David Barker: Let’s make the Downtown and Lakeshore Precincts totally pedestrianized; that’s Lakeshore to Caroline and Martha to Locust.

opiniongreen 100x100By David Barker

December 6th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What is the Vision for the Downtown?

The public’s vision for the Downtown is to provide for a walkable, accessible, vibrant downtown which is similar to that set out in Section 8.1.1 of the Adopted Official Plan.

Barker 2

Lakeshore and Brant Main precincts should be both walk-able and accessible. However I question the concept the Lakeshore precinct is currently a pedestrian precinct, it is far from that status currently.

However, the public’s vision also stresses the need to maintain and add new green spaces and trees, while providing additional space for year-round activities and festivals. The character of Brant Street as the ‘retail main street’ of Burlington with its eclectic mix of shops, meeting places and culture will be supported and enhanced. Lakeshore Road as the gateway to the waterfront will be maintained as an important pedestrian precinct to ensure the Downtown’s sense of place is preserved.

I noted the words “walkable”, “accessible” “additional space for year-round activities and festivals” are used.

I also noted the use of the following description “Lakeshore Road as the gateway to the waterfront will be maintained as an important pedestrian precinct to ensure the Downtown’s sense of place is preserved”.

Yes, the Lakeshore and Brant Main precincts should be both walkable and accessible. However I question the concept the Lakeshore precinct is currently a pedestrian precinct. It should be for sure. But it is far from that status currently.

I refer you to Page 36 of the consultant’s report where it states:-

Recently completed projects and those under construction such as Bridgewater and Saxony total an additional 335 units plus commercial and office space, which results in a further 2,068 persons and jobs. That’s a ratio of 6.17 people per unit.

Those projects that are approved but not yet built total an additional 732 units plus commercial space, which equals a further 1,225 people and jobs. That’s a ratio of 1.67 people per unit.

I don’t know why the ratios are so different.

Referring to the chart on Page 36 of the consultant’s report it shows for just the combined Lakeshore & Brant Main precincts between 1,350 units for concept 1 and 1,160 units for concept 2 should be anticipated.

At an average occupancy of 1.50 people per unit (my number) generates between 2,025 and 1,740 additional residents.

Then as per the same chart an additional jobs of between 495 and 610 for concepts 1 and 2 respectively will be created.

That’s a total of 2,520 and 2,350 additional people anticipated in the two precincts.

Those figures do not contemplate the increased congestion arising out of attracting people and traffic that the invigorated downtown will draw.

So my question is:-

How are we going to cope with all these additional people?

My intent tonight is not to pass judgement on Concept 1 or Concept 2.

To be honest whether it is decided to go for either of the two offered concepts, or another hybrid version, or another version altogether that results from the City being forced by outside forces to accept the tall buildings we are all fighting to prevent; we seem to be concentrating in isolation concerning ourselves as to what the “built form” will look like. How pretty will it be?

We do not seem to be giving what I believe should be simultaneous serious consideration as to how the City will deal with the issues that result from the reinvigoration of the downtown; issues such as traffic, parking, transit and other infrastructure.

These go hand in hand and must be developed simultaneously. Look at Toronto’s experience. It built and built and built, offices and condos and subdivisions, and totally ignored traffic, parking, transit and other infrastructure issues. All those items are now real headaches.

I have put forward to you all at a previous Planning and Development Committee meeting a suggestion that the City needs to be radical in its thoughts and approach to the future of the Downtown. These concepts offered by SGL are, in my view, just tinkering.

Barker 1

David Barker delegating before city council.

Going off at a bit of a tangent, I would like to touch upon some things that have been said by earlier delegates. Mr Bales of Carriage House has as a part of his delegation submitted a letter to Council whinging and whining that the City has not provided his company with background research it has developed through this long study process. He infers the development community is being excluded from the City’s engagement process and so cannot support the City’s decision, whatever that might be. I find Mr Bales to be completely ingenuous.

He and his company have provided presentations on its proposed downtown high rise developments at Lakeshore and Pearl, and between Lakeshore and Old Lakeshore. These proposals completely ignore not only the in-force zoning bylaws but also the very clearly articulated wishes of residents not to have 20+ story buildings forming a canyon along either Lakeshore Rd. or Brant St. At those presentations he talks about bring benefits to Burlington through these high rises, but will never address the problems that will result.

