LPAT is beginning to look like a pat on the head for some residents and then being asked to go away.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 12th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The business of making changes to the Official Plan that was adopted by city council on April 26, 2018 but not accepted by the Regional government has begun.

Changes to the Official Plan was a contentious election issue and resulted in a new Mayor and a decidedly different council. Five of the members are new.

Getting all the changes made is not going to be a simple one step process.

On Feb. 7, 2019, Burlington City Council voted to re-examine the policies in Burlington’s Official Plan, adopted in April 2018.  That plan was sent to Halton Region for approval. The Region sent the plan back with some questions without approving it.

Meed WardMayor Meed Ward has taken the position that “Once the Region identified areas of non-conformity, that stopped the clock on approving the new Official Plan and opened the plan up for any other matters of discussion. This allows our new City Council the time to define what areas we want to study, undertake that work, consult with the community, and send back a comprehensive plan. We expect that plan to truly reflect the needs, best interests and vision of the community and it’s elected Council.

The motion, approved by Council, directs Burlington’s Director of City Building to immediately commence a process to re-examine the policies of the Official Plan adopted April 26, 2018.

Proposed Amendment 1 to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017

On January 15, 2019, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released proposed amendments to the Growth Plan, 2017 which can be found here. The Province identified that the purpose of the proposed changes is to streamline growth management planning in the Greater Golden Horseshoe to achieve the following outcomes:

• More Streamlined Process: Provide greater flexibility so that municipalities will be able to move forward faster on the implementation of the Plan and meet the deadline to update Upper-tier and Single-tier official plans to conform with the Plan by July 1, 2022.

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One of the development proposals that can resolve the housing availability. Nothing affordable about it.

• More Land for Housing: Respect the ability of local governments to make decisions about when and where to add new land for housing, to ensure that there is enough housing supply to meet demand.

• More Housing and Jobs near Transit: A more flexible framework for focusing investments around transit infrastructure will enable municipalities to plan to increase the supply of housing and jobs near transit faster and more effectively.

• Greater Local Autonomy and Flexibility for Municipalities: Ensuring that municipalities will have the ability to implement the Plan in a manner that better reflects their local context while protecting the Greenbelt.

A staff report regarding the proposed submission to the Province will be delivered to Planning and Development Committee on February 27th at 1 pm.

It is clear that there are going to be many stages in the re-writing of the plan that was approved in April of last year.  What we are seeing now is just the first step.  It will be interesting to see how Staff responds to the Direction.

The matter of streamlining the process has a number of Burlington residents who have been trying to take part in Tribunal hearings concerned.

One Gazette reader said in her opinion “the streamlining comes about because there is little or no resident participation.”

LPAT process graphicResidents are finding that they have no problem preparing comments – they are accepted and put in the file. But when they ask to be able to be a “participant” they are for the most part being denied.

Scobie

Gary Scobie delegating at city hall.

Gary Scobie asked to be a participant on the Reserve development for the former Elizabeth Interiors property.  The developer didn’t have a problem with Scobie and the city lawyer didn’t have a problem – so there he was – a participant.  Now what – Scobie doesn’t know – he might have played his role – submitting a document.

A resident of the Dynes Community was told they would not be recognized as participants. To date that group has spent $17,000 to date on legal counsel.

Being a participant you have no liability.  If you have status as a Party you could be sued if the developer thinks you have simply tried to delay an application from being approved.

With the OMB – a resident could come to the hearing – and as a participant could basically delegate.  The lawyers from both sides then had the opportunity to “cross examine the witness”.

The residents we have talked to get the feeling that the process is going to be “streamlined” because it will consist of lawyers talking to lawyers and arguing fine points of provincial policy. The “local” element and response seems to be missing.

Not a healthy process.

Will the city planners push for better public participation?

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2 comments to LPAT is beginning to look like a pat on the head for some residents and then being asked to go away.

  • Kevin Rutherford

    I did get a similar impression from our Case Management Conference that took place yesterday on the Georgina Court appeal. Not sure if “party” or “participants” will add much in the process overall, I do believe it is more for 3rd parties such as the developers (or church in Dynes Road case) than residents .

    All that being said, the time for contributions is prior to submission of the case synopsis and record to LPAT… or even better to council/staff prior to decisions being made. Once you reach the Case Management Conference in the LPAT there really shouldn’t be new material being presented in the case, so party or participants are not delegating like they would to council. In either case if you are trying to contribute or affect change in the proposed you would be best served in securing professionals in order to be considered otherwise you can be dismissed as a “lay”person. If the LPAT support center is not going to adequately support resident groups with valid appeals, it essentially creates a process that is far from democratic and for resident groups it will always be a case of “David vs Goliath”

    I really hope that moving forward that the City does engage more effectively with residents and other stakeholders to ensure everything is considered. The one thing that residents do need to be aware of however, is that the City’s job is to evaluate and make recommendations on development applications to ensure they are in compliance with the PPS, OP’s and growth plan and not to ensure that everyone is happy with the result. Ultimately one would hope that they strive to strike a balance to that would satisfy all parties in future and current development.

  • Stephen White

    Citizen engagement and participation, including the right to delegate or appear as a participant at hearings, shouldn’t be this convoluted. Rather than waiting for Planning officials to come up with a “local element” solution, let’s be proactive and propose one to the Mayor and Council.

    Let’s create a Department of Citizen Engagement and Community Involvement at City Hall. Hire a couple of experienced urban planners who will work with citizens (i.e. not developers or Planning Department officials) to serve as a resource to assist them in researching, preparing delegations and distilling the reams of material and information surrounding every development. The head of this Department would report directly to the City Manager, not the Planning Department. The Planning Department would be mandated to share all available information on every development with the Citizen Engagement Department.

    Developers have deep pockets lined with lots and lots of money to hire legions of consultants, lawyers and planners. While it is great that there are people in this city like Gary Scobie as well as groups like ECoB, who devote the time, effort and energy to researching issues, citizens shouldn’t feel like they are being led into the lions’ den whenever there is an LPAT hearing. This is fundamentally a power struggle, and the sooner we all see it for what it is the more apparent becomes the importance of redressing the power imbalance.

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