Final comments by Council and Staff, Committee of the Whole, Nov 26, 2013, 7 pm, Item #2 (File 26.3)

Committee of the Whole (Public Hearing)
Tuesday November 26th, 2013 at 7 pm
Item 2. Draft Concord GO Centre Secondary Plan (File 26.3)

Final comments by Councillors and Staff  

These comments followed after the deputations, and directly after Ms. Emma West’s recap of the Planning Alliance proposal embodied in Schedules B-F of the Draft Secondary Plan.

Deputy Mayor and Regional Councillor Gino Rosati:
Just a quick one in addition to comments from you and from our Staff.  I just want to make sure that the issues addressed by the community, particularly, by Dr. Correa, and Mrs. Josie Mastrodicasa are dealt with in some form.  And, I’m sure you’ll be receptive to additional meetings and consultation to hopefully come up with some compromise where we can all agree because once your report comes forward then Dr. Correa may not be in favour and at that point, Dr. Correa, it becomes an official document and even if Council was to say ‘we don’t agree’, that document will carry a lot of weight, whatever that may end up being.  So, I think it’s important that we address those issues beforehand and hopefully resolve them and – not everyone is going to be totally happy, but at least, some improvements.

Regional Councillor Deb Schulte:
I would be very interested in hearing the reasoning behind why, in some cases, there was another proposal brought forward.  I’m sure that proposal has been brought forward before during the discussions and I’d be very interested to get some reasoning why some of the things they [the community] have brought forward are not plausible.  Or, maybe they are.  But – I’d like to know more about why we went in a particular direction.

John Mackenzie, Commissioner of Planning for the City of Vaughan:
Through the Chair to Regional Councillor Schulte:  Specifically, are you speaking to the why the Transitway alignment isn’t another option.

Regional Councillor Deb Schulte:
Yes.  Or not so much Transitway alignment, I know that we can try to influence and we can send our comments back about how we’d like to have that alignment but, you’ve made some decisions based on the GO, where the GO station’s going to be.  I mean you must have, you seem to have made some decisions based on things that I’m not sure are really resolved.  And that’s what I’m trying to understand.

John Mackenzie, Commissioner of Planning for the City of Vaughan:
Through the Chair:  Again, our advice is informed by all discussions with all these other agencies.  I think one of the key things that we’ve outlined in this document [the Draft Secondary Plan under discussion] is that, and you made the point, that we actually do not have regulatory authority over the Province and in that hatched grey area, those lands are under the control of the Province.  This hatched grey area here, that’s subject to the Parkway Belt  West Plan – and also, the EA area that you see – some of these parcels are Provincial parcels and so we do not have regulatory authority over those.  So, in the case of this plan, what we’ve brought forward is recommendations related to those areas; and we are speaking to that as something that Council could, if they’re of the view that those recommendations make sense, Council could take a strong role in endorsing some of those things, like the location of, you know, a stop in this area that could then create a connection between the buses and whenever it potentially is going to be funded, in the future, if the 407 on a dedicated Transitway ever becomes a reality, that could be the location for that.  So, I think there’s some of those where that Staff is in agreement that some of that could be considered as an alternative location for that stop; and again, it’s important that we note that we are not in control of those areas and we can’t regulate that.

