Roseland residents asking for an interim control bylaw that will halt all develoment – planner describes it as “draconian”.

December 5, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Change is an awkward process.  We say we are OK with change but we rarely approach it with a full heart – we kind of shuffle along towards it.

Wise tree planting when development was done originally has given the city a community that has increased in value and given it a character the residents want to maintain.  Developers want to cash in on the wise decisions made a long time ago.

The people of Roseland are struggling to deal with change.  In the years 2012 and 2013, the City and Roseland Community Organization (RCO) have been involved with appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) opposing development applications that do not conform to the City’s Official Plan. These repetitive applications are draining the resources of both the City and RCO.

Burlington is currently going through a very involved and complex Official Plan Review (OPR), something every city is required to do every five years.

There is a concept in the world of planners that while not new – it is new to Burlington and was introduced to use by Anne McIlroy, a planning consultant who has been involved as a consultant for Burlington for a long time.  They are called Character Area Studies – intended to take a deep look at the character of a community and determine why it is as it is and what parts of it can be saved and what parts can be changed.

Councillor Rick Craven had asked that the Indian Point community in ward 1 have a character study done – when the Roseland people learned about the concept they asked to have Roseland included.

Located on the east side of the city bordering the lake. Roseland is home to many very senior executives – probably the most powerful collection of people in the city.

The RCO crowd are now arguing that if there is to be Roseland Character Area Study in order to address shared concerns, and if it is going to take a couple of more years to adopt the revised OP, then it is “appropriate and prudent to adopt an interim control by-law postponing this type of application until the appropriate regulations are in place.”

By “this type of application”  the good people of Roseland mean those situations where development is taking place that results in significant change to the character of their community.  One resident set out, quite clearly what the issue is:

In the past 5 or 6 years, a number of houses in Roseland have been demolished and replaced by ones of considerably greater size, often through the granting of minor variances. (As an example, the 70 foot lot diagonally behind our property is in the process of having its 1500 square foot bungalow replaced by a 5000 square foot multistory house).  I and others in Roseland recognize that today’s homebuyers wish to have more “built space” and less “botanical space”, and are prepared to pay a substantial price for such a property.  However the effect of these houses on both the smaller ones around them and the neighbourhood streetscape has become a cause for considerable concern.

About 100 people gathered at the Roseland Community Centre and discussed their concerns.  The meeting arrived at a startling conclusion:

  1. Interim Control By-Law for the Roseland area to immediately halt applications for land severance and accompanying minor variances until both the Roseland Character Area Study being undertaken is completed, and consideration is given to the implementation of related Official Plan amendments;
  2. Establish additional regulations within this proposed Interim Control By-law to stop the demolition of existing dwellings within Roseland thereby ensuring that future new housing will be built in compliance with the future recommendations evolving from the Roseland Character Area Study.

City planner Bruce Krushelnicki described interim control bylaws as “draconian” – they are a blunt, brutal instrument and they do have limitations.  The city can, if it so chooses put in such a bylaw that can last for just one year.  The bylaw can be renewed for a second year but after that the bylaw must be lifted and cannot be imposed on that community again.  Such a bylaw could be imposed on some other part of the city.

The following is a collection of some of the notes that individuals put on large pieces of poster paper: at the Roseland AGM.  Their frustration is evident – their understanding of just how brutal an interim control bylaw is  – is not as evident.  These things have a tendency to come with a clutch of unintended consequences.

The community has strength and money written all over it.

The list is extensive:

 “Freeze all building permits “ON HOLD” to avoid the ongoing levelling of existing homes to make way for new builds until study and plan have been approved…i.e.  Rossmore has lost most of its homes

Preamble needed:  There should be a preamble to the document, a very brief description of Roseland as a “long-established aggregate of historically diverse homes and a community of residents of all ages and backgrounds.”

Absolutely–   We are tired of working so hard just to preserve the neighbourhood we bought into.  We have already put much of our own money into protecting ourselves from speculators. 

Interim Control By-law is essential to maintain veracity of the neighbourhood.  We also need to stop the razing of bungalows to be replaced by large houses that are out of character with Roseland.

I wish this had been done years ago- our house is surrounded by “variances” and it is not what anyone wants. 

This is an essential first step which halts the process which most damages the neighbourhood character.

Yes to this freeze and pass an Interim Control By-law.

Renewal and progress are inevitable and valued.  No one wants that to stop.  We want it to respect the character, streetscape and charm of the entire neighbourhood.

Interim Control By-law:  I agree we should freeze severance applications until council completes the Roseland Character Area Study. 

Exclude developers from meetings involving our area.  Their only stake in our community is short term.

Yes it is essential to have an Interim Control By-Law.

Please define “minor variance”.  There seems to be no limit to variance.

Please freeze all minor variances until the Character Area Study is completed!

Redevelopment of Roseland is out of control, particularly in the last few years.  Much of this redevelopment, including lot severances, has been by developers, purely for profit, to the detriment of the unique characteristics -> lot widths, trees, architecture of Roseland.  Therefore, an interim control by-law is essential before it is too late.

Interim Control By-Law:  appropriate and fair to the community.

Agree with freeze or until official plan review is completed. 

Given what has transpired around us, this is a good first step, one that is vital to maintain an orderly transition and understanding of proposed changes called for by council.

Roseland homes have character, there are no cookie cutter homes. It is a community that just simply works and they residents want to keep it that way.

I believe this is a necessary first step in the process.  –> these severance/minor variance applications threaten to alter the essential nature /character of the neighbourhood

Yes- agree but would like to see even stronger controls, e.g. on reduction of setbacks by 50%

An excellent and necessary step to ensure that any development from today will fit with the eventual new Official Plan.

