St. Lukes Precinct » Blog Archive » Save St. Luke’s Precinct


February 5th, 2013Resourcesadmin 32 Comments
Save St. Luke’s Precinct

Late in 2012, a group of investors announced their intention to tear down a growing number of grand homes in the centre of the neighbourhood and replace with multi-level town houses.

In order to build this type of dwelling, the group lead by Maurice Desrochers president of Burlington Furnished Rentals, is making the effort to permanently change the zoning of this unique detached single family home zoned community to that of higher density or intensity; resulting in multi-family, multi-level zoning throughout the entire St. Luke’s Precinct. The investor group is preparing to start the application process with the City of Burlington to change the site zoning as early as the spring of 2013.

What does this mean?

Currently the neighbourhood, recognized by the Province of Ontario and Burlington as culturally significant, is a unique community of zoned single family homes. This recognition by the city means that multi-family homes such as townhouses, semi-detached homes or apartment buildings and high-rises are not permitted as they would disrupt the unique cultural make-up of what currently exists.

Approval of the application to change the site zoning will mean that any future developer may tear down the single family homes in St. Luke’s Precinct and build high density dwellings such as multi-level town houses and low-rise apartment buildings as well as the type of dwelling currently proposed.

What do they intend to do?

The developer believes that as long as the development looks good then it will serve you well. They have been selling the idea via a promise of how the development will look “upscale”, “historical” and will raise the value of the existing neighbourhood. The reality is harsh:

– to build this development, they will change the zoning and expose the area to all types of future developments of higher density, independent of “look”
– if the city doesn’t say no to the zoning change this time, it will have no precedent for any future zoning change pressures
– there is no way of holding the developer to their promise of “nice aesthetic” once the rezoning is complete since aesthetic is subjective and outside the control of the city
– once the rezoning is done, it is permanent and
– in the event that the developer can’t afford to build to the aesthetic proposed, they can simply sell off the property to another builder as development land with no future promise of an upscale aesthetic

What do people think?

A growing number of residents — homeowners and tenant neighbours alike — are apposing the proposed zoning change and have assembled a group to resist the zoning change threat that will alter the neighbourhood forever.


The residents of The St. Luke’s Precinct live their lives here because they love the neighbourhood. They find beauty in the tree lined streets and enjoy the eclectic mix of exemplary period homes that have been built by generations in every era. They are excited by the proximity to the urban corridor of downtown but most of all they love the way of life here.

What makes it so special — so unique? We believe it’s simple. We moved here in commonality for the appreciation of the single family home make-up of the precinct. The residents of this community could have lived anywhere, in any kind of dwelling but they saw something special in this single family zone. Be it the spaces, the trees, yards in which to play or front porches to relax — it’s a very liveable place.

Because of this, we believe it is something worth keeping. The community is worth preserving — the relationship we all share with the homes, each other and the legacy of the generations before us is worth more than we can imagine. It’s where we live. It’s worth protecting from permanent alteration.

If you feel the same way and wish to assist those that are gathering to resist the proposed zoning changes, then please contact us and we’ll keep you abreast of all events and communications. Please return to this website as it will be a resource to update residents that wish to resist the zone changes.

What we will do

Together as a community we will assist the city in fulfilling its plan to protect our neighbourhood. We will start by informing each other of the value in what we have and connect around this common love for the area. We will tell all concerned neighbours to get involved, visit this website and connect.

We will then express to the city and to Mr. Desrocher’s investor group our desire to maintain the area as zoned; to keep the unique character and make-up of this place we call home. We will ask the city to let the neighbourhood continue without the cultural and historical disruption of rezoning for prospecting and commercial gain.

As an organized group with a single focus, we will coordinate and participate; creating productive dialogue between the city and the investor group to show our neighbourhood’s desire to keep our zoning and persuade the investor group to change their plans to rezone for the development of their townhouse project.

Together we will ensure that all our voices are represented at the city when the zoning application is reviewed and considered by the city. We will ensure our voices are heard by all Councillors and staff that influence the decision for changing zoning.

Thank you — the residents of The St. Luke’s Precinct

 Sign up to support the residents resisting zoning changes here.

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'32 Responses to “Save St. Luke’s Precinct”'
  1. James Smith says:

    (Full disclosure: One of my clients is Phillip H Carter Architect who’s firm produced the Heritage District Report for the CIty of Burlington that was never implemented.)

    Q – Why do people want to destroy the very elements that make a place unique & attractive?
    A – Greed

    • admin says:

      Thanks James — agreed. I think in this case they may believe they are doing the hood a favour. In the first presentation with neighbours, the lead of the developer group, Maurice Desrochers suggested the neighbourhood will be pleased to finally have these run down houses improved, and the overgrown vegetation and undesirable trees removed.

