Muir - This new OP is not complete. Let the planners do their job.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

April 24th, 2018



I have a number of comments and concerns, based on some of my experience for the last several years, regarding the staff bring forward of this new OP with recommendation for adoption.

1. This new OP is not complete, and not good planning practice to adopt at this time with piecemeal structure and many loose ends. It is lacking in accuracy, details, and clarity.

There are 3 Mobility Hubs Plans that are an inherent part of this OP, that are incomplete. These will not be reviewed publicly and given Planning Act due diligence process until possibly early 2019.

The PPS/Planning Act specifies the need for a transportation systems plan, freight support plan, a transit support plan, and an active transportation plan. There are none of these complete and available to inform council, the public and decision-makers.

All those thousands of unaccounted for vehicles are not going to disappear because the planners refuse to recognize they exist.

There are other components of the proposed plan needing publicly settled that are incomplete.

The truth is the important planning pieces that are needed are data and facts, not all kinds of assumptions and fact-less assertions.

Taken collectively, the assertions, assumptions, and conclusions, made in support of recommending adoption of the proposed OP, are not substantiated by an evidence-based research design that can predict the future, and are professionally frowned on statements that overreach the research design.

growbold-847x254I cannot say, or agree, with the ability of the City and staff to deal with this lack of key information, and failure to implement the Planning Act/PPS, and yet they still recommend adopting an incomplete OP that has demonstrated such a lot of public opposition and continues to demonstrate this opposition tonight.

Again, I say this is not good planning, and this should be obvious, and seems to be to ordinary citizens.
You owe it to us all that you pretty much need to know, and be able to tell us on facts, that this Plan is going to work as you say. But you don’t know that.

However, what people do know is that walk, bike, and bus is not going to work for people, not in Burlington for a lot of practical reasons, so open your eyes and see.

With your focus on intensification, everything else is assumed to fit, when you should be doing the planning to make it fit.

Residents want you to be able to make the intensification fit so the Plan can fly. Plan it to work, now.
Right now, for numerous current applications – Plains Rd, Brant St, Downtown etc.- the density asked for simply has to be based on reduced standards of everything in order to squeeze it in, and if that has to be done then it doesn’t meet the PPS and needs of the existing OP and by-laws.


Pigs don’t fly?

This won’t work because the parts don’t fit together. Pigs don’t fly.

2. Over the last few years, I have delegated severally on this OP over the process, and on a significant number of specific applications in Ward 1 Aldershot, Ward 2 Downtown, and issues related to transportation, transit, and the biking plan.

So I know what I have seen and heard, repeatedly, about what needed information is really missing and how some at the City insist that this missing information does not matter, and the city must move ahead without this key business information, and it must be done right now.

I don’t think this is anywhere good enough.

No matter when the proposed OP is approved by Council, and becomes “informative” only, not “in force”, the Mobility Hubs and the other missing plans I mentioned, are still not informative or in force until first approved by City Council, then the Region, which means it does not exist until then.

So then the Planning Act/PPS says the existing OP is required to be used, must be framed in this OP framed local context, and most important, this OP is to implement the PPS.

What is not to be considered is the language of a non-existent OP, and non-existent Mobility Hubs, and non-existent plans for transportation, transit, active transportation, and so on.

I must ask how all this that does not exist yet, is to be complied with in good faith, in such a situation where developers, not to mention the politicians and managers, are steadily trying to indoctrinate the planning staff, (ongoing in time with the proposed OP development), to encourage and approve density and form of a non-existent, not in force, and not policy relevant OP, or planning concepts and ideas?

In my observation and experience in this, I simply have to question how the Planning staff are supposed to retain their professional objectivity, and serve the public interest, when they are bombarded with this language from developers, and more so, in my view, badgered and cajoled by some insistent members of Council, and some City managers, to adopt and to act out the same directions?

With all this shoving and encouraging density and form at them, how can the planners be objective?

I’m telling you to let the planners do their job. I have seen myself some of you just not do that, but interject in questions to planners at meetings.

I have seen, and been told enough, not to think that they are not being unduly influenced about what to do.

We all know there can be a fine scary line between professional integrity and having a job.

I provide here one section from the OPPI Professional Code of Practice for your information.


1.0 The Planner’s Responsibility to the Public Interest

Members have a primary responsibility to define and serve the interests of the public. This requires the use of theories and techniques of planning that inform and structure debate, facilitate communication. and foster understanding. Accordingly, a Member shall:

1.1 practice in a manner that respects the diversity, needs, values and aspirations of the public and encourages discussion on these matters;

1.2 provide full, clear and accurate information on planning matters to decision makers and members of the public, while recognizing both the client’s right to confidentiality and the importance of timely recommendations;

1.3 acknowledge the inter-related nature of planning decisions and their consequences for individuals, the natural and built environment, and the broader public interest; and

1.4 identify and promote opportunities for meaningful participation in the planning process to all interested parties.

I don’t have the time here to explain these, however, I have said what I mean and I say again, let them do their professional and objective duty.

And give the residents and Council the critical information needed to inform us all before things get decided, and to keep the faith.

muir-delegatingTom Muir is an Aldershot resident who has been delegating for more than 30 years. He understands the process better than many of the members of council. He is blunt, direct and usually exceptionally well informed. He is a ward Councillors worst dream. And he loves what he does,

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

11 comments to Muir – This new OP is not complete. Let the planners do their job.

  • Chris Maynard

    Check out the success of SoBi bike share in Hamilton.
    Review the drop in car ownership and use in condo buildings without parking available.
    Follow @BrentToderian on Twitter
    Google “car share” impacts on car use and ownership.
    Just a few examples that can help to broaden the discussion.

