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Dave Kerwin: A Prince Among Men

Dave enjoys flattering people and, in turn, being flattered. 

Laying it on thick. Preferably with a trowel.

The oleaginous Dave Kerwin is the longest serving councillor in the whole of Canada, shamelessly flattering his way through the decades, selecting his victims at random.

As he is quick to remind us, he is ten years older than the Mayor. Tony Van Trappist. A whole decade more of solid flattering under his belt.

Last week, Kerwin made a million toes curl when he eulogised the newish Ward 5 councillor, Bob "Kwapeese" for having a "backbone". (You can see it here at 28 minutes in.)

Bob Kwapeese faced down local Ward 5 residents who thought a row of Townhouses on Church Street shouldn't be built 7' 5" away from a beautiful designated heritage home built in 1881, sitting on fragile rubble stone foundations, a stone's throw from the Old Town Hall.

But why say Kwapeese showed backbone?

Bob wasn't standing alone, arm raised, in front of a gang of Hell's Angels roaring down one of his bike lanes. 

That's what I call backbone.

No. No. No.  According to Dave, Bob showed backbone for having the courage to walk away from an 136 year old heritage home that needed his help.

Bob "Kwapeese" is a jewel with a backbone

At last week's Site Plan Review Committee (15 May) on 182 Church Street, Kerwin quickly moved in to top gear, lavishing praise on the Rose Corporation:

"They are not questions they are just comments. But this is the site plan. The Town of Newmarket has been extremely lucky to have the Rose Corporation and yourself Daniel handling this infill and we're lucky you've taken the care that you have to preserve the King George School. It is going to look better today than it did yesterday or in the future.

So we're very lucky and you've done everything you can to work with Mrs Campbell. I've been present with Bob Kwapeese in her home and my wife and I have worked with you and with the residents in that area and tried to come up with different solutions. Even talked to your landscape architect about the trees and the English Oak and the Cyprus Evergreen and so forth. So we are very very lucky in that case.

Exemplary Reputation

And I know that during the construction you will take care to work with the residents. So your corporation is one that we've worked with before and it has an exemplary reputation within the Town and, secondly, you know, its... we have a new councillor in Ward 5 his name is Bob Kwapeese. I've worked with him and met with Ann Campbell. Bob and I even had cookies and tea there with the late Tom Campbell and Ann Campbell.

I would say to the residents that in the Town that we are lucky to have a person like Bob Kwapeese representing Ward 5 and we are lucky to have him on Council.

 He's a man who has a backbone. He's not afraid to take on issues - and I watched him work with the bike lanes and I've watched him work with this development.

I salute Bob Kwapeese! I compliment him! And I admire him!

I salute him and I compliment him and I admire him so I know we are in good hands here. We are not going to be always 100% perfect but all of us around this table have done our best and we need accommodation in this Town and this one is gonna be just a jewel. It's one we can look back on in three years, five years. And these issues, five years from now, seven years from now they'll work themselves out. 

 And I took the opportunity to go to the Art Gallery of Ontario and I sat out in the Italia Galleria and I looked across at what they've done at Dundas Street with the heritage and the new and the old and its just beautiful and I know when this is all finished and people are living there that the issues will have faded and people will walk away and they'll be very happy with what you've done so that's just my comment Bob.

(The Galleria Italia at the AGO is on the above right. Second floor. This is what Dave saw while sipping his cappucinno.)

You are a jewel to work with. I know we won't always agree on everything but I know you have a backbone and that to me means everything."

Bob Forrest walks on water

This encomium perhaps surpassed his earlier speech on the merits of Clock Tower developer, Bob Forrest, which, until now, had been the high water mark:

On 18 April 2016, Kerwin gushed:

"I have known Bob Forrest for a very long time, probably over 20 years; two decades.  He is an absolute, consummate gentleman and he is a visionary.  I dealt with him on five projects within Ward 2 and all these projects have been unbelievably successful... 

The Residents love him

I have had an intimate relationship in the development industry and the building industry and when Bob Forrest sold Renessa I went to his retirement party from that building and the residents were in tears because he and Colleen gave everything they had to the residents and the residents loved him and they still remember him because I go back there constantly. 

His word is his bond. He is a gentleman

I am going to give blood, sweat and tears, meeting with anyone I can and I attended Trinity and go to all the public meetings I can to work our way through this (the Clock Tower development) because I know that, in the end, I am working with a man I have known for 23 years who is absolutely transparent.  He’s a gentleman.  His word is his bond.  And he wants to make the World better and provide accommodation for people who need it."

