ECoB withdraws its appeal - 421 Brant development is now a GO!

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 20th, 2018



It has been a bumpy road for ECoB. One of the small but very effective grass roots citizen organizations has lot yet another board member.

Jim Young threw the organization a serious curve when he suddenly resigned which reduced the organization to three board members.

Kerns - head slanted

Lisa Kerns one of the original ECoB board members resigned when she announced she was going to run for city council.

Lisa Kerns, a very effective ECoB member resigned when she announced her intention to run for the ward 2 city council seat.

ECoB – Engaged Citizens for Burlington was formed when some in the downtown core were appalled with a city council decision to approve a 23 storey tower opposite city hall.

The first ECoB meeting was held on the recreation room of one of the Lakeshore Road condominium recreation rooms. A number of people showed up with cheques in their pockets to fund the nascent organization.

It wasn’t all that clear what the organization was going to do. Were they in place to oppose the building a high rise towers in the downtown core?

Were they going to appeal any city decisions?

It took ECoB some time to find their footing but they did. When Mayor Goldring held what he called a Reverse Town Hall to address the concerns people had over intensification downtown the ECoB people came close to taking over his meeting when they walked into the meeting with a resolution that had been passed by ECoB group hours earlier.

Weeks later ECoB held a meeting that drew about 85 people and raised far more money than they expected.

421 Brant

The 23 storey Carriage Gate development will now get its building permit.

Their agenda began to become clearer. They would appeal the city decision to the LPAT, the organization that was created to replace the OMB.

That proved to be easier said than done. The number of days hat were available to file an appeal was not clear.

At one point the ECoB people showed up at city hall and were told they were too early – so they waited.

They were fortunate enough to have an experienced, retired municipal planner who was able to advise and counsel them on the process and procedures. Working ones way through municipal procedures is another world.

Model with Tanner

Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner, on the left, looking at the LEGO 3D model ECoB made showing what the downtown core could look like if high rise developments were permitted.

ECoB had a knack for catching the public’s imagination.  During the early debates on downtown intensification citizens wanted to city to create a model of what downtown might look like with high rose building.  The city said these things take time to create and they didn’t have the resources – ECoB found a way to let people know what the downtown core could look like if there were a lot of high rise condominiums – they creted their own 3D model with Lego.

ECoB did register an appeal to LPAT on the Council’s decision to allow the construction of a 23 storey building on the corner of Brant and James Street on June 13th, 2018.

They then withdrew the appeal?

Jim Young

Jim Young

– Why – Two Reasons – a letter of resignation from Jim Young, chair of ECoB which was sent to the City Clerk’s office indicating that he was not in favor of the appeal going forward on June 14th.

There were a number of issues behind the Young decision. One was an article that ran in the Toronto Star that mentioned a developer in Markham who was suing the City of Markham and two Markham residents who had signed the appeal application. They were being sued for ten million dollars.

This kind of law suit is issued by developers and people with a lot of money when they don’t like what media writes.

The Gazette was sued by Nicholas Leblovic in October 2012 for $1 million. The writ turned some of the blonde hair on the head of the wife I had at the time into grey – it marked the beginning of the end of that marriage.

Waterfront Advisory committee in happier days. City council voted to shut the committee down at the end of December. Chair Leblovic is thught to havebeen an ineffective leader that wasn't producing the results the city had hoped for.

Nicholas Leblovic, on the right, at the time Chair of the Waterfront Advisory committee on a tour of the Pump House in the Beachway.

The law suit went nowhere. Leblovic issued the writ then failed to follow up. The Gazette had to cover the costs – the lawyers are not cheap – and Leblovic got to go his merry way.

Issuing this kind of writ has been seen as an abuse of process; there is now legislation in Ontario to put a stop to this kind of thing.

ECoB questions a system that encourages residents to appeal decisions made by municipalities, yet fails to protect them from developers who can threaten lawsuits.

