What did Crombie teach us?
Will we rise to the challenge?

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  January 16, 2011  – He came and as always he was entertaining and informative.  He knows what he is talking about and he loves what he does.  Well into his 70’s former Mayor David Crombie spent an hour with Burlington’s Waterfront Advisory Committee and talked about what he had done with his Royal Commission to create the Waterfront Trail that runs from Niagara Falls to Quebec city – 800 kms.

Crombie made a number of very trenchant points.  Will the Committee have heard what he had to say?  Will they absorb what he is talking about?  Will the community rise to the challenge he set out?

Burlington used to be a leader in waterfront development and the Spencer Smith portion.

The sign is showing its age – much like the thinking being done by the Waterfront Advisory Committee.

The waterfront is certainly something to be very proud of, but, as Crombie pointed out,  that leadership isn’t being seen anymore.  The Pier issue isn’t helping but Mayor Goldring is rock firm in his resolution to resolve that problem. 

  • We are fighting with our developers instead of partnering with them.
  • We don’t appear to have strong working relationships with our neighbours to the east and west.  Oh we get along with them, there is no animosity, but how are we working with Oakville to integrate our park at Burloak into what Oakville has done to create a waterfront that is alive and active ?
  • And what are we doing to connect ourselves to Cootes Paradise?
  • Crombie pointed out that the waterfront extends up and through the creeks that flow into the Lake – does Burlington see it’s creeks as part of its waterfront?

Our own western beach is just sort of sitting there – there doesn’t appear to be a long term view; the Waterfront Committee has yet to gel into something that will take ideas to the city, pull the city together and create a focus or challenge the city to be today what it used to be waterfront leaders.

Slip over to the eastern part of the Hamilton waterfront – there are restaurants and people roller blading on the paths.  Even a hot dog stand and washrooms that are not a disgrace.  

Part of the problem with the Waterfront Committee is that it was created to solve a political problem.  The Save our Waterfront people were pressuring city hall to do something about the Pier and the rumblings of development in the Old Lakeshore precinct and former Mayor Jackson created the Committee and put a political friend in as chair.  The waterfront had the potential to become a very significant political issue during the election.  Turned out that the election was about the then Mayor and not the waterfront.  Now we have a committee that seems to be struggling to find itself.  The chair doesn’t have a tight relationship with his committee members.  Craig Lewis had to resign due to work conflicts and the chair wasn’t able to say which ward Lewis represented.  The committee has yet to become the “working together team” it is going to have to become if it wants to achieve anything.

The political makeup is different today.  Marianne Meed Ward now sits on the committee along with Rick Craven of Ward 1 and the Mayor.  Will these three energize this committee?

The Old Lakeshore road area doesn’t seem to have a “plan”.  There is going to be an exceptionally tall building (22 stories) on the south side of the road at the bottom of Pearl, within spitting distance of the Lake. The community has yet to realize has yet to  realize how it will come to dominate the shoreline.  It is described as a “landmark” building – something to locate Burlington on the shore line and it is certainly going to do that.  There are drawings of what that Landmark site will look like but the general public hasn’t seen them yet.  That is not to say the planning office is hiding anything – there just hasn’t been the kind of transparency the public was expecting.

The 22 storey building is far past the point where the community will have any input – a done deal as they say.  The site planning is the last stage for community input and it is not yet clear if the planning department is going to do anything radical to involve the public. 

Burlington is fortunate to have one of the best planning minds in the province.  SOW chair Michael Jones talks to David Crombie at Waterfront Advisory meeting.  Maybe some ideas went from the former mayor to a growing activist?

Krushelnicki wrote the definitive book on how one deals with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) but does that background and depth of experience translate to ideas and activities that involve the public.  It is time for some energy and vitality from both the Waterfront Advisory Committee and the planning department.

Scott Stewart has in the past come close to pleading with the Waterfront Committee to do something.  They still seem to be in “thinking mode”.  Perhaps the jolt needed will come from Michael Jones, the new chair of Save Our Waterfront.  Somebody needs to do something.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.