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Turning left on Lakeshore Road more difficult - especially during rush hour
Centre turn lane on Lakeshore Rd reduced for on-road bike lanes
Council vote Mon. Jan. 28, 6:30pm, City Hall
In a split vote, members of the Development & Infrastructure Committee voted to reduce the centre turn lane on Lakeshore Road from Seneca to Walkers Line to install onroad bike lanes on the road edge.
Instead of the centre turn lane there will be a small painted median in this stretch, ranging from 1 - 1.15m west of Guelph Line to 1.7m - 1.9m east of Guelph Line. This won’t be large enough to accommodate a turning vehicle. The current centre turn lane varies, but on average is 2.6m.
Lakeshore Road will be repainted as a pilot project in conjunction with pre-scheduled road work, beginning in Spring 2013 and scheduled for completion in September 2014. Results from September onward will be reported to council in Spring 2014, for before and after vehicle counts, travel time, bicycle counts and motor vehicle collisions.
The vote needs ratification by City Council Mon. Jan. 28, 6:30pm, at City Hall. You can attend to speak as a delegation by registering before noon the day of the committee here or by calling 905-335-7600.
My Take: Along with my colleagues councillors Sharman and Taylor, I support retaining the current configuration of Lakeshore Road, primarily for safety reasons for all road users. Here are 10 reasons why we need to retain the centre lane on Lakeshore Road, and take steps that will actually deliver on the goal of helping residents to use cycling and active transportation.
1. The road is currently functioning safely.
Transportation staff have confirmed that the collision type and number are what you’d expect for an arterial road, and it is not listed on the Top 10 of problem roads in Burlington. In short, the road is safe for both drivers and cyclists.
2. Current cycling infrastructure in this area is adequate.
The Centennial bike path provides a safe, segregated and beautiful route for cyclists heading between downtown and the east of the city. In addition, there is the multi-use asphalt path on the South side of Lakeshore Rd. That path will be upgraded as part of the road reconstruction. A number of cyclists told council that for speed reasons they don't like to use either Centennial path or the multi-use path, but the bottom line is that these services exist. No one is required to cycle on the road. Riders who feel safe on Lakeshore Road already cycle there without a bike path; those who don't likely won't cycle on Lakeshore Road even with a bike lane.
As an aside, the city is poised to invest heavily in cycling infrastructure - the proposed capital budget for 2013 includes $1.25m for new and upgraded multi-use paths throughout the city - we need to encourage cyclists to use these paths, rather than compromise road safety for everyone.
3. Changes to the road will compromise safety for both cyclists and drivers.
Residents on Lakeshore Road remember when the centre turn lane was installed for the safety of cars turning left onto and off of the road. They noticed fewer collisions after the centre turn lane was installed. I have asked Transportation Staff to provide that data (it should have been part of the initial report). Further, with just a narrow painted median for cars to wait while turning left, passing vehicles will veer into the cycling lane to pass, putting cyclists at risk.
4. Delays will result.
Traffic flow will be impeded by removing the centre turn lane, stealing precious minutes of time from families due to commuting, reducing their quality of life and adding further emissions to the air, affecting both drivers and cyclists. As one resident said in a letter to committee: “Should we not be concerned about the plan’s generation of so much idling traffic, with its resulting air pollution, in such close proximity to a public school and a dense residential area…There’s a Burlington by-law to stop vehicles idling for over 30 seconds; how many violations of that by-law will be directly caused by this plan?”
5. If you build it they will come only works in the movies.
We’re told that on-road bike lanes will increase the number of people cycling, but this vague hope fundamentally misunderstands why people don’t cycle now. It’s not because there is a lack of on-road bike lanes; it’s because more than half our residents must leave the city to work. Until we focus on economic development and bringing jobs to Burlington, cycling to work will remain a dream for our residents, even with on-road bike lanes. As one resident said in her letter to committee: “I like cycling myself. I cannot, however, find a way to bike my two children to daycare and then down to St. Catharines in order to do the job that pays my property taxes in Burlington….I have found biking over 100km a day to be especially trying in winter.”
6. There is no data to suggest on-road bike lanes will increase cycling in Burlington or has done so where bike lanes have been added.
Creating congestion and traffic delays as a means to get people out of their cars and onto bikes, without taking steps to rectify why people don't cycle now, only produces…..congestion and delays. We need to balance the needs of all road users; this proposal creates significant safety and other negative impacts for the vast majority of current road users. It's not balanced. Cyclists and cars are sharing the road well now.
7. Families won’t cycle on Lakeshore Road.
For many families and individuals on-road cycling is too dangerous even with on-road bike lanes. Our residents are looking for dedicated bike paths and separated bike lanes – Ottawa is a good example. This will take more planning and time – a precious commodity in an impatient world of instant gratification – but separated bike paths will go further to achieving the results we want.
