This afternoon our councillors meet to consider a report on the terms of the agreed  settlement between the Town of Newmarket and Marianneville Developments to concrete over large parts of Glenway, until now a pleasant and attractive place to live.

As I arrive in the Council Chamber I pick up a sheaf of papers, hot off the photocopier. A covering memorandum from Ruth Victor, the outside consultant brought in by the Town to handle the Glenway file, tells me a settlement has been reached “in accordance with Council’s directions”.

I’d like to see the details of these Council directions. The agreed settlement gives Marianneville 12 more residential units than before (from 730 to 742). I am left wondering if our councillors really expected their negotiators to give Marianneville more than they asked for.

So, what did the Town get?

The negotiators secured an additional 0.078 hectares of parkland. We are told that almost 25% of Marianneville’s development application area is protected as green space which is defined as including parkland, private amenity space and storm water management facilities and associated open space.

We are told all single detached units will be like-to-like. That the high density block will have a landscape buffer to make it fit in. There will be a “compatibility plan” to ensure new developments do not jar with what is already there. There will be fencing, height transitions and other worthy things lifted from the planners’ lexicon.

Now the Mayor calls the meeting to order and invites the excellent Dave Sovran to speak on behalf of the Glenway Preservation Association. After thanking Ward 7 councillor, Chris Emanuel, for all his efforts he states bluntly that the GPA is opposed to the negotiated settlement. Twice the GPA asked the Town to share with them their proposed approach to the negotiations with Marianneville. Twice they were rebuffed.

Sovran wants to know (a) how the GPA requests were dealt with (b) what is to happen with the West lands (c) what happened to their proposal for a green corridor (d) if the Town was prepared to purchase any of the lands and (e) whether this Committee meeting is going to be the last on the Glenway issue.

GPA completely ignored

He goes on to tells us the GPA feels incredibly let down and completely ignored. He wants a public meeting to brief residents and to bring closure. Ideally he wants a meeting before ratification of the agreed settlement.

Alas, councillors voluntarily gave up the option of ratification when they gave authority to their hired counsel, Mary Bull, to negotiate with Marianneville and agree the terms of settlement.

Now John Taylor is going on about the iniquities of the OMB, which is where the “majority of fault” lies. He says other municipalities are also affected.  Newmarket is not unique. He trumpets the fact that the Town went to the OMB to test whether development at Glenway is permitted. But he omits any reference to the shockingly below par performance of the Town’s team at the OMB Hearing.

Taylor now bizarrely asks Sovran how he would define success given where we are. What would he like the Council to do at this point?

There is some talk about land expropriation and its feasibility but the Town’s solicitor, Esther Armchuk, gives a million and one reasons why this should be a matter of last resort.

Council directions - please amplify

Mary Bull, the Town’s negotiator-in-chief and legal expert, now sketches out the broad outlines of the agreement, reminding us all that it was done in accordance with Council directions. We learn the Glenway development cannot proceed until the servicing allocation (hooking up to the water mains and sewers) is agreed.

Now Maddie Di Muccio scents political advantage and is demanding a public meeting to consider the lessons to be learned.  Bull is decidedly cool if it means fitting this in before the negotiated settlement is put to the OMB for approval. She tells us that way back in December at the pre-hearing the OMB ruled that everything had to be completed by this Friday, 25 April, the end of phase 2. (Bull is being economical with the truth in the way that lawyers are. The Hearing dates for Phase 2 which originally stretched into May were subsequently changed).

Now the Mayor is asking councillors for comments.

Progressive Conservative MPP hopeful, Jane Twinney, wants to know about expropriation and the criteria used. Armchuk whispers this should be discussed in camera.

Worthless platitudes

Now Twinney tells us she always knew this would end in tears. Hesitantly, she says it was inevitable. Now I am listening to more worthless platitudes than I can take. Surely, as a prospective Member of the Provincial Parliament she can do better this this.

