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Mayor’s Mailbag – March 2022 Roundup – Private Tree Bylaw, Masks, & Accessible Parking in Older Buildings

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward Mailbag

Welcome to the Mayor’s Mailbag – March 2022 roundup.

The Mayor’s Monday Mailbag is a 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 mayor@burlington.ca 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 – March 2022 Roundup

PRIVATE TREE BYLAW UPDATE

QUESTION:

“What is happening with the City of Burlington’s Private Tree Bylaw — is there any update on changes being made to it?”

ANSWER:

UPDATE MARCH 25, 2022: Burlington City Council voted unanimously to approved recommendations from committee to update the Private Tree Bylaw — please click the link for more details. 

At the Environment, Infrastructure & Community Services (EICS) Committee meeting of March 3, 2022, Council members received an update report and presentation from staff on the City of Burlington’s Private Tree Bylaw and the recommended changes the forestry department is proposing.

Committee members approved the recommendations in the report, as well as additional staff directions from Counc. Paul Sharman, that will all go for ratification by Council at their March 22 meeting. If approved by Council, staff will then return with a Proposed Private Tree Bylaw Recommendation Report in the April committee cycling and if everything is approved there, it is expected the new updated bylaw will go into effect after April 19.

For more details about the recommended changes and staff directions committee carried, and next steps, please see further down this post.

Click the links below to view the:

RECOMMENDATIONS & NEXT STEPS:

  • Approve the recommended changes to the City’s existing Private Tree Bylaw;
  • Prepare updated Bylaw to replace existing for approval in April 2022;
  • Prepare revised Rates & Fees Bylaw Schedule A ‘Tree Management’ for approval in April 2022;
  • Direct the Director of Roads, Parks & Forestry to provide a total budget effect analysis for either Option 1 or Option 3 Proposed Fee Structure by April 1, 2022 (staff direction from Counc. Sharman approved at EICS Committee – March 3);
  • Direct the Director of Roads, Parks & Forestry to report back by April 1, 2022 on the feasibility of including wording in the Private Tree Bylaw that would require tree replacement on a 1-for-1 ratio, provided by the City of Burlington, when a dead, dying or diseased tree is removed (staff direction from Counc. Sharman approved at EICS Committee – March 3); and
  • Report back after one year to update on process improvements and summarize findings.

PROPOSED CHANGES IN PRIVATE TREE BYLAW UPDATE:

What’s Improved in the Process?

  • Introduction of consolidated pool permit application & tree declaration form
  • Improvements to online application form, including integration with City’s software
  • Updates to City information webpages
  • Introduction of a homeowner’s reference guide to understand working around trees

What’s Changed in the Bylaw?

  1. Removal of protection of trees between not more than five (5) with a diameter-at-breast-height (DBH) of greater than 10cm and less than 20cm in one calendar year;
  2. Removal of the exemption from permit fees and compensation for those trees within two (2) m from an occupied building; This is recommended to be removed given that for the most part no actual maintenance activities were being performed and this resulted in a number of healthy trees being removed with no fees or compensation.
  3. Introduction of an exemption from tree permit fees where trees need to be injured and/or destroyed to allow for certain structural and maintenance type work with the support of prescribed documentation.
  4. A requirement that replacement plantings be maintained in good condition for a given period.
  5. Requiring a replacement tree deposit; This will help reduce resource time following up with customers on replacement tree plantings, and also ensure trees that are removed are replaced, particularly in the event a property is sold prior to the one-year planting time frame provided.
  6. Providing ability to plant trees on alternate private property within the City’s Urban Planning Area Boundary;
  7. Identification of a review process in relation to tree permit denials;
  8. Adding a provision under the authority for permit refusal for significant and healthy trees;
  9. Introduction of administrative monetary penalties (AMPs); this will allow a more efficient process for penalties related to Tree By-law infractions and result in reduced reliance on charges applied through the Court system.
  10. Introduction of a mandatory posting of tree permits, with additional requirements for significant trees.

•                    •                    •

MASKS IN HALTON & BURLINGTON

QUESTION:

“Now that the Province has announced it will be lifting its mask mandate in most settings, what are the rules for the Region of Halton and City of Burlington?”

ANSWER:

UPDATE MARCH 25, 2022: Burlington City Council voted to lift its mask and physical distancing bylaws and emergency declaration, and Halton Regional Council voted to lift its mask bylaw — please click the respective links for more details.

On March 9, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health (MOH) Dr. Kieran Moore announced that on March 21, Ontario will remove the mandatory masking requirement for most settings (including in schools, restaurants and stores), with the exception of select settings, such as public transit, health care settings, long-term care homes and congregate care settings.

A high-level summary of Dr. Moore’s statement is at the bottom of this post.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BURLINGTON?

The City of Burlington’s mask bylaw is set to expire automatically on June 30, 2022 or within 5 days after the Province lifts its mask mandate, unless Council votes to revoke it sooner or extend it. Even after the Province lifts its mask mandate on March 21 in most settings, there is still this mask bylaw, as well as the Regional mask bylaw, that need to be addressed (more on the Region’s bylaw further down this post). The City is discussing its mask bylaw (and its physical distancing bylaw and State of Emergency declaration) on March 22 and the Region is discussing its mask bylaw and State of Emergency declaration on March 23.

WHY WAIT UNTIL MARCH 22?

Many have voiced concerns with lifting the mask bylaw too early, many others are also wanting the mask bylaw to be lifted sooner. Burlington City Council and the City of Burlington Emergency Control Group value the extra week and a half from when the Province announced the removal of its mask mandates in most settings, to see where the health indicators are, especially after the March Break, before making a final decision.

