Newsletters will now be structured to let you know how I’m working with you, city staff and my council colleagues to achieve election campaign commitments and our new strategic plan.
You elected me on a three pronged platform:
1- to rein in spending and tax increases, and fund need-to-have infrastructure and core services over nice to haves
2- improve public input into decision-making
3- seek compatible development that respects the character of existing neighbourhoods.
Our new strategic plan contains three broad goals: vibrant neighbourhoods, prosperity, & excellence in government.
Drop me a line and let me know what you think about the new layout at firstname.lastname@example.org
Excellence in Government: Spending on Priorities
A step in the right direction on community benefits negotiated for extra height/density
Approved March 26; to council April 10
In response to concerns raised in the community last spring over the process for negotiating community benefits in exchange for double the height and density on the Molinaro project on Brock and Elgin, I co-sponsored a staff direction to review the process to increase public input. That review resulted in a revised protocol for community benefits (also called “Section 37 benefits” for the relevant section in the Municipal Act). The revised protocol makes one change: to alert the ward councilor, who is then tasked with gathering community input on priorities.
The section specifically states that “the ward councillor be consulted by staff prior to any negotiations with the applicant,” and staff are to provide the councillor with advice as to whether Section 37 benefits are appropriate and desirable; appropriate types of benefits; amount of benefits; and interests of the applicant.
The staff report introducing the protocol states that the ward councilor is “encouraged” to consult and engage the community in advance of the receipt of development applications “to help determine priorities for community benefits.”
The protocol also states that any Section 37 development will be subject to the new development review cycle initiated last spring, also as a result of the Molinaro project. The new cycle effectively adds about three weeks between the first staff report on a development, which contains no recommendations; and the committee/council vote on a report, that does include staff recommendations.
Staff reports are available about a week before committee meetings. So residents will still only have a week to prepare comments in response to the specific community benefits staff are recommending – same as before. That’s still not enough time for effective public engagement, so I will be looking for some evidence that the prior public input around community priorities shaped the benefits being suggested.
Orchid public art on Appleby: recent community benefits negotiated for extra height/density fund public art reserve.
The old protocol (repeated in the new) stated community benefits are to be “high priority on site or near site” or “high-priority city-wide benefits.” While that is helpful, in practice we saw Ward 2 projects funding contributions to, for example, the public art reserve fund to finance art anywhere in the city (for example the orchids on Appleby Line). In my view, that violates the spirit of the protocol. There’s no guarantee that won’t happen again, unless we are vigilant.
The protocol was approved by the Community Development Committee March 26, and needs council ratification April 10. To review the staff report on the development, click here. To read the revised protocol click here. To read the previous protocol click here.
My Take: Though the commitment to consult with the ward councilor is a step in the right direction, time will tell whether this change will improve results for the community. Public input is more than asking residents their views; it must include some evidence that the public’s wishes for community benefit projects are reflected in the benefits negotiated on our behalf. Further, there remains concern among many residents (myself included) about the use of Section 37 to grant increased height and density at all. A review of the practice is overdue, though there is no appetite for such a review among staff or council at the moment.
Your View: What would your top three priorities be for community benefits negotiated for extra height and density on Ward 2 projects? Please make a comment at the Ward 2 News website or email me at email@example.com
Elgin Park today: the redesigned park will retain a junior play area.
How your input improved Elgin Park design
Public meetings Jan, Feb & March
Your feedback has significantly influenced and improved the features and design of Elgin Park, as detailed below, which has been the subject of three public meetings and dozens of calls and emails to my office.
The most recent meeting was Tues. March 27, where the architect presented two potential designs for the project. One design featured a diagonal layout; the other a square or linear layout. Residents at the meeting overwhelmingly preferred the square/linear layout, so the architect is proceeding on that basis.
