First glimpse of the draft Strategic Plan for the balance of this term of office - some rash deliverable dates were put on the table.

element_strategic_planBy Pepper Parr

October 28, 2105


After a long summer break when meetings with more than 70 groups or individuals were held by KPMG, the consultants working with the city to create the Strategic Plan that will guide the city for the balance of this term of office the public finally got to see where the city is going with its Strategic Plan

The 2014 – 2018 Strategic Plan is being done in a significantly different way than the 2010 – 2013 plan. This time the consultants are doing much more of the early work; in the previous plan members of Council and staff met on more than eight occasions and debated a lot of the issues that were being put forward.

In the 2010 to 2013 Strategic Plan, the Mayors Chief of Staff was a major participant – so much so that more than one member of Council to Frank McKeown as the “seventh” council member, not always in a positive tone of voice.

At a meeting in July staff, Council and the consultants laid out what had to be collected in terms of data and how it was to be presented in the fall.

Strat Plan 2nd side room

Councillor Craven on the far left chaired the meeting – Councillor Dennison was out of the city. Mayor Goldring, his city manager is out of sight to his right. City General Manager Scott Stewart was surprisingly quiet during the first day of discussion and debate

The meetings held last week didn’t see all that much data – what Council and far fewer staff than in the previous plan saw was an early draft of what will become what the public gets to see.

The document will go through more “wordsmithing” and the addition of some data along with the comments members of Council made as the consultants went through the four “pillars” that the Strategic Plan will rest on. Each of the “pillars” has a rationale WORD that everything else flows from.

Those four “pillars” that are creating Burlington as a city for the balance of this term of office are

A city that grows
A city that moves
A city that is healthier and greener,
and a city that leads.

Appreciate that these are draft concepts and might see some changes

Strat Plan meeting part of crowd

Council members and staff were arranged around a rectangle with the consultants facilitating most of the discussion. The Regional CAO, Jane MacCaskill and Regional Chair Gary Carr took part in the discussions – they were not participants in the 2010-2013 Strategic Plan.

The 2014-2018 Strategic Plan is being led to a considerable degree by a consulting team from KPMG. They have done most of the research and put together draft versions of the Strategic Plan which council members and some staff comment on and debate. The debates get prickly at times.

By growing they mean that Burlington will continue to grow as an independent community by increasing its population in targeted intensification areas and by becoming a magnet for talent and economic opportunity.

By a city that moves they mean: People and goods will move throughout the city more efficiently and safely. Regional flows of traffic inbound and outbound will increase in efficiency. A variety of convenient, affordable and green forms of transportation that that align with transportation patterns will be developed.

A fair amount of gobbledegook in that statement – it is a draft so perhaps some clarity will works its way into future versions of the document.

The focus on a “healthier and greener” city was not something that we saw much of in the previous Strategic Plan. The vision this time is that the city be a responsible steward of municipal air, land and water while encouraging healthier lifestyles.

To become a city that leads Council wants to be seen as a leader in governance, citizen engagement, excellence and innovation in service delivery.
So far what we have heard is a lot of high flying rhetoric with statements that may not connect very well with the average Burlingtonian on the GO train or stuck on the QEW.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

Intense to the point of making delegations uncomfortable ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman does know how to drill down into the data and look for results.

The winner for the most ludicrous remark was Councillor Paul Sharman when he said: “We have to get the best bang for our buck right from the get go.”
The meeting, which took place during two half day meetings at LaSalle Park, was billed as a “Strategic Facility Check In” during which the first draft, written entirely by the consultants was reviewed.

The review included the strategic directions and supporting initiatives and the proposed performance indicators.
Each of the pillars –
had a rational statement attached to it with a number of Strategic actions and preliminary initiatives.

For growth these were:
Accelerate economic growth:

“Establish employment land targets that drive economic growth and create an employment lands vision that drives investment and growth in the highway corridor.”

Upper Middle Road looking east towards Burloak - primer commercial.  No takers?

Upper Middle Road looking east towards Burloak – designated as Employment lands. At least one member of Council would like to see this converted to residential.

There are a number of developers who have property classified as Employment Lands which they would love to see converted to residential where the return is much higher.

The city is required to ensure it has the Employment land it needs for future growth. One of the more lucrative pieces of property is along Upper Middle Road and Burloak owned by one of the larger property owners.

Expect the arm wrestling between Council and the development community to get interesting.

“Build one brand for the city that reflects the city’s vision.”

“The city will continue to promote and explore post-secondary partnerships including further developing an educational cluster around the DeGroote site and attracting a major educational facility to the Urban Core.”

