How is the city going to decide if it wants to approve a 28 storey structure on Lakeshore Road – and how will the public participate?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 13, 2014



It wasn’t exactly a full house but those who were in the room at the Art Gallery of Burlington to hear what ADI Developments was proposing for the parking lot at the corner of Martha and Lakeshore Road got an ear full. Most of them didn’t like what they heard.

The proposal is for a structure that will reach 28 stories into the sky and be directly opposite Emma’s Back Porch on the Old Lakeshore Road.

ADI project - rendering from LAkeshore

Rendering of the ADI Development project from the south east. The architect described the angle of the building as resembling a “billowing sail”.

The neighbourhood meeting was the first in a process that runs for 180 days after which the developer can take his plans to the Ontario Municipal Board and ask them to approve their project.

The meeting consisted of three parts:

The city planners explaining the process, the developer presenting their proposal and then people asking their questions and having a look at the proposal.

The process is important – all too often residents fail to understand the process and miss opportunities to get their views on the record. This particular development, if approved as proposed, will change for the next 50 years what downtown Burlington is going to look like.

The proposed 28 storey structure will join the already approved and now in the early construction stage the 22 storey condominium, the eight storey Delta four star hotel that will front on Lakeshore Road and the additional seven storey condominium that will sit to the south of the hotel close the lakes’ edge.

Combined – and realize that the 22 storey condominium along with the hotel and the seven storey condominium are done deals and the proposed 28 storeys that will be a couple of hundred yards from the proposed 28 storeys, will have a massive physical and psychological change on the downtown core.

Before we look at the ADI Development proposal – let’s take a close look at the process and how the average citizen is going to be able to impact the proposal. The developer has invested a significant amount of money into the purchase of the property – they bought the property.

ASI development - structre on the lot

That lot with 380 on it will be less valuable if this project proceeds.

Of note is the fact that they didn’t buy the lot to the north east – which means the owner of that location is dwarfed with little opportunity to develop. The ADI planner avoided making any comment on what will happen to the 380 Martha lot.

Rosa Bustamante, the city planner on this file did an excellent job of explaining the process that will be followed and because there were perhaps 80+ people in the room the Gazette is setting out that process in some detail for others that will want to follow this development.

ADI - Bustamanta # 2 steps in process

The graphic sets out the process the ADI Development will go through in order to get the Official Plan and zoning by-law changes it want to ask Council to approve.

Bustamante set out the context within which the ADI development application is taking place:

The Planning Act provides authority for applicants to submit development applications to amend the Official Plan or the Zoning By-law.

The City is required to process applications.

If Council does not make a decision on an application within a prescribed time-frame, the application can be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Pre-consultation takes place between the applicant and City staff before a development application is submitted.  This is intended to identify what applications are required and what technical studies are needed to support an application

There is no evaluation of a development proposal at the pre-consultation stage.

That pre-consultation has taken place and the developer has filed all the reports the city required as well as paid the appropriate fees.

Application is submitted along with the required fees and background studies/information

A sign is posted on the property describing the proposed development and providing a web link and phone number to contact for further information

The planner sends a letter describing the application to external agencies and City departments that may have an interest in the proposal. The technical studies are reviewed by these agencies.

Agencies are asked for their comments and any conditions that must be imposed on the development
A City planner sends a letter to neighbouring property owners. The letter describes the proposal and asks for written comments to the Planner. The public may send Comments by mail, fax, or e-mail.

This part is critical. If a resident has an objection – they need to put it in writing. Should this application go to the OMB (and you can expect that it will) the OMB will not consider anything that is not in writing – so do your homework and prepare your thoughts. Meet with neighbours and form groups. If you have any legal talent amongst you – pull that person into your group – think of asking for Standing at an OMB hearing. The OMB Commissioner is there to listen – but you have to make your case. Saying I don`t like it and I don`t want it – is not an argument.

At the Thursday evening meeting the Planner described the planning process and provides background information about the site. The Planner for ADI Developments presented the proposal and the architects explained the details of the project.

There were some good questions – but for the most part it was just people saying they didn’t like it ; didn`t want it and it was going to screw up their city.

Traffic along Lakeshore Road was going to be a mess they claimed – they are probably right. The Traffic study provided by the planner needs to be gone through with a fine tooth comb. There will be four traffic entrances on Martha Street – all within 25 yards of each other: two to the ADI Development, the lane-way to the 395 Martha apartment building and the lane way to the Martha`s Landing parking spaces.
Bustamante explained that:

The Planner writes an information report to Council for the statutory public meeting.

Public comments received to date are attached to the report.


Your city council members: The Significant Seven.

Your city council members: The Significant Seven.  How many of them will be returned to office October 27th.  Are these the people you want in office to decide if the ADI project is a good thing for the city?

The Statutory meeting is the first time city council and the public are in the same room to exchange views on the project.

And this is where the process in Burlington tends to fall short. People can make delegations; they put forward a point of view and Council members can ask questions – but there is no real dialogue. Frequently, all too frequently a delegation is made and not a single question is asked. Members of the public leave feeling they have not been listened to and have not been heard.

