Amendments to the draft new Official Plan

Planning & Development Committee Meeting. Tue., Jan. 23/18

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.

Downtown Precinct Map

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.

What I heard at my Reverse Town Hall

I want to thank the residents of Burlington who joined me at my Reverse Town Hall last Thursday evening at the Art Gallery of Burlington.  We had a great turnout and I heard many insightful and legitimate concerns over the future of our downtown Burlington.

If you missed the meeting, I’ve summarized the topics discussed in this video.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 23rd, is the committee meeting where we’ll be able to listen to a presentation from the Planning and Building Staff about the downtown precinct and an opportunity to hear from delegations.

Please take a look at the information about tomorrow’s meeting here.

Facebook Live Q&A – Part 2

For your convenience, I decided to separate the Facebook Live Q & A into two sections.  The previous post focused on snow clearing, mobility hubs, traffic, transit and cycling.

This post will host questions regarding affordable housing, property tax, Meridian quarry, hydro wires over Burlington beach, electric vehicles, outdoor hockey rinks and my family’s Christmas traditions.Some answers have been expanded to include additional information.

If you missed my Facebook Live on Tuesday evening, you can watch it by going to my Facebook Page.

How do we plan on assisting older adults to remain in their downtown neighbourhoods? Is there a potential plan for co-housing?

One of the things I started was the Mayor’s Seniors’ Housing Task Force. We continue to have discussions on how to improve and promote processes to encourage more secondary dwelling suites in the city. Also, there are discussions in the community that would look at involving the not-for-profit sector to help facilitate seniors’ housing in the community for those who can’t afford the current prices in Burlington.

What are your plans for bringing affordable housing?

In our Mobility Hub plans, we have an opportunity to put in special community improvement plans that would encourage rental housing once we get some definition around the mobility hubs, the official plan designations, the area-specific plans and what the zoning bylaw will say.

We have received development applications for Georgian Court, which is in the Surrey Lane and Warwick Court area. Currently, there are 280, 2-3 bedroom condo units on the property. The application is for 1,450 rental units on that site. To be an inclusive city, we need to have more rental housing.

I don’t have a definitive thought on this project yet.  There is a lot to consider, and our staff is taking a look at the proposal in great detail because there are some issues to address before we determine anything.

What can you or will do to reduce our property tax?

It is unrealistic to think that property taxes can be reduced as that would result in a reduction in services. The reality is that we have a city that needs to be funded properly.  We need to have inflationary type increases maintain our services and our infrastructure. The proposed operating budget for 2018 has a 4.19% increase which includes increases in funding for: the base operations of the city; Provincially legislated employment standards impact; Transit Sustainability; Arbitrated Fire Settlement; capital infrastructure renewal and a new business case of Sports field Maintenance Enhancements.

Overall, when we factor in the Education Tax and the Region of Halton increase, our overall increase in property taxes for 2018 will be in the range of 2.49%.

 As a Tyandaga resident, I am very concerned about the health and environmental impact of the proposed clear cutting of 35 acres in a residential area for a shale quarry.  Will you endorse a request for review for the permanent protection of this green space?

This has been an active file in my office since the beginning of 2016.  This is not a simple issue.

I’ve had many meetings and discussions about the quarry with the Minister of Natural Resources, MPP Eleanor McMahon, Meridian, residents and I’ve attended the two Meridian information public meetings.

I believe we need more information than what we have now. The information shared so far by Meridian is insufficient, and clearly does not address the area residents’ concerns. We will continue to put pressure on the province and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to confirm their regulation process and give us some definition and input on how they will accept a site plan East cell that Meridian will be expanding in to.

I also met with Gord Miller, former Environmental Commissioner, who gave a presentation to the Tyandaga Residents back on November 16th.  I couldn’t attend the community meeting due to a previous commitment but met with Gord to see and hear the presentation he prepared.  His suggestion is for the residents to file a review with the Environmental Commissioner under the Environmental Bill of Rights. This is a legitimate avenue that I am respectful and supportive of.

