Public was outraged - Council wasn't sure it would have any impact on final decision

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 20th, 2015


It was pretty clear after less than five minutes that the four people short of capacity in city hall’s council chamber that Burlington wasn’t going for the ADI development proposal to put a 28 storey tower on the corner of Martha and Lakeshore Road.

The standing room only crowd heard one of the shortest Planning department presentations the Gazette has heard in some time. Planner Rosa Bustamante covered the basics of the project and that was it.

ADI rendering second view from SW

The scale and scope of a 28 storey structure on the corner of Martha and Lakeshore has astounded most people. Could it actually happen? Possible

The event then moved into a Public Meeting at which delegations were heard. While the room was packed there were not all that many delegations.
Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman chaired the meeting; one got the sense that he thought it was being televised – he was certainly pumped.
There were no decisions to be made. It was a meeting to receive a report on the project from the Planners that outlined the basics – then the Public meeting which was required under the Planning Act.

Staff will now do a detailed report on the project and present it to Council – there may and there may not be a recommendation from Staff when they report.

Every member of Council was opposed to the project – but there were degrees of opposition. The project was described as “highly audacious” and “Over the top”

Councillor Craven said he was “not on for the proposal that is before us” leaving one to wonder what he was on for. The ADI Group is reported to have purchased land adjacent to the Aldershot Go station which is a part of Burlington that council wants to ssee developed as part of one of the mobility hubs that planners are working on.

Waterdown Road is undergoing a total rebuild from two lanes to five between Plains Road and Hwy 403 – this will be a major development and it looks at this point as if the ADI Group is going to be the major developer. Aldershot is ward 1 territory and Councillor Craven rules the roost over there. So he will become adjustable when it comes to deciding what should happen at the corner of Martha and Lakeshore in ward 2.

It was clear what the majority of Council thought, it was clear what the residents thought. The ADI Group planner saw it all quite differently.
His view was that provincial policy called for intensification and that the Big Move GO train project was put in place to move people around and that Burlington was one of the few growth centres left in the GTA – and while he didn’t actually say “’like it or not” this is what the province wants the ADI Group complies with the provincial policy.

ADI site - bigger + lake

The red markers indicate where the ADI project would be built – two blocks west, on the waterfront the city has approved a 22 storey structure.

As for Burlington’s Official Plan and its zoning bylaws – those things are in place – but they have been amended in the past and they can be amended – if not by City Council then by an application to the Ontario Municipal Board.

There was one number that got put on the table that puts the size and scope of the project into perspective.
The provincial target calls for 185 people per hectare of property. Burlington has set their target at 200 people per hectare which is what would go on the property if the four storey’s that the current zoning allows were built.

The ADI project would put 1661 people on that property. It is certainly audacious, over the top and outrageous but as Councillor noted “it is questionable that this Council will have any impact” on the final decision.

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14 comments to Public was outraged – Council wasn’t sure it would have any impact on final decision

  • Roger

    Is the ADI developer making stuff up – why was were they not challenged on how wrong they were – the region and province have a plan to intensify – none of what applies to this site Council threw a few what is your favorite color questions with the exclusion of Meed-Ward – Paul Sharman is showing to be a developer’s best friend – as chair of the committee – residents do not stand a chance – developers are getting the message – we are not only open for business but for sale at any price

  • Chris Ariens

    On one hand, I’m happy that Council stood up to the develper in this case. Council unanimously agreed that this was an inappropriate development. It’s unfortunate that the way the developer went about this was more in the spirit of pushing their views on the community than honest dialogue.

    On the other hand, I am certain that the insistence on upholding the current Official Plan designation of 4-8 stories is going to result on nothing being built on this site. Some would be happy with one of our most valuable pieces of real estate being covered by blank asphalt. Personally I don’t think that makes for a sustainable community nor helps downtown businesses survive.

    The site itself is very small in size. Just to provide the required parking would require about 30% of the total space. Digging down 3 or more stories or installing car stackers to provide enough parking for an 8 story building just isn’t economically feasible.

    Going below the required minimum parking may be feasible to some extent, but given the state of our transit system, it would be exceedingly difficult for the young families we are targeting to make a go of it here without a car. Plus the community have strongly opposed the bike lanes that may have helped to make car-light living in this location more attractive. That might just mean the only realistic option is to build a seniors’ residence.

