Why is there a delay in releasing the contents of the 31 appeals filed with LPAT?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 3, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Many are eagerly awaiting the public release of the corporations or individuals who filed appeals against the amendments and the zoning changes approved by Council January 30th.

The Gazette assumed that it was just a matter of getting the paper work done.

That was until we got the following from a member of council.

“I think you should be digging into why we aren’t allowed to tell who appealed and why. That’s the info I want out.”

Really?

No need to identify the Council member on this one – what is critical is – just why the information isn’t public and who has their thumb on it.

Somewhere within either Planning or Legal (perhaps both) there is a thumb keeping the forms on their desk.

Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor

FormerWard 3 Councillor John Taylor

A number of years ago there was an issue that has been discussed in public at the Region that was discussed in Closed Session of Council in Burlington. Then Councillor John Taylor said he would stand in the atrium and release the information publicly if council did not talk publicly.

All it takes is for just one Council member with the courage of their convictions to stand in the atrium and read out the list of names.

Marianne Meed Ward is on the other side of the podium this time - sits as the Council member for Ward 2 where a developer got a zoning change she opposed.

Marianne Meed Ward is on the other side of the podium this time – speaking as the Council member for Ward 2 and using the word transparency.

Mayor Meed Ward used to use the word “transparency” at every opportunity – it just might be tattooed somewhere on her. Could the people that voted for her not nudge here and suggest she live up to the promise made on October 18th, 2018

Related news stories:

ICBL not to be repealed – it will  just die March 5th.

The 31 appeals are announced with a lengthy explanation.

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13 comments to Why is there a delay in releasing the contents of the 31 appeals filed with LPAT?

  • Tom Muir

    I venture that it’s the “rules”, and custom at City hall that for appeals Legal has the lead.

    And you should be aware that these appeals are usually discussed “in camera” and when the Legals decide to have an agenda item on them, it will likely be a confidential item, Council will officially learn who they are, what the grounds are, and can give directions to staff on how to proceed.

    This confidentiality is the probable reason the Council member noted has not named themselves or pushed internally.

    These are the rules whether we like it or not.

    Anybody have something to add or correct?

    • Only thing we would add is anything that goes to Tribunal are public documents except when in mediation. So the applications in terms of who is appealing what can and should be shared with the public who are going to be paying the bill. If we file a Human Rights case public can have access except in mediation. The problem is more likely to be the city has been surprised by the number and quality of the appeals and don’t want Joe Public to understand the road Council have taken all of Burlington down.

      • Tom Muir

        The appeals will be made public in due course. That is how it works.

        In any case, what would you folks do with all the details of all the appeals?

        This is a huge number of appeals at once and I would think that this was in fact expected by the city, or at the least, not a surprise. Didn’t surprise me.

        The quality of the appeals at this stage is largely irrelevant. They seek to change the entire approved development rights for likely the entire downtown and GO station planning areas to what the appellants want. They want more at any cost it seems – it’s that simple.

        It is possible to appeal an entire OP and Zoning. This is not about specific applications and proposals. It’s a grab for the whole enchilada, a saturation bombing.

  • James

    Given the significant scope of these appeals and the inevitable cost implications to us taxpayers, is it perhaps time to consider an intervention by way of a referendum?

    This Mayor and Council have been singular in focus this term, we all know that. They have become so fixated on downtown, so determined to go to war with the development industry, I fear their judgement has become clouded. They have gone all in on downtown, but in the heat of battle seem to have forgotten that they represent all of us, not just downtown residents.

    For many of us living north of the QEW, we’ve sat around watching the downtown take up the entire bandwidth of our elected officials long enough, and may not be as eager to throw our hard earned tax dollars into this fight, a fight that we don’t even necessarily agree with in the first place.

    Once the details of the appeals become public, common themes will no doubt become clear. Coming up with pointed referendum questions that will give Council real feedback from the entire community might be a good idea before going down this path, potentially crippling a large portion of the population with hefty property tax increases year over year to pay for a fight that it doesn’t appear they can win anyway. It’s time for some honesty. It’s time to tell us what this all means, how much it’s going to cost us, and what the real risks/benefits are, not just for downtown residents but for all of us.

