A totally cock-a-mammy idea from people that should know better. Get a grip on reality folks.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 13th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A candidate for one of the city council seats sent us a proposal that had come to his attention via ECoB: Engaged Citizens of Burlington that he felt council should consider.

The proposal is to use some of the community benefit money that would be a part of the process if the 409 project proceeds to move the Kelly’s Bake Shop from its current Brant street location to an empty city lot at John and Caroline, allowing Kelly’s Bake Shoppe to remain in the downtown core.

Ford + two others at Kellys

Kelly’s Bake Shop has become a destination for many. A condo development threatens the existence of the buisness.

While the sentiment is nice – this idea is fraught with problems.

First, John Street north of Caroline is not actually a street – it is a lane way and there might be issues over what can be built on a lane way.

Second, City Manager James Ridge brought to council’s attention that any rental the city might do would have to be at market rates – the Municipal Act requires him to do that.

Third, should the city be in the business of favouring a specific commercial operation? This is not the purpose of municipal governments. It opens the door for all kinds of cronyism – and if Ridge is against anything, his stomach would turn if he saw that happening on his watch.

The desire to do something for the cupcake store is based on an emotional concern – that’s not what city hall is about.

Kellys - her with cup cakes-edit

Kelly Child’s is a very talented marketer – trying to convince a city to give her special treatment.

It is the Gazette’s understanding that Kelly Child’s has yet to meet with the Economic Development Corporation; that organization is in place to work with commercial operations that need help.

What Kelly Child’s has done is play the “crying in public” card for sympathy and support.  This is a business situation and we are talking about public money – be very careful.

The candidate said he has “spoken to Kelly Childs and confirmed that this is a proposal she would be happy to consider.”

I’ll bet she would be happy to consider the proposal.

The candidate, who we have deliberately not identified; (we don’t want to embarrass him any more than he has embarrassed himself by promoting a totally cock-a-mammy idea), said he “believes this is an excellent and inventive idea worthy of full and urgent examination by Council and Staff, and I will be supporting that examination.

John looking south - empty lot

John Street at Caroline looking south – a proposed new location for Kelly’s Bake Shop. The building on the property has been demolished

“Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is a Burlington success story that may become a Canada-wide and international success story. Burlington should do everything it can both to protect the heritage property and recognise the tenant’s special contribution to the downtown.

“I believe that this is a proposal well worth getting out to your readers today.”

Hmmm … is this what we want on city council?

Salt with Pepper is a column reflecting the opinions, views, observations and musings of the Gazette publisher.

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34 comments to A totally cock-a-mammy idea from people that should know better. Get a grip on reality folks.

  • Ken Childs

    Burlington lost its golden opportunity. We could have had it all.

    Any city can have towers, that’s easy. What we have and no one else has in southern Ontario is a sprawling waterfront. A waterfront complete with a big and beautiful park and long sandy beach which is all connected to a boardwalk leading to a cute downtown that has all the potential to be the brightest tourism gem along the shores of Lake Ontario.

    Instead of preserving and promoting and building this town as a “tourism” destination, which in doing so supports local businesses, the community and residential property values, council decided to wipe it clean of its charm, heritage and privately owned and operated businesses and shops, and go for the gusto and bring Toronto to Burlington. Just what everybody moved here for.

    Imagine the benefits if the City planners, the economic committee and council decided to invest in a plan to inject collaborative effort, money and landowner interest into making the core thrive with restaurants, cafes, shops and stores, which in turn services locals and brings tourists, diners and shoppers from all over to enjoy and spend money here. A bustling business community creates jobs, creates an economy, creates demand for services and increases property values for everyone. Burlington was ripe for this vision, the timing was there, and the core desperately needed to turn a corner. But this corner we face now is ten years of construction and gridlock while all these dozens of developments that are on the table are built.

    The intensification could have and should have been slated for Plains Rd and Fairview. That is where it belongs, where there are streets to handle the traffic, easy access to all the major highways and direct access to transit. The city and council could have won, the residents would have won, the developers would have won, the tourists would have won, the businesses would have won. We all would have won.

    Sad.

    • Allan S

      Totally agree that Council seem intent on removing the City’s “charm, heritage and privately owned and operated businesses and shops, and bringing Toronto to Burlington.”

      What the hell are they thinking!

