As I tap this out, Newmarket’s Committee of the Whole is meeting in camera to consider its next steps now that the Ontario Municipal Board has ruled that some kind of development can take place in Glenway – provided it fits in with what is already there. (And is in conformity with every imaginable plan, statement and policy deemed relevant by the OMB adjudicator).
The Town’s Solicitor, Esther Armchuk, updates councillors on the OMB’s oral decision. She says the full written decision must await the conclusion of Phase 2 of the Hearing.
Sitting in front of me is Marianneville's lawyer, Ira Kagan. He is casually dressed, wearing an open necked shirt and with a straw in his mouth but he is not off duty. He is flanked by the ever present VP of Marianneville Developments and another woman who is tapping furiously on a keyboard.
Chris Emanuel raises the possibility of mediation to settle the Glenway imbroglio. This would avoid the necessity of a Phase 2 OMB Hearing. (This had been anticipated by an earlier decision of Council some months ago.) Without taking a view one way or the other, he flags this up for discussion at next Monday’s Committee of the Whole.
Now everyone is thanking everyone else. The GPA chair, Christina Bisanz, thanks the Council. The Mayor thanks the GPA.
Our councillors have their say but are circumspect. They are about to go into closed session where they will get the benefit of professional advice on what to do next.
Now there is a prolonged exchange on how the planning system recognises public and private open space and whether the Town should have bought the privately-owned Glenway lands when they were first put up for sale. This is interesting but tangential.
Chris Emanuel hopes the Planning Department is doing a report on “lessons learned”.
John Taylor laments the decision saying we put forward the strongest arguments we could. (No we didn’t.)
Dave Kerwin bites his bottom lip. He wants to save his comments for the private session. He concedes “the GPA fought a noble battle.”
Progressive Conservative MPP hopeful, Jane Twinney, sees the Glenway OMB decision as ammunition for an assault on the Province and its planning regime.
Maddie Di Muccio wants to know if, at any stage, the Town considered buying the Glenway lands. She doesn’t get an answer.
Joe Sponga is upset about something or other.
Tom Hempen squeezes in a comment seconds before the Mayor moves into private session. I can’t immediately recall what it was about.
Who is advising whom?
What happens next is rich in irony. As the GPA and the public are asked to leave the Council Chamber, I reflect on who is staying behind to advise our councillors. The Town’s top planners – who were all completely absent from the entirety of the OMB Hearing. The Town’s counsel Mary Bull – who was manifestly not on top of her brief. And Ruth Victor, who gave damning evidence against the Town’s position on Phase 1, and who will be presenting the Town’s case on Phase 2 (which deals with the technicalities of shoe-horning hundreds of new homes into the middle of a stable, long established, residential community).
The Town’s position is clear from the 25 November 2013 unanimous vote at Newmarket Theatre. The Town does not support development of Glenway, as proposed.
It must now do everything in its power to frustrate the Marianneville proposals and prevent them from becoming reality. Mediation is absolutely not the solution.
In her report to Council, the Town’s external consultant in charge of the Glenway file, Ruth Victor, recommended refusal of the Marianneville proposals “because of substantial unresolved technical issues”.
These “substantial” technical issues must now become insuperable.
The Town’s Director of Planning, Rick Nethery, must now appear at the OMB Phase 2 Hearing to argue the case for refusing the Marianneville application on technical grounds.
There are servicing allocation issues. Why should Glenway get preference over other developments in the Town’s intensification priority areas?
What about standards for infill lots?
What about new parkland and its location? Glenway is a lung for a huge part of urban Newmarket. Where are all the new residents in Newmarket going to find and enjoy open space?
What about the traffic impact of the proposed development?
I am not a highly paid planner but even I could come up with a thousand good reasons why concrete should not be laid over the putting greens and fairways of Glenway.
I want to see Rick Nethery, our top planning expert, tell the OMB there are a million and one sound planning reasons why the Marianneville development should not get off the drawing board.
After all, Marianneville doesn’t pay his salary. We do.