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Secret deal hearing powers ahead

An Ontario Municipal Board hearing into a major employment zone offHighway 400 in Bradford West Gwillimbury is powering ahead despitecalls to adjourn it until a Simcoe County growth plan is OK’d.

An Ontario Municipal Board hearing into a major employment zone off Highway 400 in Bradford West Gwillimbury is powering ahead despite calls to adjourn it until a Simcoe County growth plan is OK’d.

Originally slated to go on for months, an abridged version of the hearing moved at breakneck speed yesterday as lawyers for the developer and municipality led their planners through the project’s merits.

Until late last year, the province was ready to challenge the Bradford project on the grounds it did not conform to a sweeping provincial plan for aimed at curbing urban sprawl.

But after a deal secretly negotiated with a facili­tator’s help earlier this year changed all that, the province dropped objections to the plan.

The deal doesn’t require public input, so the hearing technically has no issues to address. That leaves opposition in the hands of a group of residents who are allowed to participate but don’t have official status as a party to the case.