  • Concerned Citizen

    Even IF a business had asked the City for their help with relocating – AND KELLY AGREED ONLY TO EXPLORING IDEAS, SHE NEVER ASKED FOR MONEY! – how can the City not be obliged to at least consider the topic, after outright handing over $4 million to the Marina folks? Quite an interesting balance of priorities with this current Council.

  • Kelly Childs

    I never asked for City money. EVER.

    I am not asking for special treatment. We don’t need nor do we want special treatment.

    We have over 12,000 people a week come through our doors and we have staff of 32. I asked the city to help us find a new location in the downtown core. We are having difficulty as most buildings are owned by developers or landlords trying to sell to developers and hence, we cannot secure long term leases. We don’t want to leave but if we have to we will. We have approximately 2 +/- years left on our current lease and we are uncertain where we will go at this point because we have a fair amount of time left to discuss with the developer as to what our next steps will be.

    I sincerely am heartbroken to say goodbye to a heritage building we love so much and provides so much joy to our customers. THIS is my passion – trying to protect downtown Burlington from losing its charm and keeping its heritage and quaint stores.

  • Penny

    Alfred,

    No one is suggesting that taxpayer dollars go into renovating or relocating heritage designated buildings that are being displaced by condominium development.

    Did you know that “Wigsville” a designated heritage building was relocated to allow for the development of the Saxony Condominium that is presently under construction on Elgin Street? WHO PAID TO RELOCATE THAT BUILDING? I doubt the city paid to move that structure.

    The City has the ability to ask developers to provide certain things in exchange for height allowances (something I personally am not in favour of). The Bridgewater Development on Lakeshore had to have a hotel component in order for the development to move forward.

    The City has the ability to make it a condition to either incorporate or move a heritage building ( not merely a facade) that is involved in any new development.

    The City just moved the Joseph Brant Museum to allow for construction of a glass structure using taxpayer dollars, something most residents ( taxpayers) didn’t want. Are you favour of this “legacy” project?

    What is going to happen to the Elgin Street Promenade ( the grey concrete public space) that abuts Kelly’s once construction begins. The developer indicated that when construction begins, the shoring would be noisy and no guarantee that the existing building would not be damaged or destroyed. WHAT ABOUT THE PROMENADE – Will that be destroyed as well?

    All that taxpayer money spent when the City knew the area would be a construction zone – Interesting don’t you think?

  • Alfred

    Roland are you suggesting the City spend ten’s of millions of dollars of the taxpayers money to buy up all the Heritage properties then lease them back to local business.Do you have any idea how much money the City will lose fixing up some of these dilapidated properties. The City policy is that it will not force a Heritage designation on a citizen unless that citizen is fairly compensated. That policy appears to be very balanced in the eyes of most reasonable people. I hope you as well believe in fair compensation since it’s that taxpayers that benefit buy these jewels being restored for the public to view according to your post. I’m feeling you don’t plan on compensating anyone. Your term legal protection refers to that fact that you want to steal
    away people’s property rights on their own property and you will decide what the peasants can do. You appear more concerned about renters than property owners. I thought you were running for council not to become King. Do you have any experience in renovating old buildings or building new ones, property management, commercial real estate development, renting commercial properties to back up your idea?

    • Hi Alfred. No, I’m not suggesting anything of the sort. I am suggested on Tuesday morning, and the *entire City Council agreed, by unanimous vote on Wednesday evening*, that all avenues be explored that could lead to a better solution for the building, the developer (who has no desire to be the owner of heritage properties) and the tenants.

      Happy to discuss in more detail if you want to email me. My email address is roland@rolandtanner.ca.

  • Stephen White

    Well…perhaps the proposal in and of itself isn’t the best use of tax dollars, but the issue does highlight what is and will become a growing problem in Burlington in future.

    If developers tear down and renovate existing malls or buildings what happens to existing businesses? There is a case in east Burlington that is shaping up at Lakeside Village. Everyone agrees this mall needs redevelopment. That isn’t at issue. The problem is that if you look at the developer’s proposal the initial redevelopment plan envisages tearing down the western side of the mall first that currently houses a daycare and several small stores nearby. What happens to those businesses, many of which have been in existence for many years, and service a local clientele? You just don’t up and move someplace overnight. There needs to be a transition strategy.

    I would hope that the developer, the Chamber of Commerce, the Burlington Economic Development Office, or Council, could assist impacted businesses in re-establishing themselves either permanently or even in transition. A collaborative strategy is needed. We can’t afford to lose jobs, and that includes retailers. So, candidate Tanner’s idea of using community benefit monies may not be the right solution, but give him credit for at least recognizing a bigger problem deserving of an extensive discussion.

