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!

Still waiting for Town on action plan based on Lesson’s Learned!

July 24, 2015 at 10:24 am

A number of residents, Town officials and Marianneville representatives attended the Lesson’s Learned workshop style meeting on June 23rd.  It was nice to see former Ward 7 Councillor, Chris Emanuel attend and contribute several thoughts.  The same can be said for members of the GPA and Gordon Prentice of Shrink Slessor Square fame  (click here for his specific comments).  It was also appreciated to see most of Town Council attend and many senior people from Town Staff including the increasingly reddened face of Richard Nethery who had been AWOL for much of the Glenway OMB Hearing process.

While everyone had an opportunity to provide suggestions based on “What if we had an opportunity to roll-back the clock…” we don’t yet know when the Town will act to either:

  • Publish the report and action plan  –  OR –
  • Discuss the report in a public Town Council meeting and possible actions before formalizing them

What we do know is that the Town appointed Facilitator, Glenn Pothier has given his finding to the Town and the Town has accepted them with no changes requested.  The earliest we could see the Town “officially receive and accepted/approved the findings would be in August, but more then likely in September.

While there are many points to remember that the Town should address one major Lesson Learned should be “better communications”.   This comes in the form of specfic direction, regular reporting (issues management) and the timeliness and detail to questions asked.

  • Between Town Council and Staff
  • Between Town Council and Residents
  • Between Developers and Town Staff

It seems all parties wanted better claity and timliness of needed answers to support better decision making.  Let’s see what actually happens in September – the most likely time for Lesson’s Learned actions to be announced by the Town Council.

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.

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

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

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.

To have success at the OMB hearing we need your financial support!

March 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm

GPA Mar 4th Meeting

Thanks to everyone inside Glenway and the rest of Newmarket that have given their support to preserve Glenway’s community value and protect our Town’s limited precious green space.

 

Resident efforts help defend Newmarket’s Official Plan to better control development decisions in our communities.

 
 The opening video from our March 7th meeting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VueLGkRG-O4 
   

How your donations have already helped:

  • Provided the Town with a strong planning argument – resulting in a 9-0 vote against the development applications
  • Helped structure the OMB Hearing into 2 phases where the principle of development will be front and center as Phase 1
  • Created a plan of action for the OMB Hearing process that begins March 17th
  • Helped the Town secure their planner who will support and expand our argument during the Hearing process

 

What you heard from our latest community update meeting:

  • We have a great chance to win on the Principle of Development argument (do we need to build or not?)
  • This returns control of development back to the Town for decision making based on Newmarket’s Official Plan and review process
  • If the OMB wants to proceed directly to Phase 2 before a decision can be reached we can still apply the argument of the principle of development to each technical issue raised

 

How do we see this playing out and the investment required:

  • Witness statement and hearing preparation:  12 hours planning/10 hours legal
  • Phase 1 will be up to 2 weeks, or approximately $ 20,000 per full week
  • Phase 2 is scheduled a further 4 weeks however we will limit or eliminate our paid representation for that part of the hearing
  • To satisfy our needs as a community at the OMB we need another $26,000 (now less than $20,000 based on the last few days)

 

What we need from you as soon as possible:

1.    Buy an hour of Planner’s time with a donation of $200
                                              OR
2.    Buy a ½ hour of Lawyer’s time with a donation of $150
                                              OR
3.    Buy a 1/2 hour or 1/4 hour Planner’s time with a donation of $100 or $50 respectively

 

Email us at contact@preserveglenway.ca and we will come by to pick up your cheque
or  donate on-line at DONATE NOW

 

We have a track record for success now.      We are so close!  

Let’s make this happen together!