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4 developments coming July 10: 18 storeys at Brant/James; 38 towns at 1335 Plains/Helena; 50 stacked towns on Prospect; 2000 people, 900 jobs at Tremaine-Dundas secondary plan

The city’s Planning & Development Committee of will consider four development applications at it’s meeting July 10, 1pm and 6:30pm sessions, at City Hall, including:

  • recommended approval for an 18-storey highrise at 409 Brant/James, plus Section 37 Community Benefits (6:30pm)
  • “information report” — no recommendation — for 38 townhouses (both standard and back-to-back) at 1335-1355 Plains Rd and Helena (6:30pm) **UPDATE** A modified proposal has been drafted by the applicant. Details below.
  • information report  — no recommendation — for 2087-2103 Prospect (6:30pm)
  • recommended approval of the Tremaine/Dundas subdivision of up to 2000 people and 900 jobs (1pm)

Residents can Register as a Delegation to speak for up to 10 minutes. Link to the agenda, with all reports, is here: Planning & Development, July 10

Any recommendation from P&D July 10 will go to City Council Mon. July 16, 6:30pm for a final vote. Residents can also attend and speak at that meeting for up to 5 minutes.

If you can’t attend, you can submit written comments to the clerks department for circulation to committee members (staff and council): clerks@burlington.ca

A summary of each application and My Take is below. What are your thoughts? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

409 Brant/James

Staff are recommending modified approval of the development proposal at Brant and James including:

  • reduction in height from 24 storeys, 227 units, to 18 storeys including a rooftop patio, reducing the height of the podium to 3 storeys (from 4), terracing the building away from Brant St. The current Official Plan permission is 4-8 storeys; the new adopted (not approved) Official Plan allows 11 to 17 storeys.
  • increase in proposed retail/commercial space. The developer had proposed reducing the commercial and retail space from 3600 m2 to 597 m2 retail only (no commercial). This represents an 85% decrease in existing commercial/retail space on site, thereby “eroding the retail and employment base of the downtown”, states the staff report. Staff recommend a minimum of 365 m2 of commercial or office space on the second floor and 760 m2 of commercial retail space at grade, for a total of 1,125 retail/commercial (still a reduction of about 70% from what currently exists).
  • increased parking, to 1.25 spaces per unit, versus the developer’s proposal of .93 spaces per unit.
  • increased amenity space to 18 m2 per unit  (bylaw requires 20 m2/unit; developer had proposed 3.6m2/unit).
  • 5m by 5m visibility triangle for the intersection of James Street and John Street.
  • 3m by 3m visibility triangle for the south-west and south-east corners of the property.
  • 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units are proposed
  • preservation and setback of two buildings with heritage value: Kelly’s Bake Shoppe and Albert Schmid Jewellers. Staff recommend the heritage facades be shifted back on the lot to for widened sidewalks and views into the Elgin Street Promenade.
  • three city trees need to be removed and will be compensated with replanting or cash-in-lieu, where replanting is not feasible, in the amount of $4,100.

Staff are recommending a Holding Zone until certain matters can be addressed including:

  • that the site is uncontaminated and suitable for the intended use;
  • development can be adequately serviced by storm sewers as a result of dewatering the underground parking garage.

Staff also recommend that additional wind mitigation measures should be incorporated at the site plan stage to enhance pedestrian comfort, and additional mitigation on shadow impacts on the public realm.

Staff are recommending approval of the modified project arguing it “meets the objectives of the current Official Plan, and the direction of the Council adopted Official Plan by allowing additional height … in exchange for a significant civic enhancement of the corner of Brant and James Street,  additional setbacks for building terracing and public realm improvements.”

Staff information report and supporting documents:

Section 37 Community Benefits

Staff have also proposed the following community benefits in exchange for the extra height and density on the site:

  • $250,000 for purchase of up to 6 assisted housing units by Halton Region, or similar contribution to housing fund held at the city
  • $100,000 for improvement of civic square
  • $50,000 for improvement of downtown transit terminal
  • $25,000 towards a downtown Burlington Farmer’s Market
  • $25,000 towards active transportation links (walking/cycling) in the Elgin Promenade area
  • widening sidewalks (Brant/James/John) – indirect benefit of $250,000
  • public easement at Brant/James of 16×16 – indirect benefit of $75,000
  • implement streetscape guidelines for expanded setbacks and open space easement for Brant/James/John – indirect benefit of $150,000
  • retain heritage attributes – indirect benefit of $300,000
Additional information on the original development submission: 409 Brant

My Take: The staff modified proposal is better than the original submission, but still represents overdevelopment of the site and insufficient community benefit in return. There is a major reduction in business space (retail/commercial) thus a reduction in overall employment downtown. The open space at the corner of Brant/James — offered as partial justification for the height — could have been gotten through daylight triangle and parkland dedication rather than accepting cash in lieu of parkland. The wind and shadow impacts are unacceptable (according to the staff report). We don’t need this overdevelopment to meet our growth targets. As noted in the staff report, pg 21 ” The Downtown Urban Growth Centre is well positioned to meet its density targets by 2031″ and further “The Downtown Burlington Mobility Hub has exceeded the minimum density of 10,000 people and jobs associated with a Mobility Hub.”

