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ALERT: Public meeting May 1, 7pm, AGB, for 24 storey application for south side Brant & James

Let’s stop the rush on the proposed Official Plan changes

View from Brant with retained building at far side.

ALERT: Save the date for a neighbourhood meeting on this project, May 1, 7pm, Art Gallery of Burlington, Shoreline Room.

City Hall has just received an application for a 24-storey building at the South East corner of Brant & James, encompassing the Elizabeth Interiors site up to Kelly’s Bake Shoppe and East to John St.

The proposal calls for incorporating the Bake Shoppe building, as well as the Albert L. Schmid Jeweller, Watch and Clockmaker building facing John Street into the design.

Details of the proposal:

The purpose of the application is to amend the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw to permit a 24 storey building, including 23 stories of residential and a one storey roof top amenity area.

The proposed building would include:

  • 597 square metres of ground floor commercial and 227 residential units
  • five (5) levels of underground parking
  • car access from John Street
  • commercial units with front windows facing onto Brant Street, James Street and John Street.

Existing & Proposed Official Plan permissions:

The site currently permits 4 storeys, up to 8 with community benefits. The city’s proposed new draft Official Plan proposes 17 storeys.

However until the Region of Halton approves the city’s new OP, the existing OP is in force and effect.

Regional review of the city’s OP is 12-18 months away, and expected to begin in 2019 as part of the Region’s own Official Plan review.

Approved 23-storey at NE corner, Brant/James

City council recently approved a 23-storey building across the street at the North-East corner of Brant/James. The new Official Plan called for 17 storeys here. The existing Official Plan has a 12 storey permission on North East corner lot (a result of an earlier Ontario Municipal Board appeal) with 4-8 storeys on the balance of the assembled properties.


A dedicated web page has been opened for the new 24-storey application, where supporting documents, notices of meetings and staff reports will be posted: 409 Brant St

A neighbourhood meeting will be scheduled. Stay tuned for details.

Planning staff intend to complete a report on this application in the fall of 2018.

Planner on the file:

Suzanne McInnes
426 Brant St, P.O. Box 5013, Burlington, ON L7R 3Z6
Phone: 905-335-7600, ext. 7555


Reserve Properties Ltd.
110 Eglinton Ave. E, Suite 500
Toronto, ON M4P 2Y1

Applicant’s Representative:

Glenn Wellings
Wellings Planning Consultants Inc.
513 Locust St, Unit B
Burlington, ON L7S 1V3
905-681-1769, ext. 1

My Take:

When council approved the 23-storey building at the North East corner of Brant & James (I did not support) residents warned it would set a precedent for future applications that wouldn’t conform either to the existing Official Plan or proposed new Official Plan.

Their concerns have been realized, and it took less than three months.

This proposal contemplates the second of two towers on a corner that will overwhelm City Hall, at one third the size, and dominate the Brant streetscape of predominantly 2 storey buildings.

The proposed downtown policies in the draft new Official Plan call for buildings up to 17 storeys in the “downtown core” precinct east of John and pockets of taller buildings elsewhere in the downtown along Brant, Lakeshore and Maple.

Many residents spoke eloquently at the Jan 23 committee meeting against these changes, concerned about overintensification, congestion, parking impact, sun shadow, loss of community character and small town feel – even affect on birds.

The impact of changes coming our way were downplayed as being well into the future – 20, 30, 50, even 100 years off.

Now it’s here; and there is more to come. We know there is active land assembly underway of significant  blocks downtown. Downtown is about to change dramatically and in my view not for the better.

We’ve been told that by rushing through council approval of the OP in general and downtown precinct plan in particular, we’ll get more control of downtown development. This proposal isn’t in keeping with the proposed plan (17 storeys), much less the existing plan (4-8 storeys).

The existing Official Plan is in force and effect until the Region approves our proposed new plan some 12-18 months from now.

The proposed plan can “inform” development but is not “determinative.”

Further, changes to the Ontario Municipal Board into the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal give local council decisions more weight and restrict what can be appealed – only decisions that don’t conform to provincial policy.

A “conformity exercise” to ensure we comply won’t begin till after the Region approves our proposed new Official Plan; are we in conformity now, or are we “sitting ducks” for appeals? Too soon to tell if we are in conformity and nope, we’re not sitting ducks – I asked these questions at the Feb. 6 committee meeting and that was the answer.

So what’s the rush on the proposed Official Plan? Short answer: in my view, there isn’t any. Our proposed plan won’t take effect till after Regional approval in 2019 or later, and our decisions can’t easily be appealed under the new LPAT. We can make this right.

So, what can you do?

