- Written by Gordon Prentice
Having sat through today's committee of the whole I have concluded that John Blommestyn and Maddie Di Muccio are made for each other. He is angry, argumentative and belligerent. He expects special treatment.
Maddie Di Muccio, is away at a funeral and, in her place, we hear from a deputation led by her husband, John Blommestyn, and their two young sons. He demands twenty minutes to say what he has to say.
He tells us he can't do it in less time. He had a dry run in front of the mirror this morning.
He also demands five minutes each for their two young sons who, deplorably, have been brought along to Council and told what to say.
Blommestyn says that when the children have made their contributions he wants to hear a round of applause for them.
The effrontery is spectacular. Councillors are expected to set aside their musty old rules and conventions. The booming barrel chested Blommestyn demands to be heard, but only on his terms. I feel sorry for the children, forced to play a part in this ridiculous melodrama. They read the script prepared for them well. But the research done by their parents is second rate.
Newmarket councillors deserve a collective pat on the back for the way they handled the report by the Integrity Commissioner into the behaviour of the increasingly mercurial Maddie Di Muccio who, in September, at a meeting of the Committee of the Whole, branded the Mayor a misogynist.
The Mayor refused to accept this label and, with council support, called in the independent Integrity Commissioner, Suzanne Craig who found in his favour.
Her measured report makes compelling reading. She approached Maddie Di Muccio on three separate occasions and was at first rebuffed and then ignored. Di Muccio refused to co-operate, saying she did not recognise Craig's status.
Blommestyn absurdly complains that Craig never asked Maddie Di Muccio a single question.
He says the Integrity Commissioner had gone “definition shopping” to secure a meaning for the word misogynist that suited.
He refers to an email circulated amongst senior staff cautioning them to avoid meeting Councillor Di Muccio on their own.
As I am listening to this, it occurs to me that Maddie Di Muccio is like a virulent strain of botulism infecting the body politic. People can innoculate themselves only by having a third party present at all times to ensure she doesn't invent stories about what happened.
We are asked to believe that this astonishing state of affairs is not Di Muccio's fault, but rather arises from the animus that the Town's Directors and senior managers harbour against her.
Blommestyn clearly sees himself and his wife as victims. Everyone is conspiring against them. There are two standards applied. A demanding one for the heroic but embattled Maddie Di Muccio and another, less stringent, for every one else.
Joe Sponga bravely tries to pull the threads together. He accepts the Integrity Commissioner's recommendations but wants to defer a final decision until January. He has some support from Chris Emanuel who, outrageously, is heckled by Blommestyn from the public gallery.
I hear groans from people around me who fear that this soap opera could drag on into the New Year.
The Integrity Commissioner tells councillors her preference is for an “expeditious decision”.
On cue, we hear from a resolute Dave Kerwin who gets the “Man of the Match Award” for plain speaking. He wants the matter dealt with today. He says councillors have known this was coming for months, maybe years.
Tom Vegh, in a crisp and telling contribution, tells us the matter is festering and needs to be dealt with now.
Jane Twinney confesses this has not been a fun situation to go through. She too supports the Integrity Commissioner but, inexplicably, does not support the recommended sanction against Di Muccio – loss of pay for one month.
Throughout the meeting, Tom Hempen says nothing. How on earth is it possible to sit there like a dumpling, not expressing a view?
Now John Taylor weighs in, arguing against any postponement.
Taylor tells us that he has heard people say politicians should get a thicker skin and learn to live with the rough and tumble of politics. But he warns that if we let things get out of control no business would get done.
He also takes us back to an earlier claim made by the elder boy that his Mom had tabled 21 motions for debate at Council while the indolent Mayor was responsible for just one – the one calling in the Integrity Commissioner.
Taylor gently explains the Mayor cannot move motions while chairing Council. He vacated the chair to propose the one bringing in the Integrity Commissioner.
Now it is back to Dave Kerwin who is determined to make his point.
He says it is time to move on and deal with the Town's business. Glenway. Slessor Square. He reels off a long list. He slams the way in which social media can be used to destroy reputations built up over decades.
He calls for an end to negativity. This is Maddie Di Muccio's stock in trade.
They vote to impose a one month suspension of pay (over $3,000) . But this will be set aside if Di Muccio apologises in writing to the Mayor before 13 December.
Her minor celebrity status would vanish overnight if she were to capitulate.
That would be too high a price to pay.
