Committee and Council Meetings
Agendas, minutes and videos on standing committee and council meetings in December, as well as agendas and reports for January’s meetings, are available online.
Development & Infrastructure Committee: Monday, January 19 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Community & Corporate Services Committee: Tuesday, January 20 at 1 p.m.
Committee of the Whole: Thursday, Jan. 22 at 1 p.m.
Burlington City Council: Monday, January 26 at 6:30 p.m.
Service based budgeting is now in place for the 2015 budget.
This is budgeting by service delivered, not by organizational department. The overall goal is to ensure citizens are getting good value for their tax dollar.
There are 47 identified services of which 24 are public services, 13 are internally focused support services and 10 are managed externally by distinct governance structures but receive a portion of their funding from the city.
Business plans have been developed for all 37 of the services provided by the city. They were prepared using the Results Based Accountability methodology developed by Mark Friedman at the US-based Fiscal Policy Institute.
The city’s base budget to maintain services is presented with a 1.86% increase, which is below the three year rolling average of the Toronto Consumer Price Index (1.91%).
The 2015 budget continues council’s practice of an increase for the capital levy that provides a source of funding to address infrastructure renewal and helps ensure that funding is available to renew assets as required based on the city’s asset management plan. This brings the increase to 3.06%.
Business cases used to recommend changes to city services and existing service levels bring the increase to 3.44%. Business cases from local boards and committees of 0.11% result the total city tax impact of 3.55%.
Combined with the Region of Halton increase and the Boards of Education, the overall increase is 2.1% (compared to the most recent Toronto average CPI figure of 2.5%) or $19.36 per $100,000 CVA.
I believe an overall tax impact of 2.1 per cent is reasonable considering the high quality of life we enjoy in Burlington, but I am committed to seeing if there is a way to lower the city’s portion. This is easier said than done, but I will work with council to do my best.
I invite residents to attend the Public Consultation Budget Meeting on Thursday, Jan. 29 from 7- 9 p.m. in the auditorium at Mainway Recreation Centre, 4015 Mainway.
Public Meeting on Proposed 28-Storey Building on Martha Street
A public meeting is being held on the proposed 28-storey condominium building at 374 Martha Street as part of the Development and Infrastructure Committee meeting on Monday, January 19 at 6:30 p.m.
The mixed-use development proposed by Adi Development Group requires Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendments.The site’s current height designation is four storeys, with a provision in the Official Plan to go up to eight storeys with community benefits.There have been a number of concerns expressed by residents about this project, among which are compatibility, height, density, parking, drainage, urban design and traffic.
The tallest building approved to date is the upcoming Bridgewater development, at 22 storeys, on Lakeshore Road at the base of Pearl Street.
This was already identified in our Official Plan as the landmark building in downtown Burlington.My opinion is that under no circumstances is a 28-storey condominium building at this site acceptable.
This would completely change our downtown landscape, and not for the better. I am looking for a significant reduction in the height of this proposed building.More information on the application is available on the city’s website here.
Sale of Water Street Land Parcels
City council voted 6-1 at the December 18 council meeting to approve the sale of the waterfront land parcels behind three homes along a one-block section from St. Paul to Market streets.
I have supported the process of the land sale since discussion re-emerged around this issue in 2013.
I continue to believe this is not an ideal setting for a park. Its location behind a group of houses means it would be a difficult space to monitor by police. I am also concerned about the significant height of the land from water’s edge maintained by the sea wall. This poses a safety hazard.
I feel there are better places where we can invest resources to enhance waterfront access. Part of the proceeds from the sale of this piece of property will go towards improving the Windows-to-the-Lake at St. Paul and Market streets. These will be places where residents can sit and enjoy beautiful views of Lake Ontario. City staff will be developing options with budgets, as well as engaging the public, this year.
City staff also recently made some improvements to Port Nelson Park, which is nearby and another great waterfront asset for the city.
Burlington City Council dedicated itself several decades ago to providing waterfront access through Windows-on-the-Lake along Lakeshore Road. This decision continues that commitment.
Unfortunately, there is no meaningful opportunity to create a waterfront trail from downtown Burlington to Burloak Drive. If there was, I would look at this piece of property differently.
