Three properties that were not originally part of where the 29,000 homes are to be built are now part of the mix. Everything now changes

By Pepper Parr

April 15th, 2024


This is a long article intended for those who want to understand how the city is going to grow and the changes that will take place

There are three development projects that will set a new approach to how the city works with developers and at the same time result in significant development that will change the way the city is seen as a community.

This was presented to Council earlier in the month and started with:

Direct the Director of Community Planning to implement the targeted timeline set out in a of community planning department report to support the development of an Area Specific Plan informed by City objectives, inputs from the landowner/applicant information and City-led public engagement, to define the Urban Structure role, the Growth Framework prioritization and the land use policies for Bronte Creek Meadows.

Direct the Director to engage with all ROPA 49 landowners as one input into the development of the City’s population and employment work and to inform the development of the revisions to the Urban Structure, Growth Framework and preparing supporting timeline and approach to initiate the development of area specific plans or their equivalent.

Alison Enns: Manager of Policy and Community Planning.

The ball carrier in this instance was Alison Enns, Manager of Policy and Community who was very specific, direct and detailed.  This is a whopper of a task.

None of these properties have been considered in the Official Plan, other Master Plans or the City or Regional Development Charges and all have been supported by City Council to form part of the Region’s 2023 Allocation Program.

In December 2023 the city set out four key areas of focus.

Focus Area 1 is: Designing and delivering complete communities. Specifically, the work discussed in this report responds, in part to G:

Deliver on the City’s Official Plan 2020 with an update to reflect growth and needs of complete communities. This update will include the transfer of all Official Plan policies from Halton Region to the City of Burlington, confirmation of additional strategic growth areas (e.g., ROPA 49 decision – Oct 2022), and Burlington’s 2031 Housing Pledge target of 29,000 units. This update will be supported by a proactive communication and engagement plan.


Some background:

After a period of turbulence Bill 162, which is currently referred to a provincial Standing Committee, will, if passed, will reinstate four significant changes with impacts on the BOP, 2020 Urban Structure, Growth Framework and Land Use policies. BOP = Burlington Official Plan

Staff wanted to confirm with Council the approach to planning for three key future growth areas and believe the approach presented can be a model for understanding the role of all of these new areas.

Background and Discussion:

In June, 2023 a number of issues resulted in a need to develop an initial work plan to undertake the necessary work to bring the BOP,2020 into “alignment with the updated Regional and Provincial policy framework”

The overall workplan acknowledged the role for both modifications to the BOP, 2020 at the OLT and statutory official plan amendments (OPAs) to develop a local vision for growth and development to address the range of changes to the planning framework.

While the initial workplan identified a wide range of changes in play some have not been realized as set out in recent Targeted Realignment Update reports.

“The targeted realignment exercise was introduced to Council in mid-2023, and was set out as an initial work plan to advance the Burlington Official Plan, 2020 (BOP, 2020) in a way that ensured alignment with the updated Regional and Provincial policy framework.

“The overall legal strategy acknowledges the role for both modifications through the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT)  as well as statutory official plan amendments (OPAs) in order to develop a local vision for growth and development to address the range of changes to the planning framework since the 2020 Regional approval of the Burlington Official Plan.

“Despite continued uncertainty staff have initiated work on the development of City specific population and employment growth forecasts.”

Regional Structure and Regional Urban Structure Changes

Several land use assumptions of the BOP, 2020 and the work prepared to support the Regional Official Plan Review have changed. The BOP, 2020 established a refined Urban Structure, Growth Framework and revised Land Use policies that together set out the long-term growth management strategy for a largely intensifying municipality.

That long-term growth management strategy did not anticipate the new areas (introduced either through the addition of new community areas within the urban area or through employment conversion).

It was an on, off and then on again process that made it very difficult for the Planning department.  With the Executive Director of Community Planning nolonger with the city there is some scrambling taking place.

On April 22 Hassaan Basit former President and Chief Executive Officer at Conservation Halton will arrive at City Hall and serve as the City Manager. Hassaan started his career as an evolutionary biologist.

Add to that a new City Manager joining the city and you get a sense as to the environment staff are working within.

Initially, the Minister’s modifications to Regional Council approved Regional Official Plan Amendment 49 (ROPA 49) converted several employment areas, and added several new urban areas within the City of Burlington.

