The sale of that waterfront land isn’t a done deal yet – a citizens group will be delegating against any extension at council this week.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 26, 2014


Well it’s government, municipal government at that –so what did you expect?  They need more time.  This time – the need is real – the discussions and negotiations are tricky and the city has to deal with a provincial ministry.

Market - Lakeshore-foot-of-St-Paul-looking-west3-1024x682

It is a view to die for – and one that citizens of the city might not get to enjoy if the planned sale of this piece of waterfront property gets sold to the three property owner’s whose land abuts land owned by the city and the provincial government.

Council didn’t see it that way and they agreed to the sale with a number of provisos.

To dispose of Water Street land parcels and develop Windows-to-the- Lake at the foot of St. Paul and Market Streets in a minimalistic manner (benches and signage); and

Direct the Director of Parks and Recreation to report back with a concept for the Windows-to-the-Lake; and

Direct the Director of Roads and Parks Maintenance to enhance Port Nelson Park with available funds.


There are three parcels of land currently owned by the city and the province. Council decided to sell the land in the centre and to create small parkettes on the east and the west. The small red line in the centre lot show the delineation between city and provincial lands.

The property belongs to the city – which means the public – but many members of this council don’t see the waterfront quite that way.

Council also directed the City Solicitor and Manager of Realty Services to work with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and enter into an agreement for the sale of MNR and city lots between St. Paul Street and Market Street to the adjacent land owners within the next six months.  They added to that to have the the City Solicitor and Manager of Realty Services to report back to Community Services Committee if a sale agreement for city lots between St. Paul Street and Market Street has not been reached within the six month period.

The six months is up and the people who unalterably opposed to the idea of selling the land in the first place plan to delegate and ask some hard questions.

The man managing the flow of paper, Ron Steiginga, Manager of Realty Services, is one of the best there is.  He was the staffer that handled the transfer, a lease actually, of that patch of land off Fairview that the Freeman Station is now sitting on.  On that project he had to deal with the Canadian subsidiary of an American multi-national corporation, the city and a private citizens group – and while it took a while – he got it done.  The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) should be a piece of cake for Steiginga.

The staff report lays out the process:

“Given the independent process that the MNR requires, it will take longer than the 6 months to process the agreements and complete all of the negotiations.

 “Realty staff has been in regular contact with MNR staff to advise them of Council’s resolution to sell the land to the adjacent owners and to determine what the MNR requirements are to proceed with this matter. In order for MNR staff to consider the sale of the land to the three landowners, the landowners were required to submit individual Applications for Crown Land which were processed by MNR staff.

“MNR staff has recently indicated to the owners that they are prepared to dispose of the filled Crown lands subject to the Ministry policies and procedures which includes the following key provisions:

1.     The land must be sold at market value.

2.     The City owned Water Street land must be transferred to the three landowners first before the MNR lands can be transferred.

Market - Lakefront-Foot-of-St.-Paul-730x1024

The property with the fence along the edge has riparian rights – which could be used to extend the public pathway even further.

They are working with the three landowners to resolve this issue. “It is clear” said the staff report “that both the MNR and City are in agreement that our respective policies require a fully documented appraisal process to determine the market value, and that both the City and the MNR are using the same valuation method and terms of reference.

Market - water street lots Ziegler-drawing

A resident opposed to the sale of the land put forward a proposal that would protect the privacy of the land owners and give the public access to the edge of the lake. The property on the right has riparian rights attached to it – and was rumoured to be going on the market in he near future. The city could have purchased the property, stripped the riparian rights and extended the waterfront trail just that much further. Port Nelson Park is one lot to the east of the riparian rights.

Given the time it takes for the owners and/or MNR to obtain and review appraisals, and conduct negotiations, staff expect that this matter will not reach a conclusion for at least an additional 6 months.

The citizen based Waterfront Advisory group apparently don’t like either the look or the smell of this and will be at the Standing Committee delegating.  This issue isn’t over yet.

Background links:

Selling the family jewels: Part 1

Selling the family jewels: Part 2

It wasn’t a popular decision.

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17 comments to The sale of that waterfront land isn’t a done deal yet – a citizens group will be delegating against any extension at council this week.

  • Hans jacobs

    I agree with Tony Pullin and I oppose the sale.

    “Mr. Wonderful” has no case and resorts to a pejorative “genius”, but his is the less convincing, and desperate, argument.

    Clearly, this case requires appraisals by a professional, accredited (AACI designation) appraiser of the potential buyer homeowner properties’ values with and without the added lakefront land to determine the incremental value that would accrue to the buyers.

    These data should be made public before any sale agreement is made, and the new assessment value should be made public afterwards, for the purpose of transparency.

