Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Time is Now for Greater Sudbury to Declare a Climate Emergency

Earlier this month, the City of Kingston declared a climate emergency (see: “Why Kingston has declared a climate emergency — and what that really means,” TVO, March 7, 2019).  Kingston joins a growing group of over 300 Canadian municipalities, including Vancouver and Halifax, that have publicly stated the climate crisis deserves the utmost attention from all levels of government.  And there’s an initiative underway here in Greater Sudbury to add our municipality’s name to the list.

“We want to declare a climate emergency, essentially to give the city further impetus to act on climate as quickly and swiftly and efficiently as possible, because we know that climate change threatens our very way of life, economically, socially, environmentally," said Kingston Councillor Robert Kiley, who introduced the motion that was passed unanimously by his City’s municipal council (see: “Kingston council asked to declare climate emergency,” CBC News, March 5, 2019).

The Climate Mobilization Project defines our climate emergency as being a “cascading breakdown of the climate system due to unsustainable extractive economic and social forces, posing an existential risk to humanity and life on earth.” (see: “Climate Emergency,” The Climate Mobilization). Addressing the crisis will require vision, leadership and massive change – most of which have been missing from the global response to the crisis so far. 

The personification of the global cry for climate action is perhaps 16-year old Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg.  This Swedish high school student’s activism single-handedly gave rise to the young people’s global climate strike movement that saw thousands of Canadian school children take to the streets last week (see: “Quebec students take to streets as part of global marches against climate change,” Global News, March 15, 2019). With their very futures at stake, climate strikers around the world are demanding political leaders finally get serious about taking action to avert global catastrophe. 

“I want you to panic,” Thunberg told global economic leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year.  “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.  And then I want you to act.” (see: “Greta Thunberg, schoolgirl climate change warrior: ‘Some people can let things go. I can’t’,” The Guardian, March 11, 2019)

Declaring a climate emergency isn’t just symbolic.  It signifies an acknowledgement by  a government to actually do things differently.  It’s not about being hopeful, optimistic and aspirational, or doing one or two pro-climate things – like swapping out lightbulbs.  It means using the lens of climate change as part of a comprehensive approach to making decisions. It means asking the tough question, “Is what we’re considering going to help the climate – or harm it?”

“The rational response to an emergency is to act like it is an emergency,” Colleen Gareau of Kingston’s Climate Hub told her municipal Council (see: “City council declares climate emergency in Kingston,” The Kingston Whig Standard, March 5, 2019).

“The crisis for the Titanic was not when it hit the iceberg, it was when there was still time to turn,” says Laruentian University Professor of Economics Dr. David Robinson, who has written extensively on some of the fiscal tools governments can use to rapidly transition our economy off of fossil fuels. “The disaster for the Titanic was the result of missing the crisis. There came a time when it was too late to turn. With climate change we face a series of disasters, each worse than the last. We have passed the crisis point for the first-level disaster and the second level, depending on how you define it. Maybe we should be discussing which disasters - like 8 meters of sea level rise - we can't avoid - and which - like a billion deaths of those currently living - that we can probably still avoid.” (see: “Crisis Means Decision Point,” Dr. David Robinson, Economics for Northern Ontario, March 21, 2019)

With the City of Greater Sudbury about to update to its Strategic Plan, there’s no better time for our community leaders to commit to using a climate change lens to evaluate decisions related to policy, programs and infrastructure. Citizens throughout the City are signing a petition calling on our municipal leaders to declare a climate emergency and commit to setting and meeting carbon reduction targets (see: “Sudbury letters: Declaring climate emergency; keep shelter open,” the Sudbury Star, March 16, 2019). Information about where you can sign the petition can be obtained by emailing the Coalition for a Livable Sudbury at

(opinions expressed in this blogpost are my own, and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the Green Parties of Ontario and/or Canada)

Originally published online and in print as, "Sudbury should declare climate emergency now," at the Sudbury Star, Saturday March 23, 2019 - without hyperlinks.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

All Hands On Deck for Greens in Nanaimo-Ladysmith as New Democrats Abandon Ship

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a by-election for the British Columbia riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith, which had been vacated by NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson.  Malcolmson, a well-known and capable parliamentarian, was first elected in 2015 when the NDP swept all ridings on Vancouver Island, save Elizabeth May's seat in Saanich-Gulf Islands.  The NDP's success on Vancouver Island was one of the few bright spots of the 2015 election for New Democrats - as 2015 saw a marked reduction in the number of MP's from the rest of Canada.  

