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 www.burlington.ca/snow

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

Millennial Advisory Committee Talk Development with Builder Jeff Paikin

Guest blog by Mark McGuire and Karl Wulf, Co-Chairs of the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee.

Mayor Rick Goldring’s Millennial Advisory Committee met for their October meeting at the Haber Recreation Centre on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017. The Mayor welcomed those who attended and introduced a local developer for a discussion on residential developments in Burlington.

Election

The October meeting commenced with an election for the Year 2 Co-Chairs. The First Term Co-Chairs Mark McGuire and Chris Ritsma were at the polls against First Term committee members Karl Wulf. The committee members opted to give Karl Wulf and Mark McGuire the mandate for the second year of the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee.

Development in Burlington

The local Developer Jeff Paikin, of New Horizon Homes, came to the meeting to offer insight into a developers mind and the challenges that developers face when juggling the needs and want of buyers. Jeff Paikin offered insight into the difference between a 12 and a 25-storey building while acknowledging the obvious – both are already high enough that no pedestrian will notice the difference from the sidewalk immediately below. Paikin offered further insight into the plan for growth within Burlington, mentioning that the mobility hubs in Burlington will be critical for people movement as the Greater Toronto Area adds 250,000 new residents each year.

Burlington is a desirable community and that makes it hard to be affordable

Paikin pointed out an interesting and seemingly obvious fact, the stress on housing supply has more to do with the number of people seeking to live in this area. As a result of the stress on the housing supply, the demand for land has increased, while supply can only increase at the rate of construction – which are increasingly vertical projects. As single-family detached homes become a less common commodity in Burlington’s downtown, families may look to condos and apartments fulfil the desire to dwell downtown. However, family oriented units tend to be larger – and larger units tend to be the last units to sell due to their higher cost.

Paikin mentioned further insight on the Greenbelt as a long-term policy tool. The Greenbelt will benefit future generations by preventing the large suburban sprawl into a limited supply of natural heritage spaces – forests, rivers, and the escarpment. The Greenbelt also ensures that farmland is not developed.

421 Brant St.

The concluding discussion of the evening was a brief discussion of the development across from Burlington City Hall – 421-431 Brant St. The brief discussion highlighted a few criteria that the Millennial Advisory Committee believe are essential to preserving the civic aura around City Hall.

The Millennial Advisory Committee’s key considerations for assessing the development were based on the 5 criteria that were perceived at this time to be essential to encourage healthy growth in Burlington’s downtown without sacrificing the existing heritage and cultural appeal. The top 5 criteria for emphasis on developments in the downtown are:

  • Emphasize need for Transit (Bus, Walking, Cycling)
  • Emphasize Green Space (Plants)
  • Emphasize Employment Space (Retail and Commercial)
  • Emphasize Family-oriented Units & Design
  • Emphasize need for Parking (Resident, Visitor, and Retail-Consumer)

The committee established a consensus and opted to delegate at the Planning and Development Committee meeting on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, at 7 PM. The result of the Planning and Development Committee meeting was the decision to approve the application of 421 Brant St. Inc. at 23 storeys. Mayor Rick Goldring and Councilor Meed Ward voted against the proposal, citing the height as a concern and the need for more employment space.

Our Next Meeting

The November meeting will take place on Thursday, November 16th , 2017 at 7:30 PM at the Haber Recreation Centre, 3040 Tim Dobbie Drive. This meeting will be focus on upcoming discussions at Burlington City Hall, such as the redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel, the New St. Road Diet Pilot Project, and the Bus Transit Schedule. These are important discussions for the future of Burlington.

If you are a millennial trying to get involved! This is a chance for millennials to speak out on the things they think would attract more millennials to Burlington.

Want to get involved?

To apply to be a member of the committee, please email mayor@burlington.ca with the following information.

  • Name
  • Age
  • Primary email address
  • City of current residence
  • Social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
  • Profession/Student status
  • A 500-word (max.) response to the following question: What ideas do you have for Mayor Rick Goldring’s Millennial Advisory Committee that would help meet its mandate of helping Burlington foster and retain millennial-age residents.

The Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee was created to develop initiatives and provide input on how to keep and attract residents aged 19 to 36 in Burlington. The Millennial Advisory Committee identifies millennials as people born from 1981 to 1998.

Why get involved?

The City of Burlington has the best reasons to get involved with any Committee or Board:

  • meet new people
  • share your talents
  • develop skills
  • address a common interest
  • make a difference in your community

Want more information?

Read the Summer Update from Term 1 Co-chairs Chris Ritsma and Mark McGuire. You can keep up to date on the news from the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee by visiting Burlington.ca/millennials.

For more information about the committee, contact the Office of the Mayor at  mayor@burlington.ca.

 

Why I Voted Against the 23-Storey Development Proposal

421-431 Brant Street Development Rendering

On November 1st, the Planning and Development Committee approved a Planning staff recommendation to allow the development of a 23-storey building right across from City Hall at the North East corner of James and Brant Street.

The building would include 169 residential units, office space on the second floor and ground floor retail.

The Committee voted 5-2 in favour of this recommendation. I voted against this proposal.

