The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) recently reaffirmed its January 3rd, 2023 decision that the Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc.’s application was not grandfathered by ROPA 48. While no official withdrawal of the application of 30 + 35-storey towers atop a 6-storey podium development has been made, it is unlikely to proceed without its’ heavy reliance on historical downtown intensification arguments.
So, it’s back to the drawing board for Vrancor!
During the January 27th, 2023 OLT Case Management Conference, Goodmans LLP (Vrancor’s lawyers) stated that they would be reaching out to the City to see if a compromise solution could be negotiated. Our sense is that these discussions have commenced, or will soon.
Where should the City start?
Citizens’ PLAN B strongly believes that any negotiation should begin with Preferred Concept 2022 (PC 2022), which was developed as part of the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study (WHPS) and published on March 26th, 2022. It featured 22-storey (East, tiered) + 21-storey (West) towers both with 3-storey podiums, the latter with a critical 20-meter setback from the West property line (bordering Spencer Smith Park).
PC 2022 was both a reasoned and reasonable design, based on significant input gathered over 5+ years from professional urban planners such as the Burlington Urban Development Panel, the community, and the property owner himself.
You may recall that the WHPS facilitator, The Planning Partnership effectively “mothballed” this report by claiming that they had been coerced by City staff to limit tower heights (still unproven to our knowledge). This does not diminish the merit of PC 2022, in the least. At our request, Ramsay Planning Inc. subsequently & independently computed the development potential of this property with similar parameters to be exactly 21 + 22 storeys. Humm!
PC 2022 actually yields a greater measure of intensification than permitted for the Waterfront Hotel property (FSI of 6.81 versus 5.0, for those technically-minded). This provides an argument to further reduce heights, as does the elimination of a downtown rapid transit hub, and the Burlington OP 2020 permissions of 11-15 storeys on neighbouring properties just across Lakeshore Road. The More Homes Built Faster Act (Bill 23) may have another affect.
This will be a complex negotiation.
Let’s hope the City chooses a negotiator as competent, creative and motivated as the “top gun” lawyer (Osler’s Chris Barnett) they engaged to handle this application at the OLT.
We at Citizens’ PLAN B remain available to assist!