Malcolmson resigned her seat earlier this year, after she was either called on by the BC NDP to help win a crucial provincial by-election on Vancouver Island - or she saw the writing on the wall for federal NDP and decided there was no better time to find something new.  Her seat was formally vacated on January 2, 2019 - although she spent months campaigning for the provincial NDP on the public dime prior to the by-election being officially called by NDP Premier John Horgan (see: "MP Malcolmson to run for provincial seat in Nanaimo by-election," CFAX 1070, October 24, 2018).  Malcolmson's by-election bid proved to be successful, and she replaced former NDP MLA Leonard Krog in the provincial Nanaimo seat that Krog had previously vacated to run for Mayor of Nanaimo (in which he was successful).
Paul Manly & Elizabeth May

Green candidate Paul Manly hopes to put an end to this game of 'musical New Democrats' by emerging from the May 4th by-election as the MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith - and the first Green at the federal level to win a by-election, and only the second federal Green ever to be elected, anywhere.

And all of the signs that I'm seeing are pointing to the significant possibility that he might just do that.

Manly has been campaigning in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding for some time now.  Manly, a well-known documentary filmmaker, is also the Green Party's shadow cabinet critic for International Trade.  He's made a significant commitment to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding since he decided to challenge for the seat in the 2015 general election.

2015 General Election Results

The 2015 elections results are telling.  Remember that this was an election that saw Liberals across Canada swept to power - often with only marginal local name recognition.  But the NDP managed to take all of Vancouver Island.  And the Green Party was one of the clear losers in 2015, as anticipated support identified in pre-election polling bottomed out - likely due to voters making strategic decisions at the ballot box about the best way to stop the Conservatives from winning.  Or perhaps Trudeau's promise of reforming the electoral system and acting on climate change were enough to lure potential Greens away.  Whatever the reasons, the outcome of the 2015 general election was a huge disappointment for Greens, who had confidently been speaking about something called 'Fortress Vancouver Island' prior to writ being dropped (see: "2015 Election Aftermath: Hard Lessons for Greens," Sudbury Steve May, October 29, 2015).
Nanaimo-Ladysmith - General Election 2015 results

Although finishing 4th in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Manly was still able to rack up an impressive 19.8% of the vote - improving on the Greens 2011 effort by over 12.5%.  Manly's made a clear commitment to Nanaimo-Ladysmith and to the Green Party.  And the results show that the Green Party has been a strong believer in Manly, too, given the significant financial investment made by the Manly campaign in 2015.  It's that investment that might start to pay off now as we get deeper into the 2019 by-election.  Green Leader Elizabeth May has said already that Manly has dusted off some of those 2015 signs for re-use - so that's one expense that he'll be able to minimize!

And of course the fact that the Party leader herself was in the riding the day that the by-election announced shows just how serious the Green Party is about winning this one. 

NDP Abandoning Ship

Besides Manly's lawn signs, there are plenty of other signs that suggest that the Greens are going to be strong contenders in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.  Malcolmson, who was a strong critic for the NDP on Parliament Hill, did her Party few favours by quitting before finishing off her term.  Her early departure is one of several made by NDP elected officials from that part of B.C. - a list which includes Leonard Krog as well as former Burnaby South MP Kennedy Stewart, who resigned from the party last year in order to run (successfully) for Mayor of Vancouver.  Stewart's seat was recently won by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh - a victory which put down what appeared to be an imminent caucus revolt.  It also ensures that the NDP will now head into the fall 2019 General Election under Singh's unpopular leadership.

And then there are the New Democrats who have resigned for other reasons.  Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen might be the best known in the rest of Canada, but it's Victoria MP's Murray Rankin's decision to sit out the general election that might have more of an impact in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.  Rankin, a former Law Professor, was a a rising star for the New Democrats.  He is also that Party's critic for Justice and the Attorney General - and the NDP certainly could have utilized a strong voice in that role with everything that's now going on in Parliament with LavScam - but shortly after Singh triumphed in Burnaby South, Rankin decided to call it quits (see: "NDP MP Murray Rankin won't run again," CBC News, February 28, 2019).

The perception is that, under Jagmeet Singh, the NDP is a sinking ship and their electoral fortunes are about to go down.  Certainly, just about every seat currently occupied by a New Democrat MP from Quebec is at serious risk.  Most people don't even know who Jagmeet Singh is - and those that do know him perceive him to be a bit of a political light-weight.  Personally, I'm a fan of Singh's - but I've been following his career since he accomplished what I thought to be an impossible task - being elected as a New Democratic MPP in my former home riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton.  That said, Singh has not connected with voters in the same way that he's connected with me.  And it's not that Singh has a particular problem with ethics (in the same way that Andrew Scheer or Justin Trudeau appear to) - it's just that voters don't know who he is (see: "Nanos survey finds Canadians believe Elizabeth May is most ethical party leader," CTV News, February 26, 2019).

