Newmarket Mayor, Tony Van Bynen, has cautioned Regional Councillor, John Taylor, not to put a motion before the Council to cap the height of new buildings at 15 storeys.

Taylor wants a vote on building height restrictions as it would indirectly provide direction to current proposals such as Slessor Square as to what the Council feels is appropriate.

In his blog, the Mayor counters:

I do not believe it is appropriate to pass a resolution that sets notional height restrictions for buildings without due process.

He goes on to raise the spectre of the OMB

To pass a resolution at this time, as has been proposed, may well put our municipality in front of the Ontario Municipal Board.

The consequences of an OMB hearing would mean a cost to our municipality of upwards of a hundred thousand dollars in legal fees.

Seems to me the OMB casts a long shadow over our councillors.

Every time I talk to a councillor and mention a contentious planning issue it is only a matter of moments before talk turns to the OMB and its supposedly awesome powers.

Seems to me it’s time to put the OMB under the microscope.

But that’s for another day.

The Town is now working on its Secondary Plan which will set new (and higher) densities and heights for developments along the Yonge Davis corridors.

Information on how people can participate is buried deep in the Town's website. It is not easy to find unless you know what you are looking for. Click on the Town Page Notice for details.

We read that the Town

 is seeking interested citizens to participate in a public engagement process in the development of the long term vision and detailed Secondary Plan for the Yonge, Davis and Healthcare (Urban) Centres

It goes on

 Individuals interested in participating in a focus group to help plan Newmarket’s Urban Centres are requested to forward their letter of interest to Marion Plaunt, Senior policy Planner by 27 February 2012.

You can write to Marion Plaunt at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and get involved.

The straight talking Maddie Di Muccio has nailed her colours to the mast.

Her blog tells us me must embrace change or stagnate.


Her blog is full of inaccuracies. Newmarket's hands are not tied by the Province. Our councillors have a huge amount of discretion to shape new developments. 

For a start, they can stick to the provisions of their own Official Plan.

She pokes regional councillor, John Taylor, in the ribs for his suggestion to cap future buildings at 15 storeys.

She thinks he is bowing to pressure from residents.

I am left wondering how high our inflexible Maddie would go.

If a developer were pushing for 35 storeys would she say no? 

On the evidence of her blog, I doubt it.

I write to our regional councillor, John Taylor, following his blog post (see below).

He tells me separately that he put down a "notice of motion" at the Council meeting on Monday 13 February.

I ask him, what does this mean?

When will the examination of possible height restrictions take place?

What are the implications for the Secondary Plan?

And does his notice of motion capture applications, such as Slessor Square, that are already in the pipeline?

John gets back to me at the speed of light (ten out of ten!) and says this:

A notice of motion is just a polite heads-up for your colleagues that a motion is coming.

This will be a 3-6 months process. I will move a motion at the next meeting that we get a staff report on how to proceed with implementing a height restriction... they will bring back a report a month or so later, and then we will vote on it which will trigger an Official Plan Amendment process including public consultation... with an eventual final vote.

This does not apply directly to any development that has already been submitted or approved.

Indirectly it does provide direction to current proposals such as Slessor Square as to what Council feels is appropriate.

It looks as if this could be a long haul.

News that John Taylor, our Regional Councillor, wants to see a cap of 15 storeys on new development is a step in the right direction.

As he writes in his blog Newmarket is a town. We are not aiming for city status. 

I want to see our town grow - but not at any cost. New developments should be attractive, well designed and built on a human scale.

The future of our town is too important to be left to the troika of professional planners, developers and councillors. The rest of us should have a say too!

And because millions of dollars can turn on Town Hall decisions to re-zone land, we need complete openness and transparency.

There should be no place for off-the-record and whispered briefings when fortunes can be made from land use decisions.

All the facts should be put on the table.

Councillors and Town planners shouldn't hoard information but should share it widely.

The decision by the Town to allow a 20 storey condo at the junction of Davis and George Street illustrates the point perfectly.

The Mayor told us that only two people turned up to the public meeting called to consider the proposed development. But only a tiny number of residents were notified. The surrounding area is almost all commercial, the LCBO, Shoppers and so on.

In the circumstances, the fact that as many as two people turned up was, in itself, a minor miracle.

It should not be read as indifference.

The sky is not the limit.