New Standing Committee does not include every member of council

By Pepper Parr

October 2nd, 2023



Mayor Marianne Meed Ward above with Councillor Shawna Stole on the left.  See these two as BFF is a real stretch.

It might seem a little confusing later in the week when Council meets as a Standing Committee to add a standing Committee at one meeting and merge to others later in the day. 

The new committee will be called Pipeline to Permit Standing Committee and will have two chairs (Mayor Meed Ward and Deputy Mayor Shawna Stolte)

Councillors Paul Sharman and Kelvin Galbraith will also be on the committee – the other three, Bentevigna, Kearns and Nisan are welcome to attend but are not actual members.

The rationale seems to be in order “to become more streamlined in our business processes and issue permits more quickly.”

A Standing Committee also ensures we can track our monthly progress and position ourselves to take advantage of funding opportunities at other levels of government.
A Standing Committee provides maximum transparency and accountability to the public, provides opportunities for greater participation, and highlights the seriousness with which we approach our responsibility to do our part to tackle the need for affordable and attainable housing.

As of July 2023, Burlington had 38,219 units in the pipeline including:

• 15,763 units in Pre-application consultation
• 7,754 units under review
• 3,642 units approved, waiting for permit application
• 3,112 units waiting for site plan application
• 7,948 units appealed to the Ontario Lands Tribunal

This new Standing Committee will not assess and approve individual development applications. That will remain the sole responsibility of the Community Planning Regulation and Mobility Committee.

That said, participants and delegates will be able to bring examples of specific applications in order to comment on policy, process, resource or other matters within the Pipeline to Permit Committee’s purview.

A monthly two hour meeting is proposed, the same week as other Standing Committees of Council.
Membership would be open to all members of council (though not required). Four are proposed to be appointed, with room for the balance of council to be appointed should they wish.

Lisa Kearns, Ward 2

Ward 2 resident serving the ward 3 community.

Co-Chairs: Mayor Marianne Meed Ward & Deputy Mayor for Housing Shawna Stolte (Chair duties to rotate each meeting)
Deputy Mayor for Business and Red Tape Reduction Kelvin Galbraith Deputy Mayor for Strategy & Budgets Paul Sharman
Membership would be open to the balance of Council Members/Deputy Mayors for Wards 2, 3, and 6 should they also wish to participate.

A Standing Committee also allows members of the public to participate.

As partnerships and collaboration are key in tackling the housing crisis, public and stakeholder membership of the committee is proposed to include:

• Representative from non-profit housing association
• Representative from Halton Region housing division
• Representative from Conservation Halton
• Representative from West End Home Builders Association (WE-HBA)
• Representative from Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD)
• Two members of the public with relevant background/experience
• Four (and up to seven) members of Burlington City Council
Other members/stakeholders could be added to the Standing Committee during discussion of this report, and/or over time as work evolves.

If you add up the numbers – this committee looks a little bloated.

Why a standing committee of council?
A Standing Committee provides maximum accountability to the public, with meetings held in public session, livestreamed and archived, with agendas posted in advance online and ability for members of the public to delegate.

Standing Committees make recommendations to council, and council makes the final decision; the same would be true for the Pipeline to Permit Standing Committee.

Financial Matters:
There are financial benefits in ensuring speedy processing from pipeline to permit for housing applications, and significant corresponding risks if we don’t, including not qualifying for funding through the Building Faster Fund, related application fee refunds and significant delays in property tax assessment growth.

The provincial government has recently introduced the Building Faster Fund, a three year $1.2 billion program that provides new funding for municipalities based on performance against achieving provincial housing targets for municipalities. The fund will flow to municipalities that achieve a minimum of 80% of their housing pledge targets, and bonuses for those that achieve more than 100%. Those municipalities that do not achieve 80% will not be eligible for any of the funding.

As such, it is absolutely critical that we ensure timely issuance of permits so that Burlington residents benefit directly from the funding available. The Standing Committee will be focused on tracking our monthly progress toward speeding applications from pipeline to permit, which will position us to receive our share.

In addition, Bill 109, the More Homes for Everyone Act, requires municipalities to refund Zoning By-Law Amendment and Site Plan Approval application fees in a phased approach if no decision is made or no approval is issued within legislative timelines.
Zoning by-law amendment applications are required to have a decision made within 90 days (or 120 days if there is a concurrent Official Plan Amendment) and Site Plan Approval is required within 60 days. These changes came into effect July 1, 2023 for new applications submitted after that date.

Timely issuance of permits, the tracking of which will be the focus of the Standing Committee, is needed to protect taxpayers from having to subsidize fee-for-service development applications.

Additionally, each new housing unit built in Burlington delivers new property tax assessment growth, that helps to fund the costs associated with new residents, including more community amenities and programs, transit and more. Currently assessment growth is projected at .75%, for the proposed 2024 Budget, which does not cover the growth related costs on our budget.

Low assessment growth puts undue pressure on existing taxpayers to cover the costs of growth, so it is incumbent on us to ensure speedy issuance of permits, so developers can get shovel in the ground to get housing built to deliver assessment dollars to the municipality.

Finally, the new federal Housing Accelerator Fund provides incentive funding to local governments on initiatives that increase housing supply, and promote the development of affordable, inclusive and diverse communities that are low-carbon and climate- resilient. Led by Government Relations Manager, Helen Wallahura, Burlington has made a significant application to the fund representing an ask of $44M in total. The Standing Committee will provide an opportunity to track and report on our success in receiving these funds, and track any new funding streams that come available.

Total Financial Impact
There is no additional cost related to the establishment of the Standing Committee. Staffing and resources required would be absorbed within existing budgets as part of the normal course of business in the municipality.

This new Standing Committee appears to see itself as being in a position to set the foundation for the future neighbourhoods of Burlington, to ensure the next seven generations of residents enjoy the same or better quality of life than we have come to appreciate and expect in Burlington.

Forthcoming Terms of Reference require some refinement.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

6 comments to New Standing Committee does not include every member of council

  • Perryb

    We need a new definition of “affordable”, since obviously all the luxury condos and residences being built  are affordable to someone. Same with the ones that won’t be built on the greenbelt.

    • Jim Thomson

      Yes, by all means let’s rebrand.
      We can’t do affordable so lets change the definition.

      After all, tents or cardboard boxes are affordable for the homeless.

  • MarieAnge B

    Why do we not have a men’s shelter in Burlington???

    • Anne and Dave Marsden

      Very good question.. Our pro bono access to Justice work of the last 30 years has been needed by far more men in terms of very difficult abusive situations, that leave the homeless.. There are many who have addressed this but little has changed.

  • Anne and Dave Marsden

    Not many are “affordable” is our guess. Do the affordable units that MMW was involved in with a Molinara project some time the Region definition of “affordable” today?

  • Jim

    How many of these are rentals?
    How many are affordable?
    How many attainable?