  • Tony Pullin

    The market value of things is determined by offering things on the open market to all prospective consumers. Appraised values are, well, appraised values. If the City is really silly enough to rid the Public of these lands, why would they not put it on the open market where a fair buying opportunity would exist for everyone?
    For the record, in my opinion, it is insane for the City to ever give up waterfront property. Maybe the readers could be reminded of how each council member voted.

    • Mr. Wonderful

      Ok genius, even if you thought you knew what you were buying, how much would you pay?

      • Tony Pullin

        I would pay whatever it was worth to ME. Some of the other 7.166 billion people in the world would likely be prepared to pay more than me. However, only one of the 7.166 billion people in the world has been given the opportunity by the City to buy it.

        • Mr. Wonderful

          Does anybody have an accurate description of what exactly is being sold?

          As a critic, you should at least start the debate with how much you would pay, assuming you knew what you were buying.

          A typical purchaser usually knows what exactly it is they are buying.

          If you dont know what you are buying, then how can you set a price?

          • Tony Pullin

            What I would or could pay is irrelevant. This property is owned by the people of Burlington. I, like the rest of us Burlingtonians are vendors, not a buyers. Do you put you own house on the market and then buy it from yourself because it is priced just right?
            I never set a price Mr. Wonderful. How much would you pay? I can tell you…zero. Because unless you are that one person out of 7.166 billion, you don’t have the opportunity to pay anything because you are not an eligible buyer. As I said in my original comment, the value is determined by the open market.
            Perhaps you are correct and the general public should have an accurate description of what is being sold. It could be advertised in the real estate section of the Post with a suggested selling price. We could then determine individually if we would pay more, or pay less. Then 7.166 billion less one could walk away because we are ineligble to make an offer.
            Do you think that the City should continue to sell public waterfront property Mr. Wonderful? If so, do you think it should be available only to persons of the City’s choosing? Do you object to an open market scenario?

          • Mr. Wonderful

            You are correct in terms of price; notwithstanding you still don’t know what the “property” is that is being sold by the city.

            The price one would pay for what is being sold by the city and by the Ministry of Natural Resources is ZERO Dollars ($0.00).

          • Tony Pullin

            Zero $? Oh dear! Then lets dump it. Let’s get rid of the beach too because its not worth anything either presumably.

          • Mr. Wonderful

            The beach is different in many ways and it would never be sold.

            You and others obviously do not know exactly what is being sold in this particular case. If you knew, your opinions and comments would potentially have more relevance because they could be compared to factual evidence and reality.

          • Tony Pullin

            Does it look anything like the photos in this article or did Pepper cut and paste those from his skydiving scrapbook?
            Further, based on your analysis that the market value is $0.00, could you send a memo to the City and the MNR not to bother with the appraisal process as it would represent an unnecessary cost to the taxpayer.
            I’m almost at the point where I think I should congratulate you on your wonderful aquisition.

            Editor’s note: I do not sky dive – the picture came from either the city of the MNR. I learned several months ago that the MNR was experiencing some indigestion with this file.

          • Mr. Wonderful

            The MNR is dysfunctional. The answer is $0.00. End of story.

          • Tony Pullin

            The question is why sell it? Over and out. Go Leafs.

          • Mr. Wonderful

            Sell what.

            Not one critic against this sale has shown any knowledge about exactly what property is being sold.
            Editor’s note: Not true; map in o the site in one on the stories – right here.

          • Blair Smith

            First – good luck Pepper with your surgery!

            Next, given the propensity of “Mr. Wonderful” to comment on the universe writ large with a tongue that’s acerbic when not openly offensive, perhaps he or she would like to start posting with his/her real name. Again, just a thought.

          • Tony Pullin

            Mr. Wonderful, I believe most of us think it is the land depicted in the pictures above. Along the lakefront between Market Street and St. Paul. Is this in error? If you have further information about these lands that we may be lacking, it would be simpler if you just told us.
            I think some of us here would also like to hear your explanation why you think there is zero value to these lands. Hans makes an excellent comment contrary to that belief below. I do however, appreciate your efforts in elevating this debate.

  • greg.fabian

    When is the Standing Committee? Day? time? place?

    Editor’s note: City Hall 7:00 pm Tuesday the 27th

  • greg.fabian

    Funny, I was just thinking about this on the drive home today.

    I think this land should be held as city land and a park.

    I wrote to Jack Dennison about this last year and he just fluffed off my email, basically saying it’s a done deal.

    Well, not if I can help in anyway.

    If its still not in private hands then I think we should all be packing a lunch everyday and enjoying the view from there.