Shrink Slessor Square!

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Clock Tower Condo is coming back again - and other matters

The slippery Bob Forrest is preparing to take a second bite at the cherry.

My spies tell me the calculating developer – often seen wearing eye catching bright orange shoes - is ready to submit to the Town a reworked proposal for a condo in the heart of the historic conservation district in Main Street South. I hear it is six storeys on Main Street and six on Park Avenue but who knows how accurate these whispers are.

Forrest has told the Town that a resubmission of the Clock Tower proposal is on the way. But it is too soon to say if planning staff will recommend a new statutory public meeting. Given the horror and dismay that greeted Forrest’s first demented proposal for a giant condo on Main, councillors should insist on a second statutory public meeting.

The Heritage Newmarket Advisory Committee is meeting next week (9 June). I hope it will steel itself and slay this dragon once and for all.

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Use it or Lose it: Planning Approvals and Sunset Clauses

Earlier this week, Newmarket councillors called on the Province to amend Bill 73 to allow municipalities to take planning approvals away from developers who choose not to act on them. Our councillors all deserve a round of applause.

Developers who go on strike and refuse to act on planning approvals is a scandal that for years has been crying out to be addressed. Their inaction blights neighbourhoods.

Even Dave “I’m ten years older than the Mayor” Kerwin supported the proposal to bring in sunset clauses. This shows that old dogs can still learn new tricks.

Kerwin is the man who famously called for Slessor Square to be given the go-ahead in February 2013 on the grounds that further delay “could bankrupt the developer”. Since then, the Slessors have added millions to their bank account as a result of that planning approval and the 4.6 acre site is still bare earth.

Planning approval was given for a 12 storey 115 unit condo at 22 George Street in 1993 and it is still a patch of bare dirt. The owner, Peter Czapka, is also sitting on undeveloped land at 39 Davis Drive where planning approval was given in 2009 for a 280 unit 20 storey condo.

At Council on 1 June 2015 (item 11), a motion from the “operational leadership team” - brought forward at the request of John Taylor - calls for municipalities to be given powers to sunset planning approvals. The Town is asking the Province to amend Bill 73 to allow for this. It was carried nem con, without debate.

Unfortunately, contributions to the second reading debates on Bill 73 have not addressed the issue directly and we need to crank up the volume to ensure politicians at Queen’s Park start listening. The Town should start lobbying hard for its position, contacting committee members in due course and getting in touch with those MPPs who contributed to the debates in the legislature.

My advice to the Town is never do good by stealth. Sending a copy of the resolution to Ken Peterson, Manager, Provincial Planning Policy Branch at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is a good start but it is not enough.

Taylor called for Chris Ballard to be informed. We are moving in the right direction but it still not enough. We need Ballard’s active, vocal support.

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Taylor to back Ranked Ballots in motion to Newmarket Council

I hear that Regional Councillor, John Taylor, will be bringing a motion to the next Committee of the Whole (15 June) asking the Council to send a letter in support of ranked ballots to the Minister and to Chris Ballard MPP.

I am told he has long supported ranked ballots.

We shall see what kind of support he has.

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Blommesteyn and Deputations

John Blommesteyn, former (failed) council candidate and husband of the President of York Region Taxpayers Coalition, Maddie Di Muccio, will be bringing yet another deputation to the Committee of the Whole on 15 June 2015.

His specialist subject this time?

Councillors’ expenses.

I fear the law of diminishing returns is starting to kick in with every deputation having less punch than its predecessor.

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Queen’s Park to get bigger

An interesting news story today about Queen’s Park. The legislature is going to be increased in size with 15 new MPPs added.

The election in 2018 is also going to be moved forward from the Fall to Spring.

The moves have the backing of the Chief Electoral Officer.

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