Durham Region CAO claims Township is acting in ‘bad faith’ over Beaverton supportive housing project

The following letter is included on the agenda for Monday (Nov. 23) night’s meeting of Brock Township council:

Your correspondence dated September 28 and 29, 2020 was received by regional council for information. Specifically, those items of correspondence advised of four resolutions passed at council:

Resolution Number 2-14 moved by Michael Jubb and seconded by Walter Schummer. That the Township of Brock oppose the location at 133 Main Street for modular housing until the Region of Durham seeks formal public consultation, input, and feedback. Further, that formal studies and research be completed to support this location as being the optimal location for supportive housing. Further, this resolution be sent to the Region of Durham, Municipal Affairs and Housing and MPP Laurie Scott.

Resolution Number 3-10 moved by Michael Jubb and seconded by Claire Doble. That staff explore any avenues or mechanisms available to the Township of Brock to “pause and hold” the modular housing proposed at 133 Main Street until all requests in the original opposing motion be met by the Region of Durham; and, Further, that a staff report come forward at the next scheduled council meeting with any available options, if any; and, Furthermore, that a formal request be sent to Durham Region to pause this housing project while a formal evaluation of risks, gaps, and actions, be conducted by a reputable third party.

Resolution Number 2-10 moved by Michael Jubb and seconded by Walter Schummer. That the petition to further study supportive housing project in Beaverton submitted by Peter Bornemisa on behalf of Citizens of Brock be received for information and sent to the Region of Durham, MPP Laurie Scott, MP Jamie Schmale, and Premier Doug Ford.

Finally, Brock council passed a motion moved by Michael Jubb, Seconded by Claire Doble. That staff be directed to only share information on the Township’s social media platforms related to public information sessions or public meetings related to Durham Region’s Beaverton Supportive Housing project.

I am responding as required to those aspects of the actions of the Township which impact the Region’s current site plan application and anticipated building permit application for the Beaverton Supportive Housing project.

The project is an appropriate project. As a municipal use, it is an appropriate use for any zoning within the Township of Brock in accordance with the Township’s own zoning bylaw. As such the Region has, at all times, followed the process set out for site plan approval. Specifically, as no change in zoning is required, public consultation as part of the planning process is not required. The Region has engaged in public consultations in relation to the project as follows:

August 20, 2020: Regional Staff attended Brock council meeting;

August 27, 2020: Inaugural Meeting of Supportive Housing Advisory Group comprised of community agencies;

October 8, 2020: Presentation to regional health and social services committee;

October 28, 2020: Presentation to regional council;

October 28, 2020: Regional council direction to establish Beaverton Supportive Housing Liaison Committee;

October 29, 2020: Virtual Information Session

The Region will continue to engage the community and the council, if desired, in consultations related to this project.

No study is required for the reasons set out above. Nevertheless, the Region has completed a study of the project by a third-party consultant with expertise in this area, OrgCode Consulting. This study was released on October 29, 2020. Among the conclusions reached by OrgCode is the following:

“It is the expert opinion of OrgCode Consulting, Inc. that the supportive housing is suitable for Beaverton so long as the support services operator is effective. Neither the location nor volume of units in the building are likely to result in project or program failure. However, insufficient or ineffective support services might. If support services are of excellent quality, then Beaverton is an excellent opportunity for 50 people with histories of homelessness and housing instability to have a new community to call home.”

The Region has met the demands set out in Resolution 2-14. The Region will continue to consult as requested. The Region requires a letter confirming that the conditions of this resolution have been satisfied.

The Region takes exception to Resolution 3-10 which purports to require the Region to retain a reputable third party. It is the Region’s position that there is no basis for a decision that the Region is not a reputable provider of housing and other important social services to Brock Township and throughout the Region of Durham.

Notably the Region is the service manager in respect of the Durham Region Non-Profit Housing facility known as Gillespie Gardens. Further, the Region owns, operates, and funds the long-term care facility, Lakeview Manor. Both facilities are located in the immediate vicinity of the Project.

The Region has committed and continues to work in good faith with the Township of Brock in addressing concerns which may be raised either by the Township or the residents of the community. To the extent that those concerns are found in resolution 2-14, the Region has engaged in public consultations as well as providing an independent study in support of the need and suitability of this project. These represent actions above and beyond any normal planning requirements.

The Region rejects the recent actions as directed by the Township to engage in bad faith conduct to interfere with the normal planning process for this project. These actions represent a marked departure from planning requirements as well as a disappointing departure from long standing co-operation between the Region and area municipalities on delivering services within the jurisdiction of the Region to taxpaying residents of Brock and the other area municipalities. Specific examples of this bad faith conduct include the arbitrary removal of Brock staff assigned to review the Region’s application and the cancellation of a long standing meeting to allow the Region the opportunity to address planning matters in the site plan process.

The Region requires the immediate appointment or re-instatement of Brock staff assigned to the Project and a commitment to engage in good faith to process and approve the Project in accordance with Brock’s obligations under the Planning Act and its own bylaws.

At the Region of Durham, we rely on our municipal partners to help relay Regional information to their residents through their digital and traditional communications channels, just as we endeavor to relay local municipal information through our various channels. It is a primary function of the communications team to ensure factual and current Regional information is available to all Durham Region residents. With respect to the Brock motion to restrict the sharing of this information, the intent is to shut down a main communications channel to the residents of Brock and block factual information that is important to the project. The fact that Brock council opposes the Beaverton Supportive Housing project should not be a factor in the decision to block information from being shared with the public.

The regional solicitor has advised me to take all steps necessary to ensure that the project is fully and fairly evaluated in accordance with the applicable legislation and bylaws and is not subject to any further undue delay. I understand that legal counsel has been retained on this matter. I would ask that you forward this letter so that our respective lawyers may communicate further on this matter.

Elaine Baxter-Trahair
Chief Administrative Officer

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