    • Philip Waggett

      And these are not the only areas of concern. Jack Dennison’s relection newsletter sets out his desire to redevelop the Burlington Mall and Marilu’s /Eastway Plaza. Jack loves development even if it means destroying the character of Ward 4. And it points out his hypocrisy in voting against the highrise on Brant Street–another one of Jack’s politically-motivated votes where he looks carefully around the chamber to make sure the vote will pass before he votes against it. For sure, this sorry excuse for a councillor has got to go on October 22!

    • Thank you Stephen. You make a good point. I will add two clarifications. Nobody to my knowledge, and certainly not me, has suggested using a single cent of taxpayers’ money on any proposal.

      I suggested only what City Council subsequently agreed (unanimously) a few hours later – give direction to staff to investigate all options that might result in a happier outcome for all involved.

      Relocation at the developer’s expense is a fairly routine approach to heritage properties at risk from development. The staff recommendation as it stands already involves moving the 401 Brant St building (the location of Kelly’s Bake Shoppe) back a few metres from Brant St.

      The current staff recommendation would include all the cost of moving the property (at the developer’s expense) with none of the benefit of actually allowing the business to remain inside. Council, and I, suggested that avenues be explored which might allow the property to be moved (at the developer’s expense) with the business owner able to remain inside.

  • George

    It’s a Bleeping cupcake shop!!! Who gives AF??

    • Stephen White

      Yes George…it is a Bleeping cupcake shop…a Bleeping cupcake shop that pays taxes, employs people, and contributes to the local economy!

  • Allan S

    Irrespective who is operating the business, there is a sign above the front entrance that states that a Mr Absolum operated a business on the premise back in 1872 and along with a few other buildings in Burlington was designated a century landmark.

    This City seems determined to eliminate any old buildings in their quest for the almighty dollar. Most countries strive to retain their heritage buildings or integrate the facades into their plans.

  • Susie

    I believe all this “heritage” business of the “leased” building with Kelly being the tenant, should be processed by the owner. Don’t see or hear of the owner coming forward?? I am definitely “not in favour” of tax payers money going out to a business that is operating from leased property. There are many unhappy business tenants on Brant Street that are crying the same tune of having to relocate, so Kelly’s need not have any favouritism. We as downtown residents are “all suffering” in some way with all this over intensification of hi-rises, and do not make the multi million dollar figure that Kelly does in a year. She can well afford to pay her way to relocate wherever, like the rest of us have to do under circumstances. Sorry, great business, great goodies, but we are only a number – get used to it and move on! Councillor for this Ward needs to be fair with everyone, and not show “a favourite only” because the squeaky wheel is on a mission and the others are accepting of the facts of life. Be careful MMW!!!

  • Margo Jamieson

    Burlington is quickly becoming a city of tall, ugly buildings, many of which are in the very middle of the downtown area, blocking access to our precious lakefront and completely wiping out any sense of charm. What a tragedy. In the past, Burlington’s downtown has never had much drawing power but in recent years, brave entrepreneurs have moved in to create interesting shops and unusual boutiques. It has been encouraging to see crowds of people patronizing these businesses. One worthwhile addition has been Kelly’s cupcake shop. Now that is being swept aside in the name of progress. Marianne Meed-Ward seems to be the only city councillor who listens to what Burlington citizens are saying. Another writer has commented about small businesses “setting a scary precedence” by taking up downtown space, saying they are “not the capital of the downtown”. I disagree. Small businesses have made our country what it is and even in huge cities like Toronto, small businesses make for the interesting fabric which appeals to both residents and visitors. Tourists do not come to a city to see skyscrapers, they come to explore unique businesses and enjoy places of beauty. I believe we are losing both.

  • The issue with Kelly’s is not the height of the building or the nature of the 409 development. An 11 story building is going to move her just the same.

    I’m sure the developers are figuring out the cost of moving the building and will pitch a scheme to move it anywhere – they don’t own. This is not the issue – nor is it a stable way to deal with change.

    The issue is that previous developments were not done in such a way that she has a space she can move too. We are driving the last hardware store out of Aldershot in the same manner.

    When these developments are proposed we need a focus on the size, nature and quality of the commercial spaces. If previous developments had paid attention to this then lots of spaces in the style she wants would already exist. The Kelly’s element of the story would only be a shift within the downtown – not a move out of it.

