Aldershot developer hits a roadblock: planners didn’t see things the way he had hoped they would. Residents win this time.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  December 10, 2011 – The chickens came home to roost for Drewlo Developments and their very large, five, multi-storey buildings on Plains Road.  The city’s Community Development Committee decided Monday evening not to approve an application Drewlo had made for  change in the site plan.

Back in May of this year, Bruce Krushelnicki, the city planner, asked that this situation be “un-delegated”, by which he meant he wanted the authority to make decisions taken out of his hands and have a council committee handle the problem.  And handle the problem they did.

Drewlo had arbitrarily decided not to construct one of the ramps to the underground parking beneath the five buildings.  There were to be five such ramps into the massive parking lot that stretched out underneath all five buildings.

Local residents, led by Robert Copper, claimed the deletion of one of the five ramps would result in a serious traffic congestion in their community: Fairwood Place East and West and Fairwood Hollow, where there are a total of 54 townhouses.  Cooper, who doesn’t have much to say that is positive about Drewlo, told the Council Committee his community strongly supported the recommendation from the Planning department to refuse the developer’s request to amend the site plan so that the ramp would not have to be built.  Cooper wanted the city to direct Drewlo to restore the ramp as set out in the original site plan – and that basically is what they got.

Lawyers for Drewlo produced a very detailed traffic study which they claimed showed that there wouldn’t be any traffic flow that couldn’t be managed.  The Committee didn’t buy that argument.

The ramp: supposed to be five of them, there are just four. That missing ramp is going to have to be put in place - an expensive proposition for the developer..

Those Councillors with a more commercial frame of mind asked if it was possible at this point to restore the ramp.  John McNair, legal counsel for the developer explained that it was possible but that it would be very expensive and very disruptive.   Expensive it will certainly be but it looks as if Burlington has decided to be a bit bloody minded with this developer who, according to Robert Cooper has “bent or broken almost every provision of the site plan agreement since it was approved in 2008.”

Copper went on to say that: “We are not the first community to be bulldozed by Drewlo Holdings…London, Sarnia, Woodstock and Kitchener have all been subjected to their indifference toward city guidelines.

Next step in this process: probably an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board where developers usually hold sway – but this time around a developer who has a reputation of being indifferent to the community might just have met his comeuppance.

As Cooper said the Committee: “The passion and concern of a lot of our residents over more than ten years must be taken into consideration tonight.  We have had enough and therefore urge this committee to uphold the recommendation of the planning department to refuse the request for a revised site plan.

Aldershot residents showed up at every council committee meeting to fight for what they believed was right. Last night they got their first taste of victory.

A large number of residents from the community were on hand to support Cooper.  Most were typical Aldershot residents; quiet, law abiding people who had just had it.  It was a victory they will savour for some time – and should this be taken to the Ontario Municipal Board expect this crowd to come out in force again.

Meanwhile, quite a bit of the construction on the Aldershot Plaza I is at a standstill.

The community was supported not only by the Planning department but also had the whole hearted support of Rick Craven, their Council member who at times during this long drawn out procedure was beside himself over the way Drewlo had behaved.

When the project first came to the city everyone was excited – it meant a big change to the look and feel of Plains Road and had the potential to bring about significant growth in the community.  But the very poor working relationship between the developer and the city resulted in a project that has been mired with one problem after another.  Burlington took a strong position and then stood its ground.  The developer now has to deal with the sting of losing and also with the additional costs.


Return to the Front page

Aldershot residents don’t like, look or the feel of a proposed project in their neighbourhood – want council to nix the idea.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 24, 2011 The good folks in Aldershot were before a council committee last week asking that a zoning by-law change not be given to New Horizon Homes who want to proceed with Phase two of their development on Plains Road West at Falcon Boulevard.

Here was the issue as set out by planner Silvina Kade who gave a brief overview of the application to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-Law 2020 for lands at 980 and 986 Falcon Boulevard and 396 and 410 Plains Road East by New Horizon Homes.

The applicant, said the planner, has purchased two single-family dwellings facing onto Falcon Boulevard in order to build a four storey residential building. Several neighborhood meetings have been held over the last four years and some area residents are unhappy with the application and the location of the proposed site.

The neighbours saw the changes the developer was asking for as a precedent that would be used to significantly change the community and they wanted none of it.  For the most part Aldershot people attending the committee meeting behaved well, no noise – they just quietly make their case and depend on the council member to defend their interests.

Developers Jeff Paikin and Joe Giacomodonato with an award for best something. They aren't being seen as the best developer for a property at the intersection of Plains Road East and Falcon Blvd.

