Gaetan gives his take on that 'as expected' city council vote.

opinionandcommentBy Joe Gaetan

January 31st, 2018



Goldring - Christmas picture

Mayor Rick Goldring as he appeared on a Christmas card.

“The Vote is as expected”, said Mayor Goldring affirming that the Official Plan will not be delayed until after the fall election. The Mayor’s words underscored the vote of six members of council not to defer the adoption of a new plan.

The lone vote to defer the plan was cast by Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. But before that, all council members had an opportunity to say why they voted “as expected”; here is my take on what was said.

As a Standing Committee chair, Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven is as good as it gets. Handling delegations and accepting the ideas of other people - not as good. But he wins elections.

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven

Councillor Rick Craven was adamant in his belief that 34 out of 35 delegators, or in his words the “200 angry people” who were opposed to the Official Plan were not going to sway him because he cares and does listen, and that the Burlington downtown has to take its share of intensification. During the 2014 election 4,772 voters gave Mr. Craven the right to vote as he did.

Councillor Lancaster listens carefully and tends to be cautious; still in a 'learning mode'.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster.

Councillor Blair Lancaster also made the point that she cares and listens and took the time to ponder her decision, but that council sets the policy which is what they were elected to do. During the 2014 election 2,087 voters gave her the right to vote as she did.

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.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

Councillor Paul Sharman said the vote was not about today but about our city 50-70 years from now, he also stated we are kidding ourselves about affordable housing and that he was looking forward to running on this issue in the fall election. During the 2014 election 3,935 votes gave Mr. Sharman the right to vote as he did.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison Councillor Ward 4

Council Jack Dennison stated we need the “assessment growth” (aka taxation revenue), there was “no news in this Official Plan”, that they had to vote as they did and not because “of the 200-people” standing in front of us. During the 2014 election 5,401 voters gave Mr. Dennison the right to vote the way he did.

The Dean of Burlington Council members, Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor fights for what he beleives in. One of the things he wants is more openess and more transparency. He didn't get it this time out.

The Dean of Burlington Council, Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor

Councillor John Taylor opined on the fact Burlington has run out of greenspace, that we need to grow as a city and that we need to start intensifying south of the QEW. During the 2014 election 2,977 voters gave him the right to vote a she did.

Meed Ward H&S

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, cast the lone vote to defer the adoption of a new Official Plan April 4th.

Councillor Meed Ward made several attempts to sway the vote, asking council to put the Official Plan “to a test of democracy”, that citizens had been given little time to review parts of the plan, that citizens only learned about some aspects of the plan in November, that the changes were not minor. During the 2014 election 4,654 voters gave Ms. Meed Ward the right to vote as she did.

Mayor Goldring stated he did not believe there is any benefit to deferring the OP, that there had been tremendous dialogue and good discussion on the  Official Plan  and that OP’s were never perfect, that there was no benefit to deferring, as it would not represent leadership and that council had to finish what it started.

During the 2014, 36,237 voters gave Mr. Goldring the right to vote as he did.

According to Deputy City Manager, Mary Lou Tanner, the citizens have four more opportunities to weigh in on the Official Plan, not that it will make much difference where our downtown is concerned. Why? The fate and future of the downtown was sealed on Monday January 25 by the “Expected vote”.

It appears that the majority of council believe, the voices of 35 delegators have no weight in this matter, are not representative of the majority of Burlington voters, and that they were fairly elected to vote as they did on this and other matters that come before council.

Joseph GaetanJoe Gaetan attended and delegated at the meeting of January 23,2018, and attended the Council meeting of January 29,2018. While a resident of Ward 2 in a Tall Building, he does not live downtown.

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14 comments to Gaetan gives his take on that ‘as expected’ city council vote.

  • Susie

    Re: the City Council vote! If something can’t be understood – it is all about money $$$$$$. In this case it is the City Tax Revenues that they will benefit from.
    The reason the Councillors rejected postponing this until the election, was because the voters would have turned it down. The Councillors have the control “now” to make this OP move forward, even though they say they are listening to what the 200 citizens in front of them are saying, “no”! Bottom line, they lead us to believe they want our input “just formality”, but will still selectively move forward with 99% of what is set out in the OP.

  • Penny

    Just look at the percentage of residents that vote in Municipal Elections – it is dismal. I cannot tell you how many people have come up to me and said ” Who are you voting for”, not ” Who are you voting for and why did you choose that candidate”? My answer is always you need to find out what the candidates are saying and make your own decision. The comeback answer is I just won’t vote.

    Perhaps the circle of people around you are savvy enough to know the issues and vote with that knowledge, many do not.

