Will the city get to see some really bold planning?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 3rd, 2017



The silence is deafening.

Council went along with the Planning department recommendation that flew in the face of the dozens of delegations that were opposed to what was being recommended and the pace at which change was being forced upon the citizens.

Of the seven members of Council Jack Dennison was the only one who had a public comment.
The Gazette reached out to Marianne Meed Ward who said she would have a comment – nothing yet.

The Mayor said nothing on his blog. Councillor Sharman is assumed to still be away.

Would a downtown mobility hub result in greater density on the east side of Brant Street? Would traffic from the core work itself to the Burlington GO station?

If there was ever a city block waiting for a change it is this one – west side of Brant, north of Caroline. It would give the city an opportunity to do something with the west side of John which is now a laneway and not a street. It is also where the only shopping location is in the downtown. Big challenges – big opportunity. The place where the planners can make their Grow Bold, Grow Beautiful vision real.

In a follow up conversation with Dennison he clarified a comment he made about every property owner in a block expecting to see the lot qualify for a 17 story structure.

Dennison had said: “ I still have difficulty with the proposed Official Plan where entire city blocks have an Official Plan height of 17 storeys or less. Every property owner thinks their property can be developed to that height without consideration for variety of heights.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison always has an eye open for an economic opportunity - sees a great one for the city: sell the golf course.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison is quite prepared to take on the Planning department – “That’s our job”

“To solve this problem, we have to either be site specific for tall buildings and shorter variety heights or specify 25% of the city block allow 12-17 storeys, 50% be 5-6 storeys, and 25% be 2-3 storeys. This would allow movement within the blocks to create variety.”

To clarify just how the percentages would apply Dennison said a block would have to have been assembled.

When asked how he felt about the lack of comment from other members of Council Dennison said “they are afraid of talking back to the Planning department” and added that “that is our job”.

The complete article is HERE

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14 comments to Will the city get to see some really bold planning?

  • CMG

    It is really disappointing to hear, “The farmer’s market idea while attractive to citizens is probably a low return on investment for developers compared to multiple 650 sq ft condos. There will be more condos and [less] fewer amenities”, and “There is not enough demand in Aldershot to support anything bigger than a small market”. Who’s talking about a big market? What about a downtown quarter devoted to heritage, culture, arts? I’m certain Vancouver or Ottawa could easily have built condos,… but they didn’t, did they? Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot. The way I see it, if people visit Burlington because it has a lot to offer (market, festivals, green space, arts/culture), then they will want to invest and move here, but if it is just a high rise jungle with no character, well, there are other places to choose from. I’m not saying it has to be. I’m saying we have to think differently.

  • Carol Thompson

    Also condos require much less parking spaces per sq feet than commercial spaces. . Lowering the parking ratio for food based commercial spaces might encourage more food shops. Or plan a municipal parking lot near Waterdown Rd. The lovely food shops downtown Dundas do not have parking attached yet thrive.

  • Perry Bowker

    Council and the Planning department would do well to read Saturday’s Toronto Star – it will give them a foretaste of the mess that they have willingly allowed to happen in Burlington and still refuse to attempt to fix. Two major articles highlight the Toronto-wide problem of uncontrolled, case by case development approvals that ignore the need to ensure that roads, schools, green space, transit, emergency response, etc., will be put in place to accommodate increasing, denser population. You know, things that make a place liveable.
    Burlington is lurching into the exact same morass. An overall integrated strategy would be nice (like the one the Mayor took around a couple of years ago – no sign of it in the Official Plan amendment). Promising that these matters will be dealt with “later” is pretty empty, when the developers are eagerly circling now.
    The planners and politicians argue “but we have to grow to accommodate increasing population” or “we can’t hold back the future” or “the Province tells us what to do so we have no choice”. But the answer is “NO YOU DON’T”. You could, with some leadership, admit that mistakes have been made but that will stop. You could, with some leadership, hold off the Plan approval until these issues are dealt with honestly and transparently, rather than making it up as we go along. You could tell Ontario to stuff it while we do the job right (there probably will be a new team in charge there by next year anyway).
    Instead, the strategy seems to be to double-down and hope for the best. To use the word of the orange-hued one to the south: “Sad”.

  • Penny

    At the Committee meeting on Tuesday the developer for the No Frills Plaza on Brant Street told the City that the proposed new official plan shows a parkette where there is presently a parking lot. He told them that if the City went ahead with that there would not be enough parking to support a grocery store.

    At the November afternoon committee meeting staff discussed the proposed redevelopment of the No Frills Plaza. At that time there was no mention of a grocery store. Many delegates that afternoon said a grocery store was essential in that plaza to allow people to walk to get groceries. In the evening session the City had changed their presentation saying that there would need to be a grocery store when that area was redeveloped. NO THOUGHT PROCESS AS TO HOW THIS WOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED – Say what you have to – keep the residents quiet.

