Tom Muir wants to know why the city missed a 180 day deadline on a major project opposed by almost everyone.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 9, 2015


Tom Muir is an Aldershot resident who takes what goes on in his community seriously – he is a major thorn in the side of Rick Craven, the council member for the ward.

Muir making a point

Aldershot resident Tom Muir is a strong believer in community participation in how the city grows. He has issues with the way city council failed to do its job.,


Muir has been wanting to know how the city ended up facing an Ontario Municipal Board hearing over a development that was proposed for the Lakeshore Road/Martha Street intersection in the downtown part of the city.

Muir had written Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and copied the Mayor and the city manager in the middle of September about the matter and thought he deserved at least an acknowledgement. As Muir explains it “I asked for an explanation of how the staff report on this ADI project did not make it to Council within the 180 days mandated in the legislation as default grounds for OMB appeal.

“My initial message was sent to Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward, where the proposed project is located, and cc’d Mayor Goldring and City Manager James Ridge

Muir says he find it disturbing that his initial message has been completely and inexplicably ignored by Councillor Meed Ward.

Not on to be easily deterred Muir wrote a follow up letter asking to be informed about how the decision was arrived at to allow the 180 day period, mandated by legislation, to elapse before the Council vote was made?

“Whether it was deliberate or inadvertent, an explanation to inform citizens is warranted” said Muir.

“I have reviewed all of the pertinent content of the newsletters put out by Councillor Meed Ward, dated March 31, and September 16. There is no explanation there addressing my question; the latest newsletter commentary reads like the decision to let the timeline elapse did not happen.”

“What is written there rationalizes, and pardons, this failure to meet a deadline that triggers an automatic legal grounds for appeal to the OMB. It further denies that this failure matters, or is of consequence, and tries to project the blame for the predictable outcome on the developer ADI.”

Muir points out that the 180 day deadline was not legislated for nothing, so you can’t blame ADI for pursuing their legal rights. The fault lies in the city letting this happen.

The process timeline included in the March 31 Meed Ward newsletter shows that the city planning department recommendation for refusal of the ADI application was made public, and therefore provided to ADI, more than a week before the 180 day deadline. “In this situation” said Muir, “it is irrational planning management for the city to then fail to meet the deadline.”

“The city failure to meet this 180 day deadline is a major victory for the aggressive approach of ADI. It gives them an automatic appeal standing with the OMB, a very valuable legal right.

ADI Nautique sign

Aldershot resident argues that the city’s failure to act properly on a development application almost legitimizes signs like this.

“Further, it apparently legitimizes the several marketing activities they now have underway. These too are aggressive, speculative and misleading.

“These go beyond the controversial billboard on the proposed building site, and the storefront on Brant St being opened by ADI, advertising they are open for business for registration of purchases of “Lakefront Residences”, in what is called “Nautique”.

“Further, for example, I received a post card size advertisement in the mail, from a Loyalty Real Estate Brokerage, selling the ADI project address, but it is called a “Burlington Condominium”. It promises numerous project features, VIP first access, huge discounts, no lineups, instant gain on purchase, and wide selection of units.

“As well, in the Hamilton Spectator real estate section, New Home Living, dated October 3, ADI is advertising “Nautique”, as “arriving soon” and invites registration. Again, it is obviously the proposed project.

“This is spectacle, and where it will lead is assuredly to nowhere good for the city and citizens. It reminds me of a gold rush promotion mentality where shares in a mine site – in this case a patch of pavement and dirt – that has been salted, but not proved, are being hustled for sale.

“It begs the question of what the responsible city staff were thinking to surrender control of this development situation to ADI? What kind of city organization would allow this to happen?

“What kind of development planning strategy and tactics, and business plan does this action entail?

This appears an illogical retreat from a position of dominant planning argument, strength, and public support.

“What is the rationale for revealing, then folding a winning hand, thus letting ADI outflank the city, go straight to the OMB, and then use this to market what they failed to get the city to approve on official planning grounds?

“It could constitute city hall actions based on something sensible, or maybe worse, but how will we ever know with no information and transparency? It really needs inquiry, and needs to be visible.  Transparent decision making processes are part of the foundation of the good governance of a municipality.

“You all know your duties and responsibilities under legislation and policy, and I will not read you chapter and verse, but just give a taste that is most relevant here.”

Section 224, subsection (d) of the Municipal Act is a good starting point. It outlines the role of the municipal council as follows:

“224. It is the role of council,

(d) to ensure that administrative policies, practices and procedures and controllership policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council;
(d.1) to ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality, including the activities of the senior management of the municipality;” (my emphasis)

Burlington City Council Group

Aldershot resident Tom Muir wants city council to do the job the Municipal Act requires them to do. He’d also like an explanation as to why they appear to have goofed on the ADI development application.

