Riviera Motel fire will hasten the demolition of the building which might prod development of the property.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 21, 2012  The fire on the top floor of the Riviera Motel will mean the demolition of that building in the very near future.  If not because the building is now an even greater public hazard, it will be because the owners of the property have four months to get something in the way of real plans into the hands of the city and then be approved by the Conservation Authority before new set back rules come into play that have the potential to put an end of any significant development on the site.

Fire damage to the top floor of the Riviera Motel was extensive, and arson was thought to perhaps be the cause of the blaze to the abandoned motel. No report yet from the Office of the Fire Marshall.

The property, which has been in the development potential stage since 1985, has been hampered by market conditions and the inability to find the right hotel development partner and thus land that has been approved for three buildings: two seven storey structures and one 22 storey structure – a fact that many people in Burlington still don’t know about or fully understand.

Assuming the developer, Mayrose Tyco, comes up with acceptable plans and gets the approvals before the end of the year, we are probably going to see construction begin at the site sometime in the spring.

An architectural rendering of what the developers would like to build on the Riviera Motel site.  While it will be some time before we see a 22 storey structure on the waterfront, we may see a seven (possibly eight) storey hotel in time for the Pan Am Games.

All we will see during this first phase of construction is the building of the seven story hotel.  The developers have asked for an additional floor which the hotel will use as administration and marketing offices.  This is apparently something going through the committee of adjustment.

The public seldom hears much, if anything, from the developer.  They prefer to work through city hall where informing the public is not always a top priority.

There was the hope that the Waterfront Access and Advisory Committee would serve as a source for information and also as a bit of a watchdog for the citizens of the city, but that proved not to be the case.

The city shut down that committee earlier this year because it wasn’t doing quite what was expected.  As city general manager Scott Stewart put it at a council meeting: We voted with our feet and walked from the Advisory committee meetings.

Waterfront Advisory Committee chair Nicholas Leblovic said he had been blind-sided by the city’s decision.  That wasn’t the way most people, including many members of the committee,  saw that decision.

The Waterfront Advisory committee will cease to exist on December 31st.  They used to meet once a month and will probably continue to do so, until the mandate they had ends.

Both the Mayor and Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward have said they will create their own Advisory committees and run them out of their office.  This makes the waterfront situation even more political than it should be.

As an Advisory committee the Leblovic committee had a diverse membership with representation from each ward  that had the potential to reflect the views of the city.  With that committee gone – well, things won’t get any better and the developers will be able to work with city hall with little in the way of true public input.  We all lose with this set up.

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