      The irony is that the homes are run down and overgrown due to neglect from the owner who rents them from his rental company — Burlington Furnished Rental — Mr. Desrochers, the developer.

      Feel free to wince.

      • Maurice Desrochers says:

        Thanks Admin for your comment.Speak to the neighbour who live around my properties, and they will all say that since I have owned them, they have all been maintained far better than they were prior to my ownership, so I take that comment as untrue. I cater to a hire quality cliental and have shown people from all over the world that Burlington is a first class city with great quality accomodation. I look forward to meeting you and showing you how I have come up with an old world feel that the people of the St Lukes Presinct can be proud of. Village Square is a great example of that.This development is timeless and again leading edge.

        • Eddie Caton says:

          I cannot agree with this comment, Maurice. The house on the lane between Burlington and Hager was renovated by the previous owner, not by you. Due to the influx of large vehicles often parked in the lane, overhanging the lane, and occasionally on the front lawn of that dwelling, the place often looks unkempt now, to say the least. I am certain that the Wallace’s can’t be pleased about this either.

          In addition, and beyond your property boundaries, additional vehicle traffic in the lane has affected my property, including roses on the city property bordering my property but tended-to by myself being run-over by your tenant’s vehicles.

          These things happen. The roses were not planted by me but by Mrs. Robson who built our house, at least several decades ago, and were on city property. I am not angry. But within your statement above “all” is a gross misstatement.

          • Maurice Desrochers says:

            1379 Caroline is not my property. It belongs to Mathew Desrochers. He rents the garage from me. I have no contrlol if a tenant or neighbour runs over your roses. I suggest you take that up with him
            I have 10 properties in the hood and they are all maintained as good if not better than they were previous to my ownership. Our new proposal will definately be an improvement. Looking forward to meeting you on Saturday.

    • Maurice Desrochers says:

      I am looking forward to showing you a definate improvement on Saturday

    • Maurice Desrochers says:

      Phillip H Carter would definately be in agreement of this development. Have him join us on Saturday!

  2. Amanda Stone says:

    I am apposed to this development.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Amanda — please let all your neighbours know about what’s proposed there and send them to this site. We’ll keep updating the site with information as we receive it.

  3. Anne Kielty says:

    I used to live at 551 Hager Ave, which is one of the houses that is being purchased by Mr. Desrocher. I’m sad and disgusted. Mr. Desrocher doesn’t care about the neighborhood… If I can help in any way please let me know.

  4. Karen says:

    Walking around in the April rain last night it was great to run into and chat with many of the neighbours in St. Luke’s Precinct. There seems to be an almost universal concern about making any change to zoning here.

    • Maurice Desrochers says:

      That is also a false statement. I have spoken to many of the people that you have spoken to and I am getting the reverse comment. They had not seen my proposal and have commented possitively after seeing it.

      • admin says:

        Maurice — there have been a number of neighbours walking door to door over the last weeks engaging in great conversations with the neighbourhood. We can report that aside from a couple cases of apathy, the overwhelming response has been of concern for the outcome of yours and future developments in their precinct. They understand that once the door is opened by one developer, it will be a constant flow of development of all forms causing permanent disruption.

        • Maurice Desrochers says:

          That because they have not seen our development and the vibrancy it maintains in the hood. Constructing each single home one at a time prolongs constuction indefinately. Also new single family homes does not insure compatibility or quaintness of a neighbourhood.

          • admin says:

            Maurice — to clarify the concept of disruption during construction.

            The natural ‘evolution’ of home renovation and rebuilding that has been active in the neighbourhood for 100+ years brings a gradual change and limited intrusion. One house here, one reno there.

            When developers assemble larger plots of land and rebuild, the scale is much more intrusive, more demanding on services by scale, cause of more interruption to the neighbourhood and change the landscape in a much more ‘revolutionary’ manner — all at once rather than over years.

            The challenge is it’s not just one project we are concerned with. Once the door opens, it may be a constant larger scale project zone for years resulting in a dramatic character change and destructive intrusion on lifestyle.

          • admin says:

            With regard to building single family homes one at a time as a means to ensure “compatibility or quaintness of a neighbourhood” — the neighbours that we have spoken with agree that the neighbourhood is already quaint. They feel it is eclectic and has evolved naturally and well. It’s why they chose to live here. It’s why it is unique.

            The new single homes that have gone up recently are a reflection of that uniqueness, that natural process. Though everyone may have an opinion on the aesthetic of the recent homes, the reality is the impact of one home at a time is minor in comparison to the effect of developers building many at a time outside of the current zoned form.

      • Karen says:

        Maurice, just to clarify, in my comment I made no mention of anyone’s reaction to your specific proposal. I commented specifically on concern about the zoning change. I am concerned, as are the neighbours with whom I spoke.

