Mayor gets a motion approved - Grow Bold is to be ditched - Planners experience some indigestion with that direction.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 6, 2019



In a report to a Council Standing Committee Tuesday evening the Mayor said that “Burlington residents have consistently raised concerns about over-intensification and development in our City. During the 2018 election, they made their voices heard and clearly indicated the need to review the scale and intensity of planned development.”

Tim - Tanner Finance

The Grow Bold, Grow Smart, Grow Beautiful tag line that then Planning Director Mary Lou Tanner (centre in this picture) has now been dumped. Interim city Manager Tim Commisso, on the left has the unenviable task of unwinding that branding. Will he be making staff changes as well?

That was the rationalization she used to bring forward a motion to re-examine the policies of the existing Official Plan that was adopted, though not officially approved, in April of 2018, and review matters of height and density.

The approved but not adopted Official Plan was sent to the Region who sent it back to the city noting that there were “identified areas of non-conformity”. City council, and the Planning department needed more in the way of clarity from the Region.

Staff from the Planning department, the legal department along with the interim city manager and the Mayor met at length with the Regional planners – Burlington does not yet appear to have the clarification they are seeking.

MMW arms out - thank you

She did win and she is going to do it her way.

The Mayor did say that “Once the region identified areas of non- conformity, that stopped the clock on approving the new Official Plan and opened the plan up for any other matters of discussion. This allows our council the time to define what areas we want to study, undertake that work, consult with the community, and send back a comprehensive plan. We expect that plan to truly reflect the needs, best interests and vision of the community and its elected council.”

Mayor Meed Ward presented a motion that she said would “provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications. Multiple analyses by staff in assessing development applications, downtown in particular, have made it clear we do not need to over intensify in order to meet our obligations under the Places To Grow legislation.

Grow bold - front door

Will the Grow Bold “branding” be removed from the office door by the end of the week? The Mayor just might take it upon herself to do that ask by herself.

Meed Ward once again put out the word that the city “will immediately discontinue use of the “Grow Bold” term and related branding to ensure we are absolutely clear on our direction.”

The motion brought forward by the Mayor read:

1. Direct the Director of City Building to immediately commence a process to re-examine the policies of the Official Plan adopted April 26, 2018 in their entirety related to matters of height and intensity and conformity with provincial density targets.

2. Direct the Director of City Building to send a letter in respect of the Official Plan adopted by Council on April 26, 2018, to the Region of Halton acknowledging receipt of the
Region’s Notice of Statement of Opinion of Non-Conformity with the Regional Official Plan dated December 4, 2018 and requesting sufficient time to address the conformity issues identified.

3. Direct the Director of City Building that until such time as the modifications that result from the work being undertaken in (1) and (2) above are brought forward and adopted by Council and sent to the Region for approval, that the adopted OP policies not be given weight in evaluating development applications that may be processed in the interim period.

4. Direct the Director of City Building to report back to the Planning and Development Committee meeting in March to provide a progress update on the Official Plan work plan with key milestone dates, public engagement plan, budget and resource requirements.

5. Direct the City Manager to discontinue the use of the “Grow Bold” brand.

In presenting the Motion Meed Ward said she wanted a unanimous vote – she did get unanimity but not without some arm wrestling from Councillor Sharman.

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6 comments to Mayor gets a motion approved – Grow Bold is to be ditched – Planners experience some indigestion with that direction.

  • Tom Muir

    Penny et al, you might want to recall that the planner carrying the Amica file is the same one that reportedly told Mayor Meed Ward to go Google the answer to her question about the 210 day timeline for making a Council decision on the application.

    This is such a ridiculous show of disrespect, and not the first one for this planner that I have observed, suggests to me that we are in a situation of where it’s the Planning dept. versus the Mayor and Council.

    I say this because this same planner and Planning Dept determine the workflow timeline that is subject to the 210 day limit, and these same folks write the recommendation report on the application.

    If she chooses to write a favorable recommendation on the application, and she has this power, then this is truly a standoff.

    Then it becomes her recommendation against the Mayor and those members of Council who support the Mayor.

    The fact that there were no modifications to the application proposal after the neighborhood meeting says to me that the planner may have a problematic attitude.

    After all, she spoke to the adopted OP as guidance in the consideration of this application at the neighborhood meeting. Apparently, this planner and the Dept as a whole is infected with this adopted OP that they own – it’s not ours, the residents, or the Mayor and Council’s.

    And the next step in the process is the staff recommendation report that has to be in time to allow the process to meet the 210 day deadline. It can be presented as a supportive recommendation.

    So the Mayor, or other lead member of Council, has to rally at least a majority of Council to refuse the staff planner recommendation, or insist on a recommendation report before the 210 day deadline so their will can be expressed..

    I really don’t like the looks of this, and from the reported disrespectful answer to the Mayors question, the answer to which should have been top of mind for the staff planner, indicates to me that there is a big problem with the Planning Dept that needs to be corrected.

  • Location, location, location
    Developers will build where people/companies will plant their feet. On top of having a great location – in between Toronto and the USA w with decent regional transit – our community has been built with the suburban goodness -low crime, low density, decent community activities and feel.
    With the new council trying to top off tall buildings and continually trying to keep the ‘line in the sand’ -urban/rural boundaries here. The two shall butt heads soon.
    A passed around solution is to have more mid rises (5-8 stories) build in our urban envelope. Question is where will these spring up? Will it hold water on demand pressures? What does plan B look like?


  • Penny

    Steve, I was at the Committee Meeting last night and Marianne stated that she “would not support the application as presented”, that it needed to be scaled back and had to provide more space between buildings along with other suggestions.

    The one thing that was discussed by a delegate was “why was there a statutory meeting where the applicant brought forward the same development application after the Public Meeting where residents were very vocal about the size and density of the proposal? Why would staff not meet with the developer to ask if they could make some of the changes that were discussed at the Public Meeting prior to the statutory meeting. Doing this would result in a more efficient use of time for both staff, council and the public”.

    I must agree with this delegate.

  • Steve W

    If the over intensification proposed by the Amica project is scaled back – then I’ll believe that things have changed at City Hall.

  • Steve

    I wonder if the mayor and city council will address the insanity currently being proposed in Aldershot. The tearing down of a perfectly good neighborhood, and displacing it’s people, so that a very high density housing project can be crammed in its place. Does intensification include tearing down whole surveys now? Not just empty lots, but tearing down whole communities, and displacing families. No doubt very lucrative for the developers. Not so good for Burlington.

  • Don Fletcher

    It is understandable that the Planning Department felt the pride of ownership in their new “adopted” OP and would have difficulty letting go. I think this direction from Council (and residents/ voters previously) makes it clear that this is no longer an option. Those who cannot move on, must be asked to move out! Our existing OP with the backstop of a more City planning-supportive LPAT, should allow the planners now to dismiss 29-storey condo applications in locations with 4/8-storey permissions as “offside”, with quick confidence, which in turn should cause the pace of similarly ludicrous applications in the future to decelerate.
    Lots of hard yards will be required to develop a new OP, but in the meantime, a rational process for processing development applications can be established with some level of planning normalcy restored. Hurray!