State of the City Address 2015

State-of-the-City-banner-2015

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How do we define Burlington?

What words can we use to describe the place where we live, the place where we work, and the place where we raise our children?

As Canadians, we often define ourselves by what we are not.

In our case, we are not Toronto. We are not Hamilton. We are not Oakville.

What and who is Burlington?

There are the obvious facts and figures.

We are a city of almost 180,000 people, plus the babies born at Joseph Brant Hospital this morning.

We have a picturesque waterfront, a thriving downtown and a rural area featuring rich farmland and the Niagara Escarpment.

Burlington is all of this.

And so much more.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to offer a warm welcome to my fifth State of the City address.

Thank you to the Burlington Chamber of Commerce for their ongoing support of this event.

The historic relationship between the City of Burlington and the Chamber is a rich one.

It was the Burlington Chamber of Commerce that presented Mayor John Lockhart with the chain of office in 1958. Every mayor has worn the chain since then.

The Chamber is a tireless supporter of business in our community. Burlington is a better place because of your dedicated efforts.

I also want to acknowledge today’s sponsors. Thank you Scotiabank, Bell Canada, the Centre for Skills Development & Training, the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington and BDO Canada.

TVCogeco also deserves recognition for filming today’s event, and for covering the important moments in our community every day.

Burlington is my hometown. I grew up here.

I remember watching the trains at Freeman Station with my mom, dad and sister. I remember learning to skate on a homemade rink my dad built in the backyard of our Roseland home. I remember opening my own business on South Service Road.

It is a profound privilege to be your mayor, your advocate, your leader.

A good leader knows teamwork is the key to success.

NBA legend Michael Jordan said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

I’d like to recognize the team that has lead Burlington with insight, wisdom and a lot of heart, and will do so again this term.

Please welcome councillors Rick Craven, Marianne Meed Ward, John Taylor, Jack Dennison, Paul Sharman and Blair Lancaster.

I’d also like to recognize our city staff in attendance. Thank you for being there for every play and for every victory.

I would be remiss if I did not credit the work of interim city manager Pat Moyle. I want to thank him for stepping in and managing the bench.

I also want to thank Nancy Shea-Nicol, who is our acting city manager until our new city manager, James Ridge, joins us on March 23.

 2014 was a year of community strength

The unthinkable happened on Monday, August 4th.

Burlington received almost 200 millimetres of rain over a mere five hours.

This was the equivalent of two months’ worth of rain in a single day.

The downpour caused flooding on our streets, highways and in thousands of our homes and businesses throughout Burlington.

Damage to public and private property was significant.

Our community banded together in the following hours, days and weeks.

Neighbours provided shelter, food and comfort during this time of need.

They bailed out water and offered a shoulder to cry on.

Firefighters, police officers, paramedics and other staff from the city and region played a key role in preserving the safety of our residents.

My home was one of the thousands affected. More than four feet of water filled my basement.

Fred Rogers, the beloved host of the public television show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

We were reminded that day, as we are every day, that Burlington is filled with helpers.

Burlington city council helped.

We approved a grant program to help homeowners cover the cost of building permit fees related to the flooding. The program will be available until December 24th of this year.

Council also requested financial help through the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.

The Canadian Red Cross visited almost 11,000 homes to collect information from residents about the impacts of the storm.

Samaritan’s Purse worked with World Renew to organize volunteers to clean up basements and yards after the flooding.

The Burlington Professional Firefighters Association also helped organize volunteers and participated in the cleanup.

The United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton stepped up to serve as the temporary keeper of donations.

The Burlington Community Foundation subsequently led the creation of the Flood Disaster Relief Committee and took over fundraising.

This committee, under the leadership of Ron Foxcroft, proved instrumental in raising more than 900,000 dollars. The claims committee received 310 claim applications.

The Government of Ontario proved they too were helpers by coming through to match community donations at a 2 to 1 ratio.

As a result, approximately 2.7 million dollars is currently being distributed to those who need it most.

As of last Thursday, 77 claims have been processed for a payout of 696,000 dollars. There is still much work to do.

A recent email sent by an approved claimant to the Burlington Community Foundation read:

“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate you, your team and the email we received an hour ago. Please find attached the signed declaration with our many thanks. I don’t need to explain our nightmare, as I am sure you have heard far too many. Just know how much this means to my family. We appreciate all of your efforts. Thank you very much!”

Looking forward, we are working to reduce the impact of a future storm.

Our weather will continue to evolve to be warmer, wetter and wilder. We need to be prepared.

An additional 4.5 million dollars of funding is now allocated over the next four years for surface water drainage projects and renewal.

We have added an additional 100,000 dollars to our operating budget for activities within our watershed areas.

A consultant’s report will be presented in June. If we need additional financial resources to address the issues, we will find the money.

