With $250,000 in Hand and a Terms of Reference Document Waiting for the Nod from the City Solicitor - City Hall is Off and Running. Watch this one carefully

background graphic redBy Pepper Parr

February 11th, 2021


Part 3 of a four part series

What is the Burlington Lands Partnership?

The Burlington Lands Partnership (“BLP”) is a flexible, multi-dimensional and integrated approach that seeks to address multiple areas of municipal strategic land management including acquisition and development.

For the City, the BLP will initially focus on achieving tangible and measurable community benefits and returns in three areas: supporting economic growth and direct job creation, completing “city building” projects and delivering much needed affordable housing.

Oversight and strategic direction will be provided by a new steering committee that is ultimately accountable to Burlington City Council. The committee is proposed to consist of the Mayor, the City Manager, the Council member serving as current Chair of the Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Committee, key senior municipal staff, and representation from Burlington Economic Development (both the Board and staff).

Additional partner-based stakeholders such as community leaders, the heads of community organizations, and representatives of private corporations are proposed be part of smaller project specific task forces that are accountable and report out to the BLP Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee, which is the group that will look for partnership opportunities they can research, determine the risk and decide if there is enough in the way of benefits to the city to proceed.  If they come to consensus, they take their decision/recommendation to city Council where the decision to proceed will be made.

There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of public participation or opportunities for people to delegate.  The Steering Committee meetings will not be public.

Why is the Burlington Lands Partnership Needed?
• There are several strategically positioned and emerging municipal land development opportunities within Burlington, but there is no single entity that has the mandate and resources to realize the opportunities for the long-term benefit of the City.

• There is widespread support for the City to take a greater strategic role in targeting municipal land development in Burlington.

• Burlington has many active community organizations and not-for-profits which could engage in mutually beneficial partnerships to aid in developing communities within Burlington.

• A partnership in this form allows for the City, Burlington Economic Development (Burlington EcDev), and a coalition of public and private sector partners to pursue additional funding and strategic partnerships including but not limited to the Halton Region, Province of Ontario and Government of Canada.

The widespread support is not something that Gazette has heard of or become aware of and this council does not have a mandate to undertake something as large as what is being proposed..

Mandate of BLP

Throughout 2020, urbanMetrics was engaged by the City of Burlington to assess the viability, function and structure of a municipal corporation or other strategic land entity to facilitate the development of City owned lands with a focus on economic development and city building initiatives.

Parking lot CArolina and John June 2019

There was once a house on the corner of this property that was owned by the city. It was torn down to increase parking in the Caroline – John Street intersection. Little thought was given to creating a parking lot with a permeable surface to aid in rain water run off. City bureaucrats seldom have their ear to the ground and are rarely aware of what the public wants.

The study was undertaken in conjunction with a governance study conducted by MDB Insight to examine the role of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation. The recommended approach to a strategic land development entity, which was subsequently brought forward and recommended by the City Manager as the Burlington Land Partnership (BLP).

• The internal strategic real estate structure would involve Burlington EcDev, as well as other, potential partners, such as Halton Region, other public agencies, private industry and private and public institutions including not-for-profit community groups, as required.

• Oversite and strategic direction would be provided by a steering committee that would ultimately be accountable to Council. The City Manager, as staff lead, would be responsible for strategic managerial leadership and would serve as chair of the steering committee. Outside consulting expertise would be engaged as needed.

The mandate of the organization or partnership would be on leveraging real estate to:

o Maximise opportunities for economic growth and job creation;
o Develop and implement city building projects; and
o Create opportunities for the development of affordable housing.

Ultimately the BLP should have access to City staff and other resources to seek, identify and develop strategic land opportunities into viable projects; to direct the acquisition and disposition of related City lands; to undertake land and facility development visioning and design; to obtain necessary planning approvals; and to fully engage with outside partners.

• Initially, the BLP should be tasked with seeking, identifying and developing opportunities into viable strategic land projects. A number of opportunities have been presented through the urbanMetrics and Cresa studies. These, as well as others that may be identified in the future, need to be more formally prioritized and envisioned complete with detailed project plans, recommended by the BLP Steering Committee and approved by City Council.

• The BLP would be the first step towards the creation of a municipal development corporation, however this would not occur until 2023 (at the earliest) following a reporting to Council on the activities and accomplishments of the BLP in 2021/22.

• Establishing the BLP as a first step, achieves a good balance among the opportunities, the desire for augmented internal strategic land capabilities, the current resource capacity limitations and the need for due diligence and caution.

The longer term goal is to have the city getting into the the development business.  Is there a supportable collection of data that identifies the public buy in on an idea of this magnitude?  The is not a small potatoes idea.

After an initial start-up period of two years, the organization should be evaluated on an annual basis, with respect to achieving measurable results related to:

o Supporting job creation, business creation and economic expansion;
o Developing and implementation of community-wide “City building” projects;
o Realizing tangible affordable housing opportunities and increased housing supply;
o Fiscal impact (increased assessment base/taxes, development charges, other fees);
o Enhancing the profile of the City and contributing to the public identity of Best City to Live in Canada;
o Supporting the City’s 25-year Strategic Plan, Council’s Vision to Focus 4-year work plan and community planning and other land related policies; and
o Delivering value for money and cost effectiveness to Burlington taxpayers.

