This week, I hosted an Inspire Burlington event entitled “Building Burlington: Where to Build in a City That Is Built Out.”
The focus of the evening was a discussion on intensification.
This was the first time I have served as a keynote speaker for the Inspire Burlington series, which is an initiative of my office to foster community dialogue on important topics in our community.
Intensification is one of the main topics I heard about while out knocking on doors during the 2014 election campaign. People wanted to know why we were growing and what the future of our city held when it came to residential development.
It was evident from these conversations that engaging with the community about intensification would be a priority if re-elected as mayor of this great city.
My purpose in engaging with the community is not to sell people on intensification. Rather, I want to foster understanding about why, how and where we are going to grow.
One key theme that emerged during question period was the issue of the high cost of buying a residential property. I acknowledge Burlington is an expensive city in which to live. That is a byproduct of our high quality of life and key location in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The future of residential development in Burlington is primarily condominium apartments. We have reached build out, so we will look to responsible, mixed-use developments that are appropriate for the site upon which they are proposed. More stock means more supply and ideally, more options for everyone from young homebuyers to seniors looking to downsize.
There were also questions about the role of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). As eloquently stated by our staff, the OMB makes final decisions on developments only when an appeal is filed. The City of Burlington wants to determine how and where we grow, meaning working with developers and residents on appropriate growth is the preferred route rather than rely on the OMB to hand down a final decision.
There were also questions at the event about the environment. Our commitment to ensuring greenspace is worked into new developments, whenever possible, and preserving existing city greenspace, as well as investigating other greenspace opportunities, was reaffirmed. We also reiterated our goal of keeping Burlington’s rural area as protected Greenbelt land.
Audience members also asked about traffic – especially in the downtown core. Our Transportation Master Plan is expected to go before council at the end of this year. This is a 20-year shared vision and strategy that is intended to map out a transportation future that will help the city grow in place by providing multiple travel options that are convenient, affordable and safe.
We were also asked to confirm intensification would occur in more places than downtown. Our Official Plan identifies a number of different sites besides the downtown core for intensification. Among those other areas are the Fairview/Plains Road corridor, Uptown, around our three GO stations and at a number of aging retail plazas across the city.
An overall message I want to stress is that while intensification is part of Burlington’s future, we will not accept growth at any cost. We need to ensure we foster growth that is responsible, thoughtful and sustainable.
I am committed to building a livable Burlington our children and grandchildren will be proud to call home.
In case you weren’t able to attend this week’s Inspire Burlington presentation, here are the dates it will be aired on our local TVCogeco channel:
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 9 p.m.
Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 2 p.m.
Friday, May 8, 2015 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 5 p.m.
Due to community interest, a second date for Inspire Burlington on the same presentation has been added. The event takes place Thursday, May 28 at 7 p.m. in community Rooms 2 & 3 at Tansley Woods Community Centre, 1996 Itabashi Way. Please email email@example.com or call 905-335-7607 to register.