The Sale of the Bethesda Sport Field

In June of 2021, Council held an in-camera meeting to discuss the sale of the 42acre property between Tenth Line and Ninth Line known as the Bethesda Sports Field (Bethesda Park). This was a discussion based around the sale of the park to a predetermined developer for the price of 77 million dollars.

The property is situated within the Greenbelt and on the Oak Ridges Moraine with a Country Side Designation. This designation forbids the development of this area for residential, commercial or industrial purposes. It is supposed to be designated for farmland, wildlife habitat and municipal infrastructure, such as parkland, purposes only.

In June of 2021 the council should have reported out of the in-camera meeting of their intentions to sell the lands. They did not do this. They kept the sale of the property a secret until May of 2022.  Over the year from June 2021 to May of 2022 the developer was in the park drilling test wells and other works to determine how to develop the lands. He had a signed document which stated the Towns intentions for the sale of the property. Over the same period the Mayor and staff where planning on how to pass the necessary Official Plan and Zoning amendments to allow the park and extended area to be developed. A municipal study of the area was completed to see what servicing should be done to further the development area. The Mayor of Whitchurch-Stouffville went to the Region of York to pass the necessary Regional Official Plan Amendments to allow the property to be developed, he was unsuccessful in this request. The Regional Staff and council had to remind the Mayor that the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Greenbelt were not to be developed. All this political posturing to aid in the developers quest to build homes in Whitchurch-Stouffville, in the Greenbelt, on the Oak Ridges Moraine. All this was done with the support of Planning Staff and high-ranking officials from the CAO, and the Leisure Services Department.

The Mayor and Council were also busy trying to find another 42acre piece of property to replace the sold Bethesda Park. Where would they find a larger piece of property to be home to another park of this size close to Stouffville? Would they look at the Farmland west of Highway 48, south of Stouffville Road? How about Spring Lakes Golf Coarse? Is this closer to Stouffville?

You have to ask the questions, did the Council have a plan? Why did Council keep this plan from the residents of Whitchurch-Stouffville?

Here are some ideas from the rumour mill.

Is the current council looking to develop all over Whitchurch-Stouffville?

The current council supported the development of homes through a Provincial Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) along our southern most border outside of our planned development areas. This the Flato Developments. They have supported and asked for more MZO’s than any other municipality in Ontario.

This where the planning comes to a bit of a rumor mill. The Town Operation Centre for Public Works is situated on Bethesda Road between Highway 48 and McCowen Road. The south property line meets the property owned by Spring Lakes Golf Course. Rumors have it, that this would be a good place to replace the Bethesda Park. This may have discussed this with the owners of Spring Lakes Golf. The Town would help Spring Lakes get the necessary designation to develop the Golf Course and the Town would get the necessary property to redevelop the Bethesda Park. Just a rumor…

Our current Mayor has stated that he is against poor planning in the areas of the White Belt that have no municipal servicing. He has explained that the area around the Bethesda Park was better suited for development. I would have to ask, which is it? Support the development in the Greenbelt and not support the development of the White Belt? Support the development of the White Belt and the Greenbelt? Please, we need a clear picture and direction.  

Further in the last 4 years;

2019, the Town holds a community event in one of the Wineries and invites certain members of the development community. At this event, the Mayor receives $500,000.00 cheque from Flato Developments for the Mayors Fund. This developer then gets support from council to develop in the Whitebelt, south of Town.

In 2019, Town starts a survey to see what residents think about developing the area of farmland west of 48 to McCowen Road from Stouffville Road to the Town limits to the South. This was also looking for development in the Greenbelt and on the Oak Ridges Moraine within Country Side and Natural Linkage Designation areas. No development areas. What happen to this survey?

In 2020, the council ask the Region of York to go to the province of Ontario to ask for control over Highway 48 from Bethesda Road to 19th. This would take the control away from the province, place it with the Region and allow for more streets to access Highway 48. More street lights, more turns on and off of the Highway. Would this allow for the development of Spring Lakes Golf Course and the farmland to the west?

In 2020, council starts a study of the area surrounding the Bethesda Park. How and what to service this area with.

The Council asked the Province for a Ministerial Zoning Order to develop the area from Cardico Drive to Bloomington and then up to Vandorf along Woodbine Ave, for Industrial Commercial zoning. This was done as an additional request to a certain property on Bethesda Road west of Woodbine Ave. This area is part of the Greenbelt, on the Oak Ridges Moraine with Country Side, Natural Linkage and Natural Core designations. This is the headwater region of The Rouge Watershed.   

June 2021 the Council looks to selling the Bethesda Park as stated before.

May 2022, this has led to a 38million dollar lawsuit started by the developer that names the Town, CAO and the Mayor as the defendants for progress of selling the Bethesda Park.

2022 council was found guilty in breach of Town Policy AP59, Accountability and Transparency. The report was received in June of 2022 with no discussion from council, no apologies.

Here’s the link to the council report,

That policy,

(i)“Accountability – The principle that the municipality will be responsible to the public for decisions made and policies implemented, as well as its actions or inactions”.

(ii) “Transparency – The principle that the municipality actively encourages and fosters public participation and openness in its decision-making processes. Additionally, transparency means that the municipality’s decision-making process is open and clear to the public”.

“Accountability, transparency and openness are standards of good government that enhance public trust. They are achieved through the municipality adopting measures ensuring, to the best of its ability, that all activities and services are undertaken utilizing a process that is open and accessible to the public. In addition, wherever possible, the municipality will engage the public throughout its decision-making process which will be open, visible and transparent to the public”.

This takes us to where we are today. Can we trust the current council to have a clear direction for developing the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville? Can we trust the current Council?

I am Mark Carroll, we deserve a “Different Kind of Better”, vote Mark Carroll 4 Mayor on October 24th

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