She’s at it again!

Newmarket’s increasingly fragile Ward 6 councillor, Maddie Di Muccio, is threatening to sue local journalist, Chris Simon, for this piece published in the Era today.

The paper reports that wannabe regional councillor, Darryl Wolk, is accusing Di Muccio of threatening Stephen Somerville. (Haven't we been here before?)

Di Muccio, who routinely threatens perceived opponents with legal action that never materialises, is all bluster. This is what she tweeted earlier today:

Maddie Di Muccio ‏@MaddieDiMuccio 3h

@csimonwrite I find your story and your tactics both contemptible and outrageous. I'll be speaking to my lawyer a/b defamation of character.

 12:40 PM - 14 Mar 2014 · Details

The damage inflicted on the Progressive Conservative brand in Newmarket Aurora by this prolonged vicious and very personal in-fighting must be absolutely immense.

Opposition parties will, no doubt, be squirreling away all the sordid details, every charge and counter charge, for possible use in the General Election, if provoked.

The sole candidate for the PC nomination, Jane Twinney, serenely floats above it all. Her coronation is on 20 March.

So far as Di Muccio is concerned, her defamation action will be going nowhere.

Truth is an absolute defence.


 

Newmarket’s hyper-active developer and self styled entrepreneur, Bob Forrest, told the Town’s Planning staff in October last year that Slessors’ former car dealership site had been sold and that the sale was conditional for 60 days.

We are now on day 139 (give or take a few) and the Ontario Land Registry records no change in title.

However, it shows that the Slessors, who originally owned the land outright, have chalked up huge charges in anticipation of a sale and are draining million of dollars out of the equity.

On 6 December 2011, PACE Savings and Credit Union paid the Slessors $4,500,000. A second tranche was paid on 22 January 2013, this time for $1,800,000.

And then a further $1,200,000 was paid.

A consolidated sum of $7,500,000 is shown on Land Registry records on 14 February 2014 as a charge on the Slessor property.

All this begs the question, what has happened to the sale?

Elsewhere… On 14 November 2013, Slessors’ lawyer, the ubiquitous Ira Kagan, told the OMB:

“My client is still working with Town and Regional staff to come to agreement on the conditions of draft plan approval. If we are unable to do so then we will request that the Board hold a hearing to deal with the conditions.”

On 24 March the OMB will be requiring a “status update” from the Slessors and the Town on how the proposed development is progressing.


 

The anonymous, self important blogger, Newmarket Town Hall Watch, is Newmarket’s bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau.

Like the famous fictional detective, Newmarket Town Hall Watch is inept and incompetent. But unlike Clouseau, he never stumbles by accident on the truth, solving the mystery.

NTHW accuses me of inventing stories.  He (let’s call the blogger he) declaims with absolute certainty that I have “found to be literally making up the news”.

Now, getting into his stride, he brands me a “now disgraced blogger”.  He warns that what I write in my blog “needs to be taken with a rather large grain of salt”.

As I am tap, tap, tapping this out I have alongside a letter addressed to me from York Regional Police, dated 6 March 2014.

The relevant section reads:

“Due to the provisions of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, we are not in a position to comment on the substance of the investigation. We can advise, however, that the investigation has been concluded and our file is closed.”

I followed this up and was advised:

“There were no charges laid in this matter.”

Newmarket Town Hall Watch, who treasures his credibility and his reputation for detail, mistakenly refers to my blog of 5 March 2014. (Oops! A trivial point. Just one day out!)

He also cautions his readers

“to be mindful of the credibility controversy with Mr Prentice’s blogs (as I have been contending all along)”

I take this as a reference to the statement made to the Era newspaper by Maddie Di Muccio, withdrawing any suggestion that she believed Stephen Somerville was behind the infamous YouTube ad which portrayed her as a scheming opportunist.

The fact that the Era chose not to publish the story does not mean the exchange did not take place.

I have incontrovertible proof that it did.

