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Burlington Mayor Meed Ward Sends Letter to Burlington MPP Jane McKenna on Next Step Updates for MTSA/UGC Designations

Burlington Development & Urban Growth Centre

*Please see below a letter sent by Mayor Meed Ward on Oct. 28, 2020 to Burlington MPP Jane McKenna regarding an update on current/next steps related to work being done in Burlington and with Halton Region on the Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) and Urban Growth Centre (UGC) designations.

MPP Jane McKenna
472 Brock Avenue, Suite 104
Burlington, ON

Good afternoon MPP McKenna,

I wanted to touch base to ensure you are fully engaged and looped-in on where we stand regarding Burlington’s Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) designation downtown, the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) designation downtown, and the city’s new Official Plan. There are many moving parts in this process, so please always feel free to reach out to my office if you have any questions along the way.

PHASE ONE: ICBL/Studies/Removal of MTSA:

In March of 2019 we implemented the Interim Control By-Law downtown and around the Burlington GO station. That freeze in development to give us time to review the role and function of an MTSA at both locations. We completed our work on the ICBL within the one-year time frame, although the freeze remains due to 31 appeals. The matter is now at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, awaiting a hearing date.

The results of that work showed that the downtown does not and can’t reasonably function as an MTSA. At the conclusion of the ICBL study and based on its results, our staff recommended removing it entirely from the downtown location. Council unanimously supported that recommendation in August.

Upon consultation with our Regional colleagues, it was determined the most appropriate process for removing the MTSA was through the Region’s Municipal Comprehensive Review, which is currently underway.

We have greatly appreciated your support in removing the MTSA.

PHASE TWO: Official Plan/UGC:

We also simultaneously initiated a review of the adopted 2018 Official Plan policies for the downtown. That resulted in staff recommended changes and additional modifications that were endorsed by council in October and sent to the Region for approval.

The many studies done as part of that Official Plan review support consideration of a change to the UGC. As a resulting that work, staff recommended shifting the UCG boundary. That was also unanimously approved by Burlington City Council. As with the MTSA, the most appropriate forum to consider those changes is through the Region’s MCR process, currently underway.

As part of the MCR, Regional staff issued a discussion paper outlining the planning rationale for removing the MTSA and shifting the UGC boundaries to more closely align with the Burlington GO station boundaries. That rational is briefly summarized below and the discussion paper is currently out for public comment until December 22nd – you can read it here as item 4 on the Planning & Public Works Agenda.

Regional staff will bring a recommendation to Regional Council in the new year. Regional staff will also present the discussion paper formally to Burlington City Council at the Community Planning Regulation and Mobility Committee meeting of November 10th which will allow additional opportunity for comment from members of the community.

Some of the key points in the discussion paper in support of changing the UGC boundaries are as follows:

  • This step aligns with the intent of the Growth Plan, the Province’s investment in transit infrastructure, and would promote City and Regional policy objectives to put growth where there is significant regional transit.
  • Going forward growth is expected to be focused around higher order transit – our 3 Go Stations in Burlington running alongside the highway.
  • As part of the work down for the review of downtown policies, as well as the MTSA study, there have been multiple analysis showing that we are on track to exceed our UCG densities well before 2031.
  • The downtown UGC represents the past; it has done it’s work to revitalize the area and attract municipal investment. But an adjusted UGC boundary around the GO station represents the future.
  • Adjusting the UGC boundary to lands in proximity to the Burlington GO Station will enable sustainable and transit-oriented growth for future generations.

As you can see from the timeline on the slide included below, we are almost through our process and excited to see a new Official Plan approved soon by Halton Region, and lifting the ICBL once developer appeals are dealt with.

An adjusted UGC boundary would not require an amendment to Schedule 4 of A Place to Grow. In accordance with policy of the Growth Plan, the Minister has the authority to update the size and location of UGCs.

By way of the Region’s MCR, adjusting the boundary of the UGC around the Burlington Go Station would not require an amendment to the Growth Plan, only an update to the map of the UGC in the document titled “Size and Location of Urban Growth Centres in the Greater Golden Horseshoe” (2008).

Once the boundaries of the adjusted UGC and the GO Station MTSAs have been defined, it would provide further guidance to inform the re-initiation of local implementation work such as the areaspecific planning processes for the MTSAs equipped with new guidance from the Region. The City would then be in position to implement its vision for intensification while providing clarity in our expectations for growth within a new land use planning time horizon.

We trust we can count on your continued support through this process and are grateful for the support you and your government have provided to date.

If you have any further questions about the process we are taking and why, or the rationale for the changes, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
City of Burlington

Cc: Oakville North-Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos
Milton MPP Parm Gill
Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr
Curt Benson, Director of Planning Services and Chief Planning Official, Region of Halton
Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility, City of Burlington


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

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