Liberal Calculus

Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, too, believe that many of the currently-held NDP ridings will be in play this fall - and that many are ripe to fall to the Liberals.  Think about this for a moment.  In 2015, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was forced to call 3 by-elections to replace high-profile Conservatives that had deserted his sinking ship (and one by-election to replace a New Democrat who had left federal politics to run for the Ontario Liberal Party right here in Sudbury).  All 4 of those by-elections were actually called in accordance with legal requirements - but they were never held.  Harper established a months long writ period for all 4 by-elections - and ultimately all 4 were cancelled when the General Election was called.

Trudeau could have done the same thing.  In fact, Malcolmson's resignation was only effective as of January 2 of this year, while Patrick Brown, Dean Del Mastro and John Baird all vacated their seats in October 2014 - effectively leaving those ridings without representation in parliament for almost an entire year.  So why did Trudeau opt to call a by-election where the result will see someone sent to Ottawa for just a few months (and maybe only a couple of weeks of actually sitting in the House of Commons), only to have to turn around and face a general election?

Narratives for the General Election

To me, Trudeau's decision is yet another sign that the NDP aren't likely going to hold the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding.  It's actually a brilliant political move on the part of the Liberals - who, despite the ignominies of LavScam, continue to show that they know a thing or two about self-preservation.  Think about it.  If the NDP go down in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, how might that play into the Liberal narrative that they are the only party that can possibly hold back the regressive tide of Andrew Scheer's Conservatives?

And the thing is, this narrative doesn't even need the Liberals to win - it just needs the NDP to lose.  Preferably to the Liberals, for sure.  Then Trudeau can try to reclaim the mantle of the leader of the party best poised to champion a progressive agenda (despite the considerable evidence to the contrary - but election campaigns aren't really about 'evidence' now, are they?).  If the Conservatives win, the Liberals will simply say, "See?  This is what happens when progressive voters don't get behind Liberal candidates.").  It's probably the second least-desirable outcome for the Liberals, but it would still be better than an NDP victory in Nanaimo-Ladysmith - as an NDP victory will surely tell the public that the NDP remains competitive and should not be written-off by voters.

But what if the Green Party wins?  That, too, will be a victory of a sort for the Liberals.  You can bet that a Green victory in Nanaimo-Ladysmith will be used by the Green Party as evidence that the Greens are going to be serious contenders in the fall general election - and maybe even replace the NDP as Canada's 3rd Party.  That might seem a stretch now, but if the "NDP is collapsing" narrative really gets going, strange things could happen.  And with an NDP loss in Nanaimo-Ladysmith - hot on the heels of an NDP loss in former NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's riding of Outremount - you can bet that's the narrative that both the Greens and the Liberals will be trying to advance.  

And Greens, let's not kid ourselves here.  The Liberals would very much like to use our Party as a counter-weight to the NDP.  The rise of another progressive party will only split the progressive vote further - allowing the Liberals to campaign for the votes of centrists and those on the right who may be growing uncomfortable with the Conservatives' embrace of white nationalism.  Who can forget when the B.C. Liberals told voters to vote for the B.C. Greens - so as to avoid a provincial NDP government (see: "Smyth: Why Christy Clark loves the Green Party," the Vancouver Sun, April 6, 2016).  It's because the Liberals firmly believe that the NDP and Greens are fishing for votes almost exclusively in each other's ponds that has led the Liberals to discount the Greens as an electoral sideshow, or a foil to be used against New Democrats.  After all, isn't that what happened on the Island in 2015 - and again just recently in the provincial Nanaimo by-election that saw Sheila Malcolmson emerge victorious after a collapse of the B.C. Green Party's vote? (see: "Nanaimo results have positives for BC Liberals, disaster for Greens," February 4, 2019).

Manly is the Strategic Choice

Well, here's the thing: the evidence actually suggests that when Greens do well, they pull just as many or more votes from the Liberal Party than they do the NDP (and usually some from the Conservatives as well). It's not like a pendulum clock that swings back and forth between New Democrats and Greens - a strong Green campaign impacts all of the other parties.  In strategic scenarios like those facing voters on Vancouver Island in 2015 and in Nanaimo, provincially, in 2019 - voters are most likely to opt for the candidate seen as the most electable.  But most by-elections aren't based on those strategic scenarios (and the Nanaimo-Ladysmith by-election certainly isn't).  And, perhaps more importantly, what if it's the Green Party candidate that actually appears to be "more electable"?

