Mayor Goldring sets out why he voted for a 17 storey condominium opposite city hall

opinionred 100x100By Pepper Parr

July 12th, 2018



Minutes before city council, meeting as a committee, voted on a Planning Staff recommendation to approve a modified version of an application to develop the east side of Brant Street south of James to the parking late next to Kelly’s Bake Shop.

The vote was 6-1 to accept the Staff Recommendation which goes to city council on July 16th for a final vote.

The time between a July 11th committee meeting and July 16th meeting for final vote is precious little time for the public to come to terms with the decision that has been made.

Before the vote Mayor Goldring read some notes he had prepared on why he was for voting for the Staff recommendation, what his concerns were and what he expects from the development industry.

“This is the first downtown planning proposal to be considered following the Council adoption of the new Official Plan in April.

“While the new Official Plan policies are only informative, they are important in that they provide Council’s vision for development with new growth framework which affects the downtown.

Site - south of 421

The red square is the location of an approved 23 storey structure; the black square is where a developer want to build a 22 storey building – council committee has approved a 17 building.

“The Plan was developed with intensification framework that highlights the importance of the Downtown Urban Growth Centre. The downtown is desirable and people want to live here and enjoy all that it has to offer. This is something we should all be proud of.

“It has been my view for sometime that I am confident that the Council-adopted Official Plan will bring greater certainty to planning outcomes. In doing so, we can address the frustration expressed by many residents that planning decisions should not be inconsistent with our Official Plan. This report moves us in that direction.

“November 1st Committee when we considered the proposal for 23 storeys at 421 Brant Street. In that case, I was unequivocal in my opposition based on some key points:

the conflict with the policy directions for this Special Policy Area which contained a 17 storey height limit.

I heard from many residents who told me the height was much too high for this area of Brant Street.

My concern for the possible precedent that it may create for this property at 409 Brant Street; and,

My opinion that a building height up to 17 storeys would be more appropriate.

“The applications from Reserve for a 23 storey building plus 1 storey amenity created similar concerns for me.

“The neighbourhood meeting on May 1, 2018 at the Lion’s Club confirmed that many residents shared the same view that the proposal would create considerable negative impacts on the downtown.

Looking north from Queens Head

A rendering of the 22 storey structure the developer has applied for from the Queen’s Head. Council has approved a 17 storey structure that goes to council next week

“So I am pleased that we have a modified recommendation in this report that rejects a proposal that contains excessive height and density in consideration of the Brant Main Street Precinct Special Planning Area Policies contained in the adopted Official Plan.

“There are a number of desirable features that have been addressed in the recommendation: the building respects land use compatibility, there will be high quality public realm improvements, and the recommendation complies with the Tall Building Guidelines, including maximum floor plates. And, staff advise that the technical 18th floor will not impact the overall massing of the building.

“I am also pleased that Heritage conservation is being addressed with Heritage staff advising that 401 Brant and 444 John Street are worthy of designation and being preserved. The report sets out a plan to make this happen and I support the use of a holding zone provision that is being proposed.

“I will be supporting staff’s recommendation. I am satisfied that it is responsive to the policy decisions that this Council recently made through the adopted Official Plan. The modified approval for 17 storeys is in line with the Council approved vision in the Plan and it responds to the objections to the proposed 23 storeys that were heard from many residents in response to the Reserve initial proposal.

“I do want to emphasize how important I think it is for us to achieve good building design.

Goldring with bike

Mayor Rick Goldring on his bike.

“It is my opinion that the importance of developers building high quality and well-designed buildings in Burlington has never been more important. This comes at a time as our new Official Plan advances to an approval point at the Region and our City faces greater intensification interest.

“Our message to developers must be that they are expected to conform to our policies, adhere to design guidelines and be responsive to the recommendations of our new Urban Design Panel.

“We need to create interesting and beautiful design that will enhance the downtown and continually make our public spaces and streets more attractive for our residents.”

The Mayor refers to the city planners, the Urban Design Panel, the Official Plan, the importance of the Downtown Urban Growth Centre but not a word saying he believes the development represents the wishes and aspirations of the residents.  His comments certainly didn’t represent the views of those who chose to delegate to city council saying this is not what they want for their city.

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17 comments to Mayor Goldring sets out why he voted for a 17 storey condominium opposite city hall

  • N. Gineer

    “It is my opinion that the importance of developers building high quality and well-designed buildings in Burlington has never been more important.”
    So you think concrete slab with glass-panel walls is “high-quality and well designed”?
    It’s cheap and dirty and for a building that’s supposed to stand for decades, you can’t get any ‘lower quality’.
    The residents of the Berkeley will find out just how bad it is when their units are haemorrhaging energy through those panels, and those pretty cantilevered balconies.

  • Sharon

    Think of all the students for Central Public and High Schools!

  • Maggie

    The mayor says that downtown is desirable and people want to live here and enjoy all it has to offer. These hideous hi-rises will change that. First of all they will not be affordable for most. Traffic will be even more of a nightmare than it is now and who wants to put up with that on a daily basis. Any charm will be lost. I can see shops leaving not being attracted to downtown. Restaurants too, although perhaps more slowly. Some may hope that the increase in people will bring more business but if the prices of these buildings are as high as is likely people will have less disposable income to spend. Or they will sit empty because people will go elsewhere.

