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Statement from Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward Regarding Letter from Minister Steve Clark on Provincial Housing Supply Action Plan

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Here is a statement from me regarding a letter my office received last week from Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark on the provincial government’s Housing Supply Action Plan.


Burlington, Ont. — February 22nd, 2019 — My office recently received a letter from Minister Steve Clark of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding their work on the provincial government’s Housing Supply Action Plan.

Minister Clark outlined their desire “to take swift action to streamline the development approvals system” and “speed up the time it takes to get the right kind of housing built in the right places.” He further explained “land-use planning and development approvals are critical to achieving housing and job-related priorities” in our communities.

I agree with these assertions and am glad to see their continued commitment to expediting these processes. As part of the new Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force that my office has initiated to support local business attraction and growth, I am committed to cutting red tape for development applications that are supported by council and the community.

The Minister’s office continues to consult on proposed changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and review the Planning Act and Provincial Policy Statement as well, with the intention to bring forward legislation and policy changes in the coming months.

While Minister Clark’s letter advises local municipalities to consider pausing on activities that may be impacted, such as Official Plan reviews, I want to reinforce that until we get more specific details from the Province related to the municipal land-use planning process, the City of Burlington will continue to move forward as planned with our review of the Official Plan as per the motion approved by City Council on Feb. 5.

On a related matter, I am disappointed to learn today the province has announced the June 30th closing of the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre (LPASC), a resource that offers support to the public in navigating both land-use planning matters and the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. Public participation, a vital part of democratic community planning, should not be sacrificed in the name of ill-defined or non-existent efficiencies.

The best way to save time and money is to eliminate the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal altogether. The tribunal, like the Ontario Municipal Board it replaced, provides unelected and inefficient involvement in planning matters that are best left to local councils, unnecessarily slowing down the development process. Leaving planning in local municipal hands would not only speed approvals and remove red tape, but also provide more incentives to the development industry to work with municipalities and their residents to plan full communities rather than just build housing.

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6 thoughts on “Statement from Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward Regarding Letter from Minister Steve Clark on Provincial Housing Supply Action Plan”

  1. I think it is extremely important that the review and implementation of the new Official Plan in Burlington go ahead and particular attention be paid to protecting heritage properties. Unfortunately, Burlington’s Urban Growth Centre Area impacts many of Burlington’s heritage properties – especially those properties not currently listed on the Register that can currently be demolished without any prior notice to the City.

  2. There was some optimism that LPAT might be more citizen/council supportive than the old OMB.
    So far local dealings with LPAT and the disbanding LPASC suggest that will not be the case.
    There has to be a way to get city planners, residents and council together with developers to come up with growth solutions that work for our city and its businesses.
    If we can acheive that, LPAT and provincial overreach become redundant.
    Maybe we could sell the idea to a Conservative Gov. On. As a reduction in red tape and bureaucracy.

  3. I agree with the Mayor that eliminating the LPAT would be one of the best ways to streamline the development review and approvals process. Rules and the OP process only impose discipline and streamline things if they are perceived to be enforced with no easy path to scoff at them because there is a way to skirt these rules.

    Experience in Burlington shows that the developers use the existence of LPAT to drag out the applications and approval timeline with out of context demands far beyond the permissions allowed in the City and Provincial approved OP. This is obviously deliberate and demonstrated by pretty much every application.

    In this they push the process to the maximum timeline allowed under the Planning Act, and I get the sense they deliberately create this situation of confrontation rather than collaboration.

    The end result is possibly years in wasted time and cost, as the LPAT is used a court of a second but final process and opinion by unelected appointees to try all over again to get what the developer wants.

    It doesn’t matter what the merits of the developer applications are – they get a free pass to try again outside the democratic inclusion of local Councils and citizens.

    And now we are being told that citizens will no longer be availed of assistance and advice to navigate the LPAT process that will be used to make decisions on development?

    It looks to me like this is the point of the closing of the LPASC office – get rid of those pesky citizens who might have issues with the developers demands.

    This is anything but an efficient, effective and economic way to plan and build communities and housing that actually work.

  4. The words ‘speed up’, ‘streamline, ‘cut red tape’ and ‘expediting processes’ unfortunately in past means lessening public input, environmental protection, smart planning and the community’s economic well-being.
    Beware of these catch-all phrases as they tend to cost us later.

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