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Waterfront Planning Study Completed: here is what they are recommending and why. On the Tuesday Council agenda

By Pepper Parr

April 4th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A report that was going to need a couple of months to be completed by the consultant the city had hired was given a big push and – on Tuesday Council will be asked to receive the report and endorse the recommendation from The Planning Partnership

The Appendix A part of the 245 page document is where the meat on the bone is set out. We will publish that as a seperate article.

The 400 page addendum to the Standing Committee will be debated on Tuesday. – virtually

The white dotted line is the study area. The elephant in the room is the waterfront hotel site. What gets put on that property impact everything else.

Receive the “Waterfront Hotel Planning Study Planning Justification Report” dated March 23, 2022, prepared by The Planning Partnership Limited, E

Endorse in principle the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study, the recommended Preferred Concept Plan, site-specific draft Official Plan policies, directions for a future Zoning By- law amendment and site-specific Urban Design Guidelines as detailed in Appendix “A” to community planning department report PL-28-22; and

Consider the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study findings in Council’s consideration of the site-specific development applications for 2020 Lakeshore Road.

The consultants are saying – no more public engagement – we have heard all we need to hear – let’s just get on with it – or words to that effect.

The Mayor and Councillor Lisa Kearns bought into the Plan B objectives and became champions for it.

The Plan B people put a lot of pressure on the ward Councillor Lisa Kearns and the Mayor – those two bought into what Plan B was advocating, championed that point of view and ipso facto ( an inevitable result) a report comes popping out.

The city needed to close this poorly handled stage of downtown development.

What is particularly concerning is that the continued failures on the part of the Planning department took place when we had a Mayor who was going to bring some order to the way developments were handled.

One paragraph in the report, as dismal as it is, reflects what has been going on. It reads: Subsequently, the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was placed on hold due to other various priorities in the Community Planning Department such as the new Official Plan process.

The decision came from the City Manager and Council went along with it.  No one asked what the down side risk was. We now know what that risk is.

One Councillor who didn’t want to be quoted said to me during a conversation: “What Vision” – this city doesn’t have a vision.

The PIER went trough its trial and tribulations. The city ended up with a tower that did nothing other than add to the price. It was supposed to house a wind turbine that would pay for the electricity used.

The building of The Pier went through a similar tortuous process. In that situation the city paid for The Pier twice and went through one of the biggest collection of insurance law suits this city has ever seen.

The purpose of the study was to provide a land use and urban design framework to inform site-specific policies to guide a future redevelopment of the Subject Site.

The quaint small village feel is hard to experience as you walk by the six level podium that has been proposed.

The problem with that approach was that the city took so long to get the study completed that the owner of the Waterfront Hotel got tired of waiting and filed a development application that will plunk two 40+ towers at the bottom of Brant Street and crowd the sidewalk of Lakeshore with the kind of structure you find on Bloor Street in Toronto.

The time line the city was faced with was a treacherous path. When the Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Committee iinformed Council on January 11, 2022, that the anticipated timeline to complete the study was 16-17 weeks a wave of indigestion must have hit the tummies of every member of council. They came back with a Staff Direction:

They did it virtually – made sure that the Waterfront Study was going to be completed in time. Out went the 16 – 18 week. They had a couple of weeks to deliver.

Direct the Director of Community Planning to complete the Waterfront Hotel Study within the statutory time frame of processing the pending application related to the Waterfront Hotel (2020 Lakeshore Road) so as to inform the review of any development proposal on this site in accordance with the policies of the Official Plan.

The time frame was this: The developer had the right to appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal for a decision because the city did not respond within the allotted 120days – in order to avoid such an appeal the city had to complete their review of the application before April 17th.
The city Planning department “refusal” report is to be heard at Council on the 12th.

An overview of the Study findings is summarized below:

This is the concept the consultants working on the Waterfront Hotel Study are putting forward based on the work they have been doing since 2017. The question is – Is this the best the city can do? And does it comply with the vision.

