Development building up as issue for 2018 vote
Burlington seeing many projects where limit on storey heights are being expanded
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?