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The Clock Tower and Joe Sponga

Bob Forrest’s plans to build a giant condo in the middle of Newmarket’s historic Downtown were, fortunately, thwarted when councillors belatedly - and under pressure from citizens’ groups and concerned individuals - brought forward a By Law to put in place the Lower Main Street South Heritage Conservation District. The policy had been gathering dust for years, awaiting an implementing By Law.

Forrest appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board against the By Law in its entirety, not just for the properties he owns (180-194 Main Street). He affected outrage by claiming his plans for the condo had been with the Town long before the By Law was enacted. In fact, the guiding policy for the downtown heritage area had been settled in 2010.

The Town and Forrest’s lawyer made representations to the OMB which issued an Order dated 19 August 2014 bringing the By Law “into full force and effect” as from 31 October 2013 except for the properties under appeal (180-194 Main Street).

I am told Forrest, who is a slippery fish, does not intend to proceed with his OMB appeal until the Council makes a decision regarding a re-zoning application for the lands.

The planners tell me they are waiting for a response from Forrest to their comments. “Once that information has been submitted and reviewed, we may be in a position to report to the Committee of the Whole with an application.”

A stake needs to be driven through the heart of Forrest’s condo. Killing it stone dead, once and for all.

At the packed Statutory Public meeting in February this year, the vast majority of those present condemned the proposal as ill-judged and out of place.

Five months ago I reported that Ward 5 councillor, Joe Sponga, has been telling people nothing would happen before the election on October 27 and then Forrest would press ahead, hoping to get a green light from the new Council.

Joe Sponga is not the man to put a spoke in Bob Forrest’s wheel.

He had many chances to speak out clearly and unequivocally about the threat to our historic downtown. But all we ever heard were mumbles.

Forrest put the Clock Tower and his other Main Street properties up for sale on 19 June 2014.

26 days to the election

(Just after this blog was posted Joe Sponga was in touch to say he has always made his position clear on the Clock Tower issue and his views are set out in his Facebook pages. He says people can contact him on 830 9895 if they have concerns.)


 

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