The recommended preferred concept (2022): 

has regard for matters of Provincial Interest, policy and legislation and has been designed with consideration for the intent of the applicable Regional and Local Municipal policies and guidelines;

reflects overall alignment with City’s in-force Official Plan (1997), the new Official Plan (2020), ROPA 48 and emerging context within the Study Area;

delivers a vibrant mix of uses that will reinforce and support the continuing evolution of the Downtown;

provides for a compact built form that is transit supportive, provides for a range of housing, supports intensification and provides for a range of uses

enhances the streetscape along Lakeshore Road unified with a common language of materials and design elements;

provides for public view corridors down Brant and John Streets to Lake Ontario;

provides for on-site parkland dedication to enhance public access to Spencer Smith Park and build upon an important landmark through high quality open space;

Proposed urban design guidelines will provide site-specific guidance related to the conditions and context of the site to implement the Vision and Principles established through the consultation process and subsequently endorsed in principle by Council in early 2018;

An Official Plan Amendment (OPA) to the in-force OP is required to implement the findings of this Study, and include site specific directions related to matters such as massing and scale, transportation and public open spaces; and,

A Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) will be required to implement the OPA. The Study recommends that a rezoning process take place in the future to consider the Preferred Concept (2022) and would also be supported by detailed technical studies.

The following sections of this report summarizes the recommended preferred concept and implementation tools.

The recommended preferred concept is based on the inputs and work completed in 2017 and 2018, feedback on the emerging preferred concept (2022) and consideration for the relevant policy drivers and changes since the Study paused in mid-2018. Section 6.0 of the Planning Justification Report (see Appendix “A”) provides a comprehensive overview of the preferred concept plan.

Highlights of the Recommended Preferred Concept/ Highlights of the preferred concept include:

Land Use / Built Form

• Building heights: 21 storeys for the west tower and 22 storeys for the east tower
• John Street public view corridor with a minimum width of 18 metres
• Stepping down of built form toward Lake Ontario
• 3-storey podium/street wall along Lakeshore Road
• Active at-grade uses like commercial, retail and restaurants
• Focus on a strong pedestrian relationship to the streets and public spaces

Public Realm

• Enhance Brant Street as a gateway to the Downtown, the Waterfront and the Waterfront Trail
• Enhance the entrance to Spencer Smith Park and the Brant Street public view corridor
• Additional public parkland identified on the west and south sides of the Subject Site:
o West side: 0.13 ha
o South side: 0.05 ha
o Total: 0.18 ha
• Provide a John Street public view corridor and inclusion of a privately-owned public space (POPS)
• Maintain existing trees along Lakeshore Road

Mobility and Access

• Remove existing vehicular access at the foot of Brant Street
• Site access for parking and loading from Elizabeth Street
• Active Transportation route along Lakeshore Road, including a painted buffered bike lane as identified in the City’s Cycling Master Plan
• No surface parking on site

Future Zoning By-law Amendment

A Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) will be required to implement the OPA. The Study recommends that a rezoning process take place in the future to consider the Preferred Concept. Furthermore, the Study provides that:

“A future rezoning process, supported by technical studies and further evaluation, would allow for flexibility to achieve an interesting built form that would better respond to the landmark nature of this site. This ZBA process would take place in the future and would advance additional engagement through the statutory public process. It would allow for the principles of this Study to be further advanced and explored through meaningful active engagement with the public and stakeholders of this project. Furthermore, a rezoning in the future would allow for community benefits to be leveraged through Section 37.” (or in accordance with alternative benefit charges).

Site-Specific Urban Design Guidelines

The Study recommends site-specific urban design guidelines that will apply to the development of the Subject Site.

When the two towers are in place the pressure to allow higher intensification on this part of Brant that is a two walk away in distance will be tremendous. The two towers remake the downtown – which is fine – if that it what you want.

The intent of the site-specific urban design guidelines is to augment and enhance the City existing urban design documents by providing site-specific guidance related to the conditions and context of the site. They will work together with the guidance provided in the City’s design documents to implement the Vision and Principles established through the Study’s consultation process phase and subsequently endorsed in principle by Council in June 2018.

The site-specific urban design guidelines are provided in Section 6.3 of the Study (Appendix “A”).
The recommended site-specific urban design guidelines provide guidance with regards to:

• Built Form (Building Placement; Building Height, Massing and Transition; Tower Separation; Podium Height; and Setbacks / Stepbacks);

• Access and Mobility; and

• Public Realm (John Street View Corridor; Spencer Smith Park; Lakeshore Road; and Elizabeth Street).

