December 17, 2012
Last month I began linking both the upcoming committee agendas and the City Committee Highlights to my monthly progress report to facilitate quick access for you to view the issues being addressed and the resulting decisions by Council. I have received good feedback on this and will continue to make this one of the first pieces in my reports.
December has been another busy month as we completed our final city Council Meeting for 2012 on December 10, and our final Regional Council meeting on December 12. The last cycle of Committee Meetings for the City addressed many items.
A Public Meeting was held regarding a new townhouse development at 2072-2102 Ghent Street. This development is for 58 townhouses on what were eight residential lots. The area is zoned residential and the Official Plan designates this area as mid-density. A four storey senior’s residence was considered at one time for this development site but there was concern about the height.
No decisions have been made. The local residents expressed considerable concern over water management and overflow into Rambo Creek. This will be looked at very closely by City staff prior to their report back to Committee and Committee will have many questions on this issue.
Committee received the Draft Phase 2 Report on Employment Lands. We are being very careful with our employment lands to ensure that we have a long term supply. With our decision not to encroach on the rural lands and to restrict development below the Dundas/407 corridor, we have to work with the land we have available. Committee could not fully consider the decision on IKEA’s relocation to the North Service Road without first doing this work.
Committee will consider the IKEA decision in January 2013.
Enbridge Pipeline Report
Committee received a report regarding an application by Enbridge to reverse the flow of pipeline 9a. Pipeline 9a runs from Flamborough to Montreal. This pipeline was built in the mid-1970’s and became operational in 1976. The pipeline currently flows from Montreal to Sarnia, providing crude for refinement, and has done so since 1997. Prior to 1997, the pipeline flowed from west to east. Market conditions and supply dictate the best directional flow.
City Manager Jeff Fielding and I met with a representative of Enbridge. The information provided was provided to staff in preparation for the report.
At first blush, there is little controversy on this issue. There is, however, an additional consideration. It is possible that this line reversal will allow Canadian oil to reach eastern Canada for supply to reduce our need for foreign oil. It is additionally possible that this oil could be shipped via pipeline from Quebec to the US. This has significant economic and geopolitical impacts.
Environmental groups have expressed concern that as a result of this reversal, the Canadian oil being shipped through the pipeline will be “oil sands product” which may have properties different from standard crude and that these differences present additional risk.
The most important step on this matter is to be fully informed. We have asked Enbridge to delegate to Committee in the New Year.
All decisions related to the pipeline are national in nature and the National Energy Board (NEB) is fully responsible for decisions in this area through the National Energy Act; Enbridge has applied to the NEB for the flow reversal.
We will be submitting comments and questions to the NEB regarding the application and more specifically regarding all potential risks that might be increased as a result of this decision. The City will consider its actions after submitting this request to the NEB and the resulting response from NEB.
We may also consider a motion to request that the province conduct an independent Environmental Assessment (EA) for submission to the NEB.
The public can comment directly to the NEB. Please follow this link for further information.
Bike Lanes for Lakeshore Road
A report to consider adding bike lanes to Lakeshore Road was referred and will be considered in January. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Please share your thoughts with a comment below.
Taxes for the Humane Society
Council approved waiving past due taxes on the Humane Society. The Humane Society had been advised that they were tax exempt in 2008; however, subsequent review determined that this information was incorrect.
Council will review a report in the New Year to determine the Humane Society’s tax status moving forward. Under our current guidelines, the SPCA would be exempt but the Humane Society is not. There are additional issues which may or may not make it in the Humane Society’s best interest to be tax exempt.
Region Council approved Burlington’s request to waive the regional portion of the tax on December 12, 2012.
Other City Business
Region Tax Update
The Region approved tax rates for 2013 on December 12, 2012. The tax rate is in two portions – Police and Regional Services. Regional Services increase by zero%. Police increase by 2.3% for an overall increase of .8%.
The average $350,000 home will incur taxes of $807 for Regional Services in 2013 which is the same as 2012 and $458 for Police Services which is a $10 increment from 2012.