    What kind of grocery store? – a Goodness Me or Whole Foods that the majority of residents can’t afford? Who else will be able to afford the rent that will be asked. Or was the thinking a Variety Store that sells milk? If parking is an issue no one will even rent the space.

    The decision on the ADI project on Martha Street specifically said the City had no justification for height allowances and this was the major reason ADI won at the OMB. Once again the City is cobbling together an Official Plan, with no justification. No Transportation Study, no Transit Study, and goodness knows what other studies have not been started or completed.

    There is no time to have a 3D model to show residents what the City will look like in 5-10 years, no time to complete the necessary studies to make certain the new Official Plan will provide a successful lifestyle for future Burlington generations, BUT ENOUGH TIME TO VOTE ON THE PASSING OF THE OFFICIAL PLAN AT THE BEGINNING OF APRIL?

    I have to ask the lawyers out there – is there no legal way the residents can have this vote delayed until all the studies are complete?

  • Jim Young

    I live in ward 2 by Waterdown Rd where locals have asked councillor Craven to advocate for a grocery store on west end of Plains Rd. Rick, correctly states that city do not control the building of retail so cannot demand where one might locate. This makes it unlikely council can demand a grocery store in a new Brant St development. The farmer’s market idea while attractive to citizens is probably a low return on investment for developers compared to multiple 650 sq ft condos. There will be more condos and less amenities.

    • Perry Bowker

      Well, the city can certainly control what various properties can be used for through zoning, but obviously cannot demand that a particular business must be built there. Mr. Craven has often used the excuse that the city cannot tell an owner whether or not to sell their property, or for developers to not ask for what they want. But he fails to draw the conclusion that the property owner is entitled to sell as long as he doesn’t misrepresent the zoning, and the developer is just out of luck if he buys thinking what he wants to build will be allowed. (except that seems to be the way Council is allowing things to work these days.)
      However, I do agree with Mr. Craven on this one point. There is not enough demand in Aldershot to support anything bigger than a small market. Maybe once, but not now. A market is already at Plains and Daryl Drive and seems to be just a Potemkin storefront. Everyone in the area is pretty well off and owns multiple cars to get to Fortino’s or Costco and others whenever they want.

      • Perry Bowker

        Of course, once the mobility hub is built out, in a few years, the demand may change. I have never seen anything like this in the projections.

  • Stephen White

    There are two real problems here.

    The first is that we have a Mayor and Councillors whose political strategy seems to be political accommodation, and “go along to get along”. Sorry, but that doesn’t wash anymore with ratepayers who expect their elected representatives to have the guts to stand up, speak up, and who won’t be shut up. I expect my elected Councillor to challenge where necessary and speak truth to power. If they think their role is to “suck it up” and do the Mayor’s or the City Manager’s bidding then we have a disconnect.

    The second problem is that we have a Mayor and several Councillors who, sorry to say it, lack the business experience and organizational insights to ask the difficult, tough and challenging questions. Part of the issue here is that we have lots of small business entrepreneurs who may be quite competent in managing small enterprises, but lack the depth of managerial experience to manage a large enterprise. With the exception of Paul Sharman there really aren’t a whole lot of experienced managers with the requisite education, technical competence and perspective on Council. When faced with smart and knowledgeable City officials they blindly accept what is told them without challenging.

    Councillor Dennison’s stance is classic. He’s trying valiantly to placate irate taxpayers angered by proposed changes while acquiescing to City Hall Planning officials and developers. Sorry Jack, but you can’t have it both ways. This election either pick a lane or suffer the consequences on Election Day!

  • Well – you could be part of making this actually happen of you decided to run for office.

    • Stephen White

      Thanks Jolly John for your vote of confidence. Actually, I’m already working behind the scenes on behalf of several prospective candidates to ensure we get change this time round.

  • Judy

    Dennison all of a sudden seems to be against the OP. Must be afraid of not getting re-elected.
    CMG, I love your idea.

  • CMG

    Seems like the perfect site for a permanent farmers’ market, part indoor, part outdoor. After all, we have agricultural roots here. Why not something like Granville Island or Byward Market? Art Shoppes, market stalls, cafes, restaurants to feed and entertain the downtown residents and visitors to Burlington. Has anyone thought of that?!

  • Steve

    Something about this stinks. Why wait until now to speak up about his concerns with the OP? Where was this concern in the recent weeks and months when it would have made difference? This isn’t leadership. This is posturing.

    It’s a little hard to take anything Dennison has to say at face value after the stunt he pulled last summer to kill the site plan process for low denisty residential right before redeveloping his own property.

  • Penny

    Jack Dennison said the reason the other councillors are not commenting on the Official Plan is because “they are afraid of talking back to the Planning Department”. If this is indeed the case I have to ask why they are Councillors and just what they think their job is if not standing up to staff for the benefit of the residents that elected them?

    Why have a Council at all?

    This is shocking….I hope that residents remember this when they vote in October.