I love Burlington.
And I’m feeling really unsettled lately with all of the changes I’m seeing coming towards our little city. Specifically, I’m referring to the downtown core and the monstrous condo towers that are being approved, and subsequently pushing out our retailers and restauranteurs, taking away the quaint, distinct, cozy vibe of the core. (You’ve heard that Kelly’s Bake Shoppe is looking for a new home, right?)
Recently, a 23-storey condo tower that was proposed to be built across the street from City Hall was approved. Despite height restrictions, bylaws, and a whole bunch of OMB red tape, developers were able to make this happen, and City Council voted in favour, with only Mayor Rick Goldring and Councillor Marianne Meed Ward opposed (Marianne is the Ward 2 councillor, and the only councillor to actually live downtown). You can read the summary of the situation here. This is happening, and this is a game changer. This opens the valve, sets a precedent, and changes Brant Street forever; in fact, more developments are planned, more towers are proposed, more small businesses will be pushed out (you can read that info here). And all of this has been done with a certain shroud of secrecy, a seemingly-pre-decided agenda, and a hurry-up-and-approve-it undercurrent; the word sneaky comes to mind. It kind of feels like we let our guards down and all of this snuck up on us, doesn’t it?
I moved to Burlington in 2005, after living in Toronto for three years, and being born raised in rural Alberta. My husband, meanwhile, is born and raised in Burlington, and remembers when Upper Middle Road was the far edge of the city and ‘The Orchard’ was actually an orchard. We chose to stay here and buy a home, start my business, and have our children. Burlington had the small-town feel that I needed with the perfect mix of city-living and community spirit within which we wanted our children to grow up. MoneySense magazine soon caught on, and has ranked Burlington as Canada’s best mid-sized city for the last five consecutive years.
After living in North Burlington for a decade, my family moved downtown in 2015, realizing a long-term dream of ours (or perhaps more accurately, mine). Downtown and the waterfront called to me constantly, it was the gem I fell in love with when I first laid eyes upon this beautiful city in 2004, and it’s been tugging at my heartstrings ever since. How lucky I am that I live within a 15-minute walk of the Pier, a 2km run to the most gorgeous lakefront, and a quick stroll down to the many festivals and events that downtown Burlington proudly hosts.
We’ve built our lives around this treasure of our downtown core, constructed our dreams around it, and taught our kids to enjoy it, appreciate it, and contribute positively to it. And now we’re on the brink of change, and we need to stand up and make our voices heard. I know that Burlington is growing and I’m not opposed to development, but I think there are better places for condo towers than at Brant and James. Our beloved city needs to be developed responsibly, and if you agree with me, I encourage you to write to your local councillor and have your voice heard. Together, we are strong.
Mayor Rick Goldring: email@example.com
Ward 1, Rick Craven: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 2, Marianne Meed Ward: email@example.com
Ward 3, John Taylor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 4, Jack Dennison: Jack.Dennison@burlington.ca
Ward 5, Paul Sharman: email@example.com
Ward 6, Blair Lancaster: firstname.lastname@example.org