The City of Burlington has turned down a request by the Infinity Development Group to construct a 29-storey building on the east side of Waterdown Road, just north of Plains Road.
Councillor Paul Sharman told the Planning Committee meeting that the building proposal was not only a “bit out of line, but a lot out of line” with the City’s expectations.
The decision this week followed receipt of a Planning Department report that criticized almost every aspect of the proposal from its height to its landscaping. In doing so, the Planning Department noted that the developer had not made any changes to his plan since receiving public input.
“These applications propose an over-intensification of the subject lands. Further, the applications do not satisfy the City of Burlington’s policies regarding compatibility, complete communities and vibrant, complete streets”.
The City wants to see heights of only 11 storeys at this location. Infinity’s 29 storey proposal was called “over-intensification”.
“It represents an over-development of the site, which greatly exceeds the height and massing that are envisioned for the area and does not provide adequate transition to the surrounding neighbourhood”, said the staff report.
Staff also pointed out that the application itself is simply premature because the City has not finished its planning for the area and the developer owns several adjacent properties to the north.
“It is not appropriate for the City to make decisions on these lands on a site-by-site basis. Given the contiguous ownership of these parcels fronting onto Waterdown Road, it would be appropriate for the applicant to present to the City a comprehensive plan of these parcels. The applicant has not presented any form of comprehensive planning for the contiguous properties”.
Staff also addressed the retail and grocery store issue that remains a priority in Aldershot. The report criticized the plan for its failure to provide sufficient commercial space at street level.
“The Aldershot Main Street Precinct envisions that development which fronts onto Plains Road and/or Waterdown Road shall include ground floor commercial uses ….(and)…..The retail space that is provided will contribute insufficient jobs to the area…(and)… the proposed frontage does not provide a continuous commercial retail street frontage along Waterdown Road”.
Much of the criticism focused on the streetscaping in front of the proposed building. Everything from its layby parking spaces to its interface with transit and cyclists failed to meet the City’s expectations.
”The Aldershot Main Street Precinct is intended to be a mid-rise precinct with continuous retail at grade to support the provision of a full range of community amenities and foster a main-street, pedestrian focused experience. This is not aligned with the development proposal”.
Particular concern was raised about the loss of trees.
“The majority of existing trees on site are proposed to be removed to be replaced by two trees in the public right of way, and insufficient information has been provided to conclude that trees proposed to be saved will be sufficiently protected to survive”.
The City’s refusal of the application came despite a last-minute letter from the developer’s legal team accusing staff of failing to provide Council with all the information submitted with the application and suggesting that negotiations continue.
The developer now must decide whether to change his plan or stick with it and appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal.
Aldershot’s City Councillor, Kelvin Galbraith, did not vote on the refusal. He declared a conflict of interest because he owns property in the immediate area.
By Rick Craven