Municipalities are never going to get anywhere with the Province on the costs of growth until we get developer money out of provincial politics."

Toronto Mayor John Tory to Mayor Rob Burton (2016)

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Why controlling growth matters…

We control growth
to protect green space
and to save money because:

✘ Since 1997 Ontario forces municipalities to subsidize developers
✘ In 2016 Ontario cut by 60% the cash developers must provide for parks
✘ The Province requires 'as much growth as possible' and only allows us to block scientifically proven environmental and heritage, etc. lands from developing
  • Before Rob, growth was more than 130% faster than now
  • In the early 1990s, Halton Council voted to expand Oakville's urban boundary from Dundas to top of the town
  • In 1999, Oakville Council announced it had to make Oakville's official plan conform to Halton's decision
  • Councils charged developers even less than they could have for growth infrastructure making taxpayers subsidize developers to make growth faster
  • As mayor, Rob has led correction of this "developer welfare" at both the Town of Oakville and Region of Halton levels
  • Rob led creation of new from the ground up official plans at the town and the region to control future growth so we grow only as much as we can handle, economically and environmentally

To control growth
we win at the OMB
with our strong Plan

Burton, OMB winner

In Rob's first eight years as mayor, we built a winning record (67%) at the OMB. In her last eight years as mayor, Mulvale had a losing record at the OMB, winning only 25% of cases.

Mulvale, OMB loser

"We have to give the developers what they want because we always lose at the OMB," then-mayor Mulvale told us in 2002 at one of the council meetings in the fight to save the green space of north Oakville.

It is clear now that it was as if Mulvale's plan was to lose at the OMB so she could blame the OMB for decisions that were "baked in" to the existing planning rules she had passed to favour developers.

This is why the key ballot question in 2006 was if we would throw out the old, loophole-ridden Official Plan and bring in a new one. Mulvale opposed a new Official Plan.

Rob won and we created the Livable Oakville plan. This is the single most important piece of the defenses we have erected to control growth.

Here's a notable case where Rob called Mulvale out on her tactics that Rob called the fastest and most expensive way possible to "throw the game" and lose to the developers so we wouldn't have been able to save the north Oakville green space. (Click "Read More" link)

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To control growth
we strengthen & enforce
our official plan & zoning

After the rapid expansion of Oakville's population beginning in the 1950s, more and more people became less and less happy about growth in Oakville.
  • Everyone could see growth was out of control
  • Out of control growth caused extra tax increases
  • Out of control growth failed to provide needed community facilities in time for the new population
  • Out of control growth was blowing away green space and environmental lands in its path
  • Residential growth was made even faster by the mayor and councils of the day approving conversions of employment lands needed for future jobs into subdivisions with even bigger profits than normal
  • Out of control growth was blowing away more and more of the historic, heritage properties many felt were the basis of Oakville's charm
A growing number of residents realized Oakville was becoming less livable as a result of out-of-control growth. No matter how hard residents pushed for change, the politicians kept the growth floodgates open.
 A growing number of us decided it was time to change that for the better.

A previous generation had fought growth in 1978 at the Ontario Municipal Board and lost so badly that the OMB imposed a growth plan written by the developers to replace Oakville's Official Plan.

The next generation of Oakville politicians led by Mulvale adopted a defeatist approach that assumed developers were always invincible. Growth got worse.

Then, in 2000, that defeatist generation of politicians told us they were going to "urbanize" the undeveloped area of Oakville north of Dundas Road. 
"We have to give developers what they want because we always lose at the OMB," Mulvale said to explain her support for OPA 198.
Over the next seven years, the residents of Oakville fought back.

In the 2000 elections, one new councillor who would fight to save the remaining green space was elected.

In the 2002 controversy over passing Official Plan 198 to urbanize Oakville north of Dundas, Rob had his lawyer write to then-Mayor Mulvale and council to fix OPA 190 before passing it:
"In our respectful submission, rather than the adoption of OPA 198 being regarded as merely an initial step in the planning process, the final decision of Council with respect to OPA 198 should follow upon, and reflect the results of all studies, policies and strategies currently available or contemplated.

