If the new 29 storey proposal for Lakeshore and Pearl is ultimately approved at the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT), and forced on Burlington in a form anything like this first proposal, ECoB believes we are seeing an Ontario-wide collapse in the ability of municipalities to govern their own planning and development.
The public meeting held for the Carriage Gate development at 2069-2079 Lakeshore Road and 383-385 Pearl Street on January 29th was one of the most heated yet held in Burlington. Over two hours, residents at a packed Art Gallery of Burlington submitted the numerous objections and reservations they had with the proposed 29 storey development. No citizen spoke in favour of the development.
While ECoB continues to stress that it does not oppose reasonable development or intensification, it absolutely believes developers have an obligation to work within the in-force and provincially-approved planning context established by democratically elected councils.
Residents have recently expressed their preferences in unambiguous terms about over-development in downtown. It is therefore dismaying to see proposals coming to City Hall at a rapid rate which don’t just exceed planning maximums, but completely ignore the entire planning context that Council has established over the last decade and a half.
This new proposal from Carriage Gate (the developer behind the 421 Brant St development which led to the creation of ECoB) suggests a level of massing, setbacks and overall height that massively exceeds both the in force Official Plan and the ‘Grow Bold’ Official Plan introduced by the last council. Regardless of one’s opinions at the 2018 municipal election, this development completely disregards all attempts by Council to moderate development downtown.
Here are just some of the concerns raised by residents, which, according to how the planning process is intended to work, should be addressed before this proposal comes to council for approval.
- Increase on already excessive ground-level windspeeds on Lakeshore/Pearl
- Loss of commercial space.
- Lack of justification for exceeding proposed Official Plan by 12 storeys.
- Traffic impact.
- Dramatically lower parking provision than required by by-laws.
- Need for City Planning Department to respond in time on all applications to avoid automatic appeals.
- Practicalities of reversing delivery and garbage trucks.
- Lack of respect for residents in proposals which ignore all City Planning objectives and maximums.
- Need for 3-D models
- Need for any Chapter 37 benefits to be honoured and not reneged on.
- Possibility of impact of failure to provide Chapter 37 benefits promised on other developments.
ECoB believes this proposal is the most obvious case yet of over-development in downtown Burlington. While we hope, and aspire, to work collaboratively with developers to make their proposals align better with residents’ objectives, there seems little way in which this development, even if scaled dramatically back, would reflect the democratically expressed preferences of the residents of Burlington.
We believe this development is likely to be a test case, not just for the new council, but for the role of municipalities and local democracy in Ontario. The outcome will tell us much about the power of municipalities versus the power of developers to demand, and receive, approval for developments which bear no relation to legally adopted and provincially endorsed Official Plans.