At yesterday’s Committee of the Whole, Newmarket’s Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, drops a bombshell - Marion Plaunt, the Town’s Senior Planner, is leaving us for Markham.

This is a big deal.

The planners frame the debates we have about our Town and where it is going. In many ways – subtle and otherwise - they have a million times more influence than elected officials. Over a year ago, I blogged only half in jest that we should elect the planners. At the OMB, their professional views trump those of democratically elected councils with a mandate to defend their local communities.

And when they are gone, the planners leave their giant footprints behind.

Marion was in charge of the critically important Secondary Plan file. She dealt with the controversial Slessor application. She was responsible for the parkland and open spaces strategy. And while she was labouring at the coal face at all hours of the day and night on multiple complex briefs, her boss, Rick Nethery, was gazing absent-mindedly out of his office window. In many ways, Marion Plaunt held the planning department together.

For these reasons and loads of others, I hope our councillors will involve themselves closely in the arrangements for appointing her successor.

Planning is too important to leave to the planners.

They move on. We live here.

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