Public Input, Upcoming Meetings
PIER: STEEL DELAYS, WIND TURBINE CANCELLATION REVEAL POOR PROCESS
The pier will look roughly the same with or without the wind turbine.The turbine shaft was concealed by a beacon, seen in this rendering, on a raised platform, both of which remain part of the design.
Recent developments with the pier - including faulty steel and welding, and cancellation of the wind turbine - have exposed problems with the information provided to council and our decision-making process. This turn of events has highlighted the importance of learning from past problems on this project. I believe we can - and an important first step is to be transparent and accountable to residents about the cause of the current challenges, and steps being taken to make it right.
First, a look at the steel delays:
Staff recently revealed that the pier project has incurred a delay because of problems with the steel and welding ordered for the project. That will create about a three-month delay - until July - before the steel will be delivered.
Staff knew about this delay months ago and withheld that information from council and residents, many of whom had contacted me to inquire why no work was commencing on the pier despite the mild spring.
Our city manager acknowledged that this is unacceptable, and apologized for not informing council and the public. He added that the steel problems should not impact the expected spring 2013 date.
When council (myself excluded) voted to retender the project and increase the budget by $5 million, the hope was that these problems could be avoided by changing contractors and bringing in a new contract administrator. I had advocated working with the original contractor, who was keen to solve the problems with the pier and make it right.
The recent challenges under contractor Graham/Jardeg's watch indicate that even good contractors can run into challenges. The key is to work together to sort them out quickly, and I trust that will be our approach this time around.
Staff will now be providing updates on the pier every three weeks, instead of every six weeks. That will help council and residents stay on top of the project, providing we get complete and accurate information.
Finally, the staff lead on the project has been changed.
Wind turbine pulled; residents paying more for less
As the pier has progressed, costs and delays have escalated as the project itself has gotten smaller. The bottom line is residents are paying more to get less.
The original pier approved in 2006 included a marina and a wind turbine, on an elevated deck with a lit beacon surrounding it. The budget was $6 million. The current budget for the project is almost $15million, without the marina (cancelled last year) or the turbine, cancelled last month under a faulty process marked by inaccurate information.
Several weeks ago, staff advised that the wind turbine could not feed into the downtown transformer grid without a costly upgrade, and $70,000 in batteries would be needed to store and release power. Based on that information council unanimously voted to eliminate the turbine, a decision most of you supported after I wrote about it in last month's newsletter (read resident comments here).
But I also heard from residents that the grid/battery information council was getting was incorrect. Staff later confirmed that the grid could take the power and batteries weren't needed. In a subsequent report to council (read it here), staff outlined alternatives should we want to add the turbine back, namely participating in the province's MicroFIT program for sending energy to the grid. But the report cautioned that we probably wouldn't be eligible because the program is on hold and there are several hundred applications ahead of us.
But it turns out the MicroFIT program is irrelevant: from the beginning the wind turbine was planned to run on net metering, effectively a switch that pulls or sends power to and from the grid as needed.
That information wasn't in the report from staff; it emerged from a wind energy delegation that appeared before committee.
It's clear that staff have been steering council away from retaining the wind turbine; what isn't clear is why, given that the stated concerns have proven unfounded.
When I pressed staff at committee for an explanation (see webcast here) they advised that they had already cancelled the turbine - before council had voted on the matter, and without notifying us until questioned. The city manager has apologized for this poor process, which is appreciated.
Ultimately staff suggested the turbine is an unnecessary complication that will add costs and delays to the project. However, council and the public have received no details quantifying either the costs or potential delays. Upon reflection, that rationale doesn't make sense: the original tender, and the one issued to the new contractor Graham/Jardeg, includes the wind turbine. It is budgeted for and included in the timelines, so there should be no additional costs or delays.
Little gained by cancelling turbine
Cancelling the wind turbine now would generate a refund of about $60-70,000 which would be eaten up over time with the $3200 annual cost to run the beacon lights that were supposed to be powered by the turbine.
Some residents who supported the cancellation of the wind turbine want it reinstated in light of the new information. Others have contacted me expressing concerns about wind turbines in general, including noise, setbacks and visual impacts. Those concerns are worth discussing, but typically apply more to the larger industrial turbines, which isn't what's being used for the pier. The pier turbine is very small (literally only enough to power lightbulbs), and would not have the normal noise and setback issues of larger industrial turbines.
Residents also raised concerns about the visual impact of the turbine. The look of the pier is the same with or without the turbine. The turbine shaft would be concealed by the beacon, with just the blades protruding above the beacon. The beacon remains part of the design. The elevated deck, on which the turbine would sit, also remains in the design.
Your take: Knowing all the facts we now have, should council retain the wind turbine, as originally planned and budgeted for the pier project? A reconsideration motion would require a 5-2 vote. Please send me an email or leave a comment here.
