Planning staff directly employed by the Town of Newmarket have now answered questions posed by the Glenway Preservation Association, residents and others at a Public Information Centre and by me (Shrink Slessor Square). The answers were posted on the Town's website yesterday, buried in a mass of other material. The planners' response is shown below.
Two questions have not been answered because discussions took place in a closed session of Council. This is unsatisfactory and should be addressed immediately. The Council can lift the veil on its closed sessions if it so chooses.
The Glenway Lessons Learned meeting will take place at the Seniors' Centre, 474 Davis Drive on Tuesday 23 June 2015 from 7pm - 9pm.
A commentary on the answers - and the process - will follow.
GLENWAY LESSONS LEARNED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. Why were no Town staff called as witnesses to support the Town’s position at the OMB hearing?
Town staff did not play a role in reviewing the application and/or providing a professional planning opinion to Council. Council instead hired an outside planning consultant (Ms. Victor) to, in effect, act as staff on this application and to process the application and make recommendations to Council. Council did not hire Ms. Victor to defend the Official Plan, but rather to process the application and provide a professional planning opinion and recommendations to Council.
Because staff did not play an active role in reviewing and/or processing the application (other than to provide administrative support to Ms. Victor), staff could not be called upon to provide evidence on the appropriateness of the application at the OMB.
In the event Council had not hired Ms. Victor and instead staff had made a specific recommendation to Council, staff’s position at the OMB would have been in support of the staffs recommendations in their professional opinion, and not just to support Council’s position. For example, in instances where Council does not agree with staff recommendations, it cannot then ask staff to defend Council’s decision at the OMB and it must decide whether it wants to hire its own professional planner (as was the case here) to defend its position.
2. How can the Planner for the GPA come up with points and a strategy to challenge Marianneville’s proposal and the Town did not?
At Council’s direction following the referral of the plan to the OMB, Town staff contacted 10-12 planning consulting firms, both locally and from across the Region, in an effort to find a professional planner that could support Council’s position. In addition to specific conversations with the firms, staff also provided background reports and Town planning documents for their review where requested. Upon reviewing the application and the available documents, only one of the planning consulting firms was able to support Council’s position.
Although the GPA was able to find a planner to support Council’s position, the OMB was not swayed by that professional’s evidence and instead preferred the argument and evidence of the developer’s consulting planner and that of Ms. Victor who appeared at the OMB Hearing for this Phase under subpoena by the developer.
3. The OMB adjudicator suggested the fact the Town didn’t attempt to purchase the Glenway lands demonstrated their lack of interest to protect it from development. We hear that the Town did consider purchasing Glenway in some manner years ago. What is the story?
Council did have discussions regarding the purchase of Glenway Golf Course however, these discussion took place in closed session and as such, are not publicly available at this time.
4. The GO Bus Terminal location was a key reason for the OMB to support development as it was described as a major transit hub. As part of the Town’s Secondary Growth Plan we see discussion of revamping transit to better support intensification including co-locating transit with GO Bus/Train to East Gwillimbury to promote much greater usage of transit. Why wasn’t this part of the Town’s defense?
During the development of the Secondary Plan staff met with Metrolinx to discuss the future of the GO bus station and in particular whether Metrolinx had any plans to redevelop the property and relocate the buses elsewhere (e.g. either on to the mall property or the GO Station in East Gwillimbury, or any other location). Staff was not advocating for the GO Station to move, but rather was trying to understand what plans, if any, Metrolinx had for the GO Station. Metrolinx advised that they had no plans at the time to move the GO station from its current location.
At the same time, staff was working with the Upper Canada Mall in terms of its future development plans. It was determined that as part of any master plan for the Upper Canada Mall, the Town, Region, and Metrolinx should at least explore the appropriateness of integrating transit into the mall site, be it YRT, VIVA, and/or GO, and policies reflecting this have been included in the Secondary Plan. As noted, this does not mean that the GO Station is closing or moving, and no decision has been made to move the GO station at this time.
