A four-day Ontario Municipal Board hearing of the 58-townhome project by Branthaven on Ghent Ave has wrapped up after one day of testimony. Both the rezoning, to permit the townhomes, and the site plan of the project, are in front of the board for a decision. Residents had requested a number of conditions be put on site plan approval, covering groundwater monitoring, construction staging and landscaping. I brought a motion covering several of these items to committee and council, which was approved. A decision on both the rezoning issue and the site plan is expected within 4-8 weeks.
The cost of upgrading and burying hydro wires for new development projects in the downtown continues to be a work in progress. The city’s current policy is for developers to pay 100% of the costs, although that policy is under review at the request of developers.
As part of the approval of the 6-8-story office/medical, 6-8 storey parking garage and 17 storey condo complex at Caroline/John/Elizabeth/Maria, Carriage Gate agreed to upgrade the hydro capacity and bury the hydro wires. These agreements will be captured in a zoning condition, to be signed by the end of the year.
City staff have reviewed and support (with modifications) several conditions requested by residents on the site plan for the Branthaven townhome project on Ghent related to groundwater monitoring, construction staging and border vegetation. With council’s approval, staff would bring these conditions to the Ontario Municipal Board hearing Nov. 26. The OMB will ultimately decide on the project, including site plan.
Based on the feedback at a neighbourhood meeting June 5, Habitat for Humanity has created two design options for a proposed townhouse development at Glendor & Plains Rd East. One option includes 14 back-to-back townhouses. The other includes standard townhouses (3-storey) with backyards, and a single storey accessible unit at one end.
My Take: There are a variety of views in the community on this project. At the first meeting, residents supported townhouses but wanted standard with yards, not back to back. I also prefer standard townhomes to back-to-back units.
At the second meeting, residents expressed concern about any townhouse development. In my view the townhouses are preferable to a commercial use, or a six storey building in this area. That said, the concerns about parking, traffic, drainage and tree loss must be addressed for any development.
Your Take: What are your views on the proposed development? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Take: I did not support the original rezoning to accommodate the back-to-back and standard townhouses (but did support a modified project of semi-detached with some standard townhouses that would still have met intensification requirements). As a result of council’s support for this project, residents must spend their own time and money to uphold the city’s zoning at the OMB. I also share the concern about lack of notification regarding the site plan not coming back to council. Though there was no legal requirement for notification, out of courtesy to the neighbourhood, providing this information to residents and their elected representative would have helped build trust and good will.
My Take: This type of intensification belongs here – next to a transit hub, which allows more people to use the bus or GO train rather than cars, and next to a major retail outlet, where people can meet their day-to-day shopping needs. I was hoping for more office space (although it was not a requirement of the original OMB decision). Burlington sorely needs commercial tax revenue which is higher than residential taxes, and costs less to service than residential development. However, I am working with the Molinaro Group and the Burlington Economic Development Corporation to fill the office space, and if there is a market the Molinaros will build extra to suit.
To Development & Infrastructure Committee, Mon. Sept. 9, 1pm Carriage Gate Group Inc. wants a reduction in the agreed-upon community benefits negotiated in exchange for extra height on the medical/parking/condo complex at Caroline, John, Elizabeth and Maria Streets, approved in 2010. Specifically, the request is to change the amount of affordable housing from 73% of(…)
There’s a growing consensus among residents that the City needs to uphold our Official Plan (OP) and Zoning Bylaw in approving development projects. All of the major developments approved recently in Ward 2 required changes that were double, triple or more than what is permitted in the OP/Zoning Bylaw; or allowed different building types – back-to-back towns, for example – in an area zoned for single family or semi-detached homes.
Residents have been dismissed as antidevelopment or uninformed NIMBYs (Not in My Backyard) for wanting development to respect the existing OP, but residents I hear from are not opposed to development. They do believe we can do better to ensure the best city for the future.
As one resident put it: “I think it is time for Council to stand back, take a deep breath, and consider how the Burlington of the future will look. Do we want dense concrete in the downtown core, or would we prefer green space, a more open aspect and a park-like waterfront? What do you want your legacy to be?”
Save Our Waterfront brought together 2000 residents from across the city to seek a review of policies in the Old Lakeshore Road area in particular, and more public input on waterfront issues in general. They asked for and secured the formation of a city-wide citizen’s committee on waterfront issues in 2010, the Burlington Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee.
The official committee spent over a year reviewing the Old Lakeshore Road area. They recommended a review of planning policy and design for public areas within the precinct, and consideration of options for public waterfront access and a related City acquisition strategy. The review was intended to lead to recommendations, and include the public. This was initially supported by council.
But these hard-won gains for public input on waterfront issues are slowly being unravelled by council as time goes on. The advisory committee was sunset at the end of last year (though their work continues via the Burlington Waterfront Committee), and now the requested review of policies in Old Lakeshore Road is narrowly scoped and excludes public input in the first Phase.
Though a reduced project with fewer units will be welcome news to residents, the reduction in parking remains a concern, as it was with the previous proposal. The other potential variances will need to be reviewed to assess their impact on the neighbourhood when the zoning review is complete. I’m pleased city staff are treating this as a new application, which provides for additional public input on the revised project.
Habitat for Humanity is proposing to build 14 back-to-back townhouses on three assembled properties at the north-east corner of Plains Road East and Glendor Avenue. Seven townhouses will have access onto Glendor and the other seven will have a shared access onto Plains. The proposal requires both an Official Plan amendment and rezoning. The area is currently zoned mixed-use and allows townhouses only when combined with commercial uses. The project does not exceed permitted height or density.
Like residents, I’m supportive of the project but want the back-to-back townhomes changed to standard townhomes. That will increase greenspace on-site and provide a yard for families.
Residents expressed concern about the precedent-setting nature of rezoning applications. Each time a rezoning is permitted, others who want similar provisions can point to that approval, and over time this chips away at the zoning and can fundamentally alter the character of the neighbourhood. Residents encouraged Mattwood to develop a plan that respected existing zoning.
Intensification is often pitched as environmentally beneficial, because more compact housing forms take up less land, and prevent development into our rural areas. But intensification can also clearly damage our watershed if care is not taken to the limit impervious land cover and protect tree cover. Urban development must protect trees and greenspace or the F grade we see is the result.
The way this project is unfolding reinforces my concerns about the use of Section 37 of the Planning Act to exchange increases in height and density for community benefits. These very community benefits are now at risk. If they’re not upheld, the public will be shortchanged of the commitments made to offset the impact of more height and density. As this situation reveals, changing circumstances and economics put community benefits at risk over time, and developers will come back and seek exemptions.
I support retaining the existing single-family zoning in St. Luke’s precinct. Any change to the zoning will threaten the long-term vision for the area as an oasis of single family homes in a sea of downtown intensification. Rezoning would set a precedent and encourage for future assemblies and conversions to semis or other non-detached forms of housing.
The job of protecting the rural area has already been done on our behalf by decree from the province, under the Places to Grow Act. We can’t take the credit for that, nor is that within our control. The rural area is protected, period. Our job, and what city council and staff do control, is how we will intensify the urban area in response.
The project is too dense for the site, and will compromise greenspace and the character of the Ghent community.