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
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.
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.
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.