The Region of Halton has also committed 5 million dollars to address requirements from the Basement Flooding Mitigation Study.

Approximately 3,500 homes and businesses flooded on August 4th. We are working to reduce future flood risks to not only these properties but all properties in the city.

We are also focused on finding preventative measures for a group of approximately 80 homes that have flooded on multiple occasions.

2014 was a year of economic renewal

Last year was a period of great progress and reorganization for the Burlington Economic Development Corporation.

Frank McKeown was named the executive director at the BEDC.

A new, fully-engaged board was also established, as was an updated Strategic Plan for the organization.

The Strategic Plan has been developed to address three key economic community needs.

These needs include: investment and assessment growth, growing local employment opportunity, and accessible Industrial/Commercial/Institutional land.

The updated strategy also includes clear and specific key performance indicators for all areas, as well as defined tactics to achieve these results.

Increasing investment in new and existing businesses will help bolster our assessment base. This will moderate increases in residential property taxes.

It will also foster opportunities for more residents to not only live in Burlington, but to work here as well.

Amidst the restructuring, more than 270,000 square feet of new Industrial, Commercial and Institutional space was constructed in 2014, with a total value exceeding 216 million dollars.

The BEDC worked with 27 businesses that either expanded or relocated to Burlington.

Our unemployment rate is at 5.8 per cent, which continues to remain lower than the provincial average.

An estimated 1,200 new jobs were added in 2014 and we look to continue that trend in 2015.

2014 was a year of fostering a vibrant downtown

The implementation of initiatives in the Downtown Core Commitment was a focus last year and continues to be through 2015.

A review of downtown real estate was completed, which will be part of a comprehensive strategy report to city council this year.

Our downtown core is the heart of Burlington. It is a business centre, a cultural centre and a residential centre.

A thriving downtown is the foundation of a strong community.

The number of businesses stayed quite stable, with 30 businesses opening and 24 businesses closing or moving.

While this is a modest increase, it is the first time since 2010 the number is on the positive side.

We saw the addition of a fresh food purveyor with the Brant Street Butcher and Market.

A campus of 80 students came to Village Square with the opening of Blyth Academy.

A variety of amenities is the key to a walkable, vibrant neighbourhood.

Tourism Burlington reports the nearly 300 events held downtown by various organizations were attended by approximately 660,000 people.

Great cities have prosperous downtown cores with a good mix of opportunities to live, shop, work and play.

I’m proud to say we have all that, topped off by a breathtaking waterfront, in downtown Burlington.

2014 was a year of continued fiscal responsibility

The approval of the 2014 budget brought a city tax increase of 3.5 per cent.

When combined with Halton Region and the education component, the overall property tax rate increase was 1.42 per cent.

The 2014 budget also saw the final increase to the levy for the city’s contribution to the Joseph Brant Hospital redevelopment project.

2014 was a year of milestones

Last June, city council approved a settlement related to the Brant Street Pier that totalled 2 million dollars for the City of Burlington.

The amount more than paid for the city’s legal costs.

While the Brant Street Pier struggled as a project, it is now one of the most popular locations in the city.

The pier is complete. It’s time to enjoy it. I look forward to next year’s State of the City address, when I will not even mention the pier.

We also celebrated another milestone in the redevelopment and expansion of Joseph Brant Hospital.

The Halton McMaster Family Health Centre opened its doors this past September.

I had the opportunity to visit this state-of-the-art facility as a patient, since my family physician of 54 years, Dr. Procter, has moved his practice there.

The centre is currently serving almost 9,000 patients ­­­­- with capacity for more.

Groundbreaking will take place this spring for the second phase of construction.

When construction is complete in 2018, Joseph Brant Hospital will feature 172 acute inpatient beds in the patient tower, a new emergency department, a larger cancer clinic, nine new operating rooms, expanded medical, surgical and outpatient services, and more.

This is a pivotal moment in the history of health care in our city.

Joseph Brant Hospital currently treats more than 250,000 patients each year. It opened its doors in 1961, but hasn’t had a major renovation since 1971.

This project is a much-needed shot in the arm for the city of Burlington. City council is proud to have committed 60 million dollars to this project.

The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation has made significant strides in fundraising for the redeveloped and expanded hospital, with more than 65 per cent raised of its 60 million dollar goal.

The foundation’s efforts were bolstered last year by a generous 11 million dollar donation from community builder, philanthropist and entrepreneur Michael Lee-Chin.

2014 was a record year for building

The construction value for building permit applications the city received in 2014 was the highest on record for Burlington.

The steady activity represents an estimated construction value of more than half a billion dollars.

Last year, the city received more than 2,100 building permit applications, which was the second highest in the last decade.

Industrial, commercial and institutional sectors accounted for approximately 60 per cent of the total volume, with the residential sector representing 40 per cent.

