If it ever gets built, Slessor Square will be the highest and most intrusive development to blight our town.

Yet the Slessors refuse to carry out a so-called viewshed analysis to give people an idea of what their giant development will look like from key vantage points around town.

Why?

What have they got to hide?

Ward 4 councillor, Tom Hempen, tells me the Town’s planners have asked the developers

to provide a visual representation from public vantage points (not back yards) of what the sky-line would look like with the proposed buildings in the landscape.

The planners estimate the viewshed would cost around $30,000.

If the Slessors are so proud of their monster development, why don’t they get one done?

And take full page ads in the Era Banner showing readers what’s in store.

The OMB website has posted preliminary details of the Slessor pre-hearing on 30 November 2012.

It will be held in the Cane Room A & B at 10.30am at the Municipal Offices on Mulock.  The meeting is open to the public.

The case reference is: PL120906

An information sheet on “What you need to know about Prehearings” is on the OMB website.

It says, prehearings help to: 

  • Identify parties, issues and participants
  • Organise complicated matters
  • Determine what documents should be exchanged
  • Determine procedures before and during the hearing
  • Set future hearing dates.

Slessor’s high powered team of planners and lawyers will be displaying some pretty fancy footwork as they dance through all the rules, regulations, by laws, official plans and guidance which, they will claim, permit the erection of this monstrosity in the heart of Newmarket.

Seems to me this is one date with destiny we don’t want to miss.

I email Tom Hempen following his Ward meeting on 10 October when he asks the audience if they want to pay for a "Viewshed analysis" of the monster Slessor development. (see earlier post below)

The developer isn't playing ball. 

They don't want people to wake up to the fact that Slessor Square will completely dominate the town. It would be a disfiguring blot on the landscape. 

Tom has now agreed to find out the cost of doing one.

He just needs to ask the Town's professional planners. 

More to follow.

The Ontario Municipal Board will start considering the controversial Slessor Square project on 30 November.

They will decide whether its soaring twin towers will dominate the Newmarket skyline for a generation and more.

The announcement is made by Ward 4 councillor, Tom Hempen, last night in front of a packed audience at Denne Public School.

At the same time, we learn that promises made by the Slessor developers aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

Anna O’Rourke, who speaks for the Slessor Square group, tells residents there is still no sign of the shadow or the traffic studies that had been promised. And nothing more about density. No Floor Space Index either.

I ask when we are going to see the so-called “viewshed analysis” that would show the Slessor Towers from various vantage points around town.

People could then get a measure of their scale and mass.

It ain’t coming, says Tom.

He tells us the developers were never required to produce one. It’s not in the plan – though it is now or soon will be.

Another example of the stable door being closed after the horse has bolted.

I ask why the Town can’t produce its own viewshed if only to show people how this monster development will blight the Town.

That would cost money says the frugal Tom.

He asks me how much it would cost. I have no idea.

And neither does he.

Hands up those people who want to pay for a Viewshed analysis, says Tom.

Not a lot of takers.

Mind you, if you ask people on a show of hands whether Newmarket councillors should get $47,000 a year a lot of residents would sit on their hands too.

PS They’d be wrong to do so. We need councillors who are compensated for the work they do on our behalf. But we also need a viewshed on Slessor’s impact on our Town.

Ward 4 residents have been invited to a meeting tonight at 7pm at Denne Public School at 330 Burford Street, called by our local councillor Tom Hempen.

There is a huge amount on the agenda with lots of presentations and only two hours to squeeze it all in.

I think the planners and our elected officials are working hard on our behalf but I still have some real concerns. Here are some.

1)    The Slessor Square developers are going to the Ontario Municipal Board with their original design (so far as I can tell). I think Newmarket planners are trying to tweak it to allow traffic to cut through the centre of the development from Yonge to George Street.

2)    Slessors re-worked or “re-imagined” design which lowered the height of the towers but maintained the overall density has been abandoned.

3)    I am disappointed we still do not have a viewshed analysis showing what the Slessor Towers would look like from various vantage points around town.

4)    The evolving plan for Newmarket’s regional centre is sticking with towers way over 20 storeys, despite the concerns that have been repeatedly stated.

5)    I don’t know what has happened to Regional Councillor John Taylor’s earlier proposal for a height cap. It seems to have been filed away and forgotten about.

6)    The planners are talking about getting some of the traffic off Yonge Street and onto other roads. I am attaching a report that went to York Region’s Planning and Economic Development Committee last week. It seems to me there is a real danger that traffic will bleed into residential areas.

7)    The work on the Draft Secondary Plan seems to be happening in parallel with, and separate from, the traffic and transportation studies. Decisions on parking standards for new developments (ie the number of parking spaces allocated to each apartment in a complex) have, I think, still to be taken. This alone could have a big impact on traffic generation. The Slessor underground car park proposed spaces for over 1,200 vehicles. 

There are, of course, a million other issues to consider. The big one for me is the size of Newmarket that is now being envisaged. Our population is currently 85,000 with a Provincially mandated target of, I think, 97,500.

The evolving Draft Secondary Plan implies a population way in excess of this.

It would be quite possible to meet the Provincial growth target with lower densities overall and buildings that are mid rise – not high rise.

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