Southlake Regional Health Centre was offered Greenbelt land for a nominal fee on 1 November 2022 – three days before the Ford Government announced that it would be opening up parts of the Greenbelt for development. Southlake has records of that key 1 November 2022 meeting and will release them to me – or not – by 3 April 2023.
It seems to me people were tipped off in advance that the Government's policy on the Greenbelt was about to change and there was an opportunity to make millions of dollars overnight.
Backstory: On 1 November 2022 an in-person meeting was held involving the Mayor of King, Steve Pellegrini, Michael Rice and representatives of Southlake Regional Health Centre. At that meeting Michael Rice, the new owner of the Greenbelt lands in King south of Miller’s Side Road and west of Bathurst (the Rice lands), offered some of his lands to Southlake for a nominal fee. This meeting took place three days before the public announcement by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, that certain lands were to be removed from the Greenbelt and opened up for development. These included the Rice lands which were removed from the Greenbelt in December.
Rice’s company Green Lane Bathurst GP Inc bought the huge 687 acre tract of Greenbelt on 15 September 2022 for $80M from Bob Schickedanz, then President of the Ontario Home Builders Association.
Bob Schickedanz, Luca Bucci, Steve Clark
At the time of the sale the Chief Executive of the Ontario Home Builders Association was Luca Bucci who had previously served as Chief of Staff to Steve Clark from January 2021 until April 2022.
I have always found it perplexing that Schickedanz sold the land for $80M when he must have known that it would be worth many times that amount if it could be opened up for development.
Indeed, the estate agent acting for Bob Schickedanz, John Dunlap, advertised the 687 acres as a
“prime land banking opportunity”
in a strategic location south of the proposed highway 400-404 link and where
“the surrounding municipalities are almost out of development land”
The land Dunlap, acting as agent, sold to Rice had been in the ownership of the Schickedanz Brothers since 30 October 2000.
Freedom of Information
Last month I filed a Freedom of Information request with Southlake Regional Health Centre asking for sight of all records held by them – including emails, phone call and meeting records – relating to that 1 November 2022 meeting.
Earlier today Southlake told me:
“The disclosure of the records that are relevant to your request may affect the interests of a third party. The third party whose interests may be affected are being given the opportunity to make representations about the release of the record.”
“A decision on whether or not the record will be disclosed will be made by April 3, 2023, pursuant to section 28 of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which is attached to this letter as Schedule “A”.”
(Click “Read more” to see the Schedule)
Pellegrini says nothing
On 24 January 2023 I wrote to Mayor Pellegrini about the I November 2022 meeting:
Last month I filed a Freedom of Information request with your municipality asking for sight of records held by the Township relating to the commitment given by the landowner of certain Greenbelt lands in King to provide the necessary lands for the Southlake Regional Health Centre for a nominal fee.
This commitment was reflected in the motion you moved at the Committee of the Whole on 7 November 2022 which was carried unanimously.
On 20 January 2023 the Township clerk, Denny Timm, told me that no responsive records were located but he was able to tell me that the "nominal fee" commitment was conveyed verbally to you during an in-person meeting with Rice Group and Southlake representatives on November 1, 2022.
Would it be possible for you to let me know who called the in-person meeting on 1 November 2022 and for what purpose?
And did you ask the landowner for his evidence that the lands south of Miller’s Side Road, east of Dufferin and west of Bathurst were developable?
As this is a matter of public interest I very much hope you will feel able to share this information with me.
The Mayor has not yet replied.
Notice to affected person
28. (1) Before a head grants a request for access to a record,
a) that the head has reason to believe might contain information referred to in subsection 17 (1) that affects the interest of a person other than the person requesting information; or
b) that is personal information that the head has reason to believe might constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy for the purposes of clause 21 (1) (f),
the head shall give written notice in accordance with subsection (2) to the person to whom the information relates. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 28 (1).
Contents of notice
(2) The notice shall contain,
a) a statement that the head intends to release a record or part thereof that may affect the interests of the person;
b) a description of the contents of the record or part thereof that relate to the person; and
c) a statement that the person may, within twenty days after the notice is given, make representations to the head as to why the record or part thereof should not be disclosed. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 28 (2).
(2.1) If the request covers more than one record, the description mentioned in clause (2) (b) may consist of a summary of the categories of the records requested if it provides sufficient detail to identify them. 1996, c. 1, Sched. K, s. 5.
Time for notice
(3) The notice referred to in subsection (1) shall be given within thirty days after the request for access is received or, where there has been an extension of a time limit under subsection 27 (1), within that extended time limit. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 28 (3).
Notice of delay
(4) Where a head gives notice to a person under subsection (1), the head shall also give the person who made the request written notice of delay, setting out,
a) that the record or part thereof may affect the interests of another party;
b) that the other party is being given an opportunity to make representations concerning disclosure; and
c) that the head will within thirty days decide whether or not to disclose the record. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 28 (4).
Representation re disclosure
(5) Where a notice is given under subsection (1), the person to whom the information relates may, within twenty days after the notice is given, make representations to the head as to why the record or the part thereof should not be disclosed. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 28 (5).
Representation in writing
(6) Representations under subsection (5) shall be made in writing unless the head permits them to be made orally. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 28 (6).
Decision re disclosure
(7) The head shall, within thirty days after the notice under subsection (1) is given, but not before the earlier of,
a) the day the response to the notice from the person to whom the information relates is received; or
b) twenty-one days after the notice is given,
decide whether or not to disclose the record or the part thereof and give written notice of the decision to the person to whom the information relates and the person who made the request. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 28 (7).
Notice of head’s decision to disclose
(8) Where a head decides to disclose a record or part thereof under subsection (7), the head shall state in the notice that,
a) the person to whom the information relates may appeal the decision to the Commissioner within thirty days after the notice is given; and
b) the person who made the request will be given access to the record or to a part thereof, unless an appeal of the decision is commenced within thirty days after the notice is given. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 28 (8).
Access to be given unless affected person appeals
(9) Where, under subsection (7), the head decides to disclose the record or a part thereof, the head shall give the person who made the request access to the record or part thereof within thirty days after notice is given under subsection (7), unless the person to whom the information relates asks the Commissioner to review the decision. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, s. 28 (9).