Explore the people and places that make downtown a great place to visit, live and work.

BDBA Guiding Principles
Posted: Jul 1, 2018
As a component of our Strategic Plan 2018-2020 the Association has developed a series of guiding principles, designed to be the BDBA’s official comment on development applications within our boundaries.
These principles have been affirmed by our Board of Directors and approved by our membership of 435+ businesses.
The principles were created as a tool to advocate for the Downtown that we would like to see in the future as our area undergoes immediate and long term intensification. Our goal is to stay ahead of the curve by managing, influencing and adapting to these changes.
They reaffirm the Association’s goal of influencing a healthy and prosperous vision for the future of our unique community of business.

Guiding Principles

Our principles rest on five main themes: creating a unique destination, active placemaking, telling the story of our business community, blending the “old” and the “new” and striving for an optimum commercial mix.  Each of these themes is underscored by a guiding principle.

We believe that our Downtown is now and should also remain a UNIQUE DESTINATION in the City of Burlington.  This is underscored by the principle that Downtown must be a “year-round attraction that is walkable and inviting”. This principle could translate into policies that:

  • Promote year- round activities and animation that support art and culture in all corners of the Downtown
  • Investigate opportunities for pop ups and farmers/Christmas markets to reinforce the downtown as a place to visit and explore
  • Explore opportunities to increase public parking in BDBA, where appropriate. Encourage   development that is self sufficient for parking and meets minimum zoning requirements


PLACEMAKING: This is underscored by the principle that “The downtown streetscape should be green, cohesive, and include strategic places for people to gather, meet, and linger.”  This principle could translate into policies that:

  • Require an implementation strategy that builds on the downtown streetscape guidelines and identifies key public gathering places, open spaces, and applicable design features in   the downtown
  • Validates the City planning regulatory framework that ensures new developments provide appropriate building setbacks that allow for enhanced and animated public spaces.
  • Necessitates a better working relationship with the municipality to establish a list of BDBA placemaking initiatives that could be subject to “community benefits” through Section 37


Striving to create an OPTIMUM COMMERCIAL MIX is also a key platform of our vision.  This is underscored by the principle that “New development should accommodate a range of commercial uses and should not cause a net loss of commercial floor area in the downtown”.  This principle could translate into policies that:

  • Support new mixed-use developments that maximize the amount of commercial space in the building envelope and provides, at a minimum, the same amount of commercial floor area that existed prior to redevelopment of a property.
  • Develop a strategy to recruit businesses and market commercial floor area on the 2nd floor of mixed use buildings


The Burlington Downtown Business Association believes that having an acting hand in TELLING OUR STORY is important as the people of Burlington reflect on the health of our unique business district.  This theme is underscored by the principles of “Vibrancy and distinctiveness: our key competitive advantages”.  This principle could translate into policies that:

  • Promote the downtown as a place that is special, eclectic, and remains the anti-mall A small business incubator.
  • Develop creative strategies that focus on attracting people from the waterfront experience and into the downtown business community (apps, enhanced wayfinding, and directories).


Finally, the theme that reinforces BLENDING OLD AND NEW is the key to our identity and is underscored by the principle that “Downtown must embrace its future and remember its past”. This principle could translate into policies that:

  • Promote assets (like Village Square) that exemplify unique architectural features and succeed in representing Burlington’s rich history.
  • Participate in Sign By-law revisions to ensure signage in the downtown is cohesive and reflects its unique context.
  • Encourage the ground floor of buildings to be pedestrian oriented and building podiums that integrate with historic features of the downtown (where applicable)


For questions or further information please contact Brian Dean, Executive Director, Burlington Downtown Business Association at 905-333-9868 x 1 or brian@burlingtondowntown.ca.


My View: Christina Drew
Living and owning a business in the downtown has been truly amazing! All I need is within walking distance.
Centro Farmer's Market
The Centro Farmer's Market returns for an 8th season every Sunday from 9am-Noon beginning Mother's Day!