On Monday 27 February Councillors will consider yet another departure from the Town’s Official Plan.

This time, the focus of attention is 55 Eagle Street.

Millford Development Ltd want an Official Plan and a Zoning By Law amendment to expand the boundaries of the Provincial Urban Centre allowing them to build a 12 storey apartment building and 38 town homes and to permit increased height and density.

It all sounds very familiar.

A series of ad hoc decisions on individual applications – each decided, no doubt, on its own merits -  makes a mockery of the Town’s Official Plan which is supposed to provide consistency of approach.

Each approval colours in another bit of the map of Newmarket.

And, crucially, they establish precedents.

The policies set out in the Plan count for nothing if they can be set aside at the drop of a hat.

The councillors end up taking decisions on a case by case basis.

And with every Plan busting application that is voted through, it becomes ever more difficult to hold the line at 8 storeys – the Official Plan’s notional maximum height for buildings in Newmarket.

The developers are also asking the Council to remove a Natural Heritage Designation on part of the site to allow the development to proceed as envisaged.

The developers also seem to have neglected to address the issue of affordable housing. A point noted by planning staff.

The details of the Eagle Street application are set out in the agenda of the Committee of the Whole (Council) on 27 February.

Does the Slessor Square development deliver affordable housing?

Curiously, there was no mention of affordable housing in the original Slessor application that went before the Council in November last year. 

Now we are told there will be affordable housing. The developers say that fully 55% will be selling below the "affordability" threshold set by York Region, currently an eye watering $400,000.

However the figures relate only to the higher of the twin towers - the Phase II Adult Lifestyle Condominiums.

And, presumably, the less expensive units will be smaller than the more expensive ones.

You can find the details in the Documents section of this website. Click on Developer's Documents.

Newmarket Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, has cautioned Regional Councillor, John Taylor, not to put a motion before the Council to cap the height of new buildings at 15 storeys.

Taylor wants a vote on building height restrictions as it would indirectly provide direction to current proposals such as Slessor Square as to what the Council feels is appropriate.

In his blog, the Mayor counters:

I do not believe it is appropriate to pass a resolution that sets notional height restrictions for buildings without due process.

He goes on to raise the spectre of the OMB

To pass a resolution at this time, as has been proposed, may well put our municipality in front of the Ontario Municipal Board.

The consequences of an OMB hearing would mean a cost to our municipality of upwards of a hundred thousand dollars in legal fees.

Seems to me the OMB casts a long shadow over our councillors.

Every time I talk to a councillor and mention a contentious planning issue it is only a matter of moments before talk turns to the OMB and its supposedly awesome powers.

Seems to me it’s time to put the OMB under the microscope.

But that’s for another day.

The Town is now working on its Secondary Plan which will set new (and higher) densities and heights for developments along the Yonge Davis corridors.

Information on how people can participate is buried deep in the Town's website. It is not easy to find unless you know what you are looking for. Click on the Town Page Notice for details.

We read that the Town

 is seeking interested citizens to participate in a public engagement process in the development of the long term vision and detailed Secondary Plan for the Yonge, Davis and Healthcare (Urban) Centres

It goes on

 Individuals interested in participating in a focus group to help plan Newmarket’s Urban Centres are requested to forward their letter of interest to Marion Plaunt, Senior policy Planner by 27 February 2012.

You can write to Marion Plaunt at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and get involved.

The straight talking Maddie Di Muccio has nailed her colours to the mast.

Her blog tells us me must embrace change or stagnate.


Her blog is full of inaccuracies. Newmarket's hands are not tied by the Province. Our councillors have a huge amount of discretion to shape new developments. 

For a start, they can stick to the provisions of their own Official Plan.

She pokes regional councillor, John Taylor, in the ribs for his suggestion to cap future buildings at 15 storeys.

She thinks he is bowing to pressure from residents.

I am left wondering how high our inflexible Maddie would go.

If a developer were pushing for 35 storeys would she say no? 

On the evidence of her blog, I doubt it.