I argue that in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Paul Manly is the more electable candidate.  And I think voters in Nanaimo-Ladysmith will see it that way too.  At this time, the NDP hasn't even nominated a candidate (although it looks like they'll be deciding between two well-qualified contestants - see: "Candidates hit the campaign trail as Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection called," the Nanaimo Bulletin, March 24, 2019).  The Liberal candidate, Michelle Corfield, is going to have her work cut out for her to deliver in the riding in the way former Liberal candidate Tim Tessier did in 2015.  Tessier rode the crest of the Trudeau-tide and managed to improve the Liberals standing by almost 17% over 2011. But since then the Liberals have broken numerous promises and purchased a leaky pipeline for over $4 billion.  They're also presently mired in a scandal that could see the RCMP called in to investigate the Prime Minister's Office.

For Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters who don't want a Conservative or a Liberal, the strategic choice this time is Paul Manly.  And if progressives are afraid that a Conservative might win (which is unlikely for a few reasons - including the presence of the ultra-right-wing People's Party in this by-election), Manly is still the best choice.  And for those voters on the right that don't want a Liberal to get in and really, really don't want a New Democrat - guess what?  Manly is a strategic choice for them, too.

Crystal Ball Gazing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigning in Nanaimo-Ladysmith will be more for waving the flag than anything else.  As with Burnaby, the Liberals probably don't think they can win this one - but they'll still put in a decent effort (they've got the money to be able to do so), and if things come together and they do win, awesome for them. But if they don't, no biggee - especially if the NDP goes down.

But the NDP are going to put a lot of resources into holding Nanaimo-Ladysmith.  I expect that we're going to see a very nasty campaign on the ground there over the next month - and most of the nastiness will be directed at Paul Manly and the Green Party.  The NDP have a particular and peculiar hate on for the Green Party, and frequently go out of their way to spread false information about what the Green Party stands for.  I've seen everything from "The Conservative Party bankrolls the Greens" to "Greens are Liberal dupes" to "Greens are a one-issue party" - and that last one tends to have a little more resonance with voters.  Mostly, though, it's the only canard that a vote for a Green is a wasted vote.  If the NDP comes at Manly with that one, I fully expect voters to see through it.

But make no mistake - the NDP needs to hold Nanaimo-Ladysmith.  If they lose this by-election, like a house of cards, every single NDP riding on Vancouver Island will be put at risk.  No, that's not entirely true: every single NDP-held riding on Vancouver Island is already at risk. A Green victory in this by-election may just be evidence of the inevitable - and the inevitable in this case is the collapse of the NDP, nation-wide.  Even if the New Democrats manage to hold Nanaimo-Ladysmith, ridings like Victoria and Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke are still going to be in play for the Green Party in the general election.

Manly's message, though, can put him over the top.  He personally is committed to the riding, and he represents a political organization that is actually serious about doing politics differently - approaching decision-making from a values-based and ethical perspective.  And the Green Party really is the only national political party that has a serious plan to deal with the climate crisis.  And Manly will certainly let voters know that the Green Party also has a lot of really good ideas about other issues - including a national pharmacare program.  With the Greens, voters can get all of the NDP's good ideas, without the LNG (or the Sherbrooke Declaration - sorry, that's a personal aside - it won't play in Nanaimo-Ladysmith).

It's About Paul Manly

It's Manly, though, and the team he's been assembling that's going to help convince voters that this really is the right time to back the Green Party.  Make no mistake - a Green victory in Nanaimo-Ladysmith will really, really help Green fortunes in the upcoming General Election.  That's why Elizabeth May has called this an "all hands on deck" moment.  What? Did you think she was using a nautical reference, while tweeting from the ferry on its way to Gabriola Island, where she and Paul kicked off the by-election campaign on Sunday?  Or perhaps you thought the "all hands on deck" shout-out for Greens was made in contrast to the NDP's call to "Abandon Ship!"

And this brings us to the final sign that helps convince me Manly can win - Greens from across the nation are poised to help him do just that.  New Democrats?  Well, which ever candidate is eventually selected can expect some outside help, but a lot of the NDP's serious campaigners are tied up with the Alberta provincial election, where they'll be pushing for more bitumen and fracked gas pipelines.  In contrast, a lot of the Green Party's serious campaigners are already on the ground in Nanaimo-Ladysmith (or elsewhere in Southern Vancouver Island) and have been for some time.

So Greens - this one is important, and it is totally within reach. And you can help - with your time, or with your money - or both.  If you'd like to donate to Paul's campaign, just follow the link.  If you'd like to get involved (which is great experience for your own upcoming local campaigns), send an email to Green Party of Canada campaign manager Jonathan Dickie at: - and let him know you'd like to make some calls for Paul.

(opinions expressed in this blogpost are my own, and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the Green Parties of Ontario and/or Canada)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Kingsway Cases at the LPAT: An (Unrepresented) Party's Observations, Part 8: Derailed!

