Proposed Community Benefits for 421 Brant Street

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A report outlining the proposed Section 37 Community Benefits for 421 Brant Street has been released by the Planning Department. This will be presented at the Planning and Development meeting on Tuesday, April 10th.

On November 13, 2017, Council approved applications to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law, as modified by staff, to permit a mixed-use development with a height up to 23 storeys at the north-east corner of Brant and James Street across from City Hall.

I did not support the approval as I believe the height is excessive for this location.

Section 37 of the Planning Act is a planning tool which allows municipalities to accept “community benefits” when granting increased density and/or height through a change in zoning or official plan policy.

The report heading to the committee next week outlines the recommended direct and indirect community benefits that Planning staff is recommending for approval, as noted below.

Direct benefit vs Indirect benefit

  • A direct community benefit is a monetary contribution.
  • An indirect community benefit has a public interest but doesn’t involve a direct monetary contribution.

The direct benefits listed below have been negotiated under Section 37 by Planning staff. The indirect benefits were identified as part of the development proposal outlined in the November Planning report in support of the approved 23 storey development.

Here is the list of community benefits that Planning staff are recommending for approval:

• To assist in the pursuit of long-term affordable housing, the Developer agrees to a discount of $300,000 to be used against the purchase price of up to 10 dwelling units within the subject development, or in the event that a purchase(s) is/are not to occur within the subject development, the Developer agrees to provide the City with a cash contribution of $300,000 prior to condominium registration. [Direct benefit]

• The Developer agrees to provide a direct community benefit of $150,000 towards the public art reserve fund to be used within the publicly accessible privately owned easement area referred to in subsection (v) and/or in the future Civic Square expansion area. [Direct benefit]

• The Developer agrees to provide a direct community benefit of a $50,000 contribution towards the future expansion of Civic Square. [Direct benefit]

• The Developer agrees to provide one (1) publicly accessible car share parking space (indirect community benefit assessed at $50,000) and contribute to the City’s emerging car-share network by accommodating a car-share vehicle for a minimum of two years starting from the first occupancy (indirect community benefit assessed at $50,000), or equivalent.

• The Developer agrees to provide public access by way of an easement to be registered on title for lands located at the northeast corner of Brant Street and James Streets, the minimum dimensions of which are in the form of a triangle measured at 16m by 16m (an indirect community benefit assessed at $75,000).

• The Developer agrees to provide eight (8) visitor parking spaces (indirect community benefit accessed at $400,000).

• The Developer agrees, and it is enshrined within the amending zoning by-law, that increased building setbacks, including widened sidewalks on Brant Street, James Street, and John Street, and view corridors on Brant Street and James Street to City Hall and the Cenotaph (indirect community benefit accessed at $250,000).

• The Developer agrees to implement green technology and sustainable architecture elements into the subject property in accordance with either LEED certification standards and/or compliance with the City’s Sustainable Building and Development guidelines (indirect community benefit accessed at $300,000).

• The Developer agrees to implement City of Burlington Streetscape Guidelines Standards within the Brant Street, James Street, and John Street public realm areas, including the expanded building setback areas at-grade and the publicly accessible open space easement area outlined in (v) above (an indirect community benefit accessed at $150,000).

You are invited to attend the April 10th Planning and Development Committee meeting where this report will be discussed by Committee.

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One thought on “Proposed Community Benefits for 421 Brant Street

  1. In the Official Plan in force at the time of this application (Part VI, Page 6 and7) community benefits are defined quite clearly as: Provision of …
    Special needs or low income and affordable housing, ….. parkland beyond the requirement of the plan, public areas, crosswalks, walkways, … public parking,….. community spaces such as parks, daycare centres, schools, community centres, cultural or recreational facilities, fire halls or libraries.

    Community benefits may also include protection of natural and or cultural features, woodlots, significant views. They should also improve access to public transit or improve the implementation of travel demand management planning.

    These definitions, in Burlington’s Official Plan are rightly exacting and demanding of developers because a city should not sell or trade away its hard fought zoning bylaws in a way that deprives the community in favour of those developers.

    Considering that the amendment allows 23 storeys on a block zoned for 4 in the official plan in effect at the time, the community benefits offered seem somewhat miserly for what the community is asked to give up.

    Engaged Citizens of Burlington asks Council and Staff:

    Where are the Parklands, Hospitals and Schools?
    The Libraries, Fire halls, Community Centres and Greenspace
    that your own Official Plan calls for in exchange for such a drastic amendment to the current plan which the community still supports and favours.

    It is simply not enough of a benefit for the price the community will pay in lost amenity for this zoning amendment.

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