Developers are using our neighbourhood as their inventory for their business: complete one house; move to the next property; and, keep marching down the street – use the construction processes to disrupt the quality of neighbourhood life, forcing people out. They know the by-laws and use them to their advantage – we want an interim control by-law that will stop this until we get a new Official Plan.

Established communities are assets to all of Burlington and not just their residents.  Once lost they cannot be regained.

Burlington’s Official Plan must recognize the reality of Burlington– that it is made up of unique communities which give Burlington its character.

Some areas of our neighbourhood have (almost) reached the tipping point where the developers’ new builds outnumber the older homes and the character has been destroyed.  It has to stop.

Recognition of Burlington’s various neighbourhoods and communities essential to maintaining our livable status buildings in established communities needs different rules than fresh communities

Preserve Roseland as an established community and don’t allow changes to our historically diverse characteristics.

I’m very concerned about the excessive amount of time (that) construction vehicles are blocking traffic in Roseland- especially on Rossmore.

Need to set policies on “established” communities in the Official Plan and not just focus on “new” communities       -need a definition of what an “established” community is

Maintaining the historical diversity of the neighbourhood is important.

Reinforce the need to different planning approach in different areas in the city. 

Perhaps all council members should take a walk or drive through the neighbourhood to understand the uniquely beautiful style of this area.

It would be good for new buyers to be aware of this–before the damage is done.  That being said, there has been quite a precedent set already for what NOT to do.

Yes…we in Roseland are unique and we need to preserve our special characteristics!  People in Burlington like to park cars here and walk.   -> Historically diverse     -> charming, character type homes

Yes, enhance why Roseland needs to be recognized as corporate culture specific to Roseland…this community’s specific values  –History of our past being successful lived in the present add the point somehow

Consideration has to be given to neighbours who have to endure the noise of the building process that is allowed to start at 7:00 a.m. and even all weekend.

Stop allowing the construction of “super-sized” homes.   They don’t add to the character of Roseland.

Roseland should be used as an example of an established community and the benefit of community planning with the City’s Official Plan.  Roseland could be used as a model for established community governance.

I want to see Roseland recognized as an established community with specific characteristics including valuing our historic diversity in our homes.

Add “historically diverse” to description of our neighbourhood.

“Growing in Place” is all about established unique communities with their own policies.  It’s in the Strategic Plan for this council.

Community is special and historic and should be designated as such.  Beware tearing down and rebuilding.”

Every community is unique.  People move to a community for a reason – they identify with the feel of the streets, the amenities that are available, transportation in and out of the community – a host of reasons.

When people decide on where they want to live they kind of expect it to remain the way it was when they decided to move in.

Roseland happens to have an eclectic mix of houses that go from a small bungalow sitting next to a large three-story structure that has all kinds of character and sweeping lawns and wonderful gardens.  It is more than physical character in Roseland – it is the people and the way the streets are laid out and how neighbours walk across the street to each other.  It is a tight-knit group – they can be tough as a society as well.  When the formed their community organization they promptly blackballed their member of council because he wanted to sub divide his lot.

These are intelligent people of means, the speak in paragraphs and don’t move their lips when they read.

The communities tree canopy is superb – the residents want to keep it that way and want to see a tree bylaw as well.

They have asked for an interim control bylaw.  City council kind of coughed over that ask and gingerly handed it over to the city planner and asked him to come with the upside and downside of imposing such a bylaw.

When this report is delivered to the Standing Committee that hears these things – be prepared for the howls from the developers who are buying up whatever they can and putting bigger houses on whatever they can purchase

Roseland worked right from the beginning of its development.  The depression in the ’30s stopped the growth but the community adapted and now has a mix of large homes with much smaller bungalows tucked in here and there.

RCO defines itself as a non-profit corporation established to keep Roseland as the special place we all know it is. Our intent is not to stop change, but rather to shape it. RCO’s mission is to:

    1. Sustain the character of Roseland by maintaining a vigilant posture to planning and development matters.
    2. Provide a means for communication among residents within Roseland and with City Hall, and a means for their participation in decisions that affect the livability and quality of our community.
    3. Take initiatives on projects which enhance the character of Roseland, preserve its heritage, and sustain its greenery.

It will be very interesting to read what the planner comes back with – and even more interesting to see how Roseland decides it wants to evolve.


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1 comment to Roseland residents asking for an interim control bylaw that will halt all develoment – planner describes it as “draconian”.

  • Mr. Wonderful

    Developers is the wrong term to use. Here’s the real truth: a private party buys an old undersized, functionally obsolete tear down structure that was previously used as a residence that has ended its functional and economic lives. The private party seeks out a builder/contractor to build a beautiful new home to live in. The private property owner is essentially the developer; the evil one.

    Solution: All concerned members of the RCO buy up all the properties they decide need to be preserved. Stop going to the OMB which wastes time and money for everybody. The current as-of-right zoning by-laws and official plan designations allow for bigger homes compared to the smaller ones. Change is happening, and that should be embraced.

    Look at all the gorgeous new homes being built, and look at all the other old dogs that need to be demolished. A neighbourhood going through an essential renewal process.

    What joy! A time to celebrate! A time for giving credit to those that take the risk, spend lots of money, and ultimately improve an old, tired neighbourhood (which has too many dying mature trees blocking out the sunlight), that one would question as to why one would even want to live there?

    Good thing I am back to assist in shedding light on a touchy subject and providing answers to problems affecting this city.