8. The “pilot” has no goals to determine success (or failure).
The pilot will measure vehicle counts, travel time, bicycle counts and motor vehicle collisions, but no thought has been given to how many more cyclists will be required to deem the pilot a success, or how many accidents or delays are “acceptable” to deem this a success. Even one accident is too many – we should not be using our residents as guinea pigs to test the safety of the road. The lack of clear targets creates the impression that calling this a pilot is simply a device to push this through without proper data, consideration or due process.
9. Poor process leads to poor decisions.
This project has suffered from lack of good data and poor public consultation – being sprung on residents before Christmas, with a proposed amendment coming days before the final vote. There was no opportunity for a public meeting that would have provided an opportunity for table group discussion to learn from our residents what would help them pursue a more active lifestyle, and whether on-road cycling lanes on Lakeshore Road will have any impact at all on their cycling patterns.
10. We ignore the public at our peril.
More than 125 residents wrote to me and other members of council, to ask that the centre turn lane be retained. An additional 250 residents submitted a petition asking for the road to remain as is. Residents have clearly communicated their concerns, and goals for a balanced approach to cycling infrastructure. Yet those have been set aside. We’ve been told that supporting the on-road bike lanes at any cost to drivers and despite the concerns of residents, is showing “leadership.” Leadership has become the code word to justify ignoring public input.
The best decisions are made by carefully consulting and considering the views of the people most directly affected by our decisions. The city's commitment to community engagement is built on this premise. It recognizes that elected officials don’t have a corner on wisdom (no one does), but that collectively there is much wisdom in our community if we listen and learn from each other.
When politicians dream about the future and impose a solution, it doesn’t always work out the way it’s supposed to, and residents are left suffering with the consequences until we fix it. One example will suffice: last week, council members discussed parking problems in the Uptown community of Burlington in Ward 5. This community was designed as high density with limited parking to “get people out of their cars” and onto transit. It didn’t work – people still have to drive outside the community for work, or long distances for shopping or recreation. So now councillors are having to fix the situation, and have approved relaxed on-street parking rules in the area. Several councilors expressed surprise that the vision hadn’t worked. The reason: without jobs (and shopping and recreation) close by, residents still have to drive.
Making it hard for residents to drive doesn’t automatically get them out of their cars, if nothing else in the community changes. We need to heed this lesson before imposing hardship on the users of Lakeshore Road.
Your Take: Do you support replacing the centre turn lane with a painted median? Will on-road bike lanes get you cycling on Lakeshore Road? What can the city do to help you leave the car at home? Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff reviewing waterfront access at Water St road allowance
About a year ago, the citizen members of the Burlington Waterfront Committee (previously the Waterfront Access & Protection Citizens Advisory Committee) identified the Water Street road allowance behind homes running between St. Paul St and Market St. as an opportunity for some enhanced waterfront access. There are several issues here. The homeowners built and paid for the seawall along the road allowance, and there is some fencing preventing access. There is multiple ownership with the city and Ministry of Natural Resources.
Last year, I brought a motion to direct our Manager of Realty Services to review the area and provide a report on the background, history and options available. That work is underway, and the report expected early this year. It will include:
• Surveying the land to establish/ confirm ownership
• Meeting with the Ministry of Natural Resources regarding their ownership of part of the land, and history on the file
• External appraisal to assist in determining the market value of the land
• Cost review and update to establish the cost of the shoreline protection
• Parks and Recreation department review of capital budget and park master plan and priorities
• Meetings with the abutting property owners to update and inform them of the above steps
Once the above information is complete, staff will be able to prepare a report to Council on the matter. This will likely be a confidential report as it involves liability/legal issues as well as real estate acquisition/disposition.
Separately, a review of all of the city’s Windows to the Lake (open spaces at road ends) is scheduled to begin in Spring of 2013. This review will take a comprehensive look at existing and potential windows to the lake for improvements, and will inform future budget requests.
Enhancing existing Windows to the Lake is another initiative that arose from the Burlington Waterfront Committee. Members recommended tree and brush pruning, benches and garbage cans, as well as enhanced signage. This is land the city already owns, and with some investment we can increase local waterfront access in various points throughout the city.
The city’s role in condo parking
Many of you have asked about the city’s role in requiring visitor parking for condominium developments, and about parking meters appearing on condo lots.
Visitor Parking Requirements:
The current by-law for downtown parking does not make a special requirement for visitor parking. In other areas of the city, there is such a requirement for visitor parking and this can be enforced by requiring that spaces be set aside and signed for visitors. In the downtown, the city simply ensures that the development provides the minimum amount of parking as required by the by-law, typically 1.25 spaces per unit with no additional amount for visitors.
There is no requirement for any parking for commercial units in the downtown. Instead, businesses pay into a levy to provide future parking, and helped pay for the existing parking garage.