Jeff Paikin, chief cheese of New Horizon Homes, who got himself in the news earlier in the month for bulldozing what were believed to be close to the last of the fruit trees in the Orchard community.  A pair of upset neighbours managed to get their picture on the front page of a local newspaper pointing to the trees that were ripped out of the ground.  A bit of a kafuffle followed with the council member for the area getting involved.  That issue seemed to be resolved but it did suggest the developer had lost touch with the community he was building in.  Good developers maintain good relationships with the neighbourhoods they build in.  Paikin is now back at Council with a project that does have its problems.

Basically the developer was not able to assemble the land he had hoped to pull together and was left unable to use the lot on the south west corner of the Plains Road West and Falcon Blvd. intersection.  He had purchased two bungalows south of Plains Road and had come up with several approaches to putting up the second four story building of what he is calling the Westwood Development.

To do so – he was going to demolish the two bungalows and build a structure that would have three levels facing Falcon Blvd that would rise to four levels at the back with parking for a number of cars in front of the building.  It was an imaginative solution to the problem – but the residents didn’t think it should be allowed to take place.

The owner of the property at the intersection didn’t want to sell and couldn’t be persuaded to do so even with intervention from the ward councillor Rick Craven.  Does a developers inability to complete a land assembly have to result in a less than acceptable development?  It’s a question that is fairly asked.   That intersection can and should be developed but the owner doesn’t want to sell – which should get translated into – no development.

The white dots outline the area the residents are concerned about. The piece of land in the upper right within the dots is what gave Jeff Paikin 'heart-burn' when he wasn't able to purchase the property as part of his assembly. The result is a development that is not really in the best interest of the community but is legal.

The local residents felt that if the city went along with the changes being requested then every street running south of Plains Road would become part of a development application which would eventually work down to the lake – and they wanted none of it.  Bruce Krushelniki explained that the building of the structure the developer wants to put up would not become a precedent and he explained that: “Each development application is considered on its merits based on the policy context, unique site characteristics and details of the development proposal. It is staff’s opinion that 980 & 986 Falcon Blvd. can be distinguished from most other R2.1 zoned properties in South Aldershot. This is because assembled with the adjacent Plains Rd. properties they have direct access to an arterial road on a site served by efficient peak period transit, and if approved, would result in a consistent depth of the mixed use corridor along this segment of Plains Road. The majority of the Residential Low-Density lands in South Aldershot would not satisfy the criteria of the mixed use corridor designation.

Speaker after speaker spoke of the “precedent” that would be set.  More than a handful lined up politely at the podium and spoke their piece.

New Horizon Development bought the two bungalows as part of a land assembly that was to include the corner lot at the street intersection. Owner didn't want to sell - result, a rather awkward development with a low rise commercial building that will be orphaned. In the background is phase 1 of the development. Parking for both phases is underground.

Murray Thompson, 885 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to this application. He indicated that the residents in the area where not made aware of the plans for this development until 2010. Mr. Thompson stated that he believed this outcome would set a precedent for future developments of this nature.

Bill Paynter, 967 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to the development plans. He stated that the number of attendees at the neighborhood meetings was an indication of the opposition for this development. He encouraged Council to consider the level of opposition when this application is presented to Council for approval.

Two storey commercial building on land that could not be assembled - owner didn't want to sell, which was their right.

Ann Cook Petz, 819 Forest Glen Avenue, spoke on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the single-family environment of Aldershot. Ms Petz questioned if this development crossed the border of mixed use by coming down off of Plains Road. She indicated concern for preservation of the community and noted that the 1997 Plan for the area should be considered. Ms. Petz wished Council the best when determining the solution for this area, but noted that she felt that this development would be setting a precedent for the area.

Manuel Bastos, 369 Finch Avenue, spoke in opposition to the application. Bastos encouraged the City not to be anti-development but was concerned with where development occurred. He indicated that this development would destroy the character of the community. He encouraged development on Plains Road that would not face onto a residential street.

Murray Charlton, 974 Glen Acres Court, stated the developer had put a nice design together, but that it was unfortunate that the development affected a residential area. He expressed concern with the setting of a precedent, the future development in the area and how other developers could then do the same in different neighborhoods.

Teresa Ferguson, 981 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to the development. She advised the Committee that she was the homeowner directly across the street from the two residential properties purchased for development. Ferguson stated that she believed that as a taxpayers, property owners in Burlington were entitled to the same consideration as the developers. She indicated residents might have shown greater opposition had they known that the Mixed Use Corridor was intended to go beyond Plains Road.

