Aurora residents living next to the former Highland Gate golf club will soon be getting the Glenway treatment.
The golf club closed for good on 9 November 2014 and the old putting greens and fairways are to disappear, giving way to 159 single detached houses and a seven storey condo. Residents have been offered a trail system and some sweeteners. Trees and bushes will be planted in great quantities to soften the impact on the eye. The developer's counsel, Mark Flowers, ludicrously describes this as a win-win.
Flowers was addressing the OMB Hearing in the Council Chamber at Aurora Town Hall on Thursday (1 December) explaining the details of the settlement that had been agreed with the Town Of Aurora. As he speaks, he dips into the settlement brief, an intimidating three inches thick.
The planning opinion prepared for Highland Gate Developments Inc cited the Glenway precedent.
The excellent Aurora councillor, Tom Mrakas, battled mightily on behalf of the residents but ended up on the losing side when the Council voted 6-3 to settle with the developer, Highland Gate Developments Inc. I see him perched opposite looking down on the teams of lawyers and planners.
Flowers reminds us of the many public meetings where the developer and public clashed. He freely admits that upwards of 500-600 people vocally expressed their opposition to a development that would rob them of cherished open space.
Mrakas said the residents were "beaten into submission".
It's Kagan again!
Now I see in front of me at the lectern the silver-tongued lawyer, Ira Kagan, who also speaks for the developer. It was the ubiquitous Kagan who masterminded Marianneville's victory at Glenway where the old fairways are now being chewed up. They are crawling with bulldozers and heavy machinery.
The procedures at the OMB Hearing are now familiar. We all stand up when the adjudicator, Ian Roe, enters the Council Chamber. He is a lawyer with a degree in philosophy. Therefore he must think before he speaks.
Professional Planning Opinions
The planners swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when giving their professional planning opinion. What a pantomime!
It is as if their utterances are ex cathedra, unchallengeable by lesser mortals.
As it happens, Newmarket's Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, has recently been pronouncing on the OMB.
In his piece in the ERA newspaper on 24 November 2016 he talks about the Glenway "lessons learned" meeting on 23 June 2015.
Unfortunately, he never took the opportunity to tell us what lessons he had learned from the disaster. He simply thanked us for our attendance and said it was a very valuable exercise.
However, in April this year the secretive retired bank manager dropped his guard and told the ERA newspaper:
"We've learned through Glenway that polarity doesn't help anybody."
Translated, this means his preference is always to do a deal with the developer. All that stuff we used to hear about "defending the official plan" is for the birds. That's yesterday's story.
Van Trappist went along to the OMB Summit organised by Tom Mrakas but I don't know what he said or what advice he gave to his colleagues.
Before the last municipal election in 2014, Van Bynen promised to make OMB reform the priority of his administration. There is no evidence that he did anything at all, leaving all the heavy lifting to the then newly elected Ward 7 councillor, Christina Bisanz.
"Mayor Tony Van Bynen has many fine qualities but leading from the front is not one of them. He is a process and procedure man above all."
That is still my view.
Indeed, last June, at a meeting of the Committee of the Whole, veteran councillor, Dave Kerwin scolded Van Bynen in front of a packed public gallery:
"You never show leadership. And that's what's wrong!"
Who am I to contradict the considered view of the venerable David Kerwin, the longest serving councillor in the whole of Canada?