a colossal blunder. Four of the existing council members were around to approve that mistake. It’s isolation ensures it will NEVER be the innovation hub the planning department imagines it will be.

    • Joe Gaetan

      The provincial guidance is stated as, “200 residents and jobs combined per hectare”. Has anyone even bothered to calculate the job component of the 170? If we are at 170 for the resident component alone, we hopefully have more than 30 jobs per hectare.