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NDP fields Provincial candidate/ What went Wrong at Glenway?

The NDP has chosen a Business Professor at Trent University’s Oshawa campus, Angus Duff, to be its standard bearer in the Provincial election in Newmarket Aurora on 12 June.

Dr Duff’s CV tells me he is a former Human Resources manager in the private sector, working for companies such as IBM, CGI, and TELUS and that he lives in Aurora with his wife Lisa and their three children.

Duff’s main focus is on the world of work and how employment conditions can be improved. My spies tell me he specializes in "positive and negative" work emotions, and how to make work more enjoyable and productive. We can only assume he is happy and contented in his work.

Intriguingly, Duff is a volunteer with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program.

The entry of the NDP into the election will come as a blow to the Liberal Chris Ballard.  The PC hopeful, the early rising, effervescent and fun loving Jane Twinney will have a new spring in her step as she bounds along the "campaign trail".

Meanwhile, in the wider election, Hudak continues to make the headlines – even if they point to the contradictions in his programme. His tough talk is, apparently, to “shore up his base”.

Polling shows the Liberals and PCs close with the NDP trailing a poor third.

The NDP’s Andrea Horwath, not to be rushed, has yet to reveal the Party’s full programme. You can’t help thinking it is still work in progress.

28 days to go.


Glenway: the post-mortem

While the rest of us are distracted by the Provincial Election spare a thought for Newmarket municipal staff who are charged with the delicate task of organizing a public meeting to discuss the Town’s bellyflop on Glenway.

At the Special Committee of the Whole on 22 April, the Glenway Preservation Association’s Dave Sovran asked for a public meeting to explain the settlement details to the public. A motion moved by Maddie Di Muccio and seconded by Ward 7 councillor, Chris Emanuel, called for a meeting to consider the lessons to be learned. It carried nem con.

That Council direct staff to organize a public meeting after the Ontario Municipal Board releases its written decision and within this term of Council, on what has been learned about the Official Plan Amendment, Zoniong By Law Amendment and Draft Plan of Subdivision for Marianneville Developments Limited (Glenway) process and the effects of future development as York Region prepares for growth.

The OMB adjudicator, Susan Schiller, gave her outline oral decision on 27 March indicating that a more detailed written decision would follow.

The OMB tells me

It tries to issue its written decisions approximately within 45-60 days from the final date of the hearing – some written decisions issue sooner and some issue a bit later.

It seems to me a public meeting at the end of June or thereabouts would fit the bill.

Unfortunately, much of the information the public would find useful is currently confidential. At a closed session of the Committee of the Whole on 7 April, all councillors, with the exception of Chris Emanuel, voted to authorise staff to act in accordance with their “direction”.

Unfortunately, the precise terms of the Council’s direction to Mary Bull (the Town’s outside counsel) giving her authority to negotiate and settle with Marianneville’s lawyer, Ira Kagan, remain secret.

Key memoranda submitted to councilors on 7 April also remain confidential. There is one dated 3 April 2014 from Ruth Victor and another of the same date from Mary Bull and a third dated 4 April 2014 from the Assistant Director of Planning.

I remain unconvinced that the Town will be able to keep everything confidential and, at the same time, explain the background to an inquiring public, eager for the facts.

The ever-helpful Town Solicitor, Esther Armchuk, tells me

Closed session discussions or directions given by Council in Closed Session remain confidential unless Council decides to make some or all of those discussions or directions public.

The way forward, then, is to “declassify” these documents and decisions to allow a proper debate at the public meeting.

That said, I suspect things may not be so straightforward.

As sure as night follows day, councillors will be advised not to rush a decision but to take legal advice, in closed session, which would of course strongly recommend keeping everything under wraps.

I can hear the lawyers and senior staff tut-tutting and shaking their heads, warning that disclosure would prejudice the Town’s future interests. Then the sages would spell out in graphic detail the serious consequences.

The script writes itself.


 

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