Analysis & Insight — City council is heading into the final stages of adopting the proposed new Official Plan, with committee meetings scheduled for April 24 (1 pm & 6:30 pm) and if necessary April 25, followed immediately by a council meeting. (I did not support this and believe we need the normal week or two time separation between committee and council meetings for reflection and consultation, especially on a matter as far-reaching as the Official Plan).
I will be bringing several motions to protect low density neighbourhoods, employment lands and farm operations. What’s at risk if we adopt this plan is our quality of life and the reasons residents moved to Burlington or stayed and made this our home.
Below you’ll find a summary of motions and what happens next if council adopts the plan, as well as links to additional articles on the GO Station mobility hub plans and open houses, and providing evidence that our current OP is up-to-date.
Summary of Motions:
a) In section 8.3.3 (1) a) Delete the words: “and semi-detached dwellings”
b) In section 8.3.3 (1) b) Delete the words: “Notwithstanding…” up to and including “…Zoning by-law amendment,” while retaining the criteria for low density development in sections (i) to (iv)
Rationale: Section 2.4.2 (3) a) (ii) of the proposed Official Plan states that “intensification is generally discouraged” in Established Neighbourhood Areas; section b) v) anticipates growth in established neighbourhoods via “secondary dwelling units;” and section c) states that “land assembly for development applications should be discouraged.”
However, Section 8.3.3 (1) a) opens the door to semi-detached units (except in character neighbourhoods of Roseland and Indian Point); and b) opens the door for “other forms of ground oriented dwellings” in low-density residential areas, including townhouses and apartment walkups, subject to density limits of 25 units per hectare, compatibility criteria and amenity space.
These housing types are best suited to medium density areas. The protections in Section 2 should not be undone in Section 8.
Though allowing other forms of ground orientated housing in established neighbourhoods is a carry over clause from the existing Official Plan, the pressure to intensify has increased and will only continue to grow; the Blue Water/Avondale townhouse application (now at the Ontario Municipal Board) is just one example. If the plan calls for intensification in established neighbourhoods primarily via secondary dwelling units, that intent should be carried through in Section 8, not opened to additional housing forms that fit better in medium density areas.
Further, residents have been told growth will be directed away from established neighbourhoods and only 5% of the city will see growth. Allowing other forms of ground-oriented house in low density neighbourhoods has the potential for growth and change beyond merely secondary dwelling units, contrary to the intent of the growth framework and what residents have been told.
Motion: Section 8.1.1 (3.13.1) (f) add the words: “a maximum height of 3 storeys” before “rear yard setback” and adjust clause c)(ii) accordingly.
Rationale: Residents have argued persuasively that this section of Brant Street, given the shallow depth of parcels and older buildings, should be treated the same as the Bates Precinct, with a height limit of 3 storeys, as contained in the existing zoning for this area.
Rationale: Clearview/Queen Mary is an established neighbourhood of single family homes. Residents have been told stable neighbourhoods will be protected from significant change in the new Official Plan, yet the plan here calls for highrises of 7-20+ storey towers. Clearview/Queen Mary should be excluded from the hub, similar to the nearby White Oaks neighbourhood, to remove the pressure for intensification.
The areas specific plans (still to come) should remove the olan for mid-rise and highrise buildings, retaining the residential low density permissions. Read more: Aldershot GO mobility hub
Motion: Retain the city’s employment overlay for lands at the North/East corner of Appleby and Fairview, South of the rail lines, as shown in Appendix E, Item E. Remove the lands East of Appleby, West of Oval Court from Appendix E, Item E. (Circled area on map)
Rationale: Sofina foods operates a food processing plant on the other side of the tracks from these lands, employing 1000 people. With worldwide demand for their product increasing, they are considering adding a second shift of 1000 people. They rely on area farmers for supply. The Appleby GO mobility Hub proposes to convert these lands to residential highrise/mixed use. Sofina believes the residential uses would conflict with their existing use, and over time potentially lead to shuttering the plant, displacing workers and negatively impacting farm operations in Halton and beyond.
a) State council’s intent that for the Rural Area outside of Hamlets and Mineral Extraction, the designation is prime agriculture or Rural, and the Natural Heritage Systems are an overlay, and direct staff to work with the region to achieve this outcome in the Regional Official Plan
b) Direct staff to conduct further evaluation and landowner consultation on Key Features in the rural area that have the potential to limit agricultural uses
c) In Section 9.3.2 c) (xviii) remove the words “and located outside….[up to and including]…scientific interest”
d) State council’s intent to request a review of Environmental Impact Assessments during the Regional Official Plan review
e) Delete clause 9.1.2 g) (i) restricting Secondary Dwelling Units in Key Natural Features and the City’s Natural Heritage System
f) Delete clause 9.1.2 o) (vii) preventing Special Events within 30m of a Key Natural Feature
g) Modify clause 12.1.12 (4.1) c) (v) to read “a portion of the lot to be severed is in the Agricultural System as identified in the Halton Region Official Plan.”
f) Direct staff to make the Agriculture Committee a formal Advisory Committee of Council, with appropriate resources and staff support.
Rationale: On Feb. 9, the province released new mapping for agriculture and natural heritage systems that came into effect the date it was released. Our OP must incorporate this mapping to conform to the Growth Plan. however staff have advised that we can’t update the mapping until the Region updates its own mapping through a Municipal Comprehensive Review. But this leaves our farmers in a position where the City’s plan has been updated to conform to a Regional plan that is out of date with new provincial plans. The motions provided by the Agriculture Committee attempt to address that fact, by updating our plans in conformity with the Provincial plans (this is another reason to delay adoption of our Official Plan).
Additional motions seek to modify or eliminate clauses that hinder reasonable farm activities.
Finally, with half our land in the rural area, the Agriculture Committee should be a formalized advisory committee, with annual reports to council, providing input and advice.
Background on the motions is provided in a memo from the Agriculture Committee here: Agriculture Committee Suggested Motions for OP Adoption
What’s at stake
I believe the new Official Plan as proposed represents overintensification. It will deliver growth to 236,000 residents by 2031, well beyond the targets set by the Region and even beyond the1% growth per year outlined by staff in a recent report and recommended the Conference Board of Canada as being a suitable growth target. At 1% per year, starting with the current population of 183,000 people (per the 2016 census), the population at 2031 would be 212,456.
Overintensification will result in disappearing greenspace, congested roads, inadequate parkland and community amenities, like community centres, seniors centre, and sports fields and venues.
Watch video here: Downtown getting more residents, not enough parkland
Overintensification also leads to rising taxes for residents and businesses. That’s because growth through fees and development charges only pays for about 80% of the costs of services needed by new residents; the existing tax base picks up the remaining 20%.
In addition, critical pieces of the Plan aren’t ready: the area specific plans for the three GO station mobility hubs are not ready (they will be discussed at public open houses in early May); the Old Lakeshore Road precinct near the downtown waterfront will be subject to a future study; the North Aldershot area hasn’t been updated, and as residents have pointed out, the studies required to ensure the city can accommodate the level of growth planned aren’t complete.
I do not support the OP without further modifications for reasonable growth and a focus on quality of life rather than quantity of people, including amenities to support our current and future residents.
Council can only “adopt” the Plan; the Region of Halton is the approval agency. Until the Region approves our plan (expected sometime in 2019) the current OP is in force and effect, though staff and council can take guidance from the adopted OP when making decisions on specific developments.
After the Oct. 22 election, the next council can also send modifications to the Region to amend the plan before Regional approval.
Read related article: What’s the rush?
What are your thoughts on the proposed new OP? Leave a comment below.