Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown: What if you don't like what you see?

Aerial downtown - before pier

Change: It has been going on for the last six years – the Pier in this picture wasn’t completed; the Riviera was still in place and the original Gazebo was still standing in Spencer Smith Park A new round of changes are now before us.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 7th, 2020



Those who watch what happens at city hall are focused on two critical meetings that will take place next week.

One on Tuesday and one on Thursday.

The Tuesday meeting has been covered before – links to that event – the Land Use Study – are below.

The Thursday meeting, which starts at 1:00 pm – has the working title: Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown.

This focuses on what the Planning Department thinks should be permitted in the different precincts in the city.

A precinct is a boundary created by planners that has height and density permission permitted along with zoning.

Planning staff have been working on this report for some time. Working with a group of consultants Staff came back with two different concepts of what the different precincts would look like with the height and density ideas that had been developed.  Illustrations of what came out of the first round of ideas from the planners is shown below.

The response from that group of people who pay attention to these things was “underwhelming”.

After getting a bit of a rough ride from most of the delegations Staff was to take away what they heard from the public and the reaction they got from city council and return with what is being referred as the “preferred” concept.

Alison Enns

Alison Enns, part of the Team that Took a Closer Look at the Downtown on a tour with a group of citizens.

The public will get to see “a recommended land use vision and concept for downtown Burlington.”

The city puts the event this way: “Discussion about the re-examination of the downtown policies in the adopted Official Plan will continue at a meeting of Burlington City Council’s Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Committee meeting on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 starting at 1 p.m.

“City staff will present a single recommended land use vision and concept for the future built form of downtown Burlington. The recommendation is based on the evaluation of two preliminary concepts presented for public feedback in fall 2019, which was informed by several inputs including public feedback, technical studies, and an understanding of existing and approved development in the downtown.”

Heather_MacDonald COB planner

Heather MacDonald – leads the Planning Team at City Hall.

A copy of the report PL-02-20, containing the recommendation, will be available to the public online on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 at getinvolvedburlington.ca.

We will be giving that report a very close read and reporting on it.

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility said she “looks forward to developing the detailed policies that will implement Council’s decision on the endorsed land use vision and built form concept for downtown.”

• Early in 2019, Burlington City Council directed City staff to re-examine the downtown policies in Burlington’s adopted Official Plan, including the height and density of buildings. As part of this work, the City hosted a series of public engagement opportunities designed to give the community the chance to provide meaningful input on the community’s vision for the downtown, both online and in person.

Concept 1 3d rendering

A concept for Brant Street looking towards the lake. .. the differences

3 D rendering Concept 2 Mid Brant

…are the amount of setback from the street and the height that is to be permitted.

• The first phase of public engagement, from August to September 2019, identified 13 themes that the public felt were important to reflect in the planning for downtown. These themes were used by SGL Planning and Design to inform the development of two concepts that show two possible ways downtown Burlington could accommodate growth and development in the future. In the second phase of public engagement in October and November 2019, the City presented these two concepts to the public for discussion. Participants were asked what they liked and did not like about these two concepts. The feedback on the two concepts, along with a number of other inputs, has been used to inform the development of a single recommended concept for downtown Burlington that will be presented to Burlington City Council on Jan. 16, 2020.

• Council’s decision on Jan. 16 will set the stage for the next phase of the project, which is to develop detailed policies that will implement and support the land use vision and built form concept endorsed by Council. All of the public feedback heard throughout the project will inform policy development. While some of the public feedback heard to date has already informed the development of the recommended vision and concept, other feedback will be applied in the development of detailed policies. The policies will be recommended to Council in Spring 2020 for endorsement as modifications to the 2018 adopted Official Plan.

• A vote to endorse any changes to the policies that will guide development in the downtown until 2031 will be made by Burlington City Council in Spring 2020.


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1 comment to Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown: What if you don’t like what you see?

  • Perryb

    Where is the obvious step1? Get rid of the downtown ‘mobility hub’ (aka bus stop) and rest will follow more swiftly.