Last night’s open meeting on Glenway at Crossland Church was a bit of a disappointment.
People had turned up hoping for clarity and straight answers to some simple questions but, instead, they got an overdose of planning babble and evasions.
The evening starts with a presentation from Ruth Victor, the outside consultant brought in by the Town to work on the Glenway file. She describes the process in detail, explaining how the proposed Glenway development ended up at the OMB.
Facing us, the councillors and senior staff, strung out in a line at the top table, give the impression they are crushed by process and procedure. There is no rousing call to arms.
The Marianneville people are in the hall, taking notes.
Thank goodness for Ward 7 councillor, Chris Emanuel, who quickly gets to the heart of the matter.
He states bluntly that the Glenway redevelopment is not required for the Town to hit the growth targets mandated by the Province.
He says that with the growth already in prospect for Newmarket
"we are going to be blowing the mandated growth numbers out of the water”.
So, what exactly are these growth targets that Newmarket must meet?
Last week, during the public Q&A at the open house on Newmarket’s draft Secondary Plan, I was told by one of the Town’s senior planners that Newmarket’s population would be 107,000 in 2031.
This is plainly incorrect.
It looks as if the planners are simply adding the projected growth in the Davis Yonge corridor (21,000) to the Town’s current population of around 86,000.
Clearly, there is going to be development elsewhere in the Town that must be factored in.
Why is it so difficult for the planners to provide growth projections for the Town as a whole, within the urban core and outside it?
We need a single sheet of A4 setting out (a) the growth target we must hit to comply with Places to Grow and (b) projections of the growth in Newmarket outside the Yonge Davis corridor and (c) estimates of the growth that could be unleashed by a Secondary Plan that allows for towers up to 30 storeys and major intensification around transport hubs.
If the city builders in the Town’s Planning Department get their way, Newmarket will soon be a town on steroids.
Too often, our councillors come across as bystanders who have ceded control to the professional planners. They must roll up their sleeves and get involved. If they don’t like the advice they are getting from staff they should say so, if necessary in public.
Glenway’s own planning expert, Nick McDonald, from Meridian Planning was a breath of fresh air. He put in a solid performance, gently criticizing the Town for focussing on the technical aspects of the Marianneville application while neglecting to review its own Official Plan, involving local people.
Newmarket’s plan runs to 2026 (when Newmarket’s population is expected to hit 98,000) and it needs to be extended to 2031 at the very least.
He repeats the central charge: Glenway is not needed to hit the growth targets.
Glenway chair, Christina Bisanz, gets a round of applause when she complains the community was shut out of the discussion between Marianneville and the planners on the so-called “without prejudice” offer. She too wants a review of the Official Plan and with community involvement.
In the hall, I sense most people are deeply unhappy and are far from being reassured. They feel that after all their efforts Glenway could still be hung out to dry.
From the floor, an incredulous Stuart Hoffman, demands the Council stop working with Marianneville to resolve issues in advance of the December hearing of the OMB (as recommended by staff).
Quoting the staff report, he says the gulf between the developer and the Town is too wide to be bridged. So what is the point of further discussions? (apparently it is all about "scoping" for the OMB. More planning babble)
Another sceptic from the floor asks if there is anything to stop the developer repeatedly coming back with new, revised applications if the present application fails at the OMB.
John Taylor makes a few comments about the rights of property owners before passing the ball to Mariannville’s lawyer, Ira Kagan, who is sitting in the front row.
Keeping a straight face, Kagan says he hasn't discussed this with his client.
Many people in the audience appear to be deeply alienated from their own Council.
They feel the Town is too ready to accommodate predatory developers.
And is not vocal enough in defending its own Official Plan.
Mayor misunderstood misogyny jibe says Maddie
Last month, the acidic Ward 6 councillor, Maddie Di Muccio, called Newmarket’s Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, a “misogynist”.
This jibe sets off a remarkable train of events.
The Mayor, who sees himself as an avuncular type, demands an apology but Maddie refuses. Not to be outdone, she demands an apology from him for allegedly orchestrating moves to undermine her in the eyes of the public.
The Mayor has been poked in the ribs a million times by his tormentor but this time she’s gone too far. He tells us his wife and daughters are hurt by the accusation which they know to be untrue.
He wants to bring in the Integrity Commissioner to find out if Maddie’s insult has breached the Council Code of Conduct.
Today’s Committee of the Whole (Tuesday 15 October) opens with a toe curling statement from Maddie.
She tells us that when she called the Mayor a misogynist she was not using the 17th century definition, apparently meaning a “woman hater”.
Instead she was relying on the contemporary usage. She tells us a misogynist is someone with a prejudice against women.
If the Mayor took her insult the wrong way (ie the 17th century way) then, she says, she will apologise.
Though comic, it is painful to watch.
Newmarket’s councillors sit there, listening impassively.
Now the Council moves on to consider the Mayor’s motion to refer the whole matter to the Integrity Commissioner. At this point he hands over the reins to regional councillor John Taylor who now takes the Chair.
Maddie gathers up her papers and strides towards the public gallery, joining her husband (I presume) who is sitting directly behind me. They exchange whispers.
Ward 1 councillor, Tom Vegh, has felt the lash of Maddie’s tongue before. In a previous dust-up she accused him of being “less than a man”. I doubt he’s forgotten the remark but now he adopts a serious and measured tone. He expresses concern about the costs of the Integrity Commissioner falling on Newmarket’s taxpayers.
He wants complainants to foot the bill if the Integrity Commissioner finds against them. I see councillors nodding in agreement.
Jane Twinney – recently branded a stooge by Maddie – supports the amendment. So too does Joe Sponga and Tom Hempen.
Chris Emanuel, forever dubbed a drunkard by Maddie, says nothing.
Dave Kerwin is absent.
Now it is the turn of regional councillor John Taylor whose carefully crafted demeanour suggests he is acting more in sorrow than in anger.
He too is concerned about the cost of the Integrity Commissioner but he warns the cost of doing nothing would be much, much greater.
He talks of the damage done to the Newmarket brand.
He recalls “less than professional moments” and says is time to insist on certain levels of decorum.
He says we must stand up for a proper, respectful, work atmosphere.
He goes on at length in this vein while Maddie, behind me, whispers.
The motion to bring in the Integrity Commissioner is carried nem con.
Now it is Maddie’s turn.
Theatrically, she marches down to her place in the hemisphere to move her own motion, denouncing the Mayor and his apparatchik, Jackie Playter (who is sitting in the front row of the public gallery).
Despite all the hype, Maddie’s motion fizzles out when she cannot persuade any councillor to second her motion.
It requires skills of a very high order to alienate every single one of her Council colleagues.
She can’t find a good word to say about any of them.
And now they have reciprocated.