A ‘Settlement Agreement Conference’ of the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) was held at City Hall today with regard to the proposed National Homes development of townhouses at 2100 Brant St.

The development at 2100 is being appealed because City Council failed to respond within the legislated time limit to the developer’s proposal. No reason has been provided to our knowledge as to why the City failed to respond in time. Failing to respond meant that even the usually limited opportunities for public engagement on a development have been curtailed. Expensive litigation at LPAT should never happen simply because the City misses a deadline.

The previous Council voted on November 12th to change a Pre-Hearing Conference to a Settlement Agreement Conference. A Settlement Agreement Conference implies an attempt by the parties to come to a negotiated or mediated agreement.

Last night (December 17th) the new City Council voted 4-3 to “Direct the City Solicitor to proceed in accordance with instructions provided with respect to confidential legal department report L-38-18 regarding an update on a litigation matter.”

What the confidential instructions were became clear today at the LPAT session. It appears Mayor Meed Ward, and Councillors Kearns, Stolte and Nisan voted to change the decision of the previous Council and withdraw the intention to reach a settlement, while Councillors Bentivegna, Sharman and Galbraith voted to keep the prior Council’s decision.

Therefore at the start of the meeting today, National Homes and their legal counsel were informed that Council had withdrawn. As a result, LPAT scheduled a pre-hearing conference for April 3rd 2019 to continue to the next stage of the appeals process.

Counsel for National Homes put it on record that they would now be pursuing Burlington City Council for costs arising from withdrawing from the Settlement Agreement Conference.

The decision not to proceed to a settlement has also been advocated by the Havendale Advisory Committee (HAC) which has argued that the development is contrary to provincial policy, and represents overdevelopment of the site.

HAC has also been seeking to be identified as a ‘Party’ at the pre-conference hearing. Today it was determined that John Calvert would represent the Group with Party status. HAC maintains that, although National Homes has already reduced the number of units requested for the site from 233 to 212, it still represents overdevelopment contrary to provincial policy.

‘Party Status’ allows a person or organization to “bring evidence, ask questions and make statements” during an LPAT hearing. As was made clear at the hearing, it also brings potential risks for individuals and community groups, who expose themselves to being pursued for legal costs should an appeal fail.

[This article has been edited to clarify how it is known what the confidential instructions voted on in closed session were, and to explain why the development has been appealed to LPAT.]