I tune into The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

The panel of four PC die-hards – including Newmarket’s Maddie Di Muccio - pick over the entrails of the once mighty, but now humbled, Progressive Conservatives.

Di Muccio wastes no time in sticking the knife into Tim Hudak who – for reasons never fully explained - vetoed her candidacy in Newmarket-Aurora. She says Hudak “went rogue on the Party”. It wasn’t a grassroots campaign but one directed by “the management”. She says bluntly: “The Leader blew it.”

Di Muccio took a half page advertisement in the Era Newspaper on 10 April 2014 denouncing Hudak for blackballing her. We must presume she paid for this out of her own pocket - unlike the earlier one denouncing the Mayor for his fondness for tax increases.

The discussion now touches on Ontario’s changing demographics. She says her nemesis, Frank Klees, was offered an outreach role to connect the PCs with minority communities but he turned it down. She doesn’t elaborate.

For much of the time Di Muccio is crowded out of the conversation. But she comes quite animated at the very end when Paikin asks who the next Leader of the PCs should be.

Di Muccio wants:

“Somebody who is dynamic. It should be a woman. Someone who can communicate and connect emotionally with people.”

I wonder who she has in mind?

Andrea is sticking around

While Tim Hudak wanders off alone into the forest, the NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, proclaims the election result is some kind of victory.

She says it is the best result for the New Democrats in a quarter of a century. "The numbers tell us that we achieved the highest seat total for our Party in a general election in Ontario since 1990."

She aims to lead the ONDP into a third Provincial Election, four years away.

She brazenly announces her decision before meeting her caucus for the first time since the election, a move clearly designed to snuff-out any opposition before it can take root.

She tells us there is a leadership convention in November. If people aren’t happy, they can do something about it then.

If only.


The Clock Tower and adjacent buildings owned by developer and self-styled entrepreneur, Bob Forrest, is up for sale.

An ad in the Business Section (page B13) of today's Globe and Mail states this:


180-194 Main Street South – intersection of Park Avenue and Main Street South in Downtown Newmarket.

(Site includes historic Clock Tower building and four commercial storefront buildings)

0.656 acres

Present Zoning: UC-D1 OP

Historic Downtown Centre

Contact us at

905-752-6776 ext 229

or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bob Forrest snapped up the Old Post Office (now known as the Clock Tower) on 1 March 2011 for $2,340,000. It was on the market for $3,275,000. He then bought several adjacent properties on Main Street South from Michael Bryan, reportedly for some $1.7 million, giving him a parcel of land big enough to develop. Even so, to this day, Forrest still needed Town-owned land for his project to get off the ground.

Newmarket’s professional planners worked closely with the developer for two years yet, astonishingly, councillors were never asked if they wanted to make Town-owned land available to a developer whose project ran directly counter to the Town’s policies for the area.

In September 2013, Forrest’s business tenants at 184-194 Main Street South (Lemon and Lime, Upper Crust Bakery, Econo Pizza, the Video Store etc) were given notice to quit by 31 March 2014.  But in early March the eviction threat was thought to have been lifted.

The site for Forrest’s proposed 9 storey condo was smack-dab in the middle of the Town’s Heritage Conservation District that was designated in 2010. However, it was not until October 2013 that the foot-dragging Town Council got round to enshrining that policy in a By Law. Pressure had been mounting all year for the Town to act. An artist’s impression of what Forrest’s condo would look like sent shock waves through civic groups. Many people were outraged. The Town’s Heritage Advisory Committee voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposal in April 2013. 

In November 2013, Forrest’s company Main Street Clock Inc appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, claiming a planning application for the condo proposal had been lodged with the Town before the By Law was enacted. 

On 3 February 2014, the Town held the required Statutory Meeting to consider Forrest’s proposal. A report on that meeting has never been published by the Town.

Forrest’s planned timetable for the project was thrown out of kilter by the Heritage Conservation District By Law passed in October 2013 that, he says, “caught us by surprise”.

He subsequently offered to extend the lease of his tenants until September 2014 and then on a month-by-month basis but only if all opposition to the project stopped.

That was never going to happen.


Last night Newmarket councillors waved through the Town’s controversial Secondary Plan that lays the ground for accommodating an additional 33, 000 people along the Yonge Davis corridors. The Plan now goes to the full Council meeting on 23 June for formal approval and then to York Region for ratification.

The Region and other agencies caused a last-minute re-write of the draft Plan when they observed that:

"the proposed height and density (particularly on Davis Drive) may not achieve the planned intensification along the rapid transit corridor.”

When councillors agreed the earlier revised draft Plan they were assured it would meet all the relevant targets set for the Town.

Marion Plaunt, the senior planner in charge of the file, tries to square the circle, explaining there has been no change in the maximum heights of buildings that councillors agreed previously. This is true. But the locations where the highest buildings can go have changed. This will visibly alter the street-scape. We learn that densities in a multitude of sites all along the two corridors have been redistributed in a different way. I see mystified faces and a few furrowed brows.