  5. graeme litteljohn says:

    While I have some sympathy for the st. Lukes’ precinct advocates and have very much enjoyed being an owner-occupant here for nearly four decades , the issues are not quite so one-sided as presented. For example, when I relocated my law practice from Ashburnham Village to Burlington, I wanted to find a location both inherently appealing and yet legal–from a zoning perspective.
    The California styled houses at the SW corner of Walker’s Line and New Street where I considered putting my office in the attached double garage had to be rejected because the required commercial zoning was not permitted. Finally we selected a century 2 & 1/2 storey brick home on Burlington Avenue, behind City Hall and at the time just around the corner from the Provincial Court. What could have been better? But then the Court eventually became St. Lukes’ Close. We had to apply to City Hall to have the “T” removed from the TCC 2 zoning category , which at the time opened the zoning door to a long list of permitted commercial users, although the practice at that time was to create a site specific By-Law. So much for the “Precinct” being exclusively residential. The simple truth is that at the time City Hall wanted to foster mixed uses in the core area and so my law office was a welcome addition as were the growing number of other “white collar” commercial users, predominately medical and dental.
    And I still subscribe to that zoning outlook. Fundamentally shouldn’t it be up to individual owners to have the freedom to do what they choose to do with their own properties–subject of course to all municipal bylaws etc.

    • admin says:

      Graeme, thanks for your comment,
      There is a lot to digest in your well considered note.

      Firstly your experience with commercial use zoning is to a degree a separate topic than ours since what we are facing is a proposal to permanently change the form of the properties with regard to 1 unit per property vs. many — and quite possibly the eventuality of multiple dwellings across single consolidated properties. This will change the Precinct profoundly.

      With regard to your commercial use, and frankly the slow ease in of professional use, I don’t believe there is any resistance from the Precinct as long as it fits within the current form. There are great examples of professional offices fitting well within the format along Elgin and Ontario Streets as well as the illustrious Burlington Ave. All done within the form of the single family home in keeping with the neighbourhood.

      This is change and it is arguably necessary in keeping up with the trend toward bringing walk-to services to people in a more localized situation as well as allowing folks to work from home. I think the process for moderating this change works.

      To address your last point — this is a critical question which can be answered simply.

      People should be allowed to do what they desire — as long as it doesn’t affect everyone else.

      The pursuit of one person’s dream — and in this case a group of investors seeking commercial gain — should not be at the expense of the neighbourhood. They should not change the condition enjoyed by all others just to get what they want for one self focused situation.

      It is truly unreasonable.

      If the developer wished to rebuild the homes as single family within the given format — the permitted zoning — they would only be effecting the aesthetic and not resonating change of form throughout the entire neighbourhood that would invite future disruption and permanent character change.

      Lastly to your query of fundamental freedom of choice for property use I ask this.

      An extreme example I know but as a resident, if a person wished to tear down the home next door to you to build a commercial shed and open a machine shop that operated 24hrs. per day with constant commercial truck traffic — would you find this reasonable and deem it their right or freedom? Or would you say no?

  6. janine stone says:

    I M very apposed to the rezoning. There is already a parking problem in the area Further population would make the problem worse.

    • Maurice Desrochers says:

      We are increasing the density from 9 homes to 11. Not nessessarily will there be more vehicals. We are marketing to empty nesters who might have less cars.

      • admin says:

        Thanks Maurice,
        For transparency, 1 of the homes (corner Burlington & Caroline) has been converted into multi-unit flats. The change will be from 9 units to 11 units — not 9 homes to 11 homes as some of these are flats. There is no indication that the current tenants of these houses are of a demographic of any more or less cars than empty nesters. Presumably, empty nesters have 1+ car per adult occupant as do other demographics.

        Question — How does one market to empty nesters? Would that be by design? How are their needs unique?

  7. Maurice Desrochers says:

    I have spoken to a couple people who have or will be commenting positively on the new development. I trust that they will be posted.

    • admin says:

      Maurice — it is our intention to post all comments that are respectful of this forum and we appreciate people’s efforts to participate, independent of their position.

  8. Ruth Thoem says:

    Thanks for stopping by to discuss this issue.
    After reading your website, and talking with Maurice Desrochers about his proposal, I feel he is on the right track.
    The current proposal, with five distinct homes designed in keeping with the neighbourhood, seems to be a well-thought-out way to preserve the important feel of the Precinct.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your consideration and comment Ruth,
      Most people agree that the aesthetic is romantic and will befit a heritage view of the downtown. It’s this development’s proposed zone change and open season of future developer’s following through the opened door that concerns folks. People see through the aesthetic and realize that there won’t be any way to stop future, less than ideal developments, if we don’t protect the precinct from zone changes now.

      If the developer wants to build some beautiful homes, the solution is to build single family dwellings thereby not changing the zoning.

