A rookie Burlington councillor is leaving no stone unturned in an effort to avoid any claims of underhanded activity against him.
Kelvin Galbraith, the new representative for Ward 1, said he is prepared to declare a conflict of interest when council is dealing with proposed developments on any lands he owns.
Galbraith owns The Fitness Firm gym on Plains Road, just west of Waterdown Road. He once owned two houses on the west side of Waterdown Road, just to the north, but they were expropriated by the City as part of the Aldershot Mobility Hub designation, leaving him with only two awkward L-shaped pieces of land.
He said he had signed a letter of intent with a developer four or five years ago, but nothing ever came of it.
“I have already met with the Integrity Commissioner of the City of Burlington to determine if and when I need to declare a conflict of interest,” he said.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward also said Galbraith has been quite up-front about what he does or does not own.
The mayor herself chose a cul-de-sac at the end of Clearview Avenue, very close to the Aldershot GO station, to announce her candidacy last summer.
Meed Ward said the area is a prime example of the negative change that is taking place in the city.
Small family homes there were occupied by veterans after the Second World War, but there now are proposals to build high-rise developments.
In fact, Ward 1 could have the highest development rate in Burlington over the next couple of years.
Galbraith said he is pushing hard to have a grocery operation locate in Aldershot, but not necessarily a big box company. A decent place to purchase food was the most common request he heard from residents during the election campaign.
“I have met with several developers working on the mobility hub and all are open to it” he said. “Adi is open to putting one in, National Homes to its site on Plains Road and even Emshie.”
Adi Developments is building new townhouses adjacent to the Aldershot GO station. National Homes plans to build two eight-storey towers, surrounded by 150 townhouses, on land now occupied by the Bingo Hall and Home Hardware on the south side of Plains Road, just east of Falcon.
The largest development planned for Aldershot is that of the British Columbia Pension Fund on King Road, just south of Plains Road.
The project calls for 280 old style, beat-up townhouses to be torn down in phases and replaced by mid-rise buildings and newer townhouses, representing a total of 1,400 units.
It would be a combination of condos, rental apartments and a seniors retirement residence.
During the 2018 election campaign Galbraith promised to
work with developers to ensure Burlington has a healthy mix of all types of housing including rentals.
Some Aldershot seniors getting ready to downsize have been complaining that they can’t afford to move into pricey condos which have sprung up along Plains Road. Renting has become a much better option for them, they say.
Galbraith said he definitely would like to see the South Service Road extended east from the Aldershot GO station to King Road in order to alleviate traffic congestion on Plains Road.
“We could use another east-west route,” he said.
He plans to meet with the Paletta company which owns the land over which the road could be extended.
Galbraith said he is not in favor of removing any of the current stoplights along Plains Road, but would like to see them synchronized for better traffic flow.
The most recent major conflict of interest declaration at city council was by former Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison. Dennison took the City to the Ontario Municipal Board after Burlington’s Committee of Adjustment denied his application for a land severance on property he owned on Lakeshore Road with the idea of building a two-storey home.
The board ruled in Dennison’s favor.
Eight years before that Dennison was accused of having a conflict of interest when it was discovered a business he owned, Cedar Springs Health, Racquet and Sportsclub, was behind more than $300,000 in property taxes.
Eventually the taxes were paid in full.