Once the development is built, the assignment of parking spaces is up to the developer and eventually the condo corporation. These are private arrangements and as such, the city does not monitor what happens to the parking spaces; typically, they are sold to condo owners. For example, when The Baxter condo was approved, it was required to have spaces for the at-grade commercial uses, but was not required to provide visitor parking.
The owners of the parking spaces in a condominium have the authority to install paid parking meters, and can enter into an agreement with the city to provide enforcement. This happened recently to some surface parking spaces at The Baxter. These meters are not city meters; meter revenue flows to the owners. The city merely provides enforcement, as we do on many private lots throughout the city where an agreement is in place.
Currently, five private lots in the downtown charge for parking, as per below. They do not need a business license to do so. Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital; Waterfront Hotel; Sim’s Square; Burlington Art Centre; The Baxter Condo (Elizabeth St).
Enhanced police response downtown
Halton Regional Council (which includes all members of Burlington City Council) recently approved 16 additional officers for the police force. During discussion of this item at committee, police confirmed that four of these officers will be deployed to “hot-spots” throughout the region which get a larger volume of calls, one of which is downtown Burlington. These additional officers will help provided needed police presence and response to concerns you’ve shared with me about late-night activities.
Residents provide a valuable service in reporting issues of concern in the downtown, including vandalism, graffiti, noise and other matters. You can help by calling 911 if the matter is actually occurring and there is a imminent danger to a person or property. If the incident has already occurred and there is no imminent danger, then the appropriate manner to contact the police is to call 905-825-4777 and ask for Communications.
News briefs & updates:
The tender for the redevelopment of Elgin Park with a new maintenance facility and children’s park is expected in April 2013, with construction to take place October 2013 to May 2014. For background, click here.
Pine St. construction:
Residents and businesses will notice that the parking meters on Pine St from Pearl to Elizabeth have been bagged to allow Burlington Hydro to install service for the new seniors building on Pine and Pearl. Construction is expected to last another month or so.
Martha St. construction:
The watermain replacement work on Martha St and Lakeshore Rd. has now been completed. Final restoration work, including permanent asphalt resurfacing of the road, reconstruction of sidewalks, and minor restoration of landscaped areas will be completed in Spring 2013, and is expected to take about 3 days. The roads will be closed for this work. If you have any questions, contact the Halton Region project manager Melvin Gonzalez at Melvin.Gonzalez@halton.ca or 311.
The city has received federal funding under the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund for several projects in the city, including the Central Arena Building Envelope renewal and upgrade in the amount of $99,900. Congratulations to staff for their work on this.
Downtown Task Group:
The Downtown Task Group has been working on a renewed vision for downtown with policy recommendations to council, arising from our research and public engagement over the past year. The group plans to bring an interim report to the Development & Infrastructure (likely Feb 25) providing an overview of our findings, some broad recommendations and potential policy directions. This would be followed by a council workshop in March, additional public engagement in the Spring, with final recommendations in September.
Signals, Maple Ave:
In response to resident requests, the walk time for the pedestrian crossing at Maple Avenue and Ontario Street has been increased by two seconds. Walkers now have 48 seconds to cross Maple, and 34 seconds to cross Ontario. This request came through the Ward 2 Seniors’ Sub-Committee for a review of all signalized intersections on Maple between Fairview and Lakeshore. Members of the committee participated in walkthroughs of the intersection to determine the appropriate timing.
Spencer Smith Park:
A number of improvements are planned for Spencer Smith Park this year including:
1. a 4m wide, concrete accessible pathway from the base of the stairs at the hexagon pad to the Waterfront Promenade through the existing hexagon – to start in Spring 2013, complete by May
2. an accessible sidewalk from the hexagon to the Lady of the Lake Fountain and Lakeshore Rd,
3. replacement of the old electrical distribution panel (behind the Lady of the Lake fountain),
4. expansion of pedestrian lighting along the west end of the promenade (to Lakeshore Rd), coordinated with the proposed widening of the sidewalk; and
5. installation of pedestrian lighting around the playground.
Priorities for 2013: downtown, waterfront, economic development, fiscal prudence, community engagement
The start of 2013 marks not only the beginning of a New Year but the halfway mark of this term of council. It is an honour to serve you, and work together to make our community better. And work together we do.
Residents of Ward 2 are very involved in civic life. I get upwards of 100 emails per day – more when there's an issue of particular interest or concern. I've heard your passion for the city and your suggestions to make it better. We live in a fantastic community - your love of the community comes through when you share your ideas or concerns. We recognize we are blessed to live here - and that there are challenges to the things we cherish, but also much that can be done to make our city even better.
I've heard (and share!) your frustrations about the slow pace of government - I sometimes compare government years to “dog years” - 7 to 1! I appreciate your patience; it carries me through when progress is slow, and energy and time must be diverted to steering the city away from decisions that will negatively impact residents.
