We are all squashed into the library at Maple Leaf Elementary School in Longford Road waiting to hear urban planner, Brad Rogers, tell us how new development on Davis Drive would increase property values in our “stable residential neighbourhood”.

The meeting, organised by the Newmarket Heights Residents’ Association, is buzzing. Ward 4 Councillor, Tom Hempen, is here along with regional councillor John Taylor. The Mayor drops in and says a few words. It is good that he is here, taking the pulse of the meeting.

Brad Rogers is, of course, the urban planner advising the Slessor Towers developer.

But he wants to talk about the changes coming to Davis Drive and what it will mean for residents.

He is asked about the impact of the Slessor Towers on property values and immediately ducks the question.  He tells us land use planning doesn’t get into property values. But he says that in his experience property values will go up. Hmmm.

A knowledgeable estate agent sitting directly in front of me springs to his feet. He says proximity to high structures such as water towers can adversely affect property values.

In my mind’s eye, I see the Slessor Towers looming over Newmarket like three water towers sitting on top of one another.

And then there is the dust and dirt from construction that will blight the neighbourhood. And the traffic.

Having listened attentively to Brad Rogers, a guy behind me fears we could have a wall between us and Davis Drive.

  We could be walled in by high rises.

Brad says development is going to happen. There is no stopping it. He says Newmarket has got to accommodate 20,000 more people by 2031.


John Taylor corrects him.

He tells us that Brad is using a 2006 baseline.

With a 2012 baseline the growth would be in the order of ten to twelve thousand more people by 2031.

That’s more like it.

Tom Hempen tackles him on the height of the Towers saying the Town’s planning people are still insisting the higher of the two will rise to 29 storeys.

Tom seems genuinely frustrated that there is still a lack of clarity about something as fundamental as the height of the Towers.

The avuncular John Dowson who chairs the meeting tells us change is inevitable. In his time in Newmarket he has seen the town grow and grow.

But the key question is: what kind of growth?

People are genuinely concerned that their homes are going to be affected by high rise development and residential roads will become, in effect, major thoroughfares with increased traffic, noise and pollution.

The Mayor assures us there will be plenty of opportunities to comment on the Davis Drive plans as they unfold. There will be consultation on the Town’s Secondary Plan.

Alas, no-one points out that the Slessor Towers are outside the Secondary Plan process as the application is already in the Town’s planning pipe-line.

It is being dealt with quite separately.

We are waiting for the Slessors to publish their “view-shed analysis” as required by the Town. This will show the visual impact of the Towers from various vantage points, near and far.

When this happens, I suspect we shall hear more from the good people of Newmarket Heights Residents Association.

And from others.




I have a warm spot for Newmarket’s Ward 1 Councillor, Tom Vegh, who has expressed reservations about the giant development planned for Slessor Square.

By contrast, Ward 6 Councillor, Maddie Di Muccio, has swallowed the Slessor project hook, line and sinker.

No tower would be too high for Maddie.

Now it transpires that Councillor Di Muccio’s husband, John Blommesteyn, bought a series of on-line domains containing Tom Vegh’s name, including tomvegh.ca

Newmarket’s local paper, the Era Banner, tells me that a search for the Tom Vegh domain would redirect to Maddie Di Muccio’s website!

Tom Vegh tweets:

Maddie Di Muccio is the only elected official in Canada to take another official’s domain name and re-direct it to her website.

And, he asks, why does she want seven Tom Vegh domain names?

Good question.

This stuff matters. When we were building this website we wanted to provide easy links to councillors’ websites.

Tom Vegh had a linkedin page but, curiously, we couldn’t find a personal website.

Now we know why.

Blommesteyn says he kept his wife in the dark about his jolly wheeze.

“I purchased the domain name, tomvegh.ca, unbeknownst to my wife… She had no idea I had done that because she would never have approved.”

But what was in Blommesteyn’s mind when he was buying up Tom Vegh domain names?

Is he collecting domain names of other Newmarket elected officials?

What on earth is he doing? And why? 

Has Maddie asked him?

And is she going to tell the rest of us?

On Monday (19 March) consultants working on the Secondary Plan gave a presentation to councillors, painting a picture of what high growth and low growth would mean for Newmarket.

In this context “growth” means the increase in population and jobs in those areas earmarked for more intensive land use.

The thing that strikes me immediately is the huge difference between the high and low growth projections.

That said, even with the accompanying Committee paper it is not terribly easy to get a feel for what the alternative scenarios will mean in practice.

If I had been a fly on the wall, tuning into the conversation between councillors and staff during and following the presentation it may have helped my understanding. 

Seems to me these presentations could go out on YouTube.

Why not?

It is a cheap and cost effective way of keeping people informed.

You can find the presentation in the Newmarket Documents section of this website.

That’s the thorny question that Professor Robert MacDermid from York University will try to answer on Saturday 31 March from 1pm-3pm at the Newmarket Public Library on Park Avenue.

All local councillors have been invited. As I tap this out, I know that Regional Councillor John Taylor will be coming along.

Councillors Joe Sponga and Tom Hempen will also be there.

You can see Professor MacDermid talking about his research on campaign finance in the 905 area.

The event is organized by Occupy Newmarket.

In the Huffington Post I stumble across a curious piece from a think tank based in Calgary.

One of their policy gurus, Steve Lafleur, wants to see the repeal of the Places to Grow Act - which will allow a rash of developments all over the place.

He is against “prescriptive land use planning”.  He would unleash a free for all where, presumably, even the Green Belt would not be sacrosanct.

Lafleur pokes us in the ribs by saying Newmarket is full of NIMBY types.

In the UK there are two much lampooned groups. The NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) and the NOTE (not-over-there-either).

The Shrink Slessor Square group (aka the Shrinkers) do not fall into either category.

It is perfectly possible to accommodate the projected growth in Newmarket without building giant towers that loom over surrounding neighbourhoods.

We are not against development. 

So long as it doesn't turn Newmarket into a pastiche of, hmm, Calgary.