Dave Sovran’s deputation at Phase 2 OMB Hearing – April 23rd

April 23, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Madame Chair,

Thank-you for this final opportunity for the Glenway community to make a few comments with respect to this settlement offer, and to this process in general.

First, as we were excluded from this and previous negotiations, and only received the final documentation for this settlement at the end of day yesterday, we are not in a good position to comment effectively on specifics. Top line: it appears at least that the Town has worked hard to ensure some element of control over the building process through a strict application of its various by-laws and oversight of the more technical components, which although cold comfort at this time will undoubtedly be appreciated once the bulldozers start showing up.

Secondly, we can only say that we are thankful in some ironic way that the negotiation process is over, for fear that we start seeing a plans featuring 800 housing units with houseboats on the storm water ponds.  Clearly, what the community understands about negotiation does not align with what has transpired over the past 3 years, as the unit count proposed by the proponent has only ever risen.

So let me start by saying that the community strongly opposes this settlement.  Again, not to diminish some potential small wins contained within this documentation, this settlement represents in our view a significantly overbuilt vision of these lands that is challenged with shoehorning throughout what, for 30 years, has been a quiet, stable residential neighbourhood.  We heard your reasons as to why these lands were open to development, and so we have to accept that, despite the fact that it is contrary to what the municipality and the community ever contemplated in the vision for this Town.  That being said, permitting some development and planning for alternate land uses vs. putting housing units on every available square foot, are what for us is so difficult to accept.  So let us start with that.

Scope and Scale

Yes we are a community group of ʻlayʼ persons, representing a very large community in Newmarket, and today we are not represented by our planner or lawyer. From all the policy talk from the Phase 1 Hearing though, we heard a myriad of vague terminology, subjective interpretations, and, also, some quantitative  components that were debated and discussed regarding targets, minimums and caps vs. no caps.

We heard that despite the municipality designating a growth corridor for directing growth and intensification, that ʻlimited intensificationʼ is basically permitted throughout the built boundary.  We heard that space must be ʻoptimizedʼ. I must say, that in the business world that I came from, if one had used this sort of language in the board room, one wouldnʼt have lasted long. So upon reflecting at what ʻlimited intensificationʼ actually means, when we turn to this settlement it indicates that almost doubling the units in a pecific geography constitutess ʻlimitedʼ. We find this perplexing to say the least. There are currently 809 homes listed on the Townʼs GIS list of homes that are directly affected by these applications, and adding 742 units would be far more accurately described as a ʻsignificantʼ intensification. But then, the policy language is so vague that having to have an expensive process with a room full of planning and legal experts crystal ball gaze this level of development is even more confounding to us.

Our community, as many others in the GTA, are experiencing unbridled expansive growth, and through this process we are not convinced that the appropriate context has been discussed and appreciated in the context of this specific settlement.

Impact on the Neighbourhood of this Settlement

Traffic:

At this time, there is an approved development of 185 homes to our immediate west, a 700 home application awaiting approval immediately north of us, a York Regional building anticipated on the corner of Yonge and Eagle, and now this settlement for 742 units.  Add to that, an  approved set of condos on the growth corridor 2 blocks away on the corner of Yonge and Davis with planned parking for 1,100 vehicles.  In all in this geographically small corridor, with a large mall in-between, we are looking potentially an additional 5,500 more vehicles in this space, with traffic gridlock and neighbourhood safety issues a growing concern. Already, traffic diversion has become a big concern in this Town and a community group has already arisen as it has become apparent that motorists are seeking any alternative routes they can in order to avoid the unavoidable congestion that is occurring throughout the Town.

With respect to this settlement, we have real concerns about a) becoming one more of those traffic diversion routes (and actually, at least two of our streets already are) and b) how this could impact both street safety and the safety of the many children in throughout the neighbourhood.

We note that an updated traffic report has been requested of the developer, but frankly have found that there seems to be a gap between what the technical numbers in such reports conclude vs. what the day to day reality is.

Built Form:

In terms of built form, this is a community of almost exclusively single family residential units with the exception of a five story coop building at the north end of Crossland Gate.  We feel that the attempt to insert multi-unit condos on the inside of these lands and interspersed with the other homes – in what will have to become an ʻintegratedʼ neighbourhood, changes the character of the community and puts pressure on the space that exists between emerging and stable residential neighbourhoods. Squeezing such a building against the hydro corridor does not seem like good planning; expanding the corridor however could contribute to a more spacious and useable transportation corridor for cycling and pedestrian uses.

In general, intensification with these condo buildings along Highway 9, while not ideal, would at least place them at the periphery of the neighbourhood, consistent with the approach of the existing condo building on Crossland Gate.

All this having been said, it is difficult to visualize what ʻcondo residentialʼ is and how it will actually conform to the characteristics of the existing neighbourhood.