    My guess is that unless we’re willing to accept something in the 15 story range, or unless adjoining properties are willing to sell to put together a larger scale development, no developer will touch this site. While that wouldn’t be outrageous considering the surrounding buildings, it’s still quite far from what both the community and the developer have indicated they can live with. Will they be able to meet in the middle? Who knows what the OMB’s thinking?

  • penny Hersh

    As a resident of Burlington I need to see the Council aggressively defend it’s Official Policy. In the past the attitude has been that the developer always wins at the OMB so why should we spend taxpayers’ dollars. This is definitely not the case any more. One of the delegations ( Martha’s Landing), who is a planner as well and has dealt with the OMB clearly stated that things have changed. Different criteria comes into play.

    I realize that it is expensive to go to the OMB, but I would want my taxpayer dollars going into something like this rather than other expenditures that the City supports that does not really impact the quality of life of Burlington residents.

    Once this type of development is approved, it merely opens the way for others to follow. Developers are watching and waiting to see how council will deal with this.

    I think the residents of Burlington have been loud and clear. It is time for the elected members of council to do what is asked of them regarding this development. Outright refusal of this proposal (not allow 25 stories with community benefits), and go defend the City’s policy at the OMB.

  • Glenda Dodd

    As you wrote:
    “Councillor Craven said he was “not on for the proposal that is before us” leaving one to wonder what he was on for. The ADI Group is reported to have purchased land adjacent to the Aldershot Go”

    Very interesting, I left the meeting wondering about his closing remark on the vote…. I am sure he had said something like “let the developer know” or some such phrase, prior to saying he could not vote for it” I know I have not written exactly as he phrased it, all I know is I left feeling Craven was sending a message to the developer as to why he gave a nay to the development.

  • Peter Rusin

    Council could have a significant positive impact if the Ward 2 Councillor had established proactive relationships with this particular developer, and with the development community overall. It would also be helpful if she had a higher level of competency in dealing with planning policies and negotiating collaboratively with developers for the ultimate benefit to this city; it must be frustrating to be a part of the planning staff at city hall.

    The current anti-developer mentality and stagnant business climate in Ward 2 is troubling. It is costing this city in real and quantifiable economic terms, and is hurting the City’s reputation as a place to do business. It is obvious that smart growth is not being embraced in a responsible and competent manner, at least not in the downtown ward. I wonder if there is a bylaw requiring the installation of curtains on the windows of the 28th storey penthouse suite.

    • Mr. Horrible

      The penthouse doesn’t require curtains or indoor plumbing. The Huns can be addressed with a wider trajectory as a result.

    • JQ Public

      Aw, looks like Councillor Meed Ward forgot to send that Christmas card to ADI. Too late now I guess.

      And 28 storeys is “Smart” Growth, is it? From the core residents’ clear point of view, “Smart” growth is already built into the Official Plan and is widely embraced. Guess we’re lucky you seem to be on a team of one when it comes to development in our city.

    • Mike Ettlewood

      Your tune with it’s single anti Meed Ward note is becoming a little monotonous. I think that you lose the strength of your argument in the diatribe.

      • Peter Rusin

        The monotony comes in the form of this council not having the ability to deal effectively with the development process, with the one common denominator being your beloved ward 2 councillor leading the blind.

        • Mr. Horrible

          Since virtually nobody is able to see you, you can definitely do without the curtains.

        • Mike Ettlewood

          Really looking forward to the 2018 Mayoralty race with the Meed Wardites (your term) battling the Rusinators (mine) for ultimate domination of what??? Great fun. In the end, it’s such small stuff Peter.

        • Scott Lambert

          How is expecting that development will adhere to the OP not effectively dealing with the development process? I suppose it can only be effective, in your mind, if developers get their way. How about if the city and it’s residents get their way?

          • Peter Rusin

            That is not how the development process works. It is not always black or white like the text in an OP, and I don’t necessarily agree with developers getting their way, whatever that means. The (dissenting) residents will definitely not get their way in this case, largely due to the way your councillor deals with development issues. The political anti-development climate in the downtown core is a disaster. I actually feel sorry for some of the people who are being led by somebody who knows nothing about how to deal effectively with the development process. The people deserve better, all the people, not just those in the core.