Schedule 4: the small print

Schedule 4 of the Urban Centres Secondary Plan lists, on page 128, a very large number of changes to height and density. For example, development blocks down at Yonge and Mulock go from Medium High Density to High Density. This means going up from a permitted maximum height of 12 storeys (or 15 with bonusing) to 17 storeys (or 20 with bonusing). Developers can get the bonus of higher heights and density if they promise to give something to the Town – say, a community garden or some other “public good”.

Obviously, developers are interested in height but they positively salivate over the floor space index or “FSI”. This, broadly speaking, is the amount of development that can be squeezed onto the site. At Yonge and Mulock the original medium high density of 2.5 (or 3.0 with bonusing) goes up to 3.5 (or 4.0 with bonusing). This means the sites can be more intensively developed.

Changes needed to achieve the planned intensification

Marion now completes her PowerPoint presentation and we are into questions. Tom Vegh zeros in on the proposed changes to height and density recommended by the Region and York Region Rapid Transit designed “to achieve the planned intensification” yet the population numbers (an extra 33,000 people) in the draft Plan and the revised Plan remain unchanged. Vegh describes this as “counter-intuitive”.

John Taylor seems equally perplexed and calls for a note from staff explaining the reasoning and methodology. The Mayor, too, wants a written explanation.

Just like a Piston

Joe Sponga is now asking about “development blocks”. These “blocks” are agglomerations of individual “development sites”. Marion is explaining things using semaphore. We learn that angular planes can push densities down (to stop tall buildings towering over smaller ones) so the Plan allows densities to be transferred elsewhere within each development block. Just when Joe’s eyes are beginning to mist over, Marion starts pushing down with her right hand while correspondingly raising her left hand. It’s like a piston, she says. She does this a number of times. It is quite effective.

39 Davis Drive: evidence of a planning system that is broken

We learn, following a question from Dave Kerwin, that this principle (of using development blocks) does not apply to 39 Davis Drive – currently a temporary car park - where planning permission was given in 2009 for a 20 storey condo with an FSI of 10.25. Newmarket’s planners changed their recommendation to councillors at the last minute, agreeing that, in this case, the height and density should be “site specific” and not related to the development block.

(39 Davis Drive is owned by Tri-Cap as is 22 George Street. The LCBO/Shoppers site, adjacent to 39 Davis Drive, is probably in the same ownership. I haven’t checked but the three companies that own the three sites have sequential numbers: 1858106 Ontario Inc; 1858107 Ontario Inc and 1858108 Ontario Inc.)

The owners’ planning consultants – who were all geared up to make a presentation to the Committee of the Whole to argue that 39 Davis Drive should be an exception to the development block principle – instead thanked the Town’s planners for their change of mind. Earlier, they told the Town

“The three companies intend to redevelop these sites sometime in the future but the exact nature of the development or developments has not yet been determined.”

39 Davis got approval five years ago and there is still no sign of a condo. If there are no shovels in the ground after a specified period, say 3 years, planning approvals should, in my view, be revoked. Otherwise companies such as Tri-Cap hoard land until they decide the time is right to develop. Manifestly, this can be against the public interest.

Mobility Hubs

Chris Emanuel returns to the issue of mobility hubs, raised on previous occasions. As I am listening to Marion explaining the difference in approach between the Yonge Davis mobility hub and the one at the Tannery, I find myself thinking again about that promised new park and ride GO Train station at Mulock. It is outside the Secondary Plan area but where does it fit in the wider scheme of things? How absurd that something like this should be left hanging in the air.

Jane Twinney also asks about the Tannery and whether Bayview and Prospect would be included in the study area. We learn from Rick Nethery there are road capacity issues that are the subject of a “companion study” – the NSEW Network Study!

I sense we are all beginning to wilt.

Elsewhere… Ward 4’s Tom Hempen wants to know how the Town is going to address the need for parks and open spaces in the light of its burgeoning population growth. Marion tells him parkland dedication will come with development applications. She also tells him the Upper Canada Mall site has effectively been removed from the Secondary Plan area until the special UCM study has been completed.

Taylor points the way

Now John Taylor tries to pull everything together. He sounds like a travel guide. He tells us it would be wrong to suggest we are at the end of the journey. We learn we are moving in a positive direction. But the biggest challenge is where this journey will take us and how fast.

(In fact, the whole expensive process has been rudderless for years. The professional planners stepped in to fill the void when the politicians failed to give a lead.)

Taylor says the infrastructure has to be in place to support growth. Growth should be phased with development being sequenced and aligned with the projected population increase.

Joe Sponga is ecstatic telling us Taylor’s proposal is “refreshing”. Now he thanks Marion in his own inimitable way. “You have been working your proverbial off.”