Chris Emanuel, the only councillor who comes out of this mess with his reputation intact, wants to know more about the process of the negotiated settlement. Was the green corridor discussed? How did things get on to the table?

The Town’s hired counsel, Mary Bull, tells us these matters must remain confidential. (If there had been an “issues list” exchanged between the Parties and available to the rest of us we would have known what matters were up for discussion). She tells us that the discussions she had with the developer must be private. If the details were later revealed it would run counter to public policy considerations where the objective is to facilitate a settlement. (This answer is simply not good enough.)

I tip my hat to you

Now it is the turn of Tom Vegh who speaks for all our councillors when he says he is disappointed at the outcome of events. He looks at the GPA people and says: “I tip my hat to you.”

But why, he asks Bull, don’t we go through the technical issues at the OMB Phase 2 Hearing rather than opting for a negotiated settlement? (It is a bit late in the day to ask this.)

Bull tells us there were very few technical issues remaining to be resolved. Vegh asks: Is anything outstanding?

No, says Bull.

Now Chris Emanuel is back, gnawing at the bone. Does the Municipality have the right to hear from Counsel (Mary Bull) on what she believed were the desired outcomes from the settlement negotiations? (Apparently it does.)

Now Bull is taking us through tomorrow’s agenda at the OMB at the Voyageur Hotel on Yonge Street. We learn that evidence will be given by Ruth Victor to the OMB adjudicator setting out “what has been achieved”. The Adjudicator, Susan Schiller, will make a decision there and then or, perhaps, reserve it for later.

Now it is the turn of Ward 4’s Tom Hempen who tells us it was a difficult decision for him to vote for the Town to provide funds to go to the OMB. He wants to know why negotiations cannot take place in open session with community groups involved. He wants to see more community engagement.

Too many people in the room

Bull, with commendable frankness, tells him that it is difficult to come to a settlement if too many people are in the room.

Chris Emanuel is rattling the bars of the cage again. He wants to know if the OMB Hearing can be delayed if the Council decides not to agree the negotiated settlement. Rob Prentice, from the Town’s Commissariat, weighs in. He reminds councillors of the status of the signed settlement agreement. If councillors want to reconsider things then they need to go into closed session to take legal advice. I scream silently at the proceduralism that is tying everyone up in knots.

Bull reminds councillors the negotiators reached a settlement with the developer following directions set by Council. (Please can we see those directions.)

Now we are in the middle of a long discussion about development in Markham where we learn the OMB decided not to intervene, leaving matters to the Municipality. This is in stark contrast to the OMB’s line on Glenway where the Town of Newmarket was hung out to dry. Why the inconsistencies in approach to Municipalities in the same Region?

Taylor gives Di Muccio what she wants

Now John Taylor makes a humungous mistake by referring to Di Muccio’s tweeting during the Committee meeting. All injured innocence, Taylor tells us she refers to her fellow councillors as hypocrites. Taylor’s intervention gives her the oxygen she needs to stay alive politically. Without it, she would be dead in the water.

This afternoon, Di Muccio has been more than usually inarticulate and incoherent, unable to string a sentence together without a thousand ums and ahs.

Now the Mayor steps in to keep the two apart and he does what comes naturally to him. He administers a soothing balm.

There is a process, he says.

It is appropriately administered and appropriately advised.

We have defended the planning process.

I am incredulous. I shake my head in disbelief at what I am hearing.


The humiliation of the Town of Newmarket is complete.

At 1.30pm this afternoon (Tuesday) councillors will gather in the Council Chamber at Mulock Drive to receive an information report on the settlement negotiated and agreed on Friday 18 April between Town staff and Marianneville Developments. Councillors were informed of the terms over the weekend.

The settlement is even worse than the original proposal with 742 new residential units compared to 730. So far as I can tell, none of the suggestions proposed by the Glenway Preservation Association have been taken on board. That said, I believe the park/trail area has been increased.