I've got some catching up to do.  It's March, 2019 - and between you and me, I was really enjoying my little blog-reprieve from writing about my experiences with the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) on a matter arising from a decision made by the City of Greater Sudbury to approve a zoning amendment for an arena/event centre on lands located on the Kingsway on the City's urban fringe.  

Let's face facts here: I've been living with all of this for almost two years now.  It was in February, 2017 that PricewaterhouseCoopers (pwc) released its first report to Council about an arena/events centre, “Proposed Sports and EntertainmentCentre Feasibility and Business Case Assessment”. In March of 2017 I first wrote about how a new events centre in Greater Sudbury should act as a catalyst for green economic development (see: "Sudbury Events Centre Should Drive Creative Class Economy," Sudbury Steve May, March 17, 2017).  Shortly thereafter, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (pwc) report about the arena was made available to the public.  

And later, in June 2017, City Council made a decision to build a new arena on the Kingsway - rather than in the downtown core (which would have been in keeping with the City's planning and economic development documents - and which was the first choice of pwc for a location, as per their “Greater Sudbury Event Centre Site Evaluation").  Prior to the meeting, I wrote a letter to my Councillor, urging him to support a downtown location (see: "An Open Letter to My Ward Councillor, Fern Cormier, Regarding the Events Centre," Sudbury Steve May, June 23, 2017) - which he did do on the night of June 27, 2017 when the matter came up for a vote - a vote that I predicted would be a defeat via a tie vote for the downtown in a post made earlier that day (see: "Crystal Ball Gazing: How Sudbury Gets a New Kingsway Event Centre - Not on Merit, but on a Technicality," Sudbury Steve May, June 27, 2017). 

I followed Council's decision up with two more posts about how I believed the City should now try to make the "Kingsway Entertainment District" work (see: "Mapping the Way Forward for a Kingsway Entertainment District," Sudbury Steve May, June 30, 2017; and, "An Open Letter to Greater Sudbury Council Regarding a Kingsway Entertainment District," Sudbury Steve May, July 11, 2017) despite my opposition to the inclusion of a motorsports facility at the KED (see: "Motorsports in a Time of Climate Crisis: Sustainability Must Be Our Focus," Sudbury Steve May, June 7, 2017).  My comments about process were ignored by the City.

I participated fully in the City's so-called public engagement around the "Integrated Site Plan" (remember the online survey that accompanied the whrilwind public sessions: "Are you excited about the future?") and called for transparency in the design process (see: "Site Design for the Kingsway Entertainment District Must be Unfettered by Constraints, Include Public Engagement," Sudbury Steve May, August 14, 2017; and, "Open Letter to Greater Sudbury Council re: Kingsway Entertainment District Site and Building Design and the Need for Public Engagement," Sudbury Steve May, August 15, 2017).  And I provided the City with my own thoughts about how the Kingsway site should be designed with climate change and sustainability in mind (see: "An Open Letter to Greater Sudbury Council Regarding the Draft Integrated Site Plan for the Kingsway Entertainment District," Sudbury Steve May, November 7, 2017), even though I was clearly not on board at that time with the direction that Council had chosen to take (see: "The Kingsway Entertainment District - How Council's Vision Fails Greater Sudburians," Sudbury Steve May, November 6, 2017). 

After development applications for an arena and a casino were filed by the landowner in December, 2017, I provided my written comments to the City on the arena rezoning (see: "My Comments to the City of Greater Sudbury re: Zoning Amendment to Permit an Arena/Events Centre on the Kingsway," Sudbury Steve May, March 15, 2018) and on the casino official plan amendment/rezoning (see: "A Casino is No 'Place of Amusement'," Sudbury Steve May, April 10, 2018).  These comments were not given any heed by the City prior to decisions being made by Council on April 10, 2018.

Throughout the public process between the time that applications were filed by the developer and the end of the appeal period for Council's decisions of April 10, 2018, I documented an  on-going smear campaign directed at members of the public by some municipal councillors (see: "Dangerous Myths and Public Intimidation – Where Greater Sudbury is at with the “Kingsway Entertainment District”," Sudbury Steve May, January 17, 2018; "Sudbury Councillor Threatens Punitive Measures Against the Downtown Over the Public's Participation in Planning Processes," Sudbury Steve May, January 18, 2018; "Standing Up for a Sustainable Long-Term Vision for Community Development," Sudbury Steve May, January 19, 2018; "More Public Intimidation and Misrepresentation of Facts from Greater Sudbury Councillor Kirwan Over Upcoming Arena & Casino Public Meeting," Sudbury Steve May, January 20, 2018; "Greater Sudbury Councillors Dismisses Public Participation in Land Use Process - Equates Public Participants with Saboteurs," Sudbury Steve May, March 26, 2018; and, "Councillor's Accusation that Downtown BIA is Engaging in 'Illegal' Activities Should be the Last Straw for Sudburians," Sudbury Steve May, May 1, 2018).

