Is this what they meant by intensification? Council members felt blind sided

By Pepper Parr

July 22, 2022



Lisa Kearns Councillor for ward 2 holds regular ward level meetings.

It is something she has always done and does better than anyone else.

I wasn’t able to attend the meeting she held earlier this week but her very able assistant was kind enough to send mt the presentation Lisa was working from – Lisa does intense presentations.

As I was flipping through the pages, which weren’t number, one page slipped out of my hand – picked it up and saw numbers that stunned me.

The graphic Kearns presented to her ward was related to a report that came to Council July 5th – my transcribing service didn’t get everything and I was planning on getting back to it.

It was a Receive and File report that stunned all the Councillors.

The graphic, set out below, showed where the high rise towers would be in the Burlington MTSA, an area that surrounds the Burlington GO station area where a significant amount of height was expected.

Look very carefully at all those 45 numbers. Are these going to be residential towers or office towers? If residential – is this what Burlington is going to become?

Look carefully, there are six towers either side of the GO tracks – all are showing 45 storeys.

Where did that come from?

When 30 storeys was mentioned back in 2028, for that Burlington GO station area a lot of eyebrows were raised. Was that necessary – the city has to undergo intensification but 30 was seen as a bit much.

In an interview Kearns said she, along with the rest of Council were “blind sided” which is hard to accept – Councillors get these reports 10 days before they are presented publicly.

“What changed” asked Kearns?

Index for the 2028 graphic

In 2018 the public saw the graphic above, which is significantly different than the graphic council debated last week.

While the report was just a Receive and File Kearns did move a motion that required the:

Direct the Director of Community Planning to re-examine the Burlington GO Central Precinct with respect to requirements related to achieving maximum height permissions on a given site, alongside the provision of community amenities, affordable housing and community facilities commensurate with those maximum height permissions and the supporting policies and policy directions.

Kearns was not able to say when the report would come back to Council; not likely before the election in October.

Kearns was adamant that whatever gets built it “cannot change the quality of life for the people who live in the city.”

This is an issue that needs more attention.

Kearns drew attention to the staff members:

Alison Enns, Manager of Policy and Community,

Jenna Puletto, Coordinator of Community Initiatives

Samantha Romlewski, Senior Planner, Community Initiatives

Karyn Poad,Senior Planner

Rebecca Lau, Planner – Community Initiatives

leaving the clear impression with me that she wanted this group to be reined in and telling council much more than they are hearing at this point.

Kearns who advised the public that she had contracted Covid19 and while the symptoms are gone it “takes longer than you expect to recover completely.

“The virus wrecks havoc on your body, I’m still dealing with small issues.”

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8 comments to Is this what they meant by intensification? Council members felt blind sided

  • Tom Muir

    I don’t know where Alfred got the basis for his personal attack on me and my reputation from my comment, or for the 2 others he lumped in with me for the same crap treatment.

    My comment consisted of 34 lines. The first two lines introduced the comment – the first regarding my opinion that Grow Bold has returned; and the second, facts around OLT and the limits of the City authority and control in the subject development appeal.

    The next 2 lines introduce the material from the OLT decision that I was quoting next. The next 20 lines consist of my quotations from the OLT report. The next 3 lines expand on examples given in the OLT report quoted.

    The next 2 explain directly related facts that are relevant to the matters the Gazette story covers. The next 4 lines express elements of my interpretation and opinions, including the factual way that OLT operates as a central control agency of development.

    It is well known that this is the Planning law of the land in Ontario, and it is quite apparent that the City and staff are forced to operate withing the confines of this, especially the built in eventual dictatorship of OLT, and to try and get the best settlements they can for the City.

    The last line mentions the election.

    So out of 34 lines, 30 lines are based on factual evidence, with 20 lines quoting OLT, no mention of the Mayor or Council, and staff were mentioned as part of their role in the matter. and the process of getting and settling appeals at OLT.

    So I am confused, although not surprisingly based on Alfred’s style, by what stretch he concocted his ad hominem attack on 3 of us, with a full on personal attack.

    This fallacy occurs when, instead of addressing someone’s argument or position, you irrelevantly attack the person or some aspect of the person who is making the argument. The fallacious attack can also be direct to membership in a group or institution – which Alfred does by assigning us to his fictitious “Royalty”, as so called “3 Kings of Nimbyism”, which he then uses to lie and falsely accuse his way through 31 lines of his 51 line comment, including us 3, and as always the Mayor and Council.

    This is called calumny. It’s the making of false and defamatory statements about someone in order to damage their reputation. The dictionary definition of calumny is a lie or the act of saying a lie that is intended to be hurtful – a false and malicious statement about someone that is intended to injure his or her reputation. Again, this is what he basically wrote about for 31 lines out of 51.

    The final 20 lines were directed to Deborah, who I will not try to speak for what she may have thought.

