November 4, 2013 – Public Open House, Concord GO Centre Secondary Plan

The following is a partial transcript of the Public Open House of  November 4, 2013, which accompanied the release, for public comments, of the Draft Secondary Plan for the Concord GO Centre.  The transcript encompasses two interventions by members of the executive of the Concord West Ratepayers Association,  Ms. Josephine Mastrodicasa and Dr. Paulo Correa.

A copy of this document is also available in PDF format.

Public Open House – November 4, 2013
concerning the Draft Concord Go Centre Secondary Plan (File 26.3)

Actions to follow this Public Open House, as outlined by Emma West:

•  Finalize the Secondary Plan Policies and Schedules
•  Public Hearing on November 26, 2013.  There will be no recommendation for approval of the plan at this hearing
•  A report will be released on the comments that were received on the 26th
•  Target for the first quarter of 2014 for a public hearing to finalize the plan.

Josephine Mastrodicasa:
Yes, hi.  I’ve been listening to everybody and I sort of agree with everyone.  I agree with this gentleman that Bowes Road is unbelievable – you can’t go up or down, the trucks are everywhere.  I agree with this other gentleman – that you can’t rent a building in this area, because I tried – last weekend, in fact.  And the reason we lost a tenant was because they couldn’t get there.  They were half an hour late just getting across the bridge.  So they decided to go on Edgely ’cause it was faster.  So, I understand that.  I understand Hurontario Street, because I go there.  Hurontario Street, as crowded as it is, even along the Square One area, the traffic moves.  It’s not what we have here.  We have here a gridlock.  You can’t go anywhere.  And we’ve talked about this and talked about it and talked about it at every meeting we’ve been to.  And, unfortunately, what I see here today is totally different from what the neighbourhood wants.  We’ve got three roads coming onto Highway 7, at a curve, with nothing anywhere else.  You can’t pass there now – and with the rapid trans getting in the middle – it makes it even harder.  To go from Hillside to Keele Street takes you at least ten lights.  To go from Highway 7 over the bridge to make a left hand turn onto Keele Street takes you about 6 lights, or more, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  How do I know that?  Last week, I tried to rent a building – it didn’t work.  I called York Region Transportation Department thinking there was something wrong with the light.  I was informed that the light works fine.  They tested it – there’s a 20 second left turn time length, which is the maximum.  This is not the worst intersection in Vaughan, but one of the worst.  That’s what she said.  So, I do understand.  This plan doesn’t solve any of our problems.  It encourages more traffic from this so-called residential high rise.  And what do I think of this residential high rise?  The last meeting we were at, and I’m going to quote myself, I said I live on a lot that’s 108 x 260 –  I don’t see a single home in that area, and that’s supposed to be mixed.  And all we got now is tremendously high rise.  And it’s supposed to be complementary to the area – and it’s not.  The park is on the north side in the industrial area.  What good is that to the people living there? – supposedly to make the people that are already living there comfortable in the use of the common space.  Up there, who’s going to go there?  People that work for Con Drain?  I mean, it doesn’t make sense to me to have a park in an industrial subdivision.  Why isn’t it in the middle of the subdivision?  The other little parkette has to be studied still.  So, to me, this is not a resident-friendly area at all. […] And I’m looking at this again, this yellow space, that’s a flood plain.  I don’t even see the flood plain – it’s a designated flood plain.  Where is it?  The yellow space, that piece of land that the City allowed the guy to build an addition to, is flood plain.  And it’s not even shown.  So, I’m just confused, to say the very least.  And everything we’ve suggested in the past, and I say, everything, has not been incorporated, at all.  We’re going to have more problems, and again, the bridge – everything you said – nothing has been dealt with.

Josephine Mastrodicasa:
Sorry. One more thing – I forgot: I commented on everybody’s conversation, except this one gentleman, and that [you said] when you reduce employment opportunities, you have to recreate them.  Where did you recreate the Concord Floral Land’s employment opportunity?

Roy McQuillin:
There are a number of rules of new employment land – north of Teston Road on Highway 400, both sides, running up the King Vaughan Road.

