- Written by Gordon Prentice
The Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in downtown Newmarket tomorrow (Sunday 13th) at 2.45pm outside Lil Brew Hops at 209a Main Street South – just a stone’s throw from the site of one of the Town’s most significant heritage properties which was demolished without permission on Thursday by the rogue developer Bob Forrest.
The Liberal candidate and former Newmarket Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, tells supporters he is excited to be welcoming Justin Trudeau:
“to show the momentum we’ve been building in Newmarket-Aurora!”
I hope Van Bynen will show the Prime Minister the empty and desolate spot on Main Street South where the Anne Mary Simpson house used to stand.
Prime Minister will see the demolition site
Van Bynen should tell the Prime Minister this was where the first female pharmacist in Ontario had her apothecary.
And Van Bynen should tell the Prime Minister he is determined to find out who was responsible for the demolition of one of the Town’s most significant historic properties. And he will call for that person to be prosecuted.
Anything less than this is just election campaign flummery.
As it happens, last week I received a robocall from Tony Van Bynen telling me:
“This is going to be the closest election we’ve ever seen in Newmarket-Aurora.”
You can decide for yourself how things are going after watching this excellent video profile on Newmarket-Aurora which CPAC says is "a riding to watch”.
Update: And this is how Newmarket Today is reporting on recent developments.
- Written by Gordon Prentice
The developer Bob Forrest is responsible for the demolition of one of the Town’s most significant historic buildings, 184-186 Main Street South, situated in the heart of Newmarket’s downtown Heritage Conservation District.
Clearly no-one could order the demolition of the building (other than in circumstances where public safety was at risk) than the owner, Bob Forrest. (Photo shows Bob Forrest, centre, and his wife Colleen.)
According to Newmarket Today the demolition happened overnight between Wednesday October 9 and Thursday October 10. The rubble and debris was removed in short order.
"Take it down!"
On Thursday 10 October at 2pm, Dave Hunter, one of the owners of the Main Street business Lemon and Lime, was in conversation with a site supervisor (probably from Lions Demolition). Also present was the Newmarket Historical Society stalwart Ron Pilfrey. They both heard the supervisor say the building was unsound and that it would have taken $100,000 to fix
“so the owner said take it down.”
We shall get full details in due course.
The Town is currently doing its own investigation but this is damning evidence that comes from two long-standing and respected members of the local community.
The Mayor, John Taylor, told the press yesterday that he was infuriated by the destruction. He has every right to feel betrayed. On 4 May 2018 he told us:
“The agreement reached will see the Clock Tower and the store fronts redeveloped to full use with NO new construction.”
In fact, the agreement between the Town and Forrest’s Main Street Clock Inc allowed Forrest to get up to $100,000 of public money for the restoration of the old heritage properties.
Section 10 (b) of the agreement between the Town and Forrest’s MSCI says this:
“The Town will provide access to the Newmarket Downtown Development Committee (NDDC) incentive program up to a cap of $100,000 to the extent that the New Development Concept qualifies and meets program criteria...”
The program criteria does not mention demolition. The agreement did allow for the extensive remodelling of the interiors of the protected buildings. As far as I know there was no inventory taken of the heritage value of the interiors. I raised the issue at the time but, like many others, I sensed the Town was battle weary and just wanted to bring things to a conclusion.
When he was trying to sell his Project Landscape condo concept to us Forrest told us preserving heritage is not about:
"freezing old buildings in time and treating them as museum exhibits".
We now know that in Forrest’s perverted Orwellian double-speak preserving heritage can mean demolishing what you are purportedly trying to save. A bit like destroying the village in order to save it.
Bob Forrest cannot be trusted to keep his side of the bargain. He is, truly, the Barbarian at the gate.
If, as I believe, the evidence shows that Forrest ordered the demolition of the irreplaceable historic property at 184-186 Main Street South he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Note: The penalties for contravening the Ontario Heritage Act are set out in s69. The implications of a STOP ORDER are set out in s32.
