Marianne Meed Ward - 'We do not have to do this'. 18 storey condo approved on a 6-1 vote.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2018


We erred in the first version of this story – the decision was a 5-2 vote – with ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison joining ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward who is running for the office of Mayor.

The result was predictable. The surprise was that ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison joined Councillor Meed Ward for a 5-2 vote to accept the Staff recommendation to approve a second tower opposite city hall.

City council, meeting as a committee, voted to accept the staff report for an 18 storey condominium on the SE corner of Brant and James across the street from city hall.

Councilseating July 2018 2

City council, staff and the public crammed into Room 247.

The committee met on three occasions in a cramped and crowded room (the council chamber is being renovated) and heard dozens of delegations. The vast majority were opposed to the height the developer was asking for and opposed to the height the city was prepared to give them.

The developer came back with three versions of their proposal. They wanted 23 storeys but were prepared to live with 19 if it was built on a larger floor plate. If council approved the 17 storey application it was probably headed for to the Land Provincial Tribunal 9 used to be known as the OMB.

Opening to city hall

Building more than 11 storeys are built on four level podiums with the rest of the building set back and on top of the podium. This rendering of the proposed development on the existing Elizabeth Interiors property shows the site as it would appear from city hall which is on the right

Structures built in the downtown core are now put on two, three or four level podiums with the high rise on top of the podium.

Most of those opposed to the Reserve Property development were concerned not about the height but where the height was going to be located. They wanted height located north of Caroline so that what was consistently referred to as the “charm” of the downtown core could be retained.

The city planners were arguing that their hands were tied by the various pieces of provincial legislation that they had to live with.

The most pressing of the provincial policies was the need to grow the population of the city.

MMW soeaking - full length Ap 11

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward announcing her decision to run for Mayor in the October election

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, who is also a candidate for Mayor in the October municipal election, kept telling the audience that the city has both met and exceeded the provincial population and job growth requirement. The response to that is the number Meed Ward is talking about is a minimum number and that municipalities are urged to go beyond those minimums.

The issue of possible appeals kept coming up and what to do with the Kelly’s Bake Shop operation that will be at the south end of the development next to the new Elgin promenade that will get torn up when and if the development proceeds.

A shop that sells cupcakes and coffee has become ground zero for the soul of the city.

The developer believes they are looking at a stunning opportunity and while they have made a number of changes to their application (upped parking from .93 stalls per unit to 1.25 stalls) they are holding firmly to the concept and design they started with.

Residents opposed to the proposal weren’t focusing on the design or the height – for them it was the location.
Part of the difficulty with what is a complex situation is that the application comes in under an Official Plan that does not comply with the provincial policies.

The city approved a new Official Plan but it does not become law until it is approved at the Regional level – and no one has been able to say with any certainty exactly when that is going to happen.

What was painfully evident was the divide between the council members.

Councillor Craven, who will not be running for re-election, chaired the meeting with his usual “keep things moving approach” suggested to the meeting in his remarks that the vibrancy people who live in the downtown core experience is not something shared by everyone in the city. Craven said the downtown was boring.

Councillor Sharman described commercial growth in the city as stagnant – Meed Ward had it as thriving.
Sharman and Dennison saw condominium development as the answer to how the city can be grown and the way to save the downtown core – Meed Ward described it as the force that was killing small business operations because of the uncertainty.

Dennison’s vote not to accept the Staff recommendation was a surprise to many.  What was Jack up to was the question we heard from our readers.

The city is certainly at a cross roads – the October election is the opportunity to determine who will sit on council and the direction that council will take.

Meed Ward made a particularly declarative statement when she said “we can change this – that is what we do”

The Standing Committee decision goes to a city council meeting on July 16th, and then sort of goes out of business until September when the municipal election races will get very fierce.

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10 comments to Marianne Meed Ward – ‘We do not have to do this’. 18 storey condo approved on a 6-1 vote.

  • Bonnie

    interesting to learn that Councillor Dennison has now decided to save our downtown. Could it be, that he knew his buddies on council would vote for eighteen storeys, so he could safely vote against it? Nothing more than a move from a man in campaign mode!

  • Maggie

    Condo development is not the answer to making the downtown more vibrant. Quite the opposite. Oakville and Dundas both have a small town feel that attracts visitors. Burlington can have that too but not with a bunch of hi-rises. Councillor Craven calls downtown boring. Just wait till it is filled with cookie cutter condo’s with no real sense of design. If you add in increased traffic combined with our lousy public transit you have a recipe for disaster.
    A few weeks ago on a Monday night I was coming downtown for a 7:30 meetup group at Wendel Clarks with a stop first at the Dollar Store. That was the night the lift bridge was closed because of an ATV driver and then there were accidents on the QEW. Also some sort of problem on Elgin. Traffic was horrendous. I live in the Northshore King Rd. area. Often crossing Northshore at Vanderburg is a bit of a challenge but not this night as the traffic was moving so slow. I don’t drive and if I had taken a cab it would have cost a fortune and taken forever to get downtown. Fortunately it was a nice night and I was able to ride my bike so I could ride past the traffic quite easily. Traffic was backed up on Lakeshore, Maple, Brant and who knows where else. And this is traffic with the buildings that are already there. Imagine hundreds more people trying to get home. Who would want to come downtown to go to a restaurant or to shop in these conditions. Who would want to even live in downtown and put up with these conditions. Especially with the state of public transit.

