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Waterfront Hotel study proposed to resume, inform any development on the site

Waterfront Hotel Study Area (Blue) Hotel property (Red)
Waterfront Hotel Study Area (Blue) Hotel property (Red)


Work on the Waterfront Hotel Study is going to start again, which will produce site specific development policies, to shape any  future development proposal.

There is already interest in redeveloping the site.

As a result, Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns brought a motion to committee, supported by Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, to ensure the study is completed in time to inform any pending application.

The motion will:

Direct the Director of Community Planning  to complete the Waterfront Hotel Study within the statutory time frame of processing the pending application related to the Waterfront Hotel (2020 Lakeshore Rd) so as to inform the review of any development proposal on this site in accordance with the policies of the Official Plan.

The motion was unanimously approved at the Community Planning Regulation & Mobility Committee Jan. 11, and will go to the Jan. 18 Council for ratification.

Regarding the site, a pre-application community meeting occurred in early September. The pre-application community meeting is a requirement of the City of Burlington, to seek public input prior to submitting a formal application. Applicants are required to demonstrate how that public input was incorporated into the application. Details of the preapplication meeting are available on the city’s Current Development Applications Page – Ward 2 here: Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc. – 2020 Lakeshore Road The status is listed as “Pre-Application: Completed application not yet received.”

The proposal is for a mixed-use development of retail and service commercial uses at grade, offices, a banquet facility and restaurants, a 130-room hotel, and 557 residential apartments. These uses will be within two tall buildings (35 storeys and 30 storeys inclusive of a 5-storey podium).

If a complete application is submitted, the details and accompanying reports and studies will also be posted on the same page, along with all future notices of public meetings and staff reports. Residents can subscribe to the page to receive email alerts whenever new information is submitted.

The Waterfront Hotel Study began in 2017, and culminated in mid-2018 with two emerging concepts and a set of key policy directions to guide the development of a final concept. These key policy directions were organized around the design principles of Land Use and Built Form, Public Realm, and Mobility and Access.

Of note is policy direction #8 which was modified by Council to include the following language in bold text:
8) Enhance the Brant Street view corridor to frame views to the Brant Street Pier, and require a significant building setback from the west property line and define and consider a building setback from the thin red line and maximize the new and enhanced publicly accessible green/open space.

The “thin red line” was a concept developed by community group Plan B to expand views on an angle leading from Brant and Lakeshore toward the lake, creating additional greenspace on the Waterfront Hotel Site next to Spencer Smith Park. See image for a rendering of this proposal.

In mid-2018 the Waterfront Hotel Study was placed on hold due to other priorities in the Community Planning Department such as the New Official Plan process.

A new council was elected in 2018 and had an opportunity to revise the Official Plan endorsed by the previous council. That work, which unfolded over several years, resulted in several changes to planning policies in the downtown that may have a bearing on the Waterfront Hotel Study. These include:

  • Modifications to height permissions on the NorthEast corner of Brant/Lakeshore from the previous Council-endorsed Official Plan of 17 storeys (April 2018), to the new (under appeal) Official Plan (November 2020), which requires height not to exceed three (3) storeys within 20 metres of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road, and eleven (11) storeys adjacent to John Street
    and beyond 20 metres of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road.
  • Shifting the Urban Growth Centre and Major Transit Station Area designations from downtown to the Burlington GO area (Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing decision, November 2021).

With this work recently complete, and given current interest in redeveloping the site, now is the right time to resume and complete the Waterfront Hotel Study.

City staff with support from the project consultant, The Planning Partnership, will resume the workplan where it left off in 2018 to complete the study. The resumption of the study will build upon and advance the previous work and community input to-date to develop a final preferred concept.

The following stages of work are left to be completed in the workplan:

  • Phase 4: Report and Recommendation of Preferred Land Use Concept
  • Phase 5: Official Plan Policies, Zoning and Urban Design Guidelines

The fifth and final phase of the Study includes the development of draft site-specific official plan policies, zoning regulations and urban design and implementation guidelines. This phase will also include a public open house, presentation to Committee and final delivery of the implementing Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment.

Read the Staff Report recommending resumption of the Waterfront Hotel Study on the Agenda of the Jan. 11 Community Planning Regulation & Mobility Committee: Item 5.4 This report will go to the Jan 18 Council for ratification.

  • Update on the status and progress of the study presented to Council at the Planning and Development Committee Meeting (PB-67-17).
  • Key policy directions endorsed by council, and summary of consultation to date (PB-23-18).

MY TAKE: I’m very keen to resume the Waterfront Hotel Study, in light of the recent changes this council has made or advocated for in the downtown, and given current interest to redevelop the site. I encourage residents to get involved in opportunities for public input as the Study unfolds in coming weeks and thank all those who’ve shared your thoughts to date. I’m thankful to work with Councillor Kearns to support the motion to expedite and complete the study to inform the pending application on this site.

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