Regarding the Section 37 Community Benefits the assisted housing, heritage preservation and Farmer’s Market are items the community values and has requested over the years. The balance (transit terminal, civic square improvement, active transportation) can and should be funded out of regular operating expenses not through exchanges of height and density. We also have other tools for increased setbacks and public spaces (parkland dedication, daylight triangle) but one of the best ways is to change our zoning bylaw to eliminate development lot line to lot line and build in appropriate setbacks so we don’t need to negotiate for them later.

2087-2103 Prospect

Proposed Development

Two blocks of stacked townhouses, each containing 25 rental housing units (50 housing units), plus 130 parking spaces (including 9 visitor spaces). The two existing fourplex buildings (eight housing units) will be demolished. The eight-storey apartment building will remain.

The built form is permitted on the site but not the density, which allows up to 50 units/hectare, where the application proposes 118 units/hectare.

Key concerns raised by the public about this development include:

  • Not enough parking for existing residents, no existing visitor parking, no accessible parking
  • Ability to protect/preserve trees along rear property line if a retaining wall is going to be installed
  • Relocation of tenants in the eight (8) townhouses that are proposed to be demolished
  • Request for accessible units to attract diverse populations to the property
  • Drainage — neighbours have sump pumps that run continuously
  • Too many townhouses proposed — consider building within medium density zone standards instead of high density zone
  • Construction impacts on existing residents (e.g. noise and dust)

Transportation: Staff have requested 150 parking spaces (124 spaces for occupants and 26 spaces for visitors)

Site engineering: Staff have outstanding concerns regarding the proposed retaining wall, grading, drainage and impacts to private and city trees.

At a future date, staff will bring forward a recommendation report on this project for council to approve, deny or approve with modifications. Residents will be notified of the date of that meeting when it is set and can attend and speak to the recommendation. I will also include notice on this website.

Staff information report and supporting documents:

More information: 2087/2103 Prospect

My Take: I share the concerns raised by residents and/or staff about inadequate parking, too much density, loss of trees, drainage matters, and the need for a variety of units, including accessible units. I will be looking for changes to address these matters before supporting the proposal.

1335-1355 Plains Rd at Helena

Proposed Development

The applications propose the redevelopment of the site into nine standard townhouse units along the northern half of the site, 17 back-to-back townhouse units on the southern half of the property and 12 back-to-back townhouse units on the eastern side of the property for a total of 38 units; 76 parking spaces, plus 5 visitor spaces are proposed.

The key concerns raised by the public about the development include:

  • Lack of visitor parking spaces
  • Privacy impacts from the north side of subject lands (due to reduced setbacks)
  • Removal of too many trees
  • Concerns with noise, dust and other factors related to construction
  • Additional traffic generated
  • Concerns with proposed building design and lack of compatibility

Forestry: Staff have recommended caliper for caliper tree replacement, and details of agreement with adjacent properties to remove neighbouring trees. One city tree is proposed to be removed, and staff will seek compensation.

Transportation: Staff advise that driveways fronting onto the private condominium road are required to have a length of 6.7 metres, and some of the currently proposed driveways are deficient. More visitor parking spaces are strongly encouraged. Staff are not concerned with trip generation or traffic, but are concerned about the access being proposed for the development so close to the intersection of Plains Road East and Helena Street and the potential safety impacts that may result.

Engineering: Staff note a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment will be required.

At a future date, staff will bring forward a recommendation report on this project for council to approve, deny or approve with modifications. Residents will be notified of the date of that meeting when it is set and can attend and speak to the recommendation. I will also include notice on this website.

Staff information report PB-37-18

More information: 1335-1355 Plains

UPDATE: A modified proposal has been drafted. Details below. This will be shared at Committee next week, but the applicant has agreed to share this information with the public in advance upon my request (with thanks!)