This issue has been unresolved for more than 20 years. I’m satisfied that now it has been determined, we can move forward on other waterfront initiatives.
Heritage Tax Rebate Program
During our recent cycle of meetings in December, city council approved the Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program.
This will allow eligible property owners who apply to receive a 20 per cent rebate for the municipal (Burlington only) and educational portion of property taxes.
There are 44 eligible designated residential properties in Burlington. If all of those owners applied for the rebate, the total would be about $20,500 in city funding for 2014.
The average rebate will be just under $700 for 2014.
The rebate program was proposed in a report called A New Approach to Conserving Burlington’s Heritage created by Heritage Burlington in 2012.
Heritage properties offer a glimpse into a different time in our city and are a reminder of the dedication of previous generations of residents in the creation of this great city. These homes also add to the character and quality of place for Burlington. My hope for this rebate program is that it will serve as an incentive for owners of non-designated heritage homes to take the steps required to become designated.
Council will be considering increasing the rebate to 25 per cent in the upcoming 2015 budget deliberations. The accompanying budget request is $25,500. I support this request, but will be looking for an update about whether the rebate has facilitated an increase in designated residential properties
Strategic Plan 2015-2018
As we did in 2011, we will again be providing many opportunities for the public to engage in the strategic planning process.
Last term we had unprecedented input from the public and I believe we can surpass this in our upcoming strategic planning process.
More information will be coming forward in the coming weeks on how you can get involved in the engagement for the Strategic Plan 2015-2018.
Our Strategic Plan determines where our city will be going over the next four years and in the future, how we will get there and how we will know if we were successful. The process involves a review of the city’s vision and the setting of priorities and goals.
Update on BEDC Restructuring
The Community & Corporate Services Committee received an update in December about the restructuring of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) from its executive director, Frank McKeown.
Council directed the BEDC be reconfigured in 2013 to put a further emphasis on economic development in our city.
McKeown reported the new board, which is populated with local business leaders, is in place and already working efficiently.
He also presented the BEDC’s updated strategic plan.
The four key strategies cited in the plan include: 1. Develop and deliver an economic strategy that compliments the city’s strategic plan; 2. Enhance BEDC’s expertise and deliver reports and data; 3.Attract, retain and grow the employment base and 4. Operate at the speed of business.
As a city that has essentially reached greenfield build-out for residential development, our focus continues to be on developing the remaining Industrial/Commercial/Institutional land to ensure a solid tax base and to lead the redevelopment and intensification of existing employment lands.
As important, fostering our economic sector will result in local jobs that will hopefully provide opportunities for Burlington residents to live where they work, rather than to commute to their places of employment across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.
I look forward to seeing the resulting data later in 2015.
Snow Control Update
As we head into late January, it is likely we will see more snow.
The city provides regular snow control updates on its website during significant winter storms.
More information, including the levels of service for road and sidewalk snow clearing operations, can be found at www.burlington.ca/snow.
To report an area that has not been plowed, please contact Roads and Park Maintenance at 905-333-6166 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roads and Parks Maintenance asks residents to wait 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling before calling to let them know if a street has not been plowed.
Halton Region Budget
The proposed 2015 budget and business plan recommends a property tax increase of 1.5% for regional services and an increase of 1.9% for police services, resulting in a combined impact to the taxpayer of a 1.6% increase.
I feel this is a modest and acceptable increase for the region, considering the average increase has been at zero for the past eight years. Regional taxes fund a variety of services in Halton, such as public health and social assistance, regional roads and planning, paramedic services, a variety of children’s and seniors’ services, non-profit housing, heritage programs, emergency management, police services and economic development.
Lowville Winter Games
The Lowville Winter Games are an annual tradition in our city where residents can experience old-fashioned fun in beautiful rural Burlington. The event is set for Sunday, January 25 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in Lowville Park, 6207 Lowville Park Road. Admission is free. A full list of activities and parking/shuttle information can be found at www.burlington.ca/lowville.
Public Consultation Budget Meeting
A public consultation meeting on the city’s 2015 budget is being held Thursday, January 29 from 7-9 p.m. at in the auditorium at Mainway Recreation Centre, 4015 Mainway. The meeting will highlight the city’s 2015 current and capital budgets, as well as the impact the budget will have on 2015 property taxes.