Josephine Mastrodicasa:
North of Teston Road?  You don’t have to be in the same local area?  You can just be in different parts of the City?

Roy McQuillin:

Josephine Mastrodicasa:
Does that make sense?

Roy McQuillin:

Josephine Mastrodicasa:
You take away jobs down here and you put them in King City?

Roy McQuillin:
South of King City.

Josephine Mastrodicasa:
Well, obviously, but at the border.  That doesn’t make sense to me – at all.  That you’re  taking employment here and moving it up there, and this gentleman can’t rent his building.  Yet, we’re moving the people up there.

Roy McQuillin:
Well,  I’m not being smart when I say this, but some aspects of the traffic might be better up there.  I mean, one of the things that we’re looking at is preserving opportunities for large lot industrial development …

Josephine Mastrodicasa:
You know what?  Instead of putting up high rises you put lots of 150′ frontage or 100′ by 250′, you’ll have less traffic.  And have more people to come in our neighbourhood to work – maybe they can get there faster.

Roy McQuillin:
Or they may have more cars and might generate…

Josephine Mastrodicasa:
I don’t think so.  I think when you’re putting a 22 story building on a lot where you can put one house, the house might have 3 cars.  You put a building there, you’re going to have 300.  It’s a big difference.


Dr. Paulo Correa:
Could I have the first slide [ed. Schedule B of the Draft Secondary Plan] please?

All right.  I’m going to try to be short, but, in case you don’t know, we are all here because of Concord West.  There would have been no process started had Concord West not put up its fight and present Council not supported it.  So, I’ll try to be very brief – even though Gino just told me that I have more than 5 minutes here, whereas in Council, and in Committee, I don’t, at all.  OK.  The point is, this entire story started because of this space, which is not even marked in green, but it is the greenspace, and so it’s somewhat rewarding to see, for instance, the present planning considering the flood plain and extending the greenspace in there but, aside from that, and even though I’m a member of the Steering Committee, I have to veto the entirety of this plan and to say, unfortunately,  even though I love John a lot,  that this falls terribly short of the objectives and of what the Concord West Community believed was going to happen.  In fact, I’ll go through the slides very fast because I don’t want to bother you, but basically, we have asked, and it makes sense, given the proximity to the flood plain and to the greenspace we’ve been trying to protect, that this zone here [ed. orange mid density blocks abutting the greenspace] would also be low density and not mid.  And likewise, we made very clear that it would be a terrible mistake to have anything that was mid to high in there [ed. over the junction of tributaries, on the south side of Highway #7].  So, I understand that these are limits – it does not mean that, at the end of the day, everything will be approved by the City.  But you’re putting caps, and these caps are inordinately out of proportion.  Also, in this particular case, in the case of Liberty – and that’s why we got the hub – if we are here because of Concord West, it is because of Liberty that we got the hub and are engaged in this process.  I’ll come back to that.  They bought the Concord Rose property, previously agricultural land, and they are now going to put in there – capped at 22 stories – buildings.  You know, this is with three roads all going at the curve of Highway #7, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.  We asked for a graded development, with intensities increasing towards the north, and we really don’t see any problem with having an exit through Ortona Court or that exit that’s marked in there to the west [ed. to Bowes Road].  Now this exit over there [ed. going east] as well as one other [ed. west-east] line that was presented to us by Liberty last Tuesday [ed. at the October 29th Steering Committee meeting], don’t make any sense.  They go right over the ravine.   Actually, they go over one of the most sensitive spots, which is a clump of beautiful pine trees, very old, that lies above there, just southwest of the McDonalds.  This just doesn’t make sense – a road that goes this way or that way [ed. east over the ravine].  Anyway, that’s a comment on the next slide.  But here [ed. Schedules B or C], there is a failure entirely in grading the density.

Could I see slide #2 [ed. Schedule C] please?  Well, I’ve commented already on this.  Could I see slide #3 [ed. Schedule D]?