After Council made its decisions to approve the land use applications, I speculated about what might happen after that - and ended up having a lengthy conversation with myself regarding the new LPAT and the potential timelines for resolution to any appeals (see: "Council Made Its Decisions on the Kingsway Projects - What Happens Next?" Sudbury Steve May, April 11, 2018).  I realize now that it was here that I fell into a trap of my own making, as I rationalized to myself and to the few readers who stuck with that post until the very end that a first decision of the LPAT would likely be made in December, 2018 - and after the matter was returned to Council, appealed to the LPAT again, and went through a full hearing process, it would all wrap up by the end of December, 2019.  And that was the timeframe that I had in my own mind when I filed my appeal of the arena rezoning (see: "My Letter Appealing the City of Greater Sudbury's Decision to Adopt By-law 2018-63Z to Permit an Arena on the Kingsway," Sudbury Steve May, April 25, 2018).

I then started documenting my adventure at the LPAT - in part because I thought that it would be a good idea to provide residents of the City with "the other side" of the story - and partly because the LPAT process is very new, so I thought that others who might be entertaining filing their own appeals (especially unrepresented individuals, like me) might derive some benefit from this blogseries.  

And here's where I've taken the story so far.  I gave readers some background information about the KED decisions in "The Kingsway Cases at the LPAT: An (Unrepresented) Party's Observations, Part 1: In the Beginning."  In "The Kingsway Cases at the LPAT: An (Unrepresented) Party's Observations, Part 2: For the Record," I wrote about the appeals, and my experiences trying to obtain the "Enhanced Municipal Record" from the City.

I had a bit of fun with, "18 Whacky Things About the Kingsway Entertainment District Land Use Appeals – Number 12 Will Blow Your Mind!" where I explored a few under-appreciated elements of the KED decisions, and the LPAT.

In, "The Kingsway Cases at the LPAT: An (Unrepresented) Party's Observations, Part 3: Valid Appeals and Municipal Contempt for a Public Process", I wrote about the how the LPAT determined the appeals to be valid - and their strange interpretation of the meaning of '10 days'.  I also updated readers on the on-going smear campaign and contempt for land use planning processes being demonstrated by some municipal council members. The topic of 'secret agreements' between the municipality and the land use developer also came up.

In "The Kingsway Cases at the LPAT: An (Unrepresented) Party's Observations, Part 4: The Strong Case Against a Casino," I explored materials filed by Casino-Free Sudbury, the Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area, and Dr. Christopher Duncanson-Hales (the casino appellants) that they used to support their appeal.  I concluded that the casino appellants have a strong case - but questioned whether the new LPAT was equipped via legislation and its own Rules to hear some of the matters being raised.

In "The Kingsway Cases at the LPAT: An (Unrepresented) Party's Observations, Part 5: Wasn't That a Party?" I considerably explored the question of just who can be a party to matters at the LPAT, after having received notice that both the developer and Gateway Casinos wanted to be added as a Party to the proceedings.  I realize now that a lot of what I observed and concluded has not held up to the test of time - so if you're going to skip any one of my posts, this might be the one to target!

I had a crisis of, well not sure what - when I wrote "The Kingsway Cases at the LPAT: An (Unrepresented) Party's Observations, Part 6: The City Strikes Back!". I explored how the City's response to my Case Synopsis led me to question my own understanding of the issues.  But by writing this difficult piece, which included a serious analysis of one of the Big 3 issues I raised with my appeal, I learned that in fact my paradigm hadn't shifted, and ultimately concluded that the City's arguments against my appeal are actually very weak.

In "The Kingsway Cases at the LPAT: An (Unrepresented) Party's Observations, Part 7: So Much for the Downtown," I continued with my analysis of another of the Big 3 issues I raised in my appeal - and concluded with a promise to write about the third of the Big 3 issues.  I wrote Part 7 back in October, 2018 - but I have not yet returned to that third big issue.  And I won't for some time yet - but the promise to do so remains.

I last wrote about the KED and the LPAT on December 12, 2018, in "More Misinformation About the KED Coming From City Hall," a piece that is not a part of this blogseries.  Rather it explores the on-going campaign of misinformation being now primarily waged by a single member of Council, Ward 5's Robert Kirwan.  I have to admit that Councillor Kirwan's on-going threats, denigration, humiliation, bullying and his pushing of information that is factually incorrect has made engaging in this appeal process rather tiresome.  When confronted with 17 incorrect items of information before breakfast every day, I suspect not even Douglas Adams would retain the willpower to correct the record on all of them. 

