There are direc benefits and there are indirect benefits - the most direct benefit available to voters is the ballot box.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 12th, 2018



Mayor Rick Goldring used his blog to comment and explain a Staff Report on the proposed Section 37 Community Benefits for 421 Brant Street.


Mayor Rick Goldring explains the Section 37 deal the city is getting ready to give Carriage Gate.

The Mayor puts his comments in context saying: On November 13, 2017, Council approved applications to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law, as modified by staff, to permit a mixed-use development with a height up to 23 storeys at the north-east corner of Brant and James Street across from City Hall.

He adds that he “did not support the approval as I believe the height is excessive for this location.”
Section 37 of the Planning Act is a planning tool which allows municipalities to accept “community benefits” when granting increased density and/or height through a change in zoning or official plan policy.

He then explains that there are direct and indirect community benefits. For many this will be the first time they have heard of that distinction.

A direct community benefit is a monetary contribution.

An indirect community benefit has a public interest but doesn’t involve a direct monetary contribution.

The direct benefits listed below have been negotiated under Section 37 by Planning staff. The indirect benefits were identified as part of the development proposal outlined in the November Planning report in support of the approved 23 storey development.

Here is the list of community benefits that Planning staff are recommending for approval: Three are direct and six are indirect.

Sweet! For who?  The city needs a better negotiator – and having at least something in the way of public participation in this process is a must.

A smart developer would have gone out to the community asking for ideas.

• To assist in the pursuit of long-term affordable housing, the Developer agrees to a discount of $300,000 to be used against the purchase price of up to 10 dwelling units within the subject development, or in the event that a purchase(s) is/are not to occur within the subject development, the Developer agrees to provide the City with a cash contribution of $300,000 prior to condominium registration. [Direct benefit]

• The Developer agrees to provide a direct community benefit of $150,000 towards the public art reserve fund to be used within the publicly accessible privately owned easement area referred to in subsection (v) and/or in the future Civic Square expansion area. [Direct benefit]

• The Developer agrees to provide a direct community benefit of a $50,000 contribution towards the future expansion of Civic Square. [Direct benefit]

• The Developer agrees to provide one (1) publicly accessible car share parking space (indirect community benefit assessed at $50,000) and contribute to the City’s emerging car-share network by accommodating a car-share vehicle for a minimum of two years starting from the first occupancy (indirect community benefit assessed at $50,000), or equivalent.

This might be of some benefit to the people who will live in the building – what about the rest of the people?

• The Developer agrees to provide public access by way of an easement to be registered on title for lands located at the northeast corner of Brant Street and James Streets, the minimum dimensions of which are in the form of a triangle measured at 16m by 16m (an indirect community benefit assessed at $75,000).

Opening up some space is nice – this one sounds more like a direct benefit – could perhaps be a location for an imaginative Pop Up

• The Developer agrees to provide eight (8) visitor parking spaces (indirect community benefit accessed at $400,000).

Great if you are visiting people who live in the building – great sales feature as well.

Remembered, respected

Remembered, respected

• The Developer agrees, and it is enshrined within the amending zoning by-law, that increased building setbacks, including widened sidewalks on Brant Street, James Street, and John Street, and view corridors on Brant Street and James Street to City Hall and the Cenotaph (indirect community benefit accessed at $250,000).

How did this get valued at a quarter of a million dollars?

• The Developer agrees to implement green technology and sustainable architecture elements into the subject property in accordance with either LEED certification standards and/or compliance with the City’s Sustainable Building and Development guidelines (indirect community benefit accessed at $300,000).

Nice for the environment – should be standard on every new building put up in the city.  Not a benefit – a given

• The Developer agrees to implement City of Burlington Streetscape Guidelines Standards within the Brant Street, James Street, and John Street public realm areas, including the expanded building setback areas at-grade and the publicly accessible open space easement area outlined in (v) above (an indirect community benefit accessed at $150,000).

How did the value get determined?  Doesn’t appear as if there was anyone in the room his was negotiated in to speak up for the people.

A government that speaks for the interests of the tax payers would be nice.  Ballot boxes are nicer.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Gazette.