Those opposed to the development need to organize themselves. Marianne Meed Ward has come out against the project as has Mayor Goldring who has said publicly that he is not on for 28 storeys.  He points out that the city already has a legacy building –the 22 storey Bridgewater condominium project that was first approved back in 1985 when the Mayor was still a student.


Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee who seem to have forgotten what the report was all about - civic engagement

Councillors Sharman and Lancaster: both part of the Shape Burlington committee that was to change the way council interacted with the public.  Both are in tough re-election races.

We don`t yet know where the other five members of Council stand on this project. Three of the five cannot say with any certainty that they will be back at Council after October 27th. Lancaster and Sharman are facing very stiff opposition – particularly Lancaster. Dennison is running against a significant degree of dis-satisfaction from his constituents over his appeal to the OMB of a Committee of Adjustment decision not to allow a severance of his Lakeshore Road property. Dennison has yet to see a development proposal he didn`t almost immediately fall in love with.

It isn`t known yet just where Councillors Taylor and Craven stand on the development. Taylor did attend the Neighbourhood meeting. We didn`t see Councillor Craven but he usually ducks the Gazette.

Citizens opposed to the development have to do their homework and then wait to see what they have in the way of a Council once the election results are in.

The developer has a case – and if that case is not refuted it will go to the Ontario Municipal Board where they will probably prevail.

Many people feel that the Official Plan is a static document – it isn’t. It can be changed and has been changed in the past. A home owner can ask for a change to the Official Plan – they have in the past and the change they asked for has been approved.

Over riding the Official Plan are provincial government policy statements – one of which is that Burlington must intensify. The policy sets out how many housing units have to be created and how many jobs the city has to create as well – that policy statement over rides the Official Plan. Developers use the Provincial Policy Statement in their justification arguments.

What city council gets to decide is if a project fits in with the kind of city they believe the residents want. In order to do that a city council has to have a clearly defined vision that is supported by the citizens.

This council has not brought forward a vision – not yet.  What you get to decide in the next 14 days is if the current council is made up of the people you want to make this decision.

Major developments are complex matters. They often put citizens up against corporations with significant resources. A council that is a cohesive group, creatively led, can find ways to help citizens. Burlington isn’t there yet either.

What city council gets to decide is if a project fits in with the kind of city they believe the residents want.But in the next two weeks they are going to elect seven people to be the members of a city council. Are there people out there asking for your vote that reflect your views?

With a voter turnout that is too low – it is clear that not enough people really care. Then you put up with what those who do get elected.


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9 comments to How is the city going to decide if it wants to approve a 28 storey structure on Lakeshore Road – and how will the public participate?

  • Good Morning Mayor Goldring, City Councillors and Development Planner,

    I am submitting my comments to you today as I will be out of the country for the 7 p.m., October 9th public meeting at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

    The City of Burlington should stand by the Official Plan for this site, which has been approved by three levels of government, including the City, Region and Province. The land at Martha and Lakeshore Streets is zoned in the City of Burlington Official Plan for 4 storeys; with a provision to go to 8 storeys if “community benefits” under Section 37 are provided to help mitigate the impacts of the extra height. “The fundamental requirement of a community benefits agreement is that the proposal must first and foremost represent good planning.”
    To change the law, to approve overdevelopment to 28 Storeys, does not represent good planning, and the Official Plan designates this fact. Growth is desirable, however, Burlington Downtown needs medium density, not abusively high density, in order to keep it’s quality of life and economic growth.
    The process is broken that allows developers to change city law (zoning) to suit their economic needs in exchange for community benefits that in the end, get negotiated down to much less, and are debatable at best.
    There is no benefit to building 28 storeys at Martha and Lakeshore Streets. The two lane Lakeshore Road cannot handle the added high density and neither can the downtown core. Lakeshore Road is currently a parking lot from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm each weekday and unnavigable to local traffic. And the Mady Bridgewater development will only increase this congestion upon it’s completion. This roadway is stressed to the maximum, as are the residents that suffer this traffic congestion each day, along with the noise and pollution that result.
    The Burlington downtown community should be a “jewel on the lake”, not a concrete and glass jungle of skyscrapers with daily massive traffic jams. The Official Plan was going to ensure that this did not occur, but with each new developer request, the buildings get higher and the ‘Official Plan’ gets annihilated. If each new Developer request to change city law is granted, the residents are going to be left with an unliveable mess; much like the overbuilt Queen’s Quay in Toronto.
    The City of Burlington has been selected repeatedly by Money Sense magazine as the #1 Medium Size Canadian City in which to live and I quote: “Our number-one mid-sized city is Burlington, Ont., which also earns fifth place in our overall ranking. Burlington offers the convenience of being in close proximity to a major centre—in this case, Toronto—but has the bonus of offering a higher quality of life.” And further “Despite its distinction as Canada’s biggest city, Toronto ranks just 32nd on our overall list.” Why would Burlington aspire to be Toronto?
    Why would The City of Burlington even think about abandoning the Official Plan? Please respect the Official Plan, respect the residents, stop the overbuilding and ensure that downtown Burlington remains a liveable, desirable, quality place to live and visit, with it’s sense of community and distinct neighbourhoods
    Thankyou for your consideration,
    Deby Morrison

  • Maggie

    I had some business downtown yesterday so I went to have a closer look at the sight. It’s tiny. Are they completely crazy to think of putting this monstrosity on a postage stamp size lot. My own property is bigger. I later was talking to a gentleman who lives downtown and he said the traffic is already bad. This building will only make it worse. As for it looking like a billowing sail, I would never have thought that if it had been pointed out. I only thought it looked ready to topple over.

