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Update from the City of Burlington on Minister Clark’s Decision on Downtown Growth

official plan and downtown project

“Burlington’s Council was elected with a clear mandate to stop overdevelopment, and we will continue to do everything within our power to do so. The adjustment of the boundaries of the UGC and the MTSA are a victory for good planning in Burlington. However, implementation issues still remain to be resolved. The Minister’s decision that the policies apply only to new applications presents a greater challenge to achieving our vision for downtown with the applications already in. But we remain undaunted in our efforts to keep advocating for the best planning outcome for our community.  We thank the Minister and our Burlington MPP, Hon. Jane McKenna, for their support on this important work to date, and look forward to their continued support as we seek to achieve the community’s vision for development downtown on all applications before us.” — Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

*Please see below a news release issued by the City of Burlington.

**ADMINISTRATOR’S NOTE: For a list of the 7 development applications impacted by the Minister’s decision, please head to the bottom of this post or click here.

Burlington, Ont. — Nov. 16, 2021 — On Nov. 10, 2021, the City of Burlington received official notification of the boundary adjustment of the City’s Urban Growth Centre (UGC) designation from the Hon. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The Minister also confirmed the removal of the Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) designation in the downtown.

This marks an important step in Burlington’s effort to stop the over-development of its historic downtown. The removal of the MTSA designation and boundary adjustment of the UGC takes effect immediately and applies to all new applications. This will help us control overdevelopment moving forward. However, the Minister chose to grandfather seven applications that were submitted prior to November 10, 2021 from the UGC boundary adjustment and the City is seeking additional clarification on how to proceed.

The changes announced by the Minister were the result of City Council asking the Minister to adjust the UGC boundary and remove the MTSA designation based on Council’s vision for the downtown. As part of the process, the City was required to work with the Region of Halton to make these changes through a Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA). The ROPA process involved extensive work and collaboration between the City and Region and consultation with the public.

The immediate adjustment of the UGC boundary and the removal of the MTSA designation will complement provincial transit investments and contribute to the development of sustainable, transit-oriented complete communities in Burlington. These provincial actions also send a clear signal that the scale and intensity of recent development activity in Burlington’s historic downtown was driven by misuse and reliance on the UGC and MTSA and was not sustainable given on-the-ground realities of physical and social infrastructure.

Five of the seven applications located in Burlington’s downtown are before the Ontario Lands Tribunal and the City will strongly advocate that the tribunal take into account the City’s vision for the downtown and the new changes brought in by the Provincial Government. The City will defend at every opportunity the vision that this Council has set out and worked tirelessly to have included in the Region’s official plan amendment (ROPA 48). We will encourage proponents of those applications to revaluate their projects given the updated provincial policies.

City of Burlington Council and staff will continue to work with the Hon. Jane McKenna, Burlington MPP, and Minister Clark to see that the pace and scale of development in downtown Burlington is appropriate given the wishes of residents and the availability of infrastructure needed to support it.

This progress is the result of City Council and staff working over the last three years to define the vision for the downtown and see it enshrined in local, regional, and provincial planning policy; this work was done by engaging residents and local businesses who provided clear feedback to Council that the downtown is not the place for large-scale development. 

“The Minister’s decision may help reduce the long-term development pressure on existing infrastructure and neighbourhoods. On behalf of our residents, I believe there is good reason for concern about the excessive applications already underway. This decision doesn’t fully support the thoughtful and considered conversations we have had to preserve the character of downtown and welcome responsible growth. I understood us to be working towards the same outcome; should the Minister’s decision fail to address this transition issue, it could result in intense pressure for incompatible change.” — Ward 2 Counc. Lisa Kearns, City of Burlington

Quick Facts:

