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Newmarket’s unfinished Secondary Plan set to get Regional approval

Newmarket’s Urban Centres Secondary Plan goes up for approval by York Region’s Committee of the Whole on Thursday morning (5 March) following the conclusion of a special Council meeting on the “York Region Official Plan 5 Year Review”.

Newmarket’s plan has been endlessly revised, re-written, re-jigged and re-drafted but question marks remain. It has always been work in progress and that continues to this day. Mulock Farm and 230 Davis Drive fall into a new “Deferrals” category where decisions are put off to another day.

More modifications

The report going to the Region lists a long series of “modifications” to the Secondary Plan that was formally adopted by Newmarket in June 2014. There are new additions in bold and zillions of strikethroughs.

The covering report by regional staff is laudatory:

“The long-term vision, as detailed in the Secondary Plan, is for a vibrant urban community at build out of 33,000 residents and 32,000 jobs. However, it is understood that full build out of the Secondary Plan will likely not be achieved during the current planning horizon (2031) and is anticipated to be well beyond 2031.”

There is, of course, not the remotest possibility that full build out will happen by 2031.

Only 15 months ago, (November 2013) the Town’s expert external consultant on Glenway, Ruth Victor, was telling councillors there would be 21,000 people in the urban centres by 2031. This was her fictional account:

“There are currently approximately 2500 people living within the urban centres. It is forecasted that by 2031 this number will be approximately 21,000…. The Town currently has development applications on file for lands within the urban centres for 3,359 people. It is expected that all of these applications will be built prior to 2031, and that other applications totalling the remaining 15,141 people (21,000 – 2,500 existing – 3,359 in applications = 15,141 remaining) will also be received, approved and built prior to 2031. This assumption is based on discussion (Newmarket) staff has had with land owners within the centres related to their development plans and timings.”

Magic Circle

Last year, regional staff pushed for greater population density on the Yonge and Davis corridors to support VivaNext and the new rapidways. In a conjuring trick worthy of the Magic Circle itself, Newmarket’s planners told mystified councillors that population was being redistributed along the corridors to satisfy the region’s concerns. Overall, population numbers (33,000) and jobs (32,000) remain unchanged. The planners subsequently sought to clarify things, but failed.

In paragraph 6.3.2 of the Plan we see revised population and jobs by Character Area. I take all this with a shovel full of salt. On the face of it, these figures are impressively precise. But they are entirely spurious.

The future of Upper Canada Mall

The big question mark hovers over the future of Upper Canada Mall – one of the biggest in the Province. The intersection at Yonge and Davis is supposed to be the focus of growth in the future as the Town builds upwards. Yet planning for the Mall site has been shuffled off to the Mall’s owners – Oxford Properties – who are quite happy with the Mall as it is right now, thank you very much.

Two questions for Thursday. When did work on the Master Plan for UCM start? And when it is due to be completed?

Transit still up-in-the-air

York councillors are being told that Newmarket’s Secondary Plan:

“includes detailed mixed-use and transit-supportive policies for the defined “Major Transit Station Areas” including Newmarket’s GO Rail Station, GO Bus Terminal and each of the transit stations for the Viva Rapidways."

In fact, the future of transit in Newmarket and the Mobility Hubs is still very much up-in-the-air.

The Secondary Plan now before the Region strikes out the word “proposed” in relation to the new GO Rail Station at Mulock Drive. Where is the evidence from Metrolinx that they are planning a new station there?

Dedicated Parkland

(As an aside) we know that green space will be at a premium in the future yet the Secondary Plan “also provides for the reduction in parkland dedication where land has been dedicated to the Town to accommodate the future burying of hydro lines.”

I also see that the total amount of additional neighbourhood parkland required at build out in the Town’s North West quadrant goes up from 15.4 hectares to 17.6 hectares. Another moving target.

Summing it all up, the effusive planners at York Region tell us:

Newmarket’s Urban Centres Secondary Plan provides a tremendous city-building opportunity for the Town and Region.

That "city-building" sentiment must jar with our regional councillor, John Taylor. I recall his blog “High Rise Development in Newmarket” that he wrote when we were starting out on this tortuous journey towards the Secondary Plan.

 Remember we are the Town of Newmarket, not the City of Newmarket.

The underlining is his.


 

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