Residents have surely noticed development activity approved by the previous Burlington City Council is still taking place in Downtown Burlington. Here’s why.
The development projects for the downtown towers that are currently moving forward followed legal due process and public notification. They were voted on by a duly-elected council. You may disagree with the votes (as I do) but they were conducted properly according to legal rules in place. As a result of this, there is nothing that can or should be investigated.
The decisions have all been thoroughly documented on my website here in past posts, on a project-by-project basis, including who voted which way. Votes were typically 5-2 or 6-1, with me and sometimes one other councillor or the former mayor voting against. The exception is Bridgewater (on the south side of Lakeshore between Elizabeth and Maria streets), which was approved in 1993 — well before my time on council.
The more recent decisions — within the last two terms of council — are also available on the City of Burlington’s website on a per project basis, and on the calendar of meetings for council, with recorded votes as to who voted which way on each project.
All of this information is on the public record and has been for over a year.
For projects that were approved by the Ontario Municipal Board/Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, the decisions will contain the name of the individual adjudicator who made the ruling.
Where there are new applications coming, your current council can affect change. However, we have no legal remedy to undo previous decisions/approvals or put a stop to current construction.
What Your Council Can Do and Has Done
During the last municipal election, you as residents of this City voted in change and mandated a new council take back control of the development in our downtown and across the City. We have taken that responsibility to heart.
Since inauguration, this Council has been focused on resetting our Official Plan to more accurately reflect your voice and focused on new applications submitted that we can influence.
While our City’s downtown and the area around the Burlington GO Station are still under an Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL), new applications have still been processed up to the Statutory Public Meeting phase until the ICBL expires in March 2020. Applications in the catchment area that were processed before the ICBL was enacted, but hadn’t yet submitted a site plan, were also paused.
The decisions on these applications will come after the ICBL is lifted and we have new policies in place. Those applications will then be evaluated in light of the new policies and staff will come back with their recommendation.
It is important to reiterate that we have met our growth targets in the City. We are 10-12 years ahead – we are at roughly 174 people and/or jobs per hectare. We don’t need to overdo it in density.
At a Committee of the Whole Workshop on Sept. 12, Council received a growth analysis report that showed the City of Burlington has reached our population growth forecasts to 2031 already, largely due to the increased number of people living in each home. This has an impact on infrastructure capacity.
It is also important to highlight that there is misinformation out there that our Official Plan (OP) hasn’t been updated since the late 90s – that is simply incorrect. Our current OP was updated in 2008, post Places to Grow and provincial intensification targets. We have an updated plan and we’re on track to meet our provincial policy statement targets. We have a good plan in our downtown and this is more than double what is in our really good plan.