City creates urban design advisory panel; recruitment underway

The city’s planning department is in the process of creating an urban design advisory panel to provide independent, objective, and professional urban design advice on tall and mid-rise buildings and all public development projects, studies, and policy initiatives with the objective of achieving design excellence in the city.The panel will be advisory only, and have no decision-making power.
The urban design advisory panel will:
  • Increase awareness of the city’s urban design expectations;
  • Assist staff with urban design analysis and improve decision making for infill and intensification development applications, public/corporate initiatives, and policy creation;
  • Provide greater protection of public interest, community character and context; and
  • Motivate/challenge the development industry to strive for design excellence.
The panel will consist of nine members with a balance of professional expertise including architects, landscape architects, urban designers, and planners. Members will be highly qualified design professionals and possess full membership for a minimum of ten years in at least one of the following professional associations:
a) Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC);
b) Ontario Association of Architects (OAA);
c) Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA);
d) Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA);
e) Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP); and
f) Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI).
The panel shall collectively have a broad range of professional design experience such as:
a) Domestic and international work portfolio;
b) Variety of project scales and types including tall, mid, and low rise buildings;
c) Demonstrated leadership in city building;
d) Construction techniques, financial management, and feasibility; and
e) Application of sustainable design methods.
Staff have worked with the development industry to finalize a Terms of Reference document that will enable the creation and administration of this panel. The Terms of Reference contain a requirement for continued monitoring of the panel to ensure its ongoing effectiveness and facilitate further collaboration with the building industry as needed. The primary goal is to ensure that advice from the panel is integrated early in the development review process to reinforce the city’s expectation for a high standard of design excellence resulting in a more efficient and effective municipal development review
Recruitment for the panel will begin in Q4. It is anticipated that the panel will officially be in place by Q1 2018.

This information was conveyed to council via a memo in the Oct. 27 Council Information Package.


Written by Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.


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  1. Approval of the 23 storey building on Brant Street & yet another ruination of the waterfront in the making – clearly shows what “planning” has & is doing to South Burlington – what a shame we don’t have a Council with any better foresight for what was & could have remained a gem on the waterfront !!

  2. Agree with you entirely Jim Young. Just one more facade with no powers, to cover up Councillors voting. Voting as per developers’ best interest; what we witnessed most recently. This Panel will be worth as much as all the public meetings and consultations. Sadly!!

  3. City council once again completely misses the mark.

    They already have Architects, Designers, Engineers and Planning Experts on staff and where that is not enough, the developers have all of the same expertise.

    It is the opinions of the ordinary people, who have to live with the out of touch decisions of all these experts, that are overlooked and ignored.

    We don’t need more experts we need more attentive councillors.

    The inclusion of such an expert panel will only provide a veneer of consultation and engagement, while giving council one more reason to ignore the citizens.

    If council are unwilling or unable to overrule Staff on unpopular project how will they ever overrule Staff and Expert Advisory Panel.

    Smoke and mirrors, nothing more.

    • This has the appearance of a good thing, but will produce the opposite outcome. Having a panel of handpicked “experts” will only serve to provide a stamp of approval for the planning department’s decisions. The public will be further sidelined, because how could residents be right if they disagree with the esteemed experts?

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