De­vel­op­ment build­ing up as issue for 2018 vote

Burling­ton see­ing many projects where limit on storey heights are be­ing ex­panded

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

In Burling­ton THE ques­tion for the 2018 elec­tion is who’s driv­ing the bus on de­vel­op­ment. Peo­ple are talk­ing about in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion — not that it oc­curs, but how. Cit­i­zens are tired of de­vel­op­ers ig­nor­ing our Of­fi­cial Plan, and of­ten rec­om­men­da­tions from city plan­ners that re­in­force that opin­ion.

Take the Car­riage Gate project near Caro­line Street — a 17-storey condo, higher than al­lowed — ini­tially to have 72 per cent “af­ford­able” units, then 27, now none. The city even sold them a park­ing lot. There was to be an eight-storey med­i­cal build­ing, plus a six­s­torey park­ing garage avail­able to the pub­lic. The dead­line for a signed agree­ment was ex­tended twice, be­cause the city wanted the park­ing garage. This was to be built as one com­plex, but only the condo’s go­ing ahead now. The city will get $300,000 if the rest doesn’t pro­ceed by March, 2020. Will that dead­line be as flex­i­ble as the pre­vi­ous two? De­vel­op­ers are out­ma­noeu­vring the city.

They de­mand ex­cesses — usu­ally much taller, denser con­dos. We have the Adi pro­posal at Martha and Lakeshore, at 28 storeys the tallest, dens­est in the city, on which the board re­cently com­pleted its hearing. (Dis­clo­sure — I live nearby). The western two thirds of that block of Lakeshore between Pearl and Martha are owned by Car­riage Gate, who said at the hearing that they ex­pect equiv­a­lent de­vel­op­ment.

Car­riage Gate also wants 26 storeys across from City Hall. What will they ne­go­ti­ate there?

Build­ings on Brant, just south of James, have been as­sem­bled, and you can bet that de­vel­oper is watch­ing what city plan­ners rec­om­mend for Car­riage Gate, which is propos­ing one park­ing space per lux­ury unit. (The stan­dard is 1.25). Our trans­porta­tion depart­ment agreed to one space for Adi at its hearing. That depart­ment needs a re­al­ity check. Even my down­town rental build­ing has 1.17 cars per suite. Lower num­bers may work in 10 years, but who be­lieves Burling­ton Tran­sit will re­place pri­vate ve­hi­cles in the area with the high­est ve­hi­cle own­er­ship in the GTA? Burling­ton doesn’t have sub­ways.

The board re­served its Adi de­ci­sion. The big de­bate was in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion ver­sus com­pat­i­bil­ity. The city re­quested re­fusal, but at one point stated that if a higher build­ing was ap­proved, it should not ex­ceed 11 storeys.

Bridge­wa­ter, un­der con­struc­tion on Lakeshore, was to be the city’s sig­na­ture project — a 22 storey and an eight storey condo, plus a Mar­riott Ho­tel, all un­der­way. The ho­tel was the in­cen­tive for the 1994 coun­cil ap­proval.

Then there’s re­de­vel­op­ment of the Water­front Ho­tel, (not sub­mit­ted yet) which con­sid­ered 40 storeys.

City plan­ners rec­om­mended two 19-storey con­dos in the Al­ton com­mu­nity where 10 was the limit. Coun­cil heard res­i­dents about ex­ist­ing traf­fic chaos and in­suf­fi­cient park­ing, and re­fused them. That’s go­ing to the board, too. The city will be glad when the board’s wings are fi­nally clipped, likely this fall. Sim­ply put, changes would not al­low the board to over­turn coun­cil de­ci­sions eas­ily un­less coun­cils had acted im­prop­erly.

There’s a pro­posal in Alder­shot for Ge­or­gian Court Es­tates, an old town­house com­plex between King and Fran­cis, from Mar­ley Road to Sur­rey Lane. It plans re­de­vel­op­ment, per­haps start­ing in 2019. It’s rental now, and will re­main rental — a needed type of hous­ing — not just more con­dos.

The pro­posal (not yet fi­nal­ized) has town­houses, back-to-back town­houses, mid-rises (four to eight storeys) and high­rises (15 and 23 storeys). It’s the 23-storey that doesn’t fit, in my opin­ion.

Vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing to the south is sub­di­vi­sions, but north, across Sur­rey Lane, are three 16-storey rental apart­ments. 23 storeys seems out of char­ac­ter there. Over­all, though, it’s a nice pro­posal. The plan is to keep va­cant town­house units avail­able so cur­rent ten­ants can move to them while the first phase is be­ing de­vel­oped. Will the area con­tinue to be af­ford­able, though?

The province has or­dered Burling­ton to in­ten­sify. But what’s in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion, and what’s over­in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion? Do Burling­to­ni­ans want our sky­line to look like Toronto’s?

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