  • On Aug. 24, 2020, Burlington City Council unanimously approved requesting the Region of Halton through its Municipal Comprehensive Review of the Regional Official Plan (MCR), to adjust the boundary of the Downtown Urban Growth Centre (UGC) to generally align with the lands in proximity to the Burlington GO Station, and to remove the Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) designation from the Downtown.
  • In 2020, the City of Burlington received a joint letter from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Ministry of Transportation stating that the Region of Halton, working together with the City of Burlington, can remove the identification of a mobility hub and the MTSA designation in Downtown Burlington.
  • The Interim Control By-law Land Use Study focused on assessing the role and function of the downtown bus terminal and the Burlington GO station as MTSAs, and scoped re-examination of Official Plan policies that focused on the Downtown.
  • The Mobility Hubs Study started in 2017-2018 and focused on area-specific planning work for the three GO Station areas: the Aldershot GO, Burlington GO and Appleby GO Major Transit Station Areas (MTSAs). At that time, the City gathered feedback through visioning, public engagement and technical studies. From there, precinct plans were drafted for each study area around the Aldershot, Burlington and Appleby GO Stations.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIST OF THE LAND-USE PLANNING APPLICATIONS WITHIN PREVIOUS UGC BOUNDARY

CLICK HERE FOR A MAP OF THE LAND-USE PLANNING APPLICATIONS WITHIN PREVIOUS UGC BOUNDARY

Land Use Planning Applications Within Previous UGC Boundary
Applications Under Appeal to OLT
File No.AddressApplicantApplication StatusProposed DevelopmentProposed Residential UnitsProposed HeightPermitted HeightProposed Height Increase from 2020 New OP
1997 Existing OP2020 New OP
505-04/19 & 520-08/192093, 2097, 2101 Old Lakeshore Rd., 2096, 2100 Lakeshore Rd.Core DevelopmentAppealed to OLTMixed-Use Apartment Building31027 Storeys8 Storeys, 29m in height subject to criteria8 Storeys, 29m in height subject to criteria19 storeys
505-02/20 & 520-03/202107 Old Lakeshore Rd. & 2119 Lakeshore Rd.Old Lakeshore Burlington Inc.Appealed to OLTMixed-Use Apartment Building15027 Storeys8 Storeys, 29m in height subject to criteria8 Storeys, 29m in height subject to criteria19 storeys
505-03/19 & 520-06/192085 Pine St.Pine Street Burlington CorporationAppealed to OLTApartment Building3911 Storeys (40m)4 storeys max. Additional height up to 8 storeys/29m subject to criteria23m with built form transition to adjacent low-rise residential17m (approx. 5 storeys)
505-04/21 & 520-05/21535-551 Brant St.Renimmob Properties LimitedAppealed to OLTMixed-Use Apartment Building24825 Storeys4 storeys max. Additional height up to 8 storeys/29m subject to criteriaMax 3 storeys within 20m of Brant St. to a max of 11 storeys14 storeys
505-01/21 & 520-01/21407 Martha St.2413350 Ontario Inc.Appealed to OLTApartment Building13011 Storeys (40m)No maximum height. Built form limited by maximum 185 units per net hectare22m with built form transition to Martha Street & to Centennial Pathway18m (approx. 5 storeys)
Total877101
Applications in Process
File No.AddressApplicantApplication StatusProposed DevelopmentProposed Residential UnitsProposed HeightPermitted HeightProposed Height Increase from 2020 New OP
1997 Existing OP2020 New OP
505-02/19 & 520-03/19441 Maple Ave.Better Life Retirement ResidenceOPA & ZBA Under reviewApartment Building15311 StoreysNo maximum height. Built form limited by maximum 185 units per net hectareMax. height determined by criteriaTo Be Determined
Total15311
Applications Not Deemed Complete
File No.AddressApplicantApplication StatusProposed DevelopmentProposed Residential UnitsProposed HeightPermitted HeightProposed Height Increase from 2020 New OP
1997 Existing OP2020 New OP
N/A2020 Lakeshore Rd.Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc.Application Not Yet Deemed CompleteMixed-Used Apartment Building & 130-unit hotel5572 buildings (35 & 30 storeys)Max. built form for new development contingent upon the completion of a master plan to the satisfaction of City CouncilMax. built form for new development contingent upon the completion of a master plan to the satisfaction of City CouncilTo Be Determined
Total55765

Links and Resources:

*Posted 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