Roland Salmon, 936 Falcon Boulevard, spoke in opposition to the development application. Salmon thanked Councillor Craven for his consistent communication to the residents. He indicated that the traffic in the community was horrible, lacked policing and that people travelled at excessive speeds along the roadway. He stated that he thought the new development would compound those issues and was concerned with developers encroaching onto residential streets two or three houses at a time.

There you have it – decent people appearing before their local government asking that the development not be permitted.  No one other than the planner and the developer spoke for the project.

Where does it go from here?  It will probably be approved by City Council on Monday because the city needs to do as much infill development as it can to meet the provincial Places to Grow mandate that requires Burlington to add a mix of office space and residential housing units in the next 20 years.

The province has a Public Policy Statement that requires:

Settlement areas as the focus of growth, supports development within settlement areas based on densities and a land use mix that efficiently use land, resources, infrastructure and public service facilities, and directs that opportunities for intensification and redevelopment be identified and promoted where this can be accommodated. It further supports promotion of development standards “which facilitate intensification, redevelopment and compact form, while maintaining

appropriate levels of public health and safety” and directs planning authorities to “establish and implement minimum targets for intensification and redevelopment within built-up area.

Add to that the provincial Places to Grow mandate that requires Burlington to manage Population and Employment Growth will be accommodated by

a) directing a significant portion of the new growth to the built-up areas of the community through intensification

b) focusing intensification in intensification areas

d) reducing dependence on the automobile through the development of

mixed-use, transit-supportive, pedestrian-friendly urban environments

 The Plan further requires that by 2015, at least 40% of all residential development occurring annually shall be within the built-up area.

Tough for any community to overcome that kind of a requirement – is it good for the community?  Can the city do anything to challenge these requirements?

Developers use this provincial requirement to persuade planners and city council that they should get the By-law and zoning change they want.  Is it good planning?  It is legal.  Is it good community building?  The residents don’t think so.

And if the zoning change is given – what happens to that lot at the intersection of Falcon Blvd. and Plains Road?  It becomes an orphan.  Good planning and good community building would dictate that the zoning change be denied and that people wait it out until the owner of the lot at the intersection is ready to sell.  Will we do that?  Probably not.




Return to the Front page

Shake up on the city council committee structure; couple of surprises and at least one disappointment.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  November 24, 2011   – If you are one of the at least 25 people who actually watch City Council meetings on Cogeco Cable you will hear the Mayor explain that “the heavy lifting” on the city`s business is done at the Council committee level – which are not broadcast live only on line a day or so after the meeting.

The three committees are:

Kim Phillips, General Manager Budget and Corporate Services, is the strongest administrator at the GM level and has the deepest experience on the technical stuff that makes the wheels turn at the department level.

Budget and Corporate Services

Kim Phillips is the General Manager who heads up this arm of the city’s administration.  The current chair is Paul Sharman of Ward 5, with John Taylor of Ward 3 as his vice chair.

Community Development

Steve Zorbas, General Manager, Development and Infrastructure is not yet a fully tested GM and still has "Acting" in front of his title. New City Manager will have to determine what to do with the title or with the person. Here he speaks with Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward

Steve Zorbas, Acting General Manger of Development and Infrastructure leads the charge for this Committee, which is chaired by Jack Dennison of Ward 4  who is backed up by Marianne Meed Ward of Ward 2.

Community Services

Scott Stewart is the General Manager who heads up this arm of the city administration.  The current committee chair is Rick Craven of Ward 1 with Blair Lancaster of Ward 6 backing him up

Each year a new chair and vice chair are voted in by the members of city council.  Staff, who sit on the other side of the council horseshoe shaped table, just sit and watch and then figure out how they will deal with the new chair voted in.

They got a bit of a jolt when Paul Sharman was given Budget and Corporate Services last December and he kept surprising everyone with a bold, aggressive stance on many issues and some suggestions that had both his colleagues and staff gulping.  He has slowed down a bit and we will hear less from him now that he has been voted in as the vice chair of the Community Services Committee.

Last year we had:

Craven heading up Community Services; Sharman headed up Budget and Corporate Services and Dennison headed up Community Development.

This time out it is going to be different:

On motion, Councillors Meed Ward and Dennison were elected as Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively, of the Community Development Committee, effective December 1, 2011 for the term to expire November 30, 2012.

On motion, Councillors Craven and Taylor were elected as Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively, of the Budget & Corporate Services Committee, effective December 1, 2011 for the term to expire November 30, 2012.

On motion, Councillors Lancaster and Sharman were elected as Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively, of the Community Services Committee, effective December 1, 2011 for the term to expire November 30, 2012.