  • penny Hersh


    I totally agree with you…..Marianne has always championed for the residents of Ward 2. I am lucky enough to live in this ward. Unfortunately others on council do not think this way and things can only change with a different mix on council.

    • Henri de Beaujolais

      The tough decision is: do you do what the Ward residents want ? Or do you do what is best for the City? Many times these two are not in synch.

      So does the Councilor go for short term objectives (personal job protection)? Or does the councilor do what is best for the City in the long term and risk being thrown out in the next election?

      Even a compromise in the height of the building will not satisfy many,if any, ward 2 residents.

      Intensification brings many positives to a City: a walkable district, a vibrant energy with more people and more economic impact.

      If you don’t have intensification you’ll,end up with an empty downtown which is hard to turn around.

      • Glenda Dodd

        We are building condo’s, intensification is happening and we do not have an empty downtown.
        The Ward residences LIVE in downtown Burlington and as such are very in tune with what is happening in the city. I lived in downtown Toronto (Queen & University to be exact) and you cannot get any higher an intensification than that, guess what, stores struggled on Yonge Street, weather permitting the streets were full, (as is Burlington’s core), on rain, snow and bitter cold days, no different than downtown Burlington today. People in condo’s go to the underground parking get in their warm cars, drive to a mall and shop there on off days, I did and so do people I know who currently live in our downtown condo’s. Of course developers, builders and investment people will present the argument that if we fill our downtown core with 28 story high rises that will be the fix to increase pedestrian traffic and stores will magically all succeed .
        Do you really think that people buying new condo homes will automatically have expendable cash to shop the pricy downtown stores. It’s our economy, people just don’t have the expendable cash of years ago. Paying a mortgage on today’s income plus cost of food leaves most new buyers with little extra cash, unless you intend to fill all these units high income earners.
        It is not a downtown full of giant towers that has made Burlington one of the best places to live, I don’t object to condo’s in the downtown core and more are coming, but not to the height that will change our landscape to that degree. The only people I personally know that don’t see my objection to 28 stories are the ones I know that lived in Toronto, Mississauga and Vancouver, a concrete jungle is familiar to them. They seem to have forgotten what brought them here in the first place.
        To fill the lakeshore waterfront core with extreme high rises is not a sign of success but of ill regard for the beauty of downtown Burlington, and once one goes up it is precedence setting for others to follow. Our official plan was put into place because we saw what was happening in other cities and how those cities ruined their lakefront. They felt the need to protect Burlington’s core from such mayhem. Gridlock is already out of hand downtown, yes, let’s make it better with 28 story condos.
        Talk about ruining water front landscape, increased gridlock and flooding because of over development Parklawn and Lakeshore in Toronto is a current example.
        There is plenty of room further up Brant street for condo development (Ghent and Brant for example) and that is walking distance to the core.

  • D.Duck

    The ‘old boys club’ and the future ‘old girls club’ should have nothing to do with gender. It has to do with individuals’ being moral and ethical. Being fiscally responsible, honest, accountable and transparent are personal virtues that are not influenced by our karyotypes. I know many new ‘old girls clubs’ that would make the ‘old boys club’ look like virginal cherubs.

    Vote for the character of the individual and not their gender and we will place the correct council into power.

  • JQ Public

    How will this be decided? Standard way. After much hand-wringing Council will vote to compromise and “allow” 12 storeys. Developer will complain and go straight to the unelected OMB (Official Master of all that is Bureaucratic). OMB will play referee and say for the good all let’s compromise – how about halfway between the 12 the City allows and the 28 the developer insists he must have to make it “workable” (ie. make lots of money)…and we’ll settle on 20 storeys (actually what the developer wanted all along anyway). Story over (and storeys way over).

    That is unless we elect a council that will stand up united (along with its planning staff) and defend to the hilt the Official Plan and Zoning put in place to handle future intensification without skyscrapers.

    Which one do you like Burlington?

  • Glenda Dodd

    From above article – “Marianne Meed Ward has come out against the project as has Mayor Goldring”.

    From Penny – “We have an opportunity to change Council. People need to stop voting for the “old boys club” and vote in people who have the desire to fight at the OMB to stop all this nonsense”.

    Ward two councillor is obviously NOT one of the old boys club – she is a voice on council who fights for residence first.

  • penny Hersh

    In the past when OVER INTENSIFICATION was proposed by a developer the City has always caved in. The Council’s attitude has always been “no point in going to the OMB and spending money the developer always wins”. Well in Oakville their Council has been pro-active and has taken the time and money to defend their “official policy” and has won.

    We have an opportunity to change Council. People need to stop voting for the “old boys club” and vote in people who have the desire to fight at the OMB to stop all this nonsense.