Green Corridor and Active Transportation:

In discussions going back over a year, we had requested consideration of a green corridor that linked directly to the planned Active  Transportation corridors being planned by Staff.  Glenway is currently not well served in terms of this type of ʻlinkageʼ going across Yonge St. and meeting with the older Newmarket neighbourhoods to the east.  The intent here would have created a logical, and ʻgreenʼ linkageʼ or connection that would have carried beyond the green space allocated on the east portion and as well linking with the stormwater pond green space, allowing a corridor that would carry north to the pond at the entrance of the community and then cross highway 9 to link to an established trail system there.  We recognize that a hydro corridor on the western side is in place – and we feel that one on the eastern side is equally consistent with creating this activity network linkage for the increase population on the other side of Crossland Gate.

The School:

While the site allocation for the school is clearly the jurisdiction of the York Regional District School Board, in their own words, the site they identified and that was allocated to them by the developer is ʻfar from idealʼ. So yet another example of planning gone awry in our opinion; weʼre being asked to send our elementary aged school children to a location beside the GO Bus Terminal and Highway 9. Again, this does not seem like good planning to our way of thinking.

 Character of the Neighbourhood:

The final straw that removes from our neighbourhood its key characteristic of ʻactive recreationʼ is by removing a fitness facility (certainly the developerʼs choice) and creating commercial space for a gas station at the entrance to our community.  Adding insult to injury, this is an unnecessary location when a commercial strip exists just up the road east of Yonge Street.  The end result is that what was once a benchmark planned neighbourhood will be allowed to be brought down to a mediocre streetfront as any other cookie cutter development south of this community – a community that the residents made a choice of moving to because it wasnʼt exactly what is to be found south of here.

Madame Chair, we were essentially admonished for cherishing our green space…..because it wasnʼt ours to own and cherish. That having been said, it was still the intent of our Official Plan, through community consultation, to maintain the green characteristics of this neighbourhood despite the sale of the lands.  We always understood that some alternate land-use could be applied to these lands, but find the current settlement removes forever one of the rare tracts of green space remaining in the community, without the community having the opportunity to input into how this could be better planned.

We heard however from you that, if I understand correctly, errors of omission have been made in the past that apparently sealed our fate with respect to this or other individual site development applications.  What we were nevertheless seeking was a thread of logic that permitted a less intensive development that better serves the needs of current and future residents of this Town and aligns with the Town ʼs OP overarching objectives of sustainable growth, sustainable transportation initiatives and healthy communities.

The Town has, through this negotiation, chosen to do what so many other municipalities do, and that is to ʻsettleʼ in order to avoid expenses which they feel they cannot afford, while the competition across the room so easily can.  This ʻsettlementʼ does not, in our view, offer anyone in Newmarket, or in the Glenway community, ʻgood planningʼ nor a ʻgoodʼ outcome. It benefits one party only.

Thank you for your time.

Our Deputation at April 22nd COW – decisions by the Town on Glenway

April 22, 2014 at 9:11 pm

DEPUTATION – APR. 22, 2014

Glenway Preservation Association

To start with, the Glenway Preservation Association and its members would like to express our appreciation to Ward  7 Councillor Chris Emanuel for his efforts at trying to defend our community, and applaud his hard work and tenacity over the last 3 years in familiarizing himself with the development process, the current applications and for his efforts at championing our needs to Council to gain the support needed to protect our community.

Next, the GPA is opposed to the negotiated settlement as proposed.  

As we prepare to enter what little remains of Phase 2 in the OMB Hearing, we feel it is nonetheless important to state for the record, the Glenway community’s observations, reactions and feelings regarding what we’ve endured. 

First, we’d like to comment on the approach to Phase 2. 

The Town decided their approach in camera ( twice ) and did not share with us what was to be negotiated with Marianneville, despite our request in the last deputation we made, for the Town to work together with us to mitigate the damage imposed by the Board’s decision to allow an amendment to our Official Plan.  We were given very limited time to provide input to the Town staff for Council’s consideration, but nevertheless offered specific elements to consider.   This is the second time we have requested the opportunity to be involved in the negotiating process, the last being the without prejudice discussions the Town had with Marianneville. 

We see no evidence of how our input was  addressed in these negotiations; in fact, in spite of being accused of refusing to negotiate, we are left with looking at a final agreement where the number of housing units has now  climbed from the original applications (730) to its current 742 units to be built on these lands!\

So, despite providing some recommendations of matters to be included in the negotations (and recognizing that Council would have had to make a decision about some limited land expropriation to get there), we are left with the following questions:

  1.  How were our requests dealt with as part of the negotiations?
  2. What will become of the west lands?   Will they, as one councillor suggested in private, simply become another 400+ housing unit application in the near future?
  3. What about the ‘green’ corridor we requested from the proposed park to the storm water ponds?  This represented a logical opportunity to link the community with the planned active transportation corridors being contemplated in the Secondary Plan.
  4. Was the Town prepared to purchase any lands as part of the discussions?   Could an investment in these lands not have at least salvaged some of the required park space that the increased population from the town’s secondary plan initiatives could benefit from as the Town continues to grow?
  5. Is the intention of Council to make this COW meeting the only public notification that would terminate this three year process?  The majority of the community is still expecting some sort of negotiation in Phase 2 – especially given the previous discussions at Council regarding the need for a long 6 week Hearing process with all the associated expense. This has now has shrunk to a perfunctory 3 hour timeframe, where the intention will be  to simply announce, as your external law firm noted in their letter to the OMB, that they are ‘pleased that an agreement has been arrived at with Marianneville on all Phase 2 settlement issues.’

