Long time Burlington resident can remember when there was a strong citizen's association. Wants city council to slow down on OP approval.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Barnett

February 7th, 2018



City staff did a lot of hard work putting together Grow Bold, a draft of the new Operating Plan for the city. It now appears that they did most of their work without very much in the way of asking the citizens what they wanted in the city going forward before it was published. After it was published, they then began a number of initiatives to engage with the public to introduce the Mobility Hub concepts.

The presentations were primarily used to sell what was in the Plan, give outside pressure from other layers of government as justification for a number of the conclusions reached and to keep the time line for passage as short as possible.

Reverse town hall 1

Jim Barnett at Mayor Rick Goldring’s Reverse Town Hall.

With each passing week the citizenry became more concerned . While there were a number of meetings, there was almost no dialogue. Even in the Reverse Town Hall, a new term, dialogue was discouraged. The essence of Town Hall Meetings is to encourage dialogue!

Then the bombshell. 421 Brant went from 12 to 17 to 23 stories!

421 Brant

The 421 Brant project was a surprise to many – they weren’t aware of the development and stunned at the height approved.

At the last committee meeting on the subject there were over 30 delegations, more than 90 percent against the plan and its current amendments,


I suggest the following.

1. The bombshell woke people up to what was happening to their city and they did not like it.

2. The Plan has four Mobility Hubs. Yet the downtown is very different from the others on the Go Train line. The downtown should have its own set of criteria, its own set of restrictions in the precincts and its own name such as Historic District.

3. A Transportation plan in general and Transit in particular are not in the proposal. People realize that you have to get people in and out and around the area efficiently and needs to be part of the plan, not something that is done sometime in the future.

4. Parking in the downtown area is insufficient now. What will it be like with all the planned new construction. Increased parking ratios for residences, visitors and commercial units in this area need to be increased now.

5. Affordable housing in the area keeps being mentioned as a necessity by some yet they do not come forward with a method to accomplished this. This needs to be corrected.

6. The Plan will and its iterations will affect Burlington for a long time , 25 to 40 years. There is no reason to not take whatever time is necessary to get it right and get the majority of the citizens on side. The timing of the municipal election should not be the issue.


Planning department expects to bring an updated Official Plan to council for adoption.

7. A plan has numbers so one can measures progress and if necessary take corrective action suggested by actual results not meeting the plan. The current proposal is almost devoid of actionable numbers. This a major shortfall in the proposed “plan”. The current draft is more of an essay than a plan.

8. There has been a suggestion that a meeting be called, under the chair of a moderator, where say 10 representatives of council and staff and 10 from those who have delegated spend a day to try and find common ground. This appears to have great merit. Lets hope the Mayor encourages the dialogue.

9. Past practice is for the Planning Department to grant deviations on property if in their opinion ” community benefits” are derived. This practice should be greatly curtailed.

10. There needs to be a large dedicated food shopping area in the plan. Otherwise, a walk able downtown plan is not complete.

Rick Craven: Best committee chair the city has; not big on the warm fuzzy stuff through. Needs a hug badly.

Councillor Rick Craven – represents ward 1

11. The Councillor for ward one, at the council meeting on January 29, expressed his concern that there had been little feed back from the BIA or the Chamber of Commerce. I would think the planning department has an obligation to get submissions from both of these groups before proceeding. It should be noted that individual business delegations to council presented a number of short comings in the plan.

12. Joan Little, our columnist emeritus suggests that when the citizens and the developers are equally unhappy then council has it right. A better conclusion would be if everybody is annoyed, then there is a lot of work to be done.

In my opinion the process has been flawed. It is up to the council to take the time to get it right.

Jim Barnett is an east end Burlington resident who recalls the time when there was a strong citizens association.

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1 comment to Long time Burlington resident can remember when there was a strong citizen’s association. Wants city council to slow down on OP approval.

  • Susie

    Well worded Jim, and the fact that you weren’t born yesterday, to me says a lot for the City Fathers to seriously ponder over. Everyone has tried to explain our thoughts in so many different ways but all with the same story – do not know what the magic words are for them to step up to the plate and make the changes that are so critical to our downtown.