      • Maurice Desrochers says:

        Thanks Ruth for your comment. Finally someone who gets it. Its not all about having single family homes that makes the hood what it is. Its about the vibrance and quaintness and great architecture that make people walk around a neighbourhood and admire properties. People walking their dogs. Great gardens, kids playing, neighbours chatting, beautiful churches, music playing,people laughing. That’s what makes the hood. I see it everyday when I chat with the people that walk in front of my Ginger Bread House and admire the multi unit building that I saved. Do you really think that it hurts the hood because it’s not a single family home.I have people that come to live at one of my homes in the core from all over the world and comment on our safe vibrant downtown and love the beautiful old homes. There are great examples of semi detached homes in the hood that add allot of character to the neighbour hood.
        I have been taken back by the disrespectful remarks about my integrety and my motives in redeveloping this parcel of land. You all need to remember, I am a part of this community also and am planning on leaving a possitve legacy behind that burlington can be proud of. I think you all need to really think about what it is that we really want. I’m not the enomy here. We need to work as a team and find a way to this zoning thing and also introduce some good positve change if there’s going to be change.
        I encourage everyone to attend our open house at the city hall Saturday from 10-1130 am.
        PS Please excuse any spelling errors, Thank you!

        • admin says:

          Thanks Maurice,
          Clearly you don’t understand The Neighbour’s of St. Luke’s perspective. It’s not about you.

          1. It’s about any developer changing the zoning to build a denser form
          2. Changing a zoning that has been recognized as unique, significant and worthy of protection to the community and the city is a shame
          3. Changing the zoning will invite future speculators and developers to also push the zoning aside to build even less appropriate forms

          It’s not about gingerbread homes. It’s not about ugly homes. It’s about keeping the zoning in place.

          Within the zoning laws, you have the prerogative to build detached single family houses on those lots without issue. Proposing to change the laws for an alternate form is the issue.

    • Daphne says:

      The husband of Ruth Thoem = Peter Thoem, Committee of Adjustment?

      • admin says:

        Yes. The same. As committee member, Peter Thoem recently voted to allow the very contentious lot severance in Indian Point which those area residents consider to be catastrophic to their character. Consequently he would likely not see the Desrocher’s Cameryn Lane development as a threat to character here either. The question is will he view a zone change as a possible threat to character being that it will invite even more dense and vertical development.

  9. Blaine says:

    I am opposed to any zoning amendment. Development is fine but play by the rules, or what’s the use of having rules?? The City of Burlington has already recognized the importance of preserving the character of this neighbourhood through single-family dwellings and this is what I expect our elected council to uphold… and this has nothing to do with the promise of ‘pretty’ buildings.

  10. susan says:

    I am opposed to the zoning amendment for the a similar reason tto others.. We have an official plan, It is there for the city to follow, not to make exceptions for developers.

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Update – Jan 25, 2016
Public Meeting: January 25 on proposed redevelopment of 546 Burlington at Caroline Street Date: January 25, 6:30pm Room 247 2nd Floor ------ Resident's of St. Luke's Precinct, please support your neighbourhood by attending this meeting and voice your opinion about this proposed project that threatens to shrink house side yards, back yards and setbacks in order to fit 3 houses on a current single home lot. This is a precedent setting set of amendments for the St. Luke's Precinct. Hang on to reasonable amendments and use of your by-laws and protect your hood.
Update – Oct 20, 2014

Public meeting Nov 13 on proposed redevelopment of Locust/Elgin
Date: Nov 13, 7pm, Rm 305, City Hall
Residents of St. Luke's Precinct, please attend this meeting and voice your opinion on this development that so far proposes to require zoning changes. Zone changes anywhere within the precinct will cause a precedent of further zone change as stated by planning. Hang on to your zoning and protect your hood.

Stay tuned for more info.

Update – Sept 26, 2014

A neighbour of the St. Luke's Precinct has informed us that surveyors have been measuring the Dalewood Apartments property at 1367 Elgin Street.

Part or all if this property is owned by Maurice Desrochers development group / Executive Furnished Rentals. Desrochers has previously indicated a desire to rezone this property for 8 story condominiums.

A site rezone of this nature would mean a precedent rezone for the whole precinct.

Stay tuned for more information.

Update – Sept 12, 2014
510 Hager Avenue / New Home Build — Late summer, the city received the site plan application/plans for the second Mattwood house on Hager Ave. This is the lot(s) originally proposed as townhomes/semis by Mattwood but the Neighbours of St. Luke's expressed discomfort for the zone change and appealed to the builder to do single detached builds.
Update – June 4, 2014

Confirmation from the city is that the developer is intending on building 2 detached single family homes. They have begun the first on the south most lot but have yet to propose a plan for the 2nd. This first house will conform to the current zoning and needs only minor variance approval.