OMB Approves ADI development on Martha St.

Today, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) released its decision on Adi Development Group’s proposal at 374 Martha St.

I am extremely disappointed by this Ontario Municipal Board decision. In my opinion, the Board approved height is excessive and is not good planning for the site or for Burlington’s downtown. I know that many residents will be very unhappy with this decision and I share this reaction.

I want to thank the City’s staff, consultants and legal counsel for their work and effort defending the City’s position at the OMB.

You can read the full report here OMB ADI DECISION

Read the details of the application here.

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

My very first Facebook Live was a success! I want to thank everyone who took the time to join me on Tuesday evening.  As promised, I am posting the questions and answers discussed during the event. Some answers have been expanded to include additional information.

For those of you who couldn’t join me live, the video is up on my Facebook Page. You can watch it at your convenience.

There was a lot of topics covered during the hour-long Facebook Live.  I’m separating the Q&A into two sections.

This post will host questions regarding snow clearing, mobility hubs, transit and cycling.

The next post will focus on affordable housing, property tax, Meridian quarry, hydro wires over Burlington beach, electric vehicles, outdoor hockey rinks and my family’s Christmas traditions.

Why was the snow clearing so bad during Monday night’s storm?

The City of Burlington maintains approximately 1,900km of roads and 850km of sidewalks.  Monday’s storm was somewhat challenging in that the timing (rush hour) and forecasted amounts changed several times leading up to the storm. Our crews were also in the rush hour traffic trying to get to all the primary roads. Some pre-wetting with salt brine application did take place before the storm.  Snow clearing takes time, and we do ask for your patience when snow events occur.  Remember, on-street parking is suspended during snowstorms until the local roads are cleared. For more information head to

Can you please explain clearly what a Mobility Hub is?

A mobility hub is an area surrounding a transit station that either currently, or has the potential to have, a high concentration of people and jobs to support a significant level of existing or future planned transit service.  Mobility Hubs also serve as major focal points for connections between a variety of different modes of transportation including walking, cycling and transit.

The Province of Ontario’s Regional Transportation Plan titled “The Big Move” (2008), defines both Anchor Hubs (Downtown Burlington) and Gateway Hubs (Burlington Go). An anchor hub is a hub that has strategic importance due to its relationship with and Urban Growth Centre, as a place that contains current or planned major regional destinations such as major institutions, employment centres, town centres or regional shopping centres, and has the potential to attract new growth and development. A Gateway Hub is a Major Transit Station Area that is forecasted to achieve a minimum density target.

As Downtown Burlington continues to grow, improved transit service will be required in order to ensure that people can get around, to and from the Downtown without reliance on cars. The existing terminal will serve as the focus for this expanded transit service over the long term and be integral to the success of downtown.

Could you clarify Mary Lou Tanner’s assertion that there is no record of the province mandating a Downtown Mobility Hub?

The identification of the Downtown as a Mobility Hub has its origins in the 2006 Places to Grow document, which identified Downtown Burlington as an Urban Growth Centre (UGC).  The Province identified 25 existing or emerging urban centres as Urban Growth Centres. The intent of the UGC’s was to:

  • Revitalize downtowns to become vibrant centres;
  • Create complete communities throughout the greater Toronto area that offer more options for living, working, shopping, and playing;
  • Provide greater choice in housing types to meet the needs of people at all stages of life;
  • Curb sprawl and protect farmland and green spaces; and
  • Reduce traffic gridlock by improving access to a greater range of transportation choices.

At the time the Growth Plan was being developed, Downtown had been the subject of on-going investment and revitalization efforts by the City.  The identification of Downtown Burlington as an Urban Growth Centre as part of Places to Grow confirmed the direction that the City was already headed in previous years through strategic decisions and investments.

The Downtown’s classification as a mobility hub is predicated on it being identified as an Urban Growth Centre in the Places to Grow plan. The City and Council are required to conform to all Provincial Legislation and planning policies, including the Growth Plan. Therefore Council does not have the ability to reconsider this classification through the current or proposed Official Plans.

How can we maintain and protect the character of our older neighbourhoods in Ward 2 when the downtown is forecasted to change so radically?

The vast majority of downtown precinct plan is not proposed to change in a significant way. Forty-nine percent of the downtown mobility hub is public space and buildings. There are no plans for significant change to the Emerald and St Luke’s Neighbourhood. There are other areas that are proposed to include mid-rise and high-rise buildings. There are a number of heritage buildings in downtown that need to be considered and protected in and around areas that will be redeveloped.

It’s the area South of Caroline and Brant Street corridor that many people are very concerned about. I too have some questions that need to be answered.

In January, staff will present a detailed report on what we can expect in our downtown going forward because I don’t think we have enough information to make an informed decision.

What are you doing to solve congestion problems in Burlington?

During peak rush hour we have significant issues with cut through traffic within our city. What I mean by this is vehicles that exit the QEW congestion to use our roads as a bypass route.

We will be employing more reactive technology at our traffic lights.  This technology will have cameras and sensors that will be adaptive and reactive to current conditions.

The City will also install transit signal prioritization. This is a blue-tooth device on transit buses that will force signal lights to change so that public transit will have priority by reducing stops.

We need the Province to keep investing in the Lakeshore West line and other GO services.  In about 7 years, the Lakeshore West line will be serviced every 15 minutes. This will help relieve pressure on the QEW.

Within the city, we’re building mixed-use, walkable, compact, transit supported communities in our downtown and around our three GO stations. Eventually, I envision people living in our Downtown and GO stations without a car.  New developments in Burlington will offer car share programs where you can book a car to run your errands and do grocery shopping around the city.

Can you talk about the ongoing Burlington transit funding gap, service cuts and any potential plans for improvement?

In early September, City of Burlington Transit Staff presented council with a detailed analysis of the current state of Transit Service. Operational deficiencies were identified that resulted in hiring more full-time drivers and maintenance staff. In order to address these shortfalls, the transit operating budget for 2018 will be 15% greater than the 2017 budget. Our plan in the short term is to stabilize and address the operational deficiencies resulting in more reliable and predictable service.

There will be more consultation and public engagement in 2018 with our staff with regarding the future of our transit service.  I would expect more meaningful investment to increase our service being considered by Burlington City Council in 2019 as we move towards a frequent transit network plan.

Is the city working on cycling or transit opportunities for residents north of the QEW to get downtown other than by car? Love to be able to safely cycle or take a bus to some of the destinations and not worry about parking or traffic.

I’ve heard that this is critically important to many people in our community.  As a result, I asked and received council support at the Capital Budget Meeting on December 1st to provide funding for 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.

In terms of transit, we need to expand with a frequent transit network. We simply need more frequent transit on major routes in the city.  What that looks like is to be determined by staff, but the desire is to have much more transit service than we do now.

There is no sensible city alternative to transport a person in a wheelchair from Oakville to Burlington besides a very expensive taxi ride.  Why can’t both communities meet and design an affordable and seamless plan for crossing city borders so that loved ones don’t have to pay so much just to visit from one community to the next?

I share your concerns.  We should be looking at Handi-Van as a regional service within Halton region.  We’ve talked about this before in the region, but I will bring up this issue again.


Continue to Facebook Live Q & A Pt. 2

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 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!