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Burlington Council Approves 2020 Budget Including Investments in Transit, Trees, and Green Infrastructure

STOCK_2020 Budget Book Cover photo

This year, City staff and your Burlington Council opted to have our 2020 capital and operating budget discussions together. After budget committee meetings on Dec. 10 and 12, and Council meetings on Dec. 16 and 19, we approved a $174.4-million operating budget with a city-portion tax increase of 3.99%. Combined with tax increases from Halton Region and the boards of education, the overall tax increase is 2.44% or $19.34 per $100,000 of a home’s current value assessment. The total annual increase to property taxes for a home assessed at $500,000 is $96.70.

Here are the minutes from the Dec. 10/12 Committee of the Whole – Budget meetings and the Dec. 16 and 19 Council meetings, respectively: Post-Meeting Minutes – Committee of the Whole – Budget_Dec10_2019 / Post-Meeting Minutes – Regular Meeting of Council_Dec16_19_2019.

A full budget breakdown is further down in this post.

Here is the main budget motion that was approved by a 6-1 Council vote on Thursday, Dec. 19:

  • Approve the 2020 operating budget including any budget amendments approved by the Committee of the Whole – Budget to be applied against the proposed next tax levy amount of $174,435,179; and
  • Approve the 2020 capital budget for the City of Burlington, with a gross amount of $85,966551 with a debenture requirement of $7,613,145, and the 2021-209 capital forecast with a gross amount of $723,878,943 with a debenture requirement of $47,592,200 as outlined in report F-46-19 and as amended by the Committee of the Whole – Budget; and
  • Administer the debenture in the amount of $6,113,145 in 2020 as tax supported debt; and
  • Administer the debenture in the amount of $1,500,000 in 2020 as special circumstances debt; and
  • Declare that, in accordance with sis. 5(1)5 of the Development Charges Act, 1997 and s. 5 of Ontario Regulation 82/98, it is Council’s clear intention that the excess capacity provided by the above-referenced works will be paid for by future development charges.

To change the format of my posts a little and before I give you a breakdown outlining what you’ll be getting as Burlington residents for your tax dollars from the 2020 budget, I will start with My Take on the budget and budget discussions below.


I commend Council on our work on this and our City staff who did great work for us and on this budget. I think it positioned us well to have our capital and operating budget discussions together and have that process streamlined. Council and our community should be proud of this budget that focuses on transit, trees, and green infrastructure, among other needs. We had to whittle down requests from Council that would have put us at a 7.5% city-tax increase if they had all been approved. We aimed for enhancing services, renewing aging infrastructure and responding to the needs of a growing community, while keeping your pocketbooks in mind. We made some tough, but strategic decisions for the 2020 budget, and the priorities reflect those of our community.

“The 2020 budget focuses on providing strategic investments aligned to the City’s four-year work plan, Vision to Focus, and Burlington’s 25-year Strategic Plan. At the same time, it provides investments to ensure the continued delivery of high-quality services, renewal of Burlington’s aging infrastructure, and funding for new community programs and initiatives.” — Joan Ford, Chief Financial Officer, City of Burlington


To view the online version of the City of Burlington’s 2020 Budget Book, please click this link: COB_2020_Budget_Book. Here is the staff report related to the budget as well: F-46-19-2 Approval of 2020 operating and capital budgets.

The approved City tax increase of 3.99% includes:

Investments to maintain City services1.33% to ensure the continued delivery of high-quality services
Investments in infrastructure renewal1.25% dedicated to the renewal of existing city infrastructure. Major capital projects in 2020 include:

  • Revitalization of the Skyway Community Recreation Complex
  • Resurfacing of New Street, between Walkers Line and Burloak Drive
  • Repair and renewal of assets at numerous community centres and pool facilities
  • Minor reconstruction of Canterbury Drive
Investments to address climate change impacts0.82% dedicated to assets and initiatives that support sustainable infrastructure and a resilient environment, including:

  • Four new conventional buses and eight additional drivers, plus a new specialized transit vehicle (Handi-Van) and driver
  • Free transit for children age 12 and under
  • New electric vehicle charging stations at City facilities such as arenas and community centres
  • A new private tree bylaw program
  • Updates to the Urban Forestry Management Plan and a new tree planting initiative
  • Funding to complete a Climate Change Adaptation Plan, support for the Bay Area Climate Change Partnership, and resources to implement the Climate Action Plan
Investments to address risk management and other corporate priorities0.59% dedicated to enhancing customer service and supporting the implementation of Burlington City Council’s four-year work plan, Vision to Focus, including:

  • Enhanced parks and winter maintenance operations, including sidewalk snow removal
  • Four years of the Home Fire Safety program
  • Improvements to cyber security resilience
  • Temporary staffing to operate the newly expanded Joseph Brant Museum
  • Programming at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre that celebrates all cultures

In our budget discussions this year, we grouped Council’s Budget Action Requests (BARs – motions/amendments/staff directions for the budget) into five groups: green initiatives, service enhancements, one-time funding and staff directions (due to time-constraints, Council voted to defer approval of the staff directions to committee in January 2020).

