Muir claims the numbers are fabricated with no public input

By Tom Muir

January 11th, 2020



These are all fabricated numbers from the dictatorship of planning at the province. They are not the product of any thinking about reality, and are not negotiable in any sense at all. All the Region does is follow the orders.

All this with no public input or involvement or process, except the six years or so of the Burlington and Region OP review and rewrites that are going to be put to waste in a wholesale policy nullification in what is looking to be a central planning basis from the Province. How this works explains itself.

The Province keeps increasing the population targets at increasing rates, with longer timelines, in the revisions to the Growth Plan and other elements of the Provincial Policy Frame. It is now spanning 30 years going to 40 years with a target of increasing Halton’s population by 500,000 or more people, essentially doubling the population.

These population targets outpace the City and Regional OP policies and development goals based on lengthy public consultation. The Growth Plan targets and policies basically amplify the populations used by developers to argue their proposals.

There are major omissions in the overall Policy Frame makeup, the context within which the several Provincial Policies are driving what we see, and development in general. They are always driving the same way as we have done in the past, like the world has not changed. In fact the context we live and decide in has changed in every respect.

I don’t think it reasonable to refer to all of the elements of the current Policy Frame as unchanged and constant mandates that have not been severely tested by COVID19, and will be by Climate Change. There is no consideration of these severe economic, public health, and environmental climate background changes and visible impacts on society, in the policy frames about development.

I say that this is not thinking about it, because it is clear that COVID19 has changed everything to do with the use and availability of space and spacing. Almost everything was closed for a time, and very much is still running at a low speed as we see many structural changes taking place, such as use, demand and supply of office space, which as an example, have large vacancies.

We have to ask about what is going to work in the new context. How are we going to get to the employment targets that are so casually just trotted out?

One piece of evidence that is emerging from the pandemic is that COVID19 prevalence is associated with overdeveloped/crowded higher density built form, transit dependence, too little green space, deficient amenity area, and other too many to mention decreased standards that are like what the mass development appeals in Burlington are about.

There is no Big Picture consideration of climate change (CC) and of COVID as a change in context. Both CC and COVID are what is known in science as “Extinction-level events” . Everything will be forced to change form and to adapt to the new reality. We are already experiencing this, but the Policy Frame ignores this fundamental background change completely.

I do not see how this disruptive change in context is being taken into account in the transportation and public transit planning aspects of the Policy Frame and Growth Plan being used and referred to in this development plan. The basic pillars of the entire policy frame and plans for future development are dependent on aspirations and assumptions about growth, transportation and mass transit. COVID19 has emptied a lot of transit vehicles and more people are driving.

As I said above, the timeline impact of the appeal is 30 to 40 years, and scope for 500,000 new people. Nothing in a path to this will be the same as our past experience, and this needs to be considered when changes in form, height, density and, really, everything we say we are planning for. Density and intensification made Toronto an epicenter. Transit dependence amplified that. This is a general feature of the disease prevalence.

I would bet that no witnesses will be giving evidence-based study and testimony on the public health aspects of urban planning, and impacts on transportation.

None of this should be tolerated.

Tom Muir is an Aldershot resident who has delegated to city council on numerous occasions.  A retired federal civil servant Muir likes to ski at Aspen.  He can’t wait for travel restrictions to be lifted.

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14 comments to Muir claims the numbers are fabricated with no public input

  • Tom Muir


    My point was not to arouse partisan peeing matches. I think any number of us can say that it doesn’t really matter who is in power, and perryb describes it pretty well. I worked for both the province (4 yrs) and the fed (30yrs), with many changes in Party, so I can tell you in great detail that this is the way it is in spades.

    Each newly elected government, whatever Party, inherits the briefing books and polices of the previous one. If the same party, they get to carry on and further cement more of what they want to do. If a new party is elected they get to change policies and priorities, but they are caught in the bureaucatic machine and political net, that is against change.

    My point was that none of these parties in my memory has ever met the challenge of the fundamental changes in the context we live in that I discussed – they all think and act like the endless growth in population, and human occupation of everywhere and everything can go on forever no matter how big it gets.

    They are all pretty much all the same in this assumption. With this, the problem that has been fed for decades, partially by the assertion that housing is needed and this will solve it, will only get worse and will never be solved, but only made worse.

    To get back to my point and away from the political blame-casting I always see here, there is a need for consideration of basic economics that I see only half of being considered. You speak of supply shortage, like that is all that matters in price setting, but ignore the other side counterpart which is longage of demand, or excess demand.

    One aspect of my point is that mindless pursuit of growth that ignores the world as it is now, creates a situation of compound growth in pumping up the demand with more people and growth of everything else needed, so as to create the excess demand, the longage of demand, that you only see as shortage of supply. This is half-baked.

    This focus only on supply to feed the growth you want has been going on for many decades and in the present context is driving the massive inflation in housing prices driven by the excess demand.

    Before you jump to your half-baked supply representation of the problem, I will point out that there are several approved condo projects in Aldershot, for example, that have been approved for several years and are sitting still as empty lots with no shovels or signs of construction start evident.

    I was involved in these application reviews and the talk then was that these were needed to help with the “housing shortage”. These were also approved at densities and with variances far above the OP and Zoning in force. There are several hundred units involved. I am sure there are many more.

    I ask, if there is such a shortage why are these projects, and more, not built or at least underway in the build? I know of others of the same time that started right away, so no excuses please.

    We were told they were needed, but apparently this is part of the long con that this whole scenario of growth projection fabrications being foisted on people by the dictator Province through the Region and then on the City, and for that matter all of the other municipalities..

