McKenna muddies the understanding of what mobility hubs are supposed to be and where they will be built.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 17th, 2019



Some useful background when city council gets to talking about what they want to do with the “approved” Official Plan now that it has come back from the Region.

Jane McKenna, the MPP for Burlington said recently that she has “received a few emails from residents about the pace of high-rise development in our downtown.


Burlington MPP Jane McKenna

“Many are concerned about the intensification in the downtown core and the mobility hub designation that is part of Burlington’s official plan. (The one that was adopted by the city but not yet approved by the Region).

Some suggested the mobility hub designation was coupled with the approval, through the appeal process, of tall buildings in the downtown area.

McKenna talked to staff at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) for clarification about the legislation.

“The first thing I learned is that “mobility hubs” are identified by Metrolinx’s regional transportation plan, but do not have to be reflected as such in any local planning documents.

“The growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017, does not refer to mobility hubs. The City of Burlington council is free to remove these mobility hub designations from the local official plan.

Burlington might be able to remove mobility hub designations but there isn’t a hope in hades that Burlington will move away from the concept of hubs which are understood to be locations where development is increased and transportation options intensified.

The City’s Planning department is well into some deep dive research and with precincts defined and mapping work done showing where different heights and density of residential will be located. Plans for additional park space are also well advanced.

McKenna has muddied the waters with her comments. There will be three mobility hubs; one at each of the existing GO stations.

Mobility hubs

The mobility hubs at the GO stations are a fact. Nothing is going to change that. The Downtown mobility hub’s long term existence has yet to be determined by the new city council

The continued existence of a Downtown Mobility Hub is in doubt. City Council will debate that at some length when they get to that matter.

The creation of a downtown mobility hub and the loss of an OMB hearing that should not have ben lost has done significant damage to the kind of downtown core residents voted against in the October election. The challenge for this council is to find a way out of that mess.

She adds that: “The growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which was reviewed and updated in 2017, identifies downtown Burlington as an urban growth centre and sets a specific growth target.

“It also identifies the Burlington GO station as a major transit station area and sets a growth target. These are required elements of all official plans because higher densities are necessary to justify transit infrastructure investment.

Urban growth centre boundary

The Urban Growth Centre boundary may well get revised when city council tackles that issue.

“That brings me to the second important point I took away from my discussion with MMAH. If city council voted to change the boundaries of the downtown Burlington urban growth centre this could be accomplished by Halton Region as part of the next official plan review.

“This must take place prior to July 1, 2022. Burlington could then, in turn, amend its official plan to reflect the new boundaries.

“Although boundary changes are allowed, the growth plan does not permit the removal of the urban growth centre designation. Changes would need to be approved by the Ontario government as part of the approval of Halton Region’s official plan amendment.”

McKenna float in parade

MPP McKenna wrapped her Christmas parade float in Tory blue – she will play that card as long as she can and hope that it keeps her in office.

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2 comments to McKenna muddies the understanding of what mobility hubs are supposed to be and where they will be built.

  • Gary Scobie

    I’d like to point out that the rules likely do say that the Urban Growth Centre may not be “removed” from Burlington, but it is likely that it can be “moved”. No one is pushing for its removal. Call it a boundary change if we have to. I believe that what most citizens would like to see is that it be moved from the downtown core to the Burlington GO Station Mobility Hub. Very similar boundaries and very similar density requirements for people/jobs per hectare.

    That’s what Oakville in their wisdom did in 2005/2006 when it rejected the Province’s suggestion of its downtown as the Urban Growth Centre and had it moved to the Oakville Trafalgar GO Station Mobility Hub. They preserved their control over development downtown.

    Our Council didn’t react in 2005/2006. That doesn’t mean the new Council can’t react now. It’s never too late to fix a mistake.

  • Jan Mowbray

    Mc Kenna has indeed muddied the waters with her comments about hubs. Mc Kenna says “The growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017, does not refer to mobility hubs.”

    If she had taken the time to really read the plan, she would have noticed that, while Mobility Hubs as such are not mentioned, there are 14 references to Hubs. Community Hubs, Transit Hubs, Innovation Hubs. The inclusion of transportation is a vital part of hubs. If it’s technicalities she’s after, I’m sure transit could be substituted with Mobility as the common denominator throughout.

    Some examples. “Public services will be co-located in community hubs that are broadly accessible. Getting around will be easy. An integrated transportation network will allow people choices for easy travel both within and between urban centres throughout the region. Public transit will be fast, convenient, and affordable.”

    Hubs are designed to make best use of available land. “Improve the integration of land use planning with planning and investment in infrastructure and public service facilities, including integrated service delivery through community hubs, by all levels of government.”

    Innovation Hubs. “Locations support collaboration and interaction between the private, public and academic sectors across many different economic sectors to promote innovation.”

    Hub designations have formed the basis for good land use planning that is people-based. “The continued revitalization of urban growth centres as meeting places, locations for cultural facilities, public institutions, and major services and transit hubs with the potential to become more vibrant, mixed-use, transit-supportive communities is particularly important.

    Ms McKenna says, “The City of Burlington council is free to remove these mobility hub designations from the local official plan.” Wait a minute, Ms Kenna, it’s not so easy but why would the city do that with all the work, consultations, time and expense that’s gone into the planning to date? Just because Ms McKenna heard from a few people? What’s a few – 5? 6?

    Editor’s comment> Ms Mowbray was a candidate for the Burlington seat in the provincial legislature. Eleanor McMahon won that election.