Facts vs. Fiction

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Q. Is there a proposal from Mayor Burton or the Town for a 59-storey tower?

A. No. Mayors and Town officials do not propose developments; developers do. The Town has received applications for two 58-storey towers in Midtown. This is higher than allowed in our official plan. Council will deal with the applications next year.

Q. One candidate for mayor says she will stop towers. Can she do that?

A. No. The amount and affordability of housing the Province requires (and regularly increases) means we have to allow towers in designated growth nodes. The fewer the towers we have at our growth nodes, the sooner the Province will require density and intensification on the stable established streets where we live. Mrs. Hanna has also not pledged to keep Glen Abbey saved from development and also has often said it was a waste of money to save Glen Abbey.

Q. A candidate for mayor claims Midtown’s targets can be met with towers no higher than 20 storeys. Is this true?

A. No. First, Midtown’s targets are minimums; the Province expects and has the power to force more. Second, the more hectares we use in Midtown for parkland, the taller the towers need to be. When the Province intervened in Richmond Hill’s GO station, it ordered 80 storeys and twice the new residents.

Mrs. Hanna never participated in the public meetings on the planning for Midtown. She mistakenly claims early conceptual studies from years ago show we can avoid towers. Meanwhile, the Province has committed to increase housing Supply by 50% over the next 10 years, issued zoning orders in other cities requiring higher targets and taller towers, and promised tougher measures after the election. Provincial targets are constantly increasing. In Ontario, we are never “full.”

Q. Is a candidate for mayor saying she’ll do away with single family home zoning on the stable established streets where we live?

A. It depends on what day it is and who Mrs. Hanna’s talking to. At the Oct. 4 all-candidates meeting, she said, “I will agree with you, Jack, we have to look at exclusionary housing [single family home zoning], and see how that’s not working for us anymore.” Later, on October 13, she told two residents, “I will not be pushing for the developing of multi-unit homes as infill on a single family home on residential streets.” Then, at Tuesday’s debate at Iroquois Ridge High School, she said she will end “exclusionary zoning”, which developers want to be able to densify the stable established streets where we live. 

Q. One candidate for mayor claims Mayor Burton made a no-growth decision when he became mayor and hasn’t let Oakville grow enough but I see new housing everywhere. What is the truth?

A. Mrs. Hanna is not being truthful. Mayor Burton has always accepted that the North Oakville growth plan of his predecessor is a legal given, not subject to change, and run on a platform of controlling new growth by directing it to transit nodes and corridors and away from the stable, established streets where we live. He led the preservation of Glen Abbey, greenspace, and farmland to preserve heritage, improve livability, and fight climate resilience for residents old and new. And we still met the Provincial growth assignment targets – and caught up with the need for community facilities that was not being met during the rapid growth before 2006.

The Canadian Census says Oakville grew an average of 3% a year before Rob Burton became mayor, and 2% a year since then. The Province’s growth assignments to Oakville are the equivalent of growing an average of 2% a year for thirty years. Oakville’s population grew 29% from 2006 to 2021 – over 15 years that’s an average of 1.93% a year.

Q. Do challenger candidates have a realistic plan to deal with all this growth?

A. No. The challengers all seem to be unaware of the requirements of Ontario’s Growth Plan legislation, which requires that Oakville must add at least 230,000 people and jobs over the next 30 years. That means adding a minimum of about 72,000 housing units to our current 78,000. Where do you want them to be? To save our greenspace, parkland and stable, established neighbourhoods where we live, and Glen Abbey, we will need towers in the growth areas. This is what the Livable Oakville plan does, it directs growth to transit nodes and corridors, away from the stable established streets where we live.


Q. Challenger candidates are saying the money spent on legal action to save Glen Abbey was wasted money. Are they right?

A. No. If the Town had not mounted a legal defence, Glen Abbey would be a construction site right now. Anti-Glen Abbey preservation candidates are ignoring the years of successful advocacy by the volunteers of Save Glen Abbey, our residents’ associations, town staff, both Town and Regional Councils, and our MPPs. It was a collective Team Oakville success that Council and I are committed to defending.