  • Penny

    Unfortunately a majority of voters don’t understand how their vote on the Municipal level can influence their lives. Name recognition often is the reason why Councillors get re-elected, not necessarily for any other reason.

    If Council is so convinced that their vision for Burlington is what the residents want then certainly there is no reason not to make it an election issue. Certainly 6 months delay would not be the end of the world.

    Staff seems to add another precinct whenever an issue comes to light through the delegations. If staff and council really want residents to understand what they are proposing then get rid of the many precinct names and simply divide the City by streets.

    I have said that if something doesn’t make any sense then one should be very wary of what is being proposed. Perhaps that’s the plan….

    • Shannon

      “A majority of voters don’t understand how their vote on the Municipal level can influence their lives”? That’s a rather insulting presumption, and a baseless one, unless there’s some research I’m missing. I would be inclined to give Burlington voters a little more credit. Chances are that anyone who bothers to go out and vote in a municipal election has given some thought to who and what they’re voting for, and why. A number of decisions made at the municipal level affect residents’ lives to some degree, and folks vote on a whole lot more than just growth and downtown development. For example, how much money people keep in their pockets every year is something that affects people’s lives considerably and frankly, I’m surprised that property tax increases aren’t more of an issue.

  • Josie

    Meanwhile, the town of Oakville voted unanimously to pass various measures aimed at what can be built at Glen Abbey golf course where ClubLink had planned to put up 3,222 residential units. Way to go Oakville! What are we doing wrong in Burlington??

  • joe gaetan

    According to COB: Of the city’s 125,250 eligible voters, 7,976 (6.37 per cent) cast their ballot on-line while 3,101 (2.47 per cent) cast their ballot at one of our in-person advance polls for an early voting total of 11,077 (8.84 per cent).

    On Election Day Monday, Oct. 27, 31,686 voters (25.30 per cent) came out to vote, bringing the total number of ballots cast to 42,763 and total voter turnout for the 2014 Municipal Election to 34.14 per cent.

  • When five elected councilors representing almost 87% of registered voters agree and make a decision it represents the majority by any measure. Democracy at it’s best.

  • Well then we will have to wait and see what happens. In a democracy the number of votes really count. If people want the OP then the councillors who feel it is a good thing will be voted in again. If people don’t want the OP and are dead set against changing Burlington into another Mississauga, Toronto, etc., then they will not be voted in again and we’ll see what a new group of councillors come up with. It will all be in the hands of the voters. Let’s hope they are all informed. Reading the new OP is not easy, but it is necessary if one wants to be informed.

  • William

    The joke is that council members dismissively ignore the people who express their disapproval of the downtown plan as not representative of the broader public – while they themselves were elected by the vast minority of their constituency.

    In the 2014 election, the mayor was elected by 29% of the eligible voters – facing two marginal candidates. Lancaster was the lowest, elected by 9.2% of eligible voters.

  • Great article Joe,

    The council doesn’t believe the voice of 100,000 people matter. They have just bought into this utopian vision. We elect these people to represent us – not pretend that Burlington is a POW camp and the only purpose of the administration is to house the next shipment of inmates.

    The vast majority of people do not want to live in a tree-less, congestion filled maze of high-rises. We did not move to Burlington for that and do not want it. Good news is that with the election coming up we have the ability to change course.

    I warned the council that if they voted for the New Offical Plan they would marry it. It’s not going to be so easy to get a divorce when they go door to door in May and run into real property owners.

    • Shannon

      100,000 people aren’t being “believed” by council? Hmmm. I’m not sure about that math. Our elected representatives are pretending that Burlington is a POW camp? Oh my.

      Decades of poorly-planned sprawl has arguably killed far more trees and caused significantly more congestion throughout the GTA than what Burlington city planners have in mind. Their plans are actually to ADDRESS the congestion that would result WITHOUT a long-term plan to deal with inevitable population increases. You can speak for yourself, Greg, and I know many Gazette readers would say they feel they same way, but please don’t presume to speak for everyone. Respectfully, you can’t possibly know what everyone wants.

      • I didn’t speak for everyone. I said:
        “The vast majority of people do not want to live in a tree-less, congestion filled maze of high-rises.”

        That’s not everyone – I realize that some people apparently yourself like the idea.

        We have an easy test coming up. If Mayor and Council remain – then I guess you are right.

        • Shannon

          False equivalence. Because I disagree with your point, does not mean I “like the idea” of “treeless, congestion-filled mazes of high rises.” I would be interested to know how 6 or 8 or 12-storey structures somehow saves trees, but taller structures result in a complete absence of trees. Or was that just hyperbole? We’re not razing any urban forests here to accommodate additional height. I’ve seen the plans. No evidence whatsoever of treelessness. Quite the opposite, in fact.