Burlington council booed for passing 23-storey downtown highrise
— A contentious 23storey tower across from Burlington’s City Hall got a green light this week, amid booing from residents in council chambers.
The shouting by angry residents prompted Mayor Rick Goldring to remind the room, for a third time, of the rules against protests of any kind inside council chambers.
Tensions and emotions were high as 13 delegations (12 against and one for) gave their comments for almost two-and-half hours.
Those 12 delegates were hoping to change the minds of at least two councillors, to vote against the application by developer Carriage Gate Homes.
Instead, council voted 5-2 for the proposal (Goldring and Coun. Marianne Meed Ward were the sole dissenters), mirroring a vote that took place at the Nov. 1 planning and development committee meeting.
The proposal, for 412-431 Brant St. and 2007-2015 James St., is just shy of standing three times the height of the eight-storey City Hall.
Joanne Arnold presented council with a petition she and her husband, Kevin, had started on Nov. 6 against the application, which had garnered 1,438 signatures online.
“The majority of the comments asked we leave the bylaw as is, leave the highrises out of the downtown core, especially at Brant Street. City Hall should remain the focal point of Brant Street…,” she said. “Burlington’s downtown has a quaint village feel to it and we like that. We don’t need to be Toronto or Mississauga.”
Coun. Jack Dennison questioned the validity of the petition when she said she hadn’t gone through each signature to weed out any fictitious names and the fact there were signatures from outside of Burlington.
Joe Gaetan said the project wasn’t needed to meet provincial intensification demands. He echoed Meed Ward, who has repeatedly stated Burlington will meet its targets with only 60 per cent of the applications coming forward needed.
Coun. Paul Sharman reminded the crowd and councillors of the delegation by Carriage Gate Homes’ Nick Carnicelli, which stated the developer was initially willing to proceed with a 12-storey building.
But that proposal was disrupted as the city worked to set new planning standards to achieve a quality of design for Burlington and the downtown, which “all these council members basically approved,” Sharman said. “The developer subsequently agreed to what was being asked of (them) and caused them to significantly reduce the floor space that they would otherwise be using to make a significant more amount of money.”