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The vision Meed Ward had in January of this year. Is this the Burlington we will see going forward?

background 100By Pepper Parr

December 26th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

This is a story the Gazette published almost a year ago. It was about a series of motions (8 in total) that then ward 2 city Councillor Marianne Meed Ward brought to a Standing Committee of Council.

Marianne Meed Ward announced earlier this month that she will be bringing a series of motions to modify the proposed new Official Plan policies to avoid over- intensification and ensure balanced growth in keeping with our strategic plan and requirements under provincial and regional policies.

The detail and Meed Ward’s rationalization are set out below along with maps that visualize the changes she thinks should be made.

Given that Meed Ward is now the Mayor, it is instructive to take a look at what she advocated for last January, it will tell us a lo about what she will want to do as Mayor leading a Council that, for the most part is aligned with her thinking.

Motion: 1
Defer approval of Official Plan till after the 2018 Municipal Election

Rationale:
• Major changes are coming to the city through proposed intensification in the mobility hubs at the 3 Burlington GO stations, and the downtown.

• When the Official Plan review began in December 2011, changes to the downtown were out of the scope. The mobility hubs were not included in the scope.

• In October 2016, the city shifted from an update to a rewrite of the plan. The first draft was released in April 2017. Downtown and mobility hubs policies were not included.

• Proposed changes were first released in September for the downtown, and in November for the GO stations. Area specific plans are still to come.

Official-Plan-Binder_Image There is considerable community opposition to some of the proposed changes, particularly in the downtown.

• We need time to get this right and give the community more voice, by testing the proposed plan democratically via the 2018 election.

• There is no need or requirement from the province to rush.

• Council continues to retain full decision-making control over applications that may come in prior to approval of the Official Plan. Rules around appeals to the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal restrict what can be appealed and give more weight to local decisions, further strengthening council’s decision-making authority.

Meed Ward is absolutely right – what’s the rush? Where is the time for the public to absorb the huge amount of information? And were changes of this magnitude part of the mandate this council was given in 2014?

What citizens began to realize was that they had a city council that was determined to push through a new Official Plan over significant protest.  That decision cost three of them their jobs.

Strategic Plans in Burlington were traditionally four year, single term of council documents. The 2014-2018 council went for a longer term, driven to a considerable degree by the wishes of the then city manager and KPMG, the consultants, who were delighted to find themselves given a much more robust. assignment. The four year plan got an upgrade to a 25 year plan then based is administration changed the time line to a 20 year Strategic Plan and has based much of what it now wants to do on that plan. Future councils are not obligated to accept a Strategic Plan created by a previous government.

Motion: 2
Direct staff to discuss with the Region and province the possibility of removing the mobility hub classification for the downtown, and shifting the Urban Growth Centre to the Burlington GO station.

Rationale:
• The Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub designations have put pressure on the downtown for over intensification. Meed Ward points to the ADI development at Martha & Lakeshore, that was unanimously rejected by council and staff. ADI appealed the council decision to the OMB; a decision is expected soon

• The city has input on the location of Urban Growth Centres (UGC) and Mobility Hubs, and recently added more Mobility Hubs on its own without direction from the province (Aldershot and Appleby). “Ergo” said Meed Ward, ” we can work with the region and province to request a shift in the UGC to the existing designated mobility hub at the Burlington GO station. Urban Growth Centre boundaries recently changed – and can be changed again.”

• The city is positioned to meet city-wide growth targets set by the province for 2031 within the next five years: the population target is 185,000; 2016 census shows the city at 183,000, with 1,000 units under construction at the Burlington GO station alone.

• Downtown will continue to absorb its share of city growth under current Official Plan permissions, and will surpass a target density of 200 people or jobs within 5 to 8 years.

Downtown development sites App A

Current development activity in the Downtown core.

 

• There is significant development interest in the downtown, with at least 23 areas under construction, approved (whether built or not), under appeal, at pre-consultation , or subject to known land assembly.

• The downtown can meet the intent of provincial policy and the strategic plan without the pressure to over-intensify that comes with UGC and Mobility Hub designations.

Meed Ward has spoken with The Director of Planning Services/ Chief Planning Official at Halton Region who is open to this conversation, without precluding any outcome. The Region will be reviewing its own Official Plan in 2019.

Motion 3: Staff Direction
Direct staff to work with the Region of Halton to review the Downtown Urban Growth Centre boundaries, and consider restoring original boundaries with the exception of Spencer Smith Park.

Downtown development sites App A
Land use as the city planning department has presented it in their Mobility Hub reports.

Motion 3 app b +
Growth Centre boundaries as put forward by the Planning Department.

motion 3 app b
Changes Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward will be bringing to council on January 23rd by way of motions.

Rationale:
• Parts of stable neighbourhoods and a community park have been added to the Urban Growth Centre, while the intent of the boundaries is to protect and exclude stable neighbourhoods.

• Areas of high density including mid-rises and high rises have been eliminated , while the intent of the boundary was to accommodate higher density built forms.

Meed Ward said she has spoken with the Director of Planning Services/ Chief Planning Official at Halton Region who is supportive of the proposed boundary changes. The Region will be reviewing its own Official Plan in 2019.

Areas to Eliminate:

• Ontario North/East of the hydro corridor
• West side of Locust and parcel fronting Hurd
• West side of Martha to James, including Lion’s Club Park

Areas to Add back:
• Ghent West to Hager
• Lakeshore South of Torrance
• South East parcels of James/Martha

Motion 4:
4a Retain the current height restriction of 4 storeys (with permission to go to 8 storeys with community benefits) for the Downtown Core Precinct. Proposed height in the new Official Plan is 17 storeys as of right.