Below are at least 9 changes to the original plans for the park presented in October, based on resident feedback:
Request: At all three public meetings residents preferred the Roads and Parks Maintenance (RPM) facility to be located in the North East corner of the property, to provide greater separation and minimize the impact to adjacent St. Luke’s church.
Result: The RPM building is located in the North East corner of the park.
Request: Residents were concerned about parking for RPM staff being located in the park, and taking valuable park space.
Result: The staff parking has been moved off site.
Request: Residents asked for a clear separation between the driveway access and the playground feature, to keep vehicles away from children.
Result: The driveway access to the RPM building has been moved to the South East corner of the property, fenced off from the rest of the park.
Request: Residents asked for the playground feature to remain, given that Spencer Smith Park is too large for young children and requires crossing a busy road.
Result: A junior playground feature is retained, in the North West portion of the park.
Request: Residents asked for a swing to be installed on the playground.
Result: The new park layout will provide a play area large enough to accommodate a junior swing set.
Request: Residents asked that the design and materials for the RPM building be compatible with the character of the surrounding residential area.
Result: The RPM facility will be made of brick, as are many of the homes in the surrounding area. There will be windows similar in look to a residential window. There was a suggestion from a resident to use “coach” doors for the garage. This is subject to budget, and will be considered.
Request: Residents asked that the RPM facility be fully fenced off and screened with landscaping to hide the machinery and activity
Result: The RPM facility will have a non-see-through wood fence on all sides (replacing the chain link presently there). A hedge will screen the fence to the West. The existing wood fence along the entire width of the property to the North will remain.
Request: At the first two public meetings, the majority of residents requested that the chain link fence on the West side separating the St. Luke’s Church lawn from the playspace be removed to open the area up. At the third public meeting, a church warden advised his preference to retain the fence, in order to separate play activities from funerals, weddings or other activities at the church.
Result: The warden will consult further with the church and report back to staff and the architect within a week.
Request: At the most recent public meeting, a suggestion was made to increase the height of the maintenance facility roof by several feet to create a steeper pitch, similar to the steeper pitch of the historic homes in the area. Residents immediately backing on to the facility expressed their concern about the added height and impact on sun/shade/visibility from their yards.
Result: In order to meet the extremely tight schedule and budget (a steeper roof adds about 10% to the cost) the architect will be proceeding with the lower roof height.
Request: At the most recent public meeting, a representative of the city’s Mundialization Committee requested additional space for the Apeldoorn feature.
Result: The playground feature is likely to be moved slightly to the north to allow the Apeldoorn feature to be expanded. The walkway from the sidewalk along the West side will be relocated to the East side, between the park and the RPM hedge/fence, to allow for clear and unobstructed access to the Apeldoorn and playground areas.
It is expected that the draft designs will undergo additional refinement as the architect and staff work to finalize the plans. We are working with the architect to post the draft designs online. When that is ready, I will send the link.
My Take: I think the project has come a long way from where it was in October, with many improvements thanks to your input. I would like to thank staff and the architect for hearing resident input and accommodating so many of your requests. I’d like to thank you for taking the time to attend meetings, call or email me with your valued feedback. This has been a truly collaborative process and the end product has been greatly improved because of it.
Sidewalk or not on First St? Complete questionnaire
Deadline for survey: April 13; To committee: April 18, 6:30pm, City Hall
The city is currently planning road reconstruction on First, Beaver, Market and Green Streets, and we are seeking your input on the installation of a sidewalk on First St. Currently, there is no sidewalk on either side and city staff are proposing to add one sidewalk, preferably on the south side to protect underground infrastructure on that side of the street.
At a recent public meeting, residents overwhelmingly said they did not want any sidewalk on First, however since then I have received several emails and calls from areas residents in support of a sidewalk on at least one side.
I presented a motion at the March 28 Community Services Committee to remove any sidewalk, but my council colleagues wanted more information on whether the city would attract liability if someone was injured and we had not installed the sidewalk, and whether the majority of area residents (not just First Street residents) wanted the sidewalk or not. As a result, a decision on the sidewalk has been deferred to the next Community Services Committee meeting of Wed. April 18, 6:30pm, at City Hall.
