Mayor puts her spin on the 535 Brant, 26 storey development - a snow job on the part of Her Worship

By Pepper Parr

July 25th, 2023



Mayor Meed Ward and ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns issued a joint statement late in the day.

It reads:

July 24, 2023 — The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) has approved the application for a 26-storey residential apartment with 259 units and retail on the ground floor at 535-551 Brant Street.

The city’s vision for this area in our new Official Plan [2020] is a maximum 11 storeys, with 3 storeys along Brant street setback for the first 20 metres, to maintain the Main Street character. Our new OP directs the greatest heights and densities to the area surrounding the Burlington GO Station.

Rendering showing the development from the Brant Street side- public parking at the rear and the No Frills parking area to the left.

At the time the applications were filed with the City, the property was within the city’s Urban Growth Centre (“UGC”) and within the Mobility Hub area of the John Street Bus Terminal. UGCs and Mobility Hubs are among the areas intended to be the focus for accommodating intensification. These designations have now shifted to the Burlington GO station. However the Tribunal assessed this application in accordance with the UGC policies that were in place at the time of the application, as required by the Province’s amended approval of Regional Official Plan Amendment #48.

While the 2020 OP may assist the Tribunal in understanding the City’s vision for the Downtown, the Tribunal noted “it is not a determinative policy document” as it is currently under appeal.

In their ruling released July 19 the OLT found that the proposed development “respects the existing Brant Street character, the surrounding built form, and uses” and “is compatible with the neighbourhood area without any unacceptable impacts on existing or future development.”

You can read the OLT decision on the city’s webpage dedicated to this project here.

We know the community will be very disappointed in this decision, as we are. It fails to appreciate staff, council and the community’s vision for this area, and to direct the highest buildings to our GO station areas.

It underscores the challenges we face in implementing our vision for managing growth in the city. We will continue to face these challenges as long as the OLT can override local council desires as expressed in our Official Plan and related documents.

Rendering of the development from the John Street lane way with the No Frills parking space to the right.

We want to thank everyone who took time to share your feedback with us on this development. Although the overall outcome is not what we hoped for a number of changes were negotiated through the process. Staff are reviewing options to seek a review of this decision. We will let the community know when we know more.

This is a remarkable spin on what happened and a refusal to deal with the facts.  Add that to the rather damning statement made by the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) that dealt wit the appeal that was made by Renimmob Properties:

The Tribunal finds that it would be an inexcusable error to evaluate and base its decision on the Applications using the policies or vision of the ineffectual and non- operative 2020 OP. The Applications are subject to, and must be evaluated against, the policies of the in-force COP.

The fact is that the Official Plan passed by Council is not in force – it has no impact on any application other than being what the city wants to do once the 2020 Official Plan gets through the 48 appeals at the OLT that are pending.

Mayor Meed Ward and Councillor Lisa Kearns need to be honest with the voters.  They may not like what is taking place but the OLT is sticking to the facts and not the political dreams of the current Council.

In a phrase – they are snowing you

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5 comments to Mayor puts her spin on the 535 Brant, 26 storey development – a snow job on the part of Her Worship

  • Liam Fearg

    This is classic Meed Ward – with Lisa Kearns literally snuffling up the rear (God, what an image). Meed Ward intends the discussion too be deflected to the role of the OLT rather than to the fact that this semi-judicial body has found the City’s OP to be totally wanting in both vision and policy; operationally bankrupt. People will follow her slight of hand and the discussion will now centre on how an unelected (but duly constituted) body rules against the popular (but totally flawed) will of Council. Let’s get back to the case in point and the findings. Once again, the City has proven to be wanting in due diligence and integrity of process.

  • Joseph Gaetan

    If we place any weight on “precedent”, we can kiss, “The city’s vision for this area in our new Official Plan [2020] is a maximum 11 storeys” goodbye, and along with that OP2020. Looks like 26 storey buildings is now the new 11 storey OLT, “as of right” height.

  • Adam

    The concept of removing the UGC (urban growth centre) designation from downtown Burlington is ridiculous. The downtown has parks, schools, restaurants, the YMCA, performing arts centre, grocery stores etc., everything people want and need within walking or biking distance. This “walkable community” is exactly the concept that the city is trying to re-create when new developments are going in elsewhere (north Burlington, GO Stations etc.). We already have a walkable city downtown Burlington. There is no logic to the concept of removing the UGC designation from the downtown, the city should be encouraging growth in the downtown.

  • Those who have taken time and energy to audit the new OP approval process know the magnitude of the snow jobs, yes we said “jobs”, there are several more that Council hopes never come to light. However, with the right amount of public attention through petitions and full media coverage, which we are not getting right now, Gazette excepted, hopefully one day before the next election so will the Burlington/Halton taxpayers.

    August 18, 2023 was announced at Council as “Never Give Up Day”” a good day to see the first domino drop by a committed group of residents who are fed up and taking steps to clear the snow that is now piled high.

  • David Barker

    The Gazette ignores what is clearly an attack on a democracy by the OLT. Burlington residence on two occasions have endorsed the mayor and the council in their vision of how the downtown should look. The OLT completely ignores the wishes of the residents of Burlington. That is totally undemocratic. Why have the 48 appeals not being dealt with prior to deciding on the individual projects. Surely that would have been the process. At the end of the day it’s all about Doug Ford imposing his will through this star chamber tribunal.

    Editor’s note: Was the election of the Ford government an undemocratic event? If the Ford government was democratically elected and if the OLT decisions are the wish of the government – then what the OLT does is democratic. People may not like it – but they did elect Natalie Pierre as their MPP. Has Mr. Barker taken his concerns to his MPP?