  • And just to be 100% clear, I remain in favour of the city investigating relocation of the properties to appropriate locations. Perhaps John and Caroline, perhaps elsewhere. The city has already argued that they can and should be added formally to the municipal register, which would then give them proper legal protection, but I believe that can’t or is unlikely to happen until a formal request for demolition is submitted by the developer.

    If saving and moving heritage properties is uncontroversial if they were empty (as has happened several times before just in recent years, and is semi-routine in Burlington’s history), would it not be even better to do it with the business intact? Especially if the business could then take some or all of the costs off the city’s hands?

    There are many steps involved, but one has to investigate a possibility that could be a win for Kelly, a win for the two heritage properties, and a win for the taxpayer.

  • D Walker

    Lots of salt. While I agree with you that it would be problematic for the City to show any kind of favouritism or special treatment towards specific businesses, I think that Kelly has every right to put a face and a name to the people being removed from Burlington due to development. She has brought two successful businesses to Burlington – Lettuce Love Cafe and Kelly’s Bake Shoppe, and Burlington is better for it.

    While I don’t think Burlington should help by providing special funding, I DO think it is in Burlington’s best interests to try to help her stay in Burlington. Her shop brings in a lot of people from out of town, who may be inclined to explore the city, visit other shops, etc. That is not something to discourage or make light of. Moreover, I believe that the commercial space replacing what is there now is considerably smaller, so it’s not like she can even temporarily relocate elsewhere and then return (which is not desirable anyway). The developers continue to tout that they’re bringing new commercial space in, but oftentimes, they’re replacing larger commercial spaces with significantly smaller ones (look at Aldershot).

    Frankly, I’m glad that Kelly has a very public persona and has a commercially popular business. She’s helping to shine a light on the issues facing those businesses who are losing their spaces (which they have invested time and money into for years) through development. Dismiss it as “crying in public” all you want, but it is upsetting for a business to feel up-ended after investing in a space for years.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Bruce, how does Marianne’s suggesting it be examined as an option along with other options translate to no vision, or not fair, or bad leadership? Her response is one of looking for ideas and consensus through consideration by many, not just one. The vision is to see if there is a way for the City to provide input or feedback on options. They didn’t promise anything so how is this unfair – to consider the situation of a successful business owner who would like to stay in the city? I’m sure Marianne and the other City Councillors and Staff would afford the same respect and support to any other business that approached them and was as ingrained and successful as Kelly’s, who wanted strongly to stay in Burlington.

    As to the development issue as a city problem being inconceivable – I don’t even know where to start on that one with you.

  • Penny

    For the record, no one from ECoB suggested using Community Benefit Money to move the Heritage Building. A designated Heritage Building was moved from Elgin Street to accommodate the Saxony Development. Why not move the building that Kelly’s is located in as well? This is not new…the City has already set a precedent.

    The developer has no intention of saving the building that Kelly leases. They indicated that they will do their best, but concerns were raised in the staff report to indicate that not enough was being done by the developer to make certain that this would be left standing. At the very best there might be a facade of the front of the building.

    This is not about saving Kelly’s,it is about preserving a heritage building. If there happens to be a thriving business that residents would like to see remain in Burlington – WHY NOT? Don’t you think the residents deserve to get this, everything else is being taken away from those of us who live in the core?

    As for Mr.Ridge-he and staff stated publicly that this is something they are willing to explore with the developer and in fact a change was made in the report to add this option.

    Oh, yes, the empty lot on Caroline and John Street is and never will be a green space, it is going to be a parking lot, so why not have a small, successful business in addition to parking in that space?

    • Kelly Childs

      Thank you Penny. It is true that the building will only have it’s facade saved. The building will not be saved. Maybe it could be moved but even if it is moved, it has nothing to do with me. I will stay in business by opening in another location.

      This article is full of awful comments about me that are very unfair. I sacrificed so much of my time to try protect this downtown core and the author writes hurtful things.

      • William

        I agree Kelly – I was disappointed with the dismissive tone of the article and the nasty comments. Kudos to you for your successful efforts – it takes courage to go out there with an idea and make it work – and you have that in spades. It’s too easy to criticize from the safety of the online commenting forum.

  • Steven – *all* the councillors, and the mayor, were in support of *exploring* this idea and any alternatives. That’s all. Nobody was saying it was a slam-dunk to work. Quite the opposite.

