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

April / May 2013 Progress Report

May 31, 2013

Development and Infrastructure Committee: June 17, 2013
Budget and Corporate Services Committee: June 18, 2013
Community Services Committee: June 19, 2013
Committee of the Whole: June 20, 2013
City Committee Highlights

Council Decisions
The Big Move and the City of Burlington’s Transportation Master Plan
We have a close relationship with our neighbours – we share an economy, we share a work force, and we share our transportation corridors – the challenges of congestion and gridlock effect us all. Gridlock is one of the most important issues facing us today. This is not just a Greater Toronto Hamilton Area issue, gridlock effects all of Ontario.  Traffic congestion effects our quality of life, increases the cost of moving people, goods and services, and has a significant impact on public safety, our health and the environment.

We have seen and heard metro-bannermuch in the past several weeks about this topic in conjunction with The Big Move and I have been involved in several recent events with this focus in mind. I have posted a recent blog with more information and video links. Metrolinx has just released their Investment Strategy with their recommendations on funding tools for The Big Move.

As we discuss The Big Move, we are also discussing local transportation. The City is in the process of reviewing Burlington’s Transportation Master Plan. More information is available online. Please see the article further down about a special Encore Inspire Burlington presented in conjunction with the Transportation Master Plan Review.TMP_Header
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The Big Move – What’s in it for Burlington?

May 30, 2013Investment-Strategy-Infographic-web

There has been a lot of talk and news this week about the Metrolinx Plan to invest in transportation across the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area and the Investment Strategy Report released on Monday.

It is clear that the challenges of gridlock and congestion are critical to our economic prosperity and quality of life across the GTHA. The Metrolinx Plan is a strategy to improve traffic congestion across the whole GTHA, from Hamilton to Oshawa.

It is proposed that 41% of funds will be raised in the “416” (City of Toronto) and 42% of investment will take place within the 416. 59% of funds will be raised in the “905”, including Burlington, and 58% of funds will be invested in the same area.

How does “The Big Move” impact Burlington?

Traffic congestion is a major impediment to economic development in Burlington. Burlington companies trade in a wide area and do business across the GTHA. Congestion is a major problem.

We have set a target to create 29,000 new jobs overall in Burlington, with 6-7,000 in the Prosperity Corridor along the QEW. To do that we need a mobile workforce and we need to address the problems of gridlock.

What’s in it for us? From the “Next Wave” of projects planned by Metrolinx, Burlington residents and commuters will most directly benefit from:
Continue reading

The Big Discussion on “The Big Move”


UPDATED: December 12, 2013: Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel released its final report “Making the Move: Choices and Consequences”

May 24, 2013

We have a close relationship with our neighbours. We share an economy, we share a work force, and we share our transportation corridor.  The challenges of congestion and gridlock effect us all.

Gridlock is one of the most important issues facing us today. This is not just a Greater Toronto Hamilton Area issue; gridlock effects all of Ontario.  Traffic congestion effects our quality of life, increases the cost of moving people, goods and services, and has a significant impact on public safety, our health and the environment.

We have seen and heard much in the past several weeks about this topic and The Big Move  in the media. The Big Move is the 25 year plan from Metrolinx that will impact 6 million residents across the region.

I have participated in several regional Mayor Goldring at the Western GTA Summit4events on this topic over the past few weeks:

Are we facing economic gridlock?

May 17, 2013

GTA West Conference Photo

Burlington has a unique and close relationship with our neighbours in Halton Region and the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area. We share an economy, we share a work force, and we share our transportation corridors.

Which means we also share the challenges of congestion and gridlock in the GTHA. Traffic congestion affects our quality of life, increases the costs of doing business, and has a significant impact on public safety, our health and the environment.

Transportation, urban planning and economic development are inherently linked. In Burlington we are working with the Burlington Economic Development Corporation to attract more jobs and create live-work opportunities for our residents, but the reality is that we that have a high percentage of commuters.

Every day, approximately 50% of the Burlington labour force leaves the city to travel across the GTHA for work, school, business and other reasons.Traffic congestion and gridlock affects everyone in the region.

I believe that local governments have historically been too local, too silo-ed in their approach to cooperation and economic development. Municipal governments need to take a page from business and not be constrained by traditional lines on a map.  Rather, we need to forge partnerships and alliances with communities that share common interests, goals, resources, and barriers, to develop a stronger, more impactful voice for our constituents. We need to work together.

I’m looking forward to hearing from Ken Greenberg at the Summit on May 21st. Ken gave a presentation as part of the Inspire Burlington series last year, where he talked about cities have an incredible capacity to change, learn and adapt. We can think differently about planning. As Ken so eloquently puts it – “allow ourselves to play chords instead of single notes” and create great, memorable and sustainable places.

Our approach going forward cannot be politics as usual. We need 22nd century thinking to address our current and future challenges and opportunities. Elected officials need to work together with our residents so that we can have a future that we can all aspire to.

I am pleased to join Western GTA Mayors, civic leaders and business leaders at the Western GTA Summit on May 21. This will be an important opportunity to discuss our common challenges of regional transportation and economic development.

Please join me at this free event on May 21 at the Mississauga Convention Centre. Register online at westerngtasummit.ca

cropped-Western-GTA-Summit-2013-logo-RevisedHere are some of the key questions that we will be talking about. Tell me what you think.


  • How does traffic congestion impact your daily life in Burlington?
  • Do we need to change the way we live and design our communities?
  • What should our future neighbourhood and city growth look like?
  • What are some ways that we can work together to improve regional transportation?
  • How will we pay for regional transportation networks?
  • What innovation and employment opportunities will we create for our region?