Enjoy complimentary parking on the street, and in all Municipal lots, in downtown Burlington starting November 30th (Shop the Neighbourhood Day) and continuing everyday for the entire month of December!
Downtown & Waterfront
“For the second time in just over a week, the majority on Burlington City Council supported conflicting actions and embarrassed themselves on a waterfront issue. First Council decided to sell public waterfront land to private interests when Council’s stated goal is to acquire such lands for the public good. Then it confused a 35 year old vision of a park with the reality of today and allowed a community outside Burlington to determine the fate of destruction for a community inside Burlington.”
“Our volunteer committee of citizens from each ward continues to support Beachway Park and the beach community co-existing as they have since the park’s inception and the acquisition/retention of actual waterfront property to enhance and promote public access. “
Regional staff are recommending that the private homes along Beachway be bought and removed for parkland, and that an updated Master Plan for the beach and property acquisition strategy be developed by April 2015. The acquisition policy would be developed in conversation with the city of Burlington, Conservation Halton and beach area residents, and might include: opportunities to use incentives, long-term lease arrangements, alternate property valuation methodologies and funding commitments.
The recommendation comes to the Planning & Public Works Committee Wed. Oct. 16, 9:30am, and any recommendations or motions from that committee flow to full Regional Council for a vote, Wed. Oct. 23, 9:30am. You can read the staff report and recommendations here You can also register to speak at both committees by calling 311 or registering online here.
None of Burlington city council’s motions on the Beachway were reflected in the report, although the minutes of the council meeting were subsequently distributed to Regional Council members.
My Take: regarding the notion that Halton residents will get more park if the private homes are no longer there: buying the homes will not deliver any more sand beach or public waterfront access because that is already fully public. The private homes are not along the waterfront. At best, buying the homes would provide additional parking, and some passive grass areas well away from the water’s edge. Residents come to the beach to be on the beach, not a park under the skyway bridge beside a wastewater treatment plant.
Council will decide Tues. Oct. 15 whether to sell a parcel of public waterfront land between Market St. and St. Paul St., running behind three private homes (see map). The public lands are owned in part by the Ministry of Natural Resources (along the shoreline) and the city. The homeowners who back onto this land wish to purchase the land to extend their private properties to the shoreline.
My Take: I support retaining the land in public hands for the reasons outlined below.
Keeping these waterfront lands in public hands honours our City and Regional Official Plans, which encourage steps to build a continuous waterfront, trail along (or near) the shoreline. If we lose these lands it will be hard to get them back, at least not without granting significant height/density through redevelopment in exchange for public shoreline access.
Without an aggressive strategy of job creation, Burlington residents will see their property taxes spike, services cut or development expand into rural areas.
Here’s why: Providing all of the services required for residents – community services and infrastructure for example – far exceeds the tax revenues collected. By contrast, the “industrial, commercial, institutional” tax class – or “ICI” -pays more than double the residential property tax rate, but only costs a fraction of that to service. There can be as much as an 80% profit on industrial taxes, versus a 40% loss on residential taxes.
A balance between residential and ICI tax revenue is critical to municipal health, yet currently, residential taxes account for 82% of Burlington’s tax revenue, versus 18% from the commercial/industrial sector.
Non residential growth has essentially flatlined in Burlington over the past 15 years, while residential growth has almost tripled. Burlington used to see double digit employment growth; now, 2% annual growth is “optimistic.” When residential growth outpaces economic growth, the city is left with three unpalatable choices: cut services, dramatically increase property taxes, or expand development into the rural area.
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(…)
My Take: The acquisition policy needs to end now. Read the article for my top 10 reasons why residents should remain near the beach. I will be seeking an end to the blanket acquisition policy, the public release of the list of strategic properties and funding source, and getting on with upgrades to the existing park. The rationale is outlined below:
1. End the blanket acquisition policy. If there is only interest in a select number of strategic properties over the next 10 years, we need to remove the cloud of the acquisition policy from the other homeowners, as the policy has had a negative impact on them (see Item 9 in the Top 10 list article).
2. Publicly release the list of strategic properties, and proposed funding mechanism. If the recommendation is to release this information in two weeks anyway after council votes, there is no negative impact on the city’s bargaining power to release that information now. The public needs this information now. Residents need to know the entire picture of what is being proposed before any vote is taken, and before they appear to speak to committee to share their views on the future of Beachway Park.
In addition, the two reports – the legal property report and the overall Beach vision report – must be discussed at the same time, and in public session. As it stands now, the schedule is to discuss strategic land acquisition and set a potential direction for the park in closed session, a day before we hear from the public. These discussions need to take place at the same time, and all of it needs to be public. It goes against public participation and transparency for council to determine the future of the park in closed session, and a day before hearing from the public. There are already discussions underway about moving the legal report from the Tuesday Budget & Corporate Services Committee to the Wednesday Community Services Committee meeting, but that would require a motion at committee to do so.
3. Get on with upgrades to the existing park. We can’t wait years to improve the park. We need to get on with it now.
Residents must be allowed to stay along Beachway Park, as they have for the last 100 years, without the cloud of an acquisition policy hanging over their heads for years to come. Here are 10 reasons why the acquisition policy should end, and the Beachway residential community remain:
The residents who live along Lakeshore Road near Beachway Park have started a petition to Let them Stay in their homes, and seeking an end to the acquisition policy. Sign the petition here
Burlington and Halton Councils will vote in fall 2013 on acquiring the private homes on the Burlington Beach. The community has existed here for more than a 100 years. Some residents have lived their whole lives here; many have raised their children here. Residents have an emotional connection to the community they love. They don’t want to leave.
Sign the petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/164/175/741/let-us-stay/
Fill out the survey: http://burlingtonwaterfront.org
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.
Heritage Burlington has completed a review of the three historic properties in Village Square, and concluded that they all have historic value worthy of heritage designation.
The properties are:
- 416 Pearl Street “The Inglehart House – Mitchell Dairy”
- 415/417 Elizabeth Street “The Stinson –Morrine House”
- 423 Elizabeth Street “The Bastedo – Redmond – John Kenter House
Village Square is a unique historic pocket in the downtown that is worth preserving, especially as the blocks around it are developed with modern buildings. I have and continue to meet with the current owners and prospective purchasers to convey the community’s interest in preserving Village Square, and share the results of the heritage studies.
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.
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.
Based on the information received to date, and especially the extensive material in the Report, I believe the residential community is compatible with the long term vision for the park. As Hamilton has done, Halton Region could abandon its acquisition strategy, allow the residents to remain and still realize the vision of a vibrant, year-round mixed-use destination for Halton residents and visitors.
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.