There are steps we can take, both large and small, short term and long term, that will preserve what we love about the community, and make changes that will make our city even better. Here are some of the issues you and I will be working on this year:
Downtown vibrancy and intensification.
Burlington's downtown is unique in the GTA, our jewel on the lake. When residents across the city were asked about their top cultural destinations, the downtown and waterfront came out on top. At the same time, we are at risk of losing the heritage and unique character of the downtown with intensification. We are an urban growth centre, required to meet targets of 200 people or jobs per hectare. Residents don't want a sea of generic glass highrises. We can meet the growth targets through mid-rise office development - a necessity to bring feet on the street year round downtown.
I sit on the Downtown Task Group which is in the final stages of recommendations to council to address these and other concerns. Separately, the independent consultants working on parking strategies for downtown will release their findings early this year. The downtown is also a focus area for the Official Plan Review taking place this year, which is exploring how land use, height, density and zoning policies can deliver a downtown we want - one that is scaled appropriately, and protects our heritage resources.
The future of Village Square is up in the air with a new owner; and many of you have said that if redevelopment occurs it should be limited and aim to preserve the unique character and feel of the area. Three of the buildings have some heritage value, and a consultant has been hired to review and report back to Heritage Burlington and council early in the New Year.
Meanwhile, I will continue to work with landowners and developers to seek your input prior to bringing applications to City Hall, as we have done successfully this past year. That allows your feedback to help shape appropriate development in our neighbourhood.
Over half of our residents commute to work outside Burlington, and many of you have shared your dream of being able to work in the city where you live. Increasing the number of residents who both live and work in Burlington is a priority outlined in our city’s strategic plan. It is also a necessity for our long-term financial health. Unless we increase the number of industrial/commercial/institutional taxpayers, residential tax rates will continue to increase.
As I wrote about last month (here), the Burlington Economic Development Corporation has set some aggressive corporate attraction targets; we need to properly fund the organization so they don't need to spend resources on fundraising and networking luncheons (these can easily be provided by other organizations in the city, like the Burlington Chamber of Commerce) but are able to devote their time and efforts on business attraction.
Waterfront access and protection.
Significant changes are about to occur on our waterfront, with decisions to be made on the future of the Beachway Park Master Plan, the future of the residential community there (which I support), and a potential commercial operator for the historic pump house. The Master Plan for Burloak Park is being reviewed this year, looking at park amenities and pathway design. The city is reviewing our "windows to the lake" - these are public lands at the bottom of street ends, but in many cases have been blocked or encroached by abutting residents, or are overgrown. This is an opportunity to gain more waterfront access for residents, and was one of the many issues identified by the former Waterfront Access & Protection Citizens Advisory Committee. This committee was established by the previous council at the request of the Save Our Waterfront, a community group I helped found as a citizen because residents wanted a voice on waterfront issues, and were particularly concerned about the future of Old Lakeshore Road in the downtown.
This council sunset the committee at the end of 2012, but the volunteer citizen members recognized the importance of continued resident input into waterfront issues. They have committed their time to continue the work of the committee, with support from my office, under a new name: the Burlington Waterfront Committee. Areas of focus this year include participation in the Beach Master Plan Review, Burloak Park Master Plan Review, Official Plan review of Old Lakeshore Road and the waterfront in general, revitalizing windows to the lake at road ends throughout the city, and more. The committee will provide input to council on decision-making, and also to engage residents in the conversation.
You are invited to attend our meetings, which are open to the public, and new members are being sought from Wards 1, 3, 4, and 5.
The pier is on target for completion in 2013, but at a budget almost three times the original forecast in 2006 of $6 million. And there are outstanding legal issues with the original contractor, engineering firm, bonding company and others, which will be a focus of decision-making for council this year.
Before we can put this chapter behind us as a community, we must learn from it. That requires transparency with residents, including disclosure of the legal bill, the design changes, and the options and costs that were considered to complete the project, up to and including the decision to retender. The full story has yet to be told. Given the magnitude of cost-overruns and delays on the project, we have a responsibility to you, the public, to be transparent and accountable for our decisions.
Council is taking time this year to discuss how we function as a governance team, and review our corporate policies, including the existing Council Code of Conduct, and others. The situation with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford provides an incentive to review our own policies around fundraising by members of council using city resources – the issue that became his undoing. Several of you have also recently raised questions about city council members serving on boards (we all do), and the potential for conflict of interest. The governance review provides an appropriate forum to discuss these important issues.
Many of you have shared your desire for modest and predictable tax rates, and a focus of spending on need- to-haves over nice-to-haves. I will continue to champion that fiscal focus during budget discussions and throughout the year. That will mean some choices – funding infrastructure needs over subsidizing private entertainment, for example, and investing in job attraction, transit, libraries and other resident services.
Collaborative leadership and community engagement.