Update Saturday 12 October 2019 at 21.00: And this is how Newmarket Today is reporting on recent developments.
Photo: April 2019 showing rear of 184-186 Main Street South (where orange screen is) taken from Market Square.
Lions Demolition and excavation. The signs were subsequently removed as they gave the impression - correctly as it turns out - that the work would involve demolition. Photo taken in April 2019.
- Written by Gordon Prentice
An historic commercial building at 184-186 Main Street South, owned by developer Bob Forrest, was demolished earlier today - without permission from the Town of Newmarket. (Photo: building on right as it was and, below, after demolition)
The first female pharmacist in Ontario, Anne Mary Simpson, ran her apothecary from this heritage building.
Town rejects Forrest's Plan
The developer Bob Forrest tried for years to get planning approval for a condo in Market Square which would involve the demolition of a string of historic commercial properties on Main including this one at 184-186 dating from the mid 1800s. He was ultimately unsuccessful and struck a deal with the Town to restore the buildings together with the landmark Clock Tower and put them up for sale.
Only the historic plaque cemented into the sidewalk in front of 184-186 Main Street South remains to remind us of what was once there.
The Town's Heritage Registry describes the architectural features of 184-186 Main Street in this way:
"A two-storey frame block clad in siding with roughcast plaster beneath and surmounted by a gable roof ‒ one in a row of historic buildings anchored by the Old Post Office."
The building was supposedly protected from demolition.
The Town tells us:
"Newmarket has designated 43 properties under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act and 72 properties as part of the Lower Main Street South Heritage Conservation District (HCD) under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act. These properties are designated due to their cultural and architectural heritage value. They are protected from demolition and changes to the building must be sensitive to their heritage value."
In the early days the building was owned by Charles Simpson who was apprenticed under Dr John Bentley for seven years to become an apothecary. He ran his business from this property. He died during a devastating typhoid epidemic that decimated Newmarket in 1879, taking the lives of one in every 10 people.
As part of the long debate on Forrest’s plans, the architectural consultants Goldsmith Borgal reviewed the buildings Forrest wanted to demolish, saving only their facades. This is their pen portrait of what has now disappeared forever:
"This two storey frame structure is the oldest extant building on the block, and perhaps one of the oldest buildings on Main Street South. Dating to the early nineteenth century (likely c1840), it may be the building referenced in an early drawing of the street as the Smith & Emprey General Store. Smith and Emprey was established in 1837 and was located immediately north of the North American Hotel.
The building at 184 Main Street South is also represented on the 1862 plan of the Village on lot 19. Charles Hargrave Simpson, whose wife, Anne Mary Simpson, was Ontario's first woman druggist, once owned the building. Simpson operated an apothecary from 1886 to 1914."
I don’t know why it was demolished but I can guess what we shall all be told tomorrow. We shall be reminded there was permission to remove the structures at the rear. Perhaps we shall be told this left the main building in a structurally unsound condition and it had to be torn down for safety reasons. I don’t know.
Forrest or his agents are responsible for the scandalous destruction of an irreplaceable part of the Town’s history.
We need to be told how this catastrophe was ever allowed to happen.
What was the precise sequence of events?
What safeguards were ostensibly in place to stop this sort of thing happening?
Who was responsible on-site?
Who took the decision to demolish and for what reasons?
Who was consulted at the Town?
Were professional structural engineers called in?
After a campaign to save our historic Main Street lasting many years what a tragedy it is to see this happen.
Those responsible must be held to account.
Update on 11 October 2019: The penalties for contravening the Ontario Heritage Act are set out in s69.
The Town issued this Statement on 10 October 2019:
Main Street Clock Inc. Development UpdateCreated: Thursday, October 10, 2019
The Town of Newmarket has recently been made aware of the demolition of 184 and 186 Main Street. The original scope of work and conditions for the building permits were only to conduct interior alternations to the building.
The Town of Newmarket is issuing a STOP WORK ORDER on all buildings related to the Main Street Clock Inc. Development (188, 190, 192 and 194 Main Street) until further notice.
