Shrink Slessor Square!

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Era Banner cuts criticism of its editorial line

The Era Banner is a champion for the proposed mega development at Slessor Square in Newmarket.

Fair enough.

It is a free country so they can say what they like.

But they shouldn’t stop other people from expressing an honest point of view.

This week the Era banner published a letter from Shrink Slessor Square supporter, Bob Bahielda, but, crucially, they removed his criticism of their own editorial line on the issue.

Bob says: “They removed the first sentence and made other modifications to the print letter. The edits are indefensible because they criticize the editorial directly.”

Bob’s Suggested headline

Why Let the Truth Get in the Way of a Good Editorial?  

morphed into

We don’t need towers to accomplish growth

So, here is Bob’s letter with the bits cut out by the Era Banner editor struck through.

Re: Editorial: Growing Up a Little Bit Not Answer for Town. February 23, 2012

I would like to point out the gross error made by The Era Editorial. It quotes the town's growth projection as being 97,000 residents by 2031. To the best of my knowledge the actual figure is approximately 13,000. The provincial intensification corridor along Yonge Street is expected to produce approximately 9,000 of this increase.

What your editorial also fails to mention in supporting growth and opposing a cap on height is that the town of Newmarket's planning department acknowledges that the provincial growth targets of at least 200 persons/jobs/hectare can be  easily achieved by the town's current plan that targets between 200 and 250 persons/jobs/hectare.

The Slessor Square development is more than 800 persons/jobs/hectare and is completely unnecessary at its proposed height.

The already approved 20 storey condominium tower at Davis and George Street has even greater density.  

We do not need massive towers to accomplish the growth that the province, the Region of York and the Town of Newmarket want.

In the process we can also think carefully about creating people and family friendly streetscapes the revitalize our core and attract people to this area instead of simply adding buildings and traffic.

The cap of 15 stories suggested by Regional Councillor Taylor is both reasonable and sustainable.

It is a legitimate compromise position that still allows intensification but preserves the quality of life the residents demand. 

No one wants out of control development with few restrictions.

Developers come and go but the residents of Newmarket will live with the consequences of these decisions long after they are gone.

We have no obligation to pander to their demands. At the very least let's make the decisions based on the correct infomation.

Dr. R. Bahlieda M.A., Ed. D.


Economic viability of Slessor Square threatened by York Region charges

New charges on developers proposed by York Region could affect the economic viability of Slessor Square says Bob Forrest, one of the key people behind the controversial project.

Press reports quote from a letter sent by Forrest to the Region in which he complains about current development charges which are “staggering”.

He goes on to say he will be having a discussion with associates about the economic viability of Slessor Square.

Seems to me that taxpayers shouldn’t carry costs that properly belong with developers.

That’s what these development charges are all about.

The Region will decide on the level of any new charges in May.

Councillors can help shape public opinion

I read that John Taylor’s motion on height restrictions went through the Committee of the Whole at its meeting on 27 February.

However, I note there was no reference to his proposed 15 storey height cap that caused such apoplexy in some quarters. Maddie Di Muccio, for one, slammed the very idea.

At least we know where she stands.

But what surprised me more than anything else was the absence of any debate on Taylor’s motion. Here it is:

That Council direct staff to bring a report to Committee of the Whole in 45 days outlining the process(es), including public consultation, for which Council could enact a height restriction for multi storey buildings in the Town of Newmarket. Furthermore that Council direct staff to include in the report an analysis of any issues associated with height restrictions policy for consideration by Council.

True, the motion is largely about process but it provided councillors with an opportunity to say something, however tentative or hesitant, about the kind of development they want to see In Newmarket.


Just silence.

I believe councillors should listen to what people in their Wards are saying.  That’s the right thing to do.

But they should also give a lead. That means speaking out and giving their point of view, qualified if needs be, on the big issues facing the Town.

Councillors are uniquely placed to shape public opinion.

They should be leading the public debate rather than standing in the shadows.

Another point of view

The twin towers at Slessor Square will dominate the skyline in Newmarket. No doubt about it.

But their overbearing bulk and mass will be more intrusive in some places rather than others.

After some prompting by the Town, the developers have agreed to produce a “viewshed analysis” giving a view of the twin towers from selected vantage points around town.

But who selects the vantage points?

These views can dramatically influence our impression of the street scene.

The Newmarket Visualisation Study, published in 2010, (see Newmarket documents section) takes eight locations around town and paints a picture of what they will look like as change occurs (emerging street scene) and at the end of the day (full build out).

In Section 3.3.1 we are given an impression of what the view from Davis Drive looking towards Yonge Street will look like at full build out.

I don’t see the 20 storey condominium at the junction of Davis and George that was given approval by the Council in 2009.

Is it there somewhere? Perhaps lurking behind a tree?

I’d like to see the Visualisation Study updated to take account of planning approvals already granted and those – like Slessor Square – that are in the pipeline.

At the moment, it suggests a future Newmarket with a variety of interesting medium rise buildings.

Not too many looming towers, if any.

It gives a false impression of what is on the horizon.

Back to the drawing board!