Is there a solution to what gets done with North Aldershot?

News 100 greenBy Tom Muir

May 16th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 1 of a series.

The North Aldershot/Eagle Heights issue is not only a Regional issue, but is a city-wide and neighborhood issue as well.

rural - urban - NA

North Aldershot has planning policies that are distinct and separate from rural and urban Burlington.

North Aldershot (NA) is a separate Planning Zone (like Urban and Rural) and has its own policies with very detailed zoning. The City has had a long history of Official Planning (OP) and by-law planning policies written specifically for North Aldershot.

My experience in this dates back to 1993/94.

It is the last remaining parcel of largely undeveloped land in Burlington, and if fully serviced, the last “greenfield”. But it’s not just any greenfield. It is a distinct mixed landscape, with deeply incised creeks and watercourses, and rolling slopes from the escarpment down to the flats of Plains Road.

If you know the area, you know that it is unique and very special, even idyllic I would say. Over many years, public efforts, including the many agencies of the North Aldershot Inter-agency Review (NAIR), have recognized this distinctiveness, and expressed the goal and principles to keep it distinct, while still trying to allow some development form designed to co-exist, but not replace.

North aldershot boundary

Waterdown Road, at the bottom is the eastern border. The 403, on the left, is the southern border. The property is a total of 1365  hectares

I’m writing here because I think that special place is in grave danger from ever increasing demands for more development than was  ever contemplated.

The crux issue in the development proposals for North Aldershot and specifically Eagle Heights, is density. As you can see, the wanted unit numbers in the applications have steadily increased as time went by, right up to 2019. There is a history in development proposals over 1962 to the present.

The number of units to be built on the property kept growing as appeals were made.

October/November 1995 resulted in  plan for 501 units in the Central Sector.  The Paletta (PIC) lands included 363 units with a park block and a school block, while the former “Taylor” lands included 46 units. The remaining 92 residential units were permitted on areas owned by other landowners in the Central Sector.

December 2010, PIC and Taylor submitted revised draft plans of subdivision to permit the development of 870 residential units (815 units on the PIC lands and 55 units on the Taylor lands).

In 1993/4 the Parkway Belt West Plan policies were in effect as the decision foundation. Under the umbrella of this Plan, at that time, the (NAIR) undertook a lengthy multi-agency and citizen group  Land Use Concept exercise for NA.

area + the players

There are a number of different agencies that have their own policies that apply to the 1,365 ha that make the North Aldershot property.

This Review was concurrent with an application for 1100 units from Paletta International Corporation (PIC). This application represented two landowners; PIC and Taylor.

With the NAIR multi-party conclusions and recommendations that 232 units were acceptable, the City of Burlington chose this number to take back to the developer. The PIC appealed to the OMB.

An eight week OMB hearing took place in the spring of 1995 and another eight (8) weeks in 1996. In subsequent meetings, with no citizens present, the city planning/legal and the PIC planning/legal, negotiated a settlement to take to OMB for a Hearing.

The settlement plan was approved by the OMB in October/December 1996.

These Settlement negotiations between the parties in October/November 1995 resulted in a plan for 501 units in the Central Sector.  The PIC lands included 363 units with a park block and a school block, while the former “Taylor” lands included 46 units. The remaining 92 residential units were permitted on areas owned by other landowners in the Central Sector.

This was a very controversial settlement and the citizens, including myself, were left feeling betrayed. The basis and facts as they appear in the Minutes of Settlement are covered in a follow up report.

The OMB approved this settlement in 1996. Then the never ending applications for revisions to increase the unit count began.

On July 19, 2002, PIC and Taylor submitted Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment draft plan of subdivision applications to the City of Burlington. An application was made for residential development for a total of up to 665 (596 PIC, 69 Taylor) residential units.

The owners appealed the applications to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in October 2002 for lack of decision. This decision was appealed twice by City but both rulings went to the applicant.

