The first motion was to add the downtown, uptown (Appleby & Upper Middle), GO station mobility hubs, and other mixed use intensification areas as separate and distinct Strategic Employment Areas in Section 5 of the Official Plan on economic activity. This was carried at committee and approved at council Feb. 20.
Previously the economic development section of the OP primarily focused on employment lands; I successfully argued that a future-looking economic plan must expand beyond employment lands to consider mixed use areas like the downtown and GO station areas. Our goal must be to bring jobs closer to where people live. Currently no residential housing is permitted in employment land areas and there are also restrictions on retail activities.
The second motion was to designate the downtown and three GO station mobility hubs as “innovation districts” in Section 5 of the Official Plan on economic activity. Currently, only the Ron Joyce Centre/DeGroote School of Business on the South Service Road is designated an innovation district in the OP.
View my powerpoint presentation to committee here: Innovation District Powerpoint
This motion lost at committee and comes to council March 19, where I’ll ask for a recorded vote.
The vote represents a lost opportunity for economic development, especially in the downtown which meets almost all of the criteria for an innovation district, including being in a mixed use urban area close to a hospital. Read earlier article here: Innovation district, strategic employment area proposed for downtown, GO stations
Similarly, the GO station mobility hubs are being planned now; why wouldn’t we want to consider economic innovation districts as part of the plans?
I’m disappointed this motion failed, and particularly that the Burlington Economic Development Corporation spoke against the motion. Read their letter to committee here: Additional Comments, pg 27
We need to be more forward thinking and downtown friendly, and frankly more innovative, in our economic plans for Burlington.