The city is in the final stages of approving a community engagement charter to foster collaboration with you, the residents we serve, in decision-making. There is still room for improvement. I outlined some of those opportunities in a video entitled Valuing Public Input early this term (available here), and much of it is still relevant now. We need to move beyond the notion of one-way education (that the public needs to be educated) to the notion that we all have something to learn from each other; we need to move beyond labelling and dismissing those we disagree with as NIMBYs or “special interest groups” but instead listen for the value in what they have to say; we need to move beyond simply collecting feedback, to allowing it to inform decision-making – and getting back to you about how your views shaped the final outcome.
We sometimes hear the word "leadership" used to justify those times when council ignores what the majority of residents are telling us. True collaborative leadership - of the type envisioned by residents and captured in the engagement charter - requires us to incorporate feedback into our decisions.
Public meeting Wed. Jan. 30, 7-9:30, Burlington Arts Ctr, 1333 Lakeshore Rd.
City staff have proposed a budget for 2013 that would see a 2.3-6.5% tax increase, depending on which recommended program changes are approved by city council. Over the next few weeks, council will review the budget in detail and make recommended changes, with final approval Tues. Feb. 19 for the capital budget and Mon. March 18 for the current (operating) budget.
We must do better than a 6.5% increase, and that will require some tough choices.
I’ve provided some preliminary thoughts below, subject to further research and review. I’m looking for your input on whether these suggestions are headed in the right direction. Council members can submit proposed changes to the budget by Feb. 1 (for the capital budget) and by Feb. 19 (for the current budget). Any requested change must be supported by a majority vote at council (4 of 7).
Top of mind for me is balancing the requests for budget increases with the economic pressures on our community, and your ability to pay. The Bank of Canada has continued slow economic growth until at least the second half of 2014. Many of you have experienced pay freezes, or cuts; we have many seniors in our community living on fixed incomes. We need to be very careful about increasing spending in this difficult economic climate.
Budget planning has changed this year, to a “base-plus” model, namely increases to the base (or “existing”) budget roughly in line with inflation, plus service increases or reductions supported by a business case. The base-plus-business-cases add up to the total tax impact. The business cases have been grouped into two categories: recommended by staff and not recommended.
Council approved this model in the summer, but after seeing it in action, I believe we need to make some changes to it. Does an across the board inflationary increase encourage finding efficiencies? Why are there are new spending items in the base budget, which wasn’t the intent of the inflationary adjustment? I’ll be asking these questions.
I support the notion that increases should be tied to measurable outcomes, but a lot of the business cases don’t have that detail. In addition, the business cases are one-off wish-lists, without direct ties to an overall strategic focus. I'm concerned we'll spend a lot of time debating small items, and lose the forest for the trees. In that respect, this budget process may not end up being that much different than previous budget discussions. I’ll be doing further research into how any increase will improve service to the community, and asking if there’s another way to deliver that service without a tax increase.
To keep things simple, I will list the key increases to the budget, regardless of whether they’re in the base or one of the business cases, and provide some preliminary comments. More detailed description of budget line items is available on my website here.
You can access budget documents, staff reports, overview presentations, and more here.
Summary of budget increases
1.25% increase for capital renewal
▪ Includes an additional $300k for local road resurfacing, bringing the total to $2.142m annually. That still leaves an annual gap of about $1m in funding; $3m is needed to stabilize the decline of the road network.
▪ Includes a .5% increase ($610k) in the dedicated infrastructure renewal levy.
My take: I support these increases as part of our commitment to focus on need-to-have infrastructure repair and renewal. The city has $2.2billion in assets with roads, and facilities and buildings the largest two categories (52% and 16% respectively); 64% of identified renewal needs are being met. The 2013 capital budget is $55million; tax supported funding accounts for roughly 50% of the budget, with the remainder coming from debt, reserve funds, development charges and recoveries.
$300k annually for strategic plan implementation (a reduction of $100k from last year’s budget)
Question: It's not clear what's included. Can this be reduced by putting some expenditures on hold, or identifying specific programs in each budget year with a specific business case, rather than lump sum funding?
2% inflationary increase to local boards and committees (the library, BPAC, BAC etc).
My take: Need further review on how increases will be spent, and how efficiences are maintained; some costs are more driven by inflationary pressures, and others aren't.
Question: Can this be reduced, or removed without significant impact to customer service delivery on e-government? Council already approved $400k in spending on this project.
Increase in custodial and rental rates for board properties $83k
Question: Can this be recovered through increased fees?
Snow removal shifting from Roads & Parks Maintenance to Parks & Recreation $68k
Question: Why the increase, when service is shifting departments?
Teen Tour Band trip:
Annual contribution to the trip (which occurs every second year) $15k; there is another $15k in the business cases. Why are two line items, in different places, if the request is $30k? Does the city provide any funding for the band now, and should we be contributing to travel, as opposed to, say, uniforms or equipment?
