Plan B fears the city might have missed the boat on keeping view to Spencer Smith Park as part of the public domain

By Don Fletcher

January 13th, 2022


An earlier version of this article included illustration that were out-dated.  The illustrations have been revised.

We are pleased to learn from this update that Phase 4 of this study has restarted, and to understand somewhat why the study was placed on hold in mid-2018. Given that we’ve suffered through a pandemic over the last few years, it’s understandable why it wasn’t resumed earlier.

A study on the best way to develop this area began in 2015.

The delay in completing the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study as originally planned is still potentially problematic. In Section 3.3 of Bousfields’ Planning & Urban Design Rationale that was part of the Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc.’s development application submitted on October 26th, 2021, their rationale for requesting the removal of Policy of the in-force Burlington OP, as amended, was that this study had an “indeterminate deadline” with a further characterization that it “has never been completed, indefinitely sterilizes the subject site from redevelopment and from achieving its highest and best use potential”. It is not clear to us whether the property owner ultimately plans to ignore the guidance of the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study, but it is clear that completing it on a highly accelerated basis must be a top priority.

Citizens’ PLAN B remains committed to the extension of Spencer Smith Park and the enhancement of the Brant Street gateway to Lake Ontario, through the application of the ‘Thin Red Line’ design principle related to the Waterfront Hotel Redevelopment. Yes, we understand the changing context of the NE corner of Brant Street & Lakeshore Road with respect to the origins of the ‘Thin Red Line’, but it still has great utility in its’ application to achieve what most residents want in the redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel property and remains a simple concept that resonates with everyone.

A citizens group – Plan B – introduced the concept of a thin red line. Will it be enough and will it ever be adhered to?

We understand that City staff with support of project consultant, The Planning Partnership, will resume the work plan where it left off in 2018. This update references Section 3 of Report PB-23-18, which contains 16 key policy directions, as one of those milestones that can be built upon.

PLAN B fully supports PB-23-18.

Application of the ‘Thin Red Line’ will help fulfill Public Realm policy directions 5a, 7, 8 and 9, which in our opinion are not achieved in the current development application.

One deliverable that was not mentioned in this report but should also serve to expedite completion of the project is Emerging Preferred Concept #3. I have attached a Planning Partnership Jan/ Feb 2018 Overview/ Snapshot of its’ evolution for your reference, with some of the rationale for selecting EPC #3 noted there re-iterated below:

Achieves the Urban Design objectives for the Downtown

Achieves a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) that balances the base permissions of 5.0 with the Developer’s Current Concept of 7.5 FAR

Buildings located east of the ‘Thin Red Line’, representing the view corridor south of Lakeshore Road, proposed by the Downtown Mobility Hub Study.  A new significant open space defined by the ‘Thin Red Line’ located on the west portion of the property, contiguous with the waterfront park

Buildings that provide a clear landmark visible from the park, Brant Street, John Street, Lakeshore Road & Lake Ontario

A potential development yield that is viable and provides some incentives for redevelopment.

Panel 1 is what the developer originally proposed, panel 2 is what is permitted on the site, panel 3 is one of the alternatives that didn’t include any resident input panel 4 is the last iteration of concepts being considered in the planning study.

This was the last iteration of conceptual designs that we were party to, and while we fundamentally supported it, we through Ramsay Planning Inc. submitted a few minor improvement suggestions. We are unaware of Vrancor’s feedback.

We acknowledge and respect the current property owner’s right to profit from his investment, and that this will necessitate a “reasonable” amount of massing and building height. We also believe passionately that the impact of this development will be felt by many future generations of Burlington residents & visitors, and collectively we must get it right. Citizens’ PLAN B is completely open to work with all stakeholders to help make this a “win-win” scenario.

Follow Plan B at:

Related news stories:

What about a land swap?

Plan B has been pressing city council for years

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5 comments to Plan B fears the city might have missed the boat on keeping view to Spencer Smith Park as part of the public domain

  • S. Hutchinson

    Great presentation Don. As for the City possibly missing the boat, it is clear this will not be the first one, nor the last one! It is a terror and a fright with the present City Council, and the past City Council, all having had so many community workshops with unanimous public input on the rightful decisions for development of this specific waterfront site, all to be heard with deaf ears! My question is: does the City of Burlington not have any legal rights to development design and planning of their City? If not, please let us know for tax rebates, if so, please move on with mandates that are right and just for the future of our City.. Thank you!

  • Bob

    The issue I see here is that Plan B like its predecessor ECOB assumes their Nimbyism speaks for all residents of the downtown. As a downtown resident myself I think this is an attractive landmark which the citizens of the downtown should be proud of and is a lot better than the buildings across the street from it. What I don’t understand in the anti development arguments of the downtown core is the argument that it is OK to build high and intense further up Brant and along Fairview but not downtown. A downtown is the epicenter of a city. Its where our City Hall is, where we built the Performing Arts Center, our Art Gallery. Central Park, the Library, the theaters in Central Park etc. etc. Plan B seems to me about having that all to themselves, no newcomers to our club.
    When people argue about the traffic that new development will bring, they didn’t seem to mind that all those people would drive to go to the PAC or BAG. No one is taking the bus to go to City Hall if it ever reopens. Furthermore the city actively encourages people to drive downtown by offering free parking in December. Perhaps they should be giving free bus fares on the Brant St bus instead?

    • Maggie Riley

      When a development application is made to the City everyone, proponents, the City, and opponents look at it in isolation from its surroundings. Might I suggest that Plan B not be guilty of the same mistake. I suggest Plan B develop a plan that is broader than just the suggest jet site and encompases the entire Lakeshore Road / Old Lakeshore Road area from Martha Street to Locust Street.

      I’ve seen it suggested here by a reader, not sure of the name, and by at least one Councilor that maybe Lakeshore Road should be pedestrianized. My point is now is the time to consider a radical revamping of that entire area.

      Plan B, think outside of the usual box !

  • Penny Hersh

    I commend the Plan B group in continuing this fight.

    The reality unfortunately is that this site could be one that was grandfathered by the Province when the Urban Growth Centre and the un-designation of the Bus Terminal on John Street was signed off on.

    I would suggest that any group involved in helping with the redevelopment of this site, do their due diligence in determining if this is the case.

    Let’s not make this an election campaign promise that will go nowhere.

  • Citizens' PLAN B

    This article primarily includes a Citizens’ PLAN B delegation at the January 11th Community Planning, Regulation & Mobility committee meeting, in response to a Planning Department’s PL-15-22 proposal regarding the resumption of the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study. We thought that Gazette readers should know the context.