A number of earlier delegates have expressed the position that residents do not want to see change in the downtown area. No one likes change. But change has to come. The downtown needs changing. It is only “ticking over” it is not “really revving it up”. I believe residents are only seeing a discussion taking place about the height of new buildings. There is no vision being offered as to what the downtown will look like. Give people a clear vision of how everything will look after the change and I believe buy in will come.

Which brings me to my previously suggested vision of the Downtown and Lakeshore precincts.

Let’s make the Downtown and Lakeshore Precincts totally pedestrianized.

That’s Lakeshore to Caroline and Martha to Locust.

Obviously certain vehicular access must be allowed for residents, businesses as well as transit.

The City should offer low cost bus transit between the downtown and Mapleview Mall, Burlington Centre, the Fairview & Appleby GO stations, where free parking would be available.
This will link Spencer Smith to Brant St, push transient commuter traffic back on to the QEW, where it becomes the Provinces problem (as it should be). It will reinvigorate the downtown.

Brant street getting ready

Brant street being set up for the Sound of Music – Barker would like to see it traffic free year round.

Now I don’t wish to dwell on a sad event, but did anyone notice when watching news video of the knife attack that occurred in The Hague, Netherlands a week ago, that it happened right outside a Hudson Bay store, which is located in, yes you have guessed it, a pedestrian precinct.

I Googled “European Cities with pedestrian precincts” and got a list that included Vienna, Copenhagen, Prague, Zagreb, Cologne, Amsterdam, The Hague, Cambridge, Canterbury, York.

If these more populated Cities can make it work, then so can Burlington

As said earlier a pedestrian precinct in the Brant Main and Lakeshore precincts would bring the downtown and Spencer Smith Park together, it would allow for green spaces to be created and I am convinced reinvigorate our downtown.

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8 comments to David Barker: Let’s make the Downtown and Lakeshore Precincts totally pedestrianized; that’s Lakeshore to Caroline and Martha to Locust.

  • Gary Parker

    Earlier this year we attended an 8 80 Cities presentation and this is exactly the kind of initiative that group brings into reality. While it’s not realistic to think we could close Lakeshore Road we’ve had lots of experience with temporary closures of the stretch of Brant Street between Caroline and the Lakeshore.

    Moving to more frequent or a permanent closing poses logistical issues for the businesses on Brant but the success of pedestrian malls in other small cities demonstrates that it can be done.

    We could use a positive move towards enhancing the experience of our downtown right now!

  • Rob Allan

    Sounds wonderful in the summer months. But it won’t be my idea of a pleasant place to stroll when winter arrives and you’re struggling to get through snow, ice, rain and wind tunnels caused by hi-rise buildings. Also retail businesses are already struggling to compete with online shopping and big box stores so what retailer in their right mind can afford to pay the inflated rents?

    • We have lived in places that are a lot more unpleasant in the winter with a pedestrian shopping area that has continued to do business all winter. Granted it will do far better with good weather. People do travel to visit Niagara on the Lake during the winter. With some forethought Burlington Downtown could be every bit as attractive and have better accessibility. The lack of concern for our downtown and its impact on business over the last thirty years cannot be used as an excuse for not giving the majority of residents what they want if Council really does represent us. Especially when the Burlington MPP began positively addressing the mobility hub issues and the ability to move the boundaries of the urban growth centre before the present Council took office (July 2018). Perhaps our MPP should be invited to comment at the December 16, 2019 Council meeting on what support she can give to what her constituents are saying at the lectern they want. Many of us would like to hear such a presentation.

  • Bob

    Nonsense, silly utopian crazy stuff. Before or after I make a wad severing off a Lake Shore lot, with all those pesky trees. Gee, those lattes are within reach, and I can even afford to get my Range Rover fixed. Truth: ,how many of the old Burlington guard are licking their chops on the value of their grub stake. Tilting at Windmills comes to mind.

    • david barker

      Bub Not sure what it is you are trying to say. Can’t be directed at me, cos I only drink tea; no latte. I drive a Masda 3; no high end SUV. It’s not utopia. Many, many cities have converted their city centres to pedestrian only. Two councilors have expressed support for the idea. We can and will make downtown Burlington not only extremely liveable, but also a destination to visit to enjoy, the waterfront, the retail stores, restaurants & cafes, and the quiet, peaceful, traffic free environment.

  • Joe Gaetan

    Blocking off Brant and John to Caroline would be a game changer. Just do it.

  • Another delegation that represents what the people want that could see us standing with world famous cities in terms of a pleasant and safe place to meander, shop, eat or simply enjoy being there.

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