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Meed Ward lays out her concerns about the rush to push through the Downtown Core Mobility Hub and the kind of changes that can be expected.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 29, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The battle lines are being drawn for a fight that will get settled in October 2018 when the next municipal election takes place.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

Meed Ward with Mayor Goldring: she is more comfortable with herself as a speaker.

In that race at this point in time are Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward, Rick Goldring, the current Mayor and Mike Wallace, a former city Councillor and Member of Parliament for Burlington.

The only candidate that has actually declared is the Mayor who seemed to have found a way around the rules. Nomination can’t be filed until May 1, 2018

George Wale, Director of Programs at the Art Centre, on the right, thanks Burlington MP Mike Wallace for the funding from the federal government.

George Wale, Director of Programs at the Art Centre, on the right, thanks Burlington MP Mike Wallace for the funding from the federal government.

Between now and then it will be a battle royal with Meed Ward screaming from the roof tops that the end of the Burlington she believes most people want is in sight

Councillor Meed Ward, in a recent Newsletter said: “If this plan goes through as is, it will fundamentally change downtown, replacing the low-rise character and historic buildings with modern tall buildings.

“The magnitude of changes represents over intensification and high rise congestion with no clear reason – since we can meet our growth targets under existing plan limits.

“We’re giving away height and getting nothing, like negotiating affordable housing, family units, public parking or heritage protection in exchange for more floors.”

There are many who don’t have a problem with additional height. Meed Ward’s support seems to be concentrated in the downtown core – the people in that part of the city don’t want their part of the city to change. Traffic congestion is a big concern and losing much of the retail and commercial space is a concern.

The 421 Brant Carriage Gate development will go to the OMB if the resolve that was displayed at a meeting of citizens who have been cheeky enough to use the COB that city hall types like to use and added an E to it to come up with the acronym ECOB – Engaged Citizen of Burlington.

They should be incorporated by the end of the week and have their OMB appeal papers filed with city hall shortly after.

During a two hour meeting in the Party Room of Buntin’s Wharf on Saturday they elected a set of Officers and raised $5000 on the spot.

There are some impressive people behind this effort.

Meed Ward sets out where the changes will take place in the downtown core and her take on the impact all this will have.

She focuses on the “added congestion, loss of small town feel, and loss of key retailers in some of our older buildings, like Kelly’s Bake Shoppe” Kelly Childs is in the process of becoming the ‘poster girl’ for downtown Burlington. We could do worse.

Where Meed Ward is absolutely right is the timeline the city is working to: “This process is proceeding far too quickly. She “will ask for an extension of time before approval”.

The Official Plan review started six years ago, half way through, a newly appointed Director of Planning changed what was an update to a total rewrite.

The downtown policies were made public at the end of September; the revised version was made public two weeks ago. The Area Specific Policies were made public in June.

Mammel - surprise

Suzanne Mammel, Executive Officer of the Halton Hamilton Home Builders Association is less then impressed with the way the Planning department seems to be rushing the new Official Plan.

“Three weeks is not enough time to review and digest these documents, much less invite public comment” said Meed Ward. “ We cannot rush. The Official Plan is the most important document in the city, setting the stage for development for decades.”

Meed Ward plans to ask for several amendments, including revisions to height permissions and deferring approval till June “when we can consider all policies at the same time, and allow more time for public review and comment”.

The Halton Hamilton Home Builders Association (HHHBA) are threatening to take the Official Plan to the OMB –just as soon as it is passed. They tool feel the process is being rushed and have complained about the way the Planning Department has responded to their issues.

The new plan, with the downtown policies, staff reports and “track changes” version is over 2000 pages of reading to be ready for a committee meeting next week.

That is about as irresponsible and as unaccountable as a bureaucrat can be. It smacks of insolence on the part of the men and the women in the Planning department who let things like this happen. Surely there is a planner in the department who would ask if the public has been given enough time to read the documents.

The proposed downtown precinct plan will be discussed at committee November. 30 at 1:00 pm and in the evening at 6:30 pm. It appears there is going to be plenty of time to debate a document that few will have been able to re3ad in its entirety.

The plan is expected to be approved in January, with more detailed Area Specific Plans coming in June 2018.
Meed Ward provided a lot of graphics that help people see and understand where the growth is going to take place in each of the 13 precincts(up from 8) that have been created.