And perhaps that's why I've laid off writing about my experiences for the last little while.  But although this mental and emotional break might have been advantageous for me personally, the fact that I have been falling down on the job of providing my readers with the updates that I set out today when I first started writing this blogseries has weighed heavily on my mind.  Just not heavy enough to actually see me do anything - until now.

Fact is, there has been a fair bit happening with the appeals.  So let's see if I can start getting everyone caught up.

Case Management Conference

Back on November 6, 2018, the LPAT - comprised of 3 Tribunal members - held the first and only hearing event (so far) on the appeals.  It was the Case Management Conference that is prescribed by the LPAT's Rules.  And for the most part, it was an administrative affair.  Given the emotions in the public realm with regards to the matters being adjudicated, after the fact I found out that members of the media and others who were present at the CMC were a little let down that there weren't more fireworks, or that any of the issues were resolved.  But that's not the idea of a CMC - and I don't think any of the Parties were expecting more than what happened - with maybe one exception.

The 'Added Parties'

At the outset of the CMC, lawyers for both 1916596 Ontario Ltd. (the numbered company owned by developer Dario Zulich) and Gateway Casinos petitioned the LPAT to become 'parties'.  This was kind of interesting in that in the past, at the OMB, Zulich would have been accorded party status automatically as the landowner.  If you think about it, any decision ultimately made by the LPAT is going to impact the landowner - so why should the landowner have to approach LPAT on bended knee and request party status?

All of the parties (the 5 appellants and the City) seemed to feel the same way about Zulich's inclusion, and the request for party status was granted by the LPAT with no opposition from any of the other parties.

Gateway Casinos, however, is a bit of a different story.  They are not a landowner, but they have an expressed interest in part of the property.  And they have spent money as one of the 3 development partners (Zulich and the City being the other two) for the Integrated Site Plan - and, perhaps more importantly for this matter, on the Traffic Impact Study.  Originally I had indicated that I would oppose the inclusion of Gateway as a party - but once I learned that they really had engaged in the planning process via their financial commitment to the Traffic Impact Study, I decided not to oppose their inclusion.  Clearly, Gateway has a lot more at stake, financially speaking, than I do so.  So why not?

Taking Issues with the Issues List (or lack there-of)

What came as a bit of a surprise to the parties was the LPAT's admonishment to all of us for not getting together pre-CMC to develop an issues list (see paragraph 21 of the decision - but trust me, it was actually a lot worse in person. I seem to think all of the parties were staring at the floor during this 'discussion').  That was an awkward moment for us all - as I don't think that any of us had ever really given a thought to doing that before the LPAT put the idea in our head that it might have been something that we had taken the initiative to do on our own.  

In retrospect, I'm not sure that I agree with the LPAT's position on this.  Fact is, there were two parties who had just been added at the CMC - both of these parties are now in the process of making certain motions that ultimately might have bearing on any issues list that the appellants and the City might come up with.  I think that's important - and I think the LPAT overlooked it.

We were also asked about the possibility of mediation by the LPAT.  And that's another thing.  Had we all agreed to mediation, any mediation exercise would likely impact the issues list.  That said, though, there wasn't a lot of interest in mediation from any of the parties - at least not until motions have been disposed of.  But even then - the new LPAT process upfronts the adversarial-ness of the hearing.  At this point, there's not a lot of chance to find common ground - not when the serious parties are hundreds of thousands of dollars deep in the process (and that's where they are).

Playing in the Big Leagues

So again, LPAT, if you're reading this - consider these factors when it comes to issues lists.  And I know that you know that under the old OMB process, Issues Lists were usually developed until after a Pre-Hearing Conference (similar to a CMC, although not mandatory) - because it was at the PHC that new parties and participants would be added.  So cut us folks here in Sudbury some slack - we're participating in a brand new process and have only the milestones from the old process to go by.  We're doing the best we can to get all of this resolved.

And I guess that's the one last observation that I have about the CMC that I'll share here.  All of the people involved in the CMC are professionals - save for myself and the other unrepresented party, the Minnow Lake Restoration Group as represented by citizen John Lindsay.  And when professional are involved, no matter how adversarial things get, things do tend to remain calm.  And since John and I aren't known for our rabble-rousing (ok, maybe John is...), I don't expect that we're going to see any actual fireworks at the upcoming hearings.  

But there are sure to be plenty of procedural fireworks!

