Former city Councillor stirs the pot - still barking away at the Mayor

By Pepper Parr

July 30th, 2021


Rick Craven’s opinion piece was sent to a number of close associates and to other media in the area.  The Gazette is not on his media list

Former Ward 1 Councilor Rick Craven put out a small piece earlier today – it may have appeared in the local website he writes for.

Craven takes the position that: “Mayor Marianne Meed Ward’s claim that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has already approved a boundary change for the Downtown Urban Growth Centre (UGC) may be wrong.

At a press conference on June 15th the Minister did say that he supported the change.

In his article Craven wrote: “The Mayor then publicly claimed victory. “The Province has approved our request to adjust the boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre.”
Not so fast.

“In an oral ruling during an appeal this month, an Ontario Land Tribunal Hearings Officer (OLT) concluded that until the Minister actually signs off on the new boundary, the existing boundary remains in place and would be used to adjudicate the case before him, possibly creating an advantage for the developer.”

Not so fast yourself, Rick.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing doesn’t just stand up and say – ‘this is the way it is’. He did indeed make a statement on June 15th saying he supported the change in the Urban Growth Boundary.

What he was doing in June was telegraphing what his position was going to be.

Last week the Regional government passed their ROPA 48 (Regional Official Plan Amendment). That document approved the change to the Burlington Urban Growth Boundary and took away that ridiculous MTSA designation given to the John Street bus terminal; a structure that couldn’t hold ten people standing up.

That MTSA (Major Transit Service Area) was let stand during the period of time that Craven was a Councillor – put that burning rubber tire around his neck. It was the existence of the designation that let the ADI Development Group get (what was then) OMB approval for the 26 story Nautique structure on Lakeshore Road.

Craven writes: “The City’s lawyer tried to convince the Hearings Officer otherwise, but without success.

The existing UGC boundary includes areas on both sides of Brant Street to the waterfront. It was set up years ago by the Province to encourage significant intensification.”

Existing UGC Boundary

Craven is totally correct on the province being the people who created the original UGC boundary – where they blew it is in not asking the province to move it.

It was the demand that the UGC boundary be moved that won the election for Meed Ward – something Rick Craven has never been able to come to terms with.

Craven wrote: “Local developers have used this boundary to justify tall building proposals at or near the waterfront including the twenty-nine storey proposal discussed at the Hearing.

The existing UGC boundary includes areas on both sides of Brant Street all the way down to the waterfront.

“Burlington politicians never liked the Province’s UGC boundary. Reacting to downtown opposition to tall buildings, City Council proposed re-drawing the boundary to move it farther north, away from the waterfront. They knew that it would still require Provincial approval.

“It appears now that approval of Council’s change remains somewhere in the wilderness of the Provincial government, contrary to Meed Ward’s public pronouncement.

“Local developers are salivating at what the Hearing Officer’s ruling might mean. Since the City’s proposed boundary is tied to an amendment of the Region’s Official Plan, some believe it may be a long time before it is actually approved.

“The City meanwhile faces a number of appeals and prospective appeals by developers who could potentially benefit from still being located within the Urban Growth Centre. There are outstanding proposals for new buildings as high as thirty-five storeys along the waterfront.

“Developers are also speculating about exactly what the Minister may eventually approve. Will he approve what City Council wants or tweak it, and will his decision be retroactive?

City’s Proposed New UGC Boundary

“In spite of the Hearing Officer’s ruling Meed Ward remains confident.
“We will continue every effort to ensure reasonable growth that accords with community, council and staff vision for the downtown”.
Downtown Councillor Lisa Kearns remains calm amid the uncertainty.

“It would be premature to speculate on the implications of the Tribunal’s oral ruling, or its implications for other downtown proposals, as the details of the reasons reflected in the written decision will need to be considered by the City.”

“The Hearing, during which the ruling occurred, is scheduled to wrap up today. It was about the Carriage Gate Homes proposal for a twenty-nine storey tower at the corner of Pearl Street and Lakeshore.

“In a surprising development the City indicated during the Hearing that it was willing to accept twenty-two storeys, which would be contrary to its own Official Plan and may upset some constituents.

Site of the Carriage Gate development – asking for 29 storeys – city seems prepared to live with 22. Used to be the site of the Pearl Street Cafe.

“If you were hoping for the Mayor and Council to control the growth of new high rises downtown, their position at the OLT to support 22 storeys at Pearl and Lakeshore will be quite a shock”, according to one Facebook comment.

“It may still be months before a final OLT decision on the Carriage Gate matter is announced.