The multi-use pathway way finding sign system has won an awards
Lakeshore Road Multi-Use Path Reconstruction
$300k, from capital, for Torrance to Guelph Ln: to accommodate pedestrians and recreational cyclists. Coincides with the reconstruction of the entire road, at $500k, which may or may not include a reduced centre turn lane to accommodate bike paths, depending on council vote Jan. 28.
My Take: I do not support removing the full centre turn lane to accommodate bike lanes, but I do support the investment in improving the multi-use path as a commitment to active transportation, including cycling, blading, skateboarding and walking. The 2013 budget includes $1.25m in multi-use path developments or improvements across the city.
New Street Resurfacing, Martha to Guelph Line
Resurfacing in 2014, with potential Environmental Assessment Study in 2013 to engage the community and obtain feedback on design options to introduce on-road bike lanes. Study, $45k, approved in 2011.
My Take: I support public engagement on the road reconstruction and potential bike lanes; the study money has already been approved. Proper public engagement has been sorely lacking in the Lakeshore Road cycling lane discussion.
Parking Meter Replacement:
Replacing parking meters that have reached the end of their life cycle with Pay n Display machines; one machine covers 8 spaces. $124k from reserve funds. In 2013, the focus will be on Brant St, from John to Locust (20 machines in total)
My Take: I support this as a customer service improvement for residents – easier to pay.
Parking Garage Renewal, 200K
Burlington Art Centre
Replace HVAC system, $400k, from capital. Total 2013 capital budget: $481,000, plus repair and renewal of 1/3 of parking lot, HVAC, LED lighting throughout; new Lakeshore Road sign, new parking lot sign, kilns, potters wheels lighting screens, hardware & software replacement; equipment and flooring: $81k, from capital.
My Take: I will be asking: are local boards required to build capital improvements into the own budgets, and by how much?
$1.33m for automated transit upgrades, including computer aided dispatch, automated vehicle and stop announcements, traveler information and passenger counters.
My Take: I support these as customer service improvements.
Merit pay increases:
Human resources accounts for 49% of the budget; 8 positions have been redeployed to cover new positions proposed in 2013. The budget includes a 1.5% merit increase for staff, with no cost of living increase, and a 1.85% increase for council members, tied to the estimated consumer price index increase for 2013. Union increases for 2012 were 1.9%. The city aims for similarity between union and non-union increases.
My Take: I support, in principle, the notion of non-union compensation being similar to union compensation; that said, I have asked for more information about the tax impact of reducing non-union compensation to 1% (a .5% reduction). Any increase for council members should be the same as the increase of non-union staff.
$230k annually for 10 years for the clean up of Randle Reef, funded by reallocating $230k of the $350k annually allocated for the Railway Crossing Reserve.
My Take: I voted for Randle Reef funding at both the city and regional councils as our part to help clean up the bay we share with Hamilton.
NOTE: All of the above increases are included in the "base budget" increase of 2.3%. Some of these are offset by increased revenue, detailed below.
Proposed base of 2.3% increase: reduce strategic plan, e-government, merit pay increases, approximately .3% (or more) savings = 2% base.
At the signing of $60m contribution agreement.
Group 1 increases: brings tax impact to 4%
▪ JBMH levy $1.2m increase
My Take: I support the increase to reduce reliance on debt to fund the city’s important commitment to the hospital redevelopment of $60m.
▪ Leadership training to develop a municipal management program at DeGroote School of Business: $160k
My Take: I need to understand what the spending is for; there is already $80k in the base budget for professional development.
▪ Risk & consulting services 3 positions for 3 years $909k:
Question: Can these be eliminated or deferred?
▪ Alton community centre parks & recreation resources $324k
My Take: Support, as part of our commitment to this new community in our city
▪ Sound of music festival $37k:
My Take: Support. The city earns back its contribution from fees and charges to the festival. This is a contribution to both local culture (many local groups play in the festival), and to our young people – the festival is the highlight of the year for many of our youth.
▪ Burlington Teen Tour Band Ireland tour 2013 band staff and support personnel $15k:
▪ Reduced service for sidewalk clearing, $31k:
My Take: Do not support. Many residents have asked for enhanced sidewalk clearing, to improve walkability. Sidewalk snow cleaning is an investment in active transportation and transit use.
▪ Eliminate taxi script service for Handi-van (-$27) and auxiliary taxi overflow (-$90k):
My Take: Do not support. Many of our residents would be isolated and housebound without Handi-Van, and there is increasing demand and long waits for this service. The taxi script and overflow provide service when Handi-Van is booked solid.
Base plus Group 1 business cases = 4% (proposed); base reduced by .3% above, - .75% (cut risk/consulting), -.065% (reduce leadership training by half), +.03% add sidewalk plowing, +.09% add taxi script and auxiliary taxi for Handivan = 3%
Group 2 increases: brings tax impact to 6.5%
▪ Expanded transit service $584k:
My Take: Support, as an investment in alternative transportation.