Your take: I’m seeking your input. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating your preference for a sidewalk (yes or no), side of the street (north or south) and your name and address, to ensure a representative sample of residents, which will be kept confidential, and shared only with members of council and relevant city staff.
The deadline for responses is noon Friday, April 13. Thank you!
My take: There are valid arguments both for and against sidewalks. The street does not meet the city’s sidewalk warrant policy on the basis of traffic volume (which is low) and pedestrian traffic (also low). The street does meet the warrants for catchment area (i.e. number of residents affected, must be at least 30, in this case it’s 85). However, there is no criteria to determine the size of the catchment area. Further, residents currently report using the road and feeling safe, and a sidewalk would compromise the character of the street and remove greenspace. On the other hand, I’ve heard from residents who live in the area and want a sidewalk for safety reasons, noting that all adjoining streets currently have a sidewalk on at least one side. Staff’s original proposal was for a sidewalk on each side, and are now proposing a narrower sidewalk on one side only. I will be listening carefully to the input I receive on this issue before the vote.
Motion passes to improve public input on local improvement projects
Needs ratification at council April 10, 7pm, City Hall
The local improvement process that triggered the reconstruction work on First, Beaver, Green and Market streets has been a complex one with a tight deadline, because of current city procedures. There is general agreement among staff, council and residents that we can improve public engagement for local improvement projects.
To that end, I introduced a motion at the March 28 Community Services Committee asking that the director of engineering review the local improvement process with a focus on simplifying the steps and terminology for the public, while allowing for earlier public engagement, and report back to council with recommendations by October 2012.
That was passed unanimously by my colleagues. The recommendation will go to council April 10 for approval.
My take: I look forward to the recommendations from staff to improve early notification, and simplification, of the local improvement process. Any changes will be a step in the right direction for the next community that goes through this process.
During the 2012 budget talks, the Burlington Sound of Music Festival asked for an additional $34,000 from the city, spread over two years, in part to expand programming by an extra day or weekend for the 2013 event. The funding request was turned down in the absence of a solid justification for the need.
I subsequently introduced a motion, passed by council March 19, to invite the Sound of Music Festival to work with city staff to develop a business case and public engagement plan for additional permanent funding for the festival resulting from any expansion of the festival programming, in time for 2013 budget deliberations.
My take: I will be working with the festival (I am the council representative on the Sound of Music board) and city staff to plan public engagement. I will also be working staff to discuss more public input into all the festivals and events in the downtown, to ensure community needs are respected while allowing for a strong festival and event program. Stay tuned for dates and details.
Your take: Do you support an expanded Sound of Music festival? What are your thoughts on the festivals, road races and events that currently take place downtown? Please leave a comment at Ward 2 News website or email me at email@example.com
Lamebrained (& dangerous) ideas file – demolishing a house with a wood chipper
Kudos to resident T.W. in the Queensway neighborhood who alerted my office to a demolition crew running the homes slated for demolition on Glenwood School Drive through a large chipper. Dust and debris was flying everywhere. As soon as we got the call, bylaw and building staff, and the Ministry of the Environment got involved to protect the residents. A new demolition crew is now on site. They have employed a professional environmental engineering consultant who has posted staff on site to oversee the progress of the demolition. Subsequently, asbestos was discovered, and a sign has been posted on site to alert residents. The asbestos waste is being managed as outlined in Ministry of the Environment legislation and guidelines. The waste will be shipped by a certified hauler to an approved landfill. A consultant to the Ministry will remain onsite for the duration. This is a great example of community collaboration leading to resolution. You’re our eyes and ears in your neighbourhood.. Got an issue? Call (905-335-7600, x7588) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help.