Next, legislation through Bill 150 was introduced to rescind almost all of the Minister’s modifications. Subsequently, in response to feedback from the Mayor, with Council support, the initial Minister’s modifications may soon be reinstated almost in their entirety if Bill 162 is passed in the Provincial legislature.

While the effect of Bill 162, if passed would automatically incorporate the physical changes to the Regional Official Plan it is important to note as recently set out in Region of Halton Staff report

ROPA 49 as adopted by Regional Council in June 2022 directed growth to 2041 to the existing Regional Urban Boundary and identified a framework that would be used to plan for future growth between 2041 and 2051. The Minister’s November 2022 decision modified ROPA 49 to extend its growth strategy to 2051 and to revise the population and employment forecasts for each municipality. The Minister’s modifications related to the planning horizon and growth forecasts were rescinded through Bill 150, but are now proposed to be reinstated through Bill 162. The population and employment distribution to 2051 for Halton Region and the Local Municipalities in  the Regional Official Plan is as follows:

Upper Middle Road looking east towards Burloak is now land that becomes part of the planning domain.  A Ministerial order converted it from Employment to mixed use.

The City has determined it is critical and timely to initiate its own population and employment growth analysis, in advance of Royal Proclamation of Bill 23. In order to prepare this study best information is required to support this analysis, including determining the role and function of several new community areas including new urban areas.

The Local Growth Management Update will require best information and assumptions as inputs as it relates to the new areas, at a minimum the following issues must be considered:

      • How will the newly converted employment areas and new urban areas fit within the City’s Urban Structure;
      • How will the newly converted employment areas and new urban areas bereflected in the Growth Framework in light of the City’s focus on growth within existing Strategic Growth Areas within the built boundary; and
      • What the vision, role and function of the newly converted employment areas and new urban areas reflected through the creation of area-specific plans or policies for major growth areas.

The answers to these three questions will be assessed against:

      1. Updated Regional and Provincial plans, policies and legislation,
      2. Burlington’s Strategic Plan and From Vision to Focus,
      3. Burlington Official Plan, 2020,
      4. Burlington’s Housing Strategy,
      5. Burlington’s Housing Pledge, and
      6. Other City objectives

The outcome of the work will be to determine how the City of Burlington will be planning to 2051 and beyond for:

      • Employment, jobs and economic development,
      • New population growth,
      • The creation of diverse housing options and opportunities to welcome new residents to the City,
      • The development of these three key areas from all

Bound by Hwy 403 and the rail lines the land will change how Burlington relates to Hamilton. King Road is at the bottom of the photograph.

Some of the landowners noted above currently hold broad appeals to the Burlington Official Plan, 2020. A critical early priority of working with any of these landowners should be a request to scope appeals to the BOP, 2020 to site-specific appeal. This is an important request as staff have continuously noted that the wide-ranging broad appeals to the BOP, 2020 are impacting non-appellant landowners and developers from moving forward with the creation of new homes and new development. Staff believe this approach to be reasonable as the individual landowners retain their appeal, albeit at a site-specific level.

The three “future” areas have single owners, none have been considered in the Official Plan, other Master Plans or the City or Regional Development Charges and all have been supported by City Council to form part of the Region’s 2023 Allocation Program.

A partnership with the City, landowners and the public to guide the planning work for these areas presents an opportunity to demonstrate, in action, community responsive growth and the opportunity to create vibrant, mixed use, people-oriented communities.More broadly, new assumptions and new population and employment growth along with new policy directions will drive new considerations and requirements that will need to be captured in a whole range of other plans and strategies. As has been previously noted there will be additional costs related to updating critical local master plans and other key documents to appropriately plan for the whole range of local services (in addition to Regional Services). As with all new growth there will be long term costs as well as benefits related to new growth that will be considered in the coming years.

Rendering of some of the development ideas the Alinea Group had for their 1200 King Road property.

Other Resource Impacts
There are significant demands on staff time given critical deadlines, and other associated efforts underway or about to be initiated. Staff will continue to monitor staff and work plans and proactively identify means of addressing any gaps.There may be a need to supplement staff complement to continue to make progress on a wide range of issues.

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