My take on the wind turbine: The pier budget and design include the wind turbine. There may be good reasons for keeping it out, but I haven't heard them yet. That's why I have suggested we continue our dialogue on this item until we are satisfied the right decision has been made.
My take on the steel: Residents will recall I advocated working with the original contractor to sort out the challenges that arose with construction of the pier. I believed then, and still do, that this would save residents both time and money. The situation with Graham/Jardeg illustrates that good contractors can run into problems on a job; the key is to work with our partner to find solutions in a timely fashion instead of playing the blame game and descending into litigation, as occurred with the previous pier contractor. Perhaps in light of this recent situation we will be more fair and balanced in our remarks about the former contractor, who has received only criticism and blame until now, despite having successfully completed a number of projects in our city before the pier, and elsewhere since, including a pier project in Hamilton.
My take on process: Good process and accurate information were clearly lacking on the wind turbine and steel discussions. The intent in discussing it here is not to embarrass anyone or prolong the situation, which is difficult for all of us. Rather, the intent is to foster transparency and accountability, learn from the situation and prevent it in future. We learn by understanding what's occurred; we understand what's occurred by talking about. We need to do better, and we will.
There is perhaps a silver lining: council did, eventually, get accurate information, due to the efforts of many residents. Thank you for your engagement and commitment. In addition, our city manager has admitted the process was inappropriate; that is commendable, and is the first step toward making changes. There is also a commitment to work with our current contractor to sort out challenges as they arise. That's the right approach. We are not out of the woods yet, on the pier, and we all - staff, council and residents - will need to work together as a team to ensure successful completion.
LEASH FREE TIMES CONSIDERED FOR CENTRAL PARK
Public meeting Tues. June 19, 7pm, Burlington Seniors Centre, 2285 New St.
Since last summer, I have received many e-mails and telephone calls from residents about dogs of leash, from pet owners, non pet owners, parents with young children and seniors alike. Some have expressed concerns about dogs off leash (which is against our bylaws) and want greater enforcement (violation carries a $150 fine and tickets have been issued.) Others have asked for a leash free area or time to allow dog owners to legally let their dogs run free, at predictable times and/or places.
As a result, I am hosting a public meeting Tues. June 19, 7pm, at the Burlington Seniors Centre, 2285 New St., to seek your feedback on the pros and cons of a leash free time in Central Park (for example before 9am or after 9pm).
No decisions have been made. The first step in this process is to gather public feedback on the idea of a pilot project for leash free times. Depending on the feedback, staff will write a report to the Community Services Committee with recommendations to proceed, or not, with a pilot project for leash free times.
Your take: Should there be a pilot project for leash free times in Central Park? If you can't attend the June 19 meeting, you can still call or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.
My Take: Other communities have successfully employed leash free times, so I am supportive of exploring whether it would work here. That said, I agree that dog owners need to respect the rules in place, and some need to do a better job of controlling and picking up after their pets. Inconsiderate behaviour by some pet owners can ruin the park experience for others.
SOUND OF MUSIC DIRECTOR AMONG GUESTS AT WARD 2 RESIDENTS MEETING
Thurs. June 21, 7pm, Rm 247, City Hall
Give me your feedback on
potential expansion to the
festival at this week's Ward
2 residents meeting.
The executive director of the Burlington Sound of Music Festival will be joining our monthly Ward 2 residents meeting to discuss potential plans to expand the festival and get your feedback.
We'll also hear from parks and recreation staff about the cricket pitch in Central Park.
Other topics on the agenda: updates on downtown development, Tim Hortons in the former Blockbuster, leash free times for Central Park, and more.
Our senior's subcommittee meets in the same room, from 6-7 pm.
All are welcome to attend. Both meetings provide a chance to share information, ask questions and provide advice and input to me.
EXTENSION PROPOSED AFTER ZONING APPROVALS LAPSE FOR CAROLINE ST PROJECT
To committee: June 18, 6:30pm, City Hall; to Council: July 3
View from Elizabeth St of medical centre/parking structure/condo at Caroline/John/Maria/Elizabeth
streets. Zoning approvals have lapsed.
Planning staff are recommending what amounts to a deadline extension in the wake of zoning approvals lapsing on the medical centre/parking structure/condo complex on Caroline/John/Elizabeth/Maria streets.
The project was approved by previous council in 2010. The Official Plan has already been changed to allow the project, but the zoning approvals have not been passed.
Certain conditions were attached to the zoning approvals, including a development agreement, payment of rezoning and density on the project). The conditional zoning approval imposed an 18 month deadline to sign the required agreements, and was intended to ensure these agreements were in place when construction began. Staff understood that the project would proceed as soon as council gave approval.
That didn't happen. The conditional zoning deadline came and went in January. I discovered it when I asked about the status of the project after receiving numerous inquiries from residents. I subsequently wrote about the lapse in a recent newsletter, and in City Talk.
