The public left the council chambers in fury, immediately after hearing the 23-storey development on 421 Brant street was approved. The vote on whether or not the proposed tower should be built, right across the street from City Hall, took place at the November 13 council meeting. With a 5-2 vote (in favour were Councillors Rick Craven, John Taylor, Jack Dennison, Paul Sharman and Blair Lancaster, against Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and Mayor Rick Goldring), the building got the green light. Throughout the meeting, 13 delegations spoke, all of which were against the development, save one from the developer.
Residents had brought up key points, reminding council that not only would the development not be in keeping with existing planning permissions (maximum storeys on part of this site is 12, the balance 4 to 8), but it would be decreasing the amount of commercial space our downtown offers. One man explained how it seems as though we are doing the opposite of making Burlington grow “bold”, but making it grow “old” because of the demographic of purchasers that will likely move in to the building.
“Buildings like this attract old people, like me, who have money to spend. If you want to be attracting young families, don’t be selling million dollar condos…we only seem to be targeting the elderly,” said the delegate.
It had also been mentioned countless times, previous to the meeting, that City Hall at 8 storeys should be the most pronounced building downtown. It shouldn’t be overwelmed by a 23-storey condominium across the street.
Amy’s Take: Even before the committee meeting began, I was in agreeance with the public. Yes, our city does need to develop, however that doesn’t mean we need gigantic buildings in the middle of our our downtown.
As residents in Burlington, we all strive to maintain a community based city, where all feel welcome, and all are welcome. We want a mix of economic classes and we need a greater mix of commercial places. We cannot continue putting up building after building, the second being bigger than the first, with units starting at half a million dollars or more. We need a variation of building sizes; taller ones being to the North of the downtown, where there are significant transportation hubs (i.e. GO stations); smaller buildings should be in the downtown area, to preserve its eclectic and quaint feel.
This building will unfortunately set a precedent for future developments. Who is now to say that because this one is 23 stories tall, why can’t the next be 24? After all, the height limit here was 12, but that has already been changed with this approval.
Something that I have noticed come up countless times, specifically throughout the last meeting, is that as hard as they try, and as loud as they can be, residents aren’t always heard. They are listened to; but they aren’t heard. Each individual has their five minutes to explain their view to council, however, in most cases, the councillors have already made their decisions. It seems as though the process of having residents speak is more so because it is required, rather than because they might actually have valid reasons that could save our downtown.
Also worth nothing that all votes for the development were by those councillors who don’t represent the downtown community.
For more information regarding the development, visit: 421-431-brant-street