Regional Councillor Deb Schulte:
I realize we’re not in control of them, but I think how we move forward on our development will inform decisions that are made.  We’re trying to move ahead before things are resolved.  There has been an EA [Environmental Assessment].  They’ve identified the way they’d like to go.  I do think there’s merit, there’s a lot of merit in what the community has brought forward, the concerns.  I had similar concerns with the decisions that the 407 Transitway made.  They made it with a real transportation focus rather than a community focus and an environmental focus.  And I saw that from my evaluation of what was going on.  So, we were supposed to, you know, take a look at that and try to reflect the community focus in how we move forward.  That would hopefully back drive some information on the Province and say ‘here’s an opportunity to look at this differently’:  it was a blank slate, now we have opportunities for something quite different.  And I see, you know, a proposal in front of us here on how you’ve tried to rationalize all the interests and, I guess, I will be interested in learning a little bit more about exactly what drove you to make some of the decisions you made because, you know, in the proposal, in the early days – and I’m really sorry that I didn’t get to spend more time at the meetings, there were so many other meetings happening, there were a lot of conflicts, but, you know, the tracks, the GO station, you’ve been informing this through discussions with those agencies to see what they would be prepared or wouldn’t be prepared to do and I’d like to make sure I understand a little bit more about what was driving them.  Because Josephine [Mastrodicasa], has basically said it right: you know, if you don’t get a connection between the community that you’re trying to design and the track station, then, you know, this whole thing doesn’t work for me.  And I know that the section between Centre Street and the bridge is a non-Rapidway section because of this problem of the bridge.  So, it is really important for me to understand how we are phasing and what we are going to allow to move ahead before these important things, infrastructure pieces, get done, approved, financed.  Because we will, no doubt, create a tremendous bottleneck here.  It’s already a bottleneck and we’re adding significant development and residences and hopefully some offices on top of an already challenging situation.  So, how this moves forward with the transit, with the infrastructure pieces is so critical [in order] for me to accept this as being a practical way to move forward in the City development.  […]

[Ms. Emma West of Planning Alliance explains why the location of the GO station has been left undefined in the Draft Secondary Plan under discussion.]

Regional Councillor Deb Schulte:
What may happen is so varied that it’s really hard to know what’s the right thing to do here. With so many wheels in motion, and so little, really, nailed down, it’s really hard to know what would be the right thing to do and I’m having some trouble with this because there’s a lot that’s unknown.  […]

In one of the deputations from Concord West [actually, in CWRA’s Analysis of the Draft Secondary Plan], there’s some comments here about not having the results of some of the sessions posted and I wondered if you could speak to that, ’cause I do have concerns if we haven’t been making the information that is being gathered and the results of the sessions available, at least within a week or two after the session.  I mean, that’s kind of normal, if you’re trying to share information.  People come, they come up with conclusions, there’s maps, there’s things done and normally that gets posted within a short time after.  This [the CWRA Analysis] is saying that that didn’t happen and I’m concerned about that.  What happened?

We would like to take this opportunity to detail precisely, in response to Councillor Schulte’s query, CWRA’s criticisms concerning the non-transparency of the Secondary-Plan process. Hopefully she and Council can correct these flaws.

1.  Throughout the process, there has been no public discosure concerning the meetings of the Technical Committee – meetings that clearly have been crucial in determining the direction of the proposed Secondary Plan.  No minutes, agendas, summaries, proceedings or results have ever been released to the residents whose lives may yet be crucially affected by what went on there.

2.  Of the four meetings of the so-called Steering Committee (which should more aptly have been called the Steered Committee), minutes were released (by email to the participants) only after the first two; nothing was released thereafter.  And no information about any of them was made publicly available.

3.  There have been three public meetings (“open houses”) that took place during the Secondary Plan process – during which the attendees were served up a game of “dotmocracy” to cover up the deeply undemocratic nature of the planning process. The second and most-attended of these meetings, on January 30th, 2013, generated a detailed series of 5 maps from a total of 5 tables of participants, which gave a very clear indication of the desires of the residents of Concord West and surrounding areas. A vote was taken then on the best option to locate the hub, and it was overwhelmingly in favour of the planning solutions proposed by the Concord West Ratepayers Executive. Yet, and unlike what happened – at least to some extent – after the first such meeting, these results were never released, and when eventually some of the panels made it to the pdf of the present proposal by Planning Alliance (a couple of days before the November 26th Committee of the Whole!), the resolution was so poor that nothing could be read on these maps of the dotmocratic exercise! Council should demand to see the real maps, and to have digital copies of them made available to the public on the web.

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