The Town of Newmarket is committed to protecting the heritage of the Downtown Area to ensure it is preserved, restored and beautified. Newmarket is taking this matter seriously and will be conducting a thorough investigation. We will provide an update to the community as soon as possible.
For more information on the Clocktower Application, please visit newmarket.ca/clocktower
The scale of the destruction concealed by the hoardings on the Main Street South side. But everything has gone.
The Clock Tower has lost its next door neighbour
The plaque is all that remains: "The Charles Hargrave Simpson Building: Ontario's first woman druggist operated an apothecary here from 1886 to 1914."
Another view of the totality of the devastation. Looking from Main Street towards Market Square
It wasn't closed for restoration and repairs.
Looking from Market Square towards Main Street. Nothing is left of the heritage building.
This is the Road Occupancy permit attached to the wooden hoarding at 184-186 Main Street South. "Sidewalk will be occupied with overhead protect (scaffolding with pedestrian through-way) for doing renovations on exterior storefronts at 184-194 Main Street South..."
- Written by Gordon Prentice
The Liberal Party platform “Forward: A real plan for the middle class” rather invites the question: What is middle class?
Are you in it? And, if so, what does it feel like to be middle class?
We learn from yesterday’s Newmarket Chamber of Commerce debate at the Cardinal Golf Club that the candidates in Newmarket-Aurora define middle class by income. Is this enough? What about impoverished professional people without two cents to rub together living in houses too large for their means?
The former MP for Newmarket-Aurora, Lois Brown, looks down on us from the elevated stage and cries:
“You are the middle class! Getting up every morning and going to work!”
This immediately excludes me from the middle class.
Lois goes for the jugular
Lois, never slow to plunge in the stiletto, tells us Justin Trudeau is not middle class because he has all these Trust Funds. And Finance Minister Bill Morneau is most definitely not middle class because he owns a chateau in France.
The Liberal’s Tony Van Bynen lives and breathes money but even he had to Google to find out who is middle class. He tells us you must earn between $50,000 and $125,000 to qualify. By that definition the old banker is upper class. Perhaps even an aristocrat.
The Green’s Walter Bauer thinks anyone getting less than $200,000 is middle class.
The NDP’s Yvonne Kelly thinks middle class people are raking in between $100,000 and $200,000 a year. By her measure, this means a relatively small number of individuals in the riding are middle class. On the platform she is sandwiched between two of them.
Should we worry about deficits?
Now we are on to deficits. In the wider scheme of things are they important? Or should we just worry about the rising cost of cauliflower in Food Basics?
Lois Brown who sees red every time she sees red on a balance sheet declares:
“In 2015 the Liberals did not inherit an empty bank account!”
The Green, Walter Bauer, points to a hand-out he has prepared for just this eventuality. He dismisses her claim in a few words.
“The Conservatives got close to a balanced budget in 2014 but did not get there.”
Terrific! Lois’ balloon has been pricked but she seems not to notice.
The cost of climate change
Walter (right) quotes Mark Carney who tells us climate change will threaten financial stability. I learn that insurance companies in Canada last year forked out over $1 billion to pay for claims arising from climate change.
The old banker trills that Newmarket is one of the greatest places in Canada to live (and ranks 23rd or thereabouts in the latest meaningless Money Sense list). Maclean's puts us 93rd in 2019 so go figure. He says he will continue to roll up his sleeves to get things done. Oh please! The melodrama!
The NDP’s Yvonne Kelly believes the system is broken and we need to make a break from the old way of doing things. Now we hear a drum roll of depressing facts: many Canadians are $200 away from poverty (definitions please); many young people face a lower standard of living than their parents; there is widening income inequality, tax evasion and climate change. Pass me the sleeping pills! Yvonne tells us:
“We are at a crossroads.”
Aaargh! The only solution must be to vote NDP!
The candidates are all in good form – best so far. They are getting to know each other and we are getting to know them.
