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Published on Friday, April 21, 2006

Burton corrects misleading editorial

Delay of OPA 198 decision was Mayor Mulvale's decision

Burton corrects misleading editorial
Oakville Beaver Letter by Rob Burton

Last week's editorial - OMB calling the shots -- flatters Clear The Air and Oakvillegreen when it suggests we somehow had the ability to have delayed the north Oakville secondary plan (with "marathon meetings" in December 2004) and thus bear some responsibility for the matter now being at the OMB. We did not delay the plan. It was Mayor Ann Mulvale who ignored her own warnings about the dangers of delay. She chose not to present a plan to Council when she had promised it, in June 2004.

When the Mulvale administration finally convened the legally-required public meeting to belatedly consider its overdue secondary plan for north Oakville on Dec. 2, 2004, it was then six months late by Mrs. Mulvale's own published schedule.

The eight hours of public input that came from all sides at the December public meeting had nothing to do with the developers' appeals getting to the OMB before the Town had a secondary plan because the developers had already begun filing their appeals, starting on Nov. 22, 2004.

The blame for the failure to adopt the Town's plan lies squarely with the Mulvale administration. It chose to delay to December what it had scheduled for June 2004. After December, it chose never to bring it back to Council at all.

If more responsibility for the situation is to be assessed, we would suggest you consider the role of the developers in the matter being at the OMB. The first one filed their appeal Nov. 22, 2004, before the December 2 Council vote (10-3) to gut the greenspace in the Town's draft plan. The other developers followed suit after the Dec. 2 meeting, in January and February of 2005.

The required public meeting used five sessions in the first two weeks of December 2005. One session was almost entirely consumed by the Planning Department report and two delegations from members of the public. Two more sessions were used to hear 12 more delegations from the public and developers. The final two sessions were used by Council to meet in secret for three hours and then to debate and vote, 10 to 3, to "rebalance" the draft secondary plan by reducing greenspace.

It is true, as The Beaver says, that Mrs. Mulvale had given repeated warnings that any delay could mean developers might file a plan before the Town did. But those warnings came at a meeting in the spring of 2004. This was the same meeting where Council adopted a work plan that called for the secondary plan to be adopted by June 2004. The Mulvale administration then proceeded to ignore its own warnings and waited until December 2004 to bring back the plan for Council consideration.

A year later, in November 2005, the OMB expressed surprise that the Town still had not filed its own secondary plan. The Mulvale administration's lawyer told the OMB the Town would file its secondary plan with the Board by December 2005. It didn't.

Mrs. Mulvale controls council with a solid majority, as her 10 to 3 votes to gut the greenspace in December 2004 clearly proves. You have to look to her - not us - for responsibility for her failure to do a secondary plan for north Oakville on time.

We agree with The Beaver that the Mulvale administration's failure to complete its plan in a timely manner will cost Oakville dearly. In my opinion, if it was trying to lose the case, the Mulvale administration could not have invented a more expensive way to fail.


--Rob Burton, Mayoral Candidate



Editor's Note: We believe there are a few points worth mentioning for perspective.

In June 2004, the North Oakville Secondary Plan (NOSP) had 75 per cent more natural heritage system than OPA 198 had called for -- with a corresponding total 75 per cent less residential and employment land.

Oakville expected to meet employment targets to 2021 -- 28,000 new jobs in north Oakville and another 17,000 in south Oakville for a total 45,000 -- but identified trouble meeting longer term targets.

Future employment land saw a reduction of 24 per cent as a result of devoting more space to the natural heritage system.

The scenario had the potential to change dramatically if the Province moved to save as green space some, or all, of the 1,100 acres of land it owns, through the Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC) in north Oakville.

Town planning director Peter Cheatley said it would change most of what was in the NOSP and the Province would have to revise the employment and population targets it set out for Oakville, through Halton Region.

One third of the ORC land was already designated as natural heritage system.

On Nov. 5, 2004 the Province announced it would save a large portion of the ORC lands --two-thirds of the provincially-owned lands north of Dundas Street -- and a 50-acre site for a new hospital near Third Line. It added an additional 330 acres to the 420 acres the Province had already promised to the Town of Oakville for a total of 750 acres.

On Nov. 9, 2004 the Town enacted a development moratorium on north Oakville that would go into effect for one, possibly two years.

On Nov. 15, 2004 the first developer, StarOak, filed an OMB challenge followed by others in January and February, 2005.

On Nov. 17, 2004 Town planners presented the NOSP Issues Response Report. It was voted on by council on Dec. 15, 2004.

On Dec. 16, 2004, the ORC legislation took effect.

The 10-3 vote from the Dec. 2, 2004 council meeting took place Dec. 15 after the meeting continued Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15.

Delegations heard included:

1. Harry Barrett, Heritage Oakville
2. Hank Rodenburg, Oakvillegreen Conservation Association Inc.
3. David Donnelly, Environmental Defence
4. Cheri Bain, resident
5. Archie McCallum, resident
6. Lisa Seiler, resident
7. Hank Rodenburg, Oakvillegreen
8. Paul O'Hara
9. Roger Lapworth, resident
10. Carel Schoch, resident
11. Brian Burton, resident
12. Lyn Townsend-Renaud on behalf of N.O.M.I. (North Oakville Management Inc.)
13. Laura Knowlton on behalf of R.A.N.D (Residents' Association North of Dundas)
14. Hank Rodenburg, resident

A series of motions were voted on.

One was unanimous acceptance of a motion by Ward 4 Councillors Allan Elgar and Renee Sandelowsky that "Staff seek clarification from the Province as to whether they are willing to consider legislation to secure and maintain the Oakville Natural Heritage System.

The 10-3 vote was on the following motion:

"That clause 2 as modified, of the staff recommendation contained in the November 17, 2004 report from the Planning Services Department be approved as follows:

2. That Town staff be directed to consider options to improve the balance of the Preliminary Draft North Oakville Natural Heritage/Open System Official Plan Amendment (OPA) and Preliminary Draft East and West Secondary Plans (Secondary Plans), and in particular to carry out consultation with all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Natural Resources and Conservation Halton, and report back to Council with respect to:

i) Options for the provision of additional employment land given the loss of employment land related to the Provincial government decision regarding the Ontario Realty Corporation (ORC) lands;

ii) Issues related to the implementation of the Natural Heritage System, including:a. discussions with the Province regarding additional legislative and/or financial tools which are required by the Town to create and protect the System, including formal dialogue with the Province as a landowner on the NHS;

b. exploring in more detail with the key stakeholders securement options for the Natural Heritage System; and Employment targets.

c. consultation with the Region and the Province on Population and it carried on a recorded vote as follows:

Yeas: Councillors Knoll, Grant, Duddeck, Bird, Wright, Stoate, Robinson, Oliver, Lansdown, Mayor Mulvale.
Nays: Councillors Elgar, Adams, Sandelowsky.
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Author: Rob Burton

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