The cost of housing has been consistently rising throughout the Golden Horseshoe. Burlington, in particular is considered a highly desirable place in which to live, and this is one of the reasons house prices here have increased so dramatically.
Another reason is that we’ve simply run out of room to build new neighbourhoods with detached, single-family houses. Residents, especially young people starting out and those with young families, as well as seniors, are concerned about the rising costs of housing and the high cost of living in general. To many residents, home ownership in Burlington seems like an impossible dream.
We need to consider creating varying housing opportunities in our Community. This could mean that in addition to the tens of thousands of detached homes we currently have in Burlington, we consider other options, such as the addition of more apartments, condos, and townhomes. While increasing supply is sometimes touted as a solution to high housing costs, it’s much more complicated than that. Increasing the supply of homes-for-purchase is one factor, but we also need to develop a wide range of housing choices in our Community, such as increasing the availability of rental housing, especially apartment units and townhomes. Not being able to (or not wanting to) buy a home should not preclude anyone from living in Burlington if they choose to do so.
Creating housing that fits the true definition of affordable housing is mostly a regional responsibility and Halton is currently in a housing crisis. We have a 7-10 year waiting list for social housing for our most vulnerable neighbours, including seniors. Working collaboratively with nonprofit organizations and private builders will be crucial to addressing this crisis.
As your Regional Councillor, I will make affordable housing a top priority and ensure that funds are directed in a way that benefits those who need it most. At the municipal level, I will consult with residents, housing and planning experts about using inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning allows municipalities to set requirements for affordable housing in each new development. As your Municipal Councillor, I will also consult with residents about our Section 37 benefits in a timely and meaningful fashion. These are the Community benefits negotiated between the city and builders in exchange for extra height and density. In the past, the city has often decided what these benefits will be, with very little citizen engagement. This must change. If our Community decides affordable housing is an urgent priority, which I hope it will, I’ll advocate for Section 37 funds to be directed specifically towards affordable housing as one of the Community benefits that a builder will need to provide.
I am committed to creating diverse neighbourhoods. As Burlington grows, it must be a welcoming, inclusive place with affordable options for anyone who would like to call Burlington home.
My unique experience working with the Burlington Downtown Business Association and as a Brant Street business owner will allow me to apply a pragmatic approach to the growth challenges we are currently facing.
In April of 2016, Burlington City Council approved the Strategic Plan, 2015-2040. This vision outlines how our City will grow and develop over the next 25 years. Focusing our gaze in, building inward and, at times, upward will be the key to protecting our green spaces and Ontario’s Greenbelt. I understand that not everyone likes this way of growing, but it is happening and there are significant benefits to growth, so we must do what we can to ensure the growth is responsible and in the best interest of current residents and local businesses, as well as for future generations.
Smart growth and development in our core creates more housing options for all of Burlington. Provincially-mandated intensification should be focused around our Mobility Hubs to encourage residents to both live and work in Downtown Burlington and enable residents to rely less on cars as a primary means of transportation. Residents have voiced concerns that services like transit, social services, and other infrastructure aren’t keeping up with development, and I agree. Investment in these services needs to keep pace with growth.
The development community needs to be a partner in this growth and be respectful of the kind of city residents want. Residents are not opposed to all change or growth, but they want our Downtown to maintain its charm and character. They want safe, walkable streets, sufficient parking, well-designed structures built to a human scale. They want local entrepreneurs to be able to afford to operate a business Downtown. While it has been beneficial to have more residents supporting local businesses, a lot of us feel we have not reaped many other benefits in exchange for all the extra building height that has been negotiated, and that we are losing what makes our Downtown special.
As your Ward 2 Councillor, I will work collaboratively with both the public and private sectors to ensure that development is not only benefiting the builders but benefits our entire city. My most important priority is you, your family, and our Community. I have the negotiation, communication, and business skills, as well as the experience working with various departments at City Hall to help manage projects during all stages to help mitigate inconvenience to residents and businesses.
Job Retention & Attraction
Ward 2 is the heart of Burlington and our Downtown core is essential to our city’s prosperity. Our local businesses assist in keeping Downtown vibrant and they are invaluable contributors to Burlington’s diverse and robust economy. As an entrepreneur and small business owner on Brant Street, I appreciate the struggles faced while operating a business in our city. I also fully understand the challenges before us as our Downtown grows and changes. Businesses fear they will be pushed out of their locations and/or rents will skyrocket, and these fears are legitimate. There is no easy solution to these issues, but I am committed to working together with all stakeholders on behalf of business owners and residents to listen to your concerns and work together to find real, sustainable solutions.
