You know what the issue is with this world. Everyone wants a magical solution to their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.

News 100 redBy Staff

August 13th, 2019



One of the beauties of an on line newspaper is the opportunity to look at the back and forth in communication between two people.

In what follows we give you a look at how David Barker’s electronic conversation with Burlington MPP Jane McKenna went.

Alice for BarkerBarker, a Lakeshore Road resident, takes issue with Jane McKenna’s position on affordable housing. She basically sticks as close as possible to the Ford government position- something Jane has always done. She knew the lines to the Tim Hudak position on significant issues better than Tim Hudak did when he was PC party leader.

Have a listen to how McKenna digs a hole and then looks for ways to dig down even deeper.

David Barker to Jane McKenna June 22nd, 2019
On Sat., Jun. 22, 2019, 11:25 a.m. Barker wrote:

Ms McKenna in your statement directed towards the We Love Burlington group, published in the Burlington Gazette, you state “Our estimates from the Ministry of the Attorney General show that over 100,000 housing units are caught up in legacy cases at the tribunal. That’s 100,000 desperately needed homes that can’t get built – or three years worth of construction in Ontario waiting for approval….” By making this statement, Ms McKenna, you imply that you would expect all 100,000 units that await review by LPAT would gain its approval.

Maybe you did not mean to imply that. But your statement reflects exactly the public’s perception of just what is wrong with LPAT (and before it OMB). The perception is that the unelected, unrepresentative body seems to invariably side with the developer’s position, completely ignoring the municipality’s official plan and the desires of the local residents.

Please can you provide any justification as to why the Province of Ontario should even have an unelected, unrepresentative body to pass judgement on how a municipality manages its development. As far as I am aware no other Canadian Province has such a body. I assume in those other Provinces the developer’s recourse is to a non-political court system. Should that not also be the recourse here in Ontario?

Surely if a municipality has an official plan that has been accepted and approved by its region (and by implication the Province) why should that municipality then be second guessed by an unelected, unrepresentative political body. If a developer’s proposal does not comply with the requirements of the municipality’s (Region/ Province approved) official plan, then surely the developer should not expect municipal plan approval until it does conform.

My understanding is the official plan in effect in Burlington dates back to 2008. That means the official plan has been in effect for ten years NOT twenty five years as you contend. That 2008 official plan, although soon to be superceded by an updated official plan, does in fact remain compliant with regional and Provincial requirements. As such it should be respected by all, including developers, the Province and LPAT.

Ms McKenna you are right to champion the need to increase the supply of affordable housing, both rental and owned. I believe you will find allies for that goal at the Region, at Burlington City Council and in the community. However, the high rise condo developments proposed for downtown Burlington do not in any meaningful way address affordable housing. The price point of the proposed condos are way outside the affordability of first time home buyers. Further the monthly rental cost of those units being bought by investors for the rental market is also likely to be well beyond the budgets of the twenty somethings who look for affordable rental accommodation. So for you, Ms McKenna, to in any way imply that the developers proposals for downtown Burlington high rises address affordable housing is completely disingenuous on your part.

Please, Ms McKenna would you temper your standing up and defending the bullying Ford government, of which you are a part, with more standing up and advocating for the desires and positions of your constituents who elected you to represent them. Those views are clearly and accurately expressed and advocated by the City of Burlington Council.

I dare you to publish on your website this opposing view to your statement. But I doubt you are either brave enough or confident enough to do that.

Barker to McKenna June 30th.
I’m looking forward to your response to my emailed message below.

McKenna to Barker August 7th.
Mr. Barker,
Every community in Ontario is unique. But no matter where you go, one thing is the same – people are looking for housing that meets their needs and their budget.

Here in Burlington, the cost of buying a home is becoming out of reach for many and affordable rentals are too hard to find. In addition, the high cost of housing is making it harder to attract investment and create jobs.

According to 2017 projections by Ontario’s Ministry of Finance, Halton Region will grow by 56.2 percent over the next 22 years – making Halton the fastest-growing area in the GTHA. That’s why we need to get the housing supply right – the right housing, in the right place, at the right time in the most efficient way.

Provincial growth plans have determined land use patterns for over a century. Regional and Municipal Official Plans align to provincial policy and are used in planning local communities.

Ontario is not the only province that handles appeals involving municipal planning decisions with a Tribunal. Like Ontario, Alberta is also home to some of the fastest growing cities in Canada; they also handle municipal planning with a tribunal.

The tribunal exists because people don’t always agree on how their communities should develop or change. Disputes often arise over land use planning issues, such as where industry is located, where roads and transit are built, protecting environmentally sensitive lands and managing overall development. When people are unable to resolve their differences on planning issues or have disputes with their municipal council, the LPAT provides a forum to resolve those disputes.

Recently, Halton Regional Council passed a motion calling on the government to eliminate the LPAT. Unfortunately, this is not an option as it would remove the ability for residents to appeal Council decisions outside the courts. Relying on our over-burdened court system would increase costs, delay decision making and hinder people’s ability to settle planning disputes.

