Articles – Blog

As written for the Burlington Gazette on July 20th

 

By Michael Jones

July 20th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The current City Council has managed to isolate and frustrate the people of Burlington like no other group I have encountered. Unless it is a feel-good moment of a ceremony they continue to leave us disappointed. I really try to find the positive’s, but this group leaves us arm folded and shaking our collective heads. (and told to be quiet) The decisions this group has made are full of contradictory statements and lack foresight.

Burlington has had relatively large community protest groups in the past. The Save our Waterfront group had more than 1000 members - did it achieve anything other than getting its founder elected to city hall? Here one of the masters of public involvement, former Toronto Mayor David Crombie talks with current SOW presisdent.

Michael Jones in conversation with former Toronto Mayor David Crombie who was speaking to the now defunct Waterfront Advisory Committee. At the time Jones was president of Save our Waterfront, a group that at one point had more than 1000 members.

I delegated at the council meeting against the 421-431 Brant Street development. I decided to abstain from delegating on July 10th and July 17th against the 409 Brant as a candidate for Ward 2 but attended as a member of the community. Delegating to Council is like talking to a brick wall that refuses to listen to logic, real statistics and the desire of the people of Burlington. I was in the council chambers listening to each of the councilors “logic” on why they voted the way they did. In a time when facts are forever doubted this group has not done their job in providing the facts we deserve. They also spoke down and minimized the thoughts of the knowledgeable people that did delegate.

The Council seems confused in their own direction when a decision was to be made. They were asking questions that I would think would be asked well in advance of such an important day that impacts the City forever.

• Can we get a third party traffic study? was asked by Council to City Staff as the traffic study completed is widely believed not to address all the developments combined. They then proceeded to vote on buildings that will increase traffic in an area that already faces gridlock without a proper traffic study already being done.

• City staff was asked, “Can we have a pause to re consider or delay the building developments?” They are asking this the day of the vote! Try asking that of a boss or professor, the day of the exam. Didn’t work then doesn’t work now. If in doubt how can they move forward confidently. Go BOLD they say. A Bold decision would be to stand with the people.

After discussions with people across the city many weren’t aware this Council meeting was taking place or the importance of it:

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

The price ranges for the Nautique are all over the map. They advertise the top ten floors as having units that go for $1 million

• Paul Sharman gave us a history lesson on where he has lived over the course of his life. He proceeded to give us false numbers on the upper 1 % of wage earners throughout downtown. I for one are far from the 1 % neither are my surrounding neighbours. He stated these buildings will provide affordable housing, he was unable to back these figures up as the condominiums have not even been advertised for sale. For example, the ADI development at Lakeshore and Martha originally had a sign stating condo’s for $250 000.00, this has now been changed to $800 000.00. The sign has so many new increase price tag layers, it may fall over. Not so affordable Councilor Sharman.

• Mayor Goldring had asked City Staff in detail about taking a “Pause” on this development and further developments. He then proceeded to Vote for the development, if you are wanting a moment of clarity normally people don’t dive in.

• Lancaster gave us a firsthand example of her business losing money because of the building of the Performing Arts Centre and moving from the downtown core. She flippantly suggests business’s need to come and go as she has done with her business. What kind of message are we sending to hard working people often investing their life savings on a dream of succeeding in the downtown. Lancaster and Craven seem to believe Kelly’s Bake Shop will set up somewhere else in Burlington. This is far from guaranteed and why would she? My coworkers in my Mississauga office drive from Toronto and Mississauga for her quality bake good. I for one will miss my New Year’s Tradition of Blossom City Chinese Food.

• Taylor leaned on Rick Craven like a crutch clinging to the Places to Grow Act, without providing facts or numbers. The original Official Plan met the numbers for intensification. The City won’t get a special certificate from the Province of Ontario for creating a skyline mirroring that of Toronto across the lake.

Rendering with Bake Shop

The building that houses Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is shown in the lower right corner. The structure may remain – but there is no guarantee that the Bake Shoppe will be inside whatever is kept to show that the city actually has some heritage.

• Jack Dennison did not support the motion for 409 Brant St, but his vision does not bode well for downtown, he detailed his vision on this property of a 14 storey building with escalators. This has been tried before at both Upper Canada Place 460 Brant Street and 760 Brant Street. Neither of these locations offer an inviting street level and have had limited success in occupancy over the years and none to the longevity of Blossom City Chinese Food and the success of Kelly’s Bake Shoppe.

• The ongoing Craven vs Meed Ward opposing views, I do support healthy debate and opposite viewpoints but all decisions need to be based on facts. Marianne Meed Ward presented a detailed list of reasons why this building does not need to be built and were presented in a logical manner. Craven could only raise his voice stating “it is the Law”, this does not provide the citizens the true details on this development excessive goals.

After sitting frustrated through many Council meetings, we need something greater than a “Pause” button, we need to press “Stop”.

Jack Dennison asked Kelly of Kelly’s Bake Shop .”how do you do so well at marketing and communication?” I hope the City Staff listened to her answer. “Passion and love, not schooling just love of what she is doing” Communication is a 2-way street and as a candidate for Ward 2, this is what I believe needs to be changed at City Hall. The people have shown and voiced their love and passion for the City and this Council turned its back on what is important to the citizens.

Hopefully this October our new Council can serve the people of Burlington as they deserve, we have invested our money and our families in this City. Burlington Citizens need to feel their voice is heard, all the good hard working, educated and prepared people who delegated were not listened to. This opinion piece can be taken as a rant of sorts, but it is frustrating and heart breaking to see the direction this downtown is going.

Michael Jones is a downtown resident and a candidate for the ward 2 city council seat