    This is a big deal. Many of us no longer trust the Mayor to do what’s right for all of Burlington. Maybe it’s time to for the community to decide where we go from here. The cost of a referendum would be a drop in the bucket in comparison with the costs we’ll otherwise face. We already know what the Mayor wants to do, let’s find out what Burlington wants to do.

    • Stephen White

      Excellent idea James! With a series of clear, unambiguous questions a referendum would be a cogent way of ascertaining citizens perspective on development issues. It would provide clear direction on the public’s wishes, and it would give a signal to politicians, public servants, LPAT and developers on what the community wants. And yes, you are absolutely correct: downtown redevelopment is taking up a lot of bandwidth.

      City Council needs to get their heads around the issue of intensification and redevelopment. This might just be the mechanism to do it conclusively.

      • Tom Muir

        This may be a good idea, but I thought that the election was a referendum on these very issues. I’m for moving on.

        My own view is that such a referendum would be a can of worms, bringing out the worst.

        In any case, whatever the results of such a thing, it will not matter to the developers, and especially at LPAT, which is their backup. It has not meant anything to date, so why think that will change?

        I can say with experience, that what the residents say they prefer, referendum or not, does not matter much in the planning process of things. Just look at the applications and how far they reach far beyond what people who show up at planning related meetings are willing to accept by a mile.

        And at LPAT, the Hearing Chairs want to hear what is called qualified “expert” testimony. These experts are the product of a self-appointed process of showing how many times you have done the same thing representing developers, and the Chairs say okay – “qualified”.

        Citizens, as Participants, since the new LPAT rules of Bill 108, now have no standing except a written statement with a slim and vague chance of being heard orally in the Hearing, but at the discretion of the hearing Chairs.

        The system is really rigged and if you don’t like it, tough. If residents really want to be heard they must rely on the City to stay the course seeking control of development whatever the cost.

        If that doesn’t happen, residents will have to ante up and hire their own “qualified expert planner”. If you can find one willing to represent citizens against developers.

        Fat chance.

        • James

          I think the can of worms has already been opened. The past election was not a referendum, it was just the exchange of a bland status quo Mayor for a Mayor that brought a new hope for Burlington. Turns out a lot was said, but not much is actually getting done beyond delay tactics. So here we are, disappointed that she’s not been able to deliver what she promised, and at the brink of spending a fortune trying to protect her legacy and an ideal of what some feel downtown Burlington should be. The question is, is that ideal based in any way on reality or are we grasping at straws? Is it a fight we can win? Are we prepared to allot the resources and money (whatever the cost) needed to pursue this ideal and suffer the consequences if/when we lose?

          A referendum is not for the developers. It’s not for LPAT. They’re all going to do whatever they want to do, and we already know we’re not going to influence them. No, a referendum is for the people of Burlington to give direction to our elected officials, to make it clear what we want them to fight (or not fight) for. There seems to be an assumption that nobody wants downtown to redevelop. I’m telling you that’s false. The Mayor is taking action and spending our money as if her downtown supporters represent the wants and needs of the entire community. They don’t.

