I am pro development, but I am NOT pro development of a canyon of 25 storey condo buildings up the entire length of Brant Street.

opinionandcommentBy Deby Morrison,

November 390th, 2017



It is unacceptable to be rushing this Official Plan through Development and Committee tonight to head to Council for a vote when the public has been given 14 days to comment on such major and drastic changes to the future of this City. Defer the approval of the Official Plan to June, 2018. Defer approval of the Downtown Mobility Hub precinct plan and Official Plan policies until June, 2018.

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThe Official Plan was released November 9, 2017 to the public, an email went out Nov 13/17 and the public was given 14 days to Nov 27/17 to comment. After only 14 days, why is this plan being considered today, November 30, 2017, at a Planning & Development committee meeting to be sent to Council for a vote? Noted, there were three public open house presentations of this plan from November 16 to 20th, 2017, 4 days, during which time I was out of the Country; I am sure that I am not alone in this situation. Many Burlington residents are still unaware that the Official Plan has been released.

This Plan is recommending drastic changes to the City and is going to forever change the landscape and culture of Burlington and our Downtown. This should not be rushed to Council prior to a specific, detailed design of the Downtown Core has been established and further public consultation and discussion. I haven’t had time to review the entire report, but I do not agree with raising heights to 17 to 25 storeys from 4 to 8 storeys in entire precincts and changing precinct borders without a more refined, detailed design of the Downtown Core.

Burlington aerial

The fight is for what kind of growth there will be on Brant Street – the spine of the Downtown core.

I am pro development, but I am NOT pro development of a canyon of 25 storey condo buildings up the entire length of Brant Street. What a sure way to kill the Downtown core for people and entrepreneurial business and encourage car traffic. What is being proposed would create a most unfriendly environment for people and create a congested traffic mess. This City is going to end up with what King Street in Toronto has become.

Toronto is spending millions trying to figure out how to end the daily traffic gridlock and bring people back to King Street at night. We have history and lessons close by to draw from, why would we do this to our Downtown Core? Who is benefiting from this type of Development and why are we in such a rush to move forward in this manner?

I attended many of the public sessions on developing the new official plan and the grow bold initiatives and was left with the impression that the majority of residents did not support this level of increased height and density in the core. The City is on target to meet their intensification targets of 200 people/jobs per hectare as we are already at 174 jobs/hectare, without this level of intensification in the Core.

It would be irresponsible to change these zoning laws without having a Downtown Design, Transit, Traffic and Infrastructure Plans in place. The traffic and construction time and effect of these buildings will gridlock the downtown in the near term and forever be a detriment to the appeal and draw to our downtown core. Any successful City needs a successful Downtown.

Downtown core precinct

Proposed Downtown Core precinct

Making zoning law changes for Developers over these past years has led Developers to overpay for downtown properties as they gambled on whether or not they would be able to build 23 storeys vs. the zoned 4 to 8 storeys. These Developers have allowed the Downtown Core to become somewhat shoddy as they have not kept their properties in good repair nor have they allowed entrepreneurial business owners to sign long term leases. Developers wanted to be ready to go when “the height was right”. Should Developers be rewarded for these actions; driving up property prices and encouraging decaying property conditions. Why should the residents of the City have to pay the price because Developers are lamenting that they can’t make a profit on 4 to 8 storeys as a direct result of their own decision to overpay for property. Should Developers be driving the design and future of our Downtown Core? Or should the citizens of Burlington be the driving force behind the design of our Downtown?

A wonderful Downtown ‘culture’ has been emerging the past few years with interesting entrepreneurial businesses bringing residents and tourists alike to our Downtown Core. Kellys, a major draw for residents & young people from far and wide, Centro Garden Store & their Sunday Farmer’s market & Maker’s Markets, Tamp Coffee, a major meeting hub for business & residents, the Burro, draws a younger crowd from far and wide, just to name a few and none of these businesses will survive the higher rents these new high rise condos bring.

In fact, Kellys has been given their walking papers by a Developer, Centro is slated for a 17 storey development and we won’t get these businesses back. We should be nurturing and encouraging these business owners, as against all odds, they were building a culture and environment that was drawing young people, residents and tourists to the core. If there’s any doubt about that just look at the current businesses at ground level in the current high rise condo towers: real estate, bank, mortgage, franchise, medical, empty; absolutely no draw or culture to be found.

Sometimes what’s in the buildings is more important than the buildings and we have an opportunity to foster and create that environment in our City. Part of the Downtown Core should be developed into an area where these businesses can flourish, perhaps a Pedestrian Promenade. This should be designed prior to any change in the Official Plan. We only have one Downtown Core, there is no where else in our City for these businesses to relocate or this type of Pedestrian friendly area to be developed. I’m sure if this type of project was tendered to Developers, we’d see some wonderful plans.

We have a gem on the Lake, let’s be careful going forward and foster a thriving “Niagara-on-the-Lake” destination, not a “Toronto Queen’s Quay Nightmare” on the Lake.

I am pro development downtown, however, I am for reasonable, responsible development with a defined design plan prior to pushing forward.

Deby Morrison is a member of the Core Residents Association.

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5 comments to I am pro development, but I am NOT pro development of a canyon of 25 storey condo buildings up the entire length of Brant Street.

  • Denise McKay

    Lakeshore and Brant is already in a traffic snarl many times a day. Time to slow down.

  • Let’s expand here. The “line of high-rises” makes no sense here or anywhere else. It is not dense enough for a commercial base, but is dense enough to snarl traffic.

    The idea is to get denser and “feel our way through” – it’s not a plan – it’s just an agenda.

  • Tom Muir

    From all my experience, it’s Council, except MMW, that is really driving the ram-rod, by not stopping it for sober second thoughts and public input.

    Craven said it has been 6 years, so let’s go, no more waiting. So did the Mayor say 6 years.

    So we are supposed to digest and judge 6 years of push compressed into 1000 pages (or so or more with all the revisions), in 1 month or so.

    I bet most people in Burlington have no idea what is being pulled here.

    This is the OP, the plan for 25 years, that embeds 25 stories as of right in the laws, even in existing stable neighborhoods, something we have been assured for the whole 6 years would not be allowed to happen.

    It’s not just one proposal that gets the same final judgement time.

    Ridiculous failure of fiduciary failure, their duty of trust, by Council.

    Keeping to this course of ramming it through regardless means the majority of Council is brain dead.

    Do they have no idea what it looks like?

  • Stu Parr


    Thank you for so articulately expressing my position and my concerns. I am, like you, pro-development but not to the detriment of our downtown core and certainly not as a result of the ram-rod process attempted by the City’s bureaucrats. It is time that Council woke up and took control.

  • Lynn

    Very well said Deby!

    I get why the developers are fine with killing the downtown… they see dollar signs and they don’t live here. But what is the councillors’ excuse? City Manager and senior staff are failing the citizens of Burlington. We aren’t Vancouver or Toronto.