Outside freezing rain was pelting down. It was the kind of night that most people would opt to spend in front of a blazing fire watching this year’s kick off of American Idol. However when you have an important cause that you support wholeheartedly, you make an extra effort.
Almost 100 people demonstrated the level of their commitment by braving the winter weather on Jan. 18 to come to Birchcliff Bluffs United Church for the AGM of the Concerned Citizens of Quarryland Development (CCQLD).
President Mark Brender opened the meeting by thanking the people who have worked hard over the past year to try to reach an acceptable solution. Former Councillor Brian Ashton was singled out for his efforts, although Ashton pointed out that his involvement wasn’t necessarily finished since he’s “not dead yet.”
Brender said that the CCQLD had made a number of major expenditures in 2010. The first was organizing the Rally for the Quarrylands in April which drew more than a thousand people and extensive media coverage. The second was hosting the all-candidates debate in October which focused on the issue of the quarrylands. The third major expense was commissioning an independent environmental report which indicates that a number of issues related to building on or near sections of the quarryland which remain contaminated have not been resolved.
Brender said that city planners have been adamant that any development on the property, including that owned by the city, must be coherent and not piecemeal. The role for the CCQLD is to press for “building a healthy community.”
After the formalities of the AGM were completed, Brender introduced newly elected Scarborough Southwest Councillor Gary Crawford.
Crawford said that the fate of the quarrylands was the number one election issue in the ward. With that in mind, Crawford has made the issue a priority with his staff.
Crawford said that since he has taken office he has had a three hour meeting with city staff about the issue, spoken with Derek Ballantyne (COO of Build Toronto) and has tried to educate other new councillors about the issue. He said that Mayor Ford is “100% supportive of what the community is trying to do.”
Crawford hopes to sit down with Sheldon Lipfeld (the Conservatory Group owns the Gerrard Clonmore Development) in February. “My goal,” he said, “is to figure out how to make a ‘good’ deal between the city and the developer…I am optimistic that there is a solution. I just don’t know what it will be.”
Crawford is positive that there has to be a comprehensive plan for the site which includes the property owned by the city.
A big part of getting a good deal will be community consultations.
Crawford said that he had just received notice that the OMB hearing, which adjourned last year to allow the city and the developer to attempt to find a compromise, would resume on Feb. 18.
Brender said that, no matter what happens at the OMB, this is going to be a long fight. Brender believes that it is very important to convince Build Toronto that creating a comprehensive plan for the quarryland has “value to the city more that just getting the greatest number of dollars for the city property.”
Brender noted that while a number of elected officials had attended the meeting (included School Trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher and local MP Michelle Simpson), none of the Scarborough MPPs had responded to the invitation However, Beaches/East York MPP Michael Prue, who was at the AGM, said that if the CCQLD “needed someone to play hardball at Queen’s Park, come and see me.”
Brender said that the quarryland will be an issue in the upcoming provincial election.