          A referendum would identify what the people want on a very specific topic. All the people, not just those who live south of the QEW. We’re all going to be impacted by this, we should all have a say. It would allow for a course correction if the people feel we’re being led down the wrong path, which I believe we are. Maybe I’m wrong, and if as a community we’re prepared to roll the dice, experience property tax increases of over 8% year after year and make it even less affordable to live here with the understanding that we may still lose the fight and have ended up spending all that money for nothing, then at least we make that decision as a community. I could live with that. What I suspect however, is that more people than you think have no idea what’s going on, and the risks involved if we pursue this fight. I know I would like to have a say in that decision, and I’m willing to bet others would too. Personally I’m perfectly comfortable with 20+ storey buildings downtown, and all the new shops, restaurants, amenities, employment opportunities, less expensive housing options, etc. that come with it. I don’t understand why that’s a bad thing, or why we’d want to discourage that. I don’t think it’s worth the fight, I don’t think we should tie up our entire planning department for the next 5 years and spend millions upon millions of dollars on legal and consulting fees to fight a battle that I really don’t believe the city can win. Significant growth is going to happen, it’s not 1950 anymore. I honestly believe it’s a losing battle that will cripple City Hall and hurt the taxpayers. This city has snubbed it’s nose at the Province, ignored the rules, and will pay the consequences, just watch. I believe this Mayor while meaning well, has done more harm than good. I don’t think it’s our financial responsibility to protect her legacy. But that’s me, and of course I don’t speak for everyone either.

          But first and foremost the public needs to be educated, which is something this city is not good at. The Mayor in particular is very skilled in asking questions a certain way to produce the answer she wants, or presenting fragments of information that help her argument but don’t necessarily paint the entire picture. We can’t have that, that’s not helpful. There needs to be a more wholesome understanding of what’s really going on, where the public is presented with all the facts and all the possible scenarios, both good and bad, so that they fully understand the risks and benefits before making up their minds. There are a small number of us that find municipal politics fascinating and we generally have a good sense of what’s happening even if we don’t agree on certain things, but I’d be willing to bet that over 75% of the population doesn’t have a clue. They need to be engaged. They need to have a say in this. A referendum would allow for that opportunity.

          • “The Mayor is taking action and spending our money as if her downtown supporters represent the wants and needs of the entire community.” They clearly don’t – well said. Further, the Municipal Act requires our elected councillors to make decisions that support the financial integrity of the city – which is reason enough for five or possibly five and three quarters of six wards to object to what is presently happening. We have been looking to the Councillors who represent 5 other wards to bring this forward – sadly it never happened. Further in terms of a referendum as you mention the Mayor is very skilled at asking questions to get the answers she wants – we cannot allow that to happen or a referendum is a waste of time. Our appeal (yes it is in Anne’s name but it is our appeal) is filed to get the community thinking in this way as if there is no jurisdiction for the January 30, 2020 decisions – which we have risked a lot to bring forward – and a ruling is made that supports there is no jurisdiction, having a referendum vote ready to go could ensure new decisions that are made represent the whole city and no-one would have the right to complain as they presently do.

            We filed an application for an injunction at Milton Court House on February 19, 2020 that covers among other things the city and at least one advisory committees making decisions for which there is no jurisdiction. We will be serving this on the city this week possibly along with a Notice of Motion to have the Court decide the issue of whether the City set aside the legislated and their own procedures (all members of this and the past Council have approved) to call and hold a Special Council meeting on January 30, 2020. As we said previously this is a huge financial risk for any citizen to take on – but we believe it must be done for both the well-being and financial integrity of our city which the legislation tells us belongs to the people, not seven elected officials, a fact that millions gave their lives to ensure was the case. We are a Pro Bono team working for the well-being of our community. We have never taken any donations in the past and we will not be accepting any for this project or indeed anything else including future political campaigns we take on. Fact: for $700 Anne got over 41,000 votes which we see as endorsements from Halton residents in the 2018 Halton Chair campaign – we believe this is the most ever against an incumbent Chair. The Burlington election results saw the incumbent mayor for 2010-2018 spend over $100,000 and get less votes (endorsements) in Burlington than did Anne from the same electorate.

  • Penny Hersh

    Jeremy,

    You have provided much valuable information. However, most residents do not have the time or the finances to appeal these applications.

    Participant Status as you know is most often a written letter to LPAT that seems to fall on deaf ears. Residents who live outside of the 120 metres of the development site are not even considered by LPAT.

    Residents, in my opinion, are now suffering from “development and appeal fatigue”.

