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The not-so confidential memo on the Glenway West Lands

The Town of Newmarket has now released its Public Information Report setting in context the confidential memo on the Glenway West Lands that was leaked on Tuesday by Ward 7 hopeful, John Blommesteyn.

Blommesteyn is married to the excitable Ward 6 councillor, Maddie Di Muccio, who made a big song and dance about the memo which, she said, should be made public.

The leak caused a great kerfuffle and councillors decided on Monday (29 September) that the contents of the leaked memo should be set in context and be published today (Friday October 3).

Entertain an offer

The confidential memo, dated 5 September, 2014, was from the Chief Administrative Officer, Bob Shelton, describing his approach to Marianneville to see if they would “entertain an offer” by the Town to purchase the Glenway West lands.

The developer told him the lands were not for sale. Then Shelton tells councillors:

“After further discussion, I was advised that the developable 22 acre piece of property is proposed for development and thus not for sale, however they may entertain offers by the Town to purchase portion(s) of the remaining approximately 30 acres of land. This 30 acre piece is also intended for development, subject to certain successful studies being carried out. From my conversations it would appear the owner will not be acting on any of the west lands until late 2014 or more likely 2015.”

Nowhere in today’s context report is there any indication of what “development” Marianneville has in mind. Reinstating a golf course could, in theory, be “development” but that is probably for the fairies.

The Public Information Report does a pretty poor job of setting the leaked memo in context. Why didn’t it remind us of Marianneville’s final settlement offer of November 20, 2013?

Marianneville was desperate to get the Town to drop the OMB challenge. If the Town would agree to the Glenway development, Marianneville would offer the Town a chance to buy the Glenway West lands. The full details can be read here.

Town offered a ten year option to buy

Under its terms, the Town would have been granted a 10 year option to purchase approximately 57 acres of Glenway west lands for $5,500,000, the price fixed for ten years. And during the option period the land was to be maintained by Marianneville as “passive open space” allowing public recreational use.

The final settlement offer from Marianneville’s Ira Kagan continues:

“Given that approximately 26 acres of the option lands (ie the Glenway West lands) are developable, the fixed price for these lands may save the Town and its taxpayers tens of millions of dollars (in today’s dollars). There is no telling what the land will be worth in ten years.”

The settlement offer has been in the public domain for over ten months, buried in the Town’s website, and it does, I think, provide the necessary context. That’s probably why councillors went back to the developer to sound them out.

Glenway residents are likely to be up in arms at the prospect of further development of the west lands. But, of course, we are not privy to the nature of the development Marianneville has in mind.

For their part, Marianneville is probably spitting feathers that its intention to develop at least part of the Glenway West lands is now out in the open and a matter of public record - possibly months before any application to develop the lands would have been lodged with the Town.

And the Town’s official bureaucracy will now be concerned that anything marked “confidential” will leak like a sieve.

So, should the confidential memo have remained confidential?

More to come.


 

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