Downtown Burlington is a very desirable area to live and work for obvious reasons.  There are great restaurants, unique shops and amenities including the Performing Arts Centre and proximity to the waterfront.

There are also great places to live, in existing modern high-rise buildings that were built over the last 20 years including 360 on Pearl, the Pearl and Pine Retirement Residence and the Baxter. None of these buildings exceeds 18 storeys.

In my view, our downtown has an appropriate scale of current development that provides an urban intimacy. The proposed 23-storey building across from the City Hall is not consistent with the present scale, and we should not approve it.

The development proposal is not consistent with the new Downtown Mobility Hub Draft Precinct Plan that was presented to council by Planning staff in October.

The Draft Precinct Plan called for a Special Policy Area at the corner of James and Brant that would allow building height of 17 storeys, assuming that certain public benefits could be achieved. I supported that plan and believe that this site is appropriate for a well-designed building that is either mid-rise or up to 17 storeys, not 23.

I understand the rationale for taller and more slender buildings, but a well-developed mid-rise or lower high-rise will fit the scale and form the character of our downtown that many residents have asked us to maintain. Planning staff have stated that a larger, wider and shorter 12-storey building can house the same amount of residential, office and retail space that the proposed 23-storey building would contain.

Our downtown, South of Caroline, can be shaped with well-thought-out buildings that are 17-storeys or lower that provide an inviting, pedestrian-friendly and attractive street.

Brant Street can improve without dramatically changing it.  The focus in our downtown should be distinctive and attractive design, not excessive height.

I am concerned about the negative consequences of this decision. We cannot look at this decision in isolation as there is reasonable planning rationale to mirror the same height and density on the opposite side of James Street.

I am concerned that this proposed development will have a considerable impact on the Draft Downtown Plan and undermine the confidence that residents are being asked to have for the City’s vision for future growth in the downtown.

Burlington City Council will make the final decision at our next meeting in the council chambers at City Hall on Monday, November 13th at 6:30 p.m.

If you’d like to have your voices heard, I encourage you to email the members of the council and me.  You can also register to delegate at the council meeting, which allows you to state your perspective publicly.

 

January 2016 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 upcoming meetings, are available online.

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State of the City Address 2016

Burlington must grow differently as the city approaches build-out of its urban areas and as the city continues to protect valued green spaces. We are one of the first municipalities in Southern Ontario to stop sprawl and instead grow in place, something that many other municipalities will be faced with in the next decade or two.

I was pleased to deliver this message as part of my annual State of the City Address on Jan. 28 to a Burlington Chamber of Commerce audience of more than 400 people.

Burlington is built out with very little room left for traditional greenfield suburban-type development. Fifty per cent of Burlington is rural, agricultural, natural greenbelt and the vast majority of people I talk to want to keep it that way.

The centrepiece of my message was the nearly-complete Strategic Plan for the City of Burlington. After more than a year of collaboration between the community, City Council and city staff, the strategic plan is nearly done, with city staff making revisions based on the feedback provided in December and January. The completed document goes to City Council for approval this spring.

There are four key strategic directions outlined in Burlington’s new strategic plan including: i) A City That Grows ii) A City that Moves iii) A Green and Healthy City iv) An Engaging City. These themes were highlighted in an accompanying video entitled ‘Where We Grow from Here: Burlington’s Strategic Plan 2015-2040’.

The strategic plan is the 25-year blueprint for city-building and will be supported in more detail with the Official Plan, Transportation Master Plan and the Corporate Work Plan.

To read the complete speech, visit http://www.burlingtonmayor.com/state-of-the-city-2016/. The video recording is available below of the entire speech.

For the Where We Grow from Here: Burlington’s Strategic Plan 2015-2040, watch below, or to review the draft strategic plan, visit www.burlington.ca/strategicplan.

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Prosperity, Affordable Housing, Railway Safety, Culture, Airpark and more: Burlington Progress Report: November 2013

 

November 27, 2013

Burlington Progress Report, November 2013

Upcoming Committee Meetings

Burlington Airpark

On November 13th, Milton Superior Court ruled in City of Burlington’s favour against the Burlington Executive Airpark. They ruled that the City’s site alteration by-law applies to the Burlington Airpark.

This is a significant decision for Burlington and for municipalities throughout Ontario.

I would like to thank the residents for their perseverance with this initiative, and our staff for working hard with all parties for this outcome.

Read the specific rulings and information on the decision posted online.

IKEA

I am very pleased to let you know that IKEA’s move to the North Service Road is moving ahead with the approval of two staff reports by Burlington City Council, at its meeting on November 13, 2013.

This is an important step that not only accommodates the transportation needs of the IKEA project, but also provides a long term transportation solution for the city’s Prosperity Corridor. With the transportation issues addressed we can attract other employment land growth to this area.

Further details are available in the press release from November 14.

QEW Prosperity Corridor: Transportation and Improvements

Employment lands are critical to the economic and social viability of the city and its neighbourhoods. Last year, Council endorsed aggressive industrial/commerical growth targets that require us to focus on creating short and long-term development opportunities.
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