  • Stephen White

    Whoever gets elected Mayor only has one vote on Council. A new Mayor will need like-minded Councillors in every ward who want substantive change from the previous direction this City has followed.

    With so many candidates running for Council across the six wards residents who want change need to not only eschew incumbents, but also, those masquerading as having a new vision. Ward 1 is a case in point. We have one clear candidate, Vince Fiorito, who has clearly articulated policies and vision, and seems to support a more balanced approach to redevelopment. Where do the others stand? We may have dispatched Rick Craven, but replacing him with “Rick Craven Lite” isn’t going to promote change….unless one likes high rise condos popping up everywhere.

    We need more public forums sponsored by various community groups through which Council candidates can present their ideas, and where members of the public can pose difficult and challenging questions and drill down to specific details. Just looking at a pretty website, reading glossy brochures or listening to a speech doesn’t provide an opportunity to gauge and assess the depth of each candidate’s sincerity, commitment or vision.

    • I’m glad that someone pointed out that the situation in the Ward races is not entirely positive. We have a lot of momentum in this direction and “I don’t like something” is not a policy that is actually going to change anything. Several of the candidates are going to make the current council look like the “good old days”. To the “general public” that don’t have time to follow all of this what exactly is going on is very difficult to follow.

      The existing councils deal is not that they are “bad people” or they “don’t care” about Burlington – it’s that they believe in authority and institutions OVER public opinion. Demonizing them is not useful because it does not represent a theory that will change the direction of events on the ground. Swapping out our “bad” councilors for “Burlington loving patriots” is an easy sell to people – I get that. However, it’s not real.

      The new councilors are going to go right into the environment that created the current set. None of the vested interests that created this mess are going to go away. The entire authoritarian system will still be up and running with hundreds of development applications in the pipe on January 1.

      So let us all get focused on what to actually DO about this mess.

      “Revenge” is not a theory that is going to produce results.

  • Stu Parr

    Well, in the first instance I sincerely congratulate Marianne Meed Ward for the courage and strength of her convictions. The obverse of that particular coin is the disdain that I hold for the rest of Council for perhaps irretrievably damaging our downtown. I sincerely hope that in years to come there will be some form of memorial to ‘the band of six’ that transformed ‘the desirable’ to ‘the disastrous’ for ever more. A special ‘doff of the cap’ to Councillor John Taylor who repeatedly and noxiously avowed his respect and friendship for Ms. Meed Ward while plunging his clumsy blade in her back. His attempts at folksy humour were awkward and ill-placed; his sense of history and community benefit, self-serving and unfocused. I’d say “it’s time to go John” except that you already have.

  • At certain times of the day, more and more of our once great city is no longer desirable. You would have to be wearing blinders or would have to lack any analytical capacity or foresight to believe these towers are beneficial in any way other than to warehouse people.

  • Elizabeth Hamidbasha

    To future mayor, Marianne Meed Ward: I am going to volunteer to help you win this very important election. The words I often hear are downtown Burlington needs to change. Well, there’s good change and bad change. The bad change would be to build towering condos on Brant Street. If condos need to be built, build them where there is more room for traffic. It will be bedlam on Brant, James, John, Caroline, Elizabeth, even New Street, if these condos go ahead. Everyone will avoid those streets completely because of the huge traffic problem. I say that with certainty because already one avoids those streets after three o’clock in the afternoon. If we need a place to model ourselves after, consider Oakville. Their condos are kept away from the stores and businesses in what is considered the ‘down town.’ and it is so charming that several Hollywood type movies have been made there. Why can’t Burlington be like that? Yes, I guess people want sleeker looking stores and we could do that but this would not please the developers. Is it too late to escape their clutches and create a downtown that is beautiful, charming, elegant? Does anyone ever think about what we’re going to lose? Burlington may not have been amazingly beautiful in the downtown area, but we certain did attract the developers. Isn’t it a case, of “You’re beautiful. I love you, now change. Nobody gets a Christmas card with a picture of a condo on it. But often pretty main streets and single family homes are pictured tp demonstrate the Canadian love of ‘home’.

  • Bev

    I believe it is time to “clean house.” On October 23rd, the doors of City Hall should open & anyone & everyone associated with this destruction of Brant street should be “swept out the door.” To the members of City Council meeting planning on seeking re-election, may I suggest that you should be cleaning out your desks and offices so you won’t waste time on Oct. 23rd.
    Your arrogance and tunnel vision is unbelievable. Good luck in your “new careers.”

    • Cathie Orgel

      Bev, your comment is right on the money. And I suspect that “money” had a great deal to do with the destruction of your downtown. I just hope that the residents of Burlington don’t take the “easy” way out and vote back in the incumbents.

  • Gary Scobie

    This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to either preserve some aspect of our downtown and some respect for our City Hall while gently intensifying or else to fill the downtown with steel and glass pedestal buildings reaching to the sky, unaffordable to families and unaffordable to small businesses.

    The soon to be Mayor, Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, understands the former and eloquently voices the choices we have to make, both for the City’s development future as a whole and also for the futures of those who seek to represent us at City Hall. The rest of Council understand only the latter and unquestionably worship at the feet of the Provincial mandate to grow, grow and grow until our City is unsustainable and no longer a place of desirability.

    We the citizens have a clear choice in this direction and the power to make the right choice on October 22nd. Please exercise your right to vote.