The developer, Carriage Gate Group, Inc., has requested a new lapsing date so the project can proceed. The alternative would be to require a new rezoning application. Staff have recommended against that option, suggesting that it wouldn't change anything - the project hasn't changed, therefore the staff recommendation for approval would remain the same.
Council has also received confidential legal advice on this matter and I have asked staff why it is confidential and whether it can be shared with residents. Council has the prerogative to disclose legal advice, and we have done so from time to time in the past.
Read the staff report here.
Should the city bypass a rezoning application and extend the lapsing deadline? Would anything change if we went through a rezoning process? Your feedback welcome. Please email or click here to comment.
My take: I'm concerned about the appearance of bending our rules here, and wonder what's to prevent a second deadline from coming and going. Presumably, there were sound reasons to impose conditional zoning in the first place, namely to get timely commencement of the project and to ensure fulfillment of agreements and community benefits negotiated as part of original approvals. Would anything change if we went through a rezoning? That's debatable: Staff have already indicated their support for the project won't change, but there are three new members of council, myself included. I would welcome a rezoning discussion to let the public speak and perhaps persuade council to a new decision. Though I and most residents who commented or attended public meetings on this development generally supported the medical/parking component, we believe the 17-storey condo encroaches and is incompatible with the adjacent neighbourhood, and unnecessary to facilitate the medical/parking centre.
BRIDGEWATER PROJECT AT RIVIERA SITE PROGRESSING
The Bridgewater project was approved in 2006 with a 22-story condo, 7-storey condo and 7-storey hotel, & includes public waterfront access. Plans are for the hotel to be open for the Pan Am Games in 2015.
A number of residents have contacted me over the past year to ask when the old Riviera Hotel on Lakeshore Road would be torn down to make way for the new project approved for this site.
In 2006, council approved a 22 storey condo, 7-storey hotel, and 7-story condo on this site, with ground floor retail and a central courtyard open to the public leading to a walkway along the waterfront. The walkway has already been built but is still in private hands pending the completion of the development.
The project has stalled a number of times over the years due to a variety of factors, including the economic downturn and finding suitable developers and hotel partners.
Renamed Bridgewater, the project is now proceeding and the property owner - Mayrose-Tycon - has recently applied to the Committee of Adjustment for several minor variances, including one extra storey on the hotel to accommodate administrative uses, and reduced parking for the hotel (under current rules, the hotel would not need to provide any parking, but some is still being planned). The goal is to complete the hotel portion of the project in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015.
A four-star hotel partner has been confirmed; the builder is still being finalized. The Riviera Hotel will be demolished in coordination with the start of construction.
Your take: What's your view of the Bridgewater project? Let me know here email@example.com or click to leave a comment here.
My take: Though my preference is not to see highrises on the waterfront, this project has already been approved. The benefits of the project include retail, public waterfront access, and a four-star hotel, not to mention replacing the run-down eyesore that currently sits on this key parcel in our downtown waterfront.
TOWNHOUSE DEVELOPMENTS PROPOSED FOR GHENT
Neighbourhood meeting Mon. June 25, 7pm, City Hall, Council Chambers
Two townhome developments have been proposed for Ghent Ave, that will be discussed at a public meeting at City Hall on June 25, attended by planning staff, the developers, and myself.
Northhaven Homes has submitted an application for 2107 Ghent Ave for six, four-storey townhomes. The proposal conforms to the Official Plan which permits towns, semis and apartments up to four storeys, but will require rezoning. This development was the subject of a neighbourhood meeting earlier this year. We'll get an update and more information at this meeting.
Branthaven Homes has proposed a townhouse development of 58 units spanning eight assembled properties on Ghent Ave. from 2072-2102.
The proposal conforms to the Official Plan regulations for this part of Ghent, although a rezoning application is required. The Official Plan permits townhomes, semis, and low-rise apartments. The project meets the maximum density allowed in the Official Plan of 50 units per hectare (the assembled parcel is slightly over a hectare).
Your take: What's your view of these developments? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Take: A townhouse development is more in keeping with other developments along Ghent, and conforms to the Official Plan. About a year ago, we had a neighbourhood meeting to discuss a proposal that would have seen three 3-storey walkups on 3 of the 8 lots. Residents said then they would prefer townhomes. The three lots were later assembled with five more and all eight acquired by Branthaven for this townhome project. I have heard some concerns from residents about traffic impacts (a traffic study will be required), tree preservation (border trees will need to be preserved), privacy and number of units. I look forward to hearing more at the public meeting.