Looking forward, we anticipate there will be strong growth in construction activity in 2015 and associated construction value for building permits.

There were close to 650 new residential completions in 2014. Apartments made up more than 75 per cent of this new residential development.

This is a significant change to even five years ago when singles, semis and townhomes were 70 per cent of new home completions.

The type of residential properties is clearly shifting as we reach build out and look to grow within our urban boundaries.

The average price of a residential property in Burlington last year was almost 513,000 dollars. This is a 5.5 per cent increase over 2013.

While our real estate market remains strong, affordable housing continues to be a challenge.

The 2014 Vital Signs update released by the Burlington Community Foundation reports that 7.6 per cent of Burlington residents live in low income households.

These residents, many of whom live month to month, need affordable places to live.

Halton Region’s Official Plan sets a target that at least 30 per cent of new housing units produced annually in the region are affordable or assisted housing. This is easier said than done.

A housing success story from last year was city council’s approval of a 13-unit townhouse development by Habitat for Humanity Halton on Glendor Avenue.

I look forward to working further with Habitat for Humanity to create affordable home ownership opportunities for hardworking men and women who otherwise would not be able to afford to live in Burlington.

2014 was a year of strengthening government relations

The fall municipal election saw all seven members of council re-elected.

I commend everyone who put their name forward as a candidate in 2014.

It is a labour of love to run for and serve in political office. It requires perseverance, commitment and strength of character.

I was very pleased to see all six of my colleagues return to city hall.

This city council is a hardworking team of experienced, caring and committed people.

At the end of the day, despite elbows getting up once in awhile, we all want what is best for our city.

We also made progress in 2014 with our provincial counterparts.

Our first-ever Burlington Day was hosted at Queen’s Park in April 2014.

This was an opportunity for meaningful conversation between council and staff with the leadership in the provincial legislature.

We continue to work with Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon, Halton MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris and our friends at the province on key issues.

Last year, I was also elected to the board of directors for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. This allows me to be involved in issues across the province. It also gives me an opportunity to meet more often with members of the provincial government and develop fruitful relationships.

We have enjoyed growing our relationship with Burlington MP Mike Wallace.

We look forward to strengthening our connection with Ottawa, regardless of which party forms government after the next election.

2014 was a year of investment in parks and recreation

Mountainside Recreation Centre and Centennial Pool reopened in 2014 with 12 million dollars in upgrades and renovations.

This investment is much more than bricks and mortar.

Recreational facilities build inter-connectivity and a healthy community.

Our commitment to creating safe spaces for youth to connect was reaffirmed with a new youth drop-in space at Mountainside.

This is a great example of how we build community.

Our ongoing initiative to update playground equipment continued at five parks last year. We also saw three new splash pads.

These facilities are key to keeping our youngest residents active.

City council approved funding to plow snow from the paths along Centennial Bikeway, the Beachway and the North Hydro Corridor to help residents stay active during the winter and achieve their new year’s resolutions.

We also made our parks smoke-free in April, to create improved outdoor spaces for residents of all ages.

This year will see revitalization plans for Sherwood Forest Park, a Community Trails Strategy and planning for upgraded Windows-to-the-Lake.

We will also show off our city to the Americas during the Pan Am Games, which come to the Greater Toronto Area in July. City View Park here in Burlington is a practice facility for soccer.

We are also proud to host the Pan Am Torch Relay in June.

2014 was a year for going green

Last May, the City of Burlington celebrated the Holland family gift of 37-acres of greenspace at a sign unveiling.

The newly-named Eileen and John Holland Nature Sanctuary is a part of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System.

We are committed to working with our partners to renew our agreement around the ecopark system.

We opened two new community gardens in 2014 at Amherst Park and along the Frances Road bikeway.

These new sites are in addition to the popular community garden at Central Park.

After undergoing renovations for expansion and revitalization, the Burlington Transit facility received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – or LEED – designation in September 2014. 

2014 was a year of culture

In a survey conducted for our Cultural Action Plan, 76 per cent of Burlington residents said culture is ‘essential’ or ‘highly important’ in their daily lives.

Richard Florida, an American urban studies theorist, said, “Creativity has replaced raw materials or natural harbours as the crucial wellspring of economic growth. To be successful in this emerging creative age, regions must develop, attract and retain talented and creative people who generate innovations, develop technology-intensive industries and power economic growth.”

We continued to elevate the profile of arts and culture in 2014.

We launched a new online map showcasing the community’s many cultural assets, from buildings to artists.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre had 374 bookings between the two theatres in 2014. This was an 18 per cent increase over the previous year.

More than 82,000 people attended performances and there were over 12,000 performers on its stages for a grand total of 94,000 people using the Centre.

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre is a world-class facility in our downtown core. Although it was controversial when it was approved, I believe it has enhanced the cultural fabric of our community.

