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Motion to add innovation district to downtown, GO stations fails; to council March 19. Adding downtown, uptown, GO stations to Strategic Employment Areas carries

Analysis & Insight – During recent Official Plan meetings I brought forward two motions to strengthen economic development in Burlington.

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.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. I can’t imagine how anyone would vote against innovation! The party line is that having more than one waters down the first one. This is, in my opinion, absurd. Think big, not small! In other words, be innovative. The irony is killing me.

  2. What were the rationales for the vote against establishing innovation districts? This is a fantastic idea. We can capitalize on McMaster, Joseph Brant hospital, Haltech, etc… to build an innovative community that enables new and impactful ideas to be created.

  3. The Ron Joyce centre should have been downtown as this would have been a win – win for the community. Now where it is, it is a lost opportunity

  4. That Ron Joyce centre is in the middle of nowhere. To declare that an “innovation district” is a bad joke.

What's your take?





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