  • Why do they go to City Hall at all, they are the respondents? Any other application for appeal or complaint to a Tribunal or Commission we have done (and there are many in terms of seeking the well-being of the relevant community that raised the issues we addressed) normally go to a Registrar for processing – why is this different? This needs changing and we will work through Jane McKenna and the appropriate Minister and Policy Advsor to get it changed. We were not happy to learn our application submitted by Anne was forwarded to Jo-Anne Rudy and not to our new Clerk. This leaves room for all sorts of issues to be raised number one being transparency. Are any back room deals being done? Not yet placing the applications in the Tribunals hands where they belong and going from there makes no sense to us who are familiar with many Tribunal processes.

    This type of process gves more reason than ever for the need to first establish did Council have jurisdiction to make the decisions they did through our application?

  • Penny Hersh

    “I think you should be digging into why we aren’t allowed to tell who appealed and why. That’s the info I want out.”

    I have often wondered in the last little while why residents even vote for Council Members. From the outside looking in it seems that Staff run the city and council members are “window dressing”,

    The above quote from an unnamed councillor seems to say it all.

    Rick Goldring stated that the Mayor has very little say in things that are happen in the City, our current Mayor Marianne Meed-Ward indicated that this was not the case. Well, why then has the Mayor’s office been very quiet on what has been happening with these appeals, other than issuing a bulletin last week to indicate that the ICBL has to remain in effect until all appeals (31 to date) have been heard at LPAT?

    Will residents finally stand up and say we want this information now? We have been kept in the dark for a very long time, I think on this issue it started with the announcement by the Director of Building, who told the public that Burlington was putting in place an ICBL.

  • Jeremy Skinner

    Looking to find the 31 ICBL related LPAT Appeals through LPAT?

    Google search Ontario LPAT estatus.
    Either of the following listed sites will work.
    E-Status – Tribunals Ontario – Environment & Land Division at https://elto.gov.on.ca/tribunals/lpat/e-status/
    or
    LPAT – E-Status
    https://www.omb.gov.on.ca/ecs/

    When asked to “Please select the letter below for the name of the municipality:”
    select “B” for Burlington
    When asked to “Select a municipality from the list below” select “Burlington”
    Go to the bottom of “Current E-Status Case List For Burlington” and look for a CASE NUMBER starting with PL20xxxx
    This list is updated once the assigned LPAT case coordinator has accepted an appeal.
    No doubt it will take a while for LPAT case coordinators to respond to all 31 appeals.

    As of this morning there are two appeals listed which could belong to the 31 appeals. They are:
    – PL200040 related to 2069-2079 Lakeshore Road, 383-385 Pearl Street
    – PL200092 related to 2093,2097,2101OldLakeshoreRd&2096,2100LakeshoreRd
    Suggest that you check daily.

    While I appreciate that many developers may be upset by the decisions of Council, these same developers will be held responsible by the Tribunal Member to ensure that their development proposal provides sufficient transition compatibility with any bordering stable residential neighbourhoods, typically located within 120 metres of the proposed development site under appeal.

    Residents so affected are encouraged to seek at minimum “Participant Status” or better yet “Party Status” at the first LPAT Case Management Conference (used to be known as the first Prehearing Conference) meeting as will be outlined in the letter of invitation to them from the appellant’s legal representative. These same residents should make every effort to come to a consensus of opinion prior to this first CMC meeting. If possible, they should form a residents association which ideally should take the form of a “not for profit organization”. Time is short, organize now!

    Appeals may have a mediated negotiation phase. Know what you are prepared to accept should a property buyout or a trade for a property in exchange for a condo suite be considered.

    For more information please refer to “LPAT: Appeal Guide A” which can be found at
    https://elto.gov.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2019_02_21-LPAT_Guide_A.html

    Note: LPAT follows a quasi-legal framework and as such the best argument based upon the application of Provincial and Municipal Policies wins. Residents within 120 metres of the development site are encouraged to restrict their concerns to that of an “impact statement” related to their personal property, such as privacy, sun/shadow, wind etc.should the proposed development proceed.

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