Vaughan Public Hearing Update
Last Week we got a lot of questions about what happened at the City of Vaughan’s Public Hearing on the Jaffari development application on April 4th, 2018. Here is our summary. We know it is complicated, so please read it over a few times and let it sink in. Feel free to ask us questions and we will do our best to respond.
First, let’s clarify a few things:
- The applicant has officially appealed their application to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
- The City of Vaughan is no longer able to approve or reject this application, but rather, is going through this process to form an official position to take at the upcoming OMB hearing.
- Now that the matter is in front of the OMB, the appeal will be settled by either:
- A final ruling on the issues by the OMB, or
- If all six parties who were approved at the OMB pre-hearing mutually agree to a settlement.
- If all six parties agree to mediation and this results in a mutually agreed upon settlement.
- The applicant chooses to withdraw their OMB appeal.
- Each party in the OMB hearing has to take a “Position” to support or challenge the applicant’s appeal before the next pre-hearing in May and must also submit a list of outstanding issues that they want the OMB to eventually rule on.
- The OMB will conduct a full hearing in 2019 and based on the evidence and testimonies that are heard at that hearing, they will make a final ruling to approve or reject this application.
So what was Wednesday’s Public Hearing all about?
- The City of Vaughan has a legal obligation to take a Position on this application at the OMB.
- The City’s Planning Department has reviewed the Jaffari development application in detail and has reviewed all the input they have received from both the residents and the applicant over the last four years.
- The City’s Planning Department has recommended that the City take a position to Approve/Support the application in principle but they have also taken the resident’s concerns into consideration and have placed various conditions on this recommendation for approval.
- The purpose of Wednesday’s public hearing was to allow the public one last time to provide input to Council before they vote to either:
- Accept the recommendations of their Planning Department and go to the OMB with the Position that they are willing to accept this application with various conditions, or
- Reject the recommendations of their Planning Department and then try to defend this decision at the OMB.
Here is what occurred on Wednesday at the City hearing:
- We believe that close to 1,000 people supporting both parties showed up to Wednesday’s council meeting.
- Just before the deputations started the Mayor went over various house-keeping matters for the session and also asked if any Councillor’s had an conflicts with the matter at-hand. Deputy Mayor, Local and Regional Councillor Mario Ferri declared that he had a conflict and recused himself from the meeting.
- The applicant’s lawyer (Mark Flowers from the downtown Toronto law firm Davies Howe LLP) gave the first deputation.
- Despite the huge crowd and some logistical issues, everyone who wanted to give a deputation was allowed to do so.
- The hearing lasted 5+ hours and we heard some very strong and emotional deputations from both sides. If you want to hear the deputations, the video is available on the City of Vaughan’s website.
- The residents were extremely well represented and our community provided the majority of the deputations.
- After all of the public deputations ended, the applicant’s lawyer, Mark Flowers, was once again given the floor to provide closing remarks on behalf of his client; the applicant. Mr. Flowers attempted to rebut many of the valid points raised throughout the day by the community, including an attempt to counter various statements made by community members relating to information contained within reports and studies submitted by the applicant.
- The City’s new Deputy City Manager, Planning and Growth Management, Jason Schmidt-Shoukri was then given the floor to provide an opinion before the Mayor asked the City’s Legal Counsel to also provide an opinion.
- Legal Counsel explained that the City MUST take a position to Support or Oppose the application before the next Pre-hearing in May otherwise this would put the City at a significant legal risk. She indicated that this was the main reason for rushing the issue to a Public Hearing as soon as possible.
- The Mayor then opened the floor to the Regional and Ward Councillors to allow them to table questions to the Planning Department on their report and the recommendation to support the application at the OMB .
- Various Council Member’s asked questions that seemed to revolve around ensuring that the resident’s concerns were addressed.
- Councillor Alan Shefman was very persistent regarding traffic, parking and ways to move some or all of the proposed townhomes to prevent the destruction of some 3,000 plus trees within the woodlot on the applicant’s property.
- Councillor Sandra Racco went last and re-emphasized many of the concerns brought forward by the residents.
- Councillor Racco then proposed a Motion to amend the Staff Report to add additional conditions to address the resident’s concerns relating to traffic, parking, infrastructure and the public road out to Bathurst.
- Council then unanimously voted to approve Councillor Racco’s motion.
- Council also unanimously voted to include this motion and these conditions for next week’s final vote on the City’s position.
- Next week’s vote is not to Approve the application. Only the OMB can now approve the application.
- Next week’s vote is to approve the “Position” the City will take at the OMB. Simply said, to accept the staff’s report and all the terms and conditions within it, add the amendments made on the 4th to the report, and officially take this position to be defended at the OMB.
We understand that this is a very confusing situation, and some uncertainties may exist, so please feel free to ask questions. The application is now before the OMB and the final Approval or Rejection will only happen at the OMB hearing in 2019 or any settlement before.
We will continue to keep you updated as we receive more information.