The process should not be rushed. We are also concerned with the compressed timetable adopted by Council as a result of the landowners’ applications. This reaction was ill considered and unnecessary, and has frustrated the efforts of the residents and the Stakeholders Advisory Committee. To believe that Council will be able to fully and carefully consider the submissions made to it during the Public Meeting, and, on the very same evening, make a final decision on the amendment defies any true regard for pubic participation. Council should not let others force a truncated and restrictive process, with so much at stake."
Council went ahead and passed OPA 198 by a 7 to 5 vote* anyway, led by then Mayor Ann Mulvale, who became known as "Asphalt Annie" as a result.

In the 2003 Provincial election, a progressive member of Oakville's council, Kevin Flynn, won election as Oakville's MPP in a race against another councillor who was decidedly pro-growth. In that 2003 election, the Liberals came to power on a platform of creating "strong communities", a platform that tapped into an unease all across the GTA about the way growth was happening.

In the 2003 municipal elections, we got three like-minded residents elected as councillors and Rob came within a handful of votes of winning the mayor's chair. Election irregularities and the firing of a town clerk who blew the whistle on the irregularities became a rallying point for the next election.

In the 2006 elections, Rob was elected Mayor as part of a total of seven members of council elected who were committed to saving the environmental lands 'north of Dundas'. At the OMB, we won our case to prove that we could protect environmental lands by designating them as undevelopable, contrary to the claim by the previous mayor and friends that we could only save lands if we bought them (which we could never afford).

In the 2010 elections, we faced a counter-revolution as many old developer-cozy politicians attempted a come-back. In fact we increased our strength to 2/3s of the 13 members of council.

We even made progress at the 21-member Region of Halton council and on the boards of the conservation authorities, who also have a big say in if, when, and how we will grow.

In the 2014 elections, again we faced developer-cozy politicians, some old and some new, attempting to undo our progress. The voters returned all but one of the green group and our strength increased again. Eternal vigilance is the price of good government.

* One councillor missed the meeting and didn't vote so the total didn't add to 13.

Media memories…

2002—2006

Growth polarized us

The future of north Oakville is the subject of a major public debate at town hall and is destined for the Ontario Municipal Board. Council was to have decided last night whether to approve the now-controversial official plan amendment that would make way for significant new residential and employment development north of Dundas Road (Highway 5).

Mayor Ann Mulvale, who has supported (the plan called) OPA 198, told GTA Municipal News before the council meeting that she was facing a polarized council and a polarized community over the issue.

GTA Municipal News
March 6, 2002

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1st, developers won…

"Oakville council approved last week the controversial official plan amendment that will bring urban development north of Highway 5, in a move opponents have called a puzzling reversal.

"OPA 198 brings 7,600 acres into the town's urban envelope, despite the fact that the environmental studies council requested last March before approving the amendment are not yet completed.""

NRU (GTA Municipal News)
June 5, 2002

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…then Burton won

"In his previous attempt, the former journalist and YTV founder came within 28 votes of unseating the municipal veteran, prompting a controversial and expensive recount.

A couple of tense hours after the polls closed, Burton learned he'd achieved his goal this time — and by a more comfortable margin.

A crowd of supporters clutched their chests and shed tears as Burton delivered his victory speech after what turned into a nail-biter of a race."

Toronto Star
Nov. 14, 2006

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Media memories…

2010

Re-match in Oakville

"You could call it the political rubber match of the decade; the battle for the mayor’s chair in Oakville between former mayor Ann Mulvale and the sitting head honcho Rob Burton. And it’s going to be tight. … The incumbent, Burton, is a devoted environmentalist who takes great pride in his philosophy that taxpayers should not be responsible for the cost of growth in Oakville; rather that responsibility rests on developers."

Toronto Sun
Sept. 24, 2010

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Media memories…

2014

Oakville re-elects Burton

"There were no surprises in this suburban community west of Toronto.

Incumbent Mayor Rob Burton was leading in his bid to be re-elected for his third term, despite another candidate filing an affidavit alleging misconduct. Burton was leading with about 67% of the vote.

Burton said voters offered him a strong mandate for him and the Livable Oakville town plan."

Toronto Sun
Oct. 27, 2014

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