Friday, 10 June 2016

Planning Act not OMB Reform Needed

Farms dwindle as developers play the system
Our system of development across York Region is a ripe field primed and teed up for corruption's ugly makeover. I'm speaking of loopholes in our planning system, including amendments often made to official plans, overlooked by the Ontario Municipal Board, and how those in the know are able to take advantage of the corruptible system.

Sam Orrico stands symbolically in front of an emptied home
Did you know in Italy, when a Farmer has worked a property for a number of years they get compensated should they be moved off it so that it can be used for other purposes such as development? It translates to English as " Goodwill Out" and is considered fair to the Farmer. Not so here, as witnessed recently by one Farmer in Markham who has worked a property for 35 years, who with agreement still in hand, has been systematically removed prematurely. In fact he claims the bylaw officers have followed him to the new property he's had to plop his trailer home on even, the previous property's house having burnt down some 12 years ago, farmer Sam lucky to have been out at the time.

Who's really in charge of City planning?
They apparently plan to eventually develop Condos there at 14th west of Markham Road - in return for a community centre they built at the west end of the same property block. Problem is, Sam's block in question is not yet zoned for any development, and so as they move towards stripping the now fertile land, after years of care without even having posted signs to the affect they plan to apply for re-zoning, we now have a property at the cusp of ending years of his work - with no compensation to that displaced farmer, made to move his operation at an accelerated rate, at his cost. There are now loads of dirt piles, bulldozers, and other development type equipment set up ready to go. All with no permits or zoning to even develop it. That's how smug they are about it. Control.

It's not the first time it's happened to Sam Orrico, he was removed from the Pickering Airport land in the 80's, now a proposed dump, and certainly not he first time I've written about his incredible story. But make no mistake, he's here for the long haul, and not done his legal fight yet, especially now that the York Region Legal Clinic has a Lawyer on staff for issues involving possible homelessness, that Sam has now met with, although this may be out of their realm of mandated reach...But expect him to once again rise to run for public office in Markham to expose the "corrupt ways" and close the loop-holes through which unscrupulous developers - possibly aided by council unwittingly - can crawl through, to do what they like with a property, despite its official plan designation.

This sat on Sam's door step to spur him along, his remaining daffodils, nearby, went missing that day also.
That is if they don't manage to have him locked up on bogus " threats" charges again through the election ( he was also running as a candidate against Scarpetti) and then manage another unprecedented year long publication ban on quoting anything about him. I kid you not. Sam has always maintained it was false with the charge based on one witness only, also running for council, and he with a thick Italian accent.. He was let out after the election but with a publication ban.... And no one else finds that unusual I guess. It shook Sam up, but didn't end his resolve about exposing this "corrupting of the system" as he calls it.

One such planning loop-hole is that "there are no designated areas for community centres or libraries according to Sam, who has attended every planning meeting on the area properties since the 80's. And should be as they use these loop-holes to influence changing zoning - I'll build a community centre for you here and you in turn agree to look at changing zoning over there for me. This is literally what is happening in York Region and its allowed by our system.

In Sam's case, the same fellow who proposed the big Markham Arena deal, which was backed by Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti at the time, and to which tax-payers were to be on the hook for the lions share - with promises of helping the poor attached to it even, owns the property located on 14th Avenue near Markham Rd. he owns much of Main St. Markham from my understanding.

After moving Sam to the property's edge in Sept 2015, he was ordered out in May 2016, illegally Sam believes.
Ironic that they've "evicted" Sam essentially from his trailer home location there though using a new yet incomplete bylaw and even using residential tenancy court to try and be rid of him, tricking / using police to remove him for trespassing before relenting - despite his legal agreement. Trying to hasten the way for?...There is no approved plan.

And who is the fellow that Sam says kept threatening him to go or they'll "find him" etc...He / they claim to work for the property owners. Sam reported it. Yet it has been only Sam who was removed with hand-cuffs this past Sept, with no legal reason I can see, for 'trespassing" he was then told - for which he was not ever charged. After an embarrassing, escorted trip to hospital for an "assessment', the area 35 year Farmer was let go and was back in his trailer home a few days later. But the bylaw police now had him / it in their sites too, using  a new, incomplete bylaw, designed for residential areas, not farms, to hound him with.

