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News Briefs: March 2015

burlingtonparkinglot4City to review visitor parking requirements downtown

Developers who build downtown are required to build 1.25 parking spaces per unit, on the assumption that the .25 space will be for visitor parking. However, there is nothing in our existing zoning bylaws that require those spaces to be set aside for visitors, and in some cases they are sold to buyers either by the developer or by the subsequent condominium board.

The thinking behind the zoning is that visitor parking needs can be potentially accommodated on street or in downtown parking lots (either private or public-run ones). But that hasn’t been the experience of condo residents, some of whom have no onsite visitor parking.

In response to requests from condo residents downtown, and the Downtown Parking Committee, I brought a motion for staff to review those provisions as part of our zoning review and report back by the end of this year. We’ll have a chance to potentially update the zoning to require visitor parking to remain visitor parking.

AnchorDowntown streetscaping guidelines to be updated

The capital budget for 2015 includes $95,000 to update the Downtown Streetscape Guidelines to develop new standards for materials and design elements for public areas in the downtown. The study will also determine an implementation strategy. The guidelines were developed in 1982 and have not been updated.

AnchorParking counters to be installed at lots, on street

The approved capital budget includes $525k for equipment to track the use of the city’s parking lots and on street spaces. Pucks are installed either on each space or at the entrance and exit of the lot to generate real-time data about occupancy and usage.
Currently the city relies on a one-day per year, 7 hour, physical count of the usage, which only provides a snapshot of that day.This program, which costs $20k annualy, would be eliminated with the new equipment.

The parking garage already has sensors that project onto a digital sign at the entrance how many spaces are available.

The new system will provide accurate, 24 hour data on the usage and turnover rates in our parking system, and help us understand uptake of parking after paid hours (evenings, weekends) and seasonal differences. This information will allowing staff to better set rates (peak pricing, for example, or higher prices for in-demand lots) and determine when a new parking structure might be needed.

The equipment purchases will be phased in over four years, starting in 2015 with on street parking, the Elizabeth Street lot, and the Brant Street lot, for a cost of $225k (followed by $100k each in years 2016-2018.)

My Take: Collecting accurate parking data will assist with better decision-making and financial management. It’s well worth the investment. If the data shows an adequate supply of parking, the city will be able to postpone a costly new structure, allowing us to continue to build up reserves, savings millions in debt charges.

AnchorParking revenue higher than expected

Revenues from parking fees, fines and levies on downtown businesses were higher than expected in 2014, even factoring in free Saturday and December parking. Projected revenue from all sources in 2014 was expected to be $2.046 million; actual revenue is $2.120 million.

Downtown businesses are not required to provide onsite parking, but pay into a parking levy to build future supply of parking. These levies helped to finance the parking garage on Locust St.  The contribution to the levy from downtown businesses in 2014 was $282,179.

Parking expenses are less than revenues, generating a contribution to the parking reserve fund last year of $1.093 million, up from the projected contribution of $985,122.

The balance in the reserve fund at the end of the year, after withdrawals for lot resurfacing and lighting of $277k, is $5.916 million.

AnchorOn the Sunshine List

You heard it here first. I will be on this year’s Sunshine List. Each year, city staff must file a public sector salary disclosure report with the province identifying those people paid by the city whose annual earnings exceed $100,000.

My total earnings (city and region combined) are $100,722.85 with taxable benefits of $562.10.

 

AnchorHeritage properties built between 1928-35 to be reviewed

The Heritage Burlington Citizens Advisory Committee, with assistance from the planning department, will be reviewing properties constructed between 1928 and 1935 to determine whether there are any worth preserving. The city’s previous review of heritage assets mostly assessed properties built before 1928. HB will notify and solicit input from owners of these properties about the upcoming evaluation process and what it means. If you have questions, contact the city’s heritage planner Jenna Puletto at jenna.puletto@burlington.ca

 

AnchorServing on seniors, conservation, downtown boards

Part of our public service as city and regional councillors includes appointments to local boards and Citizen Advisory Committees. The mayor makes an initial set of recommendations, then council votes on them. Below are the boards and committees council has appointed me to serve on:

