Some of you may have received a copy of a confidential Memo from the Town of Newmarket at your home related to the west Glenway lands, or read about this in the Thursday edition of The Era. The memo in question was delivered by John Blommesteyn, one of the Ward 7 candidates for the upcoming municipal election and the husband of Ward 6 Councilor Maddie DiMuccio.
Understandably the Glenway community is wondering what the memo means, and why it was leaked three days before Council had agreed to make it public.
The memo indicates that the Town of Newmarket had approached Marianneville (the developer) to inquire whether any of the Glenway West lands would potentially be for sale in advance of Marianneville submitting its next application for development of these lands. This is something that we have been anticipating would happen given the OMB ruling against the GPA and Town’s argument that the development as a whole did not meet the principle of development.
It is our understanding that the memo was provided to Council in response to its direction to Town staff, to consider all the options potentially available in order to determine whether any of the remaining golf course lands could be spared from development. The memo addresses one component that was under consideration – whether Marianneville would be prepared to sell a portion of the lands to the Town of Newmarket. The memo also indicates, as we expected, that the developer would likely file an application to develop the west Glenway lands within the year.
Here is our take on the situation.
The premature release of this confidential document is not only inappropriate but it potentially harms the ability for the Town to negotiate with the developer for fair market purchase of the land in the future. While the public is now aware of that, there may now be other parties come forward with an interest in purchasing these lands that could ‘up the ante’ and even include land which was previously assumed to be ‘undevelopable‘, such as those situated on the edge of the Oak Ridges Moraine.
As a community, we need to be aware that the premature leakage of this document was a political stunt by a would-be Ward Councilor and abetted by a Council insider (3 guesses) who again has demonstrated her lack of respect for the rules of confidentiality. Members of the Glenway Preservation Association have put hundreds of volunteer hours and our own dollars into fighting for Glenway—because we live here. We must continue to stand together to ensure our community is represented for the right reasons and in the right way, and not play games with our future as the approved development moves forward, and a new application eventually gets submitted.
Mr. Blommesteyn does not live in Glenway or in Ward 7, and was never involved in or supportive of our fight until it became politically expedient for him to do. He was quoted in the Era Banner as stating that this development found its way to the OMB because the Town missed a deadline and therefore missed an opportunity to find a better solution for the community. The fact of the matter is that no Town with an application of this scale would have been able to meet the timeline imposed by the Planning Act. In fact, even as the process moved to the OMB pre-hearing many months later, the developer had still not yet responded to the Town’s demands for modifications to their application. The planning process as it exists now clearly tips the table in favour of the developer, who can simply include an OMB appeal into their standard approach. If Mr. Blommesteyn wishes to represent the community effectively, he must make himself aware of the facts of what we’ve gone through, the planning process and the very limited options available when dealing with, and attempting to negotiate with a developer.
Let’s not allow someone to play political games with our homes and our future. This affects both our Ward and our Town as we continue local intensification initiatives. As a community, we are still owed an important ‘Lessons Learned’ meeting from this Council as we ourselves look to better understand how Council and Staff can better serve the needs of our community.