Mayor is concerned with what might get built on the Waterfront hotel site - citizen rips into that concern - wants to see a WOW project on the waterfront.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 14th, 2017



The planners have been working on what to do and figuring out what can be done with the Waterfront Hotel site at the foot of Brant Street.

The owner of the property wants to get more density and the city is listening to what the public thinks and feels.

There has been the one public session in May with another scheduled for early July.

Standing room only

It was a Standing Room only for those who attended the first public meting on what might be done with the site the Waterfront hotel sits on now.

More than 200 people participated in two workshops in May to share their thoughts and ideas about what should be located on this property as the property owner considers redeveloping the site.

In his report to the citizens of the city the Mayor recently said: “As I have shared previously, I am very concerned about the impact any redevelopment in this area could have on our waterfront. I believe open space in any redevelopment option needs to be considered to ensure Burlington residents continue to enjoy access to the waterfront.

There will be more opportunities to share your feedback about the waterfront site as we move into the summer.

graphic with bldg heights

Those numbers are the height of the buildings – can you see where this is going?

In one of the illustrations used in May event the issue is made bluntly clear – it is about height – who has it – where it is and where it isn’t.  No rocket science to figure out what is coming our way.

What kind of height are we talking about?  Nothing specific at this point but the city’s Urban Design Guidelines give a hint.

Three illustrations – a map showing which part of the cit we are talking about and then a series of illustrations showing what the planners call the “building envelope” for specific sites.

Block 23 - located

This illustration identifieds where the specific block o property is located and what the Urban Guidelines will permit. No reference to height – that gets negotiated.







Urban design guidelines - block by block

We know what is being built on the left hand side of each of these four illustrations – the Bridgewater project – it is what can be done on the right hand side. Look very closely at figures 81,82 and 83

With 2018 an election year for city council the Mayor just might be looking at this redevelopment situation as the kind of campaign issue he can focus on as he looks for a third mandate – assuming he actually wants to go through the current term again.

Other than saying he is concerned – the Mayor hasn’t been very specific.

There are others who are very specific with their views. One downtown resident had these comments about the May event.

It was a typical public information/workshop meeting.

It is the way that the City “placates” the public.

1. Present as little concrete info’ as possible
2. Ask for input from the public
3. The public feels better because they’ve had their opportunity to vent and participate (this is a very real need for the public….everyone needs the opportunity to express an opinion)

It is a political process at best. Maybe a few good ideas come out of it…….

I find Marianne’s continued efforts to push her personal agenda annoying. She claims to be a “listener” but first she tells people what to think and say.

The presenters created a little confusion and didn’t set it up well. I didn’t think she was “smooth”. I thought she was confusing and used too many “buzz” words from the planning world.

And Rick’s previous public comments about green space/parkland didn’t make sense in the context of a private land owner.

It’s first steps towards an application and the politicians will feel good because they’ve gone through the process.

The public will feel somewhat empowered by the process. At the end of the day, not sure it helps create a quality exalted project or in fact the end product is simply the lowest common denominator. I’d love to see an iconic, beautiful, piece of architecture on that site with graceful lines and lovely public spaces. Something we could all say WOW – look what our city has done.

Bridgewater from the north looking south

The space between the condominium on the left and the hotel on the right is not as large as this rendering suggests. The space to the left of the high rise condominium as in the imagination of the artist.

A beautiful point tower of 30 storeys was designed originally for the Bridgewater site. It took up less than half the site and was stunning. It had all sorts of “air” around it. Funny, 30 storeys doesn’t seem so high now. But twenty years ago, no one could conceive of it. The compromise became what we see today being built – 3 block buildings (with a tower in one of them) virtually covering the whole site (except for a piazza on the lake side, not visible from the street), 8 storeys + 22 storeys creating a “wall” on Lakeshore Road, with a little “peek a boo” between the two buildings. Mark my words….it’s going to be ugly from the Lakeshore Road side.

We need to be more “forward” thinking. What will our city look like in twenty years?

This was more than a rant from a disgruntled resident – this one is in the thick of development in the city – our Mayor needs to hear from these people – but in Burlington we are far too polite to say what we think and feel.
Wait until the public sees just how little of the lake that will be visible when the Bridgewater site is completed. It will be “we was robbed” and of course far too late.

On July 5, residents have a chance to take part in a design day where participants will be divided into small working groups to explore options for things like buildings, land use, public access and open space.

Two sessions will be held at the Waterfront Hotel in the Blue Water Ballroom. The first session starts at 1 p.m. and the second session will be held at 6 p.m.


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8 comments to Mayor is concerned with what might get built on the Waterfront hotel site – citizen rips into that concern – wants to see a WOW project on the waterfront.