I leave it to Newmarket’s very own Clouseau to investigate further and report back to his credulous readers.


 

 

A new “Guideline Document” on housing affordability in York Region will be published “before June” according to Valerie Shuttleworth, the Region's Director of Long Range Planning.

She told Regional Councillors at the Committee of the Whole on 6 March 2014 that staff is working “to come up with a more practical definition of affordability”. She says the definition has to be meaningful.

At the moment, “affordable” means affordable to households in the lowest 60th percentile of the income distribution.

Translated, this means a property costing a hefty $417,300 (in 2012) is deemed by York Region to be affordable.  Yet to service the mortgage while leaving enough cash to get by day-to-day requires an annual household income of more than $110,000.

$417,300 is "affordable"

The Regional number crunchers make various assumptions in coming to this eye-watering figure for ownership. They assume, for example, a 5% down payment and amortisation over 25 years.

Still, the idea that a property at $417,300 is affordable to many people is risible. The average household income in York Region is well under $110,000.

According to the National Household Survey 2011 the median household income of all households in Ontario (half way between the highest and lowest incomes) is $66,358. The average total household income in Ontario is $85,772. The median income for all Canadians is $47,868.

The price of certain types of housing has sky-rocked. The average resale price of a single detached dwelling in York Region in 2011 was a cool $643,088.

Some people cannot afford to buy or choose not to. For them, the rental affordability threshold is set at $1,067 per month.

No improvement

The Region has been grappling with housing affordability issues for decades. A 2004 study reported that there was no overall improvement in housing affordability in York Region over the decade from 1991-2001. Back then one in every four households in York Region was paying over 30% of total household income on housing. A staggering one in ten was paying over 50% of total income on housing.

We shall soon see how these figures have changed when the Region’s 10 year Housing Plan and Affordable Housing Guidelines is finalised mid-year and submitted to the Province.

The Region currently sets targets for affordable housing:

25% of all new housing should be affordable Region wide

35% in Centres and Corridors should be affordable

Against this background, Shuttleworth muses aloud at what really constitutes “affordability”.

Affordability by Municipality

Interestingly, she says they are looking at a definition of affordability by municipality.

This really would throw a spanner in the works for the development industry. What if each of the nine municipalities came up with their own definition?

Imagine the outcry if developers are told they have to deliver 35% affordable housing in, for example, a new development in Newmarket centre and that the affordability benchmark is not to be the current, rarified $417,300 but something much more achievable and down-to-earth.

Regional staff tell councillors, “implementing policy is the hardest part”.

Indeed.

What if the developers go on strike? They will say they can’t afford to build accommodation and sell it at the price the Region stipulates.

What if the targets are not met?

And what if “affordable housing” remains unaffordable for far too many people?

Those running for election in October will have to supply convincing answers.


 

York Regional Police tell me that the investigation into the alleged threats against Stephen Somerville and his family “has been concluded and our file is closed”.

Somerville pulled out of the race for the Progressive Conservative nomination to succeed retiring MPP Frank Klees on 19 February. He cited threats against himself and his family as the reason for withdrawing.

Nominations close today (6 March) with the candidate selection due on 20 March.

Earlier today, Regional Council candidate, Darryl Wolk, tweeted:

I expect that there will not be a democratic race for Newmarket-Aurora PC nomination. Unless there is a surprise, it will be an acclamation.

This is an astonishing turn of events. A big ripe plum has just fallen into the lap of Jane Twinney who could inherit a relatively safe PC held seat without ever being tested against other contenders for the nomination.

I understand there were as many as 12 candidates who thought about throwing their hat into the ring when Klees announced his intention not to seek re-election.

Who knows what impact the alleged threats against Somerville had in thinning out the potential field?

In the October 2011 Provincial election Frank Klees (PC) received 17,201 votes (46.2%); Christina Bisanz (Liberal) received 13,487 votes (36.2%); Robin Wardlaw (NDP) 5,477 (14.7%) and Kristopher Kuysten (Green) 1,061 (2.9%)