First change in the direction of development growth was approved on Tuesday - the second gets heard on today..

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 16, 2019



With one long, exhausting day, during which city council accepted the recommendation from the Planning department that came out of a dense and complex report from Dillon Consulting, the public and council move to the next phase of the city getting what the Mayor refers to as a ‘better grip on the kind of development that takes place”.

Many felt that getting the Land Use Study part right was essential – and that if council did get it right they could then move onto the Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown report; if they didn’t get it right there was no point in doing the second part.

It is too early to determine if council did get it right on Tuesday.

There were some surprises and still some confusion as to just what the process is for moving the boundary of the Urban Growth Centre and then – how does the city get rid of the MTSA designation that was slapped on the bus terminal ?

Urban growth centre

Burlington had to have an Urban Growth Centre. It has to be a certain size. The boundaries of the Burlington UGC were determined by the province – the city wants to change those boundaries. The above are the current boundaries.

Heather MacDonald didn’t come across as being totally committed to the level of citizen participation that the people who packed council chambers on Tuesday expected.

Some people were upset over the lack of time the public had to download a 135 page document and wade through it all.

There was a lot of data – making sense of it was the hard part.

MacDonald - JAmie - Commisso

Heather MacDonald outlined the purpose of the Statutory meeting and, when needed, spoke to issues that needed clarification. Jamie Tellier, on the right aided while City Manager Tim Commisso observes. He said little.

MacDonald said that there was no requirement to promote the Land Use Study meeting.  One wonders why one of the two critical meetings, Taking a Close Look at the Downtown, was promoted mercilessly while the other got very little promotion.

Angelo watching Roru

Councillor Bentivegna was brought up a little short by Chair Stolte when it wasn’t clear if we actually asking a question. It was nicely done.

The Tuesday meeting was legally a Statutory meeting – something the city was required to hold and follow strict rules as to how the meeting is conducted.

It started at 9:30 and ended just before 8:00 pm – with breaks for meals.

Committee Chair Shawna Stolte did an excellent job of keeping things moving – she was able to curb Councillor Angelo Bentivegna’s penchant for asking questions that were less than clear.

There were conflicting statements from the Planning people on what the city can do about the Urban Growth Boundary (UGC) boundary and the status of the bus terminal.

Heather MacDonald did explain why nothing has been done yet.  She argued she felt it was vital that she have motions from the city making it clear why they wanted a change.  She also wanted evidence and data to support the request.  The Land Use Study certainly has loads of data.

The understanding is that the province doesn’t care where the Urban Growth Centre boundaries are – but that the city does have a growth centre.

The consultants the city hired said the province has never said yes or no to such a request – because no one has ever asked.

Council was not prepared to direct the Planner to do just that.  Such a request would be political and it would be appropriate for it to come from the Mayor to the Minister.

There is considerable concern over how the Planners decided to keep the Waterfront Hotel within the Urban Growth Centre.  Don Fletcher, heavily involved in the Plan B initiative said he believed the “Waterfront Hotel + Old Lakeshore Road Precinct + Brant Main Street Precinct should be moved out of the UGC, and define a similarly sized area (roughly 11 ha or 10% of the total 106.4 ha) within a suitable precinct north of Prospect Street on Brant/ Fairview.”

The view of many is that the UGC should be moved north and not include the Brant –  Lakesh0re area; that will be a different debate – and not an easy one.


The John Street bus terminal has the same status MTSA – Major Transit Station Area as Union Station which everyone agrees is dumb, The city wants to have that status lifted from the terminal.

As for the status of the bus terminal – it appears that this is something the Region can do on its own – and that any request for a change has to comply with ROPA – which is the Regional Official Plan Amendment.

Waiting until city council has dealt with the Land Use Study, which determines whether or not the Interim Control Bylaw is lifted.  It is due to expire on March 5th.  The ICBL has been an expensive experience for the development community and for one developer, the Molinaro’s quite unfair.

Meed Ward at her old city hall office - the desk is as cluttered in her new space where she tends to fill up her voice mail box and overspend her postage allowance. She promises to get back to people within 24 hours - and delivers on that promise. Now she wants to deliver onher promise to keep spening in line with what is in the bank.

Meed Ward in her first city hall office – the desk is as cluttered in her new space . Her eighth floor office is a lot more spacious and tastefully decorated.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward made her views crystal clear and pleaded for the community to trust council when she said:  “It was identified in this study that there are significant gaps in our own policy and provincial policy. To be able to define the downtown bus depot that it doesn’t function the same as Pearson/Union (even though designated the same), it also doesn’t function as a bus depot. Now we have the evidence that this designation downtown is odd. I greatly appreciate that work from the consultant and staff. We now have a policy framework in front of us and can better manage the pressures of over development in the downtown. That’s what the community asked us to do & that is what this Council has done. I can appreciate members of the public don’t feel that way. I would plead to the community to hear us when we say we have heard you, understood & taken steps to control over development pressures. That was the start of this journey. We have independent research and policy tools to help us now. The one thing I think we all agree on is the downtown isn’t the same as the GO and will never be.”