What kind of things do you and your family like to do over Christmas time?  Any fun family traditions?

I’m married to Cheryl.  She has 4 daughters, and I have 3 daughters. Christmas is a very important time for our family to get together. We typically get together on Christmas Eve.  My wife has a tradition of buying all the girls new pajamas; they all try them on and gather around for a nice group photo. We have five grandchildren including one granddaughter who now will be part of that tradition.

One of the special times for me is on Boxing Day. I’m a graduate of Nelson High School, and at noon on the 26th my childhood buddies and I get together to play touch football.  This is something I look forward to every year.

What are your thoughts on Burlington being chosen to have a Cannabis store?

The decision to place a retail outlet in Burlington is one made by the provincial government. The city will work as closely as possible with our provincial counterparts to ensure we have input into the location. It is the city’s expectation that the province will follow the city’s zoning bylaw. The City of Burlington has information at www.burlington.ca/cannabis to provide links to helpful information, including to the provincial and federal information.

Can we get some outdoor hockey rinks?

Yes! The city has a program that will guide you on ways to develop an outdoor hockey rink. The city will help facilitate and provide you with some equipment to put it together.  They won’t construct the rink for you, but they will guide you through it.  Here is the Neighbourhood Rink Application

 Will the hydro wires along the beach be removed within the next 10 years?

That is the plan!

Halton Region is investing about $50m over the next 20-25 years to:

  • Move the hydro towers to the other side of the skyway bridge.
  • Buy some homes along the beach way. We’ve already acquired 12 out of 27 homes, and we expect to acquire more in the New Year.  They were all willing sellers; no one is being forced out.
  • Improve the Burlington Beachway Park and make it an attractive natural area that attracts people from the broader region.

Can you elaborate on Burlington’s plan to introduce vehicles to the grid (V2G) and distributed energy resources (DER) with mobile electric self-driving vehicle infrastructure – EV Charge Infrastructure?

I have great belief that electric vehicles are a great way for us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Burlington has approved the installation of 20 recharging stations over the next five years at our public parking lots in downtown. I think we should do more to encourage and accommodate electric vehicles and we will do more over time.

After the floods of 2014, what did the city do to make sure this is minimized in the future if we get that type of downpour again?

The City of Burlington and the Region of Halton have committed approximately $130M to address stormwater issues as well as wastewater issues.  The money is to optimize the wastewater sewer system throughout the region.

There is Enhanced Basement Flood Prevention Subsidy Program that offers financial support for residents who are making the improvements to their home.  Information on available subsidies can be found here.

The City of Burlington in partnering with Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo launched The Home Flood Protection Program.  It offers residents a complete 50 point visual assessment of potential sources of water entry into the home for $125.  Burlington was the pilot city for this program, and due to its success, it’s now being rolled out in communities all over Canada.

After the storm, Burlington City Council committed another $20M to the stormwater infrastructure within the city.  We need to build bigger bridges with wider openings, so the water doesn’t get trapped behind the bridges. We’re also looking at all the creeks to make sure that there is no debris build-up that blocks the flow of the water.

Council Supports Ending The New St. Road Diet

At the Committee of the Whole Meeting last night (November 27, 2017), council supported the Transportation Staff recommendation to convert the existing New Street Road Diet pilot project to the original four-lane section that was in existence before August 2016.  The conversion will take place in the early spring of 2018.

I was initially very lukewarm to this project as it was my expectation there would be significant opposition because of concerns about extended driving times and criticisms of low cycling activity.

As it turned out, I heard the opposition to this pilot project loud and clear in the very early stages. I remember working out at the Burlington YMCA the morning after the decision and boy, did I get an earful!

The full recommendation that was approved last night includes a direction for the staff to include cycle tracks on New Street between Guelph Line and Burloak for consideration in the 2019-2028 capital budget and forecast, along with pursuing a senior level of government funding.

This design option will maintain a four-lane road platform and implement an integrated and connected network of physically separated bike lanes which is my preference. This concept will not slow down traffic and will encourage many people to cycle due to the higher level of safety that cycle tracks provide.