Vacant home used for police training
At first I thought the neighbourhood was victim to a prank when I received a call from D.S. on Mayzel Ave. saying that police training exercises were occurring in a vacant home at 466 Mayzel. The site had been left with broken windows and doors. No prank – I contacted the police inspector listed on a letter that had been circulated to residents before the training started. He advised that police scout neighbourhoods for vacant homes that are about to be demolished, and work with the owners to get permission for their emergency services unit to conduct training exercises. Typically, the windows and doors are boarded up later. I asked our bylaw staff to have a look. A number of doors had been secured but several broken windows were not, with broken glass scattered about. Bylaw staff contacted the owner who is making arrangements to have the broken windows secured and any unsafe conditions removed. As of Monday morning April 2, the broken windows were being boarded and temporary fencing erected to secure the site. A demolition permit has been issued for this property, however the actual demolition work may not start for several weeks. Got a question about something in your neighbourhood? Call (905-335-7600, x7588) or email email@example.com. We’re here to help.
Ward 2 Citizens Advisory Committee & Seniors SubCommittee April 19, 6pm & 7pm
I’m grateful to the approximately two dozen residents who come out faithfully every month to our advisory committee meetings to share news from their neighbourhoods, and provide me feedback on upcoming city issues. Some of the issues we have recently discussed: Section 37 Community Benefits negotiated for extra height and density, tax increases, pedestrian priority measures downtown, and the upcoming Official Plan Review. Everyone is welcome to attend. For previous minutes, click here
The next meeting is Thurs. April 19, 6pm (seniors subcommittee) and 7pm (advisory committee) Rm 247, City Hall. Or join me from noon to 1pm April 19 for my monthly drop-in at Central Library. No appointment necessary.
Site plan layout for 486 Mayzel showing location and size of home compared to neighbours.
New home coming to 486 Mayzel
Residents on Mayzel will soon see some demolition and construction activity at 486 Mayzel. The bungalow currently on the home will be taken down, and replaced with a two storey home with garage. Attached is a rendering of the home, which is in the final stages of approval from the city. It meets the zoning regulations and design guidelines, and is sympathetic to the area. Demolition and construction should begin soon.
My take: I’ve reviewed the plans for the new home and believe it will be an enhancement to the area. As the home meets city regulations, there is no obligation to inform residents. However, I encouraged the builder to let the community know what’s coming, and he agreed to release the information voluntarily.
The development proposal was approved in 2010 with an 8-storey medical centre, 8-storey parking garage and 17 storey apartment.
Downtown development update – Medica One on hold
I recently met with our new City Manager Jeff Fielding and our Director of Planning Bruce Krushelnicki to discuss development activities in downtown Burlington. I will be providing a full update in the next edition of this newsletter, and in the city publication City Talk, which is mailed to homes across the city.
Of note is that the approvals have lapsed for the Medica One complex on Caroline, John, Elizabeth and Maria streets, featuring an 8-storey medical centre, 8-storey parking garage and 17 storey apartment. The developer, Carriage Gate Group, did not proceed with signing some necessary agreements required by the city so the approvals for the development have lapsed. Carriage Gate Group will be required to reapply and seek new approvals from City Council for the development. If and when they choose to do this, public engagement will be part of the process. I will keep you updated when I hear anything.
You can check the status of projects any time on the city’s website here
My take: During our discussions I shared my perspective that we need to approach intensification downtown with a view toward diversity – reaching our targets through job creation, more semis and townhouses, and low rise development, instead of a focus on high-rise residential developments. In other words, we need to attract and encourage development that is compatible with the character of our existing community, and contributes to our onogoing prosperity. Our end goal should always be: “how does the community as a whole benefit from this project?”
To comment, please go to Ward 2 News.