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8 comments to There are direct benefits and there are indirect benefits – the most direct benefit available to voters is the ballot box.

  • Penny

    I am never surprised at how the City puts the spin on things. I didn’t see anywhere in this blog where it is mentioned that the City Report for Section 37- Community Benefits starts off ” THE CITY “MAY ENCOURAGE THE USE OF COMMUNITY BENFIT PROVISIONS TO THE FOLLOWING ITEMS. UP TO 10 DWELLING UNITS, AGREE TO A DISCOUNT OF $300,000.00 per unit – WHAT DOES” UP TO” MEAN – It could be 1 Unit, can’t believe they will turn around and contribute that amount for 10 units.
    – The $300,000.00 Cash contribution per unit – should it ever be received would this money be designated to Affordable Housing or simply go to into the City’s General Account?

    Public Art that seems to be going onto the condominium site, along with 8 visitor parking spaces that will probably be sold off to potential owners that require more than 1 space ( this is what has happened in many of the newer condominium developments). Is this what is considered to be a benefit either DIRECT OR INDIRECT?

    At delegation Carriage Gate stated that these Community Benefits, at this point were not open to renegotiation, and does not involve input from the public. Negotiations for Section 37 are an administration decision. Is this correct?

    Other than Marianne Meed Ward who challenged some of what was said, the rest of Council asked no questions.

  • BurlingtonLocal

    Since they squeezed this monstrosity (and a bunch of others on the way) into the core because of a mobility hub technicality, exploit that for a legitimate community benefit. Have the developer(s) pay for the bus running from the Downtown “Mobility Hub” to the Burlington Go Station for the next decade. Make the ADI Group and all the others chip in too.

    Eight visitor parking spots? ‘Some’ LEED features? As per usual, amateur hour at the negotiating table on the city’s part…..what a joke!

  • doug

    It amazes me how City Hall thinks we are stupid.
    – I pay taxes to have a driveway big enough to hold my visitors cars, is part part development not a City benefit.
    – community benefits $500,000, developer get a dozen more units at $1 million per units for the profit from one unit. Big contribution there by developer.
    – mobility hub, that’s a laugh, two bedroom units not to many families will move it there.
    The list of our in incompetent thinking Councillors and City staff is pathetic.

  • Joe Gaetan

    Sure glad none of these people are negotiating NAFTA.

  • C Jester

    Sounds a little like the following, with all due respect….

    “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

    Donald Rumsfeld

  • William

    I did a quick Google search on “section 37 Ontario direct and indirect benefits”. My cursory search seemed to indicate only Burlington makes this distinction.

    What’s obvious is the city negotiates bad deals. The public artwork is not for our benefit (nor are we looking for it), but to move condo units. $300,000 for up to 10 affordable housing units is a pittance. It barely covers the deputy city manager’s annual salary.

    Staff recommended acceptance the ridiculous 23 storeys because of the increased setbacks. Calling this now a Section 37 benefit suggests a bait and switch.

    An extra elevator and visitor parking is not a community benefit (by the way, when is Carriage Gate building the parking garage on John Street?)

    The mayor is hapless. He eagerly repeats what he’s spoon-fed by the planning department. Will he ever grow a backbone and say this is a bad deal for Burlington?

  • Stephen White

    8 visitor parking space!. Wow! What a significant achievement! There’s something that will really benefit the community. I wonder how many long nights of drawn out, intense negotiations and arm-twisting it took to pry loose that concession from the developer? Those Planning Department officials really are a group of seasoned, tough, hard-nosed negotiators. Even Donald Trump would be amazed!

    The City would have been further ahead to appoint a Committee comprised of citizens, representatives of social agencies, one or two business leaders, not-for-profits organizations, and one or two public servants, to identify much-needed projects throughout the City that would receive priority consideration for direct and indirect benefits. That would at least ensure broad input and hopefully, some imagination and forethought.

    The City doesn’t just need a better negotiator…it needs a better process….and hopefully a new Mayor with a better grip on reality!

  • Hans

    Clearly the rules can be broken by anyone with deep enough pockets.

    Hazel McCallion would have gotten more. Much more.