There are conversations taking place between two community colleges and McMaster University that Councillor Craven didn’t want anything said about.  Serving as chair of the Committee of the Whole that was discussing the Strategic Plan he reminded his colleagues that there was media in the room.

“The city will develop a holistic strategy for Burlington’s rural area. This strategy will consider economic and social and environmental factors support of the rural community, agricultural industry, natural heritage and water resources.”


Is the Air Park an opportunity the city is going to take a pass on because it is too toxic legally?

What was both interesting and to some degree amazing was that not a single word was said about the Air Park property in the rural north. Properly developed with an owner that a conversation can be had with outside a court room, Burlington could be a city with a small air park that would make us a very desirable location for a large number of commercial operations.

Promote intensification:
“The city will focus intensification to key mixed use nodes and employment corridors by updating intensification targets and coordinating infrastructure to achieve growth objectives and will incorporate revised intensification targets through its Official Plan.”

“The city will demonstrate its commitment to growth management by preparing an intensification plan to manage projected growth and its related impacts.”

“This will be complete within two years.”

You can bet the barn that that statement will come back to bite someone’s rear end.

“The city will develop aging plazas and transform them into mixed use neighbourhood hubs.”

Smart population growth.
“Future development will be higher density, walkable, accessible and transit orientated. The city will become a leader in walkability measures in the province and will be fully aligned with provincial strategies and goals.”

“The city will prioritize one or two mobility hubs and use mechanisms to fast track the process using land use planning tools, public private partnerships and innovative funding, financing and delivery.”

“The prioritized hub will be incorporated into the Official Plan via a Master Plan for the hub within two years.

Another rash statement.”

“Within three years the city will develop a young family strategy, in cooperation with other levels of government that focuses on: (a) housing supply so that young families and newcomers can locate in Burlington and (b) provide social and economic infrastructure that supports youth, young family and newcomer economic, social and community goals.”

A process will be established to consult stakeholders to help gain consensus around a developable vision.

“The Strategic Plan discussions on a city that moves, is greener and leads will follow. This is complex stuff; it ties into intensification and the revision of the Official Plan that is also ongoing.”

There are at least two more meetings: a stakeholder’s review session and a review by city Council.

There was mention of a possible third meeting. And of course – the public will want to have a say. There wasn’t a lot of discussion about running all of this by the public. Not healthy.

Strat plan other part of room

KPMG consultants J. C Bourque and Mark MacDonald led council and senior staff through a detailed facilitated discussion during which changes to the early draft were made.

There is a lot more to be said about the Strategic Plan that is being put together – stay tuned!

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13 comments to First glimpse of the draft Strategic Plan for the balance of this term of office – some rash deliverable dates were put on the table.

  • lois best

    And don’t forget…Craven worked at WSIB…need I say more!!

  • Mike Ettlewood

    They’re very busy and very important people I’m sure. However, I’m still waiting on the Mayor’s “meaningful answer” to Council’s failure to meet the legislated timeframe for responding to the ADI Martha Street development proposal. Did I miss it??

  • henri de beaujolais

    Other than Jack Dennison, has anyone of the current Council ever run a for profit organization with more than 5 people? Have they ever had any leadership experience, on a small team of 10 people, planning and executing the plans and meeting deadlines and budgets? Have they managed budgets greater than even $1,000,000?

    I believe Councillor Sharman worked at a large corporation as an accountant. But did lead any initiatives? He sure knows how to analyze what has happened, not so good at creating a future vision.

    Councillor Taylor, very nice man, but he seems out of his depth the last few years, micro managing the experts that taxpayers pay a significant wage to take care of those exact issues.

    I think we have elected bureaucrats and not leaders.

    But then, what leaders would want to put up with the current method of City Hall’s dysfunctional operations?

  • Tom Muir

    Don’t forget about the legislated due process that has to be followed, and that takes a lot of time regardless of wants or patience shortages.

    The OP Review has to be completed, approved through process and public engagement, and then implemented as a new OP and zoning document.

    My experience from the downtown workshops was that developers say the present OP is out of date and they want DENSITY – much more height was the way it was put for the downtown.

    So generally, my impression is that major Burlington developers are waiting for the OP to allow more height in the downtown, where appropriate, compared to now.

    Nothing concrete happens without a formal application to city planning. So you can’t lay all the blame to the city staff or Council, who are all prisoners of the laws and of needed process, not to mention again developer applications that are at least reasonable.

    I talked to a couple of developers and they indicated they didn’t support the ADI proposal for 28 stories, calling it way out of line and problematic to how they think.

    In Aldershot, many things are happening, like it or not, and as far as I know, they all fit the present OP and zoning, so they are relatively smooth. No big drama from ADI, at least not yet for the GO station proposal.