Below are the BARs that Council approved, but if you want to see all of them, please click this link: F-46-19-2 Appendix A 2020 BAR Forms – consolidated.


Ward 4 Councillor Shawna StolteTree ManagementCity-wide Private Tree BylawAdd the proposed city-wide Private Tree Bylaw (Option No. 4)$60,000
Ward 4 Councillor Shawna StolteProvision to CapitalVehicles and Charging StationsAdd funding for 3 electric vehicles and charging stations.$125,000
Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte / Ward 5 Councillor Paul SharmanTree ManagementIncrease Urban Canopy / Tree-planting initiativesIncrease tree-planting program on public and private property supported by a tree initiative$100,000
Mayor Marianne Meed WardConventional TransitFree TransitSupport for free transit for children aged 12 and under$42,250
Ward 5 Councillor Paul SharmanProvision to CapitalHarvester Road SidewalkAdd sidewalk on one side of Century Drive to connect South Service Road by Boehringer Ingelheim to Harvester Road & Appleby GO station conditional to sidewalk warrant$220,000

(one-time funding)

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna StolteProvision to CapitalPedestrian/Cyclist SafetyAdd funding for additional pedestrian crossing safety tools (e.g. Solar Ped “X” Signs)$30,000
Ward 3 Councillor Rory NisanProvision to CapitalLevel 3 Chargers for EVsAdd one level 3 charger to downtown Burlington, using funds originally meant to add several level 2 chargers in downtown$0
Ward 3 Councillor Rory NisanProvision to CapitalEV Charging Stations10 EV charging stations 92 plugs at each station) to be installed at City Community Centres, Arenas and Pools, complemented with a staff report$20,000

(on-going capital funding in the base budget)



(one-time funding)

Ward 3 Councillor Rory NisanEnvironment and EnergyAdditional FTE for Climate Action Plan1 full-time employee to work on the initiatives related to the Climate Action Plan$100,000


Ward 5 Councillor Paul SharmanParks and Open Space MaintenanceCity Parks/Winter Maintenance2 additional staff for hardscaping/softscaping horticultural enhancements and winter maintenance city-wide$160,204



Mayor Marianne Meed WardRoad MaintenanceWinter Sidewalk MaintenanceConversion of temporary staffing to create 2 additional FTE for winter maintenance$160,000
Mayor Marianne Meed WardOffice of the MayorKey to the City ProgramKey to the City program to fund up to 4 keys per year$3,200



Ward 2 Councillor Lisa KearnsArts and CultureSound of Music (festival)One-time funding for Sound of Music to enhance year-round music programs in the community (subject to approval of Municipal Accommodation Tax)$40,907
Ward 4 Councillor Shawna StolteRecreationAudio Induction Loop System for the Seniors’ CentreAdd one-time funding to increase accessibility at the Seniors’ Centre for key demographic (hearing assistance)$30,000


A couple of the staff directions from Council were time-sensitive and needed to be approved before January 2020, they are included below. To view all of Council’s budget-related staff directions, please click this link: F-46-19-2 Appendix B – staff directions.

Staff direction put forward by Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte:

  • Amend the approval of the 2020 budget (F-46-19-2) recommendation from the December 10 and 12, 2019 Committee of the Whole – Budget meeting by adding the following paragraphs to the end of the recommendation:
    • Direct the Executive Director of Strategy, Risk and Accountability to review options and appropriate criteria necessary to create a new Reserve Fund (“Green Fund”) for the purpose of allocating dollars specifically focused on Environmental Initiatives.  This review will also include a tally of all expenditures in the approved 2020 Budget that could be considered as Environmental Initiatives, as a starting point for Councils consideration of allocations to this new Green Reserve Fund. Staff shall report back to the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability Committee by end of Q1 2020 with this information, options and recommendations.

Staff direction put forward by Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns:

  • Amend the approval of the 2020 budget (F-46-19-2) recommendation from the December 10 and 12, 2019 Committee of the Whole – Budget meeting by adding the following paragraph to the end of the recommendation:
    • Direct the Chief Financial Officer to review the current value assessment and taxation changes for the Downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA) properties and consult with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) and the Region of Halton regarding available tax policy initiatives and report back to Council with the results of the review in Q1 2020.

Both of the councillors’ staff direction were unanimously carried by Council.


— Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist.

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