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Burlington Council Approves Amendments to Parkland Dedication Bylaw & Cap Rates Adjustment

Council Approved - Parkland Dedication Bylaw Changes - TW

Burlington City Council approved, through a 4-3 majority vote at our July 12 meeting, the staff-recommended amendments to our Parkland Dedication Bylaw and adjustments to the cap rates.

Land prices have increased significantly over the past 17 years. The staff-recommended changes to the bylaw should be implemented to replace what is currently in effect, as the City has to purchase land for parks and other recreational uses at values much higher than what was anticipated in 2005.

The City’s and Council-approved amendment to the residential parkland dedication bylaw will be revisited by staff when the Park Provisioning Master Plan (September 2022) and the Parks Recreation and Cultural Master Plan (December 2023) are completed.


The analysis from our independent consultant made it very clear we aren’t collecting anywhere near enough to provide for the parks our community needs, especially in light of the significant population growth we have experienced, and continue to face. This is an interim step — we could be collecting double what we are and we should be.

I was willing to support a deferral of this item until September 2022 if doing so didn’t mean we would be losing substantial amounts of money between now and then — if applicants rushed to get their permits in before the new bylaw was in place. When staff advised us that we could potentially be forgoing $8 million in revenue by waiting, it became clear that the most fiscally-responsible decision was to implement the bylaw now — especially given we have only $2 million in our Parkland Dedication Reserve Fund right now, to acquire parkland and amenities.

By adjusting these rates now, we protect residents from the potential of a significant tax hit; if we were to try and raise this money through property taxes, it would translate to a 6% or 7% tax increase on the taxpayer. The development community under Provincial legislation is required to contribute to community needs when they are growth-related. This is one step toward ensuring growth pays towards growth.

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The purpose of this report is to respond to both legislative changes resulting from Bill 197, Covid-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 and the City’s outdated caps on the Alternative Rate. The City’s Parkland Dedication bylaws (bylaw 57-2005; and bylaw 147-1993) provide the residential and non-residential policies respectively. As a result of the amendments to the legislation, municipalities that impose what is know as the “Alternative Requirement” in the Planning Act have to have it updated by Sept. 18, 2022.

Since the City’s existing residential bylaw (57-2005) applies the alternate rate requirement, an update is required before the noted date or the bylaw will be deemed expired. The scope of this amendment to the Planning Act does not require an update to the non-residential by-law 147-1993.

Additionally, an update to Bylaw 57-2005 ensures Burlington’s park system expands to match the community’s growing need through the transfer of land for parks and/or the funding for future parks and park infrastructure.

Our local parks play a vital role in the social, economic, physical and mental well-being of our community members. They are critical infrastructure to a healthy city and now recognized as powerful tools for local economies, climate mitigation and the preservation and conservation of plant and wildlife.

As Burlington continues to grow, so does the pressure on the city parks. If our city does not continue to expand the parks system, there will be a deficiency in parkland as the existing number of parks cannot support the increased growth anticipated in the community.

The City of Burlington has retained Watson & Associates Economists Ltd. (Watson & Associates) to provide professional financial advice, legislation interpretation, guidance and support for the amendment to the City’s residential park dedication bylaw through the Parkland Dedication Bylaw Review, Background Report, attached as Appendix A.

Click here for the staff report and supporting documents:

Here is the full motion we passed at the July 12 Council meeting by a 4-3 majority:

Receive and file Appendix A to engineering services department report ES-06-22, Parkland Dedication Bylaw review, background report; and

Approve amendments to Residential Parkland Dedication Bylaw 57-2005 attached as Appendix B to engineering services department report ES-06-22

What is Parkland Dedication?

The Planning Act allows municipalities to require land for park (or other public recreational purpose) to be given to the city as part of the approval of a development application. The contribution can come in the form of land conveyance (for a future park) or payment in lieu of land (which the city uses to purchase land for parks and other recreational facilities). Parkland Dedication policies are the tool that Burlington uses to acquire land and/or provide funding for new parks and recreational facilities as the city continues to grow.

The Planning Act (the Act) is provincial legislation that sets out the ground rules for land use planning in Ontario. It describes how land uses may be controlled and who may control them.

Section 42 of the Planning Act allows Burlington to address growth by requiring all new development to contribute to the expansion and enhancement of the City’s parks system.

What is the Parkland Dedication Bylaw?

The Official Plan, required by the Planning Act, describes the City’s Park System and sets out the Parkland Dedication policies for the city. Section 42 of the Planning Act requires the city to have a Parkland Dedication Bylaw in order to require parkland dedication as a condition for some types of development or redevelopment in the city.

This bylaw is applied when an applicant submits a building permit and the proposed form of development is applicable under the bylaw. The City’s Official Plan, and existing Parks Plan (2009) provide the necessary precursors for the city to update the residential by-law with the alternative rate requirement.

The City’s new Official Plan (OP) was adopted by City Council in April 2018 and approved by the Region of Halton on November 2020, with modifications. Currently, the new OP is under appeal at the Ontario Land Tribunal. However, since those policies are under appeal, the existing OP remains in effect. As such, the relevant policies under the existing OP concerning parkland dedication are provided for indicating intent of the city to impose the alternative requirement. These policies are also supported by the City’s 2009 Parks, Recreation and Cultural Assets Master Plan.

Parkland Dedication is one method the city uses to acquire new parkland. Relying only on parkland dedication through approval of development applications is not enough to achieve the parkland targets outlined in the City’s Official Plan because of the maximum limit for dedication set by the Planning Act.

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1 thought on “Burlington Council Approves Amendments to Parkland Dedication Bylaw & Cap Rates Adjustment”

  1. Excellent.
    We at Citizens’ PLAN B were made aware some time ago of the requirement to update Burlington’s Parkland Dedication Bylaw by September 18th, and are very pleased that this has already been accomplished.
    It will undoubtedly fare heavily in the Waterfront Hotel redevelopment appeal now at the OLT.
    Thank you, Don

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