Will 25 storey towers be the standard for Brant Street: Council has set their hearts on keeping it to 17

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 28th, 2020



We are back to the growth issue, which many in Burlington see as a height issue.

People want things to remain the same – keep the nice stuff, the streetscapes that have been in place for decades and that we are comfortable with and the shops we have known and patronized for years.

The current city council worked hard for more than a year to put in place an Official Plan that would permit the growth the province was forcing on the city and at the same time protect neighbour hoods that give the city the image it wants – a community with loads of single family residences with decent yards and well treed streets that are safe to walk along in the early evening.

Dev map city wide Oct 26-20

Each red dot identifies a development proposal that the Planning department is working on. There are close to a dozen that have yet to actually get to the Planning department.

What they, and the Planning department are up against is a daunting 30+ development plans that are somewhere between a twinkle in a developers eye and an application that is deemed complete by the Planning department.

421 Brant

The digging down deep for the four floors of underground parking is underway.

When the Carriage Gate people got the 24 storey’s they wanted (the Council at the time was prepared to give them17) that seemed to open things up for the developers; 20 plus was the going rate in terms of height and that set a value on the small two storey commercial property on Brant. The owners of those properties began to see dollar signs in their eyes and looked forward to cashing out.

Rendering - initiial Oct -20

Proposal for the property north of Caroline – next to Joe Dogs.

The Renimmob virtual preconsultation meeting earlier in the week heard the same wish – keep the retail we know and let us live in a community that accepts growth – they just don’t want it towering over them. They were asking for

A 26- storey mixed use building with approximately 248 residential units, including a mix of one, two and three bedroom units (subject to change) and ground floor commercial.

Earlier in the month the Molinaro Group put forward their development proposal, a three phase development that would take three of the four corners at Brant and Ghent and see heights of 25 storeys.

Phase 1 – 774,778,782 Brant Street;
Two 25-storey residential mixed use buildings with 426 units and 420 square metres of retail space at grade.

Phase 2 – 769,779,783 Brant Street and 2023, 2027, 2031-2033 Ghent Avenue;
One 25-storey residential mixed use building with 316 units, 405 square metres of retail space at grade and 7 separate townhouse units.

Phase 3 – 747,761 Brant Street
A 6-storey residential mixed use building with 108 units and 997 square metres of retail space at grade.

Molinaro Ghent at Brant

When completed the development will take up three of the four corners at Brant and Ghent.

The Molinaro architect talked in terms of the development becoming the “gate to the downtown core”. Would that set the standard at 25 storeys?

The development did have a couple of pluses – the design for the high rise towers on either side of Brant is very smart – if it is to become the northern “gateway” to the city it will be very attractive.

The Molinaro people also gave up some height with the townhouses that are proposed for the east side of Brant. They are asking for six storeys when they are allowed 11 in the Official Plan the city is waiting to get approved at the Region.

Molinaro want 25; the Renimmob people want 26.

Is 25 going to become the standard should these applications get to LPAT if the city doesn’t decide it can live with something above the proposed 17 floors?

Brant street map

The distance between the proposed Molinaro development and the Renimmob  development is four city blocks.

The city wants that high growth to be clustered around the Burlington GO station where there is no limit for height at this point.

The development community does not appear to have given up on the opportunities they believe exist in the city.

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6 comments to Will 25 storey towers be the standard for Brant Street: Council has set their hearts on keeping it to 17

  • Steve

    Why is the GTA looking more like Hong Kong especially during the last decade? Just follow the money….this is Canada’s urban future https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLrFyjGZ9NU

  • Marie

    It’s already too late. As these tall buildings go up, the traffic only gets heavier and heavier; parking becomes hard to come by — once I was a huge lover of Burlington’s lakefront downtown, but now I go out of my way to avoid it. I have already changed my chiropractor and optometrist to ones in lower-traffic areas of the city.

  • Penny Hersh

    Really 17 or 25, does it really make a difference? Is 17 storeys now considered low or mid rise?

    Let’s just make certain that retail stores are part of these developments. Not just small units that only a hairdresser or nail salon could use, but workable retail and medical/dental offices.

    The height is coming, we need to make certain we can walk, or cycle to services to support the residents living in the downtown.

    • Based on the newly approved OP, height of up to 25 stories in the Upper Brant district (Brant & Ghent) for the Molinaro development is permissible. Given that the city has signed off on that plan, it’s not going to be challenged on the basis of height at all.

      The 17 story limit (with 3 stories abutting Brant Street) applies to the Renimmob development. And really, you’re quite right, the experience for nearby residents will be little different whether the City is able to hold the line on height or whether the developer gets the 26 stories they’re asking for. What matters most is in that 3 stories facing the street. How do we protect and expand the retail and services available? Things are already uncertain for them with COVID. Lots of competition, lower rents further north…what is it that brings the business here and helps it be successful?

      Penny gets it bang on. 7 stories, 17 stories or 26 stories don’t really make much difference to residents. If we can’t increase the number of downtown residents who can make trips by walking, cycling and transit instead of their cars, the building will be a problem. If Joe Dogs and Culaccino have to shut down for a number of years during construction, the building will be a problem.

      • “what is it that brings the business here and helps it be successful?”

        Parking. The problem is that people keeping making up this business where 99% of people walk to it. In every large city under ground parking garages are everywhere. With COVID drive throughs are now the only thing that you know your restaurant can depend on going forward.

        The reality is that we should be hoping for a reasonable number of pedestrian trips then a reasonable amount of parking reduction. However if you make no sane way to park then the business is cut off from 250,000 to 300,000 people that can drive to it in 15 minutes. You can’t replace that with even 10,000 in the area.

        I’m all for increasing population if we can supply the new residents with the water, roads, schools, green spaces and parks for them to have a high standard of living. I’m not for just building as many buildings as possible and waiting until the ensuing traffic “make people seek alternatives”.

        This is straight up social engineering craziness. And look around – no one want to live in the cities any more. Everyone who is able is fleeing high density, not moving toward it.

        • Good thing there’s loads of parking downtown. Huge, newly paved surface lot right behind the lot building’s going up. Looks like @#$% though, not even a tree planted.

          Structured parking, especially underground is extremely expensive – a minimum of $50K – $100K to provide a single space. Burlington has a parking reserve fund dedicated to the purpose of building a new garage, and with all of the new development in the core, probably should start planning for that.

          But there comes a point where it’s 1) easier and 2) cheaper not to drive. Especially when we start charging what things really cost…whether it’s road maintenance, car storage space, dealing with the stormwater runoff from parking lots, the impact wide roads and big parking lots have on other forms of mobility, traffic enforcement…

          Look around. We’ve been living under social engineering craziness for the past 8 decades, the social engineering that tells us that in order to get anywhere and do anything in our city, we need to take 2 tons of metal with us, and our government has no other choice but to rearrange every other aspect of urban life to keep that paradigm going. But we all surely must know by now this is not sustainable.

          We cannot afford to keep cowtowing to cars everywhere for everything. It’s not the 50’s anymore and life just isn’t the way it’s portrayed in car advertisements. To make 7 lane roads all around Burlington would require the destruction of billions of dollars of value… homes and businesses. The automobile utopia is just not viable. We need balance in our mobility choices to make better use of the infrastructure and the limited physical space that we have. That doesn’t mean no cars, but it means we’ve got to start chipping away at that 80%.

          The idea that people don’t want to live in cities anymore…hogwash. If they didn’t, builders like Carriage Gate wouldn’t be jumping through so many hoops trying to build there.