Provincial policy document: Places to Grow to get an upgrade - it will set out how much more residential growth Burlington will have to absorb.

News 100 blueBy Staff

May 3rd, 2019



The policy announcement made yesterday by the provincial government covered a lot of bases.

It said that: “The Greater Golden Horseshoe is the economic engine of our province, generating more than 25% of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product. Right now, approximately 9.2 million people, or 25% of Canada’s population, live in this area and that number keeps growing – fast.

And added that: “To make sure that our policies put people first, we are updating A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It is the product of a broad consultation where we heard from more than 1,100 people and received more than 650 submissions. We heard the government should facilitate the building of affordable housing options near transit to prevent sprawl and protect agricultural lands. The plan will help manage growth so communities in the region develop in ways that expand economic opportunity, while maintaining protections for our environmentally sensitive areas, including the Greenbelt, cultural heritage assets, and key employment and agricultural lands.

“We need to build more housing that people can afford so people have places to live near stable, reliable employment. That’s why we’re creating provincially significant employment zones to make sure that businesses – from manufacturers and industrial parks to high-tech offices – have room to grow.

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Toronto Star headline

What do they plan to do?

“Across Ontario, there are empty-nesters who want to downsize, but they can’t find or afford the home they need near family and friends. If they could, it might free up a larger home for a young couple looking for a house with more space for their growing family, close to a park and a great school. Instead, everyone feels stuck.

high profile 421

Approved – across the street from city hall – with the block to the immediate south awaiting a development that will want the same heiight.

“It can take years of paperwork before a shovel ever breaks ground on a new housing project. Some government policies and processes are duplicated and can create delays for no reason, which drives up costs for home buyers.

“That’s why we’re reviewing every step of the development process and every policy, regulation and piece of legislation to eliminate unnecessary steps, duplication and barriers. We are cutting red tape and as we do, we are holding firm to our commitment to ensure the health and safety of Ontarians, and protect the environment, agricultural lands and our rich natural heritage.

Making it easier to build new housing

bring housing to market faster by speeding up local planning decisions and making the appeals process more efficient

make it easier for homeowners to create residential units above garages, in basements and in laneways

help build housing, including affordable housing, near transit

help municipalities implement community planning permit systems (e.g. in major transit station areas and provincially significant employment zones), which will streamline planning approvals to 45 days

simplify how funds are collected for community benefits such as parks and daycares

make upfront development costs easier to predict

give communities and developers more certainty on what they can build, and where they can build it

Go trains and high rises

Increased GO train service and high rise towers – all about being open for business.

“An item sent to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal is still waiting for a decision, seven years later. That’s thousands of homes stuck in the pipeline, waiting to be built, and seven years of rising costs. Getting rid of that backlog will bring new housing to market, today.

“Conflicts can arise during the process of land use planning. The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal hears these disputes, but there is a backlog of Ontario Municipal Board legacy cases — approximately 100,000 units are tied up in Toronto alone. There are also too many complex processes standing in the way of creating new housing.

The province is proposing changes that will:

hire more adjudicators to help address the backlog of legacy cases by investing $1.4 million in 2019-20

ensure the tribunal has the powers and resources needed to make more timely decisions

allow the tribunal to make the best planning decisions in the place of Council

charge different fees and move towards a cost recovery model, while allowing community groups and residents to maintain affordable access to the appeals process

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9 comments to Provincial policy document: Places to Grow to get an upgrade – it will set out how much more residential growth Burlington will have to absorb.

  • Alfred

    Roland. Let me be the first person to give you a reasonable answer to your question. The question is a little confusing so feel free to respond to clarify. OK the Province approves Official Plan. The Official Plan of Burlington is enacted and is now in force. Sounds easy enough. But wait Sec 37. Of the Approved Official Plan says that the City can shake down the developers for more money, call it community benefits. And in return sell extra airspace or height to the developers. Who are more than happy to pay. So heights of buildings appear to be a moving target with no certainty. Now remember the Official Plan can still be amended if the applicant comes up with a better use for the property than the broad stroke 2008 Official Plan failed to consider. The door to creativity should never be permanently closed. An Official Plan amendment would be the application allowed and required, which is permitted under the the Planning Act. Council would then consider the application. Vote to allow a modified version or vote yes and upset the nimby’s holding pitchforks and torches. This decision can be appealed to the OMB. If they vote no the nimby’s will rejoice and have declared victory. But and their is always a but. Now the unhappy developer can appeal. History shows us that unless the application submitted by the developer is unreasonable. Recent decisions would indicate that the developer usually wins and the taxpayers get stuck with the legals bills. Now the nimby’s get really upset at the OMB. and vote in a new Mayor and wipe out council with people who vow to stop or obstruct development contrary to Provincial mandates that offer no clear and specific instructions. This is where Premier Ford walks in with the new rule book. The Mayor and new councilors are now scrambling around asking what do we do now, that we promised to stop development in Burlington. The wise Mayor responds “Nobody can stop development. Do nothing. Those promises were meant to get you elected not kept. From this point on blame Premier Ford for everything.” The end.

