Homebuilders disappointed as Burlington approves temporary freeze on downtown development

The front entrance of Burlington City Hall.
The front entrance of Burlington City Hall. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Burlington politicians are taking control of development in the city.

City Council has voted to use an interim control bylaw to place a one-year “freeze” on development of lands within a study area that includes the Downtown Urban Growth Centre (UGC) and lands in proximity to the Burlington GO Station.

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Mayor Marianne Meed Ward says the temporary freeze will allow the city to study its land use policies and to ensure that future growth aligns with the vision that Burlington residents have for their city.

“We need to take control of development and land use planning in the city, that is what residents have asked us to do, not simply react and respond,” Meed Ward says.

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The interim control bylaw is largely in response to a late 2018 decision by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which sided with a developer’s plan for a controversial 26-storey residential tower near Burlington’s downtown waterfront.

The city unsuccessfully argued the highrise was too dense and tall for the Martha Street property.

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During the one-year freeze on development in the study area, the city will assess the role and function of the downtown bus terminal and the Burlington GO station on Fairview Street.

It will also examine the planning structure, land-use mix and intensity, and update the official plan and zoning bylaw regulations as needed for lands identified in the study area.

The Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association is voicing disappointment with Burlington City Council’s decision.

HHHBA CEO Suzanne Mammel says the city has chosen to approve the interim control bylaw without officially notifying the association, even though the decision affects new home buyers, businesses and developers.

The association warns the “freeze” will have a massive impact on economic development and represents “absolute politics over good planning.”