Keeping Development Responsible

How has Councillor Shefman given citizens a voice in development, and made sure that new development in Thornhill is responsible?

A:

Development planning in Vaughan is a complex process and in the past, members of the community had little input.  That is not acceptable and needed to change.

We, the residents of Thornhill - Ward 5, are concerned about the type and quality of development that takes place in our community.  One of my fundamental commitments is that residents will have a voice in whatever development is being proposed.

As I considered what could be done I found that residents were having difficulty understanding how to get involved.  As your member of Council, your input is very important to me.  To encourage community involvement, I wrote a brochure that outlines the step by step planning process in order to make the process more understandable

Whenever I meet with developers, I insist that they hold a public meeting prior to any submission to the City.  It has been my experience that there is a greater opportunity to influence change at this early stage.

One of the most successful examples of this initiative was the proposal to build a 20 plus storey residential building at the Spring Farm Marketplace (corner of Hilda and Clark).

After meeting with the developer during the early stage of planning their development, I had strong reservations. I asked them to hold a public meeting to get community feedback.  The community meeting was held, with one of the largest turnouts ever in Thornhill. The message from the community was loud and clear - the proposal was not acceptable to the residents of Ward 5.  The developer did not respond.

Over a year later the proponent submitted their plan to City Council. The SpringFarm Ratepayers took a leading role, and organized more than 11 deputations against the plan and Council rejected the proposal.

After the Council meeting, I encouraged ongoing discussions between the SFRA and the developer.  Ultimately the plan was withdrawn – a victory for cooperative action and community consultation.

It is important for me, as your Councillor, to ensure that the voices of residents are heard. In the next term, I will continue to insist that every developer hold community meetings at the planning stages, so that residents can have a say in development happening in our community.