    If you look at Plains Rd, there are a lot places and spaces where something is going to happen, again like it or not.

    In all cases, something that needs to be considered is the rate at which the built space can be planned, built, and taken up by the market.

    You can’t just build willy nilly at any rate of speed based on your arbitrary wants.

    Then, the builds underway and proposed are almost all for residential condos and there is really not much balance to this growth in terms of employment and commercial. In fact, in many cases these are being rezoned or the owners want rezoning, to residential.

    This isn’t going to work very well in the bigger picture.

    There is a lot of inertia built into the systems that govern growth and development, and these must be respected if we are not to screw things up with full speed ahead.

    • Mike Ettlewood


      Did you receive the promised “meaningful answer” from the Mayor, explaining why they missed the statutory deadline for responding to the ADI Martha Street development proposal? Frankly, I find Council’s participation in visioning and planning exercises to be farcical at best and somewhat offensive when they can’t manage compliance with a relatively straightforward operational process. Has there been any form of report back on Council’s performance under the previous Strategic Plan? I would be interested in the measure of their perceived accomplishments.

  • Glenda D

    Hay Chris you never know…..maybe we will start living to 120, won’t that be a crisis on our health care….Guess I’ll have to find myself another quaint City without the horrendous rush hour we now experience…..Burlington started to loose it’s charm fifteen years ago, note I said “started”….and by the way Chris, I sometimes write things just to mess around with people….

  • Glenda D

    Maybe majority of citizens of Burlington, and especially those of long standing, and ones who came because of it’s low profile do not desire further growth, industrialization of farm lands and intensification of our core with high rise condos al a Mississauga/Toronto etc. and those new comers who want an industrialised, high rise intense city should move on. Stuff the Best Place to Live etc., Burlington was the Best Place until that so called award. It’s been downhill ever since and is not the place that was the attraction in the first place. Maybe Mayor and Council are doing what the majority voted them in to do. Just wondering.

  • Lois Best


    You are correct with your comments above but I am concerned as you do tend to sway. At times you totally support Burlington’s leaders and then you don’t. Which one is it?

  • James

    Action speaks louder than words. For the past 6 years this Council has said a lot of words, spent a lot of money on redundant reports and studies, and yet nothing has happened. No traffic improvements have been implemented. No transit improvements have been implemented. No infrastructure improvements have been implemented. Very few intensification developments have been approved. It’s like someone hit the pause button on this city, and while all our neighbouring cities reap the rewards of action and are standing out as being open for business, we’re still sitting quietly on our hands, looking up at that “Best Mid-Sized City” trophy, terrified of doing ANYTHING while that title is still in our possession.

    Sadly this Strategic Plan, without action, is just an exercise of producing more words. And it’s costing us hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars in the process. Like Councillor Sharman, I too would like to get the most bang for our buck. I’m still waiting for the bang.

  • Glenda D

    Airpark – very desirable location for a large number of commercial operations…..I believe plans for this area are and have been in the hands of developers way before the Airpark was even built..a development like this is the forerunner of industrial development already being planned and it may be years before a move is made, nobody builds an airpark without knowing the rest of the story.

  • Peter Rusin

    Why is it that every local municipality in the GTA has progressive, proactive governance that is moving forward in strengthening the economic heart of this province, making better living environments for people, and then we have this that city for some reason is behaving like a deer staring into the headlights of reality.

    In comparison, the city of Hamilton is going through an amazing transformation, the Towns of Oakville and Milton are all working overtime in getting things done and addressing the challenges of growth and infrastructure and the evolution of our communities in a positive and strong spirit.

    The Region has an impressive depth and talent in staff and political governance, and that group also has an extensive track record of success and being ahead of the curve in so many ways. Why is it that this city is staring at report after report, at study after study, and acting like all this is something alien.

    The mayor of Burlington not only could not speak the word “intensification” during his re-election effort, he probably could not spell it either. I would much rather have KPMG run the show in this city than the current leadership.

    It would be interesting to measure the results of the previous strategic plan. Did this city accomplish what the previous plan dictated? If so, what was the success story. If not, then why would this strategic plan have any value for implementation.

    Everything that is contained in this current year strategic plan has been around for well over the past decade. These are NOT new ideas, NOR are these new concepts. This mayor has been asleep at the switch and there is clearly no leadership in this city. Every other mayor and council in the region and the GTA seem to get it, not in Burlington, and Burlington is the bottleneck for the health of the economy and population growth management. It is good to see that the Region’s leaders are in the room. It’s too bad that they are unable to fire the mayor of this city.