The “Community Engagement” meeting on Slessor Square will take place at 7-9pm on Monday 23 April 2012 in Halls 3 and 4 at the Community Centre, Doug Duncan Drive, Newmarket.

Marion Plaunt, the Town’s senior planner in charge of the Slessor file, tells me the developer will be reporting back “on all the questions and issues” including the question of height and the viewshed work.

I am told the Town will not be live streaming the event nor doing a YouTube of the presentation and Q&A afterwards – as we had requested -  because of “privacy issues”.

Pity. This is a great opportunity to reach out to the wider public who, for one reason or another, may not be able to get along to the meeting on Monday.

Time to state the obvious.

It is important to get as many people along to the meeting as possible. Numbers matter.

Councillors and, indeed, Town hall staff, count heads.

If half a dozen people turn up, the developers will breathe a huge sigh of relief.

We've got to keep focussed on the issues the developers don't want to talk about.

Generally speaking, they prefer to deal with small manageable groups of people. It makes the process of getting planning approval much less fraught than it otherwise might be.

If the viewshed work becomes available before the meeting (fat chance!) I shall post it here on ShrinkSlessor.

 

Frank Klees, our MPP, deserves a pat on the back for his super fast response to my query about Slessor Square.

Alas I am none the wiser. He is not going to stick his nose into someone else's business. Slessor isn't a matter for him.

Here is our exchange this afternoon:

Hi Frank

I am a constituent of yours. I live on Harrison Drive , Newmarket , not too far from the proposed Slessor Square development.

I've just searched your website but can't find a reference to Slessor Square . Have I missed it?

I'd really appreciate your views.

I think it's too high and too bulky with far too many parking spaces. Do you agree?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Gordon Prentice

Frank replies

 Hello Gordon, glad to respond to your inquiry regarding Slessor Square.

The reason there is no reference on my website to this project, is that this project  is under the jurisdiction of the Town of Newmarket and the Region of York. I have my plate full with the provincial issues for which I'm responsible and will leave my municipal counterparts to deal with theirs.

Should an issue arise involving this project that involves a provincial interest, I will gladly make the resources of my office available. 

Thanks for your note, and I trust this answers your question.

Frank Klees, MPP

I get back to him

Hello again

I am very impressed by your super-fast response. 

I know you are very busy and don't want to take up your time unnecessarily but what is the difference between Glenway, where you have expressed a view, and Slessor Square, where you have chosen not to?

I promise not to turn this into a ping pong.

Gordon Prentice

And Frank replies 

The difference is that the Glenway development issue involves a provincial policy (Places to Grow Act) that over rides the Official Plan of the Town and the Region.

I voted against that legislation when it was introduced because I believe the province should respect local decision-making.

To my knowledge, that is not the case with the Slessor project.

Fk

I will definitely support a 15 storey limit and would love to see that across the board.

But since there is a 20 storey building already approved around the corner and the Slessor Square site is within the dotted boundary of the Ontario plan for redevelopment, I think a 15 storey max height would be hard to make stick.

That being said, I do not want to see 29 stories either, twenty might be a compromise.

Instead of 15 stories height, I would like to see a height measurement that is equivalent to 15 stories.  That way the floor levels can be any height as long as they do not go beyond a certain overall measured height. It would give the architect more freedom of design while not exceeding a height parameter.

There are items included in the existing bylaws as well as the spirit of the secondary plan I would like to see incorporated in the development such as: communal park land, abiding by setbacks and step backs, connectivity between Yonge Street. through the property to George Street, business rental spaces that open directly onto Young Street.

Is the Town prepared to expropriate adjacent property to provide access from Yonge to George, which is one of their desires?

I think this is going to boil down to a game of trade-offs. We won’t get everything but neither will the developer. The question then becomes, what can we live with?

In the end, I want to see the future development of Newmarket to progress in a managed fashion that is pleasing to the eye and socially functional.

Does anyone out there know if Frank Klees supports the proposed Slessor Square development?

Maybe he has reservations?

Perhaps he thinks the plans can be tweaked? I dunno.

Just visited Frank’s website and searched for references to “Slessor”.

Nothing.

This surprises me because Frank is the Progressive Conservative MPP for Newmarket-Aurora at Queen’s Park and is the critic with responsibilities for transportation and infrastructure.

Love it or loathe it, Slessor Square will have a huge impact on Newmarket so politicians can’t sit on the fence on this one.

And, when he is so inclined, Frank does take sides on controversial planning issues.

For example, he opposes the Glenway re-development.

So today I resolve to write to Frank to ask for his views.

Last year in the provincial election, Frank used the former Slessor car dealership building as his campaign headquarters so he knows where the site is.

Putting Frank to one side for a moment (if I can put it that way) I do wish politicians – and that includes councillors – would give us their opinions and stop sniffing the wind.

People have a right to know what their elected representatives think about major planning issues that will impact on thousands of people.

Yet too many councillors keep their views under lock and key.

Getting some of them to speak out is hard work.

Top marks for the Town’s Planning Department for setting up a “community engagement” meeting on Slessor Square on 23 April in the Council Chamber at Mulock Drive. (Venue to be confirmed)

There will be a presentation by Slessor’s Urban Planner, Brad Rogers, who will go over the controversial project and take questions.

Members of the Council have also been invited so it is a perfect opportunity to bend their ears, so to speak

The centerpiece of Rogers’ presentation is expected to be the view shed analysis that will show the visual impact of the development from various vantage points around town.

As I tap this out, I don’t know how many snapshots of the proposed development have been taken – nor from which location.

There will also be an opportunity to quiz the experts about traffic, construction timelines and so on.

We are waiting to hear if the event will be put on YouTube or, perhaps, live streamed. The technology is very straightforward and using it allows many more people to see the presentation and the Q&A afterwards.

Who should be interested?

* People who have signed the Shrink Slessor Petition who believe the proposed development is too big and too bulky.

* Those who live in the adjoining neighbourhood who will affected by shadows from the towers.

* Those who are concerned about the height and mass of the development and the visual impact this will have on the Town.

* Those who have worries about increased traffic and the environmental impact of the development.

* Members of local residents’ associations. (Brad Rogers addressed members of the Newmarket Heights Community Association on 27 March but said, on that occasion, he wasn’t there to talk about Slessor Square. This time he will, presumably, be talking about nothing else.)

* People who care about the urban landscape and how Newmarket will develop in future years

It will be a great opportunity to quiz the planners. 


15 storey height cap

On 30 April, the Committee of the Whole (Council), meets in the Council Chamber at Mulock Drive, to debate Regional Councillor John Taylor’s proposal that the Town should consider imposing a 15 storey height cap on all new buildings. This should be a sparky and lively meeting.

Everyone is welcome.

The mercurial Maddie Di Muccio is certain to bang the drum for the developers.

Because Slessor Square is already in the planning pipeline it will not, alas, be captured by this proposed height cap. But Taylor says it could influence the Slessor debate.

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