5. When did (a) the Mayor and (b) the Director of Planning, Rick Nethery, learn that Ruth Victor was minded to recommend allowing development on the Glenway lands?
Generally, Ms. Victor’s position was made known through the submission of Planning Reports to Council. Ms. Victor submitted Report 2013-47 in October 2013 which indicated that there were a number of outstanding issues and development on the site as proposed could not be supported. In November 2013, Ms. Victor prepared a memorandum to Council providing responses to a number of questions raised by the public at the October 15, 2013 Committee meeting including indicating that there was not a planning basis to recommend a no growth option.
6. Did the Director of Planning ever consider that the September 2013 Transportation Study (prepared for the Town by external consultants GHD) might be relevant to the March 2014 OMB Hearing?
As a requirement of application submission, a Traffic Impact Study was submitted by the developer and prepared by Cole Engineering. Ongoing review of the Traffic Impact Study was provided by the Town’s checking consultants (RJ Burnsides), utilizing experts in transportation engineering. It is these experts that review the material to ensure all relevant information is included. While the traffic work associated with the Marianneville Development has not specifically cited the GHD reports, it has taken into consideration future traffic impacts of development in the area including the urban centres.
Furthermore, there is a condition of draft plan approval that requires the owner to submit a Traffic Impact Study and Traffic Functional Design report to the satisfaction of the Town and Region of York. The reports will address the internal and external traffic implications of this development, including but not limited to the functional classification and design of roadways proposed within this draft plan of subdivision and confirmation that the proposed road configuration can safely provide for vehicular, transit and pedestrian traffic. The reports will identify any external road improvements required for this subdivision, make recommendations for sidewalk locations, on-street parking locations and prohibitions, and provide an analysis of sight distances and stopping distances. In addition the reports shall address all outstanding comments provided by the Town’s Consulting Engineer as part of the Draft Plan review process.
7. Did the Director of Planning share the views of Ruth Victor on the development of Glenway?(This was asserted by Marianneville’s Ira Kagan in his concluding remarks at the OMB Hearing.)
These discussions with the Director of Planning took place in closed session and as such, are not publicly available at this time.
8. Why was the study area of the Anchor Mobility Hub at Young and Davis not shown on the Schedules to the Secondary Plan, as requested by Metrolinx?
Through discussions with Metrolinx and the Region, it was determined that a Mobility Hub Station Area Plan would be identified around the Newmarket GO train station given the complexity of this area in terms of opportunities and constraints to development related to the floodplain, access and mobility issues related to the GO station including the potential for future grade separation, etc.
While the Yonge/Davis area is also identified as a mobility hub, it was determined that a full mobility hub study or station area study was not required and many of the issues around access, land use, integration of transit, etc., could be addressed through the future Master Plan for the Regional Shopping Centre Study Area in consultation with Metrolinx, the Region, and the Upper Canada Mall. Therefore, while a formal mobility hub study was not shown, similar components of such a study will be part of the aforementioned Master Plan Shopping Centre study.
9. When did the Director of Planning form the view that the two Mobility Hub studies would consider, as part of their remit, the possible co-location of the GO Bus Terminal and GO Rail Station?
The future of both the GO train and bus stations was an ongoing consideration throughout the development of the Secondary Plan. These discussions included land owners, Metrolinx, York Region, and the Town's Planning Consultants. No specific decisions were made about co-location, etc., however it was acknowledged that future studies should be carried out (in the form of a Station Area Plan in one instance and the Regional Shopping Centre Study Area Plan in the other) that would evaluate the appropriateness of this and many other issues.
(The Full List of Q&As - including those posed at the Public Information Centre - are in the Documents Section of this website. Open "Documents" in panel top left and navigate to Glenway. Open: "Glenway Lessons Learned: Planning Staff answer questions put to Town.)