Welcome to the Mayor’s Mailbag – June 2021 roundup.
The Mayor’s Monday Mailbag is a new weekly initiative Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and the Mayor’s Office has launched to share answers to questions from the public we’ve received through our main email inbox at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Mayor’s social media platforms.
At the end of the month, we publish a roundup of those most pressing questions we’ve received in the weeks prior.
Mayor’s Mailbag – June 2021 Roundup
- City accepting new development applications
- Halton’s vaccine supply/booking earlier appointments
- Smelly gunk on Beachway shoreline
City accepting new development applications
“Why is the City of Burlington even considering some of these new development applications that are coming in?”
When the City of Burlington receives an application for a new development, we are legally bound to process any development applications and provide the developer with a decision on the application within 120 days of the application being deemed complete.
All of these applications are assigned a planner who reviews the documents and feedback from residents and presents a recommendation to committee and Council on how the application should proceed — that recommendation can either be denying the application, approving it, or approving it with certain conditions.
Should the City fail to provide a decision to the developer within the 120 day time frame, the developer has the right to approach the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), previously known as the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT), to request them to make a decision on whether or not they are allowed to proceed with their plans.
On June 1, 2021, the LPAT was amalgamated into the OLT — an independent tribunal whose members are appointed by the cabinet of Ontario to hear cases in relation to a range of municipal planning, financial and land matters. These include matters such as official plans, zoning bylaws, subdivision plans, consents and minor variances, and other issues assigned by numerous Ontario statutes.
When this happens, it will not only cost the City money by means of legal fees and representation at the OLT, but it also takes the decision-making process away from the City and City Council – in other words, projects that are not acceptable to our residents and City planning officials could go ahead and our residents would be very limited in their ability to provide input on how their neighborhoods are structured.
It is the City’s obligation to its residents to ensure we are able to provide them with opportunity to be a part of the planning process for the neighborhoods. Planning affects all of us as it determines where we live, work, play and raise a family, and that is why the City encourages residents to get involved in this process.
If a member of the public believes that a planning decision should be re-examined, they can appeal the decision to the OLT. The OLT has the authority to refer a decision back to Council for reconsideration. If a subsequent appeal of the second Council decision is made, then the OLT has the authority to approve, change or refuse the application and override the decision made by the municipal Council.
There are currently 10 major development applications at the OLT, 4 appeals of Committee of Adjustment decisions, as well as 31 appeals of our changes to our Official related to GO station policies, and 44 appeals to our new Official Plan.
The Mayor doesn’t provide a position on a development application until staff review and share their expertise and a recommendation in order to protect the process and residents.
To learn more about the Planning Process, please visit the dedicated Burlington Planning Process page on the City’s website.
Halton’s vaccine supply/booking earlier appointments
“It’s very frustrating that I can’t book an earlier appointment at a Halton regional clinic, but meanwhile I’m hearing there are many more appointments available in Toronto and Peel Region — what’s going on?”
The Province of Ontario determines vaccine distribution, and they send vaccines to certain areas (such as hot spot areas with higher case numbers) and based on demographics within each eligibility category.
Regional Chair Gary Carr has also been advocating to the Province, saying Halton clinics are ready for more vaccines — we have the capacity to double the amount of people vaccinated in the clinics if Halton was getting more of the vaccine supply.
Halton Region has a very high uptake in appointments, versus other regions where they may have more vaccine hesitancy. Our appointments at our clinics are extremely booked up, and our pharmacies all have waiting lists, when other places have appointments available.
The best course of action to help with this is to contact your local MP about procuring more vaccines for the country, and your local MPP for equitable supply in Halton Region. Mayor Meed Ward is continuing to advocate for this as well.
Smelly gunk on Beachway shoreline
“I thought the idea of charging for parking at Beachway was to offset the cost of beach maintenance, so why hasn’t the beach shoreline been cleared of the awful smelly gunk that collects there?”
The parking fees introduced at Beachway Park on weekends (Saturdays & Sundays) from May-September are for extra staffing and other measures required to manage the parking lots — and to prevent illegal parking.
City of Burlington staff maintain the beach at Beachway Park and are aware of the sludge that accumulates there from time to time. Staff regularly monitor the area and remove the sludge when it accumulates on the beach, but in the interest of staff safety and due to environmental reasons, we are unable to deal with it while it is still in the water as our equipment is not amphibious, rather land-bound. As soon as it is on the sand, staff collect it with equipment and dry it off for ease of disposal (it is extremely heavy while saturated). The area is monitored on a regular basis to remove it as soon as it is on the sand and possible to do so.
The reality is that this occurs due to the weather and is not something we can schedule maintenance for. It can come and go over night or a storm can come in after the beach was cleared, and completely replace it with new sludge. The heat and wind direction is a contributing factor to the buildup of sediment and algae which occurs naturally and will dissipate on its own.
RELATED: Algae noticed around the Rambo Creek area and in other spots along the lake
We don’t have any in-house expertise at the City of Burlington with respect to algae, but it does appear consistent with algae we have seen in the past – particularly last year near the Royal Botanical Gardens and LaSalle Park. Staff reached out to one of the biologists at Conservation Halton, providing a photo for their interpretation, and they concurred that it is algae.
Due to the low water levels across Lake Ontario and all of our creeks, a lot of algae is visible and Conservation Halton has been getting reports/complaints about it as early as mid-April. Its very likely going to be a big algae year, this year, and we suspect that there will be more reports of it along the shoreline as the summer proceeds. As the hot weather continues on, the algae will actually start to decompose as it sits along the shoreline, and as it does, it will begin to smell like sewage.
- Mayor’s Monday Mailbag — June 28, 2021 — City accepting new development applications
- Mayor’s Monday Mailbag – June 21, 2021 — Booking earlier second dose vaccine appointments
- Mayor’s Monday Mailbag – June 14, 2021 — Smelly gunk on Beachway shoreline
*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist