After 10 days of OLT hearings held from April 29th to May 17th, including examinations & cross-examinations of ten expert witnesses, supported by 7000 pages of testimonies replete with projections and schematics and layers & layers of policies, it comes down to this; a decision by one OLT Member to either Reject Vrancor’s appeal of Burlington’s refusal decision of their application (i.e. “No”), or to Approve it with Conditions (i.e. “Yes, but”).

Are you still tracking on these double negatives with us? Okay!

We at Citizens’ PLAN B monitored most of the proceedings and are optimistic that the OLT will decide “No”. Why?

1. The arguments brought forward by Burlington & The Pearle Hotel were superior, and presented in a compelling fashion, such as:

a) Proposed conveyance of land remnants unacceptable to the City as useful Parkland
b) Wind impact fails Burlington’s comfort & safety guidelines
c) All transitions of the site to the Park are imposed on City property
d) Traffic related to service vehicles, and hotel guests drop off/ pickup & otherwise searching for parking spots has not been accommodated
e) Lake views, particularly from The Pearle have not been preserved, as is possible

2. The lawyers & expert witnesses for Vrancor were less balanced in their positions & thereby less credible.

  • Their lawyers dwelt on narrow legal issues, cherry-picking from often inconsistent old and new City, Regional & Provincial guidelines and policies to make their arguments
  • They took a “so what?” approach to the UGC & MTSA no longer being downtown, replacing it with a one-dimensional “Intensification First” mantra
  • Most of their Expert witnesses appeared to “oversell” their positions

In our opinion, there are far too many shortfalls, inconsistencies and outright problems with this Application for the OLT to approve it.

At the hearing, Vrancor effectively signaled their intention to seek an alternate “Yes, but” ruling. By this, we mean that the OLT would support the Appeal, on the condition (“Holding Provision”) that Vrancor resolve with the City (& The Pearle) all outstanding issues, such as #1a-e above. We consider a “Yes, but” decision to be problematic, given the extent of the resultant changes that would likely be required to the design, Vrancor’s historical intransigence and that this Application’s approval is just too important to Burlington to be negotiated behind “closed doors”.

We therefore strongly support a “No” decision, accompanied by OLT guidance to the Applicant on preparing a new & improved design, worthy of a speedy approval by City planners.

The OLT is expected to rule in 4+ months.

Stay tuned!