For readers who don't normally follow municipal politics, "Minto" is a planned development along the east side of Yonge Street, south of Eglinton. It is controversial and has been opposed by local residents' associations because it consists of two tall towers -- one of them about 50 stories, and the other just below 40.
A couple weeks ago, John Tory tried to make a stink about David Miller's record on this issue. Annoyingly, for a whole day it was repeated every ten minutes on Rogers-owned 680 News.
Here's what actually happened.
Yes, David Miller voted for the compromise deal that City Hall made with Minto. No, he wasn't happy about it. Although he supports development at major transit nodes like Yonge and Eglinton, this project wasn't ideal. However, because of the balance of power between the City and the Ontario Municipal Board, there was really very little choice.
The Ontario Municipal Board is an independent, politically-appointed body with authority derived from Queen's Park. It has absolute power to overrule any development decisions made by municipal governments.
When Mike Harris was elected, he made changes to the way the OMB operates. One of these changes was reducing the time that developers had to wait to appeal to the OMB. They can now go to the OMB for approval just 90 days after their original application to municipal government -- even before the city has had a chance to consider their plans.
Once a case comes before the OMB, it will almost surely be decided in favour of development. Board members are overwhelmingly Harris-appointed and pro-developer.
The result is a system where municipal governments have virtually no say over how the city gets developed, and virtually no bargaining power with developers. In the Minto case, City Hall had a choice -- vote to accept a compromise arrangement, or face long odds and let the OMB decide. David Miller and the majority of council voted to accept the deal rather than risk losing the valuable concessions they had negotiated with Minto.
John Tory likes to talk about Minto because there are few negative marks in David Miller's outstanding record at council. Tory talks about the need for the OMB to be reformed, but we don't know what his record would have been dealing with the reality of the OMB as it exists. However, we do know that it was the Tory-supported PCs in Queen's Park that made the OMB what it is today. We also know that the mayor John Tory helped elect voted in favour of the Minto compromise, too.
DISCLOSURE: After a serious decision-making process, I joined the Miller-for-mayor campaign more than a month ago. However, all comments on this website are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of David Miller or his campaign. My role in the campaign is grunt-level and I haven't even met the strategists.