Notwithstanding this embarrassing love-in, my spies tell me Kerwin believes Bob's Clock Tower project is doomed.

That is a big admission. Kerwin is programmed to side with developers so when he thinks things are going pear-shaped then that's it. Curtains for Bob Forrest.

Flattery

As it happens, at the moment I am reading James Boswell's essays published in the London Magazine between 1777 and 1783. In August 1782 he turned his attention to Flattery.

"...People whose tastes are refined must have the sweet and soothing potion of Flattery administered with a gentle hand, that they may sip it as it were imperceptibly, and enjoy the essence without feeling the coarseness of any vehicle. The most effectual Flattery to such people is what is contrived shall come to them by report."

That's not Dave's way.

If you are a jewel with a backbone you are gonna hear it from Dave first.

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Lights! Camera! Action! York Region set to video stream in late 2018!

York Regional Council has finally decided to video stream Council and Committee of the Whole meetings - from late 2018. Just in time for the first ever Region-wide election of the Regional Chair. They have been agonising about this for years, many believing it to be a rash and impetuous leap into the unknown. 

Markham's moon-faced Mayor, Frank Scarpitti, a late convert to video streaming, tells his colleagues:

"I don't think we should be zooming in."

He wants a static long shot of the Council Chamber and one camera on each side, preferably bolted onto the structure of the building, staring fixedly ahead.

Political Purposes

Scarpitti is not against archiving meetings but worries what will happen to the images. Who gets access to them?

He fears his image could be in high demand. He could be compromised.

Now I hear him warn darkly:

"The material can be manipulated for political purposes!" 

I am listening to the exchanges at home, hunched over my old 1950s radio. Now, in a rare intervention, I hear the familiar voice of Newmarket's Tony Van Trappist. He is worried about the bright lights (at a dazzling 700-900 lux) reflecting off his bald head, blinding his colleagues. I hear sounds of gentle mirth. 

John Taylor is, inevitably, worried about the cost. ($320,000)

The Regional Chair, Wayne Emmerson, scolds him:

"You wanted a cadillac. Anything less than that, you wouldn't be happy!"

Now we hear the cameras may need a dedicated operator.

"Depending on the complexity of the system additional staffing may be required to supplement the two staff that currently provide audio and visual support for Committee and Council meetings."

Now its a race to the bottom to see who can provide video streaming at the lowest possible cost.

Of course, most lower tier municipalities have been putting their meetings out on the internet for years and no-one noticed. A handful of people tune in plus one or two local journalists and, from time to time, people like me with a bee in their bonnet. 

Out of control

The school swot, Markham's Jack Heath, says it only cost $1,000 to put in a system in Markham. He says the Region's plans are extravagantly gold plated.

"This is growing like Topsy!"

Despite the crackly interference on the old radio I think I can make out the gentle voice of the knowledgeable Margaret Quirk from Georgina.

They have a very rudimentary system up there that cost a couple of hundred dollars. Not many people tune in. It's very popular with the councillors.

Sorry... her voice is fading.

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Regional Councillor Michael Di Biase, a man never far from controversy, has resigned from the City of Vaughan Council and York Regional Council.


 

OMB Clock Tower Appeal must be audio recorded so we can fact check everything that is said

Earlier today, I wrote to Bob Forrest's lawyer, Ira Kagan, in these terms: 

"On 3 May 2017 at the OMB pre-hearing on the Clock Tower you told the OMB adjudicator, Mr Blair Taylor, there was no difference from the outside between the original application submitted by Main Street Clock Inc and Option B which you presented to the pre-hearing that very morning.

In the absence of a transcript or audio recording I should be grateful if you would confirm this is what you said."

Mr Kagan replied:

"What I said at the PHC (pre-hearing conference) was that when viewed from Main Street and Park Street, (sic) that the development was essentially the same.  I indicated, for example that it remained 7 stories in height but that the number of dwelling units was less.  The same cannot apply to Market Square since that is where the land swap was contemplated."

I didn't hear Mr Kagan draw the adjudicator's attention to the Market Square side of the proposed development where there would be visible differences between the original application and Option B. I didn't hear him tell the adjudicator the Market Square elevation was not available. Mr Kagan was flying by the seat of his pants.