ELGIN PARK PLANS FINALIZED
To committee June 20, 6:30, City Hall; to council July 3, 7pm
City staff have completed work with the architect on the design and layout of Elgin Park, and have prepared a report with schematics recommending approval of the park plan which includes the Roads & Parks Maintenance facility, Apeldoorn feature and playground. The report (available here) is being presented to the June 20 Community Services Committee. The meeting begins at 6:30pm at City Hall in Council Chambers. A final decision will be made by council July 3. Residents can attend and register to speak at either committee.
My Take: I'm pleased that the final designs have incorporated much of the feedback from residents via phone, email and at several public meetings, including retaining the playground, removing staff parking, separating the driveway for the maintenance building and the play area, improved brick construction of the maintenance facility to blend into the neighbourhood, and enhanced fencing and plantings. I want to thank staff who worked closely with area residents and nearby St. Luke's church to mitigate concerns and enhance the project based on community needs and desires.
CONSULTATION ON DESIGN FOR BEACHWAY PARK
Open house Thurs. June 28, 6:30-9pm, Burlington Arts Centre
Here's your opportunity for some blue sky thinking on the future design of Beachway Park on Lakeshore Road. The park is undergoing a master plan review, including review of the homes along the beach. What does your park include: Open space? Amenities? Homes? Here's your chance to have your say about this regional park that includes Spencer Smith Park and spans Wards 1 & 2.
Based on responses to last month's newsletter, the majority of residents support allowing residents to stay on the Beach, and most of you are supportive of some sort of coffee house or pub in the historic pump house. Read what your neighbours have to say here.
WELLINGTON SQUARE HOSTS FREE COMMUNITY DINNERS
Fridays, 6pm, Wellington Square United Church, 2121 Caroline St.
Every Friday night Wellington Square United Church hosts free Downtown Community Dinners to bring members of the community together for food and fellowship. Hosted at Wellington Square United Church, this is a shared effort of many faith communities of Burlington. Everyone welcome; volunteers and donations also welcome. For more information click here.
CAR FREE SUNDAY EVENT JULY 15
The second Car Free Sunday event will take place July 15 in downtown Burlington from 2-7pm. Streets will be closed to cars and opened to walkers, runners, rollerbladers, cyclists and mobility device users. The northbound lane of Locust Street and both lanes of Brant street between Lakeshore Rd and Blenheim St in downtown Burlington will be closed for the event.
Car Free Sundays aim to promote healthy lifestyles and active transportation. A range of community activities will also be planned for the streets. For more information, and route maps, visit here.
The Car Free Sundays team is looking for volunteers. The following volunteer positions are available:
Concierge and Parking Assistants: Provide information as to the schedule of events, locations of water, washrooms, parking, traffic diversions, start and end of event; walk the course in pairs and continually circulate around the event. Assist with homeowners requiring entrance or exit to their homes. Note - Police will be at major intersections. Volunteers will have whistles to alert people that cars will be coming out of parking spots.
Setup of signs & cones: Once the roads are closed, under the supervision of Police, place barricades and traffic cones that have been previously left curb-side.
Escort vehicle: Accompany the driver of the escort vehicle to and from any of the residential driveways in the full closure areas that have an urgent but not emergency need for access.
Post event clean-up: Walk the route and put any garbage into garbage cans.
- Shifts are 3 hours long; first shift is 1:30 to 4:30, second shift is 4:30 to 7:30. You are expected to arrive 15 minutes prior to your shift and check in at the Volunteer Booth.
High school students can use these hours as part of their curriculum requirements.
If you'd like to volunteer, please contact Rosemary Fitzpatrick by phone at 905-335-7600 (ext. 7454) or by email at email@example.com or register on-line here.
Other ways to participate
- Invite your friends and family members to get out and move at Car Free Sundays.
- Organize a walk, bike ride or roll around the route.
- Promote your organization or group by having a booth space along the route.
- Set up along the route and play music.
- Help get the word out through your newsletter, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
ENJOY FREE MUSIC IN CENTRAL, SPENCER SMITH PARKS
Enjoy free music in our downtown parks this summer Wednesday and Sunday evenings from 7:30-9pm in the Central Park Bandshell, and Sunday afternoons from 2-3:30 in the Spencer Smith Park bandshell. For details on who's playing when click here.
HOST A FRONT YARD BARBECUE
June 23 to July 1 is Front Yard Barbecue Week in Burlington. It's a great opportunity to meet your neighbours, establish new friendships and build a strong sense of community. For tips on how to host a community barbecue visit Burlington's inclusivity advisory committee's webpage here.
Marianne Meed Ward
City/Regional Councillor, Ward 2, Burlington
905-335-7600, x 7588
905-335-7600, ext. 7368
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In Your Neighbourhood is a free community newsletter covering issues and events in Ward 2 and city-wide, and seeking your input in decision-making. You're getting this because you signed up, a friend forwarded it, or as an introductory copy. Feel free to pass it on! You can read earlier editions and post comments on our website.