Secondary Plan must be OMB proof

Chris Emanuel fears piecemeal development and agrees phasing is important. He confesses his frustration with the planning process. Scorched by the OMB decision at Glenway, he says he wants to make the Secondary Plan, insofar as possible, “OMB proof”. Anything within the built boundary of Newmarket seems to be fair game for developers.

Now Maddie Di Muccio, the burr under the saddle, says municipalities have an obligation to provide infrastructure to support growth so why all this stuff from Taylor about phasing and so on.

The Town’s planning chief, Rick Nethery, agrees infrastructure is needed “but it doesn’t all have to be in place at the one time”. I’d have liked a few examples of what can safely be left until later.

Newmarket and Mississagua

Now we are submerged in statistics as Di Muccio suggests Newmarket could become one of the most densely populated places on the planet (I exaggerate for effect). She says we could have more people per square kilometre than… Mississagua. This, she says, is not smart planning. We don’t need all these people.

Now the usually languid Taylor stirs. I have rarely seen him so energised. He is firing statistics at us. The Town has been growing at about 2% a year and this is projected to continue. It is all manageable.

At this point Jane Twinney, back from the campaign trail, sticks her head above the parapet, telling us she will support the Secondary Plan because it is the responsible thing to do.

This infuriates Di Muccio who turns on Jane (whom she loathes), denouncing her for suggesting it would be “irresponsible” not to support the Plan.

I think it is time to go.


Newmarket-Aurora is – or rather was - a true blue riding. It is comfortably off with the average family income ($118,060) significantly above the provincial ($90,526) and national ($82,325) figures. There are more homeowners; lower unemployment and more people with degrees.

And yet the conservative vote, once strong and resilient, melted away, mirroring the collapse across the Province.

The share of the vote for PC candidate, Jane Twinney, shrank by 10% when compared with 2011 while Liberal Chris Ballard increased his Party’s share by 8.2%.

The question for Jane is whether she runs again for Newmarket Council, having withdrawn from the race earlier in anticipation of a new berth at Queen's Park.

The NDP share of the vote was down by 2.7% to 11.6% as NDP sympathisers moved across to the Liberals.

The Green, Andrew Roblin, did well to increase his Party’s share of the vote to 4.4%.

The number of valid votes cast in the Riding was also up markedly from 45,349 in 2011 to 52,359 yesterday.

Tim Hudak’s campaign was disastrous for all the reasons that have been reported so widely. In the run-up to polling day even the Globe and Mail, swallowing hard, could only bring itself to call for a minority Conservative government. Its coverage today of the election result is sour, reminding its readers of all the elephant traps ahead for Wynne. By contrast, the Star is in celebratory mood.

The NDP, too, needs to think carefully about its purpose and where it is going. Under Horwath, a shrivelled-up NDP seems to have turned itself into some kind of consumers’ association. The NDP post election is back where it started. 21 seats.

It beggars belief that Andrea Horwath thinks she can lead the NDP into a third Provincial election.

Tim Hudak has bravely fallen on his sword after two failed attempts.

That’s quite enough, thank you.


I couldn’t get to the second candidates debate in Aurora on Saturday afternoon (7 June) but a friend of mine who was there paints this fascinating picture and I pass it on. I post it here with permission, but without the writer’s name as requested.

“The Aurora debate was quite interesting. There were four candidates and 70+ people in attendance. Jane Twinney continues to underwhelm in staggering ways, if that even makes sense. She answered questions, particularly in the yes/no portion, in ways that completely contradict her party's platform. You could hear people gasping a little. She answered every other question with eliminate the deficit. She is making it up as she goes along. I'm not sure if she's being willfully misleading or if she's just confused and ignorant.

They got rid of the candidate-to-candidate questions without letting all of the candidates know in advance. (That, or they just forgot about it.) Almost half of the debate, 55 minutes, was given to questions from the audience. There was a question about a national pharmacare program with a couple of statistics. Twinney said "yes, healthcare for those who need it." 

An attendee asked something along the lines of "if you had to vote for someone other than yourself on June 12, who would you vote for?"

The moderator said it wasn't a fair question and that the candidates didn't have to answer. They wanted to.

Roblin said Duff and the NDP

Baxter said Ballard

Ballard said he'd split his vote three ways: social justice message of the NDP, something about the Greens, and Baxter for being Baxter. 

Twinney said she'd vote for the Libertarian candidate (who wasn't there)

One of Twinney's party platform violations was so big that Frank Klees booed her. And that happened within the context of an otherwise non-heckling audience. If only I could remember what the issue was!

I think it's worth noting that Frank stepped out as soon as the candidates were done answering the panel's questions. I guess he had no interest in hearing about what was important to those in attendance. 

The NDP candidate Angus Duff couldn't make it.