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Burlington’s City Building Department piloting changes to its development application process

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City of Burlington’s Department of City Building recently announced it is piloting some changes to our development application process for Official Plan Amendments (OP), Zoning Bylaw Amendments (RZ) and Subdivision (SD) applications in 2019.

The Process:

There are six steps in the development application process for amendments to OP and RZ, and SD applications, which will remain the same — pre-consultation, the Burlington Urban Design (BUD) Panel, formal application submission, neighbourhood meeting, statutory public meeting and recommendation report — but the order in which those steps occur will change (as seen in the below graphic Development Application Process).

The Proposed Change:

For new development applications received in 2019, the Neighbourhood Meeting will take place before the submission of a formal development application is received by the City of Burlington.

Why the Change?

In a memo from city staff to the Mayor’s Office and Council, staff indicated that given the importance of the new timelines under the Bill 139 Planning Act and the new Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT), it was imperative that the City “front ends” a significant amount of discussion with an applicant to help inform the development prior to formal submission. At the same time, staff have found that the presentations provided at the Neighbourhood Meeting and the Statutory Public Meeting often offer the same content, despite sometimes taking place months apart.

The new approach requires the applicant to:

  1. Organize a meeting to share the development concept with the local neighbourhood and receive feedback; and
  2. Acknowledge and address feedback from both the public and the Burlington Urban Design (BUD) Panel prior to submitting a formal development application.

The feedback received will form part of the planning justification report that an applicant submits with their formal development application, city staff have said. And by changing the order in which the steps takes place, an applicant has the opportunity to refine their concept and make changes to their application prior to formally submitting a development application and “starting the clock” on the 150-210 day timeline.

Planning staff are also then able to schedule the Statutory Public Meeting for the development application much earlier on in the process once the formal development application has been received.

In order to make sure there is a consistent approach to these pre-application neighbourhood meetings, Planning staff have prepared applicants’ guidelines for these meetings to ensure that:

  1. The applicant reaches out to the Mayor, Ward Councillor and Planning staff to confirm availability prior to scheduling the meeting;
  2. The applicant consults with the Ward Councillor to discuss their role in the meeting; and
  3. Proper notice is provided to residents, among other matters related to organizing the meeting.


This is great news for Burlington residents as it will increase the opportunities for community engagement and feedback early on in the development application process. By moving the Neighbourhood Meeting earlier in the process and before the submission of formal applications, developers will also get a chance to hear from residents first-hand sooner and have an opportunity to incorporate some of that feedback from residents and the Burlington Urban Design Panel into their plans.

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