The submitted development plan indicates that twin towers of 29 and 26 stories will be built on the former Slessor Motors car dealership site on Yonge Street, directly across from Upper Canada Mall. If these two towers are approved as submitted, they will forever change the skyline and the urban development process in our town by radically altering the reference point for future projects. We believe the development is an ominous planning precedent for the future of Newmarket that lacks vision, sensitivity and practicality by all metrics applied to it.
We are a group of concerned residents in Newmarket, Ontario who believe in reasonable, sustainable and progressive development and intensification that respects the need for economic growth while ensuring that Newmarket continues to be a vibrant, diverse and family-oriented place to live.
To establish a city planning process that is practical, interactive, democratic, and responsive to residents concerns that creates a varied, mixed-use residential/commercial urban core for the future of Newmarket.
- We are opposed to the current height and density of the Slessor Square development
- We are committed to ensuring our elected officials adhere to the currently approved existing planning guidelines and the expressed wishes of their residents.
- We expect our elected officials to respect the gradual and progressive intensification process that has historically occurred in Newmarket leading to its rapid and sustainable growth over the past 25 years.
- We expect our elected officials to adhere to the Provincial, Greater Horseshoe and Town of Newmarket Growth Plans
- We expect our elected officials provide adequate parks and mixed use residential / commercial infrastructure along the intensification corridor including affordable and low-income subsidized housing.
- We expect our elected officials to ensure the approved complex addresses infrastructure costs and does not place any additional costs or demands on taxpayers.
- We expect our elected officials to provide proximity to mixed density, stepped development to ensure a pedestrian and family friendly quality of life in our urban corridor, and an appealing quality of visual landscape to attract people to this core (biking / running / walking boardwalk, mixed commercial use with patios, outdoor spaces and parkettes, and intensive landscaping to soften commercial spaces)
- The planned height of the twin towers.
At 26 and 29 stories (as submitted with 3 story commercial platforms) they are a dramatic departure from a comparative residential buildings in the GTA let alone Newmarket. (23 storeys - 73.92 m (242.5 ft.) 26 storeys – 81.87 m (268.6 ft.) The relief sought by the By-law application is 29 storeys which would be approximately 89.82 m (294.68 ft.). The largest tower will be 3 times the height of the Yonge Street Water tower.
Adhere to the 8 story height guideline currently in place.
- The planned density of the twin towers.
The current height proposed breaches the Regional and GTA Horseshoe planning density parameters of 250 jobs/persons/hectare by a massive margin (800 jobs/persons/hectare). This is a completely unnecessary overload of the density required to meeting the provincial guidelines for intensification. The height creates overload densities that are unsustainable for this site and location.
Adhere to the approved density requirements of 250 persons/jobs/hectare as stated in the approved plans.
- The lack of setbacks contained in the proposal
The proposal as submitted reduces setbacks of the buildings bringing them in close proximity to the sidewalks constricting future expansion plans for the Yonge corridor and limiting mixed commercial usage and pedestrian applications that might be considered (bike lanes, walking paths, boulevard plantings, restaurant patios etc.)
Adhere to current town setbacks and required stepped setback of the development to address view-shed concerns.
- The absence of parks and green space as part of the development proposal
The applicant intends to pay cash in lieu of parkland dedication in accordance with the provisions of the Official Plan the Planning Act. Planning Justification Report, page 2)
Provide parks / green space as part of development and provide building setbacks to permit outdoor patios, pedestrian boardwalks and other people friendly landscape enhancements.
- The impact of the development density on traffic and infrastructure.
The Traffic Impact and Parking Study proposes 1220 vehicular parking spaces, 10 car pool spaces, 95 Bicycle parking spaces, and 11 barrier free Parking spaces. This will add up to one car/minute to the already overloaded major artery of Yonge Street and the Yonge / Davis intersection. Multiple developments are planned leading to traffic gridlock in future years.
Although the York Region Fire Department has no objection to the.proposal we remain concerned about the ability of York Fire and other emergency services to respond to a highrise fire or other emergency in these towers.
Provide building setbacks to allow boulevard landscape enhancements at the intersection and the surrounding walkways. Provide alternate vehicular egress to reduce pressure on the Yonge corridor.
The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe has identified the area of the Yonge and Davis intersection as an “Urban Growth Centre”, which includes the subject property. The Growth Plan requires that “Urban Growth Centres” be planned as the focal area for investment of institutional and Region-wide public services, as well as commercial, recreational, cultural and entertainment uses. Urban Centres are also meant to serve as high density employment centres that attract provincially, nationally or international employment and is intended to accommodate a significant share of population and employment growth.(Section 2.2.4 of the Growth Plan) The Growth Plan requires that Newmarket’s Urban Growth Centre be planned to achieve a minimum gross density target of 200 residents and jobs per ha by 2031.
The Town’s Official Plan is in conformity with the Provincial Growth Plan and has identified the Yonge -Davis Provincial Urban Growth Centre in its approved Official Plan. The Town’s Plan embraces the philosophy of the Growth Plan and plans for densities in the order of 200-250 persons and jobs/hectare in the Phase 1 implementation of the OP (before the Secondary Plan) and includes provisions for increased density and height through a Zoning By-law amendment, in advance of the Secondary Plan (Section 4.4.3 of the Town of Newmarket Official Plan).
The Town makes for final decision on zoning applications. The decision of the Town may be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in accordance with the provisions of the Planning Act. Only those making written or verbal submission to the Town and or at the Public meeting may appeal to the OMB, or as otherwise determined by the OMB.
The Town’s Official Plan has been approved and is in conformity with the Growth Plan and represents the more comprehensive test for conformity. However, the provisions of the Growth Plan, the Regional Official Plan and the Provincial Policy Statement must also be met by the application.
Share Our Concerns?
- Write, tell and phone your councillor and The Mayor instructing them to vote against the approval of Slessor Square and to demand significant changes to the proposal that adhere to current provincial, GTA and town planning guidelines. Find their contact details here.
Bloggers write in a personal capacity.