City building department sent back to their drawing boards for a do-over of downtown street design standards.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2019



The report was received and filed after more than an hour of discussion and debate. The version that council heard yesterday will not return to council in the same form.

Rory Nisan

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan thought that more than the colour grey was needed to suggest a nautical theme.

During the discussion Councillor Nisan asked why there was no mention of design excellence in the report that was about the Downtown Streetscape designs.

The Staffer explained that Design Excellence was inherent throughout the document. Nisan came back with – he was thinking in terms of something a little more attractive.

Things went downhill from there.

Burlington is currently working with design standards that were last reviewed in 1982 – it was time for another look. The document presented by Staff was a framework for a transformation from the old design standards to whatever the new design was going to be.

Dwntwn defined

Streetscape design standards to apply to the area shown above

Reference was made to the colours that were put forward – black, grey and a wood effect. The grey was going to be used on the Lakeshore Road part of the downtown that the guidelines were to be applied to – Nisan said that he thought the look of the Lakeshore area should be a little more “nautical” and was told that’s what the grey was for – to which Nisan came back with –”I suppose grey could apply to ships”.

Mayor Meed Ward asked if the staffer had gotten any feedback from the public on the design standards – he hadn’t, he said.

Meed Ward later added that she had heard from dozens and dozens of people and the people of Burlington didn’t want a steel and glass look to the downtown core.

They wanted the heritage feel of the core to be reflected in the streetscape – and that look wasn’t in the designs that were put forward.

Pathway - city bench

This bench could qualify as the most uncomfortable ever built. Ward Councillor wants to know who decided on the design

Nisan asked about benches that would be installed – those he had experienced were not very comfortable and had very little in the way of back support. He wanted to know who chose the design in the pathway through the parking lot south of Kellys. Most uncomfortable bench imaginable – certainly not something you would sit in for very long.

Meed Ward, Nisan, Kearns and Stolte had taken the position that streets become animated when people use them and putting park benches out is a way for people sit and talk with friends. If that concept exists within the Planning department – it wasn’t reflected in the report that was presented.

Blvd zones

The city has design standards that it wants to apply to downtown streets.

Lisa Kearns, ward 2 city Councillor wanted to know where the road fit into the design plans. She said that parts of downtown have deteriorated significantly and she wanted to know if there were funds to do some immediate upgrades. She mentioned later that some of the money the city is not going to be able to spend on the revitalization of Civic Square – could perhaps be applied to fixing up the scruffy look in parts of the downtown.

The City Building department had missed the mark on this one. What they presented just didn’t resonate with this council.

We saw much the same when the Capital Works people were unable to anticipate where Council’s thinking was going on a revitalization of Civic Square.

Related news story.
Capital works just didn’t understand the change that has taken place in the thinking being done at city council.

Most uncomfortable bench ever made.

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4 comments to City building department sent back to their drawing boards for a do-over of downtown street design standards.

  • Penny Hersh

    The illustrations shown were the same that staff had on display at the Art Gallery last June when they invited the public to provide input. At that time residents indicated that the selections being shown were outdated. Here we are one year later, same old, same old.

    There are so many options for benches that use recycled materials – where are they? Did Council not pass an Emergency Climate Control Motion. There seems to be a disconnect between staff and council.

  • Stephen White

    Egads!! 1982 design standards. Black, grey and wood colours. Ugly, uncomfortable benches. No heritage appeal.

    City planning officials really screwed up this project!

  • Rob Allan

    Yes, the people of Burlington want a warm and inviting heritage feel to be reflected in the streetscape! We don’t want to look like Toronto or Mississauga – sterile, cold and uninviting!

  • Hans Jacobs

    Re “…the people of Burlington didn’t want a steel and glass look to the downtown core…” – I agree with that statement. It may be marginally cheaper and it may be faster to work with, but steel/glass/concrete is sterile, cold, and uninviting.

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