Today, the Glenway Preservation Association’s land use planner, Nick McDonald, is to be spit roasted by Ira Kagan. It is day 5 of the OMB hearing that will decide whether any development at all is permitted on the old golf course lands that Marianneville bought for a song a few years ago.
Kagan is a drama queen. He wants to know who is to blame if Marianneville’s public consultation on the Glenway development was inadequate as asserted by the GPA. Was it the developer’s fault or the Town’s?
Kagan puts his questions theatrically and then pirouettes around, looking at the rest of us. He wants to know what we think of his clever questions.
I am stony faced.
McDonald counters with a straight bat. It is not a matter of assigning blame. There is a world of a difference between a Town led process and one led by a private developer. A Town led study is more open.
Surrounded by mountains of policy statements, growth plans and official plans, Kagan tells us there is no policy basis to prevent the development of the Glenway lands. McDonald disagrees, without equivocation. He points to the Town’s intensification strategy.
Now they are talking about Newmarket’s Urban Centre, a stone’s throw from Glenway. I hear the lawyers and planners clash over when work on the Town’s Secondary Plan started.
They have no idea. They are wading through their huge ring binders trying to find the date but I know the answer. I want to shoot my arm up in the air. “Please Miss!” I feel like the school swot.
Perhaps there is a place in these hearings for the wisdom of crowds. Why not ask the public at the tail end of every session if anything they heard was factually wrong? Or complete lawyerly cobblers.
As I am mulling this over, Kagan scores a direct hit.
He takes us to a “Newmarket Developments Pending Map 2014” produced by the Town’s Planning Department that shows 518 residential units are to be built by Forest Green Homes on land north of Mulock and west of Leslie. The land was originally designated “institutional use” (prohibiting residential development) and was held by the Newmarket Cemetery Corporation but is now designated “residential”.
How did that happen? What is the difference between this land and Glenway, asks Kagan. Why were there no calls for a Town led review of these lands?
We wait to hear from the Town.
Back Story: The unflappable Nick McDonald started his evidence on Friday and I learn that he has been a land use planner for 24 years and he has left his mark, one way or another, all over Ontario. We are sitting at the feet of the Master. He tells us he wants to focus on where we should go in considering the Glenway development.
He says there is disagreement on whether the Town has prepared an intensification strategy and whether there is an onus on the municipality to prepare a policy for intensification. He believes municipalities must set out where there will be change, little change and no change. Municipalities should provide certainty. People should know what the Town’s expectations are.
And scale is a factor. The Marianneville development is “significant”.
McDonald asserts the OMB process is not the best way of dealing with this kind of application. He notes that the major transit station area (the GO bus station) has not been identified in the Town’s Official Plan and nor has Davis Drive West been identified as a “local corridor”. In planning-speak all these words have special meanings. There is, he says, more work for the Town to do.
He tells us the Provincial Policy Statement (which sits at the top of the planning hierarchy) expects municipalities to establish “intensification areas”. The Growth Plan puts the onus on municipalities to identify these areas. Newmarket, he says, has established an “intensification strategy”. The town has identified emerging residential areas and, in 2010, gave the OK to secondary suites. McDonald tells us: “In stable residential areas there is no expectation that there will be intensification other then through limited infill (the term is undefined) and secondary suites.”
We learn the York Region Official Plan 2010 stipulates that “intensification areas are to be identified by the Municipality.”
Now McDonald says Newmarket has gone “above and beyond” what is required to identify intensification areas. He sums up: “It would be premature to consider the Marianneville application in advance of a Town led process.”