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Glenway Question Time

This Thursday (12 February) Glenway residents will be gathering at Crosslands Community Church, 47 Millard Ave West, at 7pm to hear more about the planned transformation of their neighbourhood.

In an effort to be helpful, Newmarket’s Committee of the Whole last week (2 February) directed staff:

“to prepare a document for the residents of Glenway outlining frequently asked questions related to the Marianneville applications and other development in Ward 7, and (details of) upcoming public meetings to be provided at the February12, 2015 Glenway Preservation Association meeting and subsequently distributed by mail to residents of Ward 7.”

I have a raft of questions, mostly relating to who knew what and when. But here are a few for starters:

The pre OMB Hearing phase (before March 2014)

(1) On what date did the Mayor learn that the Glenway lands were for sale and by what means did he get this information?

(2) Did the Director of Planning recommend purchase of the lands in 2010 or before and if not, why not?

(3) Did (a) the Mayor or (b) the Town consider buying the Glenway lands in 2010 or subsequently?

(4) Was there any oversight of Ruth Victor as she developed policy on Glenway and, if so, what form did it take?

(5) On what date did (a) the Mayor and (b) the Director of Planning, Rick Nethery, learn that Ruth Victor was minded to recommend allowing development on the Glenway lands?

(6) When were the Regional Councillor and Newmarket councillors informed that Ruth Victor would recommend allowing development?

(Why is this relevant?  Ruth Victor was appointed as external planning consultant on the Glenway file way back in 2011. Did the Mayor simply let her get on with it – in effect, ceding control of policy making to Victor? Was the Mayor a spectator or did he have a position on whether the golf course should be developed? Former councillor Maddie Di Muccio noted in her blog of 19 October 2011 there was no oversight and if the consultant recommended approval of the development the Town’s position would be undermined by its own expert witness. This is, of course, precisely what happened.)

 (7) Did the Director of Planning ever consider that the September 2013 Transportation Study (prepared for the Town by external consultants GHD) might be relevant to the March 2014 OMB Hearing?

(Why is this relevant? The Study went through a series of revisions and was not published until April - after the OMB Hearing had concluded. The Study made specific reference to the possible relocation of the GO Bus Terminal but that relocation was not the “current vision” of Metrolinx.)

(8) What instructions did our councillors give to the Town’s legal counsel and lead negotiator, Mary Bull, on the terms on which she could settle with Marianneville? Was she given a completely free hand? What conditions, if any, were attached?

The OMB Hearing (March 2014)

(9) For what reasons the Director of Planning and his senior staff did not attend the OMB Glenway Hearing?

(10) Were they advised to stay away and, if so, when, by whom and for what reasons?

(11) Did the Director of Planning receive report-backs, daily or otherwise, on what had been considered at the OMB Hearing and from whom?

(12) On how many occasions did the Director of Planning brief Mary Bull prior to or during the OMB Hearing on matters that had arisen or were likely to arise?

(13) Did the Director of Planning brief Mary Bull on the possibility of co-locating the bus terminal and GO train station and, if so, on what date?

(14) How many meetings did the Director of Planning have with Mary Bull to brief her on the Secondary Plan and on which dates did these take place?

(15) What directions did the Council give to Mary Bull giving her authority to negotiate and settle with Marianneville?

(The agreed settlement gives Marianneville 742 residential units – up from 730. On 22 April 2014 Mary Bull told councillors that the discussions she had with Marianneville must remain private. If the details were revealed it would run counter to public policy considerations where the objective is to facilitate a settlement. She also says that the negotiators reached a settlement following directions set by Council. So, can we see those directions? Marianneville’s settlement offer, as their lawyer, Ira Kagan, reminded us on numerous occasions, was made public.)

(16) Did the Director of Planning share the views of Ruth Victor on the development of Glenway?

(This was asserted by Marianneville’s Ira Kagan in his concluding remarks but could not be tested as no planner employed by the Town sat through the OMB Hearing.)

Post OMB Hearing (after March 2014)

(17) For what reasons is the area of the Anchor Mobility Hub at Young and Davis not shown on the Schedules to the Secondary Plan, as requested by Metrolinx?

(18) On what date did the Director of Planning form the view that the two Mobility Hub studies would consider, as part of their remit, the possible co-location of the GO Bus Terminal and GO Rail Station?

(19) When is the Upper Canada Mall Master Plan scheduled for completion?

(Why is this relevant? The Secondary Plan was amended in June 2014 to allow for the possible integration of transit on the site.)

Freedom of Information Request

(20) Will the Town make available, as part of the lessons learned process, the documents listed below – if necessary in a redacted form?

(My Freedom of Information request to the Town for the documents listed below was refused on 8 October 2014.)

(1) the confidential memorandum dated 3 April 2014 from Ruth Victor, Ruth Victor Associates, regarding Application for Official Plan Amendment and Draft Plan of Subdivision Approval, Marianneville Developments Limited (Glenway)

(2) the confidential memorandum dated 3 April 2014 from Mary Bull and Johanna Shapira, Wood Bull LLP regarding Marianneville Developments - Phase 2

(3) the confidential memorandum dated 4 April 2014 from the Assistant Director of Planning regarding Marianneville Developments Limited

(4) the minutes of the Committee of the Whole (Closed Session) on 7 April 2014.

Role of Staff

On 29 September 2014, Regional Councillor John Taylor helpfully explained the process of putting previously confidential information into the public domain.

“…in-camera discussions go through a process and most of them eventually, if not all of them, eventually, come out of camera. You go through a process that takes time and staff review it and they report back to us how to bring it out in its entirety or partially and at what stage.”

Given that the role of staff is also part of “lessons learned” how can the public be assured that information is not held back simply to protect staff from embarrassment or criticism?

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