Incredibly, councillors gave Staff authority to settle the agreement on their behalf and today's meeting is not even a rubber stamping exercise.

Details of the settlement can be found on this website by clicking documents in the panel above left and navigating to Newmarket Council Documents. Then open "Glenway Final Agreement".

Not everything can be blamed on the OMB.

Most of our councillors have been supine, unwilling or unable to involve themselves in the details of a major planning issue  of Town wide significance.

Why was it that not a single professional planner from the Town's planning department sat in on Phase 1 of the OMB hearing?

Why did the Town's legal team perform so lamentably?

Why was the Mayor content to leave the management of the crucially important Glenway file to others? Did he ever intervene at all? Or ask for progress reports? 

The entire Glenway saga has demonstrated the pathetically feeble grasp that our elected officials have over the Town's planning department. Indeed, the Town's outside consultant responsible for the Glenway file, Ruth Victor, turned out to be Marianneville's greatest asset when she declared there was no reason the former golf course could not be developed.

Goodness knows what kind of "debate" there will be this afternoon. Perfunctory, I suspect.

I shall be there to witness the shaming humiliation of the Town of Newmarket.


I see that a Special Committee of the Whole will be held on Tuesday 22 April at 1.30pm where councillors will receive an update on Marianneville’s plans to destroy the quiet and attractive neighbourhood of Glenway, changing it forever. The developer is intent on “infilling” the former fairways and putting greens with hundreds of new residential units. If past practice is any guide, this meeting will be held in closed session.

On the very same day, at 10am, the OMB phase 2 hearing was due to consider evidence on the technicalities and practicalities of inserting so many new homes into the middle of a hitherto quiet and stable residential area. However, buried deep in the OMB website, I see that the start date has been pushed back to 10am on Wednesday 23 April 2014.

No witness lists. No Witness statements. No issues list.

To the best of my knowledge, no witness statements or witness lists have been exchanged between the two Parties  - Marianneville and the Town of Newmarket – and there seems to be no issues list either. Despite being pressed on several occasions, the OMB has yet to confirm if documents have been exchanged.

I conclude from all this that the outlines of a deal have been agreed between the Town’s professional staff (and their outside consultant advisers) and the developer, Marianneville. It seems councillors will be asked to give it their imprimatur at Tuesday’s special meeting. The following day, if all goes according to the script, the Town and the Developer will tell Susan Schiller, the OMB Adjudicator, that they have negotiated a settlement and they will announce its terms.

Ventriloquists’ dummies

I’d love to believe our councillors are more than ventriloquists’ dummies whose words come from the Town’s professional bureaucracy that has its own agenda. But I am waiting to see the evidence.

First of all, on Tuesday, our councillors need to get into the right mindset. This means putting themselves in the position of Glenway residents whose world is about to be dramatically turned upside down.

They must challenge the advice they will get from their own planners and from the outside consultant brought in to handle the Glenway file, Ruth Victor, if they think that advice is a load of old cobblers. They should relentlessly quiz the Town’s counsel, Mary Bull, who has yet to show she has fully mastered her brief.

Will our councillors be offered options? And fall back positions? Or are they going to be presented with a fait accompli? Is this deal, negotiated with Marianneville’s hard-nosed Ira Kagan, all or nothing?

Did our councillors in the earlier secret sessions of the Committee of the Whole give authority to Town staff to negotiate on their behalf and settle with the developer? Or were the Town’s senior staff given parameters within which they could negotiate and settle?

Slessor Square and the OMB

Over a year ago, our councillors gave “approval in principle” to Slessor Square as recommended by staff.  Yet a thousand and one issues remain to be resolved. At the time, Joe Sponga told his colleagues: “Either we decide or the OMB decides for us and that may land us with a worse development.” Other councillors expressed, in their own way, a weary defeatism. Going to the OMB is too costly and, in any event, we’d lose.