Making it easier to do business with the city
Shortly after I was elected, I was approached by a small local business asking a simple question: how do we get on the city’s radar to provide quotes on small projects? Under city procurement rules, projects under a certain dollar value don’t require a formal Request for Proposal, but simply securing three quotes and sourcing the best price. Furthermore, municipal procurement rules forbid favouring local businesses. So how do our local businesses show they have the expertise to become one of the three calls for quotes?
We began discussing a the idea of a symposium or trade show to introduce city staff to area businesses that provide services the city may need. In conversation with staff and our area business organizations, I learned that there’s a new trend called a “reverse trade show” that effectively achieves what we’re after – introducing large corporations (like City Hall) to small-business providers of goods and services.
Later this month, I’ll be meeting with various stakeholders to discuss whether such a symposium would benefit Burlington.
My take: I’m a firm believer in “buy local” to foster and support our own local economy, but am aware that procurement rules forbid a local focus. The next best thing is to ensure open dialogue and build relationships with our area businesses so they are in a position to provide competitive quotes on smaller projects alongside other companies.
The 2012 budget focuses on infrastructure & hospital.
City budget focuses on infrastructure, hospital
In March, city council approved a budget that increases our funding for infrastructure and our hospital, resulting in a city tax increase of 3.29%. When blended with the Halton Region increase of 1.33%, and no increase to the education portion of your tax bill, the total increase for residents is 1.79%.
In this budget, council also increased infrustructure spending by $1.2m, primarily for road renewal.
Council increased the annual levy for Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital to $2.4 million, and added another $1.2million to the hospital fund from last year’s surplus. (The 2011 surplus was $4.9million).
Another $1.1 million from the surplus was directed to strategic land acquisition.
Council also asked staff to report back on options for wage information that could be collected from local employers and provided to the budget committee before union and non union wage and salary decisions are made.
My take: My commitment to residents is to ensure city spending focusing on priorities and need-to-haves. This budget does that with our extra commitments to the hospital, infrastructure and strategic land acquisition.
Province retains commitment to our hospital & uploading social costs
The province has reiterated its funding commitment to the redevelopment of Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital in the most recent budget – keeping this essential project for our community on a fast track to completion. Other highlights from the 2012 provincial budget (courtesy of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario):
My take: I’m pleased with the continued commitment to our hospital, to infrastructure & to uploading social services costs – these are resident priorities. I also appreciate the willingness to examine public sector pensions and the arbitration system, with a view toward greater fairness for taxpayers.
Federal budget includes $150m for community infrastructure
The federal government has committed to $150 million over two years to support a new Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund for repairs and improvements to existing community facilities. That’s something municipalities, through our membership in the Federal of Canadian Municipalities, has been advocating. The government has also committed to ensuring its new long-term infrastructure plan will be in place before current funding programs end in 2014 – more welcome news for municipalities.
However, the budget does not provide any private sector initiatives to encourage development of rental housing – something sorely needed across the province and especially here in Burlington, where affordable rental accommodation is scare – and in high demand.
My take: I’m please with the commitment to continued infrastructure investment, and will continue to advocate for a national housing strategy, including rental units and affordable/assited housing development.
Community Garden plots announced April 16
There’s been a huge response from the community to the launch of the community gardens project in Central Park, a joint project between the city and BurlingtonGreen. Registration closed April 1; applicants will be chosen by lottery draw and notified April 16 if they were allocated a plot, or put on a waiting list. Once notified gardeners will need to sign a permit and provide the $50 fee (tax incl.) to BurlingtonGreen in exchange for the gate and tool shed combinations. Gardeners can take care of this at the first gardener meeting April 28. The grand opening is Sat. May 5, but ideally gardeners will begin by the third week of April or first week of May.
Volunteers are a big part of the success of the garden, and can help prepare the demonstration and adopt-a-bed victory gardens (14 in all) that local companies can sponsor. Sponsors so far include the Burlington Horticultural Society, Holland Park Garden Gallery and Garden Ecologics. Edibles grown in these garden beds will be donated to local food banks. For more information, or to become a sponsor, contact Michelle Bennett by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, online here or on Twitter @groweatlocal, #CentralParkCommunityGarden.