    I would only say the tone and style was pretty much the same sampling of false accusations, statements of opinion presented as if they were facts, and general samples of misinformation about how things work and can work.

    For myself overall, having been on the receiving end of several similar harangues from Alfred, I can say the many synonyms of false statements and accusations hold true – false: 1. concocted, erroneous, faulty, fictitious, improper, inaccurate, incorrect, inexact, invalid, mistaken, unfounded, unreal, wrong · 2 lying, mendacious etc.

    Take your pick.

    • Bob

      Although I disagree with the tone of his statement, you missed the context of what his accusation was and that was that your posts tend to be from a Nimby perspective.
      Without scrolling through years of posts here to find anything different, perhaps you could shut this down by telling us the developments you’re in favour of

  • Alfred


    Today you have the honour and priviledge of being on the same post with Royalty. Yes Dave, Tom, and Stephen are Burlingtons 3 Kings of Nimbyism. There are no smarter, wiser, stronger (That doesn’t say much) voices against development in this community.

    They oppose just about everything, They appear to be turning on and throwing under the bus the most anti-development council Burlington has ever had. Burlington is one of the slowest growing growing area in the GTA. I think only 40 single family homes were built here last year in a City of 200,000.

    They seem to have difficulty understanding that the Province of Ontario determines what gets built and where. The Province delegates that authority to the Muncipalities under the crystal clear mandate that they follow guidelines established by the Province and that all Planning matters and decisions made by City Planners, councils including the Mayor be consistant with the Planning Act and other relevant matters the Province decides upon.

    The Ontario Land Tribunal is in place to make sure Municipalities decisions follow those guidelines. With the OLT tribunal the final decision maker. The Kings want you and others to ignore the fact that the City has over 50 appeals going to the OLT. Which I predict they will lose at great cost to the Taxpayers.

    They incourage our Mayor to make decisions that look good and forfeit decisions that are thoughtful and well thought out.

    When asked to explain why the City is losing all these appeals? They seem to disappear and then return a month later to carry on as if the question was never asked.

    They always talk about an upcoming election, looking for some morally corrupt Mayor or council member that will ignore Provincial Policies. They think the Province will stand by quietly and let their policies be undercut or ingnored by newbie Mayors and councilors at the urging of the 3 Kings and other hardcore Nimby’s

    In my opinion I think the opposite will occur. The Province should and will remove much of councils authority in these decisions. Clearly all they did is waste time and money for the developers, raising the price of housing, stop high paying jobs from being created. Further preventing Billions of dollars of business coming to Burlington.

    They all appear to forget that Premier Ford the housing boss, was democratically re-elected a short time ago. His policies will be around for some time. Just out of curiosity What impact do you think Municipal Elections could have on the development applications, just more of the same?

    So Deborah.

    Sorry for getting side tracked.

    The building that you were talking about, had issues with something referred to as community benefits. Parking lots, parks any creative ideas that the City could come up with. This is where the City shakes down the developers for more money in exchange for more building heights.

    The developers soon realized that their applications met Provincial Guidelines and that the Decisions at the OLT would be in their favour. So why would they pay community benefits when the did not have to.

    Moving forward, if a developer is given more height or more stories. 45 stories appears to be that number and as a condition of this development calls for a number of affordable housing units or money in lieu of. Then the City must take the money or bond before final approval. Failing which the approval becomes null and void. Pretty simple stuff really. Oh. I forgot did the City of Burlington not write a $500 thousand dollar cheque to and unknown person for nothing.

    Lastly I’m always curious to know why people believe it’s the developers job or the hard working people that buy their units to pay for and provide affordable housing is that not the job of all of us.

    Do we now expect Grocery chains,Retail clothing stores Big oil companies and many more to provide reduced prices for food, clothing, gasoline, drugs, glasses for the poor. Unless your retired, disabled mentally or physically. Then a job should help you out. Talking about job creation to our Mayor is like handing superman a piece of Kryptonite.

    Why are only developers singled out. Canada is not a communist state. Not yet anyway.

  • Tom Muir

    The Grow Bold mentality is still alive and well in Planning in Burlington -Growing even Bolder it seems at the staff level from this report.

    The mass of OP appeals at the OLT also enters here. The City did not have full planning control of the Fairview Site, only Site Plan, and this did not include building heights, I believe.

    At a recent May 6 OLT CMC this Fairview appeal was settled and reported from OLT on May 19. Sections relevant to this story and the Fairview lands from this OLT report are as follows.

    “7 OLT-22-002219”

    “21] This site of 3.43 hectares (“ha”) is located within the Major Transit Station Area
    (“MTSA”) of the Burlington GO Station. The site is the second property east of the GO
    Station, bounded by Fairview Street to the south, the railway corridor to the north, and
    Drury Lane to the east.”

