When is in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion over­in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion?

The prov­ince wants in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion, but who is pay­ing the price?

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - Free­lance colum­nist Joan Lit­tle is a for­mer Burlington alder­per­son and Hal­ton coun­cil­lor. Reach her at specjoan@co­geco.ca JOAN LIT­TLE

De­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions still ig­nore Burlington’s Of­fi­cial Plan (OP) and zon­ing. De­vel­op­ers are free to ask for any­thing, and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties must re­spond (and within time lim­its). No say­ing: “Out­ra­geous — get lost!”

In Burlington, un­for­tu­nately, these doc­u­ments are elas­tic, and have been dis­re­garded time and again — not good at an OMB hear­ing. Height and den­sity lim­its? What lim­its? If the height limit is 10 storeys, ask for 20 — you’ll prob­a­bly get 16. Ev­ery time a de­vel­oper can point to prece­dents, the case is harder to de­fend.

Apart­ments used to be lim­ited to a den­sity of 100 units per acre — 247 units per hectare in to­day-speak. By com­par­i­son the Adi pro­posal for Lakeshore and Martha is 26 storeys (orig­i­nally 28) with a den­sity of 1,410.9 units per ha. Zon­ing al­lows four to eight. (Dis­clo­sure — I live nearby.)

Park­ing is a huge is­sue for neigh­bours. Cars aren’t ex­tinct. Park­ing re­quire­ments were tied to bed­room counts. Some still are — the more bed­rooms, the more un­der­ground park­ing spa­ces re­quired, plus 0.25 spa­ces for vis­i­tors. Now down­town, re­gard­less of suite size or bed­room count, the re­quire­ment is 1.25, but de­vel­op­ers, in­clud­ing Adi, want one per suite, with no vis­i­tor park­ing. Land is ex­pen­sive, and un­der­ground park­ing costly — re­port­edly over $35K per space. And the more un­der­ground lev­els, the costlier.

To their credit, plan­ning staff and coun­cil (unan­i­mously) op­posed it. Adi ap­pealed, and re­cently re­quested me­di­a­tion, which oc­curred mid-De­cem­ber. There was no press re­lease on the out­come. I asked why, and was told any set­tle­ment would have to be ap­proved by the board. Has there been a deal made? We’ll likely find out next Wed­nes­day, Feb. 22, when that hear­ing be­gins.

In De­cem­ber an­other Adi pro­posal, in the Al­ton com­mu­nity, was re­fused by coun­cil (but rec­om­mended by staff ) for two 19-storey high­rises (498 units) and 193 as­sorted town­houses. Again height and den­sity were con­cerns, but area traf­fic was also an is­sue. City trans­porta­tion staff was pre­pared to ac­cept 1.24 park­ing spa­ces per unit — even with all those town­houses — when down­town condo park­ing (Burlington low­est stan­dard) is 1.25. Wow!

En­ter Car­riage Gate Devel­op­ments. They’re build­ing the 17-storey lux­ury Berke­ley condo at Caro­line and El­iz­a­beth. A sell­ing point to coun­cil was the pro­vi­sion of “af­ford­able” units — 72 per cent, later changed to 27 per cent! Are any now “af­ford­able”?

They have filed a new pro­posal for Brant Street, tak­ing in 421 to 429 Brant, ex­tend­ing through to John Street. It’s a condo, 26 storeys (plus rooftop ameni­ties). One-hun­dred and eighty-three units, 183 park­ing spa­ces. Re­tail on the ground floor, of­fice space on the se­cond (great) with con­dos from the third to 26th. It will be mar­keted to down­town­ers, hyp­ing the prox­im­ity of tran­sit. Prob­lem — Burlington Tran­sit is un­der­funded and in­con­ve­nient.

An ear­lier OMB de­ci­sion ruled height could be 12 storeys. That could fit nicely with our 8-storey City Hall, but pic­ture a tower over triple City Hall’s height!

Adi’s pro­posal on Martha changed as a re­sult of land swaps with the pro­po­nent of the Brant Street project. Adi owned the small park­ing lot on Lakeshore at Martha and the den­tal build­ing at Pearl. Car­riage Gate (or a sub­sidiary) owned a one-storey med­i­cal build­ing mid­block, and a Martha Street house needed to smooth out Adi’s prop­erty line. Now Adi owns from the med­i­cal build­ing east (around 40 per cent of the frontage), plus the house, and Car­riage Gate the west por­tion. Car­riage Gate pro­poses 26 storeys on Brant, and Adi wants 26 on the east part of the Lakeshore prop­erty. What will Car­riage Gate pro­pose for the west­erly por­tion?

The prov­ince wants in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion. Ini­tial tar­gets were 200 jobs and/or res­i­dents per hectare, but we’ve al­ready ex­ceeded that with­out ei­ther Adi or Car­riage Gate. I hear reg­u­larly that res­i­dents hate the Toronto-style heights and den­sity that back up traf­fic to Guelph Line at rush hour, and that they’re not be­ing heard. What will res­i­dents do in the 2018 elec­tion? Just shrug and throw up their hands, or make changes to coun­cil?

What will res­i­dents do in the 2018 elec­tion? Just shrug and throw up their hands, or make changes to coun­cil?

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