In an Open letter to city Council Aldershot resident wants a slow down on the Official Plan - a radical irreversible experiment.

opinionandcommentBy Greg Woodruff

January 2nd, 2018



Staff have recently announced a new schedule for passing the revamped “Official Plan.” The staff proposed timing is completely unacceptable. This new Official Plan represents a radical change to the city. It contemplates eventually increasing the population by hundreds of thousands of people, allowing hi-rises on thousands of properties with no notification to adjacent owners, removing traditional commercial sites everywhere, making completely unknown modifications to transit and imposing completely unknown costs for it all.

Placing the vote on a decades long plan in April, just one month before the 2018 election season starts in May, seems to deliberately avoid democratic input. Even if the timing is quite innocent, the appearance of impropriety alone demands that the vote be moved off to the next elected council. Staff should spend the next months finalizing a completed Official Plan, completed Mobility Hub plan, and completed Transit Master Plan, with costs. Then we can all have an election on the merits of all of these plans, and costs, and move forward with a mandate and the understanding of the population.

The new plan contains no mechanism to preserve the quality of life for residents; each day seems to have less tree cover, less greenery, fewer local services, more people, more pollution and more time wasted traveling around a congested city. These negative effects are imagined to be offset by a plan for a massive switch to non-vehicular transportation that will be discovered in the future, but has not been presented or costed today. It treats existing citizen’s investment in their property, travel patterns and the lives they have built in Burlington as an inconvenience to be swept away. That theoretical efficiencies in energy consumption or land use might occur on a planning spreadsheet is not sufficient justification to draft 185,000 taxpayers into a radical irreversible experiment.

Additionally, the possible closing of citizen delegations before upcoming official plan votes looks equally bad.

ScheduleCThe effects of the rules and definitions in the new Official Plan requires detailed study, and the public needs much more time to provide proper feedback to council. As one quick example – at first the coloured map (Schedule C) shows pink for “Neighbourhood Centre”, and would seem to protect those traditional commercial sites. This is until you realize that the “Neighbourhood Centre” designation requires re-development to “To ensure the in-filling of surface parking lots (”

NebirohoodDesignations Some of the rules attempt to distort the free market further and remove surface parking in exchange for allowing 12 story buildings on the site. It’s completely unclear what replaces all these traditional commercial sites, or how the commodities of living are to be acquired.

MixedUsageCommericalCenterIt seems as if the current population is to just blindly begin these changes then endure whatever local fallout occurs.

Though Councillors have a provincial direction to review and update the plan with staff, they certainly have no requirement to pass the plan in the current term. Population targets are set out at 2031, which leaves a decade or more before any tisk-tisking might even come from the Province. The current time line is simply not imposed by the Province. However, using this as a pretext again makes it seems like the real purpose of the timing is to remove the discomfort of Councillors and staff having to defend something they suspect voters are unlikely to support.

There is far too much focus on intensification for population numbers alone, and too little on positive intensification to enrich our communities. A focus is needed on quality of life, not the quantity of people. If the plan is worth voting for now, then it should be easy to get re-elected promoting it.


Are they prepared to stake their council seats on the Official Plan that is being proposed?

If members of Council don’t think they can get re-elected supporting it, then they should not vote for it now. It’s that simple. Changes this radical require a mandate, and this Council can help more than ever by making sure it exists for the next Council.

Please help everyone now by defending the people’s impression of our democracy which has placed Council in a position of trust.

Greg WoodruffGreg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who ran for the office of Regional Chair in the 2014 municipal election.  He delegates frequently at city council.

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5 comments to In an Open letter to city Council Aldershot resident wants a slow down on the Official Plan – a radical irreversible experiment.

  • joe gaetan

    As part of its engagement process, in 2016 the citizens of Burlington were asked to weigh in on which “Of the four Strategic Directions”, was most important to them? Strategy after all generally sets the tone for what is to follow. The citizenry responded, and the results were as follows, 41 % of us supported a “Healthy & Greener City”, 24% supported an “Engaging City”, 20% supported “A City that Moves” and lastly a mere 14% wanted “A City that Grows”.
    Then the city asked the citizens, which of the following 2 two phrases would best capture the spirit of the city’s new direction for growth (Note the absence of what the citizens wanted, and how all of a sudden the city’s growth became the new direction even though citizens had ranked it fourth out of 4 choices). The results of the survey, two-thirds of the hundreds of people (How many hundreds would be good to know) surveyed, chose “Grow Bold” over the other option, “We Are All In.” No surprise there. Given there were only two choices and one of them was the uninspiring, “We are all in”. The winning phrase may support “the spirit of the city’s new direction”, but completely ignores the voice of the citizenry.
    So, what we have today because of the city’s new direction is a behemoth of an Official Plan supported by a Grow Bold office, Grow Bold ambassadors and a Grow Bold workbook. Not bad for a fourth-place strategic item.
    History will judge whether this O.P will be seen as visionary or an unmitigated disaster. The OP is an election issue, whether we or council like it or not and whether the OP is approved before the upcoming election or not.
    At least Greg took the time to read the OP and to distill its contents and to share his thoughts on the subject whether we agree within or not we need more Greg’s.

  • Hans

    Good commentary. I particularly liked: “It treats existing citizen’s (sic) investment in their property, travel patterns and the lives they have built in Burlington as an inconvenience to be swept away.”

    The new OP should be the subject of a referendum. It is not something that should be passed by a council that is nearing the end of its mandate and has lost the confidence of a large number of citizens.

  • craig gardner

    Getting very tired of seeing the same names over and over complaining about
    city staff and council if you are that much better please run for office and then we will see who throws sticks and stones at you all. I for one am pretyy happy with most goings on accept for the new street bike lane fiasco brought about by a minority ofcitizens special interest group obvious with too much power for their numbers.

    • Stephen White

      Craig. Sorry we have all upset you with our comments and feedback on important local issues. We’ll try to make an effort in 2018 not to make too much noise and disturb you.

      Providing a medium through which people can present their opinions and engage in an intelligent discussion of the issues is what this forum is about. Thankfully, there are forums such as the Burlington Gazette that permit this kind of open interaction without censorship and control. Not all opinions will meet with your approval. That’s the price one pays for living in a democracy.

      If you don’t like what is presented you really have two options: 1) present a compelling, alternative viewpoint; or 2) tune out.

      And as I understand it, Greg is running in the municipal election, so kudos to him for having the courage of his convictions and the guts to stand up for what he believes in. Let’s hope more citizens put their names forward and stand for election this October. By the way, note that I used the word “election” and not “re-election” as in recycling the same cast of characters we’ve had for the last eight years!

    • Hey Craig,

      You realize that official plan has population numbers that will overwhelm the existing road network and the entire thing is hinged on the idea walking, biking and transit will take over as a way to get around.

      In implementation it’s New Street Bike lane “roat diets” every where.