Bill Clinton once set linguistics experts scrambling for their copies of Fowlers “Modern English Usage,” when he used the phrase. “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” during the Lewinsky hearings. Something similar took place in Burlington as the Ontario Land Tribunal drilled down on the meaning of the word “made” in handing down a decision that deals a setback to a plan by Vrancor Developers to construct two tall residential towers on the Burlington waterfront.
The developer had applied for zoning to allow the demolition of the former Venture Inn and replace it with a twin-tower residential complex of 30 to 35 stories. The project was proposed right at the time the new Burlington council elected in 2018 was trying to combat overdevelopment in the downtown and Lakeshore areas. The city successfully petitioned the Ministry of Municipal affairs to have the boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre moved away from the downtown and Lakeshore to the area surrounding the Burlington GO station. Urban Growth Centre designation would allow for significantly taller buildings.
The city received ministerial approval for the boundary change on November 10 2021. The developer had paid its fees for its application two weeks earlier but had not submitted all of the studies and documentation required by the city and the city ruled the development application was incomplete and nixed the project.
The developer took the matter to the Ontario Land Tribunal arguing that it had made its application before the boundary changes were ok’d. The city, in the words of the OLT decision, “submitted that “received” and “made” are different words and that it is impossible for an application to be “made” before it is “received” by a Municipality. The City stated an applicant cannot “make” an application until the Municipality “receives” the materials in support of the application.” In other words, all the paperwork was not submitted until after the boundary change.”
The tribunal supported the city’s position that the application can’t be considered “made” until all the required documentation was submitted, in which case, it came after the boundary change had been put into effect.
In a statement released Friday, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and the ward councillor Lisa Kearns wrote, “the OLT’s determination is a significant victory in our city’s priority to control overdevelopment in our downtown, particularly along our waterfront…There is still a long way to go on this file, and ultimately a decision will be made by the OLT.”
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