  • Jim Young

    “…in doing so we can address the frustration of many residents that planning decisions should not be inconsistent with the official plan…..” When the old plan said 4 to 7 storeys council voted 5 to 2 in favour of 23 storeys at 421. When residents were outraged at the deviation from plan. You guys voted 6 to 1 to change the plan. Instead of addressing resident concerns all you did was move the goal posts to make 17 storeys meet the new plan. I recall one councillor on Cogeco TV pleading the case that “It’s hard for developers to break even at less than 16 storeys” it is no coincidence that the new plan allows 17 and it was not written with the residents concerns in mind. PS the plan currently in effect does not allow 17 which is why council have to ammend it. When the new plan comes into effect, developers won’t even need an amendment to destroy downtown.

  • Look I give the guy credit for clearly explaining what the “Burlington vision” is he is going for. He is clearly explaining why he is voting what. It’s compliance with the upper height limits in the New Offical Plan. That is basically what the plan says and his vote here is basically consistent with the vote to implement the New Offical Plan. Which is in all fairness is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement. It’s consistent with the idea that the Province is not going to let “lesser intensification fly”. And if you try and go in that direction you will just get “bloodied up” by the Provincial control system. That is the feedback you get from staff basically. The idea at play is the outgoing Provincial government is basically the Borg from Star Trek and “resistance is futile.”

    However, we have a completely new provincial government. So who knows how much of any of that system is going to exist in the coming weeks and years. We are going to have a lot of “hangover” in the downtown – that is for sure.

    • William

      Seems like you’ve drunk the “consistent with the Provincial Policy” kool-aid served up by James Ridge and Mary Lou Tanner and repeated by Goldring. Yes, the not-yet-approved OP is consistent with the provincial policy. But so is the existing OP.

      Please do not let the mayor off the hook for his destructive decisions for our downtown; and stop blaming the province.

      • I do not support all of this overbuilding William. Quite the opposite: I’m pitching a 6-floor residential max and straight up rebellion. I’m just saying you can see what you are going to get with this existing council and Goldring application of the max heights in the new official plan.

  • Stephen White

    “It has been my view for sometime that I am confident that the Council-adopted Official Plan will bring greater certainty to planning outcomes”.

    Huh?? In what universe does this guy live? In the 43 years I have lived in this City I have never, ever, seen as much doubt, uncertainty, concern, frustration and anger as in the past year under his leadership. The so-called consultation process surrounding approval of the OP was a farce played out against a background of voter rage and antipathy. In the face of multiple delegations opposing this development he clearly sided with developers and made a conscious decision to ignore the majority opinion….like he did when he supported the New Street Road Diet, another fiasco to which you can claim credit.

    A pitiful response Mr. Mayor. Do us all a favour for once and just pack it in…please.

  • Jim

    It’s not a bad thing. Remember the Region requires 30% of units to be affordable. That means $160,000 to $320,000. The purchasers will enjoy the top quality building amenities that Rick speaks of.

    • Lynn Crosby

      This is not accurate.

      The Region requires 30% of new units in a whole Region to be “affordable” based on Halton Region affordability metrics. The 30% target doesn’t apply to a single build. Their 2017 Housing Strategy states: “Official Plan target: at least 30% of new housing is to be affordable or assisted ($362,950 or less as per 2017 State of Housing Report)”

      The $362k is the blended average rate of different size units.

      Developers use the blended average rate, not the small household rate which actually matches the size of units they are building. None of the units constructed now or in future downtown will meet the small household target.

      The $168k is the “assisted housing rate” which are social housing units. This is very different from market affordable units. The 30% target would apply EITHER to assisted or affordable.

      There is no way a single building will have 30% assisted units, and definitely not this building. Even when the developer agrees at the outset to build some in via community benefits, we’ve seen they aren’t bound to, and have seen them eliminate them long before they start building.

      The idea that a tall building will equal affordable housing is just another myth used to justify these buildings.

  • Dennis Walker

    I think you missed the real headline
    We now thank him for the illustrious ‘5 year ‘ plan and its glorious goals.
    We are grateful for his protection from the dark forces of “THE PROVINCE”
    We now see his wisdom and apologize for our own ignorance.

  • George

    This municipal election on Oct. 22nd, 2018 is the citizens change to vote out of office all of the politicians who have failed to satisfy the wishes of the public. We need to replace the current mayor with Marianne Meed Ward, replace all of the remaining city councilors with councilors who will listen to the citizens of Burlington. Plus replace 3 of the 4 Halton District School Board Trustees who voted to close two Burlington high schools (Lester B. Pearson & Robert Bateman). Vote out current HDSB Trustees: Andrea Grebenc, Leah Reynolds and Richelle Papin.

  • Mike E

    Mr. Goldring:

    I believe that your rationale is self-serving and somewhat hollow. I watched the meeting and saw the look on your face when the whole issue of ‘optimizing conformity to intensification’ was raised. I think that you realized that the 421 Brant St. decision was the death knell of reasonable downtown building heights and that no amount of verbiage in the new adopted Official Plan would be of use. And I would be far more impressed by your position on 421 Brant had you been the first to vote, rather than the last when the matter had already been decided. But that seems to be your style.

    • Philip Waggett

      To use that old saying, “lead, follow, or get out of the way”. Goldring should opt to get out of the way!

  • I think there is a lot of commonality between the current Mayor and the past Premier of Ontario. The electorate will now decide if they agree with the current Mayor of Burlington. I for one do not accept his rationale and will vote accordingly.

  • Hans

    Re: “….I am confident that the Council-adopted Official Plan will bring greater certainty to planning outcomes…”.
    Me too, Rick. It will certainly result in many high-rise towers downtown (along with the traffic congestion that they generate). Were you expecting something different???????/

  • Philip Waggett

    Your last paragraph says it all! Goldring just set out why he cannot be reelected if Burlington is to survive.