▪ 4 firefighters for station 8 $431k
Need more information on how the station is currently functioning, and any response or service impacts
▪ 4 firefighters for suppression staffing $431k
Need more information on how the staffing level is currently being covered, and any response or service impacts
Can internal staff and/or the accessibility committee be deployed for this?
▪ 7.1 FTE for new Alton library $463k:
My Take: I support the addition of staff for the new library but question the number. Need additional information.
▪ Library marketing, .4 FTE, $19k:
My Take: Need to understand what the measurable outcomes are for this investment.
▪ Library visiting to seniors, .3 FTE, $15k:
My Take: Support in principle, subject to further review.
▪ Burlington Art Centre funding for fundraising/foundation board development: $125k
My Take: Would like to see this expertise delivered via board/community expertise, or bundled with positions at some of our other boards (for example the sales associate position at BPAC). Can city staff be deployed to assist? What are the goals on the fundraising?
▪ BAC compensation adjustment $45k:
▪ Museum convert part-time curatorial to full-time: $7k
My Take: Support in principle, subject to further review.
▪ Burlington Performing Arts Centre: 1FTE technician, 1FTE sales associate, $132 total
My Take: Understand the need for the technician position, to cover 15 weeks of lieu time; would like to see it covered from ticket sales and booking revenue; do not support the sales associate position if the net revenue is only $20k.
▪ BPAC $225k to offset revenue shortfall
My take: While I support a city contribution to the centre, it is not a backstop to cover annual shortfalls. I do not support it being part of the city’s base budget. Any municipal contribution must be tied to policy goals of supporting local culture, and making a reasonable contribution to capital; taxpayers should not be subsidizing professional entertainment. I have requested additional information about performance last year and projections this year, as well as local bookings.
▪ Burlington Economic Development Corporation resources plus 1FTE for economic analyst $370k:
My Take: I support an investment in BEDC to allow it to shift staff currently involved in fundraising/networking events, and redeploy them into sales calls and business attraction. However, the BEDC model still includes significant fundraising events. I question the economic analyst position; I’d like to see a sales/business attraction position instead.
3 % carried from above, plus transit (+.48%), plus Alton library staff (up to +.38%), plus a contribution to BEDC tied to business attraction activities (up to +.3% ), plus library marketing/visiting services, (+.03%) plus museum (+.01) = 4.2% city tax impact
For access to budget books and additional budget information click here.
Revenue that offsets tax increases
The city benefits from increased revenue sources. This revenue is already built into the base budget assumptions above.
Increased revenue from transit fare revenue due to increased ridership, rental and programming revenue from fee increases ranging from 1-5%, increase in planning & building revenues
Supplementary taxes of $1.35m
These are new taxpayers being assessed by MPAC and beginning to pay. MPAC is aiming to provide assessment of new buildings within 6 months of occupancy.
.87% increase in taxes from new taxpayers, and increases to property values.
Additional costs are offset by a 1% increase in non-tax revenues, including increased fees for planning & building, increased transit revenue (above), increased rental and programming revenue in parks and recreation, increased recoveries under the Regional Road Maintenance Agreement.
Additional non-tax sources of revenue include investment earnings, penalties and interest, grants and subsidies from upper levels of government.
Retained savings and reserve funds
Staff are projecting $3-4m in retained savings from last year's budget (report to follow in February); they are further recommending that $1.1m of this go into the tax rate stabilization fund. Drawing from this fund will be used to offset tax increases due to additional spending this year by roughly 1%.
Proposed mid-rise apartment at 2085 Pine St
Public meeting Thurs. Jan. 31, 7pm, Rm 247, City hall
I am hosting a public meeting for a proposed redevelopment of 2085 Pine. No planning applications have been submitted to the City’s Planning Department yet. The owner of the property would like your input prior to submitting any formal applications.
The owners want to save the heritage home on the site, the Nelson Ogg-Jabez Clark House, and add a 5-storey condominium behind the house. The heritage house would connect to the condo and provide amenity space for residents. Parking would be on the ground level of the condo with four floors (16 units) of residential above.
The current zoning on the property is DRM (downtown medium density) and a rezoning application would be required if the owner proceeds as planned.
I have offered to host this meeting to provide residents with an opportunity to meet the developer, provide input on the proposal, and get more information about the planning process and regulations on the site. The owner of the property, his consultant and architect will be in attendance at the meeting to present their plans. City planning staff will attend to answer any planning process related questions. I am facilitating. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you can submit your comments directly to me at email@example.com and I will pass them on.