4b Include a range of heights in the precinct, to help secure community benefits during redevelopment.

4c Include policies to allow additional density in developments that preserve heritage buildings, as a factor of square footage preserved.

Motion 4 app c
Historic property locations are shown on this map in light purple.

Motion 4 app d
Arrows point to where Meed Ward thinks changes should be made.

Rationale:
The downtown can meet growth targets under existing planning permissions. Refer to the intensification analysis completed by staff for the 421 Brant/James proposal, and earlier for the ADI proposal at Martha/Lakeshore. There is no policy need under provincial legislation or the city’s strategic plan to over intensify to accommodate growth.

St lukes emerals precinct 2

Residences in the St. Luke’s Precinct.

 

The majority of residents are not supportive of this height in this precinct. Residents are supportive of a range of new developments up to a mid-rise character as reflected in the existing plan (4-8 storeys).

St lukes emerald precinct 1

Residences in the Emerald Precinct.

 

Approving an up zone to 17 storeys as of right does not provide opportunity to negotiate community benefits, for example heritage preservation, affordable and family housing, additional green space setbacks and street-scaping, parking and other matters. That can be achieved in part by including a range of heights in the plan, which the existing policy framework has. That can also be achieved by writing into the precinct policies extra density in respect of the square footage of the historic buildings preserved.

There is precedent: the existing OP for the Old Lakeshore Road area includes density increases for heritage protection during redevelopment; add similar policies to the downtown core precinct.

Up zoning to 17 storeys would compromise the historic character of parts of the precinct, create a potential forest of high rises every 25 metres in this area should land owners take advantage of the new heights by application, in accordance with the Tall Building Guidelines, and make it more difficult to preserve historic (but not designated) buildings in the downtown, as the air rights of these existing 2-3 storey buildings would be more valuable than retaining the building.

There are 93 properties in the downtown mobility hub study area of heritage significance (on the municipal register or designated).

• Of these 26 are designated

• 5 adjacent to mobility hub, 1 of these designated

Motion 5:
Height restriction of 3 storeys along Brant Street with permission to go to 11 storeys along John Street frontage, only with the provision of community benefits.

Rationale:
Existing permissions are 4 storeys along Brant, up to 8 with provision of community benefits. The proposed is 3-11, which is roughly the same; this motion seeks additional of language that allows securing community benefits to get to the full 11 storeys.

motion 6
6a. Add the north west corner of Burlington Avenue and Lakeshore Road to the special planning area to match the north east corner.

6b. Reduce height to 3 storeys.

Current proposal in the Official Plan is 6 storeys, on the east side only.

motion 6
Councillor Meed Ward sees Burlington Street as the entrance to the St. Luke’s Precinct and believes that the two corners at Lakeshore Road should be the same height.

Rational:
Burlington Avenue and Lakeshore is a gateway to the stable neighbourhood of St. Luke’s. This corner has existing townhouses and single family homes that contain multiple units. Both sides of the street should be treated the same; the proposed 3 storeys reflects existing built form and is compatible with the balance of the street in the St. Luke’s Precinct. Higher height/density will put pressure on development creep up the street into the neighbourhood.

Motion 7:
Reduce the cannery district at the north east corner of Lakeshore Road and Brant Street to 15 storeys.

Rationale:

Reflects existing heights in the area.

Motion 8: Upper Brant Precinct:
8a. Remove East side of Brant from Blairholm to Prospect 8b.

motion 8

The arrows indicate where Councillor Meed Ward would like to see changes made in the current version of the Official Plan.

The arrows indicate where Councillor Meed Ward would like to see changes made in the current version of the Official Plan.

Remove West side of Brant from Blairholm to Olga

Existing heights are 4-6 storeys; that is an appropriate transition in these two areas which back onto stable neighbourhoods.

The eight motions were a bold, typical Meed Ward approach to change.  As a Councillor she put forward far more motions that any other Councillor, she always asked far more questions than any other member of Council.  These eight motions represented her vision for the downtown core.

With the Chain of office around her neck and the first of several expected staff changes completed the city might be on the cusp of a form of moderate, reasonable growth that maintains the tone of the city.

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3 comments to The vision Meed Ward had in January of this year. Is this the Burlington we will see going forward?

  • Gary Scobie

    As a citizen still involved with stopping the over intensification of the downtown, I’m counting on the Mayor to follow up on these original motions with some small tinkering and some good discussion within Council on the merits of moving in the direction they sought.

    These were not back of the napkin suggestions, but were well thought-out directions on fixing the road to over development that the old Council was on. I hope they see the light of day in some form over the coming weeks and months.

    • Stu Parr

      Gary:

      Well said as usual. However, if they do see the “light of day” it will probably be a facebook posting followed by several twitter and instagram feeds. Governance by social media seems to be the rule of the day. One often wonders the depth of what lies beneath.

  • Don Fletcher

    MMW and council were given a strong mandate by the electorate to broadly implement many, if not all of these changes conceptually. Having said that, we have a new Director of Planning and a a Council’s apparent willingness/ forum to openly discuss and possibly fine-tune these past recommendations with all stakeholders engaged.

    On the other hand, a wholesale retraction of these past motions by effectively not re-tabling them now, is in my opinion very unlikely given Marianne Meed Ward’s modus operandi and would elicit an immediate -ve backlash from her trusting resident base.

    There’s no obvious reason to change course now!