The Centre is a key performance venue for a number of our community groups, such as the Burlington Teen Tour Band, the Burlington Concert Band and Symphony on the Bay.

Last year also saw strong growth at another key cultural institution in Burlington – our public libraries.

The number of people who have a Burlington Public Library card grew by almost 13,000 over the year before for a total of over 94,000.

There were more than 1.1 million customer visits last year and almost 57,000 people attended library-run or sponsored events.

Community librarians are developing relationships with individuals and many organizations across the city focused on children, teens, seniors and people with special needs.

The Museums of Burlington continued to connect and engage with our community about our rich history.

More than 25,000 guests visited and participated in general museum visits, exhibit openings and special events in 2014.

The museum looks to expand its special programming this year to feature more experiential programming like walking tours and hands-on workshops, for all ages.

The launch of the Art Gallery of Burlington’s new brand was accompanied by record turnouts in 2014 at various exhibitions.

The art gallery also began to take the light out from under the bushel on the gem they have right here at home with the country’s largest collection of contemporary Canadian ceramics.

This year, the gallery is focused on touring works from its permanent collection to other cities – and into international exchanges.

The city’s commitment to the arts continues in 2015.

We commissioned public art at Norton Park and Moutainside Recreation Centre. These will be unveiled this year.

We also launched the Burlington Mural Project, designed to tell local stories using local artists. One mural will be installed in each of Burlington’s six wards.

Public art enhances our community by providing a sense of place. Just as artwork beautifies the rooms in our homes, public art serves the same important purpose throughout our city.

Our festivals continue to draw hundreds of thousands of people from across the province, country and continent.

These events celebrate local talent, are a major driver of our economy and showcase our city’s many attractions.

Whether it is the Sound of Music Festival, Canada’s Largest Ribfest, the Children’s Festival, Lowville Winter Games, Culture Days or one of the many other exciting events, there is something for everyone.

2014 was about getting people moving

Residents have asked us to ease traffic congestion.

There is no silver bullet, but we are doing what we can.

There are significant dollars included in our capital budget and forecast that will be invested in improving traffic flows on some of our busiest roads, such as Harvester Road.

The City of Burlington is replacing its central traffic signal system.

This will be complete by the summer.

The new system will provide staff with automated performance data so their efforts can be focused on adjusting signal timings where the need is greatest.

Public engagement is ongoing for the Transportation Master Plan.

This municipal strategy co-ordinates transportation networks and services with anticipated community growth.

A final report will be ready for December 2015.

We are also working on improving our transit system through a significant investment in a transit intelligent transportation system.

This system will give riders electronic access to real time bus information.

Handi-Van riders will experience some significant improvements with real time bus arrival texts, improved booking technology and trip planning tools.

Importantly, it will provide Burlington Transit with electronic reporting on such aspects as on-time performance, boardings and ridership. This gives us hard data when determining transit improvements.

We’ve invested in getting people moving, but easing traffic congestion will also require a shift among our residents to try alternative modes of transportation.

Of trips taken during a typical weekday that start or end in Burlington, the greatest number – more than 260,000 – remain within the city. That represents almost half of all trips that start or end in our city during this period.

Data also shows that Burlington residents have not changed their travel behaviours in the last decade, with the car as the preferred mode.

I challenge our residents to walk to the corner store, ride their bike to work or take a city bus to the GO station.

If we could make one of every five trips using an alternative mode of transportation, it would result in almost 20 per cent fewer cars on our roads, therefore reducing congestion.

2014 was a year of recognition

We celebrated 29 nominees and seven award winners – our helpers – at the annual Burlington’s Best awards ceremony.

The annual Burlington Accessibility Awards saw 14 awards presented to businesses, churches, non-profit organizations and residents who are changemakers in our community.

Burlington was named the Number One mid-sized city in Canada for the second consecutive year by MoneySense magazine.

The publication ranked Burlington the fifth-best city overall in Canada, as well as the third-best place to raise children, the second-best place for new immigrants and the third-best place to retire.

2014 was about connecting with residents  

We have heard from the public that they want to be able to connect with city hall in a meaningful way.

I believe informed residents and engaged residents are essential to a functional democratic system.

We created a new engagement tool last year by launching Insight Burlington, an online community panel.

This allows residents and business owners to share their ideas and join the conversation on city issues, whenever and wherever it is best for them.

As a way to improve customer service, we created online opportunities to report graffiti, streetlight outages, potholes and coyote sightings.

Last month, the city launched a new website that is more user-friendly.

We want people to connect with us. We’ve made that easier.

We will also provide many opportunities for the public to be engaged in the Strategic Plan for 2015 to 2018.

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.

Looking to 2015, the new year is about the implementation of priorities

In co-ordination with our Official Plan review, we need to engage in dialogue on smart growth and intensification.

Intensification is an issue I hear about regularly from Burlington residents.