WHAT DOES BURLINGTON’S MASK BYLAW COVER?

Burlington’s mask bylaw requires the wearing of masks or other face coverings within enclosed spaces open to the public, including:

  • City Hall and City facilities open to the public;
  • Burlington Transit;
  • Public areas of offices, retail outlets and malls; and
  • Inside common areas of apartment and condominium buildings.

WHY ISN’T THE CITY DOING ANYTHING ABOUT MASKS IN SCHOOLS?

There has been a lot of concern voiced around masking in schools. The City’s mask bylaw does not apply to schools, hospitals, or long-term care settings as they determine their own masking policies.

The Province has oversight on schools and any concerns about masking should also be directed to your local MPP, the school boards, Ministry of Education and the local Medical Officer of Health (MOH).

CAN’T SCHOOL BOARDS IMPOSE THEIR OWN MASKING POLICY?

No — as schools fall under the umbrella of the Province, concerned community members should speak with their local school boards and MPP, and the Ministry of Education. A local MOH can issue a Sect. 22 Order to mandate masking in schools.

CITY COUNCIL MEETING MARCH 22

Burlington City Council will be discussing its mask bylaw at our next regularly scheduled Council meeting on March 22. This will allow us to choose whether or not to lift our bylaw sooner than the five day built in expiry after the province makes a decision. At the same time, Council will also be discussing whether to lift the City’s physical distancing bylaw that is set to expire June 30, 2022, unless extended or lifted sooner.

Council will also be discussing whether to lift the City’s State of Emergency declaration. Burlington has been under a State of Emergency since March 21, 2020.

You can delegate to City Council and share your views on the mask bylaw, physical distancing bylaw and State of Emergency by emailing city@burlington.ca or visiting burlington.ca/delegate

HALTON REGION MASK BYLAW & STATE OF EMERGENCY

The Region of Halton also has a mask bylaw covering all four municipalities. It is set to expire April 30, 2022, unless extended or revoked sooner. As well, the Region is under a State of Emergency.

Halton Regional Council’s next meeting is March 23, and they will be discussing whether or not to lift the mask bylaw and the State of Emergency. All members of Burlington City Council sit on Regional Council.

You can also register to speak at Regional Council here: https://www.halton.ca/The-Region/Regional-Council-and-Committees/Guide-for-Delegates-to-Regional-Council

SUMMARY OF DR. MOORE’S STATEMENT:

  • Masks will still be required on public transit on March 21 until April 27
  • The Province will maintain a “robust surveillance strategy.”
  • To determine if masking would need to be reinstated the Province will use testing data, their surveillance information as well as the burden on the hospital system
  • He doesn’t expect any significant rebounds once the masking mandate has been lifted.
  • A robust education strategy about when to wear a mask is required. He said this would be done by local public health units. “We must remain considerate and kind to those who chose to wear a mask.”
  • Dr. Moore was asked if he would continue to wear a mask in public. He said he won’t when he was outdoors, but that he would in a shopping mall or busy box store.
  • He encouraged people to conduct their own individual risk assessment
  • “We are moving from a mandate on masking to a choice.”
  • “The risk is now less. Can’t mandate masking forever. People have the right now not to wear a mask in public. We need to learn to live with this virus.”

•                    •                    •

ACCESSIBLE PARKING IN OLDER BUILDINGS

QUESTION:

“According to City of Burlington bylaws, older buildings that were approved before 1994 don’t have to have specific parking spaces allocated for residents with walking concerns and who have accessibility permits – can the City do anything to remedy this?”

ANSWER:

Accessible parking in the City of Burlington was introduced to the Zoning Bylaw in 1994 under By-law 4000-837 that was enacted on Nov. 28, 1994. Zoning didn’t regulate accessible parking before this.

According to Provincial legislation, updates to the Zoning Bylaw cannot be applied retroactively to a property.

If a development application is received for an addition to a building that predates the 1994 Zoning requirement for accessible parking, the City would only be able to calculate required accessible parking based on the number of new parking spaces that the proposed new addition to the building requires.

The City encourages property owners to update their sites to current Zoning standards for accessible parking, but we cannot compel them to do it outside of a development application.

If someone wants to convert two existing parking spaces to a single accessible space, they would be reducing overall parking in the City and that could conflict with the minimum required by the Zoning Bylaw. They would need to ensure there is a surplus amount of parking spaces on site before doing that.

The Zoning Bylaw is not fully up-to-date with Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements and this will be looked at through the City’s upcoming comprehensive review of the Zoning Bylaw.

In December 2021, Ontario’s Minister for Seniors and Accessibility established the Design of Public Spaces Standards Development Committee to undertake a review of the Province’s accessible built environment standards in regulation under both the AODA and the barrier-free accessibility requirements in the Ontario Building Code. The committee is expected to begin work in early 2022 and continue into 2023. The proposed recommendations will be posted for public review and comment.

Additionally, in February 2022, Rich Donovan — a global expert in business development issues involving disability and accessibility — was appointed by the Province to lead the fourth legislative review of the AODA. The review will focus on potential changes to improve the AODA and how to support better compliance and enforcement.  The public will be invited to provide feedback prior to its completion by June 30, 2023.

More information can be found at Accessibility: legislative reviews, committees and councils.

For more on the City’s parking regulations, click here: https://www.burlington.ca/en/zoning/part_1_2_general_provisions.asp — go to Section 2.26 for the applicable regulations related to parking space size and accessibility.

•                    •                    •

RELATED LINKS:

*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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Phone: 905-335-7607
Email:  mayor@burlington.ca

Media Specialist: John Bkila
john.bkila@burlington.ca
905-335-7600