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Is there a procedural issue with the way the city got the Official Plan they approved into the hands of the Region?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 21st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington’s Official Plan is now in the hands of Regional Council.

And just what does that mean?

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The approved Official Plan is now in the hands of the Region. Was the paperwork needed to get the document to the Region done properly?

The Official Plan has become a municipal election issue with some thinking that the election of a significantly different city council means they can have the Region send the Plan back to the city where it will get debated and hopefully changed.

Not likely.

Many don’t understand just how the process of getting the Official Plan passed works. Greg Woodruff, an Aldershot resident who ran for the Office of Chair of the Region in 2014, wrote the man that won hat job asking for an explanation as to just how the passing of the new Official Plan to make it the law of the city gets done. Chair Carr passed Woodruff’s request along to Art Zuidema, the commissioner for Legislative & Planning Services at the Region.

Commissioners are the senior level of Management at the Region

Here is his description of the Official plan procedure Woodruff got from the Region:

The public consultation for the Burlington Official Plan; including special meetings of council, statutory public meetings and open houses must occur prior to Burlington Council’s adoption of their Plan. The City of Burlington is required to submit to the Region affidavits or sworn declarations that state that the procedural requirements of the Planning Act have been met in passing their Official Plan.

If you have concerns about the adequacy of the process followed, these should be directed the Clerk for the City of Burlington.

The Region is the approval authority for the Burlington Official Plan. The Plan will be reviewed to ensure that it complies with the Provincial Policy Statement, the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Provincial Greenbelt Plan, the Regional Official Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan.

The Region received the adopted Burlington Official Plan for review on May 11th. The Region has 210 calendar days to review and make a decision regarding the Burlington Official Plan and can, if necessary to complete the review, extend that time-frame for an additional 90 days.

The Region’s Chief Planning Official has delegated authority from Regional Council to approve local Official Plans that conform with Provincial and Regional policies. If the Plan does not conform, and the City of Burlington does not approve the required changes, then Regional Council will make the final decision on the Burlington Official Plan.

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Regional Council meet at the offices in Oakville.

Once a decision is made regarding the Official Plan, notice will be provided to each person that has made a written request to be notified of the decision. Once the Region’s decision has been made, anyone who before the plan was adopted made oral submissions at a public meeting or written submissions to the council, may appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). The appeal must be based on inconsistencies with the Provincial Policy Statements, Provincial Plans or the Regional Official Plan.

If you wish to be notified of the Burlington Official Plan decision you can register with Curt Benson, Chief Planning Official for the Region, who has been copied with this message.

Woodruff then said that “it appears the 210 day time frame is live and the LPAT objections are limited to “provincial policy statement compliance”.

Greg WoodruffWhat this means in effect” said Woodruff,  “is that the existing regional council can pass the Burlington OP at the regional level in November under the normal time line.”  He adds: “I’m sure this 210 day process and the May 11th OP pass date are no coincidence.  I can see no realistic process for stopping the New OP at the regional level. It can be passed in November by the existing council. At that time even if a new council made a new official plan on day one (clearly impossible) the new OP would still be live for many months.

Tom Muir, another Aldershot resident, suggests there “was a sticking point about the legality of the public process that came up.

Muir wants to know “who provided the affidavits and/or sworn declarations that the issues around the special council meeting at the end clearly met the Planning Act requirements for public notice of the meeting and opportunity for public delegation?”

“As I recall, we were only told the procedural by-law saying the powers and procedures to call a special meeting of council, not if this one was done “adequately”. No explanation of that was issued as I recall.”

Did the Clerk make a public sworn declaration or affidavit that the public notification of the special council meeting was adequate in terms of timing because there were so many slips that the special meeting as originally notified of, did not happen at the notified time, and there was, in my experience, no adequate public notice of when the meeting would actually be held to take the adoption vote so the public could register to delegate at Council, said Muir.

Muir points out that the public was told there wold be a special council meeting “following the P&D meeting”, but P&D meeting kept being extended – so much so that no one ever knew when it was going to end.

Muir isn’t at all sure that the City Clerk could sign an affidavit saying the special council meeting was properly held and that due notice was given the public according to Planning Act rules and council procedural practices.

Muir with pen in hand

Muir wants the City Clerk to be held accountable and to explain just how she got the approved Official Plan out of city hall and into the offices of the Regional government.

Muir wants the Clerk to be required to provide a detailed explanation as to how this actual process was “adequate” and sufficient to justify a sworn declaration or affidavit.  He appears to be looking for that elusive thing called accountability that is said to exist at city  hall.

Muir “thinks Council and staff just went with the momentum and wanted to vote and that overcame paying attention to whether they were adequately fulfilling Planning Act rules and their own procedural by-laws.”

There are some very valid concerns as to whether or not the city followed both the letter and the spirit of the process of approving the draft of the Official Plan before they sent it along to the Region.

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3 comments to Is there a procedural issue with the way the city got the Official Plan they approved into the hands of the Region?

  • Perry Bowker

    Fat chance the Regional Council would overturn a Burlington decision, because that Regional Council is made up of the very same people who made the decision in the first place, plus people from Oakville, Milton, etc. (who are unlikely to vote against, and instead are laughing up their sleeves at our gong show). Good reason to separately elect Regional councilors instead of just giving extra money to the city councillors to rubber stamp their own decisions.

  • Lynn Crosby

    The plan doesn’t have to be “stopped at the Regional level”. It can and will be amended, before or after Regional approval. Loads of aspects haven’t even been written in yet, such as plans for GO stations, for example, so it must be amended. Further amendments can be made to certain parts that council may want to amend.

    The key is to get the right people on council: those who want to work hard at making amendments and improving it; those who want to work toward a vision for the city that isn’t about cramming in the highest number of units without parkland wherever they can, but rather about thoughtful intensification with good design and good planning; those who will do more than say they will listen to the people but will actually act on what the people say; those who won’t throw their hands up and say “oh well I guess it’s too late” or “I’m only one vote” or who will blame the Province or the Region or the imaginary people they accuse of being afraid of all change; and those whom we have seen and heard will be on the side of the people going forward when all the other pieces of this start falling into place.

    We know what the current council wants – they don’t want to amend it. They’re quite proud that they rushed this in. We’ve seen that the current council doesn’t listen to the citizens. Now let’s see what a new mayor and new councillors who don’t make excuses and who look to the future can and will do for us, and let’s make sure we elect the people that tell us the truth.

  • craig gardner

    If i had been delayed a few days or a week would that change anything in terms of the region and final approval? Would it allow for it not to be passed at region? I am asking in the final outcome do these questions beng rasied result in possibly different final outcome than is now the case?