Official plan gets sent to the Region - with one dissenting vote

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 26th, 2018



And so it is done.

City council meeting in a special meeting of council voted 6-1 to approve the draft city plan and send it along to the Regional government.

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward was the lone dissenter.

There were 11 Staff Directions issued – work for staff to do in the months ahead.

There were a number of motions changing parts of the draft.

The Gazette will report on both the Staff Directions and the amendments made to the draft Official Plan. The document that was approved today began in 2010 when this council was first elected.  Staff changes, the decision to craft a 25 year Strategic Plan instead of the traditional four years plan and the realization that the city had to grow UP and not out due to the limited greenfield land that is available made what was arrived at inevitable given the council that is in place and the leadership within the planning department.

The plan moves Burlington from a suburban community to an urban one. With the plan in place to effect that change in the decades ahead the city now needs to come about, like a large ocean liner, and begin to sail in a new direction.

Hotel on lower Brant Street

The small town feel – how much of it can be kept?

That direction will shift but the “small town feel” that Councillor Meed Ward spoke of in her remarks may be a thing of the past.

Deputy city manager Mary Lou Tanner noted that the last time Burlington had a vigorous a discussion on the direction the city was going to go in was in the early 60’s. She added that when the Urban Boundary was set in 1969 the future of Burlington was cast in stone. There was going to be a rural community in a sleepy suburban bedroom community.  And that is what Burlington became.

Without the Escarpment - we might as well merge with Oakville.

The 1969 decision to create an Urban boundary left a rural community a short drive from the downtown core.

The next phase of the evolution of the city is now underway – a city that will have high rise towers 20 minutes from farm fields.

We now have an urban city that wants to be vibrant and at the same time have a rural area; few in the world have this kind of mix. Having a lake at the foot of it all is what makes the city it is.

Now high rise towers become a part of the picture.

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8 comments to Official plan gets sent to the Region – with one dissenting vote

  • Gary Parker

    Jim Young, Lisa Kearns & Gary Scobie

    I was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting of the P&D committee but I have read all your delegations and I don’t think a better job could have been done at this ‘last kick at the can’ opportunity to change the mind set of city council.
    In the summary of how this went down that I’m sending to our neighbourhood group I intend to point out that we must all take responsibility for the disappointing outcome. Municipal politics draws little attention until something like this happens and, as we’ve now seen in the case of the approval of the new OP, there’s a price to pay for our collective apathy. If any conciliation can be found in the events that unfolded here it’s that your collective effort in delegating so eloquently on this issue has highlighted the naive perception we’ve held about the power, ( and wisdom) of our city council to protect our best interests. It’s now very clear who really runs this city.

  • Tom Muir

    Even handed story Pepper.

    I’m not surprised, and in fact would have been if the vote had went the other way even a bit.

    I’m interested in what the directions to staff are, and what the motions that were passed to change some things are and what they do.

    And what was decided about what the developers representatives asked for on Tuesday.

    Then it will be back to business with all the applications that are in process. I want to see if the city and planners will use the plan just approved to put some rationality and more balance of public interest, into what these applications are asking to be permitted.

    That’s what they said they needed the new OP for – to get back control of development. I see no sign of this, as applications and approvals are over and above even the permissions in the new Plan.

    This means they have to put a leash, more like a choke chain, on the intensification language and on what the developers are asking for.

    We will see in the coming days and week or so, when the meeting minutes come out, and Meed Ward explains what happened, and the Gazette does its review.

    Then we’ll see what transpired at the finish line and who won.

  • Penny

    I must remind people that what Council voted on was to ADOPT the New Official Plan. It has to go to the Region and the Region has the final word on whether it is indeed our New Official Plan.

    Until such time the City has to abide by the CURRENT Official Plan, not the one that they Adopted.

    There is still much work that has to be done by City Staff and sent to the Region, this will be an ongoing exercise, as much of what is needed to justify the New Official Plan is not in place ( transit study, transportation study and all that needs to be changed regarding the motions passed in the last day prior to the vote.

    Nowhere was it posted or any email sent out by the City telling residents that the final vote on adopting the new OP was going to take place on the 26th. We were led to believe by the clerk that if more time was needed after the 25th of April, that there was a meeting on the calendar for April 30th to deal with adopting the OP. Guess they wanted this done before the weekend, didn’t want to ruin their Saturday and Sunday .

    This is not over, simply the beginning of the next phase.

    There is still much to be done and plans are underway.

    Support the candidate of your choice in your Ward. Work on their behalf, help them get elected.

    • Stephen White

      Good summary Penny!

      The good thing about this election is that all those nice real estate development firms don’t get to make campaign contributions to their “pocket puppy” candidates this time round. The bad thing is that they now get to make them as private citizens. Most of them have deep pockets. Therefore, the question that needs to be asked at each candidate debate is: “Can you tell us if you have received contributions from persons associated with the real estate development sector, and if so, who donated and how much”? If candidates can’t, don’t or won’t respond to the question one can pretty much surmise the answer.

      If 200 citizens across Burlington each make six $50 donations to credible, slow growth candidates, one designated in each ward, for a cumulative contribution of $300, that provides a $10K fund which is a healthy base from which to mount a credible challenge to incumbents. Personally, I’ll gladly pay $300 if that’s what it takes to effect a real and substantive change in policy, direction and personnel at City Hall.

    • Tom Muir


      Good point on ADOPTING the new OP and the time for the Region. Not new, but needing the refresh.

      The Mobility Hubs are needed too and other studies.

      And the city has not abided by the existing OP for more than a year at least. They only use it as the needed legal planning vehicle to amend to get to where they want to be in the permissions they decide to approve, even over and above the adopted OP.

      You are certainly right that things are not over, by far. A new phase begins.

      Time for Realpolitik by the people.

  • Phillip

    I am left with two takeaways from this vote. First, the mayor and 5 councillors, the city managers and planning department–ALL represent the development industry, not the residents of Burlington. Secondly, the vote exposes the hypocrisy of Goldring who voted against the 23-story obscenity on Brant Street (having carefully looked around the chamber to make sure the vote would pass) but who has voted for this OP. The mayor and 5 councillors are about to discover on October 22 that many more dissenting votes will be cast. Finally, this OP is a “lame duck”–it will take until 2019 for the Region to approve it and I fully expect that the new mayor and council will rip it up and do it the right way.

  • Susie

    Pushing it all through before election!! We all knew this was their plan but formality of setting citizens meetings at the City Hall and the waste of everyones’ time and efforts, shows the true people working for us. Sweet! ! This is definitely DICTATORSHIP!!! Who says we live in a DEMOCRATIC society? On such a huge scale of planning out a complete city for the future, and no input from the citizens factored in, is an embarrassment to all of us. SHAME ON THE CITY OF BURLINGTON taking away our pride of what was a “gem” to live in. It doesn’t surprise me that they are searching for other planets to live in with government mindsets destroying our planet in this same fashion everywhere!!!

  • Perry Bowker

    Developers win. Well-paid city staff win in spite of their employers. Yay to all the councillors who enabled this – but no severance for you!