Council clears its agenda in an hour and a quarter: Mayor sets out what has to be done if you want to build in this city.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 19th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City Council meetings are sort of like a big rubber stamp. The details in Staff reports get discussed at length during the Standing Committee meetings which run rather long. Council meetings are usually under an hour and a half. Former Mayor Rick Goldring once got through one in just over twenty minutes.

One has to listen carefully and watch closely to pick up some of the detail that gets skipped over.

The Council meeting Monday reported that there were 24 hours of meetings between November 4th to the 12 during which there were 34recommendations put forward and 4 bylaws proposed.

City Council has to approve all that to make it the law of the land.

There were two items that we observed during the Standing Committee meetings that were going to get some attention at the Council meeting; those were the stiffing that Councillor Nisan got from the Transportation department over changes in the speed limits in Kilbride and the problem the Director of Transit had with data in a report that was being discussed.

Councillor Sharman had, as is his want, looked at the numbers carefully and came to the conclusion that there was something very wrong with them.

Sharman on transit

Ah – for the love of faulty data: Councillor Paul Sharman

As he put it at the Planning and Development meeting – they were just plain wrong. None of the other members of Council appeared to have the same grip that Sharman had on the numbers; the suspicion was that they either hadn’t fully read the report or failed to see the errors that Sharman identified.

After much discussion the Standing Committee decided to refer the report to City Council, which happened last night.

connor and Dennis 2

Direct of Transit Sue Connor giving a consultant a very hard look. She was not happy.

The problems appear to be more serious than originally realized. Council decided to refer the report back to the Standing Committee during its next round of meetings.

They basically punted the ball up the field where they would deal with it when they get to that point.

How are you liking the Burlington version of transparency so far?

Councillor Nisan said that he still didn’t have the speed limit changes he had promised his Kilbride constituents but he was still working at it. I think we were seeing an example the tail wagging the dog.

There is a process at city meetings whereby a Staff report can get approval if there aren’t any council members who want to say something. These are referred to as Consent items – they just get passed.

Among those that were consented to were: The report on Vision to Focus; the Active Aging Report and the Cootes Escarpment initiatives. Councillor Sharman had learned of an event that takes place in Detroit where more than 1,000 people show up for a community walk. |He was going to bring it up at the Council meeting and had run it by Parks and Recreation Staff who told Sharman that they didn’t need a Staff Direction – they would just do it.

Rory Nisan

Councillor Nisan still doesn’t have the speed limit changes he promised his Kilbride residents.

Now either Councillor Sharman has skills that Councillor Nisan doesn’t have or the Parks and Recreation department fully understand the relationship between Council and administration. Sharman has the community walk idea as a good to go; Nisan might have to stand on the road in Kilbride and wave a sign to slow down the speed of traffic.

Councillor Lisa Kearns chose to make some comments on the mammoth development that CORE Development Group want to build within the football – 27 storeys in a place where eight are possible as of right and up to 15 if there are benefits given to the city.

The Gazette has been advocating for some bold moves in that part of the city. We learned from Mayor Meed Ward that the acceptable benefit is for the developer to buy the land on the south side of Old Lakeshore, deed it to the city and they can have the additional seven floors.

Site south side Old Lakeshore

The Mayor seemed to be saying that all the Core Development Group had to do was buy the land inside the black box, deed it to the city, and they would be allowed to build 15 storeys instead of just the eight permitted. The developer has an application in for 27 storeys. Nothing can be built on the land, there are top of bank issues that would make any development not feasible.

That is the first time we have heard the Mayor be quite that specific. Something to think about.

Councillors Kearns reacted to a comment in the Gazette where we wondered why she had not moved the motion to receive and file the report on the development that was to have retirement apartment units in one tower of a two 11 storey tower development on New Street and nursing home care that would include what were referred to as “memory units” intended for people with dementia, in the other.

Lisa excited

Excited – this is as good as it gets.

Councillor Kearns told her colleagues that it is not her practice to “get too excited” in public nor does she “get upset” in public. She said that what Council was hearing was the extent of her public comment.

Meed ward election night 1

To the victor go the spoils.

Both Councillor Kearns and the Mayor commented positively on the development with the Mayor saying that “Burlington was open for business” and that Council wanted to “shape where it goes and the use it is put to.”

“Take note” she added: “Do it right and you get a thumbs up”.

Those comments will stick in the craw of the development community but it is what she said she would do when she ran for the Office of Mayor – and she is doing what she said she would do.

Related news stories:

Transit Director gets sloppy data – Sharman spots the errors

Nisan credibility takes a hit

 

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2 comments to Council clears its agenda in an hour and a quarter: Mayor sets out what has to be done if you want to build in this city.

  • Penny Hersh

    We learned from Mayor Meed Ward that the acceptable benefit is for the developer to buy the land on the south side of Old Lakeshore, deed it to the city and they can have the additional seven floors.

    “Take note” she added: “Do it right and you get a thumbs up”.

    Those comments will stick in the craw of the development community but it is what she said she would do when she ran for the Office of Mayor – and she is doing what she said she would do.

    The above is taken directly from the Gazettes Report. I have to question these statements.

    Is it acceptable to the residents that as a Community Benefit the developer gets an additional 7 storeys in height in exchange for a piece of land that they can’t build on? The Waterfront Trail that has been used by Councils both past and present as a reason to permit extra height stops at Emma’s Back Porch, where their patio is located.

    What exactly is 7 storeys – there never seems to be a height measurement. This has been proven with the Bridgewater Development where the 8 storey hotel measures the same height as the 15th floor of the condominium tower.

    Interesting as well is the fact that councillors never seem to question the developer on the size of the condominiums being presented at delegation. The questions seem to be how many one, two, or three bedroom condominiums are being proposed. How large is the 3 bedroom unit, I for one would like to know- 1100 square feet?

    Does this council really think that the developer who asks for 26 or 27 storeys is going to accept 15 when across the road ADI is building a 26 storey condominium? LPAT here we come.

    The only way we in my opinion that we had or may still have a chance to protect our waterfront from being a tower of condominiums is to undesignate the John Street Bus Terminal as an mobility/anchor hub and move the downtown urban growth centre which this council and the planning department seem loathe to do.

    Sometimes campaign promises are not attainable, especially when the Province mandates growth. It is up to Council to choose wisely where this growth is to take place.

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