We do not yet know the extent of these visible differences because, astonishingly, we do not yet have the Market Square elevation nor do we have an artist's impression. I am assuming that Mr Longo (Counsel for the Town) is asking for this information. And if not, why not?

Personal Assurance

Given Mr Kagan's earlier demand that I give him a personal assurance I was not audio recording the pre-hearing, I now believe audio recording is now more essential than ever. Starting at the pre-hearing phase. And I would like the Town to arrange for this.

People will want to fact check everything that is said.

Earlier today, I wrote to the Town's Commissioner for Corporate Services, Esther Armchuk:

"You will recall you told me on 11 April 2017 that the Town would consider retaining a reporter/transcriber for the OMB Clock Tower Hearing in consultation with Mr Longo.

On 14 May 2017, Mr Ira Kagan, Counsel for Main Street Clock Inc, was in touch with me asking if I had audio recorded the OMB pre-hearing on 3 May 2017 or if I was aware that anyone else had recorded it. I told him that I did not record the pre-hearing nor was I aware that anyone else had.

During the course of that pre-hearing, the adjudicator Mr Blair Taylor, invited Mr Kagan to speak to the appeal that was in front of the OMB.

Mr Kagan described the original application and an Option B, declaring there was no difference between the two "from the outside".

Mr Longo told Mr Taylor that he was prepared to accept, on his friend's word, that Option B looked like the original application.

The difference or not between the original application and Option B is a matter of some importance and, in the absence of a transcript or audio recording, I am writing to Mr Kagan to ask him to repeat in writing to me what he told Mr Taylor.

It seems to me this underlines the importance of having a record of what is said at pre-hearings and at the OMB hearing proper.

Now that Mr Kagan has put the thought into my mind I am content with an audio recording (rather than the more expensive transcript) and I would be grateful if you would take this as a formal request.

I am copying this to Mr Shelton."

Ms Armchuk replied:

"As this appeal is now before the Ontario Municipal Board, it is the Board who decides whether proceedings may be recorded and/or subscribed. I have been advised that at the Pre-hearing on May 3, 2017, you requested Party status on behalf of the ACO. I understand your request was adjourned for consideration at the next Board Pre-hearing. Any person can make a request to the Ontario Municipal Board to permit an audio recording of the proceeding. As a result you may make that request directly to the Ontario Municipal Board."

Town should request audio recording

For the avoidance of doubt, M'Lud, I am making the request to the Town of Newmarket, as a principal Party. I want the Town to seek approval from the Board to make an audio recording of the next Pre-hearing on 11 August 2017 and any subsequent OMB Hearings.

The Town may be on course to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending its position on the Clock Tower at the OMB. And, after the searing experience of Glenway where the Town's performance was truly lamentable, it is in the clear public interest for the Clock Tower OMB Appeal to be audio recorded.

Ms Armchuk sat through the Glenway OMB Hearing from start to finish as I did. I winced at the appalling incompetence of it all. And there is no record to show just how bad it was.

I thought the Town had learned from Glenway.

Apparently not.

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The relevant sections of the OMB's Rules of Practice and Procedure state:

91. Media Coverage - Photographic, Audio or Video Recording

No person shall take or attempt to take a photograph, motion picture, video recording, or other recording capable of producing visual or aural representations by electronic means, or otherwise, at any proceedings of the Board otherwise open to the public, unless the presiding Board Member authorizes the recording and the following conditions have to be satisfied by the person making the request:

(a) authorization for the request was submitted to the presiding Board Member or the Chair;

(b) the Board Member determines that the proceedings will not be disrupted or delayed if approval is given;

(c) the Board Member determines that the approval will not result in any prejudice to any party to the proceedings;

(d) the equipment must be of a type approved by the Board and be placed in locations approved by the presiding Board Member; and

(e) photographing and/or visual recording may take place only within the times designated by the Board Member prior to the commencement of the Board’s proceedings and no approval of the Board shall apply to any time during which the proceedings actually occur or in which the proceedings are in session.

92. Submissions to a Request

The Board Member shall afford the parties to the proceeding an opportunity to make submissions to the Board of any of the items set out in Rule 91 and respond to those submissions. The Board may impose conditions to any approval necessary to ensure the items in Rule 91 are satisfactorily addressed.

