Following the devastating conclusion of Phase 1 of the OMB process, the community has been asking “What happens next”. We wanted everyone to know that the GPA has continued to be engaged in the OMB process, which we have formally been advised is heading into Phase 2. As you know, we vehemently disagreed with the OMB adjudicator’s ruling at the end of Phase 1. To us, the decision was a reaffirmation of our belief that the planning process has been broken for some time. From the start, we held fast to our belief that any Town should be able to control details on growth and intensification if it is meeting its objectives passed down by Regional and Provincial government. The fact that a third party such as the OMB can rule against a municipality’s Official Plan, and the interests of the community that makes up that municipality, suggests the need for a major policy change in this province.
We believe that the current Planning Act, Growth Plan and intensification requirements put all municipalities in a position whereby compliance with current policy requirements is a moving and unlikely target to meet. In the case of Newmarket, and our situation specifically, we believe the best result for the Town, Region and the Province would more appropriately have been achieved through an Official Plan review process scheduled for 2015. As the golf course lands were sold in 2010, such an approach would make much more sense. It would have provided all parties an opportunity to look at planning for this property as well as the effects on adjacent lands, Regional roads, provincial schooling, and the Town’s overall needs going forward. Our Town has, and will continue to have, many needs that are not simply related to residential housing (for example, we’ve heard suggestions for a Center for Arts, Conference Centre, seniors’ friendly village) all that can leverage open space for public use. Glenway provided precious space that, in the absence of continuing to be a golf course, could have been used to address some of those needs.
We have been realistic throughout this entire process on development. We are seeking what is best for the health of our Town and the Glenway community. We fully understand what it means to live in a healthy, vibrant neighbourhood that has been a safe place to raise our families. We fervently hope this can will continue to be the case despite the now approved plans put forward by Marianneville.
To that end, and given that we were provided with little advance notice to provide input to the Town going into Phase 2 of the process, the GPA has offered some suggestions on how we might mitigate the impact of Marianneville’s development on our community. Knowing that decreasing the number of housing units is not an option, we offered the following :
- We asked that Marianneville put green space back on the negotiating table (ie. the west lands) AND that a ‘green corridor’ be added on the east lands to link up with an evolving pathway system that Town staff have been developing in the draft Secondary Plan and “Active Transportation Network’.
- We asked the Town to figure out how to purchase this green space to satisfy the Town’s future needs.
- We asked that the gas station be removed from the commercial space allocation.
- We asked for more details (and less building) in the hydro side of the course (ie. holes 10-12).
- We had a number of technical concerns (‘like to like’, roads, fencing and buffers, tree replacement and location, etc.) that we also asked to have addressed.
Ideally, we would have been given the time and opportunity to formally solicit input from the community through a proper consultation process, but the schedule for the next phase of the hearing has not permitted this. However, the suggestions and issues noted above, are based on comments and ideas that we have received from residents throughout this process.
In conclusion, you should know that the GPA has exhausted our funding, and have therefore ceased our engagement with our lawyer and planner. We do feel it is important to remain a ‘Party’ to Phase 2 although we will have to represent ourselves in the process.
Apart from knowing the date that Phase 2 will start, the GPA remains in the dark as to the context and parameters of what is to be discussed during this next stage in the process. We continue to commit to keeping our community informed regardless of the outcome.