Former city Councillor Rick Craven

“All this may prove particularly uncomfortable for Mayor Meed Ward who has promised for over a decade to “SAVE OUR WATERFRONT” and ran in the 2018 election advocating lower heights in the downtown.”

Craven is out there stirring the pot – exactly what any journalist should do. But he chose to forget the process. What he seems to want is for a judge to make a decision in the middle of the trial – it doesn’t work that way, Rick – and you know that.

Related news story:

Councillor dumps on Meed Ward

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6 comments to Former city Councillor stirs the pot – still barking away at the Mayor

  • Tom Muir

    I would like to know how many OPs we have in play that all seem to be contested. I would like the City planning to explain this for the benefit of residents.

    I have counted 3 OPs. One is the “old one” that we worked for years to revise. This old one was often used because the New OP revision was not in force and effect approved, but this didn’t stop this unapproved New one from being used as a basis for application approvals. This issue still hangs over the entire matter of development applications, City planning, and decisions of approval or appeals to OLT.

    I do not know for sure what the status of the new OP (BNOP) actually is. This story has Craven raising the matter on a number of counts and it is contested, in some ways by the above issues, but also by more fundamental political and procedural matters of policy practice and legality.

    It’s also not evident what the truth really is as I thought the New City OP (BNOP) had been approved by the Region, but there are arguments that this was not procedural legitimate. Who is correct, and who will and when decide, and in what forum?

    This so far is a mess that has been around for several years and multiple appeals to OLT under the “old” OP that were decided on policy grounds and argument using the New OP at OLT, that were not really based on either “old” OP or even New OP.

    Even this mess is going to get much worse and may be fairly described as an addition of a “Third” OP. This is an attempt by about 46 development groups with separate appeals to OLT, to fundamentally rewrite everything in terms of what they all want to see and get individually with some overlap, using the provincial policy frame, Regional OP, contested versions of the BNOP.

    I just read a 71 page preliminary and draft procedural order that contains 46 active development appellants and lists several hundred issues of all kinds and basis. I did not count.

    This is an overwhelming assault on planning control in Burlington, and there are other things in waiting like the Waterfront, Downtown, Aldershot, and elsewhere where I don’t have all the details.

    All of these issues are points of argument that if even partly approved will construct a wholly New-New City OP crafted in the sculptured image of the 46 developers, and more I am sure.

    This is a nightmare going on just organizing such a Hearing, never mind conducting one and then arriving at decisions.

    Like I asked above, the City and Mayor owe the residents of Burlington an explanation of all the planning and OP factors involved and their standing in effect.

    What is going on and what’s at stake?

    What are we basing our planning on? How many OPs are we juggling and which counts?

    • A mess is right. That’s what our former lawyer and former Ombudsman Andre Marin called it too. The 71 page document you refer to Tom is causing another very large hiccup. The Region failed to make the deadline ordered by the Tribunal at the June 11, 2021 CMC. Not only that, Yerxa (Halton senior counsel) took 7 days to inform parties etc. that she was unable to comply with the order and wants another CMC…. that is not something that a Tribunal should let pass as easily as Yerxa believes it should. The mess is getting messier Tom…. an e-mail is in your inbox due to you requesting and obtaining participant status.

      • Tom Muir

        I suggest that the hiccup” you refer to is really more like a gag on all the issues, leading to a puke. I am afraid this is too much for any digestion by rational and competent beings.

        This ought to be tossed by default of failure to comply to the Tribunal Order on the PO and issues list, and started again at the fundamentals of what all this is supposed to accomplish, and whether OLT is even capable of dealing with this.

        • Should be tossed by default is right Tom, but if you attended today’s meeting you know they got another kick at the can without even an apology and the city (after the Sills beating) are now talking about unfreezing the ICBL but in a vague unacceptable way that member Tousaw clearly supported despite objections. So can everyoe else thumb their nose at Tribunal orders, bet you that’s not the case. We have been part of many Tribunals and have had lots of issues with the way they operate but this one will surely hold the record for the messiest. longest and biggest waste of public and private resources for generations to come. Where is Minister Clark in all this – he is well informed as to what is happening we have made sure of that.

  • Fred Crockett

    Sadly, this former Councillor continues his insipid whining….

  • Cathy

    Rick Craven seems to know well the minds of the “salivating” local developers and their hopes for the Minister’s decision to remain in limbo.

    His writing raises this question for me: is Rick Craven writing as the volunteer journalist or is he really a paid PR flack for the developer?