  1. Increase in building setback and landscaped buffer adjacent to rear yard of singles on Bonnnie Court to the north.
    • Building setback increased from 6m to 8m
    • Landscape strip increased from 1.5m to 3m (note this landscape strip is included within the 8m setback)
    • Note: An additional +1m setback for these townhouse units could be provided if the City agrees to allow a parking stall length reduction from 6.7m to 6m for the standard townhouses and the back to back units across the internal street This is not reflected in the attached revised site plan.
  2. Reduction in number of standard townhouses from 9 units to 5 units.
  3. Increase in visitor parking:
    • By-law requires 0.5 visitor spaces per townhouse unit. Previously provided 0.2 spaces per units but have now increased it to 2 visitor spaces per townhouse unit which exceeds the By-law requirement
    • By-law requires .35 visitor spaces per back-to-back townhouse unit. Previously provided 0.1 space per unit but have now increased it to 0.35 visitor spaces per townhouse unit including 6 on site and the use of 7 driveways within the public right-of-way (requires municipal approval to allow use of right of way).
  4. Realignment of Helena Street with Plains Road (standard T intersection).
    • This results in the ability to provide 5 additional layby parking spaces along the south side of Plains Road (the local part).
  5. Increase in common amenity space from 71m2 to 120m2 broken down into two areas: One adjacent to the visitor parking spaces internal to the site, and the second one along and adjacent to Plains road (adjacent to units 23 and 34) which will be carefully designed to include a usable seating area and ornamental landscaping, etc.
  6. Increase in building setback and landscaped buffer adjacent to rear yard of singles on Bonnnie Court to the north.
  7. Building setback increased from 6m to 8m
  8. Landscape strip increased from 1.5m to 3m (note this landscape strip is included within the 8m setback)
  9. Note:  An additional +1m setback for these townhouse units could be provided if the City agrees to allow a parking stall length reduction from 6.7m to 6m for the standard townhouses and the back to back units across the “street”.  This is not reflected in the attached revised site plan.

My Take: The proposed revisions address a number of the concerns raised by residents and staff around parking, privacy, tree removal, driveway access and design. It may be possible to further increase setbacks along the back of the property abutting the residential community by reducing driveway lengths to 6m – a standard used in other communities. I’m interested to hear from the community your thoughts on the revisions.

Tremaine-Dundas Secondary Plan

The overall vision for the Tremaine Dundas Secondary Plan is to incorporate significant energy saving and renewable energy initiatives for an environmentally responsible mixed-use community. The 133 hectare site at full build out is expected to have a total population of between 1945 and 2030 people and provide approximately 816-900 employment opportunities.

Staff report and supporting documents:

My Take: I voted in favour of the plan at committee, as I believe the site is more suitable to residential than industrial/commercial uses. There will also be significant commercial space on the property, providing potential for people to live and work in the same community. However, it is in an isolated spot and not currently well served by transit or other community services.

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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3 Comments

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  1. Marianne, I am very curious about your take on the Tremaine-Dundas development being able to accommodate greater density. This location is a considerable distance from other parts of the city, is not served by transit, and there is little capability for active transportation other than via a dangerous 4 lane, soon to be 6 lane highway. It will be by far the most car-dependent space in our city.

    As nearly anyone in Burlington understands, density and car dependence are very much at odds with one another. Density works when jobs and services are nearby in walking distance (like Downtowns). Nothing in walking distance here whatsoever. This area will add a lot more car traffic to the commercial node at Appleby/Dundas which is already overwhelming.

    Ultimately, this land is better used as commercial and light industrial, instead of for mid-high density residential. If it is to be used to meet our residential targets it will require huge investments in transit and cycling to connect it to needed infrastructure like the GO trains and the city’s shopping areas.

    At a minimum, this means a new transit route and an extension of the hydro corridor path to connect to the neighbourhood if it is to be used for residential.

    • Thanks for the feedback Chris. These are all valid points. The suggestion for greater density was included in the Sustainable Development detailed submission. Please check it out and let me know what you think of their arguments. (You can find it by following the links to the agenda in the article).

      • Thanks, Marianne. On balance the SDC’s recommendations as it pertains to the development itself are very good. However one thing the report doesn’t really address is the context of this community and how it works for residents as a part of a larger whole.

        20 years ago, the Orchard neighbourhood was envisioned in much the same way – a more sustainable community that would support walking, biking and transit to a larger degree than the traditional suburban built form. However the City has not devoted significant resources to establishing the same principles beyond the immediate neighbourhood. The result is that transit service to the neighbourhood was reduced as the neighbourhood filled in, pathway connectivity both within and beyond the community remains incomplete, all of the neighbouring shops and services are designed to be accessed primarily by car and therefore the desired shift to more sustainable modes didn’t occur.

        This neighbourhoood will be considerably smaller than the Orchard. It will not have a school – residents will be bussed (likely to J.W. Boich 1.5 to 2 km away). So as a sustainable community, the deck is stacked against it in a way that other neighbourhoods in the city don’t have. Barring major changes and improvements to the surrounding systems for active transportation, it’s highly unlikely that as residential, Evergreen will have a future as other than a car-dependent enclave.

        One option to enable residential may be to specifically market and design the community as a car-free or car-shared eco-community, with small homes & towns arranged around gardens and paths, dedicated transit and excellent cycling connections with the cars at the periphery. Something like this…https://www.fastcompany.com/3059264/this-new-car-free-neighborhood-redesigns-suburbia . Something that the typical landowner or developer would have a hard time supporting, as it limits the market to those people who don’t mind the tradeoffs of living in such a community. But something that radical may be necessary given the alternative of entrenching and reinforcing the sprawl-based land use pattern around it.

What's your take?

Staff recommend 18 storeys at Brant/James; vote July 10, to council July 16

Work on Burloak grade separation and Drury Lane pedestrian bridge to be advanced to 2019