A private meeting to receive legal advice was held in public with press in attendance. That's a switch.
The solicitor's advice was telling; the last three paragraphs most revealing.
As an expert in municipal law, Mr. Agostina has acted for developers and opponents and is "well-versed with both sides of the coin"
Acting for a developer, he claims to "almost invariably win".
Mr. A explains "the OMB process is evidence based and ratepayers generally just show up and sound off on why they don't like a particular development and leave"
"That" he said " is the kiss of death at any OMB Hearing"
"It is a myth that the OMB is pro-development" he states
"What it is, is ratepayers don't typically understand that this is an evidence- based process.Secondly
ratepayers don't have the financial benefits that a developer has that allows them to invest in the cost of an OMB proceeding and the cost of this process is large not only in terms of time but real dollars.
You have to compete with someone who is going to make millions of dollars if they are successful.
What do you get if you're successful? You get to maintain the value of your home."
The ratepayers received sound advice. As far as it went.
They did not hear the developer was liable to lose millions already invested before even reaching the point of a formal application to the municipality. Nor that the provincial economy would be undermined. Jobs in the thousands would be lost. Tax revenues would evaporate. Ontario would sink lower into depression.
They did not pay to hear about that.
Nor was potential cost of lining up a parallel team of experts to refute the evidence-based development application outlined.
It was not noted that town staff will likely be called to give evidence-based testimony on behalf of the developer. Evidence that would not favour the ratepayers, despite absence of a report to Council on the application.
The ratepayers received fair warning . Even if they had to exercise their minds and think for themselves.
They were advised to participate in the OMB mediation process.
They were nudged along in the right direction.
But they are no closer to winning.
How, for example, can they prove lost property value in the event of development?
The headline to the story read :
"Ratepayers prepared to go "toe to toe" with developer over Highland Gate "
No doubt encouraged by the town's initiative in urging the Province to " reform" the OMB.
And that is also part of the story.