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Mayor’s Monday Mailbag – June 28, 2021 – Why does the city even consider some development applications?

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward Mailbag

Welcome to the Mayor’s Monday Mailbag, a new initiative Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and the Mayor’s Office has launched to share weekly answers to questions from the public we’ve received through our main email inbox at or the Mayor’s social media platforms.

At the end of the month, we’ll publish a roundup of those most pressing questions we’ve received in the weeks prior.

Mayor’s Monday Mailbag – June 28, 2021


“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.


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

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1 thought on “Mayor’s Monday Mailbag – June 28, 2021 – Why does the city even consider some development applications?”

  1. I’m a huge fan of your values, principles and policies Madame Mayor!!! Frankly the world needs more people like yourself.

    Regarding development applications submitted “prior” to the new Official Plan, there seem to be already-existing legal precedents in terms of height and the overall size of projects that “could” result in the approval of these earlier applications. In other words, “timing” of the original application being submitted will likely be a major factor. Since there are a significant number of applications that will require the involvement of legal counsel — which can get quite expensive and add to taxpayer burden — would it not be prudent to focus the involvement of legal counsel on those cases most likely to be successful? And to be clear I’m not sure if legal counsel are in-house at the City, or if they’re hired under contract, or both.

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Media Specialist: John Bkila