ECoB decided to withdraw the appeal. The city can now issue Carriage Gate a building permit and the 23 storey tower can be built.

Earlier this week Jim Young sent the Gazette a note saying: “I have put together a timeline of the events leading up to my resignation from ECoB and my reasons for resigning. It is fairly long and detailed. Are you interested in it?”

The Gazette said it was interested but we have yet to hear from Jim Young.

ECoB points out that it was created to be a voice for the residents. All organizations have internal issues. ECoB always indicated that the Municipal Election was important, in some ways, more important than the appeal.

True change will only come about with changes on Council.

While the withdrawing of the appeal application disappoints some, ECoB points out that it has been very active and will continue to be active.

ECOB Dec 13 #3

ECoB’s first public meeting

– ECoB held a community meeting to bring residents together in December.

– ECoB held a rally at City Hall

– ECoB held a very successful potential candidate workshop in February at Tansley Woods

– ECoB was featured twice on Your TV – The Issue – to bring residents issues about the proposed Official Plan to the public.

– ECoB was instrumental in having a story not only in The HamiltonSpectator, but also the Toronto Star.

– ECoB met with Mary-Lou Tanner and members of her staff to suggest ways of making residents a more integral part in the planning process. This did result in some minor changes.

– ECoB met with Eleanor McMahon to encourage Provincial involvement.

– ECoB met with the mayor and some of the Councillors who were prepared to hear our concerns.

ECoB Crowd Feb 22

ECoB’s meeting for people who were interested in running for public office.

– ECoB has been meeting with potential candidates in the upcoming Municipal Election.

– ECoB has rented venues for Ward Candidate Meetings that will be happening in the fall just before the municipal election

ECoB is more than just about appealing a decision to build the 23 storey tower at 421 Brant Street.

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5 comments to ECoB withdraws its appeal – 421 Brant development is now a GO!

  • In the broader scheme of things I am beginning to ask myself, WHY BOTHER?

  • Penny

    ECoB is a grass roots organization, it was started by a group of citizens who were trying to bring citizens together to fight the over intensification that was taking place in Burlington. Like you we are all volunteers, and if I remember correctly we asked if you would be part of ECoB as we valued your expertise in matters we were not familiar with. You indicated that you were very busy dealing with issues in Ward 1, but would help if time permitted. You did send ECoB copies of your written delegations, and if I remember correctly we connected you with a professional who could help you.

    As for your comment about failing to keep the timelines together. The adoption of the new Official Plan deadline was May 30th, and the deadline for appealing 421 Brant Street was June 13th and the approval of the Section 37 Benefits came at a different date. The issue was not over the notice deadlines to appeal. We had to determine if we had to take into effect the deadline of the adopted Official Plan as part of the appeal. As you are aware our appeal involved both the Official Plan and the change to the zoning-by-law ( these as mentioned above had different notice deadlines to appeal).

    Was there internal strife for control ? NO. Was there a difference of opinion on the merit of the appeal? NO! The issue was the potential fear of being sued individually. Developers are known to do this and the most current case in Markham proves this is a possibility. The relationship between the developers and grass root organizations has become difficult.

    Mr. Muir, you are correct when you say we had ” bought not profit status as a protective shield”, but it does not prevent a developer from suing. In many cases the developer’s suit is frivolous however, one still has to defend themselves, and it could take years to resolve.

    It is easy for someone who is not involved in an appeal to blame others when they themselves are not on the FRONT LINE.

    When ECoB filed the appeal we wanted to keep it low key, that was why you were told to” tell no one.” We wanted to announce the appeal in our own way – for no other reason. What transpired after the appeal was filed was totally unexpected.

    As for Jim Young’s letter of resignation. I cannot say for certain, but I would expect that when he presented this letter to the Clerk at City Hall he had the expectation that it would not be made public. This is where your anger should be directed. How did Mr. Sharman get this letter of resignation before any other councillor, and why would he use it to try discredit both Mr. Young and ECoB? That of course is a rhetorical question – we all know the answer.

