Inspiring Dialogue on Intensification

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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.

An overview of my presentation can be found in my article on the same topic here.

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 mayor@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7607 to register.

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Building Burlington: Where to Build in a City That is Built Out – Connecting with you about intensification

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Tanya Hendriks - view from Kern Cliff ParkIntensification is a word we use at City Hall and around the community, but I have heard questions about what it means, especially as it applies to Burlington.

One of my priorities is engaging with residents on the topic of intensification.

To understand intensification, we need to understand what is driving our growth.

The Government of Canada has welcomed an average of 250,000 new immigrants per year since 2007.

Recognizing Ontario is a prime destination for many newcomers, the provincial government released the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe in 2006.

This serves as a tool for municipalities to plan for the projected residential and employment growth of an additional 3.7 million residents and 1.8 million jobs in the Greater Golden Horseshoe by 2031.

As a result of Places to Grow, Halton Region developed the Sustainable Halton Growth Management Strategy to manage growth for the anticipated 780,000 people and 390,000 jobs in Halton by the year 2031.

What does this mean for Burlington?

A key question is: What does this mean for Burlington?

Our population is almost 180,000. The City and Region determined it will grow to 193,000 by 2031.

In a city that is almost built out, where 50 per cent of our city is protected Greenbelt land, the next question is: Where do we grow?

One of the sites slated for intensification is the downtown core. This was established by the province as an Urban Growth Centre.

Our Official Plan also identifies other sites suited for intensification, such as Uptown located at Appleby Line between Mainway and Upper Middle Road.IMG_3307

We are also looking to Urban Growth Corridors, like Fairview Street and Plains Road.

As part of the Official Plan review, we are researching new opportunities for growth in the two provincially-designated mobility hubs, Burlington GO station and Downtown Burlington, as well as the two City-identified mobility hubs around Aldershot and Appleby GO stations.

We are also reviewing intensification opportunities at the city’s aging retail plazas.

It is important to remember why we are building within rather than sprawling out.

Council along with the Province through its Greenbelt Plan has been committed for decades to safeguarding our rural area, which makes up about 50 per cent of the land area of the City of Burlington. We are intensifying within Burlington’s urban boundary because protecting our rural land continues to be a priority.

What makes sense for Burlington?

Two questions I hear from some residents are, “Why do we have to grow? Why can’t Burlington stay the same?”

If we take federal and provincial policies out of the picture, what makes sense when it comes to residential growth for Burlington? Would we intensify regardless of growth policies?

I firmly believe shutting the door to growth through intensification is not a viable option for Burlington.

Since we are essentially at build out, halting residential growth within our urban boundaries means there would be little additional housing stock.

The low supply of housing could further increase residential real estate prices, making it even more of a challenge for our young people moving out on their own or our seniors looking to downsize to stay in the community.

Increased housing prices could lead to a decrease in the number of families in Burlington. This could impact school enrolment.

There could also be an impact on property taxes with little to no growth. Ten years ago we had three per cent assessment growth. Last year, we saw one per cent assessment growth and that is expected to fall to 0.5 per cent moving forward. As a result of a flat tax base, taxes could go up, services could be reduced or a combination of both.Plains Road Mosaic 02

We have the tools to manage our growth in a responsible way – in conjunction with community engagement. Let’s work together to continue to foster a made-in-Burlington approach to growth, creating a sustainable city for generations to come.

Engaging with you on intensification

As a result of a staff direction from city council, the City of Burlington is currently developing a communication program to provide community engagement, dialogue and participation with Burlington residents about why and how we will transition redevelopment in urban areas of the community.

An online survey was posted earlier this month, with more engagement opportunities coming soon.

I invite you to connect with City of Burlington about intensification through upcoming engagement opportunities that are part of our communication initiative. Learn more at: http://www.burlington.ca/intensification.

As mayor, I also welcome invitations from community groups, service clubs or organizations to come speak to you on this issue. Please contact me at mayor@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7607 with your requests.

What are some of the benefits of intensification?

  • Makes efficient use of scarce land resources.
  • Is a viable alternative to urban sprawl.
  • Fosters walkable neighbourhoods, decreasing reliance on the car and preventing increased traffic backlogs.Spencer_Ice108-8x12[1]
  • Increases the number of residents in an area, providing the population base for augmented transit service levels.
  • More efficient use of land can impact housing affordability by reducing land component of housing costs.
  • Brings new families into existing neighbourhoods, filling school classrooms and making use of existing park and playground facilities.
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April 2015 Progress Report

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Committee and Council Meetings

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

Upcoming Meetings

Development & Infrastructure Committee: Monday, May 11 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.*

Community & Corporate Services Committee: Tuesday, May 12 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.*

Committee of the Whole: Thursday, May 14 at 1 p.m.

Burlington City Council: Monday, May 25 at 6:30 pm.

*Times yet to be confirmed.

Hospital Groundbreakingshovelcropped1 Continue reading

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Be a part of Burlington’s future through the strategic plan update

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Waterfront small pictureThis column appears in the April 17, 2015 edition of the Burlington Post.

Residents often ask me how they can become involved in the future of our community.

I believe one meaningful way is through our strategic plan.

Our strategic plan determines where our city will be going over the next four years and in the future, how we will get there and how we will know if we were successful.

I am asking you to be engaged in updating our strategic plan for 2015-2018.

The process involves a review of the city’s vision and the setting of priorities and goals.

Our online and telephone surveys are complete, but there are more ways to get involved. The workbook for planning the future of Burlington is available until April 26.

The workbook can be found online at www.burlington.ca/strategicplan or you can call 905-335-7600, ext. 7378 to have a copy mailed to you.

There will also be an opportunity to weigh in when the draft plan is presented publicly.

The strategic plan for 2011-2014, entitled Burlington, Our Future, featured three strategic directions, including vibrant neighbourhoods, prosperity and excellence in governance. More than 4,000 people participated in the creation of that plan through various engagement opportunities.

I believe we made great progress on the priorities and goals set out by the city in that plan.

I would like to highlight just a few of our many achievements.

To foster vibrant neighbourhoods, we renovated Centennial Pool and the Mountainside Recreation Centre, are completing our Community Trails Strategy and are on track to add more than 40 kilometres of bike lanes between 2009 and 2015.

We made strides in prosperity with the reorganization for the Burlington Economic Development Corporation, complete with an updated strategic plan and clear key performance indicators.

We have also worked towards furthering excellence in governance with new and improved online customer service initiatives, focused infrastructure investment and a service-based budget in 2015.

What goals will be set in our updated strategic plan? Connect with us at www.burlington.ca/strategicplan.

Connect with me by phone at 905-335-7607, on Twitter @RickGoldring and on Facebook at Rick Goldring.

Subscribe to my monthly digital newsletter by emailing mayor@burlington.ca.

 

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