We are done said the city manager. The end is in sight.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 5th, 2017



“We are done!”, said the city manager.

James Ridge - looking right

City manager James Ridge

In addressing the Planning and Development Committee City manager James Ridge said that in his talks with people he points out three facts that Burlington is up against.

The city is not only going to grow – it has to grow- “we are mandated to do that” he said.

We are looking at between 15,000 and 18,000 new people every decade.

There is not going to be any net new supply of single family homes

And there are not going to be any new roads built for the next hundred years.

Ridge then said that this could put an additional 50,000 cars on the existing roads at some point – and if that happen “We are done!”

Ridge seldom gets excited about anything – but there was a sense of foreboding in his voice.

Even in their wildest imaginations - the Alton family would never have thought those farm fields would look like this - imagine the increase in value.

Even in their wildest imaginations – the Alton family would never have thought those farm fields would look like this – imagine the increase in value.

He could see the apocalypse coming and he knew what the impact would be – but he wasn’t sure that the public he has to deal with can see or wants to see what our future as a city is going to look like.

Ridge was speaking at meeting that had more than 250 pages of material to wade through.

Much more to write about.

Question we have is: Is there a difference between “we are done” and “we are toast” and if there is which is the more serious?

Sounded like done to me.

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12 comments to We are done said the city manager. The end is in sight.

  • Brian Paulson

    Unfortunately, our society has become one that is centered around cars. Starting as far back as the 1940’s, cities were designed based on vehicular traffic routes. This led to suburbia in the 60’s and the advent of plazas and malls, the impetus of the decline of downtown retail areas. Then came the Big Boxes or “Smart” Centres, where instead of parking your car and walking to stores in the mall or down the street you drive from store to store, in the same parking lot. We have evolved into a society that drives to the convenience store around the block and the overuse of our own cars has hindered the proper use and development of public transportation systems.

    As pointed out by Mr. Ridge, Burlington’s road infrastructure will not be increasing, so perhaps the point that he is making is that people need to realize that they have to become less dependent upon cars and shift to better use of transit. Not easy to do in a suburbia, but easier to do in built up areas, such as Urban Growth Centres or Mobility Hubs.

    Burlington has consistently been ranked as one of the best places to live. Being one of the best places to live makes Burlington an appealing place for people to move to, therefore the population of Burlington will grow, whether it is through mandated provincial policy or not. Burlington has no more greenfield to grow out, therefore it can only grow up. This is why there is a focus on the Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hubs.

    Proper planning of the Urban Growth Centres and Mobility Hubs can accommodate the increases in population while encouraging the use of transit, other than personal cars. Population can grow without needing to increase road infrastructure, which Mr. Ridge has indicated will not happen in Burlington.

    The growth in population in the Centre and Hubs will lead to strong retail/commercial growth and stability in those areas, with most traffic from walking or public transit.

    I agree with Bernstein, think of 2067 and get out of 1967.

    “The Human Scale” is an interesting documentary that looks at cities, how they started and how they have been or should be evolving, from being vehicular dependent to becoming more people oriented communities. I suggest people check it out on Netflix or other sources. I think you will see that Burlington is not the only city having growing pains.

  • Julia

    Oakville Burlington MISSISSAUGA .. try driving around at rush hour and school times.
    Try to drive the qew 403 etc .. even tragalgar Hwy 5 Guelph line hwy 20
    There are too many people on the roads and yet the towns and cities
    keep on building more and more .. why ?? I would like to know why..
    Why don’t the people we elect say enough is enough and stop building
    more and more .. no one can get around and life is a nightmare going anywhere
    And you can say take transit but I see the buses empty and the raids full
    If cars.. the people who allow the non stop building need to think about
    this and act in the best interests of the town and not in the best interest
    of the builders … why doesn’t the mayor say no more .. he is supposed
    to represent the people of the city or town and I am guessing that most of us
    do not want this much growth … would be nice if someone with answers would take the time
    to explain why they allow this

  • A very disappointed parent in burlington

    Just shameful that the Halton District School Board and those elected trustees (yes elected) so hastily closed 2 high schools in Burlington with all this projected growth. Shame on them not sure where these students are going to go to get educated ? Perhaps portables and a lot of them the school board seems to like them

  • Bernstein

    I agree with the City Manager. The City is obligated by the Province to grow within its urban boundaries. Many more people are coming (and not in single detached housing form, to the chagrin of many blog readers). Brant/Guelph/Walkers/Appleby are realistically not going to be widened an additional Lane for cars each way. Nor are Dundas, upper middle, mainway, New or Lakeshore. The City is indeed ‘done’ (while getting around it, anyway) if nothing is planned and invested in, starting asap.