  • Chris Maynard

    If I understand the opinions traffic is already a disaster in Burlington and the path to improving is to curtail development that adds additional households.
    Another popular opinion to curtail density is to point out that this project or that project doesn’t include enough parking.
    How about Steve’s idea to expand our city streets to 6 lanes, that certainly is one opinion.
    What can be done about all the “pass through” traffic from the QEW, surely this can’t be allowed to clog our streets?
    And really Perry …. Tom makes it clear that Burlington needs to work for car transport and all other modes are inconsequential. His words not mine.
    Tom, please if you spend 15 minutes on Google you will find all the information needed on the shift in transport modes.
    There is only one solution to improve car congestion and that is move people out of cars and into other forms of transport. There is no other logical solution.

  • Steve

    “Walk bike bus ” doesn’t seem feasible at this point. So what is the vision to make it feasible ?

    Their plan is to let traffic get so bad that we are forced to bike or walk and then we will happily encourage a hugely increased transit and demand dedicated bus lanes. This of course won’t happen because people don’t function that way, you don’t get people to make a change by making their existing lives worse on purpose. What will happen is a few years from now when traffic gets brutal people will vote in a city council that will expand the major arteries to 6 lanes as was planned for decades ago. Unfortunately the poor planning of the existing city council having not accommodated that growth will make for sidewalks right next to major roads, a lack of green space and a less livable city.

    We can either get out and vote now and stop it before it gets to that point but until people notice a large impact on their lives they tend to ignore municipal politics. The current official plan is nothing more than a social engineering document that rests in the belief that detached houses, green space or a parking spot are more than you deserve.

  • EOB

    I have to agree with Mr Muir on this one.

    Have the practical applications been considered with respect to transportation and downtown ?

    I am a cyclist and a senior, and my needs are not being adequately met – ever try cycling along a north-south corridor ? Forget Brant Street. It’s just too dangerous. So are Maple, Guelph Line, etc.
    So try walking from Fairview to City Hall in the rain or the snow. Doesn’t work for me !
    Buses ? Few and far between and even if there were frequent buses I would need to walk from my neighbourhood to a main artery to find one.
    Therefore I take my car, only to find that it is really really difficult to find a parking space downtown.
    So I wonder how all these new residents will get around in the future !

    Are planners focused solely on squeezing as many people as possible into the downtown core and along Plains Road, and are Councillors and developers encouraging this , to the detriment of transportation planning ?

    Many citizens have very impressively delegated about this , asking how the downtown over intensification will impact an already difficult situation, but I see nothing concrete to address it. “Walk bike bus ” doesn’t seem feasible at this point. So what is the vision to make it feasible ?

    We need a plan first and only then would we be able to reasonably address the developers’ requests for downtown towers. Therefore it seems completely illogical that Council and planners are going ahead with an OP that is backwards. The experience of citizens who are trying to move about the city dictates that we need to stop and figure out the movement of people before we build – not after.

    Get it right first.

    The OP is being pushed through without the transportation and transit plans being complete.

    • Andrew

      I watched the video of the delegations last night and ECoB suggested that Brant Street south of Caroline should be widened. This really made me question the motives of ECoB. To widen the street would mean most of the existing buildings would be demolished to accommodate the wider sidewalks that ECoB wants to see, Are you able to rationalize this? I cannot.

  • Susie

    I elect Tom Muir for Mayor!!!!!!!!!!!! Who sees anything any clearer than Tom, and if we can’t get anyone to hear us then it is time he takes a position that will make a difference. Great work Tom!

  • Perry Bowker

    Maybe “walk, bike, and bus” will work, but when? What is the plan to get there from here? Promise it will happen, somehow, to be determined later? Or maybe just hope? it is ingenuous to call people asking these questions “car-only” when they ask for reasonable plans to evolve from where we are today.

  • Tom Muir

    Chris, I would like to see something better, as you say, but some of us have done the numbers to see how what you say pencils out. It’s not going in the right direction, and I’m a believer in the present reality, and practical factors, not a dream.

    We are well informed about these numbers and what they have to be to make a difference in any reasonable planning horizon that matters to people in the next 20 years and beyond.

    Have you driven in the traffic lately? Are you aware that the bike lane trial on New St, was cancelled at popular demand? Did you read about the state of transit?

    Biking isn’t near enough in numbers, especially with growth, and transit is far off growing, and in fact is stagnant. Not many walk, so have a look around carefully to see.

    It does not work, even with development, so rather than a cheap shot, show us what concrete information you have to support it.

    Do your own numbers and test yourself. You will see even all these numbers together do not approach those of the car.

    The reality is that Burlington was built around the car and the geography continues to determine that. Most people want and need a car, and relatively few will give it up.

    And don’t forget that we live close by other cities with similar habits.
    Someday, we may be able to do as you say, but I have never seen anything of credible evidence showing that.

    Please show us some.

  • Chris Maynard

    The comment walk, bike and bus won’t work in Burlington is an opinion but poorly informed. It seems that those who focus on “car-only” city building are unable to see the change in transport modes happening today. The city is changing and development will happen regardless of the fears of those who miss the village. The economics of density are sound and proven. Now is the time to work towards the new city because the old city is already fading.

  • craig gardner

    Is Tom planning to run d=for council in the upcoming election?

  • PamC

    I am not a planner but i would like to see all modules of the planning processes in the OP before it is accepted by council. By this I mean the mobility hubs document, transportation document and zoning documents.

    However i do want to see development continue because downtown is in need of renewal.