We are in the process of developing a detailed cycling plan for the city that will be complete by spring of 2018 that will focus on the development of a city-wide integrated and connected network of cycling infrastructure. New Street Cycle Tracks will be part of that.I believe that a decision to locate bicycle lanes anywhere in the city needs to implement an overall planned network.

On another point that is related to cycling, I’ve also heard from many residents about the lack of connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists over the QEW.  As a result, I am asking for council support at the Capital Budget Meeting on Friday (December 1) to provide funding for a preparatory work to occur to assure that we are ready to build an Active Transportation Bridge over the QEW when the senior level of government funding becomes available.

I am a supporter of cycling infrastructure that will ensure cyclist safety, form an efficient and well-designed network while recognizing the associated impact on residents’ use of their vehicles.

I want to thank everyone who connected with me about the New Street Road diet. We heard all of you!

November 2017 Update

 421 – 431 Brant Street Rezoning Approved

Monday night, at the City Council meeting, the members of council voted 5-2 in favour of rezoning 421-431 Brant Street to allow for a proposed 23-storey mixed-use condo building to be built across from City Hall.

The Building would include 169 residential units, office space on the second floor and ground floor retail.  You can read the detailed staff recommendation here.

I was one of the two who voted against the proposal.

I want to thank the residents who took the time out of their busy lives to share their insight and delegated on Monday evening.

Proposed New Official Plan Open House

Burlington’s proposed new Official Plan is out for public review.

It contains additions, deletions and modifications to the draft new Officiall Plan that was released in April. Our staff received feedback from agencies,stakeholders and the public that guided in producing the new proposed OP.

We continue to ask for your input.  Please join city staff at  upcoming public meetings to review and discuss the proposed new Official Plan.  If you can’t make it ou to the public meetings, you can email newop@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7642 with your questions or concerns.

If you haven’t been following, click here for a refresher on the New Official Plan Project.

2018 Budget Overview

The Financial Overview of the 2018 Proposed Capital Budget and Forecast was presented to the Committee of the Whole – Budget Committee on November 9th.

The 2018 Proposed Capital Budget is approximately $68.6 million with a strong focus on infrastructure renewal projects reflective of the city’s commitment to the asset management plan and the Strategic Plan initiative.

Committee will review the Proposed Capital Budget on December 1, 2017, with Council approval scheduled for December 11, 2017.

The  Proposed 2018 Capital Budget Book is available now for public review.

Remembrance Day

I am proud and moved by the number of Burlington residents who joined me on Remembrance Day to show their love and support to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

We had a larger than normal crowd at the Sunrise Ceremony at the Naval Ships Memorial Monument in Spencer Smith Park.  Brant Street was packed with the young and old who came to pay their respects as our veterans made their way to the Cenotaph.

2017 is a special year of commemoration for Canada, including Canada 150, the 100th anniversaries of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Passchendaele, and the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid.

I am proud and honoured to be Canadian and thankful to all our veterans who risked their lives for our freedom.

Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign

I helped kick off The Salvation Army’s  Christmas Kettle Campaign with Major Bob and three-year-old Zoey this week.

Christmas Kettles are found in over 2,000 locations across Canada and funds donated will support the work of The Salvation Army during the Christmas Season.

Major Bob tells me that he is still looking for up to 100 volunteers to be the Kettle Bell Ringers in various locations across our city.

If you can give the gift of time, it would mean more low-income families will be able to spend Christmas with special meals and presents.

To become a Kettle Bell Ringer, contact Major Bob at 905-630-5212 or sign up online.

What’s Happening Burlington?

Agendas, minutes and videos on standing committee and council meetings, as well agendas and reports for upcoming meetings, are available online.

The next round of committee meetings begin on November 27th.

 

Community Garden Lottery

The City of Burlington had one community garden in 2012 with 30 plots.  Today, there are five community gardens with 167 plots including thirteen raised accessible plots for those with limited mobility.

If you’d like to claim a plot for 2018, submit an application before November 30th and you will be entered into a lottery draw on December 1st.   Good Luck!