  • Lynn

    “I’d love to see an iconic, beautiful, piece of architecture on that site with graceful lines and lovely public spaces. Something we could all say WOW – look what our city has done.”

    I second that sentiment!

  • James

    It really is unfortunate that we have a mayor and local councillor so opposed to the economic development of downtown Burlington in any meaningful way. Instead of working with the development community they continually work against it. If it wasn’t for the OMB, nothing would happen in this city. Now that the OMB is out, I’m honestly nervous whether any developer will even bother trying to invest in Burlington anymore. This is a perfect example of a property ripe with potential for re-development, a real signature building that could define our shoreline for decades to come. Instead of speaking about the benefits of such a terrific opportunity, the mayor and councillor have already put on their Debbie Downer faces and are getting the public primed to fight whatever the developer proposes. It’s not good when our elected officials are the ones slamming the brakes on progress.

    • Hans

      It’s the “development community” attitude that’s the real problem. They typically disrespect the Council that was elected to represent the municipality’s citizens and try to get provincially approved plans overturned.

      Maybe developers should learn to read better, so that they can see what is approved in the building/zoning by-laws before they invest in a building site.

      • James

        Sorry, but you’re misinformed. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Many in the public don’t understand how it works, they just wrongfully assume it’s always the developer being greedy.

        Yes, developers are in the business of making money, just like the business where you work, and just like every other business that’s ever existed. Why is it that when every other business tries to make money it’s okay, but when a developer tries to make money it’s because they’re greedy monsters?

        Developers typically do not “try to get provincially approved plans overturned” like you claim. Quite the contrary. Developers are trying to get municipalities that often have outdated 20 year old official plans and zoning by-laws to COMPLY with those provincially approved plans! Why do you think the OMB is where developers look to for assistance? Municipalities sometimes make decisions based on political reasons (or don’t bother to make a decision at all) that contradict those provincially approved plans. THAT is why developers push on to the OMB, the only impartial watchdog group that will hold municipalities accountable and enforce provincial policy.

        You claim that “maybe developers should learn to read better”, however if you’ve ever actually attended an OMB hearing, you would quickly realize that the developers do read, and their planners often have a much better understanding of provincial policy than municipal planners do. They understand what the province’s vision is and invest enormous amounts of money to turn that vision into reality. That is why developers win. I have witnessed so many municipal planners get completely embarrassed on the stand when it becomes clear they don’t have the same level of understanding as the private sector planners, or when it comes out that they were pressured to take a certain position by a councillor.

        It’s the developers that are being disrespected. Developers thanklessly pump huge amounts of money into the city and provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of people. Without developers the house where you live, the building where you work, the grocery store where you buy your food, the doctors office where you get your annual check-up, none of that would exist. This hypocritical attitude needs to end. Why is it that now that you’ve got yours, you don’t want others to get theirs? There are a lot of people out there that need homes to live in, places to work, and places to shop. Why was development okay when you needed those things, but not okay now that you’ve got those things?

        I get it, people are nervous with the idea of change, but perhaps attitudes like yours are “the real problem”.

  • Hans

    Given the amount of high rise development along Burlington’s waterfront, and the relinquishing of waterfront land recently, this is the proverbial “ship that has sailed”….. long ago.

    The only meaningful “public input” would be in the form of a referendum. Anything less is just political posturing and manipulation.

  • Stephen White

    Overnight there was a massive fire in London, England involving a 27 storey high rise. According to reports, 6 people are dead, and the death toll is suspected to go much higher. People were apparently jumping from windows to avoid being burned to death:

    Before we all jump up and down with delight at the provincial government’s naive intensification strategy to shoe horn the population into a compressed land mass by promoting massive high rise development it might actually prove worthwhile to stop and consider this question: in the event of a fire, power outage, or similar disaster, how are residents/occupants supposed to exit the building? By the way: most aerial ladders on fire trucks only extend to the 10 storey.

    Furthermore, since most prospective buyers will likely be older (I doubt many Millennials will be able to afford the steep purchase price of these downtown condo units), what provisions will the City make in the event of an evacuation?

    • Hans

      Excellent points.

      Builders should be required to address this important issue before receiving a permit. Issuing parachutes to every apartment above the 10th story is not an acceptable solution.

    • James

      There are bad people that put sharp objects in apples at Halloween. Should we ban apples too?

      People get hurt in cars every day. Let’s ban cars.

      I twisted an ankle playing soccer one time. Better cancel all sports.

      Let’s not take 1 unfortunate incident and somehow come to a conclusion that single storey buildings are all that should be permitted for safety reasons. Maybe if 3/4 of the worlds population could fly off to another planet that might work, but until then highrise is a very viable option. Let’s be realistic.