New downtown blog links you to ideas/businesses
Looking for tips on Easter entertaining? Tax filing? Home staging and decorating? The Burlington Downtown Business Association has a new blog, providing useful tips and information for you, and connecting you to downtown businesses that provide those services. Follow on Twitter @DTBurlingtonON or subscribe here
Freeman train station will soon get a much needed face lift. Watch for details.
Friends of Freeman Station receive charitable status
AGM: April 5, 7pm, Rm 247, City Hall
The Friends of Freeman Station, an incorporated non-profit group of volunteers who are working to restore and relocate the historic Freeman train station, have received charitable status from Revenue Canada. All donations to the cause will receive a charitable tax receipt. The Friends hope to have a public announcement shortly about plans to restore the station in a new location. The group is also hosting its annual general meeting April 5. Everyone welcome. Learn more by visiting their website here
Community Cleanup and BBQ April 21
Grab your family, friends and neighbours and form a team to participate in the annual Community Clean-Up Green-Up event Sat. April 21, 9am to noon, followed by a free BBQ lunch for all participants at City Hall’s Civic Square, from 12:30-2:30. New this year: you can bring your batteries to civic square for safe disposal. Also, all schools who enter a team will be entered in the Tim Horton’s School Clean Up Challenge with a chance to win $250 to support a school eco-action project. On-line registration is now open here: here This is a joint partnership between the city and BurlingtonGreen.
Guru Parade on Queensway April 22
The Sikh community of Burlington is hosting its 3rd annual Guru Temple Parade Sun. April 22, 2-3:30, along Queensway Drive, Glenwood School Drive and Brenda Cresc. The parade aims to promote peace among people of all religions, cultures and creeds. Vegetarian snacks, lunch and dinner will be served. Everyone welcome, with food bank donations gratefully received. Local resident access will be provided with minor delays. For maps and additional information, click here or email my assistant Georgie at email@example.com
Fashion fundraising for Halton Women’s Place
April 22, 1 -4pm, Rude Native, 370 Brant St
For $25, you get lunch, drinks and a fashion show featuring many of our downtown retailers, including Ohh!! Beautiful Things, Joelle’s, Organza Lines and Mirella’s Ladies Boutique. All proceeds benefit Halton Women’s Place. For more information contact Carm Bozzo: 905-332-1200 ext. 222.
Nominations for Accessibility Heroes
Deadline: April 27; Ceremony May 30, 2pm, Burlington Performing Arts Centre, 440 Locust St
Do you know an individual, organization or business that deserves recognition for achievements to create a more accessible city? The Burlington Accessibility Advisory Committee invites nominations for those who are outstanding champions of accessibility, for Burlington’s first annual Accessibility Awards. Nominations close April 27. Awards ceremony is May 30. Get more information and forms here.
Local company only seed-product invitee to GreenLivingShow
RTF Water Saver Canada, located on Fairview Street in Ward 2, is the only seed company that has been invited to the Green Living Show in Toronto, April 13 to 15. The Green Living Show celebrates products that enable people to be more eco-friendly and sustainable. The RTF Water Saver Grass Seed offers water saving features, quick germination for a thick uniform lawn that chokes out weeds, and is resilient to pest, disease and drought. It’s also shade tolerant. Recently, the company donated seed to restore St. James Park in Toronto following the 40-day Occupy Protest that caused nearly $60,000 in damages.
Brant Florist nominated for award
Congratulations to downtown business, Brant Florist, which has been nominated for a business excellence award from the Burlington Chamber of Commerce. Winners will be announced at the Chamber gala, April 12. Good luck to Ken and the entire team!
Marianne Meed Ward
City/Regional Councillor, Ward 2, Burlington
905-335-7600, x 7588
905-335-7600, ext. 7368
To subscribe to the newsletter, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .