Re-elected Burlington councillor talks roundabouts, new developments and plans to add close to 30,000 new residents

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Published November 14, 2022 at 1:41 pm

This proposed building at 1989 Appleby Line highlights many of the issues the City of Burlington is dealing with when it comes to growth and development

Dealing with growth, focusing on taxes and municipal funding, and providing better care for the elderly are some of the main things Burlington councillor Paul Sharman will be concentrating on during the next four years.

Sharman, along with all six of his city council compatriots, was returned to office during last month’s municipal election. And now that the dust has cleared, insauga.com intends to sit down with each local councillor and find out what’s going on in their ward.

For Sharman, whose Ward 5 is bounded by Dundas St. to the north, Appleby Line to the west, Lake Ontario to the south and the city border with Oakville to the west, continuing to deal with growth and development will be at the forefront.

“The provincial government’s announcement in Bill 23 says Burlington has to add 29,000 residents by 2032, and that starts today,” said Sharman.

Growth is expected to happen in five main hubs around the city: the three GO stations; the downtown core; and an area of Ward 5 called Uptown, roughly centred around the intersection of Appleby Line and Upper Middle Rd.

But even something seemingly as straight-forward as a new building at 1989 Appleby Line, on a large plot of land currently housing an Esso gas station that includes a Tim Hortons, there are a myriad of issues.

First, many local residents don’t want the kind of intensification that is being called for in the area – another three buildings are in the works on Ironstone Dr. across the street – and, secondly, the infrastructure may not be in place to handle it.

“That corner would only allow right turns into and out of any development,” said Sharman. “Which means drivers who want to head south on Appleby or west on Upper Middle would be forced to make a U-turn.”

Sharman says Burlington is being asked to deal with things like a city, but is in a largely suburban area. Which means more creative and innovative problem solving.

For that intersection? “A roundabout. I’m the roundabout guy. They solve problems and it doesn’t take very long for drivers to get used to them.”

As a politician with a background in business and numbers, Sharman has painted himself as the financial hawk on council.

It was at his suggestion the city undertook a five-year budgeting process that allows everyone involved to see the impacts of decisions they make. It might make sense in the moment to delay a needed expenditure, but often it will cost much more in the long run to delay the decision.

“We have to fix our budget and what we need to do for our growing population. New residents means new recreation centres, new parks. The city will need more staff, more bylaw officers, more fire fighters.”

And that doesn’t even account for an annual inflation rate of seven to eight per cent, which means everything is getting more expensive.

“It’s costing $40 million for Skyway Recreation Centre. Bateman has cost us $7M so far, but there will be extensive renovation costs. These are all things we should be planning for.”

And when it comes to long-term planning, Sharman is also thinking about Burlington’s aging population and how to best serve their needs.

“Thirty per cent of people living south of the QEW are older than 65 and the solution isn’t just to build more long-term care beds, it’s to spend the resources to keep older adults active and engaged and out of the long-term care system as long as possible.”

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