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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Budget 2016 Approved

One of the most important tasks for Burlington City Council is approving the city’s capital and operating budgets.

Budgeting is about planning and meaningful investment. I believe we must provide quality services while maintaining property taxes at a reasonable and affordable rate.

The capital budget was approved by council in December. This week, council approved the 2016 operating budget.

When combined with Halton Region and the boards of education, the overall property tax increase is two per cent or $17.10 for each $100,000 of residential urban assessment. The city’s portion included a 3.14 per cent increase.

Why is there an increase?

The 2016 operating budget focuses on providing services, maintaining our assets and investing in business cases to increase service levels through a competitive property tax increase.

The goal is to achieve a balance between minimizing tax increases while maintaining and increasing service levels where appropriate.

How did we arrive at a 3.14 per cent increase?

The city’s base budget is presented with a 1.28 per cent increase, as compared to the three-year rolling average of the Toronto Consumer Price Index (1.86 per cent).

Due to the prior policy decision to increase (+1.44 per cent) the dedicated infrastructure levy and tax supported debt charges for items like road repair and storm water management, the increase comes to 2.72 per cent.

City business cases (+0.29 per cent) bring the increase to 3.01 per cent. Local boards and committee business cases (+0.13 per cent) result in the city tax impact of 3.14 per cent.

I know a reasonable tax increase is a priority to our residents. While some would prefer a smaller increase, I believe the overall tax increase of two per cent is reasonable with strategic investments in services that are essential to keeping our city up and running, as well as fostering Burlington as one of the best communities in Canada in which to live and work.

Based on prudent advice from city staff, the 2016 operating budget features appropriate investment of your hard-earned dollars.

Connect with me by phone: 905-335-7607, email: mayor@burlington.ca, Twitter: @RickGoldring and Facebook: Rick Goldring.

Inspire Burlington

Seats are available at the free Inspire Burlington event on Thursday, Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m., Royal Botanical Gardens Auditorium, 680 Plains Rd. W.

The keynote speaker is renowned city planner Brent Toderian, who will talk about why cities should grow up through infill rather than out through sprawl. Email mayor@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7607 to reserve your seat.

This column appears in the January 29th edition of the Burlington Post.

 

October 2015 Progress Report

 

Committee and Council Meetings

Agendas, minutes and videos on standing committee and council meetings in October, as well as agendas and reports for upcoming meetings, are available online.

New Players in Burlington Following the Federal Election 

Like most of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, Burlington was swept up in the Liberal red tide that dominated voting in Ontario in the federal election on October 19th.

Following redistribution of electoral boundaries, Burlington now occupies all or part of three federal ridings.

I want to offer my congratulations to Karina Gould, the Liberal candidate and next MP for the riding of Burlington and also to the successful Liberal candidate in the new riding of Oakville North-Burlington, Pam Damoff. Congratulations are also in order for Lisa Raitt, who has been re-elected in the riding of Milton (which now includes rural North Burlington.)

I hope to meet with all of the MPs soon. I look forward to ongoing dialogue with all three of them on how we can work together to foster a vibrant and even more prosperous Burlington. Continue reading

September 2015 Progress Report

Committee and Council Meetings

Agendas, minutes and videos on standing committee and council meetings in September, as well as agendas and reports for upcoming meetings, are available online.

Challenging Residents to Think Outside the Car

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Mayor Rick Goldring, MPP Eleanor McMahon, Councillors Jack Dennison and Blair Lancaster, and students and staff at the launch of Think Outside the Car at M.M. Robinson H.S.

I am challenging Burlington residents to leave the car at home and choose active and alternative transportation during the Think Outside the Car Challenge between September 15 and October 30.
 
Many of the trips by Burlingtonians are within a very short distance, in fact, 50 per cent of them are less than 5 km. These are the ideal distances to cycle, walk or hop on a Burlington Transit bus. These alternative modes of transportation not only promote a healthy lifestyle but also save money on the cost of gas, parking and have very little impact on our air quality.

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Building Burlington: Where to Build in a City That is Built Out – Connecting with you about intensification

Tanya Hendriks - view from Kern Cliff ParkIntensification is a word we use at City Hall and around the community, but I have heard questions about what it means, especially as it applies to Burlington.