There are boundaries within boundaries and then precincts – each of which has its own zoning criteria.

Growth centre boundaries:
The downtown is divided into 13 “precincts” (up from 8 in the current plan) each with their own height and zoning permissions. Where heights previously ranged up to 14 storeys (excluding specific sites granted more height through an application), they now include as-of-right heights up to 25 storeys. More details on the precincts are below.

Boundary map - index

Map with different boundaries – see Index

 

 

Brant Main Street precinct
Brant St from Pine to southern edge of No Frills Plaza: (Brant Main St Precinct orange area on map) up from 8 storeys to 11, and 17/23 at Brant/James (thatched orange area on map)  Existing permissions are 4-8 storeys, will now be up to 11. The South-East corner of Brant & James is a special policy area (thatched orange) allowed to go to 17 storeys. The North-East corner across the street has already been approved for 23 storeys.

Emerald and St Lukes precinct

St Luke Precinct on the west of Brant and Emerald precinct on the right – both are solid residential communities – that don’t want development moving into their part of town.

The downtown urban growth centre boundaries have changed to include parts of the stable low density neighbourhoods in the Emerald and St. Luke’s precincts. This is very serious as it will put pressure on these neighbourhoods to meet the growth centre’s target of 200 people or jobs per hectare. This change was apparently done by the province and region in 2006 and has not been reflected in our current OP, nor even come to light until now.

upper-brant-precinct

Upper Brant – the part of the Downtown core where a lot of people think the height should be located.

• There are a number of heritage buildings in the Downtown Core Precinct where heights are projected to go from 4-8 storeys to 17

Upper Brant Precinct (royal blue area), from 6 storeys existing, up to 25 storeys
Brant St at Graham’s Lane/Prospect/Ghent/Olga/Blairholm (Upper Brant Precinct) from 6 storeys to 25 (blue area)
• Existing permissions are 6 storeys, will now be up to 25

Downtown core precinct

Downtown core precinct – some are of the belief that every property is in the hands of a developer.

John St, Lakeshore, Martha, Maria block: (Downtown Core Precinct) from 4-8 storeys up to 17 (light blue)

Existing permissions are 4-8 storeys, will now be up to 17. The block at Maria/Caroline/John/ Elizabeth has existing permission for a 17 storey condo (currently under construction), 6-8 storey parking garage and 6-8 storey medical centre.

There are a number of historic buildings in the Downtown Core Precinct, along James, Elizabeth Pearl, but heritage protection policies and site specific reviews won’t come till the Area Specific Plans are complete in June 2018. We’re giving height away without getting these protections in place, putting pressure on these sites to be developed to the max. It will be difficult to “downzone” development permissions after the fact where we want to protect heritage down the road.

Cannery precinct

Cannery precinct – so named because at one point there was a tomato canning factory at the foot on the east side of Brant.

Cannery Precinct, up to 22 storeys (salmon colour). Waterfront Hotel site marked with asterix.

This precinct includes two parcels: the existing Bridgewater Development at Lakeshore/Elizabeth/Pearl, currently under construction with a 22 storey condo, 8 storey hotel and 7 storey condo; and the foot of Brant/Lakeshore on the North East Side bounded by Brant, John, Pine and Lakeshore.

Understanding the scope and the scale of what the Planning department is proposing is close to mind boggling.

If what is being proposed had the enthusiastic support of at least half of the population this would be a great plan – it would indeed be Growing Bold.

But most people don’t even know what the city is planning.  Those in the downtown core have begun to understand what is going on.  Those north of Prospect are in the dark – getting little if any information from their city Councillors.

Whenever a developer asks for a change to the Official Plan people get upset and ask  – ‘What is the point of having an Official Plan if all a developer has to do is assemble some land and trot over to the Planning department and propose a change to the Official Plan and the zoning’.

Now the public has a 1500 page + document that they are expected to read and absorb in a very tight time frame.

Someone has to show the leadership needed to explain what is happening and why – without that leadership the public will clue in at some point and vote in a council that listens.

Problem with this is that there isn’t exactly a line-up of people who have indicated that they want to be a city Councillor.

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9 comments to Meed Ward lays out her concerns about the rush to push through the Downtown Core Mobility Hub and the kind of changes that can be expected.

