What’s Happening with Burlington’s Mobility Hubs?

Published July 25, 2018 at 3:58 pm

The idea of “Mobility Hubs” around Burlington’s three GO stations was introduced last Dece

The idea of “Mobility Hubs” around Burlington’s three GO stations was introduced last December after a series of public consultations, with the purpose of providing a concentrated point for a variety of uses such as transit, employment, housing, recreation and shopping.

Mobility hubs are intended to be neighbourhoods that are environmentally friendly, infrastructure-efficient, walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented. In Burlington, the mobility hubs will be planned and developed near the Aldershot, Burlington and Appleby GO stations as well as in the downtown.

During the July 12 Committee of the Whole, city staff reiterated the need to focus growth and development around these hubs because Burlington has nearly run out of land to build on, and the city’s policy is to protect and maintain the rural areas to the north.

Graphic of future Burlington mobility hubs

Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, introduced the mobility hub concept back in 2008, requiring municipalities to develop strategic growth plans as part of Metrolinx’s region-wide “Big Move” transit network.

As the three GO stations have the potential to be linked to a future regional express rail network, staff said there is opportunity to increase density around those three stations. Downtown Burlington itself is also designated as a hub.

Below are three graphics showing a more detailed depiction of each hub:

Aldershot GO Mobility Hub

Burlington GO Mobility Hub

Appleby GO Mobility Hub

During two open houses held back in May for all three hubs, there were a number of comments from residents who attended:

  • Green space on either side of Waterdown Road is too narrow; people love the idea of more street trees. There needs to be a grocery store.

  • Rents will be higher because developers do not build without profit. We also have every piece of land on Plains Road being developed as townhouses or apartments.

  • If a south service road goes in, can lanes be reduced on Plains to create more of a “main street” feel?

  • Concerns over proposed St. Matthews transit access to Masonry Road.

  • Why there are so many high-rises on Plains Rd/Waterdown Rd, and that the zoning exceeds 6-storeys?

  • The Aldershot hub may look like another Mississauga instead of peaceful and serene surroundings like Oakville waterfront near Bronte-Burloak area.

  • Waterdown will become so busy you will need other options to move cars around the area without making already established neighbourhoods dangerous.

  • “I think 19 storey is too high for the Emery/Cooke Commons Precinct, this height limit should be the MAX in the Aldershot mobility hub – so this building height should be for Aldershot GO Central precinct. We are Aldershot village, not a major city with the means to support these heights. This is not meant for Aldershot.

  • Streets such as Fassel, Orpha and Phyllis are currently underserved.
  • Bike lanes are key; ensure that there are multiple bike lane connections.

  • Due diligence to ensure that the required technical and environmental studies are performed to prevent flooding issues.

  • Incorporate one large central park for this densely populated area for community events.

  • Appreciate the attempt to buffer existing residential areas from the tallest buildings.

  • Reconsider the setbacks for mid-rise developments backing upon existing low-rise residences.

  • 30 storeys in this precinct is not in the best interest of current residents, especially those living north of the CN tracks. Consideration of privacy to existing residents should be an important element of design. Perhaps 15-20 storeys would be more suitable.

  • If plan proceeds the neighborhood congestion will become an issue: More traffic on a local street not meant for it. 11 storeys on Clearview will add traffic to Queen Mary/St. Matthews, especially if there is no traffic light at Clearview. People will cut through the neighbourhood to get to the St. Matthews light.

This last point regarding the issue on Clearview Avenue was something Ward 2 Coun. Marianne Meed Ward pointed out during the committee meeting. Clearview was being redesignated as high density with a possible 11 storey building, which is an area that traditionally had been a low density neighbourhood.

Meed Ward added a video in her presentation from a resident showing traffic conditions Plains Road intersecting with Clearview during a regular afternoon. “At this point the residents aren’t so much as asking for a traffic signal but asking not for further high density on that street,” Meed Ward said in her remarks.

Ward 1 Coun. Rick Craven said one of the reasons a traffic signal was installed on St. Matthews Avenue was to provide relief to Clearview, so those who wish on Clearview who wish to get out on Plains Road during rush hour, go along Queen Mary to St. Matthews where the light is.

Another councillor, Paul Sharman raised concerns over potential micromanaging of the mobility hub on issues like the Clearview matter. “Isn’t this seem like a bit of micromanaging in terms of traffic in one specific plot of land, instead of looking at the wider picture?”

Sharman added that he looked forward to continuing his work on this file when he’s re-elected in October.

In the end, Craven said he would prefer to deal with the issue of Clearview now, rather than let it simmer over the coming months in the election, as candidates jockey to replace him as Ward 1 councillor (Craven is retiring). He moved the following motion for staff direction, which was passed unanimously:

“This precinct is low density, and allows only single family homes, semi-detached and street townhouses.  Clearview never should have been included for high density. This is a stable low density residential neighbourhood and needs to remain so,” Meed Ward said in her blog post.

The entire plan will come back for council approval in 2019, after the municipal election.

“This is our LRT; except with buses,” said Coun. John Taylor, noting that it will take up to 50 years for the full plan to come to fruition.

For more information on Burlington’s mobility hub plan, click here.

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