Adoption of new Official Plan delayed several weeks to April 24/25

If we can delay for new information from the province, why not for additional input from the community, as residents have been requesting?

Burlington Official PlanAdapted from a Press release – A report recommending adoption of Burlington’s proposed new Official Plan will be presented at the Planning and Development Committee:

Date: Tues. April 24 at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m; and if required, Wed. April 25 at 9:30 a.m.

Location: City Hall, 2nd floor, Council Chambers.

Originally scheduled for Wed. April 4, the date has been delayed to allow for new provincial maps to be added to the OP related to the natural heritage and agricultural systems. These maps were released by the province Feb. 9 as part of its Places to Grow program.

Decision-making is a two step process in Burlington – items come to committee first, then to council for final approval. The date for the City Council meeting to approve any motions arising from the April 24 & 25 committee meetings will be announced soon.

The April 2018 version of the Official Plan will be released the week of March 26. Subscribers to the OP email list will receive notification when it is available at

Additional background is below after My Take.

My Take:

I welcome any additional time to get our OP right. It’s too important to rush adoption for a self-imposed deadline. If we can delay for new information from the province, why not for additional input from the community, as residents have been requesting?

In our two-step decision-making process, there are typically one to two weeks between committee and council to provide for additional reflection and community input on decisions before the final vote. There has been some discussion of holding a special council meeting immediately following the committee meetings; I have recommended that motions from committee come to the next regularly scheduled council meeting May 22. We can afford to take a few weeks extra, on top of this delay.


Conformity with Provincial Plans and the Region of Halton Official Plan

As a result of further discussions with the Province and the Region of Halton a number of refinements to policies and mapping have been required to clearly demonstrate conformity with senior plans. Two main areas are highlighted below.

Updated Mapping for Natural Heritage System and Agriculture System

The Province of Ontario recently released new mapping that relates to the Natural  Heritage System and Agricultural System in Burlington. As a result, the City is now adding maps to its proposed new Official Plan to incorporate this new provincial mapping.


On July 1, 2017, the Province of Ontario approved a revised Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), which outlines policies for planning and managing growth in the GGH to the year 2041, and which includes the City of Burlington.

The revised Growth Plan policies recognize the importance of both a Natural Heritage System and an Agricultural System to the GGH. The protection of these resources is vitally important to the Plan’s long term vision for the GGH.

The revised Plan states that the Province will map a Natural Heritage System for the GGH to support a comprehensive, integrated, and long-term approach to planning for the protection of the GGH’s natural heritage and biodiversity. Municipalities are required to incorporate the Natural Heritage System as an overlay in their Official Plans, and apply appropriate policies to maintain, restore, or enhance the diversity and connectivity of the system and the long-term ecological or hydrologic functions of these features and areas.

The revised Plan also states that the Province will identify an Agricultural System for the GGH.  Prime agricultural areas, including specialty crop areas, are to be designated in official plans in accordance with mapping identified by the Province and these areas must be protected for long-term use for agriculture in municipal Official Plans.

On Feb. 9, 2018, the Province announced the release of the final mapping for both the Natural Heritage System and the Agricultural System for the GGH to support the Growth Plan. It is now in full force and effect, as of the date of its release.  It therefore applies in the consideration of all planning matters, including development applications, within municipalities in the GGH, including the City of Burlington.

The City of Burlington will now be incorporating the Provincial Natural Heritage System and Agricultural System mapping as released by the Province into the mapping of its proposed new Official Plan, in order to conform to the Provincial Growth Plan.

In implementing the Natural Heritage System and Agricultural System, the Province permits municipalities to refine provincial mapping with greater precision in a manner that is consistent with the Growth Plan. However, this is only permitted as part of a “municipal comprehensive review,” which is a new official plan or an official plan amendment initiated by the upper-tier or single-tier municipality, in this case Halton Region, that comprehensively applies the policies and Schedules of the Growth Plan.  The refinement of the Natural Heritage System and Agricultural System mapping will be undertaken on a Regional basis as part of the Region of Halton’s next Regional Official Plan Review.  The City cannot make refinements to the mapping in the Burlington Official Plan until the Region completes its municipal comprehensive review through its Official Plan Review process.

For a summary and a set of frequently asked questions, please visit the province’s website at:

For additional information please contact:
Leah Smith, Senior Planner
905-335-7600 x7508

Updated Mapping and Policies related to the Region’s Employment Area

Staff have received feedback from the Region of Halton related to those lands being recommended for conversion within the Region’s Employment Area.

Throughout the Official Plan project it was acknowledged that no decision could be made on lands within the Region’s Employment Area until the Region completed its municipal comprehensive review.  Further it was acknowledged that the City analysis was to be forwarded to the Region to be considered through that process.

In order to support the demonstration of conformity with the Regional Official Plan the Urban Structure schedule has been modified to show the full extent of the Region’s Employment Area and a new Appendix A: “Urban Structure Vision” has been included.  The policies of the plan have been modified to, among other things, identify the municipal comprehensive review and the goals of the employment land conversion recommendations presented in policy and shown within Appendix A.

This approach details the City’s long term urban structure needs given its context as a built out municipality.

The modifications to schedules and mapping maintain the intent of the recommendations that were previously considered by Council, but express that intent in a way to avoid conformity issues with the Regional Official Plan.  The approach will be documented in the forthcoming staff report that recommends adoption of the new Official Plan.

For additional information please contact:

Alison Enns, Senior Planner
905-335-7600 x7787


For more information on the Official Plan Project and how you can get involved…

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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