Staff Position on The Study’s Recommendations

Staff are supportive of the recommendations as outlined in the Study

Delivers a vibrant mix of uses that will reinforce and support the continuing evolution of the Downtown;

• Has regard for matters of Provincial, Regional and Local Municipal policies and guidelines;

• Includes tall mixed-use buildings with commercial uses at grade, and residential and/or hotel uses which address many Provincial, Regional objectives and aligns with the overall directions established by ROPA 48;

• Achieves the City’s vision as articulated in the in-force OP (1997) and considers the policy direction of the new OP (2020);

• Provides residents and jobs and public open spaces in this central location that will further support the creation of a complete community; and,

• Creates a special place by balancing significant new redevelopment with public amenities and accessible open spaces.

It is staff’s opinion the completion of the Study has been fulfilled with the delivery of The Planning Partnership’s Planning Justification Report.

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4 comments to Waterfront Planning Study Completed: here is what they are recommending and why. On the Tuesday Council agenda

  • Sharon

    Good thing there is an election in June!

  • perryb

    You only have to visit downtown Oakville to realize that “downtown” Burlington is toast. At least three of the last City Councils have repeatedly dropped the ball and allowed the downtown to be taken over by a collection of mis-matched properties waiting to be demolished in favour of … whatever… prey for aggressive developers. With the noble City Hall soon to disappear in the midst of a swarm of towers.

    • Diane Knox

      Yes Perryb, We Dropped the Ball on Downtown Burlington many, many Councils ago– for me, 1970 when the current Hotel was proposed, and challenged by supporters/ Taxpayers to ‘Save the Lakeshore’ as Public Spaces for ALL. And even then, Protecting the Shoreline from Damage and Future Climate Lake Levels erosion -we had a break water then .
      But, Burlington lacked a Vision, From 1960- despite many Tax $$$ on OP’s etc.

      In 1960’s,” Were we-a Starter Home Town/ City for young families, for ‘commuter’s -“a driveway/ carport, single garage, a neighborhood with family, Schools with neighborhood shopping plazas”,–(Soon in 2022, to be Intensified by some out of town developer).

      In 2022 as a result of many Provincial and Local elections, successive Councils lured by the Tax incentives of Condos, hampered and over ruled by Toronto/Provincial- lobby based Tribunals over the years-Pick your alpha-OMB-OLT, we have Condo Alley on Lakeshore. The vision-To build up, intensify, “The Rich will come for the View”. leaving nothing for real walking / full service shopping/ even so-called public transportation–Just Glass towers, trendy shops, no starter homes, paved shoreline, minimal parking for any non Ward 2 to visit, and CARS on a key access to our Hospital.

      Building up south of Lakeshore Rd is Lost in Burlington. The Last Heritage sites are the now closed Emma’s/Water Street, Tree top, Estaminet Restaurant, and some along still used Offices on Old Lakeshore Rd. Ripe for the developers.
      My best to all on this issue, One Tiny shore Left.
      Good Luck–or Maybe June 2 will make a difference or when latter a Council/Mayor is elected to Represent more than their Ward. A Taxpayer in Alton should be able to enjoy This Lake now and in the Future.

      For now, I will drive from S/E Burlington- East to Oakville to enjoy the Lake at their parks and a Downtown, and drive to OTHS. for a visit to an Emergency after 50 yrs in S.E. Burlington

      .

  • “One paragraph in the report, as dismal as it is, reflects what has been going on. It reads: Subsequently, the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was placed on hold due to other various priorities in the Community Planning Department such as the new Official Plan process.”What Official Plan process? The evidence is overwhelming that Burlington do not have an approved Official Plan. The Region knows it, The Burlington Council and senior staff know it. The Mayor knows it and, LPAT has the details but fails to consider them. All ignore the approved Official Plan By-law required Clerk Angela Morgan to send the plan along to the Region – she failed to do so.

    There is no record of the New Official Plan being before the Region Council. The first correspondence back from the Region came from Curt Benson and stopped at the new Mayor`s and Heather McDonald’s desks in December 2018. Despite Paul Sharman hearing about it directly from the Mayor and Heather McDonald at the first 2018 – 2022 Burlington Planning and Development Committee Chaired by Paul Sharman. Niether did it go to Council. The only Burlington record of this correspondence was on the Mayor`s social media page and in the Heather McDonald filing cabinet. Curt Benson had no authority to approve the New Official Plan unless it had first gone to the Region and if he had been directed to work with Burlington to correct the issues identified by the Region.

    This is just one of the issues covered by “Chasm of Accountability” Anne Marsden’s reasons for running for the position of Burlington Mayor in 2022, most of which were set out in the Burington Gazette article of February 21, 2022 and cover the period 2010 – 2022.