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna jumped into the fray in January when she sent Council a letter that only served to further muddy the waters.

McKenna letter

The day long Standing Committee sessions produce recommendations that go to a Special Meeting of Council for approval on January 30th.

Related news story:

Planning preferred concepts for downtown core.


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4 comments to First change in the direction of development growth was approved on Tuesday – the second gets heard on today..

  • Perryb

    Maybe it’s time to demand a straight answer from council to the question “why are you, individually and collectively, so resistant to killing the downtown mobility centre?” I personally suggested this change during a delegation long ago to the previous Council (which was met with amused condescension), as others have before and since. It’s a simple question – why?

    • Read the Mayor’s column in yesterday’s Post and you will see she continues to refuse to accept what the MPP has been been telling Burlington residents since the latest Spring 2019, about the abililty of Burlington to take the MTSA out of their official plan and move the boundaries that affect us in the downtown.. The Mayor admits the John St Go Station is not an MTSA and claims it was not a driver of intensification and so can remain for time being. She won’t be budged from her postion that her actions are protecing against over developnent which she says was her goal and pre-election commitment. She refuses to budge on waiting until they are fnished with the Interim Control By-law to address moving the MTSA (prevously called Mobility Hub and put in place by previous council) and changing the boundaries through the Official Plan which the Region must approve.

      The path she is leading our city down is not only contrary to what has been repeatedly demonstrated at the lectern by ECOB, WeLoveBurlington and many others as being the will of the people but has unnecessarily and improperly burdened developers who are giving us what we need and want away from downtown. We heard yesterday from a delegation who claims the City plans for mixed use properties are ludicrous and unheard of from coast to coast. He maintained employers want to have their employees in an office building not a corner of a mixed use building. as the city is planning. We also heard that the path they are taking is going to make more expensive housing and not more affordable housing. Take the time out to listen to the delegations, it was an eye opener for us,

      Another shocker yesterday was Angelo Bentivegna’s reason for asking for the figures around side walk snow clearing – apparently he wants it ended. For those who were not around or old enough to be part of the discussions in the pre-1997 elections it was a huge effort by the community to get this on the city books and he (who is the accessibility committee council representative) wants to trash it……..

      Our main concerns not related to Interim Control By-law from yesterday were:

      1. the attempt by the Mayor to add a side trip to France without notice on to the Apeldoorn trip ….. which we think was a very sneaky move and probably would not have been caught if we had not delegated on the Apeldoorn delegation May 3 – 10., 2020 and showed there was eyes on this trip.

      2. the unprecedented move of amending the Procedural By-law with huge engagement issues while the city’s attention was elsewhere and refusing our request to set it aside for a month so there could be appropraite notice to the community who we know will have major issues with it once they understand what is happening..

      We are waiting for Roland Tanner to contact us (sent him a couple of messages) so we can discuss with him the significant issues around the proposed amended by-law that compound what got passed with the 2016 Procedural By-law, despite our efforts – 50 hrs. of work went into that, and the possibility of joining us in an emergency court motion before January 27, 2020 to overturn the committee`s decision that we do not have a right to appropriate notice and explanations for amendments that reduce engagement, transparency and accountability (all Municipal Act requirements). We have been fighting the trashing of the Public Notice that was axed when Morgan came on Board and an Emergency Motion is now our only avenue to stop what is happening.

      Sorry for this lengthy reply but it is important that the community understands what this Council is doing that people have fought so hard to ensure does not exist ……

      John Boich who refused to apologize for his assessment of engagement with Burlington council conditions as TOXIC will we are sure be turning in his grave…… especially as he was posthumously honoured by the city for his work.

      Anne and Dave Marsden who do what we do in response to:
      “Work for the well-being of the city to which I have sent you.” Jeremiah 29 vs. 7 which we have seen as a command for the last three decades at least.

  • We raised the letter as part of our delegation or at least the Spring Newsletter which said the same. The City keep denying they have the right and a sympathetic government to removing the MTSA and moving the boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre to give us a better down town. So glad Jane has written to Council we asked that she do something to verify the information we were standing on. There is also a video on U-Tube that says the same thing, so we are grateful to her for this the support she has given to those who have consistently faced “`Your`re wrong“whenever we brought Jane`s positon up to Council or just in conversation.

  • Penny Hersh

    I don’t consider MPP Jane McKenna’s letter to council “muddying the waters”. There have been many requests by residents to her office to find out what would be required to perhaps un-designate the John Street Bus Terminal as an MTSA and the possibility of moving parts or all of the Downtown Urban Growth Centre.

    Interesting that the MPP is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

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