Is that still the prevailing view?

Malign Influence

Certainly, the OMB is a malign influence on the planning system. Its very existence produces decisions that, as Joe Sponga rightly said, might otherwise never have been made.

People all over the Province are up in arms about the OMB. And last Thursday, the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs at the Provincial Legislature took evidence on Bill 20 that would remove Toronto from the authority of the OMB.

The president of the Wellington Place Neighbourhood Association, Ken Greenberg, in an excellent critique, tells MPPs that the current dysfunctional system produces in communities

“a high level of uncertainty, cynicism and alienation”

I think that is an understatement.

Try asking people in Glenway.


What on earth possessed Newmarket’s increasingly fragile and tormented Maddie Di Muccio to spend $1,181 on a half page advertisement in the “It’s You” Community Section of the local Newmarket Era newspaper denouncing her Party Leader, Tim Hudak, for blocking her attempt to win the PC MPP nomination for Newmarket Aurora?

I hope the cost of this absurd advertisement is not borne by taxpayers – as was the case with the earlier one when she used public money to condemn the Mayor’s alleged fondness for tax hikes. Spending public money to pursue a personal vendetta is a scandalous misuse of public funds.

The latest ad is a dense slab of text like something out of a 19th century newspaper. Di Muccio curiously writes in the third person to compare and contrast her record with that of her fellow councillor and Progressive Conservative MPP hopeful, Jane Twinney.

She aims to wound Twinney but misses the target by a mile. Di Muccio comes across as someone consumed by bitterness. She despises Twinney but can’t bring herself to say so directly.

In case any of her 2,688 Twitter followers missed the ad (which was buried on page 5 of the second section) Di Muccio helpfully tweets this link 

Maddie Di Muccio ‏@MaddieDiMuccio Apr 11

Last week @timhudak told @YorkRegion news that I "didn't meet pc party standards." Here's what I told them this week: 

Instead of howling into the wind, why doesn’t Di Muccio sue Hudak for defamation?

She claims he misled people, saying things that were simply untrue, undermining her reputation.

It is unusual, but not unheard of, for politicians to sue one another for defamation. Indeed, Kathleen Wynne has just sued Hudak for libel. So why can’t Di Muccio follow suit?

She threatened Court action against me a few months ago but that died a death. Then she went after Era journalist Chris Simon alleging she had been defamed, saying his tactics were “contemptible and outrageous”. That, too, fizzled out.

She routinely threatens Court action against those who upset her but nothing ever materialises. A Newmarket councillor tells me that over a dozen of us are still waiting for her lawyers’ papers.

But now she has a chance to make her mark on a much bigger canvas. If she were to sue Hudak (whom she loathes) she would be guaranteed lots of publicity (which she loves) and celebrity (which she craves) and notoriety (which she revels in).

It would, of course, mean the end of her political career as a Progressive Conservative.

But that, I suspect, is as good as over.

She acknowledged as much last month when she tweeted

Maddie Di Muccio ‏@MaddieDiMuccio  Mar 14. 10.06pm

We need Wildrose Ontario

 She has given herself another reason for settling old scores with Tim Hudak.

Update Tuesday 15 April 2014: Lots of publicity for Liberal Party MP wannabe, Christine Innes, who has launched an action for defamation against Justin Trudeau who blocked her from running as a Liberal candidate in the Trinity Spadina by election. It all sounds terribly familiar.


The OMB confirms that Phase 2 of the Glenway hearing is scheduled to start on April 22 and conclude on April 25.  The hearing on April 22 will start at 10:00 AM and, as before, will be held at the Best Western Voyageur Place Hotel at 17565 Yonge Street in Newmarket.

I hope there will be a big turnout.

And councillors shouldn't stay away. They too should turn up to see the lawyers and planners at work, doing the Town's business on our dime.

Update on Saturday 12 April: The GPA has now posted details of what it would like to see come out of Phase 2.