The Municipal Councillors Guide 2014 states that ,”Clearly, accountability and transparency are a priority in maintaining public trust in council and in the management of your municipality. Section 224 of the Act explicitly includes ensuring the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality as part of the role of council.” Control and responsibility are other givens.

Muir, who doesn’t give up on issues that he thinks are important adds the  “Burlington Citizens Engagement Charter contains similar and identical text, and city commitment and policy. As does the draft Code of Conduct, approved by Committee, and passed to the City Manager by Council for inclusion in the Strategic Plan. You can add in the Oath of Office that Council members take.”

Muir sums up his most recent letter saying: “I hope that you can see your fundamental responsibilities, both legislated and policy, in this matter of providing the explanation I have asked for.

“It’s your duty to ensure the transparency and accountability that underlie credibility and trust.”

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11 comments to Tom Muir wants to know why the city missed a 180 day deadline on a major project opposed by almost everyone.

  • Tom Muir

    LOIS, you suggested an oversight group, and two of us offered to follow if you took the lead in the formation.

    My offer still stands.


    As I mentioned in another article…Burlingtonians need to stop allowing 7 people around the horse shoe mis-manage this City. I have witnessed all sorts of going ons. Including councillors who disqualify delegations and petitions. Councillor who change sides. Councillors who don’t reply to enquiries such as yours, councillors who are out right rude!! They are spending our money, they are making huge decisions about every issue in our community…we should have an online voting system (ie referendums on issues that cause debate…the Pier would have been a good one to start with). Dear Mayor…why were you in China recently? Our taxes paid for that trip…we want to know…we have the right to know! Transparency please!!

  • John

    My apologies to Councilor Sharman for the spelling of his name.

  • P Carlson

    Quick , talk about big signs again and maybe the concerned citizens will be distracted and stop asking their tough questions about transparency.

  • John

    Your theory of this being a deliberate strategy to politically protect the local councilor (in this case Meed Ward)and our mayor leaves a few questions for me.
    Was it the same deliberate strategy to protect ward 5 councilor Sharmon and our mayor on the ADI Sutton project?
    If this pattern is repeated in the upcoming ward 1 ADI project, would it be political protection for Craven and our mayor?

    • P Carlson

      It may be indeed protection also in those cases. But what I take issue with here is that while those ward 1 and 5 councillors make no bones about being pro development, Mead Ward poses herself as fighting for the people first. She is my councillor and I feel terribly let down. We expected more.

      • John

        P Carlson
        I am feeling let down, not just with Meed Ward but with the other 5 councilors and the mayor. If Tom Muir doesn’t get the explanation he is asking for you can add the city manager to that list.
        This was a group effort,all sharing the responsibility or lack of equally.

        Perhaps when Peter replies his take on the deliberate strategy will help explain these unfortunate events.

  • Ellen

    Mead Ward’s slogan of let’s “change the conversation” has never been so pertinent. I bet she’s feeling her neck for not stepping up to the plate on this most important issue in her own ward. I am disappointed that as Tom points out this is not dealt with in either newsletter nor were his letters addressed. Despite all the blusters it appears she is the same as all the other councillor’s.

  • Peter Rusin

    The reason was simply to shift the blame onto the OMB for the outcome. This was a deliberate strategy for political protection of the local councillor and the mayor. Unfortunately there is a punitive price tag attached when the ball is deliberately dropped, especially on a high profile project such as this.

    However, there is still a way to keep this matter from proceeding to the OMB, only if there is some political will and competency to do the right thing.

  • C Jester

    Tom I commend your tenacity on this issue. Many other citizens support your views. But don’t expect an explanation. This council mouths the transparency openness and responsibility words quite well; but living them, not so much.

    There will likely be a negotiated settlement again behind closed doors before the OMB hearings start. Again, we will be kept in the dark by our betters. As usual the word “complex” will be used to protect us from the details. We’re just not smart enough to understand these “complex” issues. Obviously true – we voted them all back in!

  • John

    All very good questions and you deserve equally good answers.

    This is not the first time the city has ignored the 180 day timeline with ADI.
    A look at the OMB web site reveals the city allowed the same situation to happen with the ADI Sutton project.
    It also revealed the city and ADI reached a settlement before the onset of the hearing.
    What we got was a city decision to change the official plan not a decision imposed by the OMB.

    This is a different situation and has it’s own unique circumstances however, it may also be a repeat of history yet to be written