Scheer's 25% cut to Foreign Aid
The candidates have been sparring for the best part of two hours when the front runner, former Conservative MP Lois Brown, is asked a simple straightforward question about Andrew Scheer’s pledge to cut Canadian foreign aid by 25%.
Lois is never shy of telling people that she was the longest serving Parliamentary Secretary for International Development and she did great things during her time. She dangled the possibility of Canadian cheese exports to Cameroon and Ghana but didn’t answer the question.
I hear voices from the Liberal table behind me:
“Answer the question!”
The moderator asks her to have another go. Now she is talking about the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation and how there are lots of ways to leverage our Overseas Aid to get more bang for our bucks. The obfuscation is so blatant and obvious we all see it. I shall ask Lois tonight when I see her at the Open House at Aurora Library.
The candidates field questions in various categories. Taxation is first up and Lois targets Finance Minister Bill Morneau who, she says, dubbed small business people tax cheats and got rid of “income sprinkling”. She claims this could hurt 33,000 Canadian families.
“I take exception to his comments about tax cheats!”
She promises a Minister will be appointed to drive the effort to cut red tape. Why does she think we will be impressed with this?
Tony Van Bynen, his comfortable retirement cushioned by an extra $162,739 this year, is as relaxed as I’ve seen him. He says the Liberals will promote the Minister of Small Business to full ministerial status. Yawn!
Yvonne Kelly tells us her Dad was a small business owner and she wants the small business people in the audience to know: “We’re in your corner!”
The Green Walter Bauer who is impressive in a quiet and understated kind of way cuts to the chase – the real problem lies with big business which has done more to destabilise the economy than Government ever has. Just look at what happened in 2008. His assertion is incontrovertibly true but, nonetheless, I expect some kind of reaction from the audience. Nope.
Being a candidate ain't easy
Now Andrew McCaughtrie, the candidate from the fledgling People’s Party of Canada, is asked a question about capital gains tax which he doesn’t quite understand. He says to gales of laughter:
“This talking thing is a whole lot harder than it looks!”
This immediately gets our sympathy. Answering questions on a public stage – where expertise or, at the very least, familiarity with the topic is expected – is not easy. You’ve got to be able to think on your feet. Cue…
Walter Bauer picks up on Lois’ claim that Morneau was disparaging small business people with the tax cheats jibe. Walter suggests it was wrenched out of context and that the remark was really about getting more investment into that sector of the economy.
Now we are talking about cutting regulations. This is red meat to Lois Brown who, to prove her point, unearths some ancient regulation involving candles if you were travelling at night. Sure, that should go. What’s the big deal? Lois says Scheer will “appoint a minister” to get Government out of the way. She says there were four times fewer regulations under the Conservatives. Oh!
Private sector corruption and public sector waste
Walter, increasingly assertive, says his work as an expert witness tells him regulations are needed to regulate companies. He talks of private sector corruption and public sector waste. He turns on Uber, condemning the company for the absence of any benefits for its “workers”. Walter is turning out to be quite the little radical and I am warming to him.
Now we are back on Ministerial appointments again. Tony Van Bynen glances at Lois:
“It’s good that Andrew Scheer is proposing to do something we have already done – appoint a Minister of Small Business.”
This passes for a put-down. "Respect" is Tony's big thing.
Now we are in an “open forum” where the candidates can fire questions at each other. This is a good idea and works well.
Lois loves talking about debt and how bad it is. It allows her to have a dig at the old banker whose trade is debt. She warns:
“Debt today is higher taxes tomorrow!”
Conservative platform "uncosted"
Walter reminds Lois that the Conservatives have not yet submitted their Platform to the Parliamentary Budget Office to be costed. Tut! Tut!
Tony says Lois didn’t answer an earlier question. This is combative stuff from our Liberal standard-bearer. The old banker tells us it is important to have “constructive debt”.
Now we are onto a new topic: Foreign Investment into Canada.
