Mayor Goldring uses the Spectator to tell Burlingtonians his take on the new Official Plan. Does not publish the opinion on his blog.

opinionandcommentBy Staff

March 4th, 2018



In an opinion piece published in the Saturday Hamilton Spectator, Mayor Rick Goldring said:

“The City of Burlington has had many Official Plans, but none have received as much attention as our current draft Plan that council is set to adopt in April.”

The Spectator has very limited circulation in Burlington. The Mayor has yet to post the opinion to his blog

The opinion piece set out below:

Flood Goldring with chain of office

Mayor Goldring speaking to media during the 2014 flood. It was the first time we saw the Mayor wear his Chain of Office outside the Council Chamber,

“City building is constantly evolving, and we all want our city to grow thoughtfully and carefully” said the Mayor who went on to say that “ City Council is no different.”

“As mayor, I certainly want what is best for the entire community. I hear from residents that they want a more vibrant downtown and are supportive of the protection of our rural lands and those who are concerned about the future of our city.

421 Brant

The high rise was approved by city council on a 5-2 with the Mayor and Councillor Meed Ward voting against the project.

“This was most apparent when late last year City Council approved a 23-storey building across from City Hall at 421 Brant St. I voted against this development for three reasons; it is the wrong location for a 23-storey building, where the adjacent roads are narrow, this approval would lead to similar requests for similar height, and from a policy perspective, this was inconsistent with the proposed 17-storey limit identified in the City’s earlier draft Downtown Precinct Plan.

“While residents are trying to digest this decision, we were recently informed of the decision by the Ontario Municipal Board to approve the ADI development at Lakeshore Road and Martha Street. The board sided with the proponent on a proposed 26-storey high-rise plan. Again, in my opinion, this is the wrong location for the height of the building, and I am very disappointed that the OMB did not prefer a height that was comparable or lower to those in this area.

“It is more important than ever that we approve our new Official Plan. The city’s current Official Plan is out of date and doesn’t conform to provincial policy which is one of the significant reasons why the OMB did not agree with the city’s opposition to ADI’s 26-storey proposal. Clearly, our current Official Plan is unacceptable in planning for an Urban Growth Centre.

Rendering with Bake Shop

409 Brant is on the south side of James street – across from city hall. They have tucked two “historical” properties on the south end – next to what will become the Downtown mobility hub to give the application some credibility.

“With two tall buildings recently approved in the downtown, I understand why residents feel anxious about what is going to happen in the future. I disagree with the decisions to allow the 23 and 26-storey downtown buildings. However, I am supportive of well-planned and justified intensification in appropriately targeted areas of our city.

“Burlington is not an island unto itself. We are part of the Greater Hamilton Toronto Area that currently has 7 million people and will grow to 10 million within 23 years primarily because 40 to 50 per cent of newcomers to Canada want to live in this area. We must accommodate our share of growth.

“We also need to be realistic and acknowledge that Burlington is a highly desirable place to live with an amazing waterfront and rural areas that includes the Niagara Escarpment, great neighbourhoods, wonderful festivals and events that contribute to the creation of an inclusive and caring community. In addition, interest rates are low, undeveloped land supply is depleted, and single family house prices are high. This has made condominium apartments an attractive housing form to all demographics for different reasons.

“It is simply not true that we will have tall buildings at every corner of our downtown. It would be wonderful to protect our downtown and limit growth to exclusively low-rise buildings, but this approach is simply not realistic. By only allowing low-rise buildings, we are making downtown very exclusive to those that have significant wealth.”

“After listening and considering input from residents, Burlington City council made many important amendments to the proposed new Official Plan. We reduced permitted heights and increased building separations, and heritage building preservation is addressed.

“Once the high-level vision of our new Official Plan is approved, we can get to work completing the details to be included in area specific plans. City staff is currently working on new transportation, transit, cycling and parking plans. We will dramatically improve our transit system to provide reliable and frequent service along our key areas, including our GO stations.

Goldring - Christmas picture

The photograph was provided by the Office of the Mayor – it was used for his 2015 Christmas card.

