Ahead of first ‘information meeting’ for controversial development plan, Caledon Mayor Annette Groves, Town, refuse to answer key questions
Joel Wittnebel/The Pointer Files

Ahead of first ‘information meeting’ for controversial development plan, Caledon Mayor Annette Groves, Town, refuse to answer key questions

The Town of Caledon is billing them as “community information sessions”; a chance for the town to “offer additional clarity” and “furnish detailed information into the proposed amendments.”

The amendments in question are 12 zoning bylaws introduced by Mayor Annette Groves at the end of March using her Strong Mayor powers. The plan triggered widespread disapproval from members of the public who labelled the process as “undemocratic”. Urban planning experts have chastised it for omitting key studies and ignoring traditional urban planning; and the Region of Peel has called it premature, and only possible after billions of dollars in investment and years of infrastructure construction. 

Following a public meeting on April 25th that saw Caledon’s town hall packed with angry residents, Mayor Groves was forced to backtrack, claiming she wanted to use the delayed approval—the amendments were originally meant to be forced through on April 30th—to offer more information to the public and explain her plan. 

Despite this stated desire to offer increased transparency, the actions of the Town and Mayor Groves suggest otherwise, as Groves and the municipality refuse to answer key questions about the origins of the zoning amendments and its connections to lawyers linked to developers and property owners who stand to benefit from its approval. The Town also refuses to provide even basic information to the public, including 12 reports drafted by the Region of Peel that are heavily critical of the scheme. 


Caledon Mayor Annette Groves has been widely criticized for attempting to rush through the largest development plan in Caledon’s history with next to no public consultation.

(Joel Wittnebel/The Pointer)


The Town has scheduled four information meetings for the public on the bylaws. They will occur on Wednesday, May 15 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Southfields Community Centre (225 Dougall Avenue), Thursday, May 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Albion Bolton Community Centre (150 Queen Street S.),  Monday, May 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Alton Legion (1267 Queen Street) and Monday, June 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Caledon East Community Centre (6215 Old Church Road). 

The major issue for the majority of residents, and the one that led to the formation of local group Democracy Caledon, is the use of Strong Mayor powers. Many residents and even fellow councillors have called the use of Strong Mayor powers “undemocratic”. Democracy hinges on a majority vote and these powers only require one-third — in this instance Mayor Groves and just three councillors — to pass. 

“The public has been undermined and disrespected,” Joanna Valerini, a Caledon resident, stated. 

“In Caledon, we believe democracy is taking a back seat to a number of different issues; and we would like to see democracy returned,” Nicola Ross, one of the founders of Democracy Caledon, added. She questioned why Groves felt it was necessary to use her Strong Mayor powers when she has also claimed that she consulted with every member of council ahead of releasing the bylaws on March 26th and all were in agreement—a claim that has since been brought into question

The Mayor has refused to explain why the use of her Strong Mayor powers is necessary in this circumstance. 

The only explanation given, now public on a Town website filled with misleading information on the project, states the use of these powers is an “unprecedented direction, demonstrating Caledon’s commitment to proactively tackle the housing crisis and foster sustainable growth in the community”. 

But to the community, it is not an “unprecedented direction”, it is an “anti-democratic” direction. At the April 17th meeting Groves was asked if she would consider renouncing her Strong Mayor powers, to which she quickly and boldly said “no”.


Approximately 150 residents attended a public forum held by Democracy Caledon last month.

(Joel Wittnebel/The Pointer Files)


The Mayor, and Town CAO Nathan Hyde also refuse to answer questions about the consultancy and legal firms contracted to do this work. The letter at the front of the package of zoning bylaw amendments from the March 26th council agenda is signed by Quinto Annibale, a lawyer with the legal firm Loopstra Nixon. 

Annibale practices municipal land use planning with links to other controversial Caledon developments. 

In 2022 he was enlisted by a group of developers who took possession of the Mayfield Golf Club. The developers involved included Michael Rice, CEO of Rice Group, along with Angelo and Julie De Gasperis. They tasked Annibale with convincing the PC government to rezone 177 acres of land surrounding the golf course from “prime agricultural area” — where no development is allowed — to “rural” land which allows a variety of uses including residential and commercial development. The PC government approved the request. A similar tactic is being used in the package of 12 zoning amendments proposed by Groves. 

Annibale also represented Green Lane Bathurst LP, a development consortium that owns a parcel of land in King. This parcel was one of the 15 unlocked as part of the Greenbelt scandal. The land was put back into the Greenbelt when the Ford government reversed course. A criminal investigation into that scheme is currently ongoing by the RCMP. 

Annibale also worked with Caledon CAO Nathan Hyde in his former position at the Town of Erin.

Annibale did not respond to a request for comment seeking details about the letter or to confirm whether he is currently representing any developers or property owners involved with the 12 sites set to be rezoned. Representatives from the firm Loopstra Nixon were present at the April 25th meeting and confirmed the firm was representing one of the developers or property owners in the 12 parcels. The lawyers present stated that they had been cleared of any conflict of interest. No further details were provided and the Town of Caledon refuses to explain whether a conflict of interest scan was conducted and how the decision was made to allow a law firm to conduct work for the Town while also representing a developer or property owner with a vested interest in the work. 

A similar apparent conflict was revealed against the consultancy firm doing the majority of the planning on the mayor’s behalf. Elizabeth Howson, of Macaulay Shiomi Howson Ltd., answered the majority of the questions from residents on April 25th including one from resident Cheryl Connors who asked if Howson’s firm was representing any landowners in Caledon. Howson admitted they were representing one, however, she did not make it clear whether this is a landowner involved in these 12 parcels. The firm has not responded to The Pointer’s repeated requests for comment.

Despite multiple attempts to obtain information, The Town of Caledon has not responded to The Pointer about how the firms Loopstra Nixon and Macaulay Shiomi Howson Ltd. were chosen, how they were vetted for a conflict of interest, and the value of the  approved contracts.

The Town and the CAO have also not told the public why it was necessary to hire external consultants for the process. The Town of Caledon has its own planning staff who work through development applications on a daily basis, but the Town said these staff did not have the capacity to do the work.

In addition to the ongoing refusal to answer basic questions about this plan, the Town is not providing foundational information to the public, including the 12 reports from the Region of Peel. 

Through the communications sent to the Town from the Region, regional staff stated that the majority of the bylaws do not conform to the Region’s Official Plan or that of the Town of Caledon. The Region also has yet to approve the Caledon Growth Management Plan, which the bylaws would have to conform to.

The Region asked for its comments to be added to any committee agenda related to the matter, but the Town has still yet to make these public.

“I’ve asked a lot of questions but got zero answers,” former Caledon councillor Ian Sinclair said at the April 25th meeting. 

As residents await answers, they are not relenting on their push to have the planning go through the proper processes. Democracy Caledon is encouraging residents to write to their councillors and mayor and get involved at the meeting to ask the important questions.

The first meeting is to be held Wednesday, May 15 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Southfields Community Centre (225 Dougall Avenue).



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