Plan B on the Waterfront Hotel Development: OLT to Decide: 'No' or 'Yes, but'.

By Plan B

May 22, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

After 10 days of OLT hearings held from April 29th to May 17th, including examinations and cross-examinations of ten expert witnesses, supported by 7000 pages of testimonies replete with projections and schematics and layers & layers of policies, it comes down to this; a decision by one OLT Member to either Reject Vrancor’s appeal of Burlington’s refusal decision of their application (i.e. “No”), or to Approve it with Conditions (i.e. “Yes, but”)

Are you still tracking on these double negatives with us?  Okay!

The most recent design has the two towers a little further apart and no bridge between the buildings.

We at Citizens’ PLAN B monitored most of the proceedings and are optimistic that the OLT will decide “No”.  Why?

The arguments brought forward by the City of Burlington and The Pearle Hotel were superior, and presented in a compelling fashion, such as:

  1. Different views of the lake from various locations in the Pearle Hotel.

    Proposed conveyance of land remnants unacceptable to the City as useful Parkland

  2. Wind impact fails Burlington’s comfort and safety guidelines
  3. All transitions of the site to the Park are imposed on City property
  4. Traffic related to service vehicles, and hotel guests drop off/ pickup & otherwise searching for parking spots has not been accommodated
  5. Lake views, particularly from The Pearle have not been preserved, as is possible

In our opinion, there are far too many shortfalls, inconsistencies and outright problems with this Application for the OLT to approve it.

  • The lawyers & expert witnesses for Vrancor were less balanced in their positions and thereby less credible.
  • Their lawyers dwelt on narrow legal issues, cherry-picking from often inconsistent old and new City, Regional & Provincial guidelines and policies to make their arguments
  • They took a “so what?” approach to the Urban Growth Centre and the  Major Transit Station Areas no longer being downtown, replacing it with a one-dimensional “Intensification First” mantra
  • Most of their Expert witnesses appeared to “oversell” their positions

Renderings of what the streetscape along Lakeshore could look like,

At the hearing, Vrancor effectively signalled their intention to seek an alternate “Yes, but” ruling.  By this, we mean that the OLT would support the Appeal, on the condition that there were Holding Provisions that Darko Vranich, owner of the property, would have to resolve with the City and The Pearle before the Appeal was decided; all outstanding issues would have to have been settled.  We consider a “Yes, but” decision to be problematic, given the extent of the resultant changes that would likely be required to the design and Vrancor’s historical intransigence and that this Application’s approval is just too important to Burlington to be negotiated behind “closed doors”.

We therefore strongly support a “No” decision, accompanied by OLT guidance to the Applicant on preparing a new & improved design, worthy of a speedy approval by City planners.

The OLT is expected to rule in 4+ months.

Stay tuned!

 

 

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3 comments to Plan B on the Waterfront Hotel Development: OLT to Decide: ‘No’ or ‘Yes, but’.

  • Tom Muir

    I did not write the Editor note as a fact – it is an opinion, which is not slander.

  • Citizens' PLAN B

    For the record, our recent post on http://www.planbwaterfrontredevelopment.ca only referenced Vrancor, the organization that Mr. (Darko) Vranich heads up.
    It’s not personal.

    • Tom Muir

      Mr. Vranko appeared to be on the OLT Hearing by name every day. He heads up the proponent organization who bought the greater portion of 7000 pdf pages of submissions, and the majority of the written and spoken opinions of proponent paid professionals (so-called expert “witnesses”).

      It has come to be assumed, based on the data record of 97%, that the OMB/LPAT, and currently, the OLT regulators, these opinions of the “expert witnesses” are usually accepted, as the 97% success rate for appeals shows. This illustrates the underlying conflict of interest in using experts hired by the developers lawyers.

      I believe that is what I saw in this Hearing – proponent lawyers and witnesses talking almost exclusively about “intensification first”. I saw all the witnesses for the proponent arguing, as Plan B says here, from Provincial Policies that no longer apply to the application. At least that is what the present policies, recently decided by the Province, OLT, and City, in a number of appeal hearings says the present situation is now..

      This concordance of witness testimony detracted from their credibility. It’s motivated reasoning, selected prior, to suggest an exaggeration of the significance of their conclusions of approval taken by them all together. Some witnesses opined that the revisions the proponent witnesses were arguing for just made things worse.

      I think they are trying for approval anyways, regardless of the removal of the UGC OP and Zoning policies. based on having conditions of approval, and/or approval with fixing at site plan, or any means of approval.

      This is a form of hedging your bets. Based on the period of record 97% success, and a 10 day Hearing of proponent witness biased statements, maybe the OLT Member will be swayed by the sheer volume, topped off with the cherry picking that was clearly evident.

      There is very much money to be made in this build as asked for, and the marginal costs of witnesses that have to testify with something anyways, is not much more in comparison to the possible large gains at the margin.

      Something is going to be built in any case.

      Editor’s note: Saying “spoken opinions of proponent paid professionals (so-called expert “witnesses”) is not acceptable. Everyone taking part in the Hearing gets paid just as the writer got paid when he worked. Comments have to be balanced. A point of view is part what is acceptable in a democracy – slander is not.

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