My goal this year is to further engage the community on this topic.

I will be speaking about intensification at every opportunity and inviting feedback from residents.

It is important to talk about the federal and provincial policies that are driving intensification, and how Halton and Burlington are not only managing, but embracing this growth.

Burlington consists of approximately 50 per cent rural land protected by the greenbelt, so the growth must happen within our urban boundaries.

Our Official Plan review is expected to be complete in early 2016.

We are looking for new opportunities for residential, office and commercial development at our mobility hubs, growth corridors and aging retail plazas.

I invite you to participate in dialogue about intensification at the first Inspire Burlington event of the term on April 28.

Climate change adaptation is another priority for 2015.

The ice storm of 2013 and flood of 2014 are further evidence our climate is changing.

We need to be prepared.

Municipal and regional staff is working on ways to mitigate flood risks from our stormwater and wastewater systems.

I will also be hosting a climate change adaptation symposium in Burlington later this year.

Economic development remains a priority, as it was during my first term as mayor.

The BEDC anticipates a number of accomplishments by the end of 2015, among which include a surplus land marketing/sale pilot, an annual economic report, the creation of a five-year development plan and a stakeholder process established with land owners and developers for the QEW corridor.

Now that we have service based budgeting in place for the first time with the city’s 2015 budget, we will continue to strive for continuous improvement.

Very clearly, in business and in government, we must do more and better with less.

As members of Halton Regional council and custodians of the public purse, your city council is also watching the region’s budget closely.

The approved 2015 regional budget sees a property tax increase of 1.6 per cent for regional services and police services.

Yesterday, the Community and Corporate Services Committee approved a city tax rate increase of 3.64 per cent.

The city’s proposed increase, combined with the Region of Halton increase and the Boards of Education, results in an overall increase of 2.14 per cent.

This is below the most recent Toronto average consumer price index figure of 2.5 per cent.

The city, in partnership with Burlington Hydro, and with the assistance of a group of community stakeholders, has developed a Community Energy Plan for Burlington.

The plan helps us identify areas where conservation and efficiency measures can be focused.

It also assesses the potential for local generation, particularly through renewable energy, and the use of smart grid technology.

We will find ways to move forward with initiatives identified in the plan this year.

In summary, 2015 is a year of promise.

How do we define Burlington?

Burlington cannot be defined in a single word, sentence or paragraph.

Why?

Because Burlington means something different to each one of you in this room, to each resident in this city.

For some of you, it is home. It is the place you taught your child to ride their bicycle. The place you take daily walks around your neighbourhood. The place you bought your dream house.

For others, it is where you opened the doors of your business. The place you are hiring local employees. The place you are networking with other driven professionals. The place you are growing your company.

To me, it is all these things and more.

I stand here today, committed to a city that people are proud to call home, their place of business, their heart and soul. I am proud to have earned your trust for a second term. I take nothing about being mayor for granted.

It is an honour and privilege to do this job each and every day. Even on some of the more challenging days, it is still an honour and privilege.

I will continue to work with council, work with staff, work with the whole community to make Burlington a place that is beyond definition.

Thank you.

February 2015 Progress Report

Committee and Council Meetings

Agendas, minutes and videos on standing committee and council meetings in January, as well as agendas and reports for February’s meetings, are available online.

Upcoming Meetings

Development & Infrastructure Committee: Monday, February 9 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Community & Corporate Services Committee: Tuesday, February 10 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Audit Committee: Wednesday, February 11 at 3:30 p.m.

City Council: Monday, February 23 at 6:30 pm.

City Updates

Budget 2015 banner[1]Delegations on the proposed 2015 current budget are welcome on Wednesday, February 11. You must register in advance to make a presentation. Please see information about how to delegate here.

As outlined in my January Progress Report, the city’s base budget to maintain services is presented with a 1.86% increase, which is below the three year rolling average of the Toronto Consumer Price Index (1.91%).

The 2015 budget continues council’s practice of an increase for the capital levy that provides a source of funding to address infrastructure renewal and helps ensure that funding is available to renew assets as required based on the city’s asset management plan. This brings the increase to 3.06%.

Business cases used to recommend changes to city services and existing service levels bring the increase to 3.44%. Business cases from local boards and committees of 0.11% result the total city tax impact of 3.55%.

Combined with the Region of Halton increase and the Boards of Education, the overall increase is 2.1% (compared to the most recent Toronto average CPI figure of 2.5%) or $19.36 per $100,000 CVA.

A public meeting on the budget was held on January 29. Unfortunately, the snowfall that day made it difficult for many people to get out. I encourage people to visit our website for details and share their budget feedback with staff at lori.jivan@burlington.ca and with myself at mayor@burlington.ca.

Coyotes

My office continues to receive occasional correspondence from residents about sightings of coyotes and their related concerns.