  • steven craig gardner

    If as the person who suggest this idea say Marianne Meed Ward is in support of the idea maybe second thoughts of her for Mayor We don’t want taxpayer money propping up individual businesses. Excellent article Pepper!

  • Elizabeth Hamidbasha

    Kelly’s cupcake store enlivens Brant Street and sets an example of the kind of charm we want on Brant St. I don’t see anything wrong with moving it to John Street if that is what Ms Childs would agree to. After all, once the hated condos are there, what else will there
    be that is charming and fun. As well, making fun of new ideas is not kind or smart.

    • Bruce Chang

      I hope you realize she doesn’t own the building. It’s not her call, she’s just a tenant. She’ll have to fork out some big money to move the building and then buy it off the developer….. That’s A lot of cupcakes!

  • Maggie

    Kelly’s is a successful business and I’m sure because of it’s customer base it could move to another location and be successful. The real issue should be the building itself no matter what business occupies it. The building is a heritage building. It is not designated but is on the municipal register. The developers have incorporated the façade of the building into their design but in such a way that it is dwarfed and compromises the heritage value. Moving a heritage building can be a good alternative in some cases such as Wigsville, but in this case there is more at stake than just this building. There is the whole character of Brant street that is being put at risk. Our heritage and the heritage of future generations is being put at risk by these developments.

  • William

    I agree this is a bad idea for the reasons you’ve cited.

    The city has a vague plan to turn the Caroline and John lot into a park; which will be desperately needed with 15,000 more people living in the downtown.

    However, I disagree with your dismissive attitude towards Ms Childs. She is one of the few successful entrepreneurs this city has. Nothing wrong with emotion, Rather, we should be emotional about the city destroying what she and others have worked hard to build.

    Talking to the economic development corporation is a waste of time. What can bureaucrats with no track record of getting anything accomplished do for an entrepreneur. They’re too busy publishing inflated job counts; cheerleading intensification (their absurd “development pipeline”); and using taxpayer funds to be a landlord for a co-working space with goals that are unclear.

  • Haha! Well you got me Pepper … it’s a day of swings and roundabouts! I’m actually fine taking credit for the dumb ideas as well as the good ones, and if I’m wrong – well I’m willing to learn, apologize and move on.

    FYI Councillor Meed Ward also suggested the idea be considered, which is all I said – along with any other idea that could be negotiated to find a successful conclusion, and the rest of Council agreed and passed a unanimous amendment to that effect. There should be absolutely no suggestion of giving anything to Kelly Child’s free of charge, and I am sure she would expect no such thing. It was just a suggestion that anything that can be explored, be explored, upon which Council agreed.

    I also said elsewhere that “There are lots of things that would have to fall into place for this to happen at that location or any other, but Council should certainly investigate the idea urgently.” ‘Urgently’ was about 12 noon before the Council meeting at 6:30pm the same day where the amendment was proposed and adopted.

    For me it is as much about preserving heritage properties, albeit not municipally designated. Under the current proposal, the preservation of the two properties (not just one) remains doubtful. And if you are going to preserve heritage, it’s even better to preserve it with a living, breathing, successful occupant.

  • Bruce Chang

    Thanks for posting what a lot of Burlingtonians Feel. This is NOT a city issue, and I’m sure other small businesses who are FORCED to move from expired or terminated leases feel that Kelly’s is getting special treatment over other small businesses like the chinese food store next to kellys or Loony Tunes. To personify the development issue as a city problem is inconceivable. I respect Kellys is a very profitable shop that brings vibrancy to the downtown, I have shopepd their before and like their food. But it sets a scary precedence to favour small businesses who have leases and don’t even own the building. I hope they can work with BEDC to find space as we don’t want to lose a small business from the downtown, but they’re not the capital of our downtown sorry folks,. MMW has no vision and favours businesses over others, not fair and bad leadership.

    • Bruce: It IS a city issue in so far as Kelly’s is the poster child for and one of the many business dominoes that will fall prey to the OVER INTENSIFICATION madness.

    • Kelly Childs

      I do not want anything from City Hall and have not asked for ANYTHING EVER except if they could allow me to buy our building. Yes – purchase it. I also asked if it could be moved and yes, I would pay for that or the developer would (and that would be between the developer and myself).
      I asked for the condo tower to not be approved as it will set a precedent to future developments. I delegated 3 times and they were pleas to stop the intensification. We have gridlock. We have parking issues. I DID NOT ASK FOR ANY HELP. We don’t need any help.
      As per usual, we are left to defend ourselves with these articles.

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