Ring! Ring!

Ring! Ring!

I pick up the phone to hear my MP, Lois Brown, on the other end of the line.

It is Saturday morning around 9.30am and I am mightily impressed that Lois is calling to talk about Slessor Square.

Earlier in the week I am in touch with her office to be told she doesn’t comment on matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the Town.

Fair enough.

If she restricts all her public pronouncements to matters that fall within her Federal bailiwick then I can’t complain.

On the other hand she lives here and pays taxes here. Surely, I say, she must have a view on the biggest development Newmarket has ever seen.

Lois concedes she doesn’t want Newmarket to look like downtown Toronto.

The real villain of the piece is, apparently, the Places to Grow Act which she describes as

 the McGuinty Plan to move people out of the Toronto area.


Lois moves the conversation on to Glenway.

She explains that, back in the 1980s, there was a contract with the Town safeguarding the golf course for 25 years. Now, alas, time’s up.

Oh dear!

It’s all about a fusty old contract!

Her colleague, Frank Klees, doesn’t mention this. (see blog below)

Predictably, he blames the Places to Grow Act.

Par for the course, I’d say.

Just received this from Newmarket's senior planner, Marion Plaunt, who is responsible for the Slessor file.

Given the limited space at the venue for Monday evening at the Community Centre and the anticipated interest from the community, I am providing the following Update to advise that Dwight Slessor Holding’s Limited is proposing a reduction in height and that other opportunities will be provided for the residents to review and provide feedback on the revised plans.

Please feel free to share the following information with your group.

Please be advised that in response to community feedback, Dwight Slessor Holdings Ltd. has revised their proposal to reduce the height of their Yonge Street development to a maximum of 16 stories. The developer is currently in the process of finalizing the details of the proposal.

There will be numerous opportunities to review the details of the plan, including:

·        The revised plan and accompanying presentation will be available on the Town of Newmarket website at www.newmarket.ca early next week

·        A community engagement meeting on Monday evening

·        Additional meetings for public review and input will be scheduled.

As always, we need to see the small print. 

But this is an encouraging sign of movement.

The “Community Engagement” meeting on Slessor Square will take place at 7-9pm on Monday 23 April 2012 in Halls 3 and 4 at the Community Centre, Doug Duncan Drive, Newmarket.

Marion Plaunt, the Town’s senior planner in charge of the Slessor file, tells me the developer will be reporting back “on all the questions and issues” including the question of height and the viewshed work.

I am told the Town will not be live streaming the event nor doing a YouTube of the presentation and Q&A afterwards – as we had requested -  because of “privacy issues”.

Pity. This is a great opportunity to reach out to the wider public who, for one reason or another, may not be able to get along to the meeting on Monday.

Time to state the obvious.

It is important to get as many people along to the meeting as possible. Numbers matter.

Councillors and, indeed, Town hall staff, count heads.

If half a dozen people turn up, the developers will breathe a huge sigh of relief.

We've got to keep focussed on the issues the developers don't want to talk about.

Generally speaking, they prefer to deal with small manageable groups of people. It makes the process of getting planning approval much less fraught than it otherwise might be.

If the viewshed work becomes available before the meeting (fat chance!) I shall post it here on ShrinkSlessor.


Frank Klees, our MPP, deserves a pat on the back for his super fast response to my query about Slessor Square.

Alas I am none the wiser. He is not going to stick his nose into someone else's business. Slessor isn't a matter for him.

Here is our exchange this afternoon:

Hi Frank

I am a constituent of yours. I live on Harrison Drive , Newmarket , not too far from the proposed Slessor Square development.

I've just searched your website but can't find a reference to Slessor Square . Have I missed it?

I'd really appreciate your views.

I think it's too high and too bulky with far too many parking spaces. Do you agree?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Gordon Prentice

Frank replies

 Hello Gordon, glad to respond to your inquiry regarding Slessor Square.

The reason there is no reference on my website to this project, is that this project  is under the jurisdiction of the Town of Newmarket and the Region of York. I have my plate full with the provincial issues for which I'm responsible and will leave my municipal counterparts to deal with theirs.

Should an issue arise involving this project that involves a provincial interest, I will gladly make the resources of my office available. 

Thanks for your note, and I trust this answers your question.

Frank Klees, MPP

I get back to him

Hello again

I am very impressed by your super-fast response. 

I know you are very busy and don't want to take up your time unnecessarily but what is the difference between Glenway, where you have expressed a view, and Slessor Square, where you have chosen not to?

I promise not to turn this into a ping pong.

Gordon Prentice

And Frank replies 

The difference is that the Glenway development issue involves a provincial policy (Places to Grow Act) that over rides the Official Plan of the Town and the Region.

I voted against that legislation when it was introduced because I believe the province should respect local decision-making.

To my knowledge, that is not the case with the Slessor project.


I will definitely support a 15 storey limit and would love to see that across the board.

But since there is a 20 storey building already approved around the corner and the Slessor Square site is within the dotted boundary of the Ontario plan for redevelopment, I think a 15 storey max height would be hard to make stick.

That being said, I do not want to see 29 stories either, twenty might be a compromise.

Instead of 15 stories height, I would like to see a height measurement that is equivalent to 15 stories.  That way the floor levels can be any height as long as they do not go beyond a certain overall measured height. It would give the architect more freedom of design while not exceeding a height parameter.

There are items included in the existing bylaws as well as the spirit of the secondary plan I would like to see incorporated in the development such as: communal park land, abiding by setbacks and step backs, connectivity between Yonge Street. through the property to George Street, business rental spaces that open directly onto Young Street.

Is the Town prepared to expropriate adjacent property to provide access from Yonge to George, which is one of their desires?

I think this is going to boil down to a game of trade-offs. We won’t get everything but neither will the developer. The question then becomes, what can we live with?

In the end, I want to see the future development of Newmarket to progress in a managed fashion that is pleasing to the eye and socially functional.