Relocating of wildlife is governed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the rules and regulations permit relocation only within one kilometre of where they are trapped. This is not recommended, nor is killing coyotes an option.

The city has an online reporting system and a detailed list of questions and answers about coyotes on its website here. Alternatively, please call 905-335-3030 to report a coyote sighting.

A staff direction was approved by city council on Nov. 20, 2014 requesting a review on whether or not it is appropriate and feasible to prohibit the feeding and subsequent habitation of wildlife, and report back to the Development and Infrastructure Committee in the second quarter of 2015.

The city is hosting two public meetings about coyotes, feeding wildlife and some of the options we can look at to manage our wildlife conflicts on Wednesday, February 25 from 7-8:30 p.m. in committee rooms 1 and 2 at Tansley Woods Community Centre, 1996 Itabashi Way and on Thursday, March 26 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Central Arena, 519 Drury Lane.

I ask you to continue to connect with our animal control staff and myself on any concerns you have about coyotes. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Snow Control

As a friendly reminder in light of this week’s snowstorm, the city provides regular snow control updates on its website during significant winter Snow Control[2]storms.

More information, including the levels of service for road and sidewalk snow clearing operations, can be found at www.burlington.ca/snow.

To report an area that has not been plowed, please contact Roads and Park Maintenance at 905-333-6166 or by email at rpm@burlington.ca. Roads and Parks Maintenance asks residents to wait 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling before calling to let them know if a street has not been plowed.

Update on Public Meeting on Proposed 28-Storey Building on Martha Street Martha1___Content[1]

Council chambers was filled to capacity on Monday, January 19 for the public meeting on the application for a 28-storey mixed-use building at the corner of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road.

The proposal calls for 226 residential units, three levels of above-ground parking, retail space on the main floor along Lakeshore Road and five levels of underground parking.

The development proposed by Adi Development Group requires Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendments.

The predominant message from the numerous delegates and correspondence from the community has been clear – we don’t want a 28-storey building on that site. I support that stance wholeheartedly. Please see my blog post on this issue.

City staff is expected to bring back a report and recommendation in March.

More information on the application is available on the city’s website here.

Character Area Study for Roseland and Indian Point

The Character Area Study for Roseland and Indian Point is nearing completion.

The city’s planning staff has prepared a brief outlining a list of five proposed changes to the city’s Official Plan and zoning bylaw around the Character Area Study for Roseland and Indian Point.

An aerial view of Roseland.

An aerial view of Roseland.

The five proposed changes include:

  • Develop Official Plan policies to protect and manage development in Character Areas.
  • Prepare amendments to the Zoning By-law for Roseland and Indian Point to reflect the existing housing stock.
  • Maintain the Site Plan Control By-law for Character Areas.
  • Develop an Urban Design Brief to evaluate Site Plan, Minor Variance and Consent applications in Character Areas.
  • Co-ordinate opportunities to plant trees on public rights-of-way as part of the Urban Forestry Management Plan.

OPR_-_Indian_Point_Picture[1]

An aerial view of Indian Point.

Further details of proposed amendments within each of these five changes encompassing such aspects as setbacks, building height and lot coverage are outlined in the brief.

I have heard a variety of opinions about the proposed changes. I encourage residents to continue the dialogue with staff, myself and members of city council.

Written comments on the Character Area Study can be emailed to planner Rosa Bustamante at rosa.bustamante@burlington.ca by Monday, February 9. I invite you to also share your thoughts and feedback with me at mayor@burlington.ca.

The final report is expected in March.

Waterfront Hotel Lands Planning Study

The Development and Infrastructure Committee will be considering a report about the Waterfront Hotel lands at the Monday, February 9 meeting.

The report recommends approval of adopting a proposed process and a terms of reference for a Waterfront Hotel Lands Planning Study.

The current owner of the Waterfront Hotel lands, Vrancor Group, has recently approached the city to redevelop its property. This consists of a 1.88-acre site currently featuring a six-storey hotel and parking lot.

A study is required under our Official Plan before the site can be developed. The planning study would be conducted by outside consultants, funded by the developer, but selected and managed by city staff. A Stakeholder Advisory Committee, as well as significant public engagement, is proposed as part of the study.

The intended end result is three development options, with a preferred option, recommended to council by planning staff at the end of the process.

If you would like to provide feedback or for more information, please contact Jody Wellings at jody.wellings@burlington.ca or Rosalind Minaji at rosalind.minaji@burlington.ca.

I will be looking to support the recommendations in this report. A study will allow us to fully investigate the site’s potential, as well as allow for valuable community input. While the cost of the consultants will be covered by the developer, the city will lead this study, ensuring what I believe will be a fair process.

Climate Change Adaptation Symposium

As part of my personal commitment to raise awareness of climate change, a symposium on this issue will be held in Burlington in the last quarter of 2015.

