Jim Young asks city council why they have put the cart before the horse as they work at creating a new official plan?

opinionandcommentBy Staff

December 1st, 2017



A city Council Committee of the Whole listened to delegations in an afternoon and an evening session yesterday.

There were three delegations from people representing developers setting out the impact the proposed Official Plan would have on their projects.

This was followed by four people who delegated in the afternoon – in the evening there were nine registered delegation.

The Gazette will report on what those people had to say. We want to pass along what Jim Young, an Aldershot resident, had to say. Young is perhaps the best delegator this Council has seen during 2017. He has been superb and taught this council some badly needed lessons. He was instrumental is convincing this city council to maintain the ten minute time allocation for delegation. Staff had proposed that it be limited to five minutes – and council was prepared to go along with it.

During his delegation on the Official Plan Young had this to say:

I am not here today to condemn or oppose the latest rendition of the Official Plan.

Jim Young

Jim Young

Neither am I opposed to intensification, downtown density or the concept of mobility hubs.
My first concern is a Big Picture concern about the validity and workability of an Official Plan that is contingent upon several other plans, if those contingent plans are not yet in place.

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageThe draft Official Plan references the Cycling Plan and the Transit Master Plan, both of which have been in development for several years and are still some time from completion. It also references The Downtown Parking Study, which as we speak is still seeking public input and an Area Specific Plan for the Downtown Mobility Hub which according to your timeline will not be completed until June 2018

There are matters of great importance which will impact the lives of citizens embodied in the official plan which council are being asked to vote upon when the prerequisite building blocks are not yet in place.

Is it fair or reasonable for you to vote on detailed areas of intensification and density before we have the Transit Plan in place to move people through these propose areas of intensification?

Can you really make a decision which will determine the walkability and the transport modal split for cycling to ensure livability in our new high density intensified city, if we don’t have a cycling plan in place to support it?

Jim Young

Jim Young speaking at a public meeting on transit issues. He has led some of the public commentary on how the transit service is not meting the needs of the citizens

Can we plan for a forecast 19,000 new residents every 10 years, many of whom the new intensified precincts are designed for and almost all of whom will bring cars if we do not have a parking plan in place? If buildings are approved with 1.2 parking spaces per unit while the average Ontario household owns 1.7 cars, where will we put the all cars? We cannot just hope people will be less inclined to own a car. We need to have that plan in place.

The proposed intensification precincts are premised upon the success and high level of utilization of the downtown mobility hub; yet the Area Specific Plan for that will not be presented to council until June 2018.

The Official Plan Review team has a huge task on their hands and they have to juggle a number of research projects at the same time and manage to find time for real public engagement. The above sets out the projects that all have to be eventually pulled together to create what will become the city's official plan for the next five years.

In 2012 the Official Plan Review team set out how many moving parts there were in the Official Plan. Young points out that many of the parts are contingent upon several other plans that have yet to be determined before the bigger picture is cast in stone.

How do we intensify around a mobility hub when we don’t have the details of what that hub will look like, how it will work? If it will work?

I am asking how can council and staff move forward on this very complex and, for our city, somewhat revolutionary, official plan if the building blocks of all the other supporting infrastructure plans are not in place?

A lot of common sense there. Using a well-worn phrase Young pointed out that the Planners had ‘put the cart before the horse.’ He got that right.

Good questions – Jim Young didn’t get any answers – staff have yet to comment on the points brought up during the delegations yesterday.  That is supposed to take place when the Committee of the Whole resumes this afternoon.

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4 comments to Jim Young asks city council why they have put the cart before the horse as they work at creating a new official plan?

  • Allen Jones

    I do not believe that the mayor and council get it yet …. so we need to keep telling them ‘that misplaced overdevelopment is an issue”, with the majority of concerned Burlingtonians. And that issue/problem is exacerbated if, as Jim stated: a) they listen to the developers, b) to the new CAO or c) they have no long term plan … can you believe it …. no long term coordinated plan, for the what was once rated as “Canada’s Best city” to live in. It soon will not be the case, so thanks Jim for your efforts to get us back on track. Allen

  • Hans

    Based on the Topic Relationships chart (which is apparently well out of date) it looks like someone at city hall should create a Gantt chart to avoid the kind of incoherent mess that’s described in the article.

  • Sharon Hutchinson

    Thank you Jim and Thank You Burlington Gazette for keeping this most important topic of, out of control density and intensification for the lakefront and our small downtown, to a set of realistic standards that are accepted by more than the developers and city staff.

  • Stephen White

    Jim makes a number of excellent points. There are so many plans underway, and they are so inter-related, and there is absolutely no coordination going on. Even Councillor Taylor admitted this at Monday night’s meeting to discuss the New Street Road Diet. I heard him mention four different cycling reports and studies.

    This initiative has been flawed from the start. Council never had a mandate from voters to move in this direction. Rather than following an evolutionary model of policy making in which citizens actually established the parameters, limits and composition of the Official Plan the Planning Department came up with their model and put it out for feedback. When they received feedback they picked and chose what they wanted to see and tweaked the Official Plan accordingly. Ditto the Mobility Hubs discussions.

    At the last Appleby Mobility Hub discussion one resident asked about provisions for building schools in the area. No answer. Another resident asked about roads. No answer. Another resident asked about what would happen to existing businesses along Harvester and Fairview. No answer.

    Council needs to hit the brakes on revisions to the Official Plan and the Mobility Hubs before this whole mess goes careening off a cliff and into a dark abyss!