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-storey building is not appropriate has been made clearly in correspondence to the city, at the neighbourhood 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.

Burlington Flood Update #2

Yesterday I spent several hours visiting many neighbourhoods in Burlington and speaking with over 100 residents who have had flooding of their homes and properties. As many know, my wife and I shared a similar experience and we understand personally what these residents have lost.

We have formally been notified that 1,578 homes that have had flooding but I believe the final number will be closer to 2,000.

We have had extensive flooding in many areas of Burlington: from the Headon Forest/Palmer Drive area, to Brant Hills/Mountainside area, with the greatest number of homes affected in neighbourhoods in south and south east Burlington. Although the percentage of homes overall is low, the impact for those that have been affected is severe. Many residents do not have adequate insurance coverage and have suffered tens of thousands of dollars damage, in many cases damage is over $100,000.

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Brant Street Pier Legal Update

I am very pleased to provide an update on the litigation surrounding the Brant Street Pier. Today Council unanimously approved a settlement with a net result of $2 million for the City of Burlington.

The settlement consists of $1.5 million in cash, along with a $500,000 net gain resulting from a holdback that we will no longer be obligated to pay.

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