Who gets what, when and how; that's what municipal politics is all about. Residents are wondering what they are getting out of all this.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 21, 2018



The political scientist Harold Laswell once defined politics to be: “Who gets what, when and how.”

That instructive statement, when applied to the ongoing debate around the writing of a new Official Plan for the city of Burlington, is very telling.

News anal REDIn a documents made public by the Planning department as one of the supporting documents there is a section on comments from various stakeholders.

The Clerk’s office set out the issues and then listed who had comments on that issue.

Processing Site Specific Requests in Mobility Hub Area Specific Plan Areas (excluding the downtown)

Fairview looking east from Leggat

The Leggat interests want site specific zoning for several of their automotive locations – automotive use might not be the best use of a limited resource.

Matt Johnston, Urban Solutions, on behalf of 1059295 Ontario Inc (834-850 Brant Street)wanted a site-specific policy for the subject lands to be included in the Official Plan, wherein large-scale motor vehicle and storage uses are permitted.

Johnston, on behalf of Leggat Auto Group (2207 Fairview Street)wanted a site-specific policy for the subject lands be included in the Official Plan, wherein large-scale motor vehicle, financial institutions and storage uses are permitted.

Johnston, again on behalf of Leggat Auto Group (629 Brant Street) wanted a site-specific policy for the subject lands to be included in the Official Plan, wherein automotive commercial and storage uses are permitted and that the subject property be considered for additional height.

The Leggat interests clearly want to continue to be able to do what they are currently doing in their three locations and would like to be able to add some height if they come up with new plans for their property.

A number of years ago, when Bruce Krushelnicki was the Director of Planning for the city he met with all the major automotive dealers and had a discussion about their future plans for the dealerships and the property all those used cars for sale were sitting on

The Planners knew that used cars on prime property was not the best use of a limited resource.

Krushelnicki reported to council that there wasn’t much in the way of interest from the automotive people and nothing came of the meeting.

In their response to Johnston and his request for site specific zoning the planners noted that “the three properties noted above are located within a Mobility Hub study area. Policies were modified to add large-scale motor vehicle dealerships existing on the date this Plan comes into effect, to the list of permitted uses within Urban Corridor and Urban Corridor- Employment designations.

Mobility hubs

Property owners are beginning to take steps to ensure that their interests are protected as the city begins to determine what will be permitted and what will not be permitted.

“However, the land use permissions within mobility hub areas will be assessed through the area-specific planning process. Upon the completion of the are-specific plans, new objectives, policies, and land use designations will be brought into the new Official Plan.”

“There will be an opportunity through the Area Specific Planning Process to provide further input.”

It wasn’t a no – but it certainly wasn’t a yes.

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4 comments to Who gets what, when and how; that’s what municipal politics is all about. Residents are wondering what they are getting out of all this.

  • Tom Muir

    Good perspective on an issue I have taken to the planners and Council for several years. But like you say, they are all deaf.

    IN Aldershot, I put it this way – the plan is based on them selling residents on the de-commercialization of so-called low value, not the best use, driven by intensification of high density residential in condo towers.

    What seems to be missing is any representation of the present reality, of the real businesses, with real business value, real jobs with real employees, and real customers, who are being plowed under, forced to leave and maybe drive more. This is happening at an increasing pace. Who of you speaks for these folks?

    Instead, we are told that these plans will take us to another place with everything we want, and that we should celebrate, although here fanciful speculations are blurring proper judgement more and more, with each new proposal that comes along. Its pie in the sky to me, promising a Mobility Hub utopia where the business dead will rise again. I can hardly call this “good planning”.

    These guys are out to lunch, rationalizing everything they do, no matter how ridiculous and unreal it may be to serve their own agenda. Projecting business, and jobs in a negative light as dispensable is just a stupid act of incompetence.

    You say it well.

  • Penny

    Steve, I totally agree with you. We have been hearing from the residents who have become very vocal in telling city staff and council how they feel about the over-intensification and the need to re designate the downtown mobility hub.

    We need to hear from the business owners who feel the same way. We need both residents and business owners to work together to be successful.

  • Steve

    Saying that a property which is well maintained, employs people and contributes to the local economy is “not the best use of a limited resource” is letting a social agenda try to paint a thriving business in some sort of negative light.

    Increasingly I see this narrative that anything that’s not high density is some sort of blight to be stamped out and I find it disrespectful to local business owners and the contributions they have made to our city throughout the years. That doesn’t mean it has to stay a car dealership forever of course and the city is free to zone potential future uses but just because something isn’t high density doesn’t automatically make it bad. I am getting very tired of councillors of this city repeatedly ignoring the needs of existing businesses and pretending that they are somehow magically replaceable. The city says that providing local employment is a priority but never seem to care when businesses are displaced. They repeatedly utter the line that “the jobs will be replaced” but when an establish business closes the jobs that eventually replace it might not be of the same pay and they are certainly less stable as the business is less established, the first year in business can be very challenge and many don’t even make it that long. However all this seems to fall on deaf ears at city hall and the concerns of local business seem to be treated with active disdain by city staff and councillors.

    Business and their employees are your constituents as well and I feel Burlington city council would be well served to remember that.

    • Stephen White

      Hi Steve: Great assessment!! I agree with you 100%.

      When I attended the Appleby Mobility Hubs meetings last year the folks who put together the plans for the area surrounding the Appleby GO Station and adjoining employment lands had all these wonderful visionary ideals of lovely condos surrounded by vistas of tree-lined streets and outdoor cafes. Unfortunately, their vision bore little resemblance to reality.

      Why would anyone build a condo building next to a GO Station? An office complex I could maybe understand, but who wants to live next to a transportation hub with GO trains travelling right next door 18 hours a day?
      Who puts a condo on lands presently occupied by Fearman’s? What about all the small businesses on Harvester and the area east of Appleby? Where do those businesses relocate to, and what about the jobs they provide? The site pictures show the Appleby parking lot taken over by buildings. A lot of people who take the train from Appleby come in from Brantford, Waterdown and other locales. Where do they park?

      The visionaries at City Hall have no conception of the needs, concerns and priorities of local residents, and that includes local businesses. This is what happens when you have leadership at City Hall who turns the urban planners lose along with the consultants engaged for this assignment, without setting clear boundaries, parameters and clearly defined limitations.

      The OP, the Mobility Hubs and the whole Grow Bold concept is a complete crock! Voters this election need to vote with their head and reject any Councillor or Mayoralty candidate who buys into this social engineering nonsense.