In December 2010, PIC and Taylor submitted revised draft plans of subdivision to permit the development of 870 residential units (815 units on the PIC lands and 55 units on the Taylor lands).

This 2010 application revision included 4, four story apartment condominium buildings in the Paletta lands.

The 2010 proposal revision was subject to a public meeting, comment, and multi-agency staff refusal was seen as inadequate.

The present development application as of 2019 is the following, totaling 924 units.

  • The proposed development of the PIC property, a 97-hectare parcel on the north side of Flatt Road, is for 203 single-detached houses and 587 cluster houses (attached units) for a total of 790 units. The apartment buildings from 2010 are still part of this application.
  • The proposed development of a 9.6-hectare parcel on the south side of Flatt Road, is for 32 single-detached houses and 102 cluster houses for a total of 134 units.
  • The applications have been appealed to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal by the applicants.

This history is important for people to be aware of – most people don’t know and are  confused by the changing numbers.

Also, most important, only the 1996 unit counts are approved.

None of the other amendment applications submitted has been moved into a Hearing at LPAT (OMB), either contested or negotiated settlement.

What citizens want to see is a detailed, concrete, and replicable evidence trail that leads to the decision, or staff advice, about what density is defensible and can be recommended under current science and policy regimes. Agency and public concerns and comments number in the hundreds, and we want to see them answered explicitly.

I will be following the presentations on Tuesday and reporting on the public input and the discussions that take place.

Muir making a point

Tom Muir

Tom Muir is an Aldershot resident who is persistent and at times acerbic.  More often than not he has the facts and a knowledge of the development that exceeds what many, if not most of the people in the planning department.

For Muir this has been a long battle – he isn’t at all certain that the public interest will be served when this phase is over but he is certain there will be more appeals.

 

 

 

 

 

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4 comments to Is there a solution to what gets done with North Aldershot?

  • Diane Knox

    Keep up the fight.in Aldershot. a true “Flood Plain Community” For years the ‘Town’ of Burlington Now a City has continued to “pave the flood plain” with strip plazas, Shopping malls, industrial complexes etc. Provincial- OMB-LAPAT with Intensification rules and mandates have added with Condo’s built by ‘ in and out Toronto builders’ who have paved and stressed this more. There has been no ‘Science’- pure Economics. Those streams we have all over Burlington/Aldershot/ to Burloak once functioned when we had market gardens and permeable land. Current science for Global Changes–“de-pave”.- Plant grass, trees, follow Nature–Water runs downstream.. and 2014 Flooding will come again. Best of luck

  • Susan Corrigan

    This isn’t a dress rehearsal. Time to offload politicians who are just passing through. The massive 6 story pile of ground up concrete at waterdown road is responsible for airborne dust blowing through Aldershot. The name Waterdown says exactly what it is. Our beautiful escarpment with its watercourses draining into the lake. After poo gate with Hamilton fumbling
    the ball we really have no clue what is in our water. Our Mayor thinks Burlington h2o is ok? I’d like her to drink some of the oil smelling water from my tap. Therefore it is more critical for Aldershot to protect this area for the legacy of our children and the quality of life we hope to leave them.

  • Excellent work Tom that clearly identifies where thecommunity needs to pay lclose attention. . .

  • perryb

    Provincial Governments over the years have carefully legislated to hamstring the ability of citizens and communities to control how their neighborhoods are developed (read OMB). Citizens almost leveled the playing field a few years ago, with legislation to put some limitations on this unenelected, unaccountable and closed tribunal (with powers unique in Canada, and perhaps in the world). Election of the Ford government, and its habit of stealthy undermining of democratic possibilities, resulted in the restoration of the old OMB in the form of LPAT and joy throughout the development industry. Under the cover of the pandemic, they continue to beaver away at eroding community rights, most recently the unprecedented use of Ministerial Zoning Orders to override even established Provincial planning guidelines. It is time to once again begin the fight to eliminate the OMB, which requires, of course, the replacement of the current government.

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