BURLINGTON MAYOR PROPOSES AND COUNCIL APPROVES DEVELOPMENT “FREEZE” FOR DOWNTOWN BURLINGTON AND SURROUNDING AREAS

Interim Control Bylaw (PB-36-19) imposes temporary prohibition or limitation on the development of Urban Growth Center and the areas around the Burlington GO station.

 

NO NOTICE

Only hours before it was intended for consideration, a report by staff on behalf of Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward was released, proposing an Interim Control Bylaw (ICB) for “certain lands within a proposed study area”. HHHBA expressed deep concerns with various aspects of this report. 

“We have always tried to work with the City on all of their initiatives that impact city building, and providing affordable housing options for our growing population. However, it seems that yet again the City has chosen to move forward without even officially notifying us regarding something so impactful to new home buyers, businesses and developers who drive economic growth to our City,” said Suzanne Mammel, CEO of the Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association. “This is disappointing to our industry and #homebelievers everywhere.”

 

MORE TAXPAYERS’ MONEY TO BE SPENT ON SIMILAR STUDIES

There is a complete lack of acknowledgement of work done on the Official Plan over the past few years by City Staff, which included studying the Downtown Mobility Hub/ UGC as well as a separate Mobility Hubs Study, all of which was subject to considerable public, ratepayer and government agency input.There was no indication how these results will be used moving forward or if they are just unusable. During that study, scientific rational that was never made available to the public suggested heights and densities that were later further reduced by Council without any rational or foundation. This work paid for by new home buyers and end-users appears to now be dismissed. In addition, today’s staff report suggests that a minimum of another $100K will be spent to restudy the same scope. We can only conclude that either City staff failed to complete a proper study the first time, or because of political will, even more taxpayers’ money will be spent to achieve different results.

 

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

This ICB raises massive concerns about the lack of transparency and potential for other agendas since: 1) there was no notice of this ICB provided to the public, the businesses or developers who may be impacted; 2) this ICB was conveniently rushed at a time when the one remaining councilor who could tie some of the discussions and history from the past two years of work is out of town on a well-known, in advance vacation; 3) the requirements of the UGC and its densities have been known throughout the Official Plan process, and the desire to study land uses and the Downtown Bus Terminal yet again should not produce different results; 4) although the report indicates that this ICB will result in reductions in the fees collected, DCs collected and capital works, the magnitude of these reductions has not been provided, and; 5) this report contradicts 100% the “Red Tape Red Carpet” task force the Mayor launched at the 2019 State of the City Address.  

 

This ICB will have a massive impact to the economic development of the City and the public and Council need to understand that this bylaw freezes all changes to land use. It is unfortunate that Council elected to proceed without taking a step back to fully understand the full impact of taking such a step before it cannot be undone. This is absolute politics taking precedence over good planning.