Semi-detached proposed for 513 Pearl
The city has received an application from Mattwood Construction Ltd. for a semi-detached home to replace the existing white house at the corner of Caroline and Pearl. There are semi-detached homes beside this property and a townhouse complex across the street. Even though the existing house is multi-dwelling, the proposal will require both an Official Plan and zoning change, as the current policies do not permit semi-detached homes. You can submit questions or comments on the proposal by Feb. 15 to the planner firstname.lastname@example.org. A staff report will be prepared on the proposal, for consideration by the city’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, date to be determined. I am also interested in your feedback. You can contact me at Marianne.MeedWard@burlington.ca.
Updates: Branthaven on Ghent; Bridgewater; Fairview
Site Plan submitted for Branthaven on Ghent project
Branthaven has now submitted a site plan application for the proposed townhouse development on the Ghent Avenue properties. The additional details can assist staff in reviewing the rezoning application, however Branthaven is aware that they are submitting this application at their risk since zoning is not in place to permit the development.
Meanhile, in response to concerns from residents about the impact of the development on groundwater, groundwater monitoring wells have now been installed at several locations on the 8 properties to test groundwater levels.
Planning staff are currently reviewing the application and technical comments, and are aiming to have a recommendation report to the Development & Infrastructure Committee on Feb. 25 (subject to change). This a public meeting that residents can attend and register to speak. The report would be available to the public about a week before that committee, so I am working with staff to potentially host a neighbourhood meeting in that period between the release of the staff report and the D&I committee. Additional information and reports are available here
Soil remediation for Bridgewater site
Site remediation is now underway on the Bridgewater site, at the foot of Elizabeth St, in preparation for the redevelopment into a 22-storey condo, 7 storey condo and 8 storey hotel. The site was a former gas station. The remediation site work will extend to the end of January or early February. Meanwhile, discussions continue between the owners and city planners to review the site plan approval application submitted in early September 2012. That will be an ongoing process throughout the year.
Molinaro development on Fairview
A detailed site plan has been submitted for the Molinaro project on Fairview Street, incorporating input from the design workshop and followup meeting held last year. Thank you to everyone who participated. You can access all of the technical reports prepared for this project online here including traffic study, vegetation plan, landscaping, elevations and more.
Upcoming public meetings:
Drop-in w/ the councillor (Jan. 24, Feb. 21)
Drop in and talk to me one-on-one about whatever is on your mind. 12-1pm, Central Public Library cafe. No appointment necessary
Ward 2 advisory committee (Jan. 24, Feb. 21)
Budget overview, updates on developments, neighbourhood issues, your comments & questions. 7pm, Rm 247 City Hall. Everyone welcome.
Public meeting on the budget (Jan. 30)
Have your say on the proposed budget, 7-9:30pm, Burlington Arts Centre, 1333 Lakeshore Road. Everyone welcome.
Public meeting on 2085 Pine St redevelopment (Jan. 31)
Join the developer, city staff and myself for an information meeting to review proposed redevelopment of 2085. Provide your input before an application is submitted. 7pm, Rm 247, City Hall.
Burlington Waterfront Committee (Feb. 5)
Everyone welcome to attend our committee meetings, to learn more about the group's activities on waterfront access & protection, and how you can get involved. 7pm, Rm 305, City Hall.
Public meeting on Enbridge Line 9 reversal (Feb. 7)
Learn more about Enbridge's plans and their impact on Burlington to reverse the flow of oil in their pipeline, add capacity and change the product being piped. 6:30pm, Council Chambers, 2nd flr, City Hall.
Public meeting on results of parking financing study (Feb. 11)
This is phase two of the parking study; phase one identified a surplus of parking; phase two is looking at options for financing a future parking structure, and modifying rates/fees. 7pm, Rm 247, City Hall
Lowville Winter Games (Jan. 27)
Sunday, Jan 27 11-4 at Lowville Park.
Free outdoor FUN. Come to Lowville Park and enjoy traditional winter outdoor activities: skating, tobogganing, entertainment, games and activities. Events run snow or shine.
Visit here for more information.
Heritage Fair, Central Library (Feb. 2_ 10-3
Skating, Rotary Centennial Pond
The Rotary Centennial Pond is open for free recreational ice skating daily from 10am-10pm throughout the winter skating season. For up-to-date information including temporary closures due to poor ice conditions and weather, please call the Rotary Centennial Pond Ice Conditions Hotline: 905-634-7263. Visit the city’s website to view photos of the Rotary Centennial Pond and watch the Waterfront Web Cam here.
Volunteer Opportunities: Waterfront Committee
Burlington Waterfront Committee
Love our waterfront and looking to give back to the community? The Burlington Waterfront Committee is seeking new members, particularly from Wards 1, 3, 4 & 5. The committee is made up of residents across the city who provide a voice on waterfront access and protection issues, and are carrying on the work of the Waterfront Access and Protection Citizen's Advisory Committee, sunset by council in December. If interested, contact my assistant <Georgie.Gartside @burlington.ca>.
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