Over the past several months residents may have heard information about testing being done at the former Sabisont Landfill in the Don Mills and John area.  A great deal of incorrect information was posted on the ratepayer website and I was denied the opportunity to post a response as the local Councillor and Chair of the German Mills Liaison Group.

Former Sabiston Landfill.  Mayor Scarpitti and I disagreed strongly over whether to implement a pilot aerobic remediation project to speed up the settlement of this former operating landfill in the Don Mills and John area.  In the end, working closely with residents very committed to what is now an incredible green space, my Motion to put an end to the project and re-designate this area as the German Mills Meadow and Natural Habitat was successful.  I’m very proud of that and the things we are now doing to further protect and enhance the Meadow.

Recent controversy – As a municipality we have an on-going responsibility to monitor landfills for both the methane emitted into the air as well as leachate (essentially liquid waste) which seeps into the ground.  Expert consultants recommended the installation of 11 small wells at 8 locations around the perimeter of the former landfill, particularly to determine whether the flow was heading in a direction towards the German Mills Creek.  While the residents I had appointed to a Liaison Group as well as my opponent in this election were opposed to these new wells, it was the absolutely correct thing to do and I stand by the decision.  We now have preliminary test results which confirm that this was the appropriate course of action and frankly to do otherwise would have been irresponsible and put the German Mills Creek at risk of contamination. 

Serious issues and important decisions are made which affect you every day.  I take that responsibility seriously and I’ve had the best interests of our community in mind with every decision I’ve made.  They may not have always been the popular ones but I tried to ensure they were the correct ones.  In this case, the evidence is now clear – to do as Ms. Burke suggested in supporting a delay in the well installation and testing would have been irresponsible and the preliminary data support the correct decision was made.

This is indeed a beautiful green space and I pledge to do everything I can, working with you, to continue to protect this natural habitat.


Separating Fact from Fiction - my position on the GTA Centre arena

This has certainly been a lively topic over the past three years and a bit of historical re-writing by one group has occurred for the benefit of certain candidates in this election.  It’s been suggested that I voted in favour of an arena deal yet the actual record proves that I was one of ten who voted against the proposal on December 4, 2013.  It has also been suggested that only certain candidates are worthy of endorsement because they were they only ones opposed to the arena project. Nonsense.  I was one of the original members of Council appointed to the arena committee and along with the Deputy Mayor, the only two to submit our own briefs to the committee.

In August 2012,  I wrote the following confidential note to Council, which was leaked almost immediately:

“… I believe that our current, approved Financial Framework, is a very good deal for GTA Centre but certainly not the best deal possible for the residents of Markham.  Having an arena in Markham Centre is, without question, a unique and valuable addition to our municipality.  Getting an NHL team would change the face of our City and is a once in a generation opportunity.  But, this is a tremendous opportunity for Roustan too – who very much wants to be an NHL Governor  - and he knows it.  He has a willing city, in a hockey rich environment and a well-established billionaire developer as a partner.  Roustan is a shrewd businessman... we have to be prepared to walk (if the deal is not a good one).”

And on December 2, 2013 I wrote Mayor Scarpitti the following:

“A year and a half ago, I sent a confidential email to Members of Council indicating that, notwithstanding the excitement and allure of a possible NHL team here in Markham, we should be prepared to walk away from the deal if it were not in the best interests of Markham.  In fact, in all my discussions with you and my own residents I said that I believed the intelligent thing to do was to make a decision based on the merits of the actual MOU, not rumour, speculation or the scare-tactics we have witnessed.  

Believing the idea of an arena in Markham to be a good one and supporting a deal involving the City are two very different things and I am continually surprised at how some quite intentionally misrepresent my position for political benefit.



The Fight with Bell Mobility Continues

As residents in the Bayview and Green Lane area will know, last year I was successful in opposing Bell Mobility’s application for a 120 high tower just south of Tamarack Drive.  Council colleagues in two other Wards also asked for my assistance in fighting two other applications which reached Council.  I am very proud that unprecedentedly, we were able to defeat three separate cell tower applications and issue what are referred to as Letters of Non-concurrence.   

Current status.  Within the past couple of days Bell Mobility has informed me of their intention to Appeal their application in the Bayview – Green Lane area.  I don’t want to see the residents of Landmark or anyone for that matter, in this area, look out at yet another eyesore, which would undoubtedly affect property values. 

Over the past few months I have been speaking with executives from various cell phone providers about the need for comprehensive ‘master agreements’ which would protect sensitive areas such as our parks, playgrounds, heritage areas, etc. and have broad community input and consultation on where the wireless industry has plans for new towers covering a four or five year period, rather than looking at each individual application. 

This election.  I will continue to fight on your behalf.  There simply isn’t a question about it.  I am proud to say that on Council I have been working with our staff to revise Markham’s Policy on location towers and I have also spoken at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conferences and locally have hosted a Town Hall to give you an opportunity to learn more about this issue and what we can do together to keep towers out of your back yard.

Quality service.  I Chair Markham’s Information Communications and Technology Committee so I believe in technology and quality service and I know that whether in your home or business, you too depend on good cell phone coverage for both phone calls and data transmission.  I do too. 

Alternatives.  Multiple alternatives exist instead of the industry putting up more and more towers, including the use of micro cells, Distributed Antennae Systems and making better use of our existing utility pole infrastructure rather than putting up more and more cell towers.

Your help.  I’ll be direct – you know I won’t back down from a fight and I am also the only Thornhill candidate legally able to vote on an application in this area or even speak to the subject at Council.  My opponent in this election is legally precluded from voting on this or any application in this area or even lending her voice to it due to a financial conflict of interest. 

I need your vote and that of each member of your family either at the advance polls which continue until Thursday October 23rd or on Election Day, next Monday October 27th.  Polls are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.