Q. Challenger candidates are saying the decision to save Glen Abbey could easily be reversed. Are they right?

A. Yes. All ClubLink needs is a mayor and council who will repeal the town bylaws now protecting Glen Abbey. Only incumbent candidates have pledged to uphold and defend the town bylaws now protecting Glen Abbey ever since the end of the Clublink appeals.


Q. Challenger candidates say the average home in Oakville is paying $6,666 more in property taxes since 2006. Is this true?

A. No. The owner of the average home is paying about $2,100 more today than in 2006. The exact amount depends on the assessed value of your home. Overall, average tax bills have gone up 38% in that time period, while inflation rose 39%, according to Statistics Canada. Check your own tax bill when candidates say taxes have gone up more than they have.

In the last four years, the average tax bill has gone up only about $450 or 6.7% at a time when inflation was 13.3%. Tax increases are lower now (average 1.67% a year for 4 years) than they were in earlier terms of office for two reasons: the out-going Mulvale administration pushed two major liabilities onto the post-2006 council, and it took several years to phase in Performance-Based Program-Based Budgeting and enjoy the results of the PB2 method.

Challengers often try to only talk about the part of the tax bill for the Town, not the total. But that’s not how our two-tier system of local government works. You can’t decide to be responsible for only one part of our two-tier of government and ignore the other. A mayor has the same control over the town and Region budgets: one vote on each. When you look at the total bill you pay, it’s up by just under 38% for 16 years – an average of 2.4% a year, and still less than inflation.

Q. Challenger candidates are saying Oakville should be able to keep its tax increases as low as school boards. Is this possible?

A. No. School boards are subsidized by the province. There is no provincial subsidy for municipal operations.


Q. Challenger candidates are claiming that Maclean’s ranks Oakville lower than Burlington on its 2021 list of best places to live. How can that be?

A. Maclean’s clearly states that it changed the way it ranks cities because of COVID and the increase in working from home. It put a lot more emphasis on Internet connectivity and housing affordability. We ranked 40% better than Burlington on Internet connectivity but Oakville homes are worth a lot more than Burlington homes. If you own an Oakville home, you might think your value is a good thing. The #1 city, Halifax, has an average home price three times lower than Oakville but a crime rate three times higher. So readers of surveys should take a closer look at what they are measuring. For instance, according to the UN-affiliated World Council on City Data (run by academics, not journalists), Oakville leads in health and longevity.

Q. Challenger candidates claim Town Hall’s citizen engagement has declined. Has it?

A. No. With the growth of the Internet, citizens are more directly engaged with their mayor, councillors, and Oakville Staff than ever before. For many years, Mayor Burton has hosted monthly Community Leader Roundtable meetings open to any group that wishes to participate. He attends every community event and always takes questions. He publishes a daily e-newsletter read by tens of thousands of residents. Interestingly, candidates saying engagement has fallen have never showed up to engage or participate.

Q. Challenger candidates are saying only 4 out of 10 residents would recommend Oakville as a place for friends and family to live and you say 8 out of 10 people recommend Oakville?

A. Some candidates mistook a generic section title in a slideshow as if it were the survey data. When the pollster, Forum Research, learned about this misrepresentation, it issued a statement saying the research showed that 8 out of 10 residents would recommend Oakville to family and friends. Nevertheless, some candidates keep publishing the falsehood.

Mayor Burton is focussed on a positive vision that includes real, new benefits for residents — such as an eco-park, a new performing arts centre and main library, and more parking for Bronte, Kerr, and downtown Oakville – and a concrete plan to pay for them with investment income he created with Oakville Enterprises. Meanwhile, Candidate Hanna has only complaints and no constructive proposals. She doesn’t participate in municipal affairs between elections.