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Smoke and mirrors and Newmarket’s Secondary Plan

Tomorrow is the big day when York Region gives its imprimatur to Newmarket’s Urban Centres Secondary Plan.

Seems to me there is a lot of smoke and mirrors in the world of planning. Everything is not quite as it appears at first glance.

Take the Plan’s Schedule 6, for example. It still has chunks of Glenway appearing in a light green colour denoting Natural Heritage Parks and Open Space (Outside of Secondary Plan Area). I realize planning moves at a glacial pace (when it suits) but we have known for a year that much of this open space is to be built over. Shouldn’t this be recorded in some way?

Future GO Rail Station

And I see on Schedules 3, 4, 5 and 6 the site of the “Future GO Transit Station” (sometimes referred to as the Future GO Rail Station). The unwary reader might believe that a GO Rail Station is to be built there at some point in the future.

Hold on! Not so fast!

If we go to the Newmarket Official Plan (Office consolidation September 2014) we learn:

The location of the “Conceptual Future Rail Station” at Mulock Drive is not intended to be specific and the identification of the final location will be subject to the applicable process and will not require an amendment to this Plan (OPA#7, By-law 2012-42).

So why not say in the Secondary Plan: “Conceptual Future GO Rail Station”?

We learned from Greg Percy’s presentation to the Metrolinx Board yesterday (3 March 2015) that one new station is being penciled in on the Barrie corridor – Downsview Park. No sign as yet of one at Mulock Drive. The knowledgeable Mr Percy also tells us that a new GO Rail Station costs between $25-$50 million, excluding land costs.

Mobility Hubs

The text of the Secondary Plan spells out the policies but these are complemented by colourful schedules, maps and plans, used to help us better understand what the authors have in mind.

So why did Newmarket planners reject a clear recommendation from Metrolinx in April 2014 to detail the study area for the anchor hub at Yonge and Davis?

“The four plans in Schedules 3 (land use), 4 (height and density), 5 (street network) and 6 (parks, open space and natural heritage) identify the two Mobility Hubs within the Newmarket Urban Centres and the conceptual Mobility Hub Station Area Plan Study Area for the Newmarket GO train station. It is recommended the conceptual Mobility Hub Area Plan Study Area for the Anchor Hub at the intersection of Yonge Street and Davis Drive be detailed on the Schedules.”

Newmarket Councillors were told by planning staff in June 2014   

there is not going to be a circle on the map”.

No-one asked: why not?

Maybe I’ll find out tomorrow.

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