Lesson’s Learned Report is Out – Now What?

August 1, 2015 at 10:13 am

We learned through several sources that the Glenway Lessons Learned Facilitator’s Report <Click to download> was released July 24th.  The report does not draw any conclusions but does represent the concerns, comments and suggestions from all that participated.  It was noted several times that OMB reform is overdue and was used as leverage by the Developer.  All represented groups (Town Council, Town Staff, Marianneville, GPA, Residents) have opportunities to improve the process/outcome around future development.

By reading the report you will note that the Town (partial comment list):

  • struggles to process significant development applications in a timely fashion
  • either doesn’t have a sufficient Official Plan/Secondary Growth Plan to meet the needs of future development or cannot defend itself and its planning at the OMB
  • needs to better direct Town staff/resources and manage requirements/outcomes including frequency of reporting
  • needs to better communicate/collaborate with the public and the development community
  • needs a better plan/strategy for mass transit/local transit tied to growth/intensification
  • needs to review “land use” of public/private open space to determine potential for future development opportunities.  We have a number of unfullfilled needs as a municipality.

 

Suggested next steps from facilitor are:

  • Town officials need to review and identify key ideas/straegies/initiatives regading what can be done better/differently regrading future development on Newmarket.
  • All parties to consider “lessons learned” session outcomes and determine implications for future action/practices.

 

Ward 7 Councillor, Christina Bisanz has requested the Town Clerk to include this report on the agenda of the August 31 Committee of the Whole meeting (1:30 – 4:30 p.m.) to unable a fulsome discussion of the outcome and implications,  by Council.

Let’s see what actions, responsibility and timing does move forward through the results of our Town Council.  Stay tuned!

Town answers more questions in advance of Lesson’s Learned meeting

June 18, 2015 at 9:01 pm

After finding out the Lesson’s Learned would not be the place to receive the answers to several questions that remained unanswered at the “workshop format” it looks like the Town will proceed with I reminded Bob Shelton we still want and deserve answers.  These answers were published yesterday on the Town’s website.  Here is a sampling:

1. Why were no Town staff called as witnesses to support the Town’s position at the OMB hearing?
Town staff did not play a role in reviewing the application and/or providing a professional planning opinion to Council. Council instead hired an outside planning consultant (Ms. Victor) to, in effect, act as staff on this application and to process the application and make recommendations to Council.
Council did not hire Ms. Victor to defend the Official Plan, but rather to process the application and provide a professional planning opinion and recommendations to Council.
Because staff did not play an active role in reviewing and/or processing the application (other than to provide administrative support to Ms. Victor), staff could not be called upon to provide evidence on the appropriateness of the application at the OMB.
In the event Council had not hired Ms. Victor and instead staff had made a specific recommendation to Council, staff’s position at the OMB would have been in support of the staffs recommendations in their professional opinion, and not just to support Council’s position. For example, in instances where Council does not agree with staff recommendations, it cannot then ask staff to defend Council’s decision at the OMB and it must decide whether it wants to hire its own professional planner (as was the case here) to defend its position.
2. How can the Planner for the GPA come up with points and a strategy to challenge Marianneville’s proposal and the Town did not?
At Council’s direction following the referral of the plan to the OMB, Town staff contacted 10-12 planning consulting firms, both locally and from across the Region, in an effort to find a professional planner that could support Council’s position. In addition to specific conversations with the firms, staff also provided background reports and Town planning documents for their review where requested.
Upon reviewing the application and the available documents, only one of the planning consulting firms was able to support Council’s position.
Although the GPA was able to find a planner to support Council’s position, the OMB was not swayed by that professional’s evidence and instead preferred the argument and evidence of the developer’s consulting planner and that of Ms. Victor who appeared at the OMB Hearing for this Phase under subpoena by the developer.

Having read these several times it seems that the Town is giving us the impression that it did everything it could and if there is fault it lies elsewhere!  As we were intimately involved in at least some aspects of the defence discussions for the OMB hearing this is a very mysterious and somewhat oblivious position to take.

This lack of openess to constructive criticism is a bad sign leading up to the Lesson’s Learned meeting – June 23rd from 7-9pm at the Newmarket Senior’s Center located at 474 Davis Drive.

I encourage you to read these reponses and the Q&A provided at our last public meeting and come out to the Lesson’s Learned and provide how you feel the Town should have handled better development applications and the OMB.

NEW LOCATION – Get ready for June 23rd’s Lessons Learned Public Meeting!

June 8, 2015 at 8:14 am

We hope as many of you as possible can make the Town’s Lesson’s Learned meeting – 7 to 9pm, June 23rd at the Newmarket Seniors’ Meeting Place, 474 Davis Drive.

Come prepared with at 1 or 2 things that made you scratch your head duirng the “process” that shout Why does it take so long to get answers and when we do they are generic boilerplated or Why did the Town not have a strategy or put up a defence of its Official Plan at the OMB hearing when that is exactly the reason it voted to fight at the OMB!

Check out the answers to your questions (Glenway Preservation Association Questions and Answers) from the last public meeting where the Town reviewed the OMB decision on Glenway and gave a glimpse on what actions are soon coming.

