Pier Wind Turbine Update

May 30, 2012

At last night’s Community Service Committee, Council was asked to review new information about the wind turbine that was removed from the pier project.  Council received and filed the report last night. This means that the turbine project was not reconsidered and remains out of the project scope.

Council and staff are focused on completing the pier. The wind turbine was a project initiated by Burlington Hydro in 2005. At that time, renewable energy was in its infancy relative to local projects. The project was for demonstration purposes.

Since 2006, when the pier project was originally rendered, technology and implementation of renewable energy projects has progressed. The City recently implemented a significant project at Fire Station # 8 and is continuing to look at appropriate opportunities for renewable energy use. The City has also initiated the Community Energy Program to look at long term energy sustainability and this project will include, energy conservation and renewable energy generation as part of the long term plan.

A wind turbine at the end of the pier presents some challenges. Given the option, Council has chosen to minimize any of those issues and I am sure will continue to look at viable renewable energy projects in the future.


New Horizon Development Re-Zoning

May 22, 2012 

I would like to thank everyone that called and sent me emails with regards to the Falcon Boulevard re-zoning. During this process I visited the site and met with a group of local residents that were strongly opposed to the change.

At Council, a number of residents and the developer also presented their thoughts on this issue. This was a challenging issue and after due consideration I decided to support the proposed re-zoning at both Committee and Council.

On one side of the issue is the clear intent that we have to increase residential density in certain areas of the city. The Plains Road corridor is an important part of this plan. We have chosen to make Plains Road far more active and the Plains Road Village Vision supports this. We would like to see more residents in this area and see an increase in services available in Aldershot.

The concern that I heard from residents against this change was that this development was a threat to the balance of the neighbourhood. That the traditional nature of Aldershot might change as a result of the decision and that new forms of residential development would work their way across and down Falcon to other areas.

Given these two competing positions I supported the proposal on the basis that:

1.    The project meets the intent of the Official Plan to increase density on the Plains Road corridor.

2.    The development will continue to be accessed from Plains Road. Resident access will be through  the underground parking which will be shared with the Phase 1 element of the development. This is  probably the biggest single issue to me. If the access point was falcon I would not approve this proposal.

3.     The parking proposed for Falcon, visitor parking, will result in a minimal traffic impact.

4.     The developer has made changes to the development which is consistent with many of the suggestions from the public. The proposed façade will have an appearance and mass very similar to a row of townhouses however the proposed layout will not have the parking and traffic issues that townhouses may have presented.

5.    The landscaping also showed change and improvement and significant effort was being made to have an attractive property.

6.     I do not believe that this development is a threat to the existing neighbourhood. We are always going to have a transition from one type of housing to another as we see development on arterial and collector roads. A four storey building with a three storey façade is a very reasonable transition.

In my years on Council I have had the opportunity to see the development process in action many times. There are often many concerns about the impact that a development will have. There is a tendency to be concerned for the very worst but not to put any weight on the benefits. Some of the benefits of this project: affordable new residences for our community, new neighbours, homes with access to public transit and increased commerce for local business; are all positives which in this case make this project an overall positive addition to our community.


Transit Input Welcomed

This column appeared in the Burlington Post, May 23, 2012 and is available online at http://www.insidehalton.com/opinion/columns/article/1360028–transit-input-welcomed

May 23, 2012

Our public transit system has come under considerable debate in recent years.

Burlington has not made any meaningful improvements in some time. The city has been working on a revised Transit Master Plan.

The results were unsatisfactory to the participants, users, management and council.

City staff has proposed an interim plan that will see some modification of routes. The proposal is to reduce service in several areas of the city where usage is low and to increase route coverage where there is demand for more service.

In theory, this will inconvenience some users and improve service for others.

Council is struggling to understand what level of service the community wants and needs. There is clearly a growing demand. Ridership was up seven per cent in 2011 and another 12.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2012.

We have a core in our community that needs public transit to have mobility; not everyone can afford a car and not everyone wants to drive a car. Public transit also impacts our economy and prosperity. Our local employers bring this issue to me regularly.

Transit is often measured based on a cost-recovery rate. For a suburban environment Burlington has a relatively good cost-recovery rate. In some ways this means we are spending less to provide service. Oakville for instance has considerably increased service and total ridership and spends in total about 50 per cent more than we do in Burlington.

In moving forward, we are going to try to integrate our public transit plan much more closely with our Official Plan. Land use and intensity are keys to an effective public transit system and while this is certainly a challenge today I certainly hope that as the city continues to change, public transit will be more viable.

In Burlington, we have made a decision to protect our rural boundaries. We have made a decision to respect the natural environment and to balance competing demands. As a result our city will grow within. We will see more compact communities, more traffic and we will all live a little closer together. Public transit, perhaps not today but sometime in the future, will be an even more important part of the infrastructure and service that our community needs.

I would very much like to hear from you about how you view public transit in Burlington. Please send me an email (mayor@burlington.ca), call or visit my website (http://cms.burlington.ca/Page117.aspx) and leave a comment.