93. Withdrawal of Approval

The Board may withdraw permission to record temporarily or permanently if the conditions are not met, if any of the factors in Rule 91 become relevant, or if the Board in the circumstances cannot conduct a full and fair hearing.

94.Verbatim Reporters

Any party may arrange for the attendance of a qualified verbatim reporter, at his or her own expense, for the purpose of recording all testimony and submissions during a hearing event. Before a qualified verbatim reporter is permitted to record only part of a proceeding, the party retaining the qualified verbatim reporter must obtain the consent of the Board. In considering whether to provide its consent, the Board will consider, among other matters, whether to permit a record of only part of the proceedings would result in prejudice to a party.

95.Transcripts

If a party orders a transcript or partial transcript of the hearing event, the party must notify the Board, and the other parties to the proceedings that it has done so, and the Board shall receive a copy free of charge, if the Board requests a copy. The party must furnish the copy of the transcript to the Board within three days of the date of the party’s receipt of the transcript. The Board may at its own expense and on notice to the parties, order a transcript or partial transcript from the qualified verbatim reporter without furnishing a copy of the transcript to the parties; however, in any such case the Board will advise the parties that it has ordered the transcript and where the Board orders a partial transcript, the Board shall notify the parties as to the part of the transcript the Board has ordered.

Update on 19 May 2017: In the original email to Ms Armchuk the word pre-meeting was used interchangeably with pre-hearing. 


 

OMB prehearing on the Clock Tower was misled

Ira Kagan, the lawyer acting for Clock Tower developer, Bob Forrest, told the OMB prehearing on 3 May 2017 that there was no difference "from the outside" between Forrest's original application and Option B.

Kagan's statement, made without any qualification, was untrue. There are significant differences between the original and Option B. 

Compare the plans for the Market Square side of the proposed development. The plan shown at the top is from the original application. The plan below is from Option B.

Forrest's original application (resubmitted in April 2016) was for a seven storey building with 165 apartments and 199 parking spaces with underground parking extending under Town-owned land.

Option B which was sprung on everyone on the day of the OMB prehearing proposed 143 rental units and 177 parking spaces - all on Forrest's own land. (The Town's counsel, Leo Longo, was told about Option B on Monday evening, 1st May 2017 - less than 48 hours before the prehearing.) Forrest now intends to build entirely within his property line. 

At the prehearing I was given a sheaf of drawings for the new Option B but one key elevation was missing. The view of the Clock Tower development from Market Square. Yesterday, I emailed Kagan with the question:

"There was no artist's impression or elevation for the proposed development as seen from Market Square. Is this available?"

He replied:

"No. I gave you all that was available."

When Kagan assured the OMB adjudicator, Blair Taylor, that even with the loss of the Town-owned land required for the underground car park, the development looked the same from the outside, he must have been relying on information from his client, Bob Forrest. I am certain Kagan would never knowingly mislead the OMB. 

Why is this important?

Bizarrely, the OMB has two applications before it. The original application which is under appeal and Option B which is being sold as a minor variation of the original. This strains our credulity.

If Option B is an entirely different beast from the original - and it is - then the OMB should not even consider it. It should instead adjudicate on the original which everyone now knows cannot be built. If the OMB presses ahead with a series of Hearings on a building that cannot be built then, truly, we have entered Fantasyland.

Delicious irony 

In a delicious irony, and to the best of my knowledge, we do not have a transcript or an audio recording of the OMB prehearing on 3 May 2017 but perhaps Mr Kagan can tell us what he said or what he meant to say if he "mis-spoke". The Council Chamber was packed and I am prepared to bet people heard what I heard.

My hunch is the revised Clock Tower is still work in progress. If it is not then Forrest should make all the plans, drawings and supporting statements available to the Clock Tower Parties immediately. And he should brief his counsel, Ira Kagan, comprehensively and honestly, holding nothing back.

In the meantime, the Town should formally request the OMB to dismiss Forrest's appeal without a hearing.

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On 28 November 2016, after the Committee took its decision to deny the Clock Tower application, Bob Forrest told councillors:

"We have informally shared with Planning Staff that we have found the means to re-design the underground so that it does not extend under the Newmarket Library parking. This revised configuration, which was accomplished as to reduce our construction impact upon Library operations, is to be presented as part of a Site Plan Application."

Earlier today, I wrote to the Town to ask for sight of any elevations or artist's renditions of the revised Clock Tower development (as referred to above) as seen from Market Square.


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