Categories: Downtown & WaterfrontVideo

3 Reasons why the OMB approved the condo tower in Burlington’s downtown. The sky is the limit


In February, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) approved a massive, 26 storey condo at the corner of Martha Street and Lakeshore Road.

There are 3 reasons why the OMB ruled in favour of the developer.

Three Reasons

  1. All parties (the developer, the city, and other landowners) said more than the existing 4 to 8 storeys could be allowed. The city said 11 storeys would be appropriate; another party said 16. Because they presented “no…evidence” for why these heights were better than the proposed 26 storeys, the OMB’s vice-chair went with 26 storeys. [Clauses 107,111,114,115]
  2. The developer successfully argued the city is not on track to meet growth targets.  The Board refused to allow new evidence on the urban growth centre, yet concluded the “city may not quite meet the minimum required target for intensification.” [Clause 104] Weeks after the hearing, council received a staff memo confirming growth targets are on track for 2031.
  3. Because the downtown is an urban growth centre and mobility hub, 26 storeys is “preferable” to meet provincial intensification policies. [Clauses 59,63,68,115]. The Board noted there are no maximum heights for intensification [Clause 54].

What the PPS 2014 does not do is set a maximum target for intensification.  Implementation of the PPS 2014 logically requires that each application is to be considered on its own merits. The fact that an application may involve an official plan amendment does not mean that the proposed development is inconsistent with the
PPS2014. [Clause 54}

Three Things We Can Do

This ruling – if allowed to stand – has devastating consequences, not just for Burlington, but for other Ontario cities. There are three things we can do.

  1. Remove the downtown urban growth centre and mobility hub designations.  Otherwise, more applications representing over-intensification will keep coming.
  2. Remove the height increases in the new official plan.  With the OMB ruling there are no maximums – increased heights only become the new minimums.  The proposed downtown plan does not give us any control.
  3. Defend our existing Official Plan and growth targets as meeting provincial policies.

We need to take action; we need to take charge of our city’s future.

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. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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