Think your neighbourhood is protected from intensification? Think again.
The city says:
The vast majority of people in Burlington will not see significant changes to their neighbourhoods. Only five per cent of Burlington will see redevelopment.
Ask Grow Bold web page
Yet, going forward, zoning can’t be used to restrict townhouse developments, apartment walkups and semi-detached development in low-density neighbourhoods if that’s already permitted in the OP. That means these housing forms can go in almost every neighbourhood, on any neighbourhood street, by any house. Only the Roseland and Indian Point neighbourhoods are excluded, limited only to single family housing in these low density areas.
This is not a hypothetical situation. A prime example is the Blue Water/Avondale townhouse application in a low density area of single family homes south of Lakeshore, east of Walkers Line. The existing Official Plan allowed townhouses, but the Zoning didn’t. Now we’re being told Zoning “can’t conflict” with the OP – you can’t introduce further restrictions on height, density or built form at the Zoning stage, if already permitted in the Official Plan.
The developer assembled two lots, and under a revised plan is seeking to build 21 three-storey town houses, and seven two-storey townhouses. The density on the initial proposal was 24 units per hectare, just under the OP limit of 25. A rezoning was required to allow town houses; but under the new implementation, zoning can’t conflict or be more restrictive with the Official Plan built form permissions.
The developer has filed an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
No question, we need different kinds of housing to suit different needs; we’ve likely all lived in one of these at some time or another.
The key issue with planning is location: what goes where. These are medium density housing types that should go in areas with those designations – which are usually at the edges of low density neighbourhoods and/or on major road networks that can handle the extra density.
These medium density housing types shouldn’t be in low density neighbourhoods for a number of reasons, chief among them is loss of greenspace. Houses have a maximum lot coverage of 25% – towns/semis don’t – they are instead measured by setbacks. The end result is roughly 75% lot coverage, loss of greenspace and trees in established neighbourhoods – increasing risk of flooding because there’s less natural area for absorption. This is one of the reasons I suggested holding off putting semis in the OP low density areas until we have lot coverage and setbacks sorted out at the zoning stage. That initially passed at committee, then failed on reconsideration vote.
The other key issue is that we’ve been told that only “5%” of Burlington will change. That’s not the case if semis/towns/apartment walkups are permitted in low density neighbourhoods, without the ability to restrict this built form at the zoning stage, because zoning “can’t conflict” with the OP, we are being told.
This changes everything and means intensification is permitted everywhere, including established neighbourhoods. Our infrastructure isn’t set up for this, much less community amenities like parks, community centres and the like.
We need to be more thoughtful where growth should occur; let’s put growth in its proper place.