Council to make a recommendation on a a critical report that the city must get right the first time.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 10th, 2020



On Tuesday of next week there will be a Statutory Public meeting at which Planning Staff will present their thoughts on the Land Use Study report that has been available to the public since before Christmas.

It’s a critical report that the city must get right the first time.

It’s a complex report; one that the five new members of council will struggle with.

Land Use cover

The cover of the Land Use Study report tells the full story. The images of the downtown core as it is today – all within the circled pictures – and the site that is about to undergo new development. That is Burlington’s future. The limitations on that development are the issue.

The Gazette has talked to several members of Council about their take on the report.

ECoB had published an Open Letter to city council imploring them to defer receipt of the ICBL Land Use Study Report on January 14 and to reject the recommendations for Official Plan and Zooming Bylaw Amendments.

We asked members of Council by email for a comment on the ECoB request.

We got the following from a council member. “I feel it is too early for me to comment. I have meetings this week with staff that will help form my thoughts.”

We are not going to identify the council member but want to comment on the position taken.

Statutory meetings are set up to allow Council members to ask questions of Staff and any consultants that produced a report. The public can make a delegation – registration is not required for a Statutory meeting.

The regrettable part of the meeting is that it takes place during working hours – which will limit real public participation.  Those with a vested interest will appear – there is at least one major apartment operation planning to appear.

The question and answer between Council and Staff is always very enlightening; when it takes place in public we get to learn how Councillors arrive at their decisions. What Staff have to say is said in public – which is the way decisions are supposed to be made.

One would not want to encourage Councillors to meet in private with senior staff. Burlington’s public does not have a lot of trust in the Planning department – they see serious gaps between what the planners think their city should look like and what they think their city should look like.

There was an occasion when a former city manager walked over to a developer, shook his hand vigorously when their 20 storey + development had just been approved by Council. There was significant public opposition to the development – it began the process that is going to change not only the skyline of the city but the feel one will have as they walk the downtown streets.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns sets out her position in her most recent newsletter. Do let us know if there is any meat on the bone she has thrown you.


Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns -most of the downtown is in her ward.

“Key matters regarding land use planning for the Downtown / Urban Area are coming forward for important discussion. As your Councillor, my position is aligned with the values many of you have shared with me – to deliver a focused plan that represents reasonable growth, not over-development.

“The upcoming meetings are an opportunity to continue bringing your vision forward in planning for the future of our downtown.

“Now and in the coming years, Burlington will welcome many new residents and businesses. A majority of these will be through increasing housing and employment opportunities across the City and especially in the Mobility Hubs, including Ward 2’s Burlington GO area. The planning work underway right now through the Interim Control By-law (ICBL) and the Re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan will support this and continue to be a focus of Council.

“Stepping into 2020 will be a flurry of activity in finalizing and responding to a series of milestones in the Local, Regional, and Provincial Planning processes. We are going to get a better plan for the downtown that truly reflects the Community and Council’s vision. Your engagement matters. I recognize that timing and the ability to schedule attendance for these meetings might not be optimal, what I can assure you is that you’ve put your trust in me to act on your behalf. I continue to work diligently for you to ensure that every detail in this process is vetted, challenged, understood, and analyzed to deliver on an Official Plan we can all be proud of.”

Meed Ward - tight head shot

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward focuses on transit matters – height limits don’t get that much comment from her – at least not at this point.

In her most recent Newsletter Mayor Marianne Meed Ward sets out her position when she said: “The Downtown MTSA has been used to justify development well above current planning provisions, including the recent Ontario Municipal Board decision granting 26 storeys at Martha and Lakeshore where 4-8 storeys is permitted. This led council to implement a one-year Interim Control Bylaw to freeze development and conduct a land-use study of the downtown and Burlington GO area.

“The result? The downtown bus terminal doesn’t currently meet the MTSA threshold and is unlikely to without future improvements or enhancements, and Burlington GO has the potential to accommodate much more transit ridership than it presently does.

“There are several types of MTSAs in provincial policy, including a “major bus depot in an urban core.” Dillon concludes the John St. terminal “does not function as a major bus depot,” and the Downtown MTSA “is not expected to be a significant driver for intensification beyond that which is required by the Downtown Urban Growth Centre (UGC)”

“Dillon also states there are significant gaps in provincial and city MTSA policies and definitions. The downtown is also classified as an Anchor Hub — the same designation for Pearson Airport and Toronto Union Station without anywhere near the same passenger volumes.

“The report also found the Burlington GO area is under-performing relative to its potential given planned 15-minute regional express rail service. There’s opportunity to direct significant future job and population growth here.

“Only the Region and Province can change MTSA designations and until that happens, Burlington needs to update its Official Plan policies and Zoning Bylaw before the development freeze ends on March 5 to better define and control the impact in each area. We are on track to meet that deadline with upcoming discussions at committee Jan. 14 and Council on Jan. 30, followed by a 20-day appeal period.

Related news content:

The ECoB Open Letter

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1 comment to Council to make a recommendation on a a critical report that the city must get right the first time.

  • “Only the Region and Province can change MTSA designations” – Meedward washes her hands ……. just like Herod did of old ……. not my problem …. Jane McKenna in Spring 2019 Newsletter – “Burlington Council is free to remove these designations (mobility hubs) from the City’s Official Plan” …… and “If Council decided to change the boundaries of Downtown Burlington identified urban growth centre Halton Region would need to review any proposed changes as part of the next Official Plan review by July 1, 2022” ………why the delay in getting this done? The knocking on Queens Park and Halton doors should have started right after election ……. This is a Council of delay, delay, delay ….. Meedward must stop pulling “a Herod” and start representing those who worked very hard to elect her believing she was on side ………. Greg Woodruff got our vote as we did not like what our audits showed about the other three.