One of my priorities is engaging with residents on the topic of intensification.

To understand intensification, we need to understand what is driving our growth.

The Government of Canada has welcomed an average of 250,000 new immigrants per year since 2007.

Recognizing Ontario is a prime destination for many newcomers, the provincial government released the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe in 2006.

This serves as a tool for municipalities to plan for the projected residential and employment growth of an additional 3.7 million residents and 1.8 million jobs in the Greater Golden Horseshoe by 2031.

As a result of Places to Grow, Halton Region developed the Sustainable Halton Growth Management Strategy to manage growth for the anticipated 780,000 people and 390,000 jobs in Halton by the year 2031.

What does this mean for Burlington?

A key question is: What does this mean for Burlington?

Our population is almost 180,000. The City and Region determined it will grow to 193,000 by 2031.

In a city that is almost built out, where 50 per cent of our city is protected Greenbelt land, the next question is: Where do we grow?

One of the sites slated for intensification is the downtown core. This was established by the province as an Urban Growth Centre.

Our Official Plan also identifies other sites suited for intensification, such as Uptown located at Appleby Line between Mainway and Upper Middle Road.IMG_3307

We are also looking to Urban Growth Corridors, like Fairview Street and Plains Road.

As part of the Official Plan review, we are researching new opportunities for growth in the two provincially-designated mobility hubs, Burlington GO station and Downtown Burlington, as well as the two City-identified mobility hubs around Aldershot and Appleby GO stations.

We are also reviewing intensification opportunities at the city’s aging retail plazas.

It is important to remember why we are building within rather than sprawling out.

Council along with the Province through its Greenbelt Plan has been committed for decades to safeguarding our rural area, which makes up about 50 per cent of the land area of the City of Burlington. We are intensifying within Burlington’s urban boundary because protecting our rural land continues to be a priority.

What makes sense for Burlington?

Two questions I hear from some residents are, “Why do we have to grow? Why can’t Burlington stay the same?”

If we take federal and provincial policies out of the picture, what makes sense when it comes to residential growth for Burlington? Would we intensify regardless of growth policies?

I firmly believe shutting the door to growth through intensification is not a viable option for Burlington.

Since we are essentially at build out, halting residential growth within our urban boundaries means there would be little additional housing stock.

The low supply of housing could further increase residential real estate prices, making it even more of a challenge for our young people moving out on their own or our seniors looking to downsize to stay in the community.

Increased housing prices could lead to a decrease in the number of families in Burlington. This could impact school enrolment.

There could also be an impact on property taxes with little to no growth. Ten years ago we had three per cent assessment growth. Last year, we saw one per cent assessment growth and that is expected to fall to 0.5 per cent moving forward. As a result of a flat tax base, taxes could go up, services could be reduced or a combination of both.Plains Road Mosaic 02

We have the tools to manage our growth in a responsible way – in conjunction with community engagement. Let’s work together to continue to foster a made-in-Burlington approach to growth, creating a sustainable city for generations to come.

Engaging with you on intensification

As a result of a staff direction from city council, the City of Burlington is currently developing a communication program to provide community engagement, dialogue and participation with Burlington residents about why and how we will transition redevelopment in urban areas of the community.

An online survey was posted earlier this month, with more engagement opportunities coming soon.

I invite you to connect with City of Burlington about intensification through upcoming engagement opportunities that are part of our communication initiative. Learn more at: http://www.burlington.ca/intensification.

As mayor, I also welcome invitations from community groups, service clubs or organizations to come speak to you on this issue. Please contact me at mayor@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7607 with your requests.

What are some of the benefits of intensification?

  • Makes efficient use of scarce land resources.
  • Is a viable alternative to urban sprawl.
  • Fosters walkable neighbourhoods, decreasing reliance on the car and preventing increased traffic backlogs.Spencer_Ice108-8x12[1]
  • Increases the number of residents in an area, providing the population base for augmented transit service levels.
  • More efficient use of land can impact housing affordability by reducing land component of housing costs.
  • Brings new families into existing neighbourhoods, filling school classrooms and making use of existing park and playground facilities.