    You are totally incorrect when you say that we wanted “to sabotage the rights of residents to appeal this build”. ECoB worked for hours on this appeal, with the appropriate people to provide the necessary documentation to back it up. No one is more upset than I am by the turn of events, and if you knew me at all you would not ever question our intentions.

    Tom, you never reached out to anyone in ECoB, that I am aware of, to find out what transpired, you made assumptions based on what appeared on Facebook and Twitter. I think before you make accusations and try to discredit a group of hard working volunteers that you at least try to find out the truth.

    I would have expected more from you Mr.Muir.

    • Tom Muir

      I am not angry.

      I’m just saying what I saw and experienced in a long email string that I have with you mainly as the main representative of ECoB. This string goes right back to the founding of ECoB with Susan Goyer.

      I’m not trying to discredit you, and I’m not making accusations, just telling the truth of my experience and observations, especially about the appeal.

      You guys truly bungled the appeal just like I said here and told you personally, and with drama and loss of credibility in doing so. My reaching out on this is in writing. So don’t project the fault back to me.

      I never said you “wanted” “to sabotage the rights of residents to appeal this build”, and you misquote me. What I said exactly was that;

      “If these people had wanted to sabotage the rights of residents to appeal this build, they couldn’t have done a better job if they tried.”

      That’s exactly what you and your group did – face up to it. You didn’t deliver your consistently stated intention.

      With all the last minute drama you took all the time that was available for anyone else to consider doing it. You had good grounds to appeal, but you squandered them for everyone, not just yourself.

      So I know the truth of what I say, and you accuse me of not knowing my own mind and experience?

      I can show evidence of almost everything I wrote – that I did reach out many times about many things, and not just my delegations or Gazette comments. I even took directions from you to raise certain issues. But you forget it seems. So don’t say I never reached out.

      I am not up for a p-match, as I too would expect more from you than making more statements based on a whole lot of assumptions about me and what I did, and assumptions made about Jim Young’s message, and Sharman, and where my information came from – I don’t use Facebook or Twitter, but friends do – and what I have done in appeals and know, and so on, for the last 25 years.

      Such a source of conflict is just a waste of time. The appeal was not.

  • Tom Muir

    ECoB was started by Susan Goyer with the one issue of 23 stories at 421 Brant, and the public standing and vow to appeal that build. That was the base of their credibility.

    The problem at the start was they didn’t know anything, and the leadership could not get it together. They never seemed to understand, and couldn’t keep track of, the timeline and needs of the process of appeal.

    Near the deadline, their commitment became what seemed deliberately inept. They still didn’t seem to get it, despite hand holding advisors.

    They bungled the appeal right at the start, and this continued till the very end, literally to the last few hours. It really imploded at the actual appeal submission and then it fell apart as the story says.

    When I asked if it got done, I was told to TELL NO ONE. There were things to do I was told. No explanation.

    Internal strife for control, and secrecy was apparent early on, first with the split with Goyer, and continued in my experience, that I won’t go into.

    They basically squandered the selfless assistance of expertise they so evidently needed, and virtually stabbed these trusting folks in the back.

    People were counting on them to do what they said they would. No credibility now.

    Jim Young sent a letter to the Clerk – then spread all over City Hall – hinted at here, but not shared, and it has been Face-Booked and Twittered around as capitulation by ECoB – “seeing the light; they support the 23”.

    I am left wondering – there is no explanation of what they have done. They bought non-profit status as a protective shield. It has no assets to forfeit to lawsuit.

    If these people had wanted to sabotage the rights of residents to appeal this build, they couldn’t have done a better job if they tried.

  • Susie

    I have never met you Jim, but I have not missed reading and hearing your sound and logical thinking re the OP and what has and is going forward. Your enormous time and effort put forward with a definite majority of people on the same page of thinking, cannot pass without a huge “thank you Jim”! Please keep your great input of what is right, going through whatever channels you can hook up to. Sincerely,