Yvonne Kelly fluently describes the consequences of allowing foreign investors to enter our domestic housing market. She promises the NDP will get tough on the speculators. Walter talks about General Motors pulling the plug on Oshawa. Lois worries about state owned enterprises such as Emirates competing against private sector outfits such as West Jet and Air Canada. She wants a level playing field. They all do. They said it a million times.
Now we are talking trade. Yvonne reaffirms the NDP’s support for supply management. She takes a poke at the Americans and mentions US Steel:
“They (the United States) have shown they will take advantage of us.”
We all agree with that. Now Tony is mumbling something about Canada being the only G7 country which has trade deals with all the other G7 countries. I’ve heard him say this before. He looks down at his notes to make sure he has it right.
All the candidates are getting into their stride. They are more animated. More engaged. Better all round.
My door is always open (but I may block you from reading my Tweets)
Tony Van Bynen reminds us he has worked for decades with small businesses. He created the Newmarket Development Committee, the Business Advisory Committee, worked closely with the Chamber on all sorts of initiatives. Brought Celestica to Town. He sounds like the old banker he is when he tells his audience:
“If you have a problem my door is always open.”
Andrew (above right) says:
“Your questions are so hard today.”
The Housing Crisis
Now we are on to skills and the housing crisis.
The NDP’s Yvonne Kelly is in her comfort zone. She talks about the 42% of people in York Region who are paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs. Did I hear that right? Housing is being priced out of the reach of too many people. She says the NDP is pledged to build 500,000 new affordable homes over five years.
Tony Van Bynen mentions 212 Davis Drive - Newmarket’s first rental unit in twenty years.
He looks at the new Mayor, John Taylor.
“Isn’t that right, John?”
Taylor nods on cue, just like the old days.
“And we didn’t have to give away a penny.”
It’s not quite correct. There were delayed development charges and that sort of stuff but we let that pass.
Lois getting her facts wrong (again)
Now Lois complains about there being no new housing starts in the last four years. Where has she been living? She speaks with such certainty and conviction most people will just accept what she is saying as true. Except it’s not.
Now we are on to an interesting and lively segment on training. The moderator asks if we should be retraining workers or saving the industries these workers are already trained for.
Yvonne zeros in on foreign qualifications not being accepted here and the absurdity of having medical doctors driving taxis. Lois is talking about “prudential recognition” and provincial barriers. She tells us there are only 200 spaces at the University of Toronto for foreign doctors to requalify for practice in Canada. Walter says qualifications around the globe are not necessarily comparable with Canada’s.
“People buy engineering degrees in India!”
Now Lois is imagining herself back in the House of Commons. She cries:
“Point of clarification!”
She wants Canadian embassies to offer advice to potential immigrants on how they can upgrade their qualifications to ensure they are recognised in Canada.
Yvonne Kelly asks:
“Why the delay? Why wasn’t that done before?”
Tony says a Liberal Government will allow municipalities to sponsor skilled immigrants, an idea so exciting it gives the old Mayor goosebumps.
Now Tony-the-Disrupter inserts himself into the debate. He says technology will change our world more than we know it and gives examples of what he describes as “the disrupters” –
“AirB&B and Uber have changed our economies substantially.”
Now we are into the closing stages of the debate with rapid fire answers to questions, taking no more than 40 seconds. This turns out to be one of the best parts of this morning’s exchanges.
Lois bemoans the mortgage stress tests that are putting home ownership out of reach for so many young people. She calls for an inquiry into money laundering. Walter ridicules the idea of an inquiry. “Money laundering is already happening.” The old banker warns Lois not to compromise the stress test. Putting food into babies’ mouths is more important than home ownership.
Now Lois in again banging on about the importance of a balanced budget. Walter simply says:
“I would refer Lois to Deficit Facts.”
Tony reminds Lois that Canada has a perfect credit rating.
Now we are on to voter apathy and disengagement. Walter says politicians are guilty of double-speak. Tax “credits” are simply benefits for the better-off. Tony Van Bynen with his love of techy things says we must stop focussing on yesterday’s news and look to the far horizons. (My words not his.)