I am seeking feedback about issues you would like to see on the agenda, as well as suggestions of guest speakers you think would be meaningful.

Please email your suggestions and ideas to mayor@burlington.ca.

City Manager Update

The City of Burlington is finalizing the selection of a new city manager.

I am impressed by the calibre of the applicants interested in managing our fine city.

City Solicitor and Director of Legal Services Nancy Shea-Nicol will be the acting city manager until the permanent city manager is hired.

The name of the successful candidate will be announced this month.

New Headquarters for Halton Regional Police Service

Late last month, regional council supported a request of $65 million for a new Halton police headquarters located near the site of the current building on Bronte Road.

We heard from Police Chief Stephen Tanner that the service has outgrown its current facility. The new building, expected to be more than 200,000 square feet, will accommodate near future and longer term police needs.halton_regional_police[1]

The region owns the land currently used for the Halton police headquarters. It also owns the land set out for the new building.

The region’s finance staff says there will not be a taxpayer impact. This is due to the funds coming from retiring debt and development charges.

Last summer, Halton Region was again named the safest Canadian regional municipality with a population of more than 100,000 based on the Statistics Canada’s 2013 Crime Severity Index.

I believe this is an important investment in ensuring our officers have the appropriate facilities and resources to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

Council Code of Conduct Workshop

During the last cycle of meetings, members of city council participated in a workshop to develop a Council Code of Conduct.

This was a document we were not quite ready to approve at the end of last term, making it a priority for the start of this term.

A Council Code of Conduct helps to ensure that the members of council share a common basis for acceptable behaviour.

Following what I thought was meaningful discussion, I requested staff prepare an amended draft Code of Conduct based on our feedback and present the revised document to the Community and Corporate Services Committee in May.

Make a Request to the Office of the Mayor

My office is happy to accommodate questions on various issues, requests for congratulatory letters or certificates, invitations to events or requests for a flag raising or proclamation.

We provide easy-to-use online forms for each of these requests on my website. Please contact my office anytime with your requests.

Upcoming Events

Burlington Heritage Fair

The Burlington Heritage Fair celebrating the bicentennial of Sir John A. Macdonald and the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag is on Saturday, February 7 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Burlington Central Library, 2331 New Street. Admission is free to this family event.

2015 State of the City Addresslogo-burlingtonchamber[1]

The Burlington Chamber of Commerce hosts the 2015 Mayor’s State of the City Address on Wednesday, February 18 starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Burlington Convention Centre. Tickets may be purchased through the Burlington Chamber of Commerce at http://www.burlingtonchamber.com/events/mayors-state-of-the-city-address.

Public Meeting About Coyotes

The city is hosting a public meeting about coyotes on Wednesday, February 25 from 7-8:30 p.m. in Committee Rooms 1 and 2 at Tansley Woods Community Centre, 1996 Itabashi Way.

19th Annual Women’s Day Breakfast

The Honourable Paddy Torsney presents the 19th Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast with Dr. Catherine Zahn, president and CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, on Friday, February 27 from 7:30-9 a.m. at the Holiday Inn, 3063 South Service Road. Tickets cost $16.50 and must be purchased in advance at A Different Drummer, 513 Locust Street.

If you would like to subscribe to the mayor’s monthly Progress Report, please email mayor@burlington.ca.

Finding the right balance in the Roseland Character Area Study

An aerial view of Roseland.

An aerial view of Roseland.

The Roseland Character Area Study is nearing its completion, with the fourth public consultation meeting held last night.

The city’s planning staff has outlined a list of proposed changes to the city’s Official Plan and zoning bylaw for the neighbourhood of Roseland, which consists of approximately 115 acres and 300 dwellings.

The five proposed changes listed in a brief prepared by city staff on the Character Area Study for Roseland and Indian Point include:

  • Develop Official Plan policies to protect and manage development in Character Areas.
  • Prepare amendments to the Zoning By-law for Roseland and Indian Point to reflect the existing housing stock.
  • Maintain the Site Plan Control By-law for Character Areas.
  • Develop an Urban Design Brief to evaluate Site Plan, Minor Variance and Consent applications in Character Areas.
  • Co-ordinate opportunities to plant trees on public rights-of-way as part of the Urban Forestry Management Plan.

Further details of proposed amendments within each of these five changes encompassing such aspects as setbacks, building height and lot coverage are outlined in the brief.

I know Roseland well. I grew up in the neighbourhood, so I have firsthand knowledge of its unique status and character as one of our oldest communities within Burlington. I know the people living in this neighbourhood want to preserve its uniqueness and charm.

My desired outcome of the Character Area Study is to provide the city’s planning staff with additional considerations when assessing the merits of applications for development from homeowners and developers in Roseland.

