I attended the second OMB pre-hearing on Tuesday, March 21st and … was surprised by one troubling piece of information. But first, you can update your calendars with a change:
The dates for the full hearing of the Tridon Application have been changed be a few days. The OMB hearing will now take place from June 14 to 22 inclusive.
At the 1st Pre-Hearing in October, Tridon’s lawyers had said they would talk to all the parties involved (including KKRPA) before this 2nd Pre-Hearing to see if matters could be resolved through discussion. On Tuesday, Tridon’s lawyers told the OMB Adjudicator they hadn’t had time to do this in the 5 months since October. In fact, they never communicated with us at all.
Tridon still has not circulated its witness list – something they are required to do.
A surprising development
Tridon did tell the Adjudicator it had been in secret negotiations with the Town of Middlesex Centre and County of Middlesex for much of the past 5 months – to re-write the Town’s Draft Plan Conditions for their development. Lawyers for Tridon and the Town/County informed the Adjudicator they were near agreement.
Neither KKRPA or the other party to the hearing (a neighbouring developer) were aware of these backroom meetings.
We have not yet seen the secret new Draft Plan Conditions. It’s possible they address our concerns, which would be great. But, it’s also possible they are a wholesale revision to the project that raises new concerns.
You could lose out in this Backroom Deal
Why is this a problem? Because you haven’t had a chance to see and consider this new plan.
Normally, once Draft Plan Conditions are approved at Council, you have a chance to appeal them to the OMB. But you’ve lost that right. Because these new conditions are the result of a backroom deal in the middle of an ongoing OMB process, it’s too late for you to complain. Only parties who already have standing in the current hearing process can object.
Fortunately, KKRPA already has standing. We asked for it and were granted standing last October. So, we will be able to raise objections on your behalf. That’s lucky for us. But, the principle remains: community planning should be public process and not conducted in the shroud of secrecy. This end-run on public community planning is simply wrong.
We continue to work towards the June OMB hearing – at which we will have our lawyer and expert witnesses outline our concerns with the development plan – including any concerns with the secret new Draft Plan Conditions.
Like all things in life, these people are professionals and we need to raise funds to pay their bills. We need your help to make this happen. Please contribute to our efforts today.
P.S. Here’s an email I sent to the Mayor and Council today…
Your Worship and Members of Council,
I am writing to follow up our informal meeting on January 24, 2017. At our request, members of the Kilworth Komoka Rate Payers Association executive and I met with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Councillor Silva, CAO Ms. Smibert and Director of Public Works & Infrastructure Mr. Lima to discuss and share ideas to improve communication and to address issues of concern to residents in Kilworth and Komoka.
One major item of discussion was the Tridon development currently before the OMB, at which KKRPA has been granted standing in order to represent the key issues of concern to our membership. Since our members are also your constituents, we proposed to exchange and discuss our Issues Lists with you informally in order to see if there were opportunities to consolidate our concerns. Since the Town and Council are responsible to represent the interests of local residents, it seemed likely there may be areas where our interests overlapped.
As you will recall, you agreed to review our Issues List and let us know if you felt there was any opportunity for synergy or cooperation. We provided our list to you on February 8th, 2017. Despite follow up inquiries through Councillor Silva, we have still not heard any response from the Town or Council. In fact, we were of the impression not much had happened on the file.
Tuesday, I attended the second OMB Pre-Hearing on the Tridon matter and was very surprised to learn the Town and Tridon have been engaged in private backroom discussions towards jointly-revised Draft Plan Conditions. KKRPA was neither informed, nor asked to participate, in these discussions. Nor was the other developer that is party to this matter.
Given we had a verbal agreement from the Mayor of Middlesex Centre, two other members of Council and the Town’s CAO to consider a cooperative effort, I am confident you will understand why I was dismayed to learn we had been kept in the dark and excluded.
I was not the only one upset by this revelation. Counsel for another party with standing at the hearing expressed the same concerns to the OMB Member presiding at the Pre-Hearing. And, in fact, the OMB Board Member pointed out the Town was an equal party to the deceit.
This leaves me with four questions:
1. When can we expect your response regarding our discussion of January 24th?
2. Why was KKRPA not informed of the secret discussions between the Town and Tridon?
3. Why was KKRPA excluded from those discussions?
4. How do you plan to meet your burden of openness and transparency regarding what could be material changes to the Draft Plan Conditions, negotiated in secrecy, without public consideration and input?
We are not sure why you reneged on your promise to respond to us. For our part, we hope it was simply an honest oversight and we remain eager to work together with you on this matter. We trust you agree we deserve, at the very least, the courtesy of a reply.
Kilworth Komoka Rate Payers Association