- Written by Gordon Prentice
Yesterday I received this email from Ward 6 councillor, Maddie Di Muccio.
From: Di Muccio, Maddie
Dec 7 at 1:52 PM
I'm going to give you 24 hours to retract your blog insinuating my husband, John Blommesteyn, is the author of something he is not.
If you fail to do so, I fully intend to file legal papers against you.
Maddie Di Muccio
Newmarket Town Councillor,
She said in an earlier tweet that my blog linking her husband, John Blommestyn, with Newmarket Town Hall Watch “is a lie”.
- Written by Gordon Prentice
In a post dated 26 November on Glenway he confides he was disappointed with the unanimous vote. He writes: "I expected at very least an 8-1 vote."
The conversation between Maddie and John, over breakfast the morning after, would have been fascinating to observe.
- Written by Gordon Prentice
Next month, Newmarket councillors will consider the draft Secondary Plan which guides future development in the Town’s Urban Centres – broadly speaking the Yonge/Davis corridors.
But before rubber-stamping the plan, they should ask themselves some simple questions. How fast do they want Newmarket to grow? And how big should it be at so called “build-out” - when there is no more land left to develop.
The Town’s future population is still surrounded by a huge amount of uncertainty and that number drives everything else.
Our Regional Councillor, John Taylor, who chairs York Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee, as recently as October, had to press Newmarket’s planners in public for more clarity. And Taylor has an army of number crunchers and long term planning people employed by the Region to call on. If he doesn’t know what’s happening, what hope is there for the rest of us?
The Town’s 2005 Official Plan anticipated a population of 98,000 at build out in 2026. That projection is now woefully out of date.
Despite this, the Town will not be amending that figure before the Region has reviewed its own plan to bring it into line with the Province’s new population forecasts (2012) which are set out in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Until then, the planners say
“it is premature to establish the projected population to 2031 in the Secondary Plan; and amend the current projected population in the Newmarket Official Plan for 2026.”
In a memorandum to the Mayor and councillors dated 28 October 2013, the Town’s planning staff tell us they expect Newmarket’s population to stabilise between 125,000 and 127,500 at build out, a 50% increase on where we are now (85,453). (Read the memo by clicking “documents” on the menu panel on the left and navigating to Newmarket documents. Open “Population Projections”)
Within the Town’s Urban Centres the population is expected to increase by a staggering 1,152% from 2,555 last year to 32,000 at build out. Elsewhere in Newmarket the planners anticipate a more modest increase of 12%-16% to build out. This equates to another 10,000 – 13,000 new residents.
Personally, I think these figures are for the fairies. They seriously under-estimate likely growth.
The 28 October memo from Newmarket’s Planning Department tells us that
“although the detailed planning undertaken through the development of the Secondary Plan, has forecast approximately 21,000 people and 20,000 jobs within the Newmarket Urban Centres by 2031, it is premature to include these figures until the (York) regional review is complete and their plan has been amended.”
York Region’s forecast population
Meanwhile, the Province’s Ministry of Infrastructure has pulled new growth forecasts out of its hat.
The Ministry believes there will be 1,590,000 people in York Region in 2031 – 90,000 more than the previous forecast - but it is not going to ask the regions and municipalities to bring their own plans “into conformity” with theirs because this would cause the most humungous upheaval.
So, in the Alice and Wonderland world of planning there are now two forecasts for York Region for 2031 (a) a phoney forecast predicting 1,500,000 people and (b) a revised real forecast of 1,590,000.
York Region’s Director of Long Range Planning, Valerie Shuttleworth, told regional councillors earlier this year that
“maintaining the current 2031 forecast (1,500,000 people) will ensure the continuity of work that municipalities have undertaken to bring their official plans into conformity with the Growth Plan.”
Newmarket’s forecast population
The draft Secondary Plan for Newmarket initially forecast a population of 107,500 in 2031 but this figure is now going to be dropped from the text. It mistakenly excluded growth in the Town outside the Urban Centres.
Newmarket’s outside Planning Consultant, Ruth Victor, who was engaged to work on the Glenway file, told councillors in a memo dated 20 November 2013
“Town staff has advised that for 2031, the projected growth is estimated at 116,521 people as per the secondary plan currently in progress.” (see documents section, panel left, open Newmarket documents and navigate to Population and Growth)
The 2031 population forecast is separated into two categories – those living (a) outside and (b) within the urban centres. By 2031, it is expected that an additional 9,004 people will be here living outside the urban centres and this number will grow to around 12,000.