In addition to retaining many of our existing local businesses, we must also actively and aggressively work toward adding new businesses and new jobs to our city in general, and to Ward 2 in particular. As your Ward Councillor, I will use my marketing experience, as well as my ability to collaborate and organize to get to work on attracting more jobs to this area in concert with the BEDC and the BDBA. The retail and service industries are important components of our Downtown, but as Burlington grows, we will need a much broader range of employment options and we will need to attract new businesses such as medical, IT, and education. These are businesses which generally attract a younger demographic. It is unfortunate that a higher-education campus was not built Downtown. I would still like to see this happen and I would like to work with the city to look at if there is any possibility of recovering this project or how we can ensure that this type of opportunity is not missed in the future. I want to engage the Community in discussions and look at ways to assist the vision of those who want to make the Downtown core more vibrant.
Downtown is the heart of Burlington, where residents and visitors come to shop, to enjoy the vast array of specialty restaurants, to attend a live performance in our beautiful performing arts centre, to do business in one of our many private and public offices, or to visit our beautiful waterfront. The core should be full of energy, life, and monthly events, and it should be easily accessible to all Burlington residents. Burlington is growing, especially our core, and traffic congestion has become an issue on everyone’s mind. The most practical answer to addressing our traffic concerns is to make significant improvements to our transit system. Investing in transit is more necessary than ever and is one way to ensure a more accessible and efficient system. Reliable transit is imperative to the success of our growing city.
A revitalization of our Downtown transit hub paired with a firm commitment from City Council to maintain the “Mobility Hub” designation is fundamental to the prosperity of our Downtown. This designation and investment will allow for greater regional connectivity. Users of paratransit are currently having great difficulty travelling through more than one municipality. The Metrolinx 2041 Regional Transportation Plan has been approved; however, the City of Burlington needs to do its part to ensure this plan moves forward on schedule.
As your Councillor for Ward 2, I will advocate for investment in our transit system, and I will work with you to ensure we invest in a plan that works. The goal should be increased ridership with more people taking transit as an alternative to driving. Buses can no longer be only for people without cars. Residents have told me they would be more likely to choose transit if they could get to their destination easily and in a timely manner. This will be one of my top priorities, and I will work with citizens groups to encourage their input into other ways on how we can successfully achieve an efficient transit system.
Creating more walkable, cycling-friendly streets will also be essential. I support the message and principles of Vision Zero which prioritizes the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, through a range of initiatives.
Halton Region is one of the safest places in Ontario to live. As your Ward 2 Councillor I will draw on my time as a member of the Crime Stoppers Board and continue to collaborate with our Police Services.
As the mother to two incredible little humans, I understand the need to have safe streets for our children. We still have problems with speeding. I will work collaboratively with residents and police to implement traffic calming measures where appropriate. Proper crosswalks are desperately needed on Brant Street, at Elgin, and at Ontario Street. Everyone who uses our streets should feel safe while in transit and our children especially should be able to walk or cycle to school without risking their lives.
Active communities are healthy communities. Families need places to play, places to walk, and places to explore, and this will become increasingly important as our city grows. Providing recreational opportunities for residents of all ages is an important priority.
We have exceptional multi-use paths in our region and we need to continue to utilize our geographic area and focus on the revitalization of our waterfront. As a city, we need to focus our efforts to keep this gem a public space. I am supportive of the Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park Master Plan and look forward to the next phases. As both your Regional and Municipal Councillor, I will advocate for continued preservation and enhancement of our waterfront.
Trees are like the lungs of the planet. They breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, they provide a habitat for birds and other wildlife, and they assist with reducing urban runoff and erosion by storing water and breaking the force of rain as it falls. Trees also absorb sound and reduce noise pollution. Healthy air is important to every city and to our planet.
Because of an invasive pest, the emerald ash borer, our city suffered an overwhelming loss of trees on our streets and in our parks. I believe it is important to replace every one of those trees. The city has a goal to replace every lost tree by 2020-2024, but I’d like to see this done sooner.
I would support and work with citizens to develop a private tree by-law where residents wishing to remove a mature tree would first apply for a tree removal permit. Again, we are speaking about “mature” trees – not to infringe on property owners’ rights to complete landscaping. It would then be at the city’s discretion to have an arborist visit and decide whether the removal is warranted. Individual property rights must be balanced with the rights of all residents to live in a healthy Community and to breathe the clean air that an urban tree canopy provides.