  • Share your views on the proposed 24-storey application with the planner on the file, and attend the neighbourhood and city committee and council meetings where this will be discussed and debated. That process will unfold over the next several months.
  • On the broader issue of the proposed Official Plan, council can still make changes to the draft Official Plan till April 4 & 23 when it is scheduled for council vote. Undoing some of the votes already made on the downtown policies would require a 5-2 reconsideration vote during this term of council, followed by majority vote on the item. Ask your councillor for changes.
  • attend the Feb 27 meeting Statutory Public Meeting at City Hall on the proposed Official Plan (1 pm and 6:30pm sessions) and share your views with council members
  • Make the proposed Official Plan an election issue. Ask all candidates, including incumbents, whether they will revise the proposed overintensification of the downtown and send a modified, more balanced plan to the Region before the Region approves the new draft plan in 2019 or later.

There is still time to make this right, promote balanced, reasonable growth that we can all embrace, and save the downtown from overintensification.

More to come.


Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. What downtown Burlington?! This is a depressing and disgusting . Ugliness, concrete, no character- who will want to stroll “downtown”? The councillors who approved the monstrosity across from City Hall are not downtowners and live in outlying suburban neighbourhoods where they will not feel the impact as they look for parking at the malls. Yes, it should be an election issue but isn’t it rather too late?

  2. It’s official! We’ve just entered the ‘FUBAR’ zone 🙁 And I’m TRULY impressed how we ‘celebrate’ ‘OUR’ (NOT!!!) heritage month with demolishing THE LAST farm house of what once was (aka OUR past) Appleby Village???!!! I’ve had the honour, thanks to my parents, of living within a block of Maple Avenue (yes…Maple trees did truly line the road) and Lakeshore. From my childhood bedroom window I can see the Burlington Skyway Bridge and the OPP antane blinking. I could go on but I’m saving my good stuff for a ‘soap box’ moment. For now, I weep with sadness at the state of the ‘vision’ of where we’re headed from what was once truly a remarkable mid-sized city to live in. COME ON BURLINGTONIANS!! A few great people have been doing ALL the heavy lifting on the fight to hang on to our AWESOME downtown. To be clear, I ABSOLUTELY want ALL citizens, as well as visitors, to enjoy our wonderfully unique mix of old and new in our downtown core. WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE GTHA LOVE coming here on weekends????!!! Because it’s the best of BOTH worlds 🙂 Can there be thoughtful and dynamic improvements in our future? Most definitely. But when you have a council that just (seems now) to pay lip-service to OUR PLEAS….well…WITHOUT a real turnout from many more of us, the tax payers, the citizens, to shout to the rafters that we’re mad as hell and no longer going to take it!!! Well….then we have only ourselves to blame. There are open houses. MAKE THE TIME TO COME. We’re ALL busy! As the saying goes: “If it matters, you’ll find a way, if not, you’ll find an excuse”. Progress is here…how WE help define that…can be up to us. TAKE A STAND. TAKE THE TIME and SHOW UP. Your children will thank you.

  3. Disgusting. NO more high rises where they shouldn’t be. The old OP is still in force, supposed to be!
    Did ADI get approval for their build – if not why are they building already?

  4. The “NEW” official plan everyone talks about is a joke! Just like 5 of the elected officials at city hall who are supposed to represent the people who elect them but DON’T. Remember at election time to turf out these people!

  5. The formula for developers seems to be: ask for the ridiculous and settle for the absurd. This proposal certainly follows that path! It’s another wake up call for the citizens of our city!

  6. Unlike everyone else i don’t see an issue. The buildings should be taller to maximize city tax revenue. The future is up. Low density single dwelling homes are a dream of the past and a terrible waste of land.

    • Stephen Warner no one is asking for or expecting single family homes on this piece of property. That is a bit of an extreme statement to try to make your point. Almost all the delegators, including myself, just asked that Planning Staff stick to the Plan. Height yes, everyone gets that, but where the heck did 23 storeys come from? Why can’t anyone at the City list the fabulous gains they negotiated for all these extra floors like additional public parking spots for downtown, green space for all those condo dwellers, more retail/office space than is currently there? Nada. Crickets.

      • Where are the economic impact studies? Transit impact studies? Parking studies, any studies? Planning consists of studying future impacts. Not just untried notions of what intensification might look like.

  7. How many more parking spots would be rented in the public lots downtown to accommodate the second car that many residents would likely require, further reducing parking for people wanting to come downtown to shop and dine. How are we going to get more and more people moving on our already congested, narrowed streets.

  8. Is the applicant’s rep for the amendment the same Mr. Weller who spoke in support of The New Official Plan and suggested citizen opposition was Nimbyism? Hardly any surprise now.

  9. The new official plan is not even approved and here we are with amendments already. Engaged Citizens of Burlington need citizens support in ensuring this becomes an election issue. Vote for greater engagement.

  10. Cheap and boring. Request more interesting architecture features and wider human scaled street presence. Cookie cutter clutter should be avoided if we grant them 20 extra stories!

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