And 21,000 people will be living within the Urban Centres by 2031. The developments housing this huge number of people will be
“received, approved and built prior to 2031.”
This assumption “is based on discussions staff has held with land owners within the centres related to their development plans and timing”.
I’d like to see that information.
Methodology and Assumptions
The methodology that got the planners to the 21,000 people living within the Yonge/Davis corridors is set out in the Draft Secondary Plan Directions Report (Appendix 2, Approach and Methodology). The planners looked at land available for development and a
“hypothetical development was assigned to each parcel (of land) based on an application of the proposed minimum and maximum heights and densities, the application of the urban design principles set out in the draft policy directions, and a consideration of the parcel dimensions and adjacent land uses.”
It goes on:
“Between 2021 and 2031 development is anticipated to increase considerably… The 2031 demonstration (development?) concept was derived by making a series of assumptions regarding the most likely medium term development sites from the standpoint of complexity of parcel fabric, location, proximity.”
Another Twist in the Road: The Impact of Bonusing
The draft Secondary Plan will allow for gigantic increases in the size of developments through “bonusing” but this was not taken into account when forecasting the 2031 population figure.
With bonusing, 20 storeys can go to 30 storeys; 15 storeys can go to 25; 10 storeys can go to 18 and 6 can go to 8.
To qualify for bonusing, canny developers with very deep pockets will tempt the Town with a desirable public benefit. Perhaps some kind of community facility, new or upgraded.
The cumulative impact could be enormous as councillors, over the coming years, find themselves taking ad hoc decisions on ever bigger developments that are presented to them for approval.
If, as the planners concede, no assumptions were made about the extent and impact of bonusing (on the grounds it would be too hypothetical) then the 21,000 figure looks very conservative.
“This (impact of bonusing) has not been calculated and would be a very hypothetical as it is difficult to anticipate if the development industry is prepared to provide the public benefits identified in the bonusing section of the Draft Secondary Plan. Also, and as indicated in the Draft Secondary Plan, it is at Council’s sole discretion to approve density or height under the proposed bonusing provisions.”
People are waking up to the fact that Newmarket – trumpeted as the 10th most desirable place to live in Canada - will be a construction site for years to come as the planning professionals, frenzied city builders and developers transform Newmarket out of all recognition.
The people who live here also deserve to be heard.
I suspect they don’t want Newmarket to look like Richmond Hill.
Maybe they want a mid rise Newmarket, built on a human scale, and with a commitment to grow that is not totally open-ended.
I know I do.
- Written by Gordon Prentice
Bob Forrest’s plans to build a seven story condo on Main Street South, demolishing historic commercial properties in the process, could be stopped dead in its tracks if the Town refuses to make land available for an underground car park which is an integral part of the development.
The Town’s chief planner, Richard Nethery, submitted a report to yesterday’s Committee of the Whole (25 November) correcting an earlier report that suggested the developer, Bob Forrest, would have to secure an easement to allow his proposed underground garage to extend onto Town owned property.
We are now told
The applicant is proposing that the underground parking arrangement be by way of stratified title and hence would be a conveyance, not an easement.
The report was noted. No questions. No comment. What does it all mean?
The councillors just receive the report.
I suppose this is all part of the Mayor’s “due process” that he goes on about all the time.
Personally, I don’t want the Town to allow any part of Forrest’s proposed development to encroach on to Town owned land. Not if the consequence will be the destruction of irreplaceable panoramas and vistas and the blighting of our historic downtown.
Ward 5 councillor, Joe Sponga, asks about the proposed public meeting to discuss the Forrest development. Why is it needed?
Sponga says we know everyone is against the development because of its mass and scale. Heritage Newmarket doesn’t like it and that is not going to change.
Richard Nethery says a public meeting gives agencies and others an opportunity to make considered comments on what is being proposed.
The Mayor says this is due process. Property owners have rights.
I say that is a load of old cobblers!
The condo development is in complete discordance with the Downtown Heritage Conservation By Law just adopted by the Town.
Why is it so difficult for councillors to say so?
It would be stating the obvious.
Elsewhere... Newmarket Public Library is running an IdeaMarket this evening on Development vs Heritage. Is Newmarket Growing Too Fast? It is from 7pm - 9pm in the Library's multi-purpose room
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