Downtown visioning part two- a closer look for those who did not attend the event.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

April 26, 2017



By 2031 Halton will have a population 1 million people; its population today is about 550,000.  That is the kind of growth the Region is going to experience -and Burlington is going to get a significant share of that growth.

While Burlington doesn’t yet know exactly how much the city’s population is going to have to grow; the current population of 183,000 is expected to grow beyond 210,000 within 25 years. Some see that as a conservative number.

The urban boundary is set – nothing significant is going to be built north of the 403 – Dundas line except for mall small pockets of development in Lowville and Kilbride.

The rest of the population growth is going to be located south of the 403 Dundas line that separates the rural from the urban.

Study area visioning

Study area with the many precincts the planner created.

City hall no longer talks about Burlington being suburban; we are an urban city and our growth is going to have to be up because there isn’t any significant land available to grow out for residential development.

The Downtown visioning exercise that took place at the Lions Hall last week, and on which we reported on in some detail yesterday, was in part to learn what the public feels about different aspects of downtown development.

The city has a Downtown Core commitment that sets out its vision for the core; there is a precinct system that sets out specific neighbours and applies specific zoning for those precincts.  The (BDBA) Burlington Downtown Business Association (what has seen its border move north quit a bit, that has its policies and objectives. and there are policies for what the city wants to see in terms of the street-scape – wider side walks, benches or people to sit on and retail at the ground level

The Planning department has released a draft version of the Official Plan. The Plan that is in place now was first crafted 23 years ago. Efforts to revise that plan were abandoned by the new Director of Planning, Mary Lou Tanner who has been with the city for HOW LONG.

She joined the city at a point where staff were doing a revision of the existing Strategic Plan, a document that is created by each Council that sets out what it wants to do during its term.

Close look

The audience paid close attention to the material that was on display.

Somewhere along the way council and the planners decided that instead of a four year plan they would craft a 25 year Strategic Plan and spent a considerable amount of time engaging the public to review the document. Council has Burlington as one of the citys’ with the best level of citizen engagement in the province and uses every opportunity to tout that claim.

Centre ice - fully engaged audience

Groups of people gathered to ask questions of planning staff or the consultants that were in the room and to exchange opinions as well – and there were a lot of opinions.

There was indeed very significant public engagement but one would be hard pressed to find five out of every thousand residents who can tell you what the four pillars on which the Strategic Plan is based actually are.
City council seems to believe that if they say the city has the best public engagement policy then it must be so.

In this part two article on the event, we have set out a number of the visuals the audience was shown to give people a sense of all the variables the planners are looking at; the audience was then asked: The question the audience was then asked  was :

“What’s here? What’s not? What’s missing? What would you add? How would you make it better?”

Study area 1

The mobility hub is the black dotted line; the pink line demarcates the primary and secondary WORDS

Study area 2 - parklands

The study area boundary is demarcated by the pink line – the straight green line on the right is where the Elgin promenade will be located – that will link the downtown core to the Centennial trail.  Each graphic builds on the previous one.

Study area 3 - parlands + environmental

The environmentally sensitive areas are added.

Study area 4 all + heritage

Heritage buildings get dropped into the picture.

Study area 5 all + landmarks

Existing landmarks and cultural features are added.

Study area 6 all _ corridors

The significant site lines to the lake are shown – don’t think people realize just how few corridors with a direct look at the lake there are. We just assume that every street shows the water when it is really just Maple, Brant and Burlington.  Elizabeth isn’t indicated on the graphic.

Study area 7 All + tall buildings

In a development proposal that will get its public statutory meeting in the very near future the planning consultant they hired advocated using Brant Street as the spine that would be the location for many of the tall buildings that are expected.  The orange marks show where those tall buildings are now.



This is your city – this is what you have to work with. What do you want to see done?  The Planners are looking for feed back from the public; they appear to be open minded and ready to listen.

Getting a closer look

Getting a close look.

The information they gathered last Thursday evening will be compiled and blended into a second presentation that will take place  June 21st. The public will get to see just how well the planners have listened.

MMW with mob hubs in background

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward listening intently.

It was an active meeting – small crowd given the importance of the event – but it was a rainy night and the room couldn’t have held many more people.

The audience was told that there would be little in the way of changes to the existing employment lands.  Meed Ward explained that developments pop up and get presented to the Planning department and added “you want to be in charge of that”.

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