 

In other words, none of the issues of the Glenway residents appear to have been considered ‘settlement issues’ and the case is closed.

 As of today we are left with a feeling of abandonment by Council and are being asked how to represent ourselves – alone – at the Phase 2 meeting on Wednesday.  We read to our great surprise in the Era Banner that the GPA had abandoned its OMB challenge because we had released our lawyer and planner.  That is certainly not the case.  We released our planner and lawyer for financial reasons, because, as we promised our community, we would focus our efforts on Phase 1.  To that end, our community donated significant funds to allow us to wage that battle, but it did not allow us to budget for an indeterminate Phase 2 Hearing.  Mr. Mayor you were also quoted as saying that the agreement  needs to have balance between the interests of the municipality and the developer’s interest’No mention of the interests of Glenway, and no longer, as before, any linking of the interests of the broader Town of Newmarket with this file, as it loses track of its own Urban Growth Plan and loses, more importantly, significant and much needed open park space as the Town works towards an aggressive intensification over the next 15 years.

 As we have said on many occasions,  we appreciate that Council voted to unanimously support us in fighting against the principle of this development.  But now it appears  that Council is fast-tracking a ‘settlement’ just to get this over with and that, quite frankly is angering many residents.  We acknowledge as well that within the settlement there are holding provisions intended to attempt to control the way in which the development will occur, but this offers little solace given the scale of the change that is to come.

 The Town is continuing to work on and invest in the Growth Plan.  We still feel that a great opportunity exists to include some of these lands in a green corridor, and that some of the West Lands can be salvaged from what will surely be a near future development application.  As the elected leadership of this wonderful Town, we know that was not your vision to have happen.  But as our Town’s leaders, You can still do more.

 At a recent meeting on Planning and OMB issues, the chief planner for Toronto, Jennifer Keesmat was quoted at a dec 13 OMB panel meeting as follows:

 “Settlement……  Far from ideal, we’re not achieving great city building if a large, substantive number of our approvals are being achieved through settlement. We often settle as a city, we’re very motivated as a city to settle, because it’s extremely costly for us to go to the Ontario Municipal Board. We have a fraction of the resources that our competitors do at the Ontario  Municipal Board, so a settlement is in our best interest most of the time. Which means, are we happy with the outcome we get? Not usually. Is it great city building? Not usually. But we settled, because we have the Ontario Municipal Board, which creates a culture, which makes it really difficult for us to actually achieve our larger city building objectives.”

 The article continues…..’Keesmaat did not limit her criticism of the Ontario Municipal Board to the number of settlements she believes it encourages.  She said she finds board decisions to be inconsistent, and that the decisions of elected officials should hold more sway.’

 We have to say that at this point, there is no way to avoid feeling incredibly let down.   The way these applications are being settled……nobody should be happy with this, not our community, not the other residents of Newmarket and especially not this Council.

 For that reason, we believe there is still time and opportunity for Council to look for something good out of this issue.

 As far a vision goes for Newmarket, as far as good planning and city-building is concerned, we have ALL taken a hit.  This ‘settlement’ with Marianneville does nothing for Newmarket and in fact, detracts from its focus and efforts at effective planning for the community we planned on creating.

 At this time, we respectfully request a public meeting in order to bring some sort of closure to Glenway residents; a meeting where the settlement can be explained and questions answered as to why the negotiations ended the way they did, before it is ratified at Council.   We believe the Town owes it to the residents to fully brief the community on what they are getting. 

 Because right now, from a community perspective, our feeling is that in the final stages of this process we were completely ignored…  and from a town’s perspective, control of the planning process, and the opportunity for salvaging some critically important green space has been lost…

 To the OMB, if the objective is to basically ignore the well-intended initiatives of citizens to work with their elected officials to create the communities they best see fit their municipal visions, then that sentiment of being pushed to the side has been fully experienced – and not appreciated.

 This does not mark the end of either the GPA, or of future challenges to the planned future of Newmarket.  The lesson of this is that without better planning, preparation and political will, we will continue to be run over by the existing provincial planning processes in place.  And while we could just blame these processes that are allegedly outside of our control, there remain aspects within our control that we need to work towards addressing in order to prevent further and future disasters such as this from befalling our community.

 As such, we request in the near future an opportunity to lead a discussion around lessons learned from this experience and highlight where the planning process failed us, and what is our responsibility and duty to work together to change so this result doesn’t happen to us again

 Thank you for your time.

What we suggested to the Town to be negotiated

April 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm

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 :

  1. 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’. 
  2. We asked the Town to figure out how to purchase this green space to satisfy the Town’s future needs. 
  3. We asked that the gas station be removed from the commercial space allocation. 
  4. We asked for more details (and less building) in the hydro side of the course (ie. holes 10-12). 
  5. 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.