In preparation for this meeting a few questions come to mind:

  1. Who specifically from the Town has responsibility for development issues? External resources are used all the time and in the case of Glenway even an external planner was used. It was clear that a lack of direction was given to this planner to defend our Official Plan. This was the reason the Town fought the OMB on the Glenway file.
  2. Knowing the Glenway lands were up for sale as early as 2008 why didn’t the Town take steps in the 2010 Official Plan review to strengthen zoning by-laws or a long term open green space plan for things the Town needs to be a healthy vibrant community as we almost double in population the next 25 years.
  3. Why didn’t the Town know to address GO transit co-location as far back as 2004 when the EG GO Hub was opened. The GO Bus location was key in the OMB decision to intensify Glenway. Why wasn’t this part of Secondary Growth Plan with the hundreds of millions being spent on Davis and starting soon on Yonge Street.
  4. The Town couldn’t seem to respond in a timely manner to review the “completed” development application in the 180 days allotted. Throughout the process the Town didn’t have needed planning input from the developer to even deem the application complete for a review..
  5. Why wasn’t the Town more prepared with a strategy, expert witnesses,planning arguments and use of Town staff to defend itself at an OMB hearing?
  6. Will their be a independant Construction Manager that is accesible 24/7 for noise, traffic, work hours, debris issues, etc…  Too many problems have occurred that can easily be avoided if the rules are followed.

 

We should all expect responsibility, accountability and transparency when it comes to how our Town Council and Staff conducts itself on our behalf!

This is to be a Town-wide Lesson’s Learned and not just Glenway to better equip the Town to defend it’s Official Plan and to develop not just for the benefit of a developer but the Town in general – what we need for a healthy vibrant community long term.

We hope to see you there and bring your suggestions to the Town.

Upcoming Public Information Centers (PIC) and Public Information Opportunities

February 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm

PIC and PIS

 

Residents will have the opportunity to have detailed information and input into Community Site Plan’s and Plans of Subdivision that will take place throughout 2015.

For residents concerned about Phase 1 development issues of compatibility, drainage or the number of issues during construction (traffic, parking, dust, debris, noise, hours of construction, etc…) there is a PIC on the former lands of the Glenway clubhouse

February 24th from 6-8pm – Cane Rms A&B at Town of Newmarket offices at 395 Mulock Drive

Full list of information opportunities is attached (PUBLIC INFORMATION CENTRES AND PUBLIC INPUT OPPORTUNITIES)

Cost of the OMB hearing a paltry $588,291

February 4, 2015 at 2:50 pm

I appreciate the fact we finally cleared the air on the real costs on the Town’s decision to defend it’s Official Plan when it challenged Marianneville’s development application of Glenway at the OMB.

“Value for money” is not how I would title this post (so I didn’t).  Please direct your comments to the Town of Newmarket for more details or questions.

Read the Town’s report:  http://www.newmarket.ca/recreationplaybook/resourcelibrary/05-cs-diinformationreport2015-02mariannewile-glenway.pdf

 

Read more:  Gordon Prentice’s Shrink Slessor Square blog

Notes from January 19th Site Plan Meeting in Town Council Chambers

January 20, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Even though Glenway has been approved for housing development a site plan is required for any parcels within development applications that are multi-family semi-detached or higher density housing (basically anything that is not a single family detached house).

On Monday afternoon Marianneville presented a site plan to build 74 Townhouses where the Clubhouse once resided.  These will be a combination of 2 and 3 storey condo units beautifully arranged  to maximize just how many people can you shoehorn into a complex.  In addition, 40 single family detached houses are slated for what was the 4th hole on the east side of Eagle St.

It was clear at this meeting that a lot of discussions had taken place between Town staff and Marianneville to get to this point.  According to Town staff they expect several further iterations before any final decisions are made.  We expect the Town to provide a more detailed accounting of activities as a timeline to keep residents informed.

Marianneville’s planner, Richard Zelinka, told everyone that the site development will not impact the rest of Glenway.  Then he proceeded to tell everyone that throughout Glenway mature trees will be dug up and transplanted into the new development.  From our experience with McGregor Farm issues with tree removal and replacement this is exactly the kind of information that our community wants input into.

Ensuing discussions saw Councillor Dave Kerwin say that no further public input was necessary.  He added casually, “We had the opportunity to purchase the land and we didn’t”.   The GPA looks forward to hearing more details about this and we equally expect the opportunity (as promised) to have further input into how the next phase moves forward.

Thankfully our newly elected Ward 7 Councillor, Christina Bisanz effectively countered that for site plan meetings like this the public should have more notice than the 4 days we had received.   Councillor Kerwin’s motion to “just get it over and done with” was soundly defeated.

Regional Councillor Taylor also asked about the phasing of the development and timelines.   Neither Town Staff nor Marianneville seems prepared or willing to share details at this time.  We should expect a timeline and we should expect more information on the overall plan.

The meeting ended as Councillor Bisanz motioned for a Public Information Center (PIC) prior to any decision regarding this site plan.  The vote was easily approved.

For another point of view please view Gordon Prentice post – Read More.

