Ontario Land Tribunal Overturns Burlington Planning Decisions

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What is happening to cities in Ontario is a complete travesty. They are helplessly fed up when a lone bureaucrat ignores official advice and plans. Why bother electing councils if Queen’s Park ignores them? Interestingly, PC candidates were absent from local election debates.

Reading a 43-page endorsement by Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) Hearings Officer Hugh Wilkins left me livid. Again, another large condo, well over the height and density limits – 27 floors with a six-story podium (read “wall”) and reduced parking. He found it compatible with other developments, such as the 26-story Adi building and the 29 Carriage Gate approval next door. These have not been approved by the board. All were imposed by courts! (Full disclosure – I live nearby.)

And I’m angry that Burlington is putting out press releases about wellness stories, when what residents want to know is what will affect our neighborhoods. The city lets the citizens discover themselves, unless it is good communication.

This 310 unit condo, with 770 square meters of retail has 316 parking spaces. Total! But buses are convenient and there are 179 bicycle parking spaces. Maybe golfers can get to golf courses by bus or bike?

There is a 1,030 square meter private publicly accessible open space (POPS). The project extends from Martha in the west, between Lakeshore and Old Lakeshore roads, to a short distance from their intersection in the east (with another application in between at the OLT). The POPS is on the Martha Street side.

On May 17, the council approved the purchase of Bateman High School – cost and renovation costs unknown. It also included a hokey online consultation process through June 13, which residents polled.

Now there will be a meeting where citizens could get answers. And there’s a controversial land swap between Bateman and Central High schools that hasn’t been disclosed before. A mess!

Com. Shawna Stolte often asked when the public would be involved, eventually thinking out loud that the bill would likely cost $50 million – a serious misstep. His colleagues Kelvin Galbraith and Rory Nisan asked the city’s integrity commissioner to review his actions. He discovered that she had breached the council’s code and she was fined. Stolte is one of our brightest lights, but now I don’t know if she will seek re-election. It would be our loss.

That a legal consultant’s report concluded that council was not abusing its privilege to meet in camera, Mayor Marianne Meed Ward was quick to point out. But he also pointed out that council approves its own code of conduct and that the Municipalities Act requires a general description of the reason for a closed session. She and Lisa Kearns had been looking for reasons made public, which Burlington has now begun to list.

A looming issue is the future of the 219-berth LaSalle Park marina. It will struggle to open and operate this year. His insurer will no longer insure him and a crane operator’s strike prevents him from lifting the boats from the quay into the water. The city is studying how to help. Should he?

The club, mainly run by volunteers, has entered into a joint venture agreement with the city. It paid its way, though the city tapped into the hydro reserve for $4,000 to help with a new wave float in 2018. In fact, Hamilton owns LaSalle Park and leases it long-term to Burlington, which makes all maintenance and capital improvements — a good deal for both. The lease expires on December 31.

Burlington is a waterfront community, so a marina is an asset. Should it be taxpayer funded?

A boater told me that the reason LaSalle has suffered storm damage to boats is because the winds off the lake are too strong in that area. Are they?

Some councilors argue that arenas and soccer fields don’t pay, so why should a marina? You could say that riders enjoy equestrian events, so should we fund equestrian venues? Difficult questions.

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