The impact of the 2013 Rate Supported Budget (Water and Wastewater) will be an increase from $778 to $815 based on average annual consumption of 274 cubic metres. This is a 4.8% increase.
Community Engagement Charter
The Community Engagement Charter was delivered to Committee. There was over two hours of dialogue on the Charter and the Action Plan included.
Committee has referred this to a meeting in January much to the Citizen Committee’s disappointment. Many members, including me, were concerned by a number of aspects of the proposed Charter. There is still work to do and I am fully confident that we will have a completed Charter in the next few months.
I would like to thank the Charter Team Citizen Committee for their work and to particularly recognize Gloria Reid and Steven Surya for their delegations which were very passionate and compelling.
Leash Free Pilot
Council has authorized the Director of Parks and Recreation to pilot leash free times in certain park locations. The idea is that certain parks are suitable for leash free activity at certain times of the day. This would not result in fenced in areas.
The sites have not been specifically determined yet and more information will follow from Parks and Recreation.
King Road Separation
The final tender has been authorized to complete the King Road work. A significant milestone was achieved in October with the insertion of the underpass during the Thanksgiving weekend. This was a significant engineering achievement and I congratulate staff. By the fall of 2013, King Road should be fully complete and rerouted through the underpass.
Office of the Mayor Information: 2012
This has been a very busy year. We have made progress in a number of areas:
- The Pier construction has been well managed and we are almost there. Staff advised Committee that we should expect the Pier to be open in June 2013.
- The agreement with Joseph Brant Hospital was reached and the province is moving forward with the much needed redevelopment.
- The City and Region committed to support the clean-up of Randle Reef and we expect to see some meaningful decisions in 2013 with a major announcement before year end.
- We completed several parks in North Burlington and our new Alton public library and community centre are underway. We also approved the re-development of Mountainside Park Arena which will take place in 2013.
- We formed a sub-committee to work with the City of Hamilton on mutually important issues. This currently includes Randle Reef and Economic Development opportunities. I’d like to thank Councillor Craven for his efforts on this.
- A number of important activities took place this year and we will see the results in 2013.
- The Downtown Taskforce will report on the work they have done to update the community vision for downtown.
- Our Community Energy Project team will report on the work they have done to create a baseline report on Community Energy which will allow us to start and set long term goals.
- The Beachway Park review is underway and we will receive a report with recommended actions in 2013. This has been an area of interest for some time and needs clarity for all.
- Staff has begun implementation of Results Based Accountability and has implemented a new business plan approach to service areas.
- We have dramatically slowed the growth of costs at City Hall as we assess our future.
- Two meaningful technology projects are underway to dramatically upgrade the public’s access to information at City Hall. We expect to see many of these projects fully implemented in 2013.
I would like to thank everyone who attended the Inspire Burlington speakers series in 2012. We had four very successful events:
- Ken Greenberg – City Building: A New Convergence
- Chris Crowley – Younger Next Year
- Dr. Samir Sinha – With Respect to Old Age
- Senator Art Eggleton – Income Inequality: The Great Divergence
I will be hosting four more events in 2013, beginning on February 28 at 7 pm at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Dr. Pamela Blais, author of Perverse Cities and Principal of Metropole Urban Planning will be my guest. Dr. Blais’ areas of expertise include urban planning, hidden municipal subsidies, efficient versus inefficient built form, and market-oriented tools to encourage more sustainable development. I would suggest Dr. Blais’ comments are going to be very timely as we continue with our official plan review.
I have also launched an Inspire Burlington section on my website and invite you to visit for upcoming speakers and past event information.
State of the City Address: January 24, 2013: Burlington Convention Centre
The Burlington Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Mayor’s State of the City Address on January 24, 2013 at 7:30 am. Tickets are available from the Chamber through their website or by calling 905-639-0174.
A copy of my speech will be available online after the presentation. The speech will also be available on TVCogeco.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact my office should you have any concerns or comments. Have a happy and healthy holiday season and I look forward to continuing to communicate with you in 2013.