Major upgrade to ground floor of city hall - to include a grand entrance and changes to civic square

News 100 greenBy Staff

March 4th, 2021



City hall is going to get a new look – you won’t recognize the ground floor when they are finished.

Take the 33 second flyby to see what the end result is expected to look like – there will of course be changes to the design concept.

Members of Council who saw the details this morning loved the idea.

There is a lot more work to be done – but the plan is to get started late this summer or in the fall and get the work done in phases.

The phrase ‘One Window’ was applied to the plans – but there are actually two windows – one for what is now Customer Service and the other is for Development.  They aren’t windows but the place you go for services; pay parking tickets, get a document commissioned, apply for a marriage license.

The idea is to make the space much more customer friendly.

The plan is to have little pods – places where people can sit and talk; there will be small meetings rooms.

The public will not get much beyond the ground floor – staff will come to you on the ground floor.

ground floor new concept

This is a rendering of what is being thought through.

The building is badly in need of an upgrade.  The last renovation was in 1985 – when, as Alan Magi explained, “we were using carbon paper and there was no such things as a fax machine, never mind the internet.

Jennifer Johnson is part of the design team – she did some very good work in ward 3 at the Brant Hills sports complex where wood surfaces gave the facility a warm feeling.   The early view of city hall ground floor does not appear to have that soft, comfortable look – but this is just the early stage,

The traffic flow will be very different with the open area showing the lower level covered in part by a bridge.

The focus appears to be more digital – a modern, swift look.

There was a time when former ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster thought there should be a coffee shop on the ground floor.  There once was a coffee shop on the Council Chamber level but it was never used – or at least not used enough for the people who operated the space gave it up.

plan for firstvfloor

There will be a new Locust Street entrance, a new “grand entrance” that will come in off Civic Square. The development window will be on the left and the Service Burlington window on the right

The building is never going to be a net zero carbon site – the building is far to old.

There has been zip community engagement to this point.  We heard the usual – there will be an engagement plan but no detail. It looks as if this is going to be a done deal with a ribbon cutting the day the “grands entrance” is officially used for the first time.

Councillor Sharman said that his impression of City Hall when he walked in for the first time in 2010 was that of a WWII building.

He added that the city will upgrade what they have until it is clear the building has reached the end of its life cycle.  “We aren’t going to look into spending $50 million on a new city hall.

Right now 28% of the ground floor space is for public use while 72% of the space is for staff.  That will shift to a 50 – 50 share when the upgrade is completed.

There will be several phases.

Phase 1 will be the work done on the development services area and the Citizen services area.

phace 2 new look

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 3




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9 comments to Major upgrade to ground floor of city hall – to include a grand entrance and changes to civic square

  • Susan Corrigan

    What ever happened to developers competing for work with it being awarded to most agreeable offer? Time for the little business owner to have a chance. The larger companies want their developers to maintain the retail space. No chance for the little guy as monopoly downtown already in place. The empty stores you see l suspect are just another write off for the big guys.

  • Susan Corrigan

    As someone who has had 2 life altering falls as a result of the poor sidewalks and poor snow removal l find this unacceptable. On four occasions l have tried to communicate another issue with both the mayor and ward 2 councillor about being criminally harassed by my landlord because of my anti_development along the lake. They are only interested in what you have to say if you agree with them. The elitist entitled cronyism in burlington has to be exposed. This 68 year old physically challenged dental hygienist does not feel safe in my own home with racist,misogynistic supers barging in my apt no notice saying pervy things & snooping around when l am not there. Guess what renters vote to. Don’t need someone from the U.S. robbing me off.

  • Sheri

    Pandemic, job losses, property tax hikes, more citizens using food banks and Mary Anne is going to redecorate the living room. She loves to spend our money. Would love to know cost and who is being “awarded” the reno.

  • Allan Hale

    So, here we go again….As I questioned budget processes in a similar post, this appears to be a question of “WANT” and not real “NEED”. Especially right now when we are facing financial challenges. Why not at least delay this upgrade until we can really afford it. Like g. fraser posted above, I’d like to see a price tag….And if it turns out to be super expensive (like the overruns of our pier…remember that?), Heaven help us.

  • St. James Mary Alice

    WHAT???? NOW??? OH MY!!! The optics and reality of this are poor. We each have family, friends and neighbours who have become jobless and who are struggling financially right now. Beautifying city hall before opening city hall is just sad when The Burlington Food Bank is in need of donations, businesses have shut down, and affordable housing is a topic of public discussion on March 8th … WHAT???? NOW??? OH MY!!!

  • perryb

    Need to remember that there are several types of citizens that visit city hall. There is a vast cohort who will rarely visit. There are some who might visit regularly to pay bills or file documents or consult with staff. Finally, there are a few who have a special reason or problem and will be pleased to find a friendly and responsive reception. Whether they find a classy site comparable with a modern progressive city, or a sterile and utilitarian site like a prison lobby is a matter of choice. Like whether to “waste” money on public art. I personally like to think there is more to life than nickels and dimes.

  • diane Knox

    Are you joking here? On the day after a Tax increase for ALL- we need this expense and future 50m. .Please tell me this is Fake news.

  • g.fraser

    I don’t see a price tag??

  • Tom Battaglia

    So why wasn’t this expense eliminated to reduce that high tax increase?