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:
- How were our requests dealt with as part of the negotiations?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.