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Aurora Council to host “Municipal Summit” on the redevelopment of golf courses across the GTA

Aurora councillor Tom Mrakas has won the unanimous backing of his council colleagues to host a “Municipal Summit” on the redevelopment of golf courses in stable residential areas (see text of motion below). The Town’s attractive Highland Gate golf course is about to be built over by developers hungry for open land in choice urban areas.

He tweets:

@gordon-prentice OMB reform and motion to create and host a Municipal Summit – regarding golf course redevelopment passed unanimously.

2016-01-28, 3.47PM

Mrakas doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet. He wants staff to report back no later than 23 February 2016 on possible venues and dates together with an indication of the interest there might be in such an event.

Whether all this activity will make a blind bit of difference is quite another matter. Many people will shrug their shoulders and say the Summit is too little too late. Others will say the train has already left the station on this one.

The politicians at Queen’s Park could have acted before now but, for whatever reason, chose not to. Perhaps they took their cue from local politicians who allowed themselves to be out-manoeuvred by developers and led up the garden path by their own planning staff.

For months Aurora Council has been going through the motions, arm-wrestling with the developer of Highland Gate whose residents are now, unfortunately, getting the Glenway treatment. Indeed, as part of their planning case, the developer cites Glenway as a precedent.

Elsewhere, the Globe and Mail reminds us that the York Downs Golf and Country Club in Markham sold to a consortium of developers last year for over $400 million. The sale is expected to net the 800 owners of the private members’ club close to $200,000 each. Clearly, it was an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Still, it is to Aurora’s credit that the Town’s councillors have taken this initiative. The great and the good from Municipalities across the GTA will be invited to the Summit. This will give Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen - who was complicit in the Glenway debacle – an opportunity to take centre stage, telling fellow Mayors and councillors what he learned from the whole experience.

Alas, the secretive Van Bynen has yet to confide in those of us who live in Newmarket. At last year’s Glenway Lessons Learned meeting he uttered a few platitudes at the very end leaving us none the wiser about what he knew, when he knew it and what he did about it.

The energetic Tom Mrakas has also called for reform of the OMB. This should be music to the ears of Van Bynen who pledged before the last election to make OMB reform the centerpiece of his third term. He has been strangely quiet about this ever since.

The Aurora Summit seems tailor made for Van Bynen, giving him the platform he needs to speak out.

As if.

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Councillor Mrakas and Councillor Thompson

Re: Municipal Summit

Golf Course Redevelopment

WHEREAS municipal Official Plans contain solid planning principles, adhere to relevant Provincial Policy Statements and are approved ultimately by the Province; and


municipalities face continuing challenges to their Official Plans through recent applications to redevelop former Golf Courses acquired by General Committee Meeting Report Tuesday, January 19, 2016 Page 14 of 16 residential land developers in the GTA for the purpose of converting “private open space” stable neighbourhoods to “residential” land uses;


multiple municipalities repeatedly fighting the same planning battle(s) is an inefficient and ineffective use of taxpayer money; and


a Summit is a meeting of representatives of government which affords the opportunity to advocate for meaningful reform on a wide range of important issues facing municipalities; and


a Summit provides the opportunity to bring together all municipalities to work collaboratively to find solutions to the increasing pressures of loss of green space within our stable neighbourhoods due to redevelopment applications of golf courses;


the Town of Aurora host a Municipal Summit to identify issues and define common principles as it speaks to appropriate redevelopment of former Golf Courses situated within stable neighbourhoods; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT staff extend an invitation to all Elected Officials from municipalities in the Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario and to the Board of Directors of the Association of Municipalities in Ontario; and


staff report back no later than the last Council meeting in February 2016 to define possible venues, dates, and interest to attend a Municipal Summit on Golf Course redevelopment; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT a copy of this Motion be sent to the

Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, the Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Honourable Patrick Brown, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the Honourable Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party, Chris Ballard, MPP Newmarket-Aurora and all other MPPs in the Province of Ontario, and York Regional Chairman Wayne Emmerson.


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