  • Peter

    Who are these people at planning ???? Grow a spine councillors do what is right forr the city. Listen listen listen to the many voices who elected you

  • Allan

    I can’t understand the rushed, heavy-handed approach of the City and some of the Councillors to implementing the Official Plan. Sorry for being a sceptic but it makes me think “what’s in it for them?”!

    They tried road diets and that didn’t work. They bought more large diesel buses but they run around empty. Now they support a 23 floor high-rise – the first of many that developers want to ram into the downtown core!!!

    I didn’t move here from Toronto to live in a concrete jungle. I came because of the small town feel and quaint old buildings.

  • Sharon Hutchinson

    It bothers me that we have such wishy/washy Councillors that can’t seem to come together 100% with a firm decision to mandate a hold on this “fast tracking” Official Plan. It is for 25 years and what is the hurry to do a job right? Steven White has some sound points that perhaps we need to take seriously. Recommendations in the Official Plan for more than doubling the heights for existing buildings in our small downtown of Burlington, is asinine, and unacceptable.

  • Hans

    Re: ..”Meed Ward’s support seems to be concentrated in the downtown core…”.

    That’s probably not true; e.g., I live north of the QEW and, of the 7 on council, she is the only one that I would vote for. The other 6 seem to be mired in “Groupthink”.
    MMW has excellent judgment and has consistently worked for the best interests of her Ward and for Burlington. Anyone who has been paying attention is likely to come to that same conclusion as well.

  • Well I’m glad that people are waking up to the development situation in Burlington. This was obvious to me, lots of other people and the entire council in 2014 when I ran for regional chair to shed light on this and hopefully stop it.

    This direction is way beyond “tinkering” with the down town plan. It’s a concentrated effort across multiple city policies and staff.

    It will take years to disassemble all of this and re-orient the city into working for people in the city – not planning documents stored in Toronto.

  • Brian Jones

    Many to not subscribe to internet, twitter etc. Where is the Post on this important issue. Maybe repeated in Thursday’s paper- all be it too late for Nov 30 critical meeting at city hall 1 pm and 6:30 pm
    Ward 2 councilor has valid concern. Otherd just looking at their wards with no concern for central downtown core

  • Stephen White

    Good for Marianne! She is absolutely right! The pace at which the new Official Plan and the Mobility Hubs concepts are being pushed is alarming. It smacks of Soviet-style state planning.

    The Planning Department, the Council and this Mayor ABSOLUTELY DO NOT have a mandate to pursue these measures. They can trumpet all they like about citizen input and participation but frankly, it is bogus and a crock. I have attended several meetings and I am aghast at how public feedback has been “re-packaged” in order to make development plans more palatable. These consultation forums have made a mockery of citizen engagement. What is alarming is the way they portray anyone who opposes their plan as “NIMBY” advocates or anti-change. It isn’t that people are anti-development. The issue is the type, scale and nature of the development. Unfortunately, they are so fixated on their philosophy that it blinds them to the nuances of disagreement.

    If this Council truly believes it is representing community interests here is what they could and should do: 1) put a moratorium on all downtown development and re-development proposals, and all development across the city higher than four storeys, until January 1, 2019; 2) hold a plebiscite on the Official Plan and the Mobility Hubs proposals that coincides with the next municipal election, and let the public decide on what they want. Put viable, discernible proposals forward so that electors can select density heights, limits and controls; 3) let Council and Mayoralty candidates campaign for election or re-election based on what they believe, and let the public elect those whose vision best reflects the public’s wishes.

    This City is a not a sandbox for developers so they can play in and experiment with. At the end of the day they drive home in their 7 series Bimmers to their luxury homes in the hills of Caledon leaving the rest of us to deal with what they leave in their wake.

    • Phillip

      I certainly applaud your proposal. In my opinion, this mayor and council do not have a mandate to implement such a dramatic change in the Official Plan. But given the REAL importance that they attach to engagement and that the Planning Department is clearly driving the agenda, I doubt it’s going to happen.

  • Luke

    Quick! It’s December, time to ram the garbage through council, while nobody is watching or has the time to respond to our ridiculous timelines.
    All the peoples and sheeples be busy with their lives right now.
    Nice plan.
    By spring it will be too late for them mwah hah hah!