This is a much different line up.  Dennison was never a very effective chair; Craven is the best chair the city has and was asked to take on the role of chairing Budget and Corporate Services by the Mayor.  Meed Ward, who can be contentious, will likely spend the holidays poring over the Procedural By-Law, something Sharman never managed to do.  It is going to be very interesting to see how Meed Ward manages herself; how executive she is able to be.  This will be the first time that she has a task that she can actually lead on – and perhaps show some of the other Council members how a “real” chair does the job.  It could well be a bit of a defining experience for her and finally give her the opportunity to spread her wings beyond her ward in a way that doesn’t offend other Council members the way it has in the past.

Lancaster of Ward 6 is still developing her personality as a Council member. Being given a committee to chair is a good administrative move. That the chairs were "elected" by their peers is a bit mis-leading. The Mayor has his fingerprints all over this process.

Lancaster will have her hands full as a chair.  She is not a strong administrator but she has a strong General Manager to support her.  It will take a couple of meetings to see how Sharman settles into a much, much lesser role.  There was some surprise around the horseshoe when the Mayor put Sharman`s name forward as the vice-chair of a committee that will not have that strong a chair.

This isn’t intended to suggest Lancaster doesn`t know what she is doing – she tends to focus on values and doing the right thing, which is not always evident in some other members of Council.  Managing a committee, especially one that interacts as much as it does with the different communities will be interesting to see.

The Mayor continues to surprise people with his executive talent.  Difficult to see just what he has in mind with this new line up, but it is quite clear it is his line up.

City Council  will be meeting very early on Monday, November 28th, at a local hotel, to perhaps bring to a close another major staffing shake up which started when the Mayor accepted then City Manager Roman Martiuk’s offer to “step aside”  and leave the employ of the city.

The new City Manager selection process is now in it`s final phase – they just might make a final decision at the November 28th meeting.  One of the candidates for the job is current General Manager of Community Services, Scott Stewart.  Should he be offered the job the amount of time to get up to speed will be decreased considerably and that will bring to the surface some significant problems with the number of people in senior positions with the word Acting” stuck in front of their title.

Scott Stewart, GM Community Services: He will never serve as a diplomat - much more of an in charge guy who gets things done. Is he the kind of right hand man the Mayor wants or needs?

Stewart is more than capable of doing the job of City Manger – he knows the file and he knows where the bench strength of the management team exists.  However, his skill set is not the most important element in the hiring of a City Manager.  The relationship between a Mayor and a City Manager is a very tight one; it is almost an intimate relationship and certainly an intellectually intimate one.  It is essential that they both be on the same page and that each understands their role.  Part of Martiuk’s  “stepping aside”  was because he wasn’t on the same page as either the Mayor or much of the Council.  He certainly wasn’t on the same page as former Mayor Jackson who would claim that Martiuk blocked him at every turn – and with Jackson there were many turns because he didn’t fully understand how municipal government works..

Stewart would never get a job as a member of the diplomatic corps.  He is blunt, direct and he gets things done.   Appreciate that Goldring will have to decide if Stewart is the man that can help him achieve his dream, vision and hopes for the city.  Is he too strong a personality or is his strong personality just what the Mayor needs ?  That is something that will get worked through in the interviewing process.

However the Mayor is just one of seven votes – this has to be a majority vote and given the way Goldring works he will look for a unanimous vote.  Appreciate that there is at least one member of Council with aspirations to become Mayor in the future and perhaps two.  They will look at Stewart and wonder:  Could I be Mayor with this guy as the city manager ?   They may not admit to such thoughts – but this is politics, never forget that.  Politics is about power and the Mayor will want to ensure that he has someone who can help him wield that power.

Frank McKeown on the left talking to Councillor Sharman. McKeown was often referred to as the "seventh" council member during the Strategic Planning session, a term that didn't go over all that well with some senior staff but he has served the Mayor exceptionally well.

Goldring made an excellent choice in choosing Frank McKeown  to serve as his top aide.  Goldring would  not be the Mayor he is today without McKeown  or for that matter without Daphne Jaques.  Both fully understand Goldring and are able to take a concept he develops and execute on that concept almost flawlessly.  Evidence of that was seen in the speakers that were chosen for the Mayor’s Inspire speakers series.  Goldring knew what he wanted, outlined it to McKeown and Jaques and they followed through.

If a Mayor has that kind of support people in place he can get things done.  There are still people who use the phrase – he looked like a deer caught in the headlights – to describe the Mayor and, in the early stages of his term of office that is exactly what he looked like – but that description doesn’t apply today.

Mayor Goldring is in the second phaase of shaping the Council and staff he wants and needs to move forward with his agenda for the city. As collaborative and conciliatory as the Mayoe behaves - make no mistake he has an agenda.