Now he says people must see the Conservative platform and its costings. Yvonne singles out first-past-the-post as the biggest barrier to voter engagement. She wants electoral reform. Now she is talking about income inequality and the fact that 70% of Canadians consider this a big issue. The NDP would tax financial transactions.
The old banker tells us:
“Property taxes are the most unfair way of taxing people. They are not income related.”
I wonder what Van Bynen thinks about the NDP’s proposal for a Wealth Tax on the hyper rich? He doesn’t tell us and no-one asks him.
He says the incoming Liberal Government will offer young entrepreneurs up to $50,000 to start their own business. Must be a catch surely? The old banker will want to see their business plans.
Lois says there’s got to be a place for retraining the 40+ people given the way the economy is changing. She says they’ve got to be “re-tooled” which sounds painful.
A good debate. We get our money's worth from the candidates.
Pitched at middle class people who can afford to pay $39.55 for breakfast.
Update on 10 October 2019: And this is how Newmarket Today covered the event.
After this morning’s revealing debate (Tuesday 8 October 2019) there are a few loose ends to tie up. I am unconvinced by Lois’ answers to some questions and I wander along to the evening Meet and Greet at Aurora library.
I wanna know if the former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Overseas Development agrees with Andrew Scheer’s plan to cut Canada’s foreign aid budget by 25%. I tell her I don't buy her earlier reply, where she said the cut would be more than offset by leveraging bigger contributions from the Bill Gates of this world. I say if that’s the case then all wealthy countries should follow the Conservative plan and cut their overseas aid budgets too! No, she says. She will not presume to talk for other countries.
Now she launches in to a story about a 48 hour visit to Mali in which she cradles in her arms a four hour old new born baby weighing four pounds. She tells me that Canadian aid goes to Mali and that little baby, years later, is still alive today thanks to Canada. As she says this I see a tear rolling down her cheek. How on earth does she do it?
I want to get back on track. Now I ask her about her manifestly inaccurate claim that there have been no new housing starts in the riding over the past four years. She tells me I misheard (along with zillions of other people). She says no new Federal money has come into the riding earmarked for housing. Ah!
Now I want to clarify precisely how many front doors she has knocked on. This morning we are told 24,000 (out of 40,000 in the riding). I hear a sharp intake of breath from the Liberal table behind me.
She tells Newmarket Today it is 14,000 and she tells me 17,000 when I see her at her Campaign HQ. What’s the correct figure?
She insists she has personally knocked on 17,000 doors and reels off a list of streets in my neighbourhood. The total figure for Lois and her team is 24,000.
I ask to examine her knuckles and she shows me her perfectly manicured hands.
Photo above: The NDP's Yvonne Kelly talks to voters at the Aurora Library last night.
Below: Walter Bauer's fact sheet.
- Written by Gordon Prentice
The Liberal candidate for Newmarket-Aurora, former banker Tony Van Bynen, signed the nomination papers of Andrew McCaughtrie, the candidate for the People’s Party of Canada.
Why did Van Bynen do this?
Did he approach McCaughtrie or did McCaughtrie approach him?
Was he just being neighbourly?
After all, Van Bynen struggled to get the 150 names required to submit a valid nomination as the Liberal candidate and he may have felt sorry for McCaughtrie.
But who knows?
Someone should ask him.
The Dark Arts of Politics
On the other hand Van Bynen may have been practising the dark arts of politics. Getting a rival nominated who will bleed votes away from the Conservatives, increasing the chances of a Liberal victory.
People's Party votes could make the difference
In its latest projection 338canada.com gives the People’s Party of Canada just under 2% of the vote in Newmarket-Aurora. A small sliver of support but enough to make a difference in a very tight race.
But this latest revelation gets me thinking.
Has Van Bynen signed nomination papers for Conservative candidates in the past?
Do I really have to check?
Update at 8:46am on Wednesday 9 October 2019: I now established that it not possible to view or obtain a copy of the nomination papers from a previous election. There is, therefore, no way of knowing if Van Bynen has previously signed the nomination papers of candidates running against the Liberals.
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