“I am confident that Burlington will successfully evolve to meet our growing population and economic needs. We will be champions for great design and continue to give careful attention to all the important city building details that have made Burlington the city we are so proud of. We need to plan for our children and grandchildren so that Burlington is an inclusive, environmentally and fiscally sustainable city for generations to come.”




Related articles:
Meed Ward on why the draft Official Plan needs more time before it is approved.
Jack Dennison on why he is going to vote for the draft – with some changes.

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5 comments to Mayor Goldring uses the Spectator to tell Burlingtonians his take on the new Official Plan. Does not publish the opinion on his blog.

  • Walter Ostapchuk

    The Mayor and city Council has demonstrated time and time again that they are ineffective in governing, controlling and managing this City. Beautiful Burlington is being erroded by the Council and managers who have proven unqualified. It will soon be too late. There is an election coming, give it a lot of thought before you vote.

  • Penny

    The City was chastised by the OMB not necessarily for having an outdated OP but because staff and the legal department failed to support or justify why 11 or 17 storeys was the optimum height for the ADI development on Lakeshore and Martha. This was brought forward again at Committee by the planner for ADI who won at the OMB.
    So yes, the failure not to justify the lower height allowance at Lakeshore & Martha lies at the feet of the City.

    As for an outdated Official Plan – the Province asks only that Municipalities REVIEW their Official Plan every 5 years it does not mandate change…How can an Official Plan be outdated when change is not mandated by the Province.

    I also would suggest that you try to get the square footage of the units that will be offered by the developers downtown. I have heard that they will be very small, starting at 650 square feet, probably costing in excess of $450,000.00. How will this type of development be of any help to those less fortunate? How many people do you think will be able to fit into a 650 square foot unit?

    The residents and Council have asked for a 3D Model to see just what this proposed plan will look like – don’t residents have a right to know before the damage is done? Where are the completed Transit, Transportation, Traffic reports? Will the current sewage system handle this increased population?

    So many questions, so few answers.

  • Penny

    I can’t even comment on this piece. I have to wonder who Mayor Goldring is listening to – certainly not the residents and certainly not the planner who won for ADI at the OMB and placed the loss of this appeal directly at the feet of the City.

    • Bernstein

      I thought the Mayor’s comments were spot on in most respects. In particular:
      – residents want a more vibrant downtown;
      – residents want protection of the rural area and no more suburban sprawl;
      – 23 storey building at 421 Brant Street shouldn’t have been supported, particularly because the new OP proposed a downtown plan that contemplated a max 17 stories for the site (although not said in his comments, the City did not get enough open space at the corner of Brant and James to justify 23 stories)
      -26 storey building at Martha and Lakeshore was the wrong location and property for that height;
      – the OMB was very clear in its comments that the existing OP height and density permissions are too low for an urban growth center and major transit station;
      – restricting downtown to low rise buildings (and shorter condos in my view) makes living downtown affordable for only the financially well off;
      – the city is planning for our children and grandchildren, in an inclusive and environmentally/fiscally sustainable manner

      The one thing I disagree with is the suggestion that the transit plan will come along later. Council should have an idea of what level of transit is necessary for this level of intensification, and how much it will cost, prior to setting heights. If Council it approves this plan, they had better be ready to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to transit service over the next 20 years!

      I also think he ducks the fact that the reason the city has to increase density in the downtown was that the city either supported or at least did not oppose the imposition of an urban growth center designation by the province in the downtown in the early 2000s. The city has to own that.

      In response to Penny’s comment, I think the Mayor is listening to the average residents of Burlington that don’t live in the downtown. In my view, he speaks to a lot of us. With respect to the comment on the ADI OMB decision, the loss is at the feet of the city – for not having appropriate height and density regulations for the urban growth center. To me, that would suggest that the City be moving forward with height and density regulations appropriate for the urban growth center, not trying do the opposite.

      • Kerri Vane

        Bernstein: quote: “I think the Mayor is listening to the average residents of Burlington that don’t live in the downtown. In my view, he speaks to a lot of us.”

        I just can’t understand how it could be that the residents who live in or near the downtown core don’t have a voice greater than those who don’t live in the down town core. How can people who haven’t invested in, don’t shop at or visit frequently have a ‘say’ over those that do?