Burlington – engaged in development
Long gone are the days when Burlington, a city of about 185,000 off the northwestern shores of Lake Ontario, was a sleepy suburb on the outskirts of the GTA. Expansion in highway and transit infrastructure, economic and employment growth and new housing development are all contributing to what today is a booming, and self-sustaining, destination.
It’s all coming together nicely for Burlington. For some, perhaps, maybe a little too fast.
But more on that later.
Blessed with an outstanding natural location close to the lake, the QEW, Dundas Street West and Hwys. 403 and 401, getting to and around Burlington has never been a challenge. But recent improvements to transit service and highways have afforded even easier movement for businesses and residents.
Such growth has contributed to an increasingly diverse economy, strong in automotive and manufacturing, but not overly reliant on any one sector. Some of the city’s largest employers include Cogeco Cable, ARGO Land Development and the Joseph Brant Hospital.
Besides being close to Lake Ontario to the south, and the Niagara Escarpment to the north, Burlington is also home to the Royal Botanical Gardens. It boasts more than 2,700 acres of gardens and nature sanctuaries, the world’s largest lilac collection and three on-site restaurants.
Down by the lake, the recently renovated Spencer Smith Park hosts an array of annual free festivals, including Canada’s largest Ribfest, the Sound of Music Festival, Children’s Festival and Lakeside Festival of Lights.
Engaged in development
With so much in Burlington’s favour, it’s no surprise that more people are moving here – particularly those looking for more affordable homes than in Toronto. Indeed, it’s a nice compromise: Oakville to the east, is now one of the GTA’s priciest housing markets; Hamilton to the west, is more affordable but still considered an area in transition.
Nor should it come as a surprise that Burlington residents are engaged in their community development, and took the opportunity in the October 2018 municipal elections to vote for change. Journalist and city councillor Marianne Meed Ward became the city’s first female mayor since 1978, replacing two-term incumbent Rick Goldring.
“Burlington residents have consistently raised concerns about over-intensification and development in our city,” she said after officially taking over in December 2018. “During the election, they made their voices heard and clearly indicated the need to review the scale and intensity of planned development, especially in the new Official Plan.”
To that end, Meed Ward says she plans to take a close look at development, specifically in downtown, and has launched a Red Tape Red Carpet task force to address permitting and approvals. She also campaigned on tackling traffic congestion, tax reform, building trust with the community and protecting greenspace.
Location, location, location
• Population 185,000, located in Halton Region at the northwestern end of Lake Ontario
• Distance from Toronto, 60 km; 21 km from Oakville; 15 km to Hamilton
• Royal Botanical Gardens
• Spencer Smith Park