    The city needs to get transit and other alternative transportation to the point where it is at least a viable option to get from a burlington home to a burlington employer, and back. Right now, it is not. Waiting 30 mins or more for a bus to arrive to then take a circuitous route to work is a non starter for the vast majority of those with a car. The City needs to invest in the infrastructure to eventually get people from the subdivisions of the city, to where people work in the city (or where they park their cars to jump on the go train).

    Need a bold (not just in name) vision. To me, the go commuters would be one of the first things to target. Would have to make the cost of go parking commensurate with daily parking rates in downtown Toronto or more (with the money funneled back to the host municipality to fund service). Then you need fast and regular transit (15minute intervals) service up and down Brant, Guelph, Walkers and Appleby (and Plains in Aldershot) . Maybe even in dedicated lanes. Maybe that service goes into two designated points within in each subdivision and leaves from there. Would need transit buildings and facilities at these locations (but no parking!).

    Sure it seems bold and impossible now, but as Ridge says, we are done if we don’t start now. And I don’t mean study it for a decade. I mean start now. This plan. This budget.

    I know a proposal like this would rile up the retired, two car owning, South of the qew living guy and gal that want no new taxes and more leaf collection. But our elected officials need to move past them, and think about those living in Burlington in 2067, not those stuck in 1967.

  • Russ Campbell

    Canada and Ontario and Burlington already have a high quality of life so why the imperative to keep on growing at so fast a pace. It’s curious, is it not, that the few countries to outperform Canada on best-place-to live surveys seem to have smaller populations, not larger ones. I’m not anti-growth, per se, but I do question the wisdom of what seems to be growth for growth sake.

  • steve

    “Increased population density with easy access to transit key to Ontario’s Greenbelt expansion plan”

    The title in a recent York Region article reveals the reason behind the “greenbelt” is the planned overcrowding of the GTA, and to get people out of their bourgeois cars, and onto mass transit, or bicycles. What better way than to tie it into protecting Canada’s 10 million square miles of open land.


  • Hans

    That “mandate” needs to be rejected by council. The province should not give a mandate that will ruin existing communities.

  • Penny

    I find it interesting that the City always quotes that “growth is mandated”. I have read that some communities have decided not to fulfil this request. That in fact they cannot. If as Mr. Ridge mentions Burlington does not have the infrastructure to support this growth, why are they not doing something about it? Instead of having “Mobility Hubs”, a different approach, for over intensification why aren’t they building their case to prevent this from happening in Burlington?

  • Stephen White

    Even if we had the supports and infrastructure in place, which we don’t, there isn’t sufficient land mass in the GTA to accommodate the kind of population growth projections the provincial government is referencing. Shoe-horning millions more citizens into a condensed area while, at the same time, communities in northern, eastern and southwestern Ontario are expected to suffer net population declines due to aging populations, loss of industry and net transfers out, is simply ridiculous. At some point residents will simply leave because the dysfunctional effects of traffic congestion, expensive accommodation and crowding are too much to bear.

  • I was in Council Chambers as the City Manager spoke about the City’s need to plan and develop for the future. I sure am glad he conveyed these points back to Council.

  • Lonely Taxpayer

    Hope the thousands of new Burlingtonians don’t plan on using the QEW soon – because it’s already full (most of the day) by vehicles just passing through.

    50,000 cars bumper-to-bumper (@10′ length) fills 100 miles of roadway.

  • George

    Interesting! All this forecasted and planned growth and yet the Halton District School Board (HDSB) Trustees and HDSB Director of Education are charging ahead with closing two Burlington high schools through a Pupil Accommodation Process (PAR) that has been found faulty with a hold put on hold by the Ontario Ministry of Education (June 28th announcement) for all future PAR processing until the process is improved.

    Another interesting fact that the Gazette recently reported is the HDSB hired another Superintendent to supplement the large number of current Superintendents when their plan to close two Burlington high schools should result in less bureaucrats not more.

    When will the good citizens and taxpayers put an end to all this nonsense?
    I expect June 8, 2018 at our next election