The developer for the proposed 26-storey building at the foot of Martha & Lakeshore in downtown Burlington has requested mediation in an effort address the city’s issues with the application in advance of the scheduled hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board on Feb. 21, 2017.
Adi Development Group requested, through its legal counsel, that the City of Burlington participate in an OMB-led mediation process. The city has agreed to participate in mediation.
Dates of the mediation will be scheduled by the OMB’s mediation hearing officers. Parties to the hearing, and numerous participants including many residents, will be notified of the dates. However the mediation meetings themselves are only open to the parties to the hearing, not the participants or general public.
A pre-hearing was scheduled Oct. 27 and 28 to go over issues list that will be the focus of the hearing in February 2017. I attended the pre-hearing on Oct. 27, which concluded after about half an hour. The focus of the discussion was the request for mediation and need to set dates. Once the dates are set, the board will issue a procedural order, which will include a revised issues list.
My Take: It is always preferable to negotiate rather than litigate. That said, the parties are far apart: the current Official Plan and Zoning for this property call for a 4 storey building, with provision to go to 8 storeys under certain circumstances and with provision of community benefits. The request is for 26 storeys. We can’t simply pick a number somewhere in the middle to avoid a hearing and call it good planning. Any agreement on this proposal must be based on sound planning principles which go beyond simply the height of this project. Most of the issues can be addressed with a properly-scaled project more in keeping with the existing planning provisions. I’m also concerned that discussion now goes behind closed doors and the public has no input until something emerges from the mediation itself.