Goldring has a very firm grip on his job: likes it, has yet to make a serious mistake, and is loved by the voters.  He is in the game for a second term for certain and short of a major, major gaff, and that just isn’t in the cards with this guy, he is in for two terms and perhaps even a third term if that`s what he wants.  But that is looking well into the future and crystal balls are very unreliable.

Right now the Mayor wants a city manager that he can move forward with to continue the job he has been doing.  The Mayor and his council may well have that decision made before the end of the month.

Then the new City Manager and Council have to deal with the people who have the word Acting in front of their title.  Acting Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Glen  should have had the word removed some time ago.  He has performed well and the person he replaced is on disability and will stay there.

Acting Executive Director of Finance Joan Ford was given the job when Steve Zorbas moved on and up to the job as Acting General Manager of Development and Infrastructure.  There are concerns in the minds of several council members about his performance at the Economic Development Corporation and in a number of other areas – so that Acting still being in place could be saying something.  Should Zorbas go back to Finance – where does Ford go ?  If Zorbas is confirmed – is Ford really on top of the job of senior finance person for the city?

These are questions that will sit on the desk of the new City Manager come January.  Know this, your Mayor wants a stronger team running the city and the “stepping aside”  done by former City Manager Roman Martiuk might get played out again at other levels.  This Mayor can now stare down any headlights coming at him.  Still a “nice guy”  but now very much a Mayor in charge of his city in a collaborative relationship with his Council.

I don`t think anyone saw this coming last December 1st.


Return to the Front page

Chair of Council Committee “will be more vigilant” when Council is in closed session.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON September 15, 2011 When city council committees meet to do the business of directing the city they do so in public. They meet with the appropriate staff – in public where all the facts are heard by everyone in the room.

When the bids for the completion of the Brant Street Pier were opened it was done in public – no one knew what the bids were until the envelopes were opened – in public.

This is the process that keeps people honest and allows a public to be informed.

The Burlington city council goes into “closed session” which means the media has to leave the room and a sign gets posted on the door to the Council Chamber saying Council is in closes session.

Councillor Craven is the best procedural person on council but he too can let something slip by.  To his credit, he recognizes his mistakes and does something about them.

Councillor Craven is the best procedural person on council but he too can let something slip by. To his credit, he recognizes his mistakes and does something about them.

One of the Council committees recently went into closed session to talk about a matter related to the Paletta Mansion, which Council had learned was losing a pile of money. There was no reason given as to why they were going closed – they just say it is confidential and the media has to accept that. Any council member can ask that they go into closed session. Ward 1 councillor Meed Ward has on occasioned mildly questioned going into closed session but she has never said no – which she has a right to do.

When they come out of closed session council never tells you what was discussed. The Clerk knows but she (usually female) is bound by an Oath of Secrecy..

During one such meeting, the Chair of the committee that was coming out of closed session said they had discussed the Paletta matter – and then added that there were questions raised about the Pier as well. THAT was a no, no.

Your council has a right to decide something is confidential and they can talk about that and only that in a closed session. So when Councillor Craven mentioned that Pier questions had come up I asked him later why that was done..

He agreed that it should probably not have been done. I advised the chair of the committee that I would be writing him formally and lodging a complaint.

Councillor Craven is a pretty proactive chair and he looked into the issue, discussed it with the Clerk and made the following statement last night at a Committee meeting.


It has been pointed out to me by a member of the news media that I made a procedural error at our last Community Services Committee.

I announced that we were going into closed session to discuss the Paletta Mansion

When we came out of closed session I announced that, while we were in closed session, there had also been a couple of questions about the pier.

I have met with the Clerk about this matter.

The member of the news media was correct..

I should not have allowed the pier questions in closed session because the had not publicly stated his intention to ask these questions before we moved into closed session..

In the future I will be more vigilant in ensuring that we stick to the announced subject in the closes session, and I ask that all members refrain from asking questions on other topics, unless they announce their intention in public before we go into closed session.


Now on the surface this might look like someone being overly picky and sensitive. Not the case. Your city council goes into closed session far too often – and when they are there you, the public, have no way of knowing what was said other than the subject they went into closed session to discuss. And, as Craven’s comments show, – they will talk about other issues while in closed session. There is no oversight and while the Clerk has considerable influence legally, there isn’t a member of the Clerk’s office in this city that is going to challenge a chair.

There is a different, healthier ethic developing on this council. Burlington is a better city for it. The information identified in the Shape Burlington report is being narrowed.

Councillor Craven has served notice that he will be more vigilant and he will. Councillor Sharman, the other councillor that chairs a committee, as well as their respective co-chairs now know that they need to respect the public’s right to know.




Return to the Front page