Our government’s recent decision to appoint 11 new adjudicators to the LPAT will speed-up decision making to address the 2 to 3-year backlog of appeals.

As Burlington works to create a new Official Plan, our Mayor and Council continue to receive expert advice from local and provincial planning staff. That’s why I’m confident that by mid-2020, under a new Official Plan, the number of appeals will be reduced, with the LPAT playing an important role in ensuring critical checks and balances are in place.
Best regards,

Barker gets back to McKenna before the end of the day on August 7th.

Thank you for your email below. Its contents do raise further questions in my mind, which you might be able to answer or comment upon.
I totally agree with you that so much more needs to be done to provide the “affordable” housing that is needed for the less well off in our society. The main hurdle to achieving that goal is that it does not make commercial or economic sense for developers to create affordable housing when ROI is so much better with condos and single family homes. Ontario should look to other jurisdictions outside of Canada where local, regional and central governments provide the affordable housing stocks. It is nonsense and folly to believe the private sector will step up. Doug Ford, the Premier for the People” surely would want to champion a Housing for the People initiative funded through the three levels of government.

I would hazard a guess that of the 100,000 units you have cited as being held up at OMB/LPAT less than 5% would relate to applications for affordable housing developments. Perhaps you have a supportable number for this?
Those applications for multi unit developments in Burlington tied up at OMB/LPAT, I am confident are all for $500,000+ condos or similar price point developments. Not for affordable housing.

Tying the affordable housing issue to the purpose or need for an OMB/LPAT body is not appropriate or valid.

You say, once Burlington, or any other municipality, gets its OP compliant with Provincial requirements the number of instances of appeals being accepted for adjudication by LPAT will be substantially reduced. That being the case why could a dedicated Property Planning Court not be created to deal with the appeals.

Surely it is better to have an independent judiciary act as the arbiter rather than an unelected body of political or patronage appointees, who likely have no connection to the municipality. If a separate Property Planning Court is a no go, then why not have a requirement that the LPAT tribunal members must be resident in the municipality from which the matter emanates.

You cite cost as being an insurmountable hurdle that rules out the use of the courts as a viable place to settle disputes. The cost to appeal a municipality’s decision to LPAT likely puts an appeal out of the financial wherewithal of individual residents. Lawyers, planning consultants and other expert type witnesses are required, all costing a pretty penny. Developers have deep pockets. Individuals do not. A “small claims court” type model for a Property Planning focused court should be the way to go.

You have cited Alberta as another province with an LPAT type system. So perhaps you can elaborate as to how other provinces deal with planning disagreements. What happens in say BC, Quebec, Nova Scotia. Can Ontario not learn anything from those provinces?
You mention Halton recently passed a resolution calling for the end of LPAT. The regional and city council’s were more recently elected to office than were MPPs. Your words come across like those of an overly protective or controlling mother telling her child “no, don’t bother your pretty little head with that, Mommy knows what’s best”.

Might I suggest in the next month or so you host a constituency meeting on this subject so that you can hear directly from your constituents on this subject.
David Barker

Jane gets back to Barker on August 12th
Mr. Barker,
Thank you for your follow up email including your suggestions.
Best regards,

Barker gets back to Jane – he is like a dog with a bone and he isn’t letting go.

You are most welcome.

Mad Hatter for BarkerWill you be offering your thoughts or comments as to those suggestions:-

* a “small claims” model type court for municipal property planning disputes be set up to replace LPAT.
* an LPAT tribunal be comprised only of citizens resident in the municipality from which the matter emanates.

* you hold a townhall meeting within the next couple of months to have an open discussion on this matter, which is of immensely high interest to your constituents.
* have the Province and municipalities come together to finance, construct, hold and manage a stock of affordable housing.

I look forward to hearing from you.
David Barker

Blair Smith, a citizen’s advocate adds his two cents:
If the Government really wanted to increase affordable housing then it would act as responsible governments do – as stewards of the public trust – and mandate that developers do much, much more to provide housing that applies. If you leave it to the private sector with incentive programs and self-regulating regimens then your last name may be Wynn. Government is intended to fill the gap where private sector and self-interest will not go. Not a difficult concept.

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3 comments to You know what the issue is with this world. Everyone wants a magical solution to their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.

  • david barker

    Yes, as my last name confirms, I am the English terrier. woof woof

  • Hans Jacobs

    Mr. Barker is right and Ms. McKenna is wrong.
    IMO LPAT’s mandate should be limited to ensuring that municipalities follow their own rules – period.

  • Carol Victor

    Barker is 100% right, McKenna does not represent this region’s interests. How like a Conservative to use Alberta as an example of “how it is done”. LPAT is a waste of time, not elected and not in the best interests of the people who actually live in the region. Please think twice before putting a Conservative in the PM’s job, he will join forces with Kenney and Ford and this country will never be the same!