Ensure you attend the Feb 12th Community Meeting to hear the what is happening in Glenway! – Read More

How does the leaked memo affect Glenway Residents?

October 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm

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.

The GPA does not endorse any political party or candidate!

June 8, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Recently it was brought to our attention that a facsimile reproduction of the Glenway Preservation Association’s lawn sign – which still remains on many lawns throughout our community – was used on a local candidate’s brochure as an inference of that person’s support to our cause, with the implication that another candidate did not provide similar support.  Several GPA members have taken exception to what they perceive to be the unauthorized and inappropriate use of our lawn signs (albeit a photo-adjusted version) as an “endorsement” of a candidate.

While the GPA has always appreciated whatever support that we have received from politicians at all levels of government, we have steadfastly remained non-partisan in our advocacy on behalf of the Glenway community.

We have not, nor will we, endorse or support the use of our material, logo, website or social media to promote political agendas.

Our role is to work with all levels of government, and with all political parties, to influence the change that we believe is required to protect community interests from unwanted development.  Further, as noted in our recent e-mail blast to the community, we continue to insist on a community meeting to discuss “lessons learned” from the devastating decision of the OMB, along with open transparency from Newmarket Council regarding the process and decisions that lead to the final settlement between the Town and Marianneville.  Finally, we recognize that there is a broader need to advocate for reforms to the OMB process itself, so that other communities can avoid experiencing losses similar to what has happened here.

Members of the community may wish to refer to an article recently published in the Newmarket Banner, which highlights the position of all provincial candidates on the question of OMB reform. http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4560160-newmarket-aurora-candidates-does-omb-need-to-be-revamped-/#.U5ThfUa5vZo email.  Our view on this is that legislative change is necessary.  The OMB remains an anomaly – a quasi-judicial body that unilaterally can take decisions in a format that is unfamiliar to communities, disadvantages both residents and municipal councils financially to defend themselves, and of course by definition, favours developers who have focus their applications on exploiting these facts.   We believe the OMB needs to be radically altered or completed replaced by a more effective planning approach.

Call for Town led community meeting – we all want to know!

June 5, 2014 at 3:08 pm

We have been hearing from an increasing number of residents (both inside and outside of Glenway) on the lack of follow-up proceeding the OMB decision to allow for the development application to proceed on April 23rd.

For some time now we have been patiently asking and waiting for debrief on the detail on behalf of the community and remain concerned that important decisions that affect this future development are still being made behind closed doors.

The truth is, we find it inappropriate that up to this point, the Town is leaving the GPA to answer questions that rightly Staff and Council should be responding to.

Write a quick note reminding our Ward Councillor, Mayor and Regional Councillor you want this meeting in June!

Chris Emanuel – cemanuel@newmarket.ca
Tony Van Bynen – mayor@newmarket.ca
John Taylor – jtaylor@newmarket.ca

Recently email trail:

DSovran reminder request

DRuggle response

Response to DRuggle

A future taxpayer has this to say about development of Glenway

May 2, 2014 at 11:09 am

Hello,

My name is Erin Kurtz and I live in the Town of Newmarket, in the subdivision Glenway. Our golf course, that majority of us in this subdivision back on to, was bought by developers a few years ago. Of course, they have proposed the development of part of our wonderful green space. This is devastating to the residents of Glenway, some of us who have lived here for many years and love our green space and not having houses in our backyard. This is one of the things that makes our subdivision unique and beautiful.

We stand united – we do not want houses built on our golf course. This also goes against the Town of Newmarket’s plan – this space was never meant to be houses. Newmarket has grown so rapidly over the past few years – fields everywhere are turning into houses. I hardly think that building these houses on our green space are essential to the Town’s growth. And they agree. The Town has stood by us and is also against the development of our golf course. However, the Town was easily overruled in Phase 1 by the OMB. This obviously comes as a huge disappointment to us all. We are appalled that the OMB can so easily overrule our town. This has a big impact on our community, and for someone who is so detached from this area to be able to make a decision on whether or not houses are built literally in OUR backyards is hardly right. This has the biggest impact on the residents of our neighbourhood and our town and we get the least say.

Now, as I understand, there has been a bill proposed – Bill 141 – that would prevent the development of Glenway. It’s purpose is to require more principled, evidence-based and strategic long-term planning of infrastructure. It also supports protection of the environment. I hear that it has passed second reading.

I am asking you for the sake of our neighbourhood to seriously consider passing this bill. Put yourself in our shoes and I’m sure you would feel the same way. It is not fair for our community and others like ours to fall at the mercy of the OMB for something as important to us as this. It would greatly restore our faith in the Ontario government that they DO care about our individual communities and have the capability to look deeper than Ontario as a whole.

I am 15 years old – I have a lot of voting years ahead of me. I would like to think that I can count on the provincial government for something as important as this. I believe that this bill would greatly impact each individual community for the better and would help to make Ontario as a whole a better place. So, once again, I am asking you to seriously consider this bill. It would mean the world to us and for other communities who have also faced developers. Please don’t let them ruin our neighbourhood – my home.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

<Editors note – Erin is referencing Bill 41, Preserving Existing Communities Act, 2013>