  • Heritage Burlington (Returning)
  • Downtown Parking Committee (Returning)
  • Conservation Halton (New)
  • Burlington Seniors Advisory Committee (New)
  • Burlington Seniors Centre Board of Directors (New position)

The Burlington Downtown Business Association has invited me to sit on the board as the Ward 2 Councillor liaison. I was the council appointee last term. Councillor Blair Lancaster (Ward 6) is the council appointee this term. We are both non-voting members on the board. I welcome another advocate from council for the downtown, and a voice for residents outside the downtown.

Councillor John Taylor, who served on the Conservation Halton board for eight years, has agreed to mentor me as the new council representative on that board. Council chose not to support two councillors as part of our four appointments to the board (the other spots are taken by citizen appointees). Four council members supported adding John and myself to the board, but we needed five votes because it required a reconsideration of a previous vote to have only one councillor on the board. I’m grateful that John will give me his time and insight prior to each board meeting, which will ensure we don’t lose his institutional memory and enable a smooth transition.

As last term’s council appointee to the Burlington Sound of Music Festival board, I advised council we don’t need a council representative on the board. We don’t have a councillor on other festival and event boards. So the BSOMF appointment has been eliminated. I’ve offered to serve as a council point of contact to the BSOMF Executive Director as needed.

I will miss serving on the Joseph Brant Hospital board, the only board I won’t be returning to from last term, and on which I served for seven years, first as a resident then as the council representative. I will continue to stay involved in the hospital through community meetings, fundraisers and as a monthly donor.

Independent of council appointments, I’ve have also been invited to sit on the No Vacancy board as a non-voting advisor. No Vacancy is the arts/culture organization that brought you Cirque in Village Square last year and is planning the Supernova street/art fest in September.

I also serve as a non-voting advisor on the Burlington Waterfront citizens group.

Much has been said by council members and written in the press recently on the negativity surrounding the official council board appointments.

Council has an opportunity – in fact an obligation – to set a tone and an example to staff and the community of respect and courtesy in how we treat each other. We can’t serve our community well if we’re not working well together.

In future newsletters I’ll outline my thoughts on good governance practise and leading by example, which starts with how treat each other when we have different perspectives, personalities and leadership styles.

 

AnchorCity manager hired: James Ridge

Members of City Council hired James Ridge as the new city manager. James is currently the Principal and Chief Executive Officer of the University of British Columbia’s Vantage College, previously serving as an Associate Vice-president with UBC. He is a former Deputy City Manager with the City of Vancouver and Chief Administrative Officer with the District of North Vancouver.

James begins his position on March 23 and I welcome him to Burlington.

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.

2 Comments

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  1. I think councillors who are picking up two pay cheques (city and regional) and making over $100 thousand a year should have to give up any other job they have and not be a part time councillor (ie: Paul Sharman). Three pay cheques? There are people who are trying to get by on minimum wage.

  2. What’s driving the move to force people who want to live downtown to pay for an additional 0.25 “visitor” parking spaces in their buildings whether they need it or not? Won’t this make infill development that much more difficult, especially on small parcels of land like the one at Martha & Lakeshore. How does that make housing more affordable? I sympathize with residents who are being inconvenienced by people parking in their neighbourhoods, and condo buyers who have had their visitor parking sold out from under them by their boards, but it is not an entitlement. We all have to evaluate our needs and make choices when we decide where to live. If you live in a condo that has visitor parking…that is a common asset that you paid for. If your board sold it to someone without you being compensated that is wrong, but it’s an issue between you and the condo board – not the City.

    If those who are investing are free to make that decision on their own rather than being forced to provide parking, we will see better quality and scale of development downtown. If we require parking in excess of what the market wants, we will end up with much taller proposals to offset the cost, or potentially no development at all.

    I totally support the parking data program…This is a wise investment that will help us recognize the value and make appropriate decisions on pricing of parking space in the city.

What's your take?