    “[22] Consistent with existing and proposed residential towers in the immediate area,
    the site is proposed for seven residential towers above mixed-use podiums, with total
    heights ranging from 29 to 37 storeys (plus mechanical structures), and over 2,500
    residential units ranging in both size and tenure. Amenities will include a public park,
    private open space and walkways available to the public, as well as private terraces,
    balconies, mezzanines, recreation facilities, indoor parking, and pet areas.”

    “[24] The ZBA, as modified to address the site’s design, is sought for the entire site,
    while the SPA applies only to the first phase of development. At the northwest corner of
    the site, Phase 1 involves two residential towers of 33 and 37 storeys, above a shared,
    mixed-use podium of 5 storeys. Phase 1 also includes conveyance of the site’s
    southwest corner to the City for a .17 ha public park.”

    “27] On the thorough and uncontested evidence, the Tribunal agreed with Ms.
    Anderson that the development plans constitute good planning in the public interest,
    and approved the ZBA as modified, and the SPA with conditions. That oral decision
    took effect at the CMC on May 6, 2022 and is repeated below for confirmation.”

    Regarding heights, section 22 indicates 29 to 37 storey residential, plus mechanical, (which is usually 1 storey more) on a shared podium of 5 storeys. This yields total storey heights of 35 to 43.

    The initial phase indicated is 33 and 37 storeys residential, plus 1 mechanical, plus 5 podium, or total 39 and 43. Pretty close to the heights in the Gazette story.

    As indicated, this appeal was settled uncontested by City Legal and Planning.

    Subsequent to this decision and process, there was a recent story in the Gazette that this property was For Sale – nothing has been built or is applied for and planned to be built. All that has been done is build in development approvals providing a large speculative profit to the property owners, and a basis for a deal price with further dickering built in for more.

    That’s really what the Growth Plan and OLT is about – a centrally controlled delivery system for speculators and very large profits.

    So much for the provincial Growth Plan and OLT solving the so-called housing crisis.

    And City Planning and Legals are not delivering transparency in the evolution of the precinct plans for this MTSA.

    And certainly not delivering the City development control and form the Council has promised they will deliver, and that the citizens have repeatedly wanted.

    It’s election time people – get with it.

  • Stephen White

    The problems associated with 39 and 45 storey towers on this development will have far-reaching consequences throughout the city on everything from density to traffic congestion. Since the outset I thought the MTSA strategy was unqualified bunk characterized by excessive congestion in a limited space, and totally the wrong type of development required in this City.

    If the geniuses in the Planning Department think this Report will go over well they are either severely deluded or possess a glaring inability to “read the room”. Once again, it highlights the utter disconnect between the public administration at City Hall and the wishes or residents. We really do need a full organizational review at City Hall.

  • Deborah

    To Alfred: The City has already ‘attached strings’ for affordable units in return for added un-zoned height and it failed miserably against a builder, as in the case of the Berkeley by Carriage Gate on Maria St where the developer promised a declining number of affordable units as building proceeded (after stalling the project start for years) with the end result being ZERO affordable units – yet the height was certainly built.

  • Alfred

    Since the City can’t give land it does not own to the developers to build affordable housing. The only chance the City has to get affordable housing in Burlington is to give free airspace to the developers to build these units in the form of exagerated heights thereby in essence providing free land for these units to be built in the MTSA.

    These 45 Storey building limits will come with strings attached I guarantee it. This coming as a shock to the councilors. Is nothing short of an incredible scam.

    If the Mayor and councilors didn’t know this was going on. They should all be removed. If the citizens of Burlington want affordable housing built here, get used to it. As it is the only viable option. Or tell people to live somewhere else.

    Anyone have better ideas? We needed these five years ago.

  • Dave Turner

    At the meeting there were questions raised by some of those who made up the in-person audience about traffic on New Street and Lakeshore Road west of Guelph Line.

    A resident of New Street said there is an excessive speed problem at most times of the day both on New Street itself and on side streets with commuter traffic seeking ways around congestion in the downtown core.

    Another resident who lives on Lakeshore whilst noting there is an excess speed problem late at night complained about the line up of static traffic during the evening rush hour caused by the expansion of sidewalk cafes onto the roadway in the downtown. The resident said the traffic back up enticed drivers to use side streets and speed to go to New Street. The resident sarcastically suggested the Lakeshore stopped traffic on Lakeshore be moved to New Street to “calm” the traffic on that road.

    The Lakeshore resident asked Councilor Kearns if she could enquire of City staff if the City has the power to levy road tolls, which might then be considered to act to dissuade commuter traffic using the downtown as a route home and put them on the highway or Fairview.

    Councilor Kearns suggested the resident seek an answer to the question from our MP or MPP. When pressed to ask City staff Councilor Kearns declined citing it would not be a good move on her part now we are in election mode.

    So much for representing and working for ward residents. I guess that has to be qualified with “if politically advantageous”.