Bare bones Pier from high with trestle

The city basically built the Pier twice.

Seeing a set of benchmarks that would be used would certainly help the public decide if the idea has merit and serves the public and not the career aspirations of the bureaucratic cohort at city hall.

Remember the Pier.

BLP Working Groups

To be determined by the Steering Committee with approval by Council on a project- by-project basis as part of a separate project brief/plan.

Duration and Transition
The Burlington Land Partnership will function during an initial “pilot period” of two years including 2021 and 2022. A report on the strategic activities and outcomes of the BLP will be presented to Council prior to the end of their 2018-2022 terms and will include recommendations for consideration for the 2023-2026 term of Council.

The BLP represents a transitional approach that allows for the expansion of organizational capacity and a build-up of expertise that will in turn enable further consideration by Council of a formalized municipal development corporation (MDC) in line with other municipalities in Ontario and utilizing the powers allowed under the Municipal Act related to municipal corporations.

Overall, the Steering Committee will make recommendations to Council and decisions (where applicable) in the best interest of the City as a whole.

BLP steering terms 1

BLP steeriing terms 2

Agendas and Meeting Notes:
Agendas (including confidential materials as it related to property and legal matters) will be published ahead of meeting date, including attached documents required for discussion and decision making. Deadlines for attachments need to be respected to provide adequate time to read all required material to allow for comprehensive participation. If required, agenda items may be deferred at request of BLP member if materials are not distributed by deadlines.

BLP agendas and meeting notes will managed/prepared by the City Manager’s Office (CMO) and shared confidentially with Steering Committee members, City Clerk and Council Members.
blp steering terms 3

blp steering terms 4

The only thing left to do is order the new business cards.

Part 1 of a 4 part series.

Part 2 of a 4 part series

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5 comments to With $250,000 in Hand and a Terms of Reference Document Waiting for the Nod from the City Solicitor – City Hall is Off and Running. Watch this one carefully

  • Alfred

    Hi David.

    The downtown core represents only 1% of the entire City. Not even worth talking about.

    75 % of the City is Low-density residential. Average homes built over the last few year approx: 55 per year. Semi-detached homes built 0 these anemic numbers are the result of overregulation. Not proper regulation. We have the most restrictive housing regulations in Canada.

    You can build a house 3 rooms bigger in Oakville on the same lot than you can in Burlington, Why build here?. Prices keep skyrocketing upward. Plenty of old housing stock to be demolished and new houses built. Overregulation and time wasting and job killing policies. This Mayor is famous for this.

  • Alfred

    Hello David.

    The Government at all levels is the problem.

    Some 40 years ago rental apartment highrise buildings were going up everywhere in Ontario. Creating much needed jobs and new rental units. The Self serving Government of the day, looking to get re-elected brought in rent controls.

    The construction of highrise rental units collapsed completely. Now we have a shortage of rental units ( the cancer rent controls and stupid politicians cause ) and no trust in the Government, Apparently you can’t even evict a tenant if they are not paying rent now. Great incentive to invest?

    The ship has hit the iceberg.

    The idea of building affordable housing in one of the most expensive Cities in Canada makes little sense when you could build 2 or 3 units in nearby Cities for what it costs to build one in Burlington.

    All this talk of affordable housing is just that. Remember this Mayor and some councilors were elected on an anti-development platform. Now some of them want to plant themselves on some sort of committee to make these decisions to create housing they despise?

    They are the very reasons why nurses, police officers, firefighters,employees of the Region and City Hall can’t afford to buy and live in Burlington anymore.

    The reality is the taxpayers of Burlington have no interest in spending their money to subsidise Slums and Ghettos when they are having problems financing their own problems.

    David I will be voluntiring my time to join a Committee that is looking to get some members of the community involvement concerning housing issues. Please consider joining as well… I would look forward to it.

    • David Barker

      Hi, Alfred.

      I agree with your historical analysis regarding low cost rental units. But I disagree with a couple of things you said.

      I do not believe the Mayor or the councilors were elected on a blanket anti developer ticket. I believe the were elected on a ticket of anti super high rise development in the downtown core, and pro development (including super high rise) in appropriate and OP designated areas. That is substantially different from a blanket anti development position. The new OP is reflective of this.

      I believe all levels of government (provincial, region, local) must get back into the construction, ownership and management of low cost rental housing. The private sector does not see the profits in it to entice them to do it on their own.

      This new body is an attempt to bring private development enterprise and public property ownership together to construct low cost rental housing. I say give it a chance !

  • Alfred

    Sounds like the maiden voyage of the Titanic. The City will provide housing cheaper than the private sector? Hold on to your tax dollars, this sounds like a financial disaster

    • David Barker

      Hey Alfred. I am not aware of any developments in construction or in planning that provide truly affordable housing. Truly affordable housing includes low income rental housing. It does not rental of condo units where the market value of the unit exceeds $500,000.

      It all comes down to one’s definition of “affordable housing”.