York Region’s Chief Planner, Valerie Shuttleworth, has admitted she overlooked a key proposal from Newmarket regional councillor John Taylor, made in January 2014, to force developers to act on planning approvals they get – or risk having those approvals taken away.
This is a first order issue though, scandalously, it is clearly not on the radar of the Region's top planners.
In a memo to regional councillors dated 21 May 2015, Shuttleworth says the Taylor amendment will be in front of Council tomorrow (28 May) when it meets to finalise its submission to the Province on Bill 73 (which proposes major changes to the Planning and Development Charges Acts).
In the memo Shuttleworth acknowledges the proposed submission “did not address the following 2014 request” that:
“the Province also consider possible legislative changes to the Planning Act that would allow approval authorities to place time limits on zoning approval, similar to those lapsing provisions already available on plans of subdivision”
Although any changes to the legislation would not be retroactive, it would prevent situations arising in future where developers get approval for major projects and then don't act on them for years, if ever. In the meantime, the value of the land soars as a result of the planning approval.
Slessor Square in the heart of Newmarket received planning approval in early 2013 and remains a 4.6 acre patch of dirt. It is now on the market for $15,800,000.
To rub salt into the wound, the developer took Newmarket Council to the OMB for failing to determine the complex application within the specified 180 days - a point made by Ward 4 councillor, Tom Hempen, at Newmarket's Committee of the Whole on 25 May 2015.