    This central planning by the Province, dictating these numbers, is part of the takeover of planning and control of development that Burlington is going through at the present time. The developers know this and if the City resists, the Province has supplied the developers with short planning decision timelines, for complex large in excess of the OP projects, after which, if the developers don’t get what they want, they can appeal to OLT, the instrument implementing central planning and control.

    Cost of housing is good for developers and real estate profits, jacking up speculative land inflation, and development property right inflationary expectations.

    Providing affordable housing units will not be met by the present free, central planned market.

    It will not be provided by what is presented as the Growth Plan. Have a look at what all the other costs – more roads, and highways in the Green Belt – and all the other costs which are massive.

    More of this half-baked thinking.

    • Bruce Leigh

      Well said, Mr Muir.

      My opinion, yes just an opinion, is that if affordable housing for the lower income sector of our society is ever going to be provided in meaningful quantities it will only happen if it is funded by the Province and created in harmony with municipalities, and then managed by municipalities after construction; as already happens in Toronto. Developers have no desire or interest in providing affordable housing integrated into condo projects. Why? Because it reduces the developers’ rate of return, and it is seen as a negative in the sale of the condo units, which will negatively affect condo sale prices.

      • Respectively. There is no way “Affordable” housing can be “managed”, because there is this split between what the people managing the housing want and the people living in it. It’s made unaffordable by government controlled mechanisms who control both the form and supply of housing through permits and the demand via immigration. One set of policies create a result “high prices”, that can’t be “manged” away by another entity.

  • perryb

    Having watched, and to some extent participated in, the Provincial planning process over the last 20+ years, it is evident that blind bureaucratic momentum is all that matters, since there is no stomach for leadership on the political front. Extrapolate the past growth curve another thirty, forty years and allocate/mandate each municipality a share. Be sure to maintain independent and uncoordinated planning silos for education, health, energy and transportation. Who cares if the projections fail to match reality after only five or ten years? Just do it all again, with occasional tweaks to align with political necessities like elections and rewarding insiders. Suppress rogue attempts at local creativity with tribunals and ministerial zoning orders. The voters are left with nothing to do except occasionally throw the incumbents out of power and hope this time things might change.

    Time to do it again, I guess.

  • Alfred

    Hello Bruce and Tom.

    Our Prime Minister Trudeau a Liberal permits 410 thousand new immigrants to call Canada their new home per year. We will refer to this as the “Demand” for housing. In 20 years this will be numerically equivalent to more than the entire Population of Quebec approx 8.2 million new people.

    I think this has nothing to do with Mr. Ford Premier of Ontario, unless you want to stretch it and blame him for being Premier of the greatest Province in Canada. One of the greatest places on earth to live. Therefore all the new Canadians all want to cram in the GTA?

    Mr Ford has the responsibility of providing housing that will accomodate all these people. “Supply.” Contrary to your claim that developers are over building with the help of the Premier. I would argue that his anti-development platforms similar to those in Burlington. Have not kept pace with Trudeau”s demand policies.

    Prices are skyrocketing to record heights. Clearly this is a case of Demand being greater than Supply. To bring housing prices back to a reasonable level. The Premier better get moving on providing more and more and more housing. Clearly from your comments The Demand portion is a problem, thats Mr Trudeau and MP. Karina Gould. Contact them and tell them your concerns with the over population growth numbers. Mr Ford does not control that. He on the other hand has to solve that problem as he is falling behind in the housing supply department.

    The Provincial Liberals had their kick at this cat. Please elaborate on how the authors of the Green Belt. Build Up Not Out. Engineers of the blueprint that the present Development Policies are following. Creating quite a shortage of housing but the PC’s are trying.

    The environmentalist sold you a lemon. They threw you in a box and now you are staring at each other wondering how this all happened.

    Tom. I agree with you on the high density covid and other things, Mother nature might throw at us, being facilitated with all this compact intensification.

    Growth has to be spread out more.

    Who wants to throw the first snowball?

  • Bruce Leigh

    One part of the solution to that type of pro developer based policy making is to vote Ford and the PCs out of office at the June 2nd election this year.

    • Bob

      It was the previous Liberal government that designated the downtown bus terminal and the intensification which led to all the high rise development and proposed development to our downtown core.

      • Bruce Leigh

        Was it the previous Liberal government that suggested or directed the John St bus station be an MTSA? Or did that Provincial Liberal government act and agree to designate it as such based upon a recommendation from Burlington City Council &/or Halton Region Council &/or some other outside entity?

        Editor’s note: The designations were assigned by Metrolinx and passed on to the government at the time.

      • perryb

        It is not clear why the Liberal government would have made this designation in a vacuum, without any local consultation, although the same thing was done in Oakville. The Council there got it knocked off.The Burlington council sat on its hands, if not encouraged it. As one of the delegators against the downtown hub, I well remember the scornful treatment I received from the mayor and committee chairman, got a pat on the head and sent on my way – and I wasn’t the only one. That cleared the way for developers to swoop in as we have seen.

        • Bruce Leigh

          Mayor Goldring I presume

        • Council truly did sit on their hands and treated those urging action including ourselves when allowed at council lectern, with scorn. One only has to watch the webcast. It wasn’t only affordable housing needs they totally ignored it was much needed LTC beds where the owners of Maple Villa had crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s to address the shortage Now apparently inclusionary housing is the new buzz word tp persuade the electorate that they really care and none of them deserve to be dumped. Despite the seriousness of it all on our daily living experience apathy may well be on their side yet again.