Approximately 200 residents gathered at the Lion’s Club last night to hear about the development proposal for 401-417 Martha Street.
Landform Development Group (LDG), the developer also responsible for the Saxony development opposite Burlington Performing Arts Centre, held the public open house on Monday at the Burlington Lion’s Club. They are to be congratulated for having held a public meeting at an unusually early stage in the planning process. While LDG have certainly already been speaking to the planning department, as is a typical and potentially problematic practice in all major developments before citizen comment is invited, no formal submission has yet been made to the city. LDG is therefore going beyond the minimum statutory requirements for engagement with citizens.
LDG’s early proposal, on which they were seeking feedback, is for an 11 storey mid-rise condominium block, including 2 townhouses, and underground parking.
LDG set out their arguments for the development, pointing to both the old (and still in force) and new Official Plans which zone Martha Street for mid to high density, and the existing surrounding buildings which already include several midrise and high density buildings. During questions and answers, Mayor-elect Meed Ward stated that the old OP does not specify a maximum height, but in effect limited potential height to approximately 6 storeys because of its density zoning. The new OP, stipulates a maximum of 11 storeys. The proposal as it stands would require adjustments to whichever OP happens to be in force.
LDG also mentioned several additional features:
- A publicly accessible walkway which would connect to the Waterfront Trail and allow people to walk beside Rambo Creek down to Martha Terrace.
- A relatively high allocation of ground-level bike storage for residents, albeit fewer than one space per unit.
- Spaces for electric vehicles.
During the question and answer session, three primary issues were raised by residents.
The current draft proposal includes underground parking for 1 car per unit, less than the 1.25 per unit stipulated in Burlington’s by-laws. LDG’s representative argued that demand for car parking is decreasing, but residents expressed concerns about how realistic parking it is to have an allocation below 1.25 per unit.
2. “Massing” and Setbacks
The assembled lot on Martha Street backs onto Rambo Creek. The proximity to the creek with its potential for flooding and the narrowness of the lot in general has led LDG to develop a plan which places the proposed building immediately on Martha Street, with in essence a vertical front elevation from the street to eleven stories. For existing residents on Martha Street, this would replace their current view with a ‘wall’ immediately opposite their front doors.
3. Context of current development on and near Martha Street
Martha Street is currently faced with what amounts to a complete transformation over the next five years to a decade. There are already approved an 18 storey buildings at Martha and James, 24 storeys at the ADI development at Martha and Lakeshore, and a medium rise building is planned behind Martha Street at east side of Pearl and Pine streets. This will amount, even before this development is approved, to perhaps the most concentrated area of new building and intensification currently planned in the city. Residents, in particular a number of residents who live on Martha, expressed concern about the level of development they are to be faced with in coming years.
City Hall Comments
Councillor-elect for Ward 2 Lisa Kearns introduced herself to the audience and encouraged citizens to provide feedback at the meeting and by other methods to her, which would be considered fully as the proposal continues to the next stage.
Current councillor and mayor-elect Marianne Meed Ward clarified a number of points regarding current zoning and the existing and yet to be adopted Official Plans. She stated that she had concerns with the massing, density and setbacks as proposed in this early plan, which she said exceed what is required in Burlington for the city to meet its intensification targets.
What do you think about the proposal? How could it be improved? What potential problems does it create? What would you like to see at this location? Tell us in the comments and ECoB will make sure residents’ opinions are heard and represented as this development proceeds.