Halton Region has today announced that it has found the new Burlington Official Plan (OP) not to conform to Regional policy objectives as outlined in the Region of Halton Official Plan (ROP). It has therefore sent the OP back to Burlington for modification.

What does this mean?

The Region has not approved Burlington’s Official Plan. It has been sent back to Burlington to be ‘fixed’, after which it must be resubmitted for approval. Certain specific problem areas have been identified by the Region including but not limited to:

  1. Employment lands
  2. Agricultural lands
  3. ‘Natural Heritage System’
  4. Transportation

Downtown isn’t mentioned. Does that mean the downtown sections can’t be changed?

We don’t believe so. Our understanding is that once the Region has sent the OP back, the city is at liberty to make what changes it wants. The ball is in the city’s court. Any other interpretation would imply the OP had been approved ‘in part’, but that is not the case.

We acknowledge that this is only our non-expert opinion, and we await clarification of the City’s position.

EDIT: ECoB has received confirmation this morning (December 5th) that “[Burlington and Halton] can look at issues and contemplate changes that go beyond those that we identify as ‘conformity issues’” as part of the revision process now the approval process has been halted and 210 day window for approval has been halted.

What is ECoB’s Reaction?

ECoB’s position earlier this year was that the Official Plan approval should be delayed until after the election, so that there should be an opportunity for voters to express their preferences for the future vision of Burlington and for genuine engagement to take place on residents’ preferences. We believe this can now happen.

We therefore:

  1. Urge City Hall to consult as fully as possible with the residents of Burlington – of all ages, demographics, ethnicities and geographical locations – to set out our vision for Burlington’s future together.
  2. Encourage City Hall to go beyond traditional methods of engagement alone – such as town hall meetings, delegations and limited online surveys – and investigate innovative, representative and scientific methods of obtaining citizen input which do not rely solely on citizens choosing to volunteer their time.
  3. Encourage residents to be ready to have their say. Please sign up to our mailing list to stay informed, or to take part in ward committees which will be discussing this issue in the coming weeks and months.

While the recent election made it abundantly clear what Burlington’s residents do not want, now we have the opportunity to shape a positive vision for Burlington’s future built environment together.