I have received many queries to my office about whether or not the ADI proposal for a 28-storey building at Martha & Lakeshore in downtown Burlington has been approved, following the appearance of a large billboard on the site announcing a residential project “Arriving Soon.”
Emphatically and unequivocally, nothing has been approved on this property.
By way of background, the city received one development application for this property, from ADI, for an Official Plan Amendment and rezoning to permit a 28-storey residential building. The current OP and Zoning contemplate a 4-storey building here, with ability to go to 8 storeys under certain circumstances.
City planning staff rejected the proposal on the grounds that it represented overbuilding of the site and poor planning.
City council supported the staff opinion and unanimously voted to endorse the staff recommendation to refuse the application. The community is overwhelming opposed to the proposal.
ADI has appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board for a decision. A hearing is expected to take place in March 2016.
For more background read:
I will continue to keep residents notified here and in my monthly newsletter as this proposal proceeds through the OMB.
So what about that sign? Unfortunately, the city has no legal grounds to govern the content of signs. These types of signs that appear before an application is approved have occurred before on other development sites in the city, and we cannot stop them.
We do, however, govern the size and installation of signs. At my request, by law enforcement looked into this sign and have confirmed the sign is too large. However, ADI is arguing that the sign is hoarding to secure the vacant lot. Our bylaw is apparently silent on messages appearing on hoarding. So for now the sign remains.
This seems to me to be a significant gap in our sign regulations. There is hoarding at the corner of Brant and Blairholm, currently painted black; the owner has been asking to place a billboard here for years. How long do you think it will be before we see a sign replacing the black paint on this hoarding, or elsewhere in the city? We don’t want a billboard-as-hoarding free-for-all.
I have asked for a meeting with our bylaw staff to discuss how we might revise our bylaws to address the issue of oversize signs masquerading as hoarding. Stay tuned.
Any sign or advertisement suggesting the imminent arrival of a development project that has not been approved is misleading and confusing. These signs create concern around whether a deal has been struck behind closed doors without the public’s knowledge in the dog days of summer. Emphatically, no. Such signs also require an exasperating expenditure of time and resources to correct the facts.
I’m also not persuaded the sign is “hoarding.” The sign is only in one corner of the lot – the part facing traffic; the other sides are open, with wide gaps between boards and caution tape. Most hoarding runs the perimeter of a property. This construction effort is not securing the site. I’m concerned about public safety and the security and installation of this massive billboard. I will be doing some further investigating with staff.
I will be sending correspondence to the developer asking that they show more respect for the community, remove the existing sign, and state in any future communication that this project is proposed only and subject to an OMB decision next year.
I will also ask that they not to use hoarding as an opportunity for an oversize billboard, but erect a sign more in keeping with our sign bylaw.