I guess they were not aware the property had an assessment and was taxed accordingly as a farm property with as a resident, and that the owners had enjoyed the perks of that arangement - having it kept with the lower tax rates in lieu of having the farmer who invests in machinery and works and maintains the the land. Farming is expensive and so is land maintenance - thus the mutual benefits. It is a mutual arrangement, but as new land owners, A.K.A. wannabe developers, bring in their own "farmers" we see this begin to erode. If they really wanted Sam out they could take him to civil court but, instead, using a bylaw prevents developers from looking the bad guy. Not us, it was a bylaw.

I take it the city chooses to believe the developers over a 35 year area farmer? It's not zoned for anything but a Farm w a residence or industrial at this time still. 

Like Sam has maintained all along, he'd of been more than willing to move should they have an approved plan to develop - but they don't - and as such they should not be given unchecked use of the land meantime, and be stripping what took years to build up before having any of that in place, and even if so, certainly not at Sam's expense for moving and re-cropping. His plan didn't include early leave of his home of 35 years - the last 12 in that trailer on that property and dragging thousands of pounds of machinery and belongings to another locale. That's why he'd secured an agreement. New land owners can't just do as they please in such cases. But it helps if the City's on board.

Land Sam made fertile and holding crops to be stripped for development - with no permits. Trees and bushes gone already
Municipalities need control of their plans and need to wrest that control back from unscrupulous players in this easily manipulated system - wide open to be corrupted - and have those loopholes closed up - not play along with them!

Eliminating the OMB, the one neutral body that is there to look at these issues, is most definitely not the way to go and anyone saying so doesn't understand how it all works - or does and wants to gain more control. We certainly can't trust councils themselves to decide, when they can be so easily swayed through a promise. We want to take away, not add, more control for them. It's the system of planning itself that needs the nose job.

Plans have things in a place. Schools go here, hospitals here, residential communities here, industrial and farms here. They are set up this way for good reason - such as eliminate gridlock, which is why you see industrial areas set near highways for truckers - so they don't have to travel into and create congestion. When we lose control of the plan's elements, it isn't just a matter of a favour for one property its the entire area or city and it has a dominoes effect, especially when you start to factor in the province's expectations for your growth plan. We cannot just do what we want with a property because we own it as one Markham Councilor tried to tell me. She doesn't even understand the planning process in my opinion and it is the process that needs changing so that the people that do cannot take advantage.

Who's next for targeting? whoever they wish until the loops holes are closed up.
Sam before they removed him to develop this.
It was the previous land owner who'd approached Sam to be the farmer there, gaining years of tax rebates and relaxed property maintenance governance because of it - not he who approached them. And in transferring or purchasing a property, you get all liens or attachments, including the Farmer, unless you make arrangements otherwise or forge your own agreement. That would have been the honourable thing for this property owner to do but they've been, or their agents have been nothing but hostile to the issue and this man

Sam plans to tighten up these loop holes up as part of his platform in the next municipal election as well as raise some rights issues at Queen's Park for those facing homelessness in the future having had little luck accessing emergency funds he says we have rights to as laid out in the Act, but is being controlled by York Region's social services administrators - which he says is against his and others' rights. Carry on Sam. We'll be watching.

" He's the land owner Sam, he can do what he wants" Markham Councilor Karen Rae 

" We own the land Sam get off. We own all of it. We own you" - Agent of the land owners allegedly to Sam

" What's the sense of having an official plan and taking in the puiblic's input into it if they can just do whatever they want?" Sam Orrico

TP out

No comments:

Post a comment

Thank-you for your interest.

Feature Article

Winter Blues

So far, in 2019-20, winter has been an unpredictable mess. One day earn the next freezing. Is this the new normal? Let’s hope not! Meantime ...