Land owners and developers in Aldershot believe the City of Burlington violated provincial policies with its new Official Plan.
Eight of the 48 appeals filed against the Plan (OP) come from Aldershot.
A similar theme runs through most of the appeals. They allege that the new OP is inconsistent with provincial policy on growth and intensification, is poor planning and is overly prescriptive, tending to limit high density development in Aldershot.
Mayor Meed Ward disagrees. She has described the new Plan as: “founded on sound planning principles based on evidence and a one-year independent consultant study. (It) also reflects the vision of staff, council and our residents”.
The Go Station
Four of the Aldershot appeals are about the area around the GO Station which is considered a Major Transit Station Area (MTSA). They were written by the same person, Denise Baker, who is a well-known local lawyer specializing in planning law with the firm of WeirFoulds LLP.
According to Ms. Baker’s letters to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) the City’s entire policy related to the Aldershot MTSA is contrary to the Provincial Planning Statement, the Provincial Growth Plan and the Region’s Official Plan.
She argues that properties adjacent to the GO Station were intended by the Province to ultimately achieve a minimum density of 150 people and jobs per hectare.
“The Aldershot GO MTSA is one of the key strategic growth areas intended to achieve significant intensification in Burlington”.
She also claims the new Burlington Official Plan was not well done.
“In our opinion, (the City’s) policies frustrate and prolong the development approvals process, which adds to the cost of development and housing and hampers the City and Region’s ability to facilitate intensification and growth. Moreover, these policies will result in a development approval system that will be increasingly inefficient”.
More specifically, Ms. Baker’s firm is representing four developers with interests adjacent to the GO Station.
1085 CLEARVIEW LIMITED PARTNERSHIP already has approval from LPAT to build two seven-storey buildings on the site facing Masonry Court. Their appeal argues that the new OP fails to incorporate the LPAT decision and that these lands should be formally recognized as a Primary Growth Area with high density.
INFINITY DEVELOPMENT GROUP has targeted seven properties on the south side of Plains Road East, between the SEASONS condominium and Birchwood Avenue, five of the nine properties on the east side of Waterdown Road and an industrial building at the corner of Masonry Court. Their appeal is about the six-storey restriction. The developer wants at least 9 storeys.
CAMARRO DEVELOPMENTS envisions 30 and 32 storey residential towers on the east side of Cooke Boulevard. They are also objecting to the six storey limit.
ADI DEVELOPMENTS is arguing the case for Phase Two of its StationWest development on Masonry Court adjacent to Waterdown Road. Their objection is also to the six-storey limit. ADI has already announced that it wants to build up to thirty-nine storeys in several new buildings.
While the Region of Halton is expected to confirm the boundaries for the Aldershot MTSA in the first part of its new Official Plan later this year, the City intends to follow with a more detailed area study, perhaps requiring further OP amendments. Ms. Baker argues that this two-phased approach is the wrong way to do business.
“The interim approach to these areas should still be to implement the level of intensification and development with appropriate and well-informed policies to meet Provincial requirements and not to artificially constrain them through the requirement for further amendments”.
Two of the north Aldesrhot related appeals involve proposed developments in the Central Sector, west of Waterdown Road. The third is about the Bridgeview area adjacent to the 403 and Highway 6.
ALDERSHOT LANDSCAPING CONTRACTORS, along with partners from nearby CAMA WOODLANDS, are hoping to get approval to eventually allow construction of a new subdivision running north / south from Flatt Road to Panin Road, mainly on the site of the existing Aldershot Landscaping yard.
Their objection is to several aspects of the City’s policy on north Aldershot including the question of whether new homes should be fully connected to municipal services.
“The proposed (Burlington OP) change from “shall” to “may” is a significant departure in the servicing approach. The change raises uncertainty as to how our client’s lands will be serviced in the future. …..The proposed changes to the servicing policies are inconsistent with provincial policy”.
They are also objecting to the fact that the City’s new OP addressed the north Aldershot lands when it should have waited until the Region completed its work on north Aldershot, which is still ongoing.
“We take the position that the City and Region’s approval of the Burlington Official Plan policies relating to this area is premature and must await the Region’s adoption of its own related policies”.
PENTA PROPERTIES’ appeal relates to a number of its holdings in Burlington, including the Eagle Heights area of north Aldershot. This is a decades-old proposal for major intensification just west of Waterdown Road. It already has preliminary approvals, but the developer wants more.
“These (north Aldershot) changes were made without meaningful consultation and without proper public input and review. These policies do not appropriately reflect existing approvals nor outstanding applications/appeals currently before the Tribunal. Among other things, this is inconsistent with PPS Policies and fails to conform with Growth Plan Policy”.
NEW HORIZON GROUP wants to develop 24 hectares of lands adjacent to the Bridgeview subdivision on Plains Road West, just north of the 403 at Highway 6. They are proposing a large mixed-use development on both sides of Plains Road, including the adjacent driving range.
The developer is objecting to the new Burlington OP because it defers the decision on expanding the urban boundary into the area, thereby restricting any new municipal servicing.
“It has been (New Horizon’s) long-standing position that certain lands within the North Aldershot Policy Area are appropriate for urban development in accordance with the settlement area policies prescribed by the Provincial Policy Statement and the Growth Plan. As approved the new Burlington Official Plan effectively continues to put a place-holder on the Bridgeview Junction Precinct, deferring the ultimate decision on urban expansion and future land uses within this area to the Halton Official Plan Review”.
Plains Road Corridor
Ms. Baker also represents the owner of the Downsview Plaza. Her appeal argues that the plaza should have been included in the proposed MTSA boundary.
“The schedule does not include the subject lands within the MTSA area, which reduces their potential for intensification as the subject lands are connected to the Aldershot GO Station”.
She is also objecting to the six-storey height limit.
What Happens Next?
The Local Planning Appeals Tribunal will hold a case conference with interested parties in order to assess the validity of the appeals. It will then sort out how to organize the appeals and set dates for the hearings. In the meantime, the City has prepared an interim working version of the new Official Plan.
The City and the Region will share the costs of dealing with these appeals, using taxpayer funds.
by Rick Craven