Last night, I heard from residents that the proposed directions do not go far enough compared to what was suggested in the consultant’s report. I heard the request for staff to reconsider legacy zoning. I heard the concerns about clearing vegetation and houses from lots before making applications to sever. I heard the request for a private tree bylaw – even if it starts out as a pilot project in the Roseland neighbourhood.

I have long believed a private tree bylaw would help control tree removal.

Unfortunately, there was not enough support from city council in 2013 for moving forward with a bylaw. Only I and a another member of council supported a staff direction in 2013 asking for options for a private tree bylaw. I look forward to a renewed discussion on this topic in the coming weeks.

Our planning staff also heard you last night and will be considering your suggestions.

As I stated last night, I believe our building and planning staff have been diligent throughout the process to find the best solution. It is not easy to create a balance between the need for growth and the community’s desire to stay the same. It may not be possible to arrive at a balance that satisfies everyone in the community – difficult choices will have to be made.

Staff will consider community feedback as they prepare the final report, which is expected to go to the Development and Infrastructure Committee in late March or early April.

At that time, it is ultimately up to city council to approve, modify or refuse the study recommendations.

In regards to the Indian Point study, our staff is continuing to communicate with the community about its preferred options. I have heard there is a strong will from the majority of residents in that neighbourhood to maintain the current Official Plan and zoning bylaw.

Written comments on the Character Area Study can be emailed to planner Rosa Bustamante at rosa.bustamante@burlington.ca by Monday, February 9. I welcome to you also share your thoughts and feedback with me at mayor@burlington.ca.

More details can be found on the city’s Character Area Study webpage.

 

Taking a stand against a 28-storey development on Martha Street

When I first learned of the application from Adi Development Group for a 28-storey mixed use building at the corner of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road, I was disappointed.

City staff and council have generally had a good working relationship with developers in our community. This respectful relationship has resulted in what I believe is a thoughtful and well-planned downtown core as we work to obtain growth targets set by the province.

This latest proposal came out of left field and took us by surprise.

The neighbouring community and a number of residents in the downtown core and across the city have united in saying ‘No’ to 28 storeys.

The argument that a 28-story building is inappropriate has been made clearly in correspondence to the city, at the nieghbourhood meeting held in the fall and again at last night’s public meeting at the Development and Infrastructure Committee meeting.

I support that message wholeheartedly.

Council chambers were at capacity last night, with approximately 15 delegations that lasted two and a half hours.

The message was clear – we don’t want a 28-storey building downtown.

Residents expressed a long list of concerns at last night’s meeting, among which were the disregard for the Official Plan, environmental impact, emergency vehicle access, traffic on Martha Street and Lakeshore Road, pedestrian safety with the high number of seniors living in the neighbourhood, compatibility, precedent, parking, design and scale.

I appreciated hearing from many of the delegates the acceptance to have the site redeveloped. There were a number of different ideas about what height would be acceptable.

The proposal calls for a building with 226 residential units, three levels of above-ground parking, retail space on the main floor along Lakeshore Road and five levels of underground parking.

The mixed-use development proposed by Adi Development Group requires Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendments. The site’s current height designation is four storeys, with a provision in the Official Plan to go up to eight storeys with community benefits.

The tallest building approved to date is the upcoming Bridgewater development, at 22 storeys, on Lakeshore Road at the base of Pearl Street. This was already identified in our Official Plan as the landmark building in downtown Burlington.

Yes, we have to intensify, but not at any cost.

City staff is expected to bring back a staff report and recommendation in March.

It is my hope the developer will work with staff before that time to propose a more appropriate development for that site.

Supporting Burlington’s Heritage

One of Burlington's designated heritage homes.

One of Burlington’s designated heritage homes.

During our recent cycle of meetings in December, city council approved the Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program.

This will allow eligible property owners who apply receive a 20 per cent rebate for the municipal and educational portion of property taxes.

There are 44 eligible designated residential properties in Burlington. If all of those owners applied for the rebate, the total would be about $20,500 in city funding for 2014.

The average rebate will be just under $700 for 2014.

The rebate program was proposed in a report called A New Approach to Conserving Burlington’s Heritage created by Heritage Burlington in 2012. City council supported the report, based on the idea that funding requests for initiatives would come back for consideration.

I believe support of this program shows city council is committed to helping designated homeowners maintain their properties. There’s an old saying, “You don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.” Heritage properties offer a glimpse into a different time in our city and are a reminder of the dedication of previous generations of residents in the creation of this great city. These homes also add to the character and quality of place for Burlington.

My hope for this rebate program is that it will serve as an incentive for owners of non-designated heritage homes to take the steps required to become designated. The more historically-important homes we can preserve, the better.

Council will be considering increasing the rebate to 25 per cent in the upcoming 2015 budget deliberations. The accompanying budget request is $25,500. I support this request, but will be looking for an update about whether the rebate has facilitated an increase in designated residential properties.