One of the things that the LPAT did do was allow for some of the parties to bring forward motions, within a certain specified timeframe.  All of those motions are filed, and I'll go through them in more detail in the next blogpost in this series.  Suffice it to say, though, the outcome of these motions is going to materially effect how the LPAT hears the appeals - and quite likely it's going to impact on the level of my own participation - which up until now has been significantly more involved than I thought it would be, to say the least.  I thought I could keep up with everyone, even though I'm unrepresented.  The truth is I'm falling behind, and if it was just me making my own case to the Tribunal, you can bet that I would be dead in the water.

All the more reason that anyone who is thinking of going to the LPAT should take my advice: If you want to win, hire a lawyer. 

Experts and Valid Appeals

Perhaps a little more surprisingly, the LPAT identified a list of 'experts' that it wants to hear from.  The LPAT indicated that the hearing will be an oral one, and the decision that issued identifies in paragraph 28 that there will be 8 experts called to give evidence.  Two are planners for Casino-Free Sudbury/DBIA/Duncanson-Hales appeal; three are municipal planners; one is the developer's planners.  There's also a traffic engineer in there and - here's the kicker - a man by the name of Alexander (Brad) Bowman whom the Minnow Lake Restoration Group identified as its in-house expert and who provided affidavit evidence to Minnow Lake's Case Synopsis.

At the CMC, the solicitor for Zulich indicated that he may bring forward a challenge to Mr. Bowman's participation in the hearing as an expert - or seek to have the appeal filed by Minnow Lake (John Lindsay) declared invalid.  The LPAT remained silent on this, as it seemed a little speculative at the time - but shortly after the CMC, John Lindsay was served with a notice of motion filed by 1916596 Ontario Ltd. to have the LPAT declare his appeal not to be valid on the grounds that the appeal did not disclose any planning reasons.

But instead of doing anything with the motion, the LPAT ruled that the motion itself was out of order.  As the January 4, 2019 decision indicates in paragraph 12, the LPAT gave its permission to hear only certain motions - the Minnow Lake excommunication wasn't one of them!  I hear from John that he spent a couple of sleepless nights trying to meet the tight timeframes for filing a motion response and had finally come up with a 15-page 75-paragraph response to the Zulich motion. 

So that's the kind of stuff you're in for, you Unrepresented Parties, if you want to play in the big leagues.  

Anyway, the LPAT will likely hear the motion orally at some point - and at least John has some notes now that he'll be able to read from.  But given a recent decision of the LPAT involving a motion to over-turn the LPAT's validity screening (Gravelle v Stone Mills (Town), 2018 CanLII 110126 (ON LPAT),) which is already being quoted by other appellants in validity determination matters (Weinhardt v Cambridge (City), 2019 CanLII 16510 (ON LPAT)), I think Zulich should just abandon the motion to remove John - and instead focus on whether it would be appropriate for the LPAT to hear from Bowman - even thought it was the LPAT that said specifically he was a person they wanted to hear from.

Hitting the Pause Button - Rail Deck

Finally, the LPAT advised all parties that they were stopping the hearings clock and putting everything on hold.  This didn't come as a surprise to the parties, who were all familiar with the Toronto Rail Deck Park matter - but it did appear to come as a bit of a shock to the media, who were looking for something tangible to report.  But the story the media took away from the CMC was that everything was going to be up in the air until such a time that the Divisional Court had to hear and rule on matters referred to the Court by the LPAT with permission of the parties in the Rail Deck matter.  

This stated case to the courts will resolve a fundamental matter of natural law that the LPAT's legislation and Rules appears to infringe on: whether witnesses can be cross-examined.  Clearly, the Divisional Court's ruling is going to have an impact on our hearing - and more specifically for me, on me!  Potentially, rather than just getting up and saying my piece about the appeal - which is what I signed up for - if the Divisional Court says that cross-examination can take place, I might be facing down three lawyers who are going to be looking at tearing holes in every bit of oral evidence that I can squeeze into my 75 minutes.  That's not what I expected to have to face when I filed the appeal - but I guess if that's what I've got to do, that's what I'll have to do.

Anyway, based on this column about a preliminary matter in the Rail Deck Park court case, it looks like the Court might also be wrestling with some of the same issues regarding jurisdiction that have arisen here in Greater Sudbury - specifically whether or not new evidence can be adduced or all parties have to rely on what was in front of Council at the time of a decision (see: "Coleman’s Notes: Watching the LPAT at Divisional Court to Figure Out How The LPAT Will Work," Joey Coleman, the Public Record, March 4, 2019).

In the next post in this blogseries, I'll explore the motions that have been filed.  And in the following post, I'll take a look at some of the other interesting matters that have been happening related to the KED appeals.

Thanks for reading.  I'll try not to be such a stranger!

(opinions expressed in this blog are my own and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the views and/or policies of the Green Parties of Ontario and Canada)