SORE thanks the almost 200 households that signed up for the June 15 Open House and the 30 or so people who asked questions.
The evening illustrated the extreme challenges of conducting public consultations by video. It was a pale substitute for the open house on the Marotta hotel/convention centre at the Community Centre in January of 2018 that attracted upwards of 800 people. Video links are subject to various inevitable malfunctions, present barriers to maintaining focus, deprive the attendees of the opportunity to assess credibility in person and do not provide for a clear expression of collective input. We have, in addition, heard from many of our supporters of various challenges registering for this open house and that some residents lacked the technology to ask questions using the format selected by the Town. We continue to encourage Council and the Town to try find a more effective way to conduct the upcoming statutory public meeting if possible. This is simply too important to continue to do this way.
Many aspects of the Open House were remarkable. Among them:
- Paul Lowes, the planner in charge of the application, saying that it was “news to him” that the reports filed with the Town in support of the application call for almost the entire site grade to be raised by up to 10 feet.
- Mr. Lowes indicating that the massive underground water management scheme proposed for the site will be the responsibility of the condo corporation and the Town won’t have any responsibility or liability down the road when the system is compromised or just doesn’t work as advertised.
- Mr. Lowes claiming the travelled surface on the proposed local roads will be 8 metres when the filed servicing report clearly shows the paved surface to be only 6 metres. Deducting 2.5 metres for a parked car results in our calculation of a 1.75-meter wide active lane, barely wide enough for two normal width cars to pass.
- Stantec (Waverman) stating that they intended to make “sincere efforts” to preserve the linear evergreen trees behind Weatherstone Court, when in fact the detailed engineering drawings filed with the Town clearly show that 60% of the area is proposed to be excavated 2 metres deep for a siltation and erosion control pond, with any remaining trees falling victim to a new storm sewer.
- Stantec advising that they had not completed their Cultural Heritage Assessment when Leah Wallace has completed her assessment and submitted it to the Town as part of a so-called “complete application”. Is there a problem with the Wallace report that the Marotta group is now trying to navigate around?
- One of the Marotta consultants admitting that the site will be raised with imported fill. Our quick calculation suggests in the order of 10,000 truckloads of fill! On a single construction road off John Street!
- The traffic consultant trying to explain why a roundabout was required at John Street and the Niagara Parkway (on property owned by others) to handle traffic from the Marotta hotel and convention centre, but is no longer required on her new calculations even though the traffic from the hotel and convention centre was assumed to remain the same in both scenarios.
- Mr. Lowes indicating that the Marotta group was somehow required to intensify housing on Randwood because of Provincial targets notwithstanding that NOTL has already allocated those targets to sites far more suitable than one of the last remaining estate lots in town and has more than met its intensification targets.
In all, a highly problematic evening for the Marotta group. That the planner in charge of the application did not even know that his own team is proposing to raise the elevation on the site by up to 10 feet, obliterating pretty well everything on it, is nothing short of astounding. We are considering recommending renaming Randwood “Mount Marotta” to assist him in understanding what his team is proposing for the site.
The SORE expert team is hard at work vigorously examining all aspects of the proposal and we trust the Town is resourcing up to do the same. So far, the Marotta consultants seem to be treating this iconic estate with the same regard that their client did in November of 2018 when half of it was clear cut.