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No surprise here: OLT overrules Burlington on building height

No surprise here: OLT overrules Burlington on building height

Devastation and shock were the responses of Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward Two Councillor Lisa Kearns over an Ontario Land Tribunal decision to allow a 29-storey high rise to go ahead at the corner of Lakeshore Road at Pearl Street. The city had wanted the height limited to 22 stories.

 In a release the mayor and councillor say, “this decision is … not only ignores the citizens of Burlington and Halton Region, and their Councils, it has ignored the stated intent of the Minister of Municipal Affairs to change the planning context by adjusting the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) boundary. The city has changed its downtown zoning to push the construction of high rises out of the downtown core and instead to allow them to be built in the areas near the city’s three GO stations, but the province has not yet ratified the changes. In the meantime, a number of high rises have continued to be built, including one directly across the street from Burlington City Hall.

The city had contended that remarks made in June by Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark supporting the city’s zoning changes, meant that the proposed high rise would no longer be permitted; but the tribunal disagreed, saying the legislation had not yet been amended. The tribunal also found that there would be no difference in shadowing between 22 stories and 29.

Meed Ward and most of the current council were elected in a voter backlash against the proliferation of high rises in the city core. The election triggered a shakeup in the ranks of city staff with the departure of the CEO and head of planning. The new council set about changing the zoning for downtown to discourage ultra high-rise buildings, but some of the projects had already received approval.

Meed Ward and Kearns say, “this is a devastating and shocking decision imposed on our community, which completely disregards the vision of residents, council and staff for this area. And so, Council will be examining all of our options for a review of this OLT decision. Council will get legal advice in a closed session in November. In recent decisions, the Ontario Land Tribunal has tended to favour residential intensification projects, citing the province’s Places to Grow policies.

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