  • Adam

    Very good article in the most recent edition of the Economist on this topic called “Sorry we’re full”. Good read. It breaks down the competing forces of pro-development and anti-development groups and outlines different ideas to tackle housing affordability in places like San Fransisco. There are no right answers but when you have 100,000+ new people coming to the GTA each year and constraints on land use, the cost of housing will almost certainly continue to go up.

  • Jim Ridley

    The provincial government is setting up a system to deal with the impact of federal policies of increased immigration and rightly consider the current system flawed and unwieldy.

    Our new city council’s decision to enact a moratorium on new planning permissions shows that they completely at odds with provincial and federal policies on this and does not evidence a willingness to work with developers or respond to a real need for more affordable homes.

    At a time when the Ford government has made it clear that the municipal level of government is under scrutiny, this will play into the hands of the pro-amalgamation lobby. The new mayor may be our last mayor.

  • Alfred

    Gentlemen If I can give my take on these new revelations. Steve and Gary. Yes an unelected Tribunal appointed by a Democratically elected Provincial Government will make sure councils, developers and planning staff all follow the rules of development mandated by Premier Ford. The impartial Tribunal will ensure whoever comes closest wins. It’s been this way for a very long time in Ontario. Read the Planning act of Ontario. The voices of the people were heard loud an clear last Provincial election. The Province governs Housing policies,not the Municipalities. Their job is to enact OP and By-laws which follow Mr Fords policies. Not make up their own. Clearly the Province realized that many Cities had councilors that lacked the knowledge and did not have the follow the process of development properly. Or deliberately ignored them because of the political pressures applied by the very vocal nimby’s. Roland as a result of your Mayor wanting 12 stories and the OMB. granting ADI 26 stories. It was obvious to anyone watching that Burlington was simply not even in the game. Thereby making them completely irrelevant and also a waste time. I predicted in this forum that the Province would step in sooner than later.16 years for the City of Burlington to approve a 7 lot subdivision on Bellview Ave.?This is all fact not distorted nonsense. Now you might understand why new rules will soon apply.

  • Steve

    So in order to bypass the will of the people, an unelected “tribunal” will have final control? Am I reading that right?

  • Andrew Drummond

    The contention that government red tape drives up the prices of new homes is nonsense. Particularly while they are in short supply, homes are priced at exactly what the market will bear.

    Making it easier for developers to override local governments like Burlington’s will have no substantial effect on home prices, all it will do is allow developers to build more faster while keeping a larger part of the revenue for themselves.

  • Roland Tanner

    “An item sent to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal is still waiting for a decision, seven years later.”

    This is the sort of distorted nonsense that insults the intelligence of the electorate, and which the province should not be able to get away with. The government is blaming something for being ‘stuck in the LPAT’ at a time when the LPAT didn’t even exist! Where was it stuck for seven years? Before the OMB! The same OMB which the government has just reanimated in zombie-like fashion from what had been a highly deserved resting place. LPAT is so new that it’s only in the last few months it has even begun to consider projects under the new rules.

    The LPAT was created to put more power in the hands of municipalities, and also to get rid of the ridiculous ‘de novo’ appeals process to OMB, and thereby *speed up* the appeals process.

    Do I think the LPAT was going to significantly solve the issues of the OMB? The early evidence suggested not. Nevertheless, it did at least make a nod in the direction of respecting the power of local democracy and enforcing official plans. The OMB is back for one reason – because developers preferred it as it gave them a better chance of winning their appeals against municipalities, and furthermore getting results which are completely divorced from the *provincially approved* official plans.

    Official plans, zoning, and the entire apparatus of municipal planning are, right now, almost a complete waste of time. The cities are wasting their time and our money trying to come up with democratically informed planning visions which are immediately torn up and thrown away by the appeals process.

    This isn’t about opposing development. Everybody agrees we need more housing, more affordable housing, more urban density, better designed communities that aren’t car-centric. It’s not about objecting to developers’ right to do their jobs and earn a profit. It’s about the democratic right of citizens to elect a council which shapes a vision for our city which we all can share. It’s about giving everybody certainty – developers included – about what can be built where.

    I have now asked politicians and political staff at multiple levels the following question, and I’m yet to get an answer:

    “If the province signs off on an Official Plan, and thereby legally confirms that it conforms with the provincial planning objectives, why should it ever need to be appealed?”

  • Gary Scobie

    The scariest words in this article are those highlighted in red “allow the tribunal to make the best planning decisions in the place of Council”. If these are indeed the exact words used by the Province, then it would turn the LPAT back into the OMB and negate the whole reason for creating the LPAT – to give back to municipalities like Burlington local control over their growth, as long as they are following provincial growth mandates, which Burlington does.

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