OK.  On the question of the roads, we have pointed this out over and over.  Not only does that road not make any sense, as well as three roads coming down here.  And ever since day one, with the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of the Environment, we have pointed out that this is really a terrible mistake; a mistake of basic urbanism.  You don’t make a major intersection on a curve.  I know that the line in there is actually pushed, the curve is truly closer to that point, but anyway: three lanes dumping cars from a huge development anticipated to have thirty five hundred to four thousand units, if I’m not mistaken, from the number we heard last week, all dumping at Highway #7, where there is a funnel.  So, the Gordian Knot is: first resolve that bridge in there.  It has to be resolved.   Then widen Highway #7, then push this traffic to the west and to the north.  To the north, they can go up that way.  And if you block, as our community also suggested, the left turn in here [ed. at Highway #7 and Bowes Road], you can actually have a Viva flux much more streamlined there, and you make sure that the trucks at Highway 7 and Keele go up north (ed. on Keele), to get to that industrial zone.  Those are recommendations that Concord West made in the Steering Committee for the past year and they have not been taken up by the private planners nor by the City.  This is the result.

The other thing is – could I have the next slide [ed. Schedule E] please? –

– is the circulation, the transit network.  I mean, this is almost subliminal that you still place the Transitway here.  I think the City should have the courage to tell the Province and the Region that what the Environmental Assessment of Minister Wilkinson said and stated was that the best trajectory should be just south of the transitway – and just present it [ed. as the recommended solution].  Present what they themselves have already thought as being the best.  That would ensure indeed that there would be, down the road, a transitway station on Centre Street.  Let’s remember where we started.   We are here because of Liberty.  Concord West never asked for this hub.  But a development with such intensification that goes from agricultural land to 22 story highrises needed some reason to finance, capitalize and increase its value.  I don’t have to tell you how money and power work together.  And that was the vision of bureaucrats.  Now we’ve talking about the vision of the City and the vision of people that live in the City.  We don’t want that kind of a hub plunked on a greenspace.   And we also think it serves, above all, the development of Liberty lands and the industrial zones to the north.   So, push it to the north.  Don’t actually end up by being wishy washy and park it there in the middle saying ‘Oh, you know, this doesn’t mean anything.  It’s not a hundred and forty yards or three hundred yards’.  Have the courage to define what would be [ed. in the interest of the people who live here].  We are here because of the hub.  So have the courage to define what the hub will be.  And just because this station will be in the future, doesn’t mean you cannot create a vision now and provide it.  Then the Province will see that the City stands by what it wants, knows what it wants and will reconsider.  So, you know, I’m not going to focus on the other problems of circulation.  I’ve already said that a development like this with one, two, three, four, five roads through it, is unthinkable.  I mean, you have allowed Liberty to get away with a hell of a lot, to say the least.

Could I have the last slide [ed. Schedule F] please?

This is the ironic slide because we are here because of the greenspace and it doesn’t even appear in there [ed. as a greenspace].  And I understand that the Province may want to be able to retain this greenspace because, one day, perhaps, they’ll plunk another station in there.  We’d like the City to have the courage to ask the Province for that land.  Do a tradeoff.  If you did a tradeoff with Liberty and they could put so many towers in here because somewhere north of Teston Road they were going to give some goodies to the City, do the same kind of negotiation – I don’t need to teach you – with the bloody Province.  You have had a chance.  You’ve sat with them.  I know Metrolinx is a very powerful, despotic organization.  That’s unfortunate that we’ve allowed organizations like that to even run over our civil liberties but, that’s why we have elected officials in the City to protect our rights.  So, have the courage to actually ask for that space.  Transform that into effectively some space for people to actually breathe – and animals too, by the way.

That’s it.  I won’t say any more, and then, more than that only if I’m asked to.


