It has been a busy week for both residents and Burlington City Council.
It was just over a week ago that I held the Reverse Town Hall, which was a great opportunity for me to hear from the community on the future of downtown Burlington. There were many perspectives shared, and it helped me prepare for the Planning & Development Committee meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, where we considered the Proposed Downtown Mobility Hub Precinct Plan. Thank you to everyone who attended, you made a difference.
The concerns from residents that I heard at the Reverse Town Hall and from delegations at the Committee meeting included: building height, parking, public engagement, defer the Official Plan until after the 2018 municipal election, growth targets, downtown mobility hub and urban growth centre, and the need for balanced growth.
Many of your concerns resonated with me. I reviewed them closely, and I consulted staff to gain insight into the implications and potential opportunities.
I am pleased to provide you with a Committee update.
We listened and acted and made important amendments to the Proposed Downtown Mobility Hub Precinct Plan. I believe these changes significantly improve the plan and are reflective of much of the public feedback that was provided.
Here is a summary of the amendments to the Proposed Downtown Mobility Hub Precinct Plan:
- Amend the proposed Downtown Core Precinct as follows:
- Development shall be a maximum of 12 storeys; or
- Development may be permitted additional storeys, subject to a site-specific zoning by-law amendment, to a maximum of 17 storeys subject to the following:
- One additional storey for every 150 sq metre of office/employment floor space provided; or
- One additional storey for every 8 public parking spaces provided in an underground parking structure
NOTE: I brought this motion forward because I heard loud and clear the importance of moderating the height in the area South of Victoria St. as well as the need for more parking in the east end of downtown
- Change the north-east corner of Brant Street and Lakeshore, located in the Cannery Precinct to the Downtown Core Precinct with conditions as listed above.
- Increase minimum tower separation requirement for tall buildings within the Downtown Mobility Hub from 25 metres to 30 metres which will create a greater feeling of openness around the buildings.
- Include policies to allow additional density in developments that preserve heritage buildings based on square footage preserved. (I am very supportive of this. I look forward to staff providing details on how this can be implemented)
- Direct the Director of City Building to include policy encouraging consideration of public-private parking partnerships in the Official Plan
- Direct the Director of City Building to prepare mid-rise (6-11 storeys) building guidelines by the end of Q3 2018
- Place targets for 2-3 bedroom units in residential buildings to accommodate families with children
- Add the north-west corner of Burlington Avenue and Lakeshore Rd. to the special planning area to match the north-east corner.
- Direct staff to work with the Region to review the Downtown Urban Growth Centre boundaries, and consider restoring original boundaries with the exception of Spencer Smith Park.
- Change the rezoning application requirement for a housing impact statement for more than 200 dwelling units and add a percentage target affecting mid and high-rise residential to achieve affordable, assisted, and special needs housing, as defined in Halton Region’s Annual State of Housing report.
I also want to respond to the residents who said that approval of the Official Plan should be deferred until after the municipal election. Council decided against this idea and here is why.
There are significant benefits to having a Council approval decision sooner rather than later. This will actually better address the significant public concern and interest for establishing greater certainty in the planning process.
A new Official Plan means we can move away from a site by site negotiation and instead bring more certainty to the application process. This is what residents have been very clear about.
Staff confirmed that the City will be in a better position to plan within a clearly defined framework with an updated Official Plan that can be defendable by today’s standards.
Staff will be able to use the new Official Plan when working with developers even though the Official Plan won’t officially be approved by the Halton Region until some time likely in 2019.
Staff will continue to develop a detailed Downtown Area Specific Plan which includes matters such as transportation, parking and servicing.
I believe that it is not only important for the reasons I have outlined, but a responsibility of this Council to bring as much certainty as possible to our downtown planning. Our current council has the necessary understanding of the development of the Official Plan. It’s important that this Council complete the process.
The draft new Official Plan, with the above amendments, will be presented to the Planning and Development Committee on April 4, 2018.