John Mackenzie:
Thank you very much.  I just wanted to make a couple of points.  And I do appreciate the comments that we’ve received here tonight and from the Steering Committee and the investment of time.  I believe that we have acted on a number of your recommendations and I know we’re maybe being, you know, too bureaucratic in how we portray things in terms of  – and we’re not as passionate – maybe we’re passionate but in a different way, with our typewriters, but what we’re trying to do here is not unlike what you’ve been saying.  On the greenspace, and for the benefit of all those here, we actually share a lot of the concerns, as City Staff, with the greenspace located where the MTO had proposed their Transitway station.  And I think Council of the City of Vaughan has gone on record in opposition to the findings of that environmental assessment.  And that’s why we’re proposing to move this northwards.  And I appreciate what you’re saying, you want to get it as far north as possible, but we also have to recognize the capital investment by Metrolinx in the Rapidway, by the Province and the Region and everybody in the Rapidway.  So that’s why we looked at Highway 7 as being kind of the focus for our activity.  Now, Josephine and others have raised the concern and you, I’m sorry, I don’t know your name, but you raised a concern about that bridge, a lot of people have talked about that bridge, and the issues present: the  ‘funnel effect’ is something I heard you say.  I think if there is an opportunity to retrofit that bridge through future planning, the best chance I think we have is through the EAs that are going to take place by Metrolinx.  And I really think that, perhaps we could be stronger in our language on this, and I welcome your suggestions on how to be stronger, but by locating and looking for a vertically integrated hub, or a vertically integrated connection there, which would prompt a need to retrofit, change that bridge, put a new bridge that’s wider and can get pedestrians and can get more traffic and more access into that area, that would be, I think, a really important win for this community, it could also connect the community to the south and to the north.  And I know how difficult it is to get around there.  I’ve spent a bit of time going up and down that area and I’m familiar with the Bartley Smith Greenway.  It is challenging and I appreciate the frustration on this.  But, I think, as Staff, what we’re trying to recommend, and with experts, and in discussions with all of these different agencies, is the way to try to get at that issue that seems to be a major, major problem facing the community.  So that’s another issue that you raised and I think, with the intersection, cause I know that that was another concern you raised, with the intersection located right there, on the curvature, we’ve looked at that, and we’ve had discussions with the Region and the Transit agencies – there won’t be others – that’s the only way, based on the expert advice received to date, where you can locate a full turn in intersection.  And I think it’s for those very reasons you mentioned, you know – the rates of speed, you don’t want to have only one transit stop potentially on that side and then, maybe further up.  So, there’s a lot of points.  That issue has been examined in detail, you know, with some expert advice.  I know you’re still concerned about it, and the type of density, and we’re listening to that.  We’re also hearing the other side of the coin.  That’s the residents’ side and we’ve heard that pretty loud and clear, but we’re also hearing from landowners that want higher densities.  So we’re hearing it from the other side as well.  So, that’s what these processes are about.  We’re taking input and trying to come up with a plan that balances the input we’re receiving.  But also addresses and creates an opportunity to address some of those issues that, I know, have plagued this area in terms of when those big pieces of infrastructure came in, they basically helped to divide this community from the community to the south.  And I know we’ve talked about that at our meetings and in our discussions, and I think we’re trying to come up with some strategies that will help to address that.  Emma or Roy – is there anything you wanted to speak to, especially the policies, maybe, you know the transit and what we’re proposing?

Roy McQuillin:
If I may be so pretentious, maybe even giving you a bit of homework: we have a section in the implementation part of the Secondary Plan called ‘City Guidance and Future Transit Studies in Planned Investments‘, and that’s where we set out a lot of the things that Dr. Correa spoke about – maybe not going as far as he’s going, but maybe take a look at that and see if there’s things in there that we could enhance.  And maybe in there there’s things you could get back to us on that we could raise with Council at the Public Hearing on the 26th.  We understand.  We’re trying to do it within the confines of the policies that we have to work with.  And Council has more flexibility than us in doing that.  But we’re rather confined by the legislative program we have to adhere to, and all the Provincial policies and that type of thing.  So, I’d just like you to take a look at that and see if there’s anything you can actually add to that might help your cause.  I’d just throw that out there and please have a look at it and see if there’s anything we can build on.  Thank you.

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