Dr. Q. Bristow. P.Eng.
Ottawa. K1H 5L6
April 2nd 2002
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
There was a report in the Saturday 'Citizen', that Councillor Kreling had chastised city staff for the delay in approving development applications, saying that this could "damage development in Ottawa". Heaven help us, what a tragedy that would be for the voters, residents and city taxpayers. Obviously it hasn't occurred to him that ultimately, more development will damage Ottawa. I made the case for that in a tongue-in-cheek Citizen article, speculating on the result of untrammelled development on Ottawa by 2050 . I had the Rideau Canal drained to make way for the world's longest and most competitive shopping mall, with an olympic stadium (complete with a non-functional retractable roof), replacing Dows Lake, all surrounded by highrise apartment blocks. With councillors like Mr. Kreling on board, I am beginning to think that might not be the chilling fictional fantasy that I had intended. I also note that in the table showing the percentage of campaign funds from developers for each councillor, (published by the Citizen a week earlier), Mr. Kreling was one of three for whom the figure was more than forty percent. I am sure that all those taxpayers and voters who read those two reports, will have no trouble connecting the dots.
According to the second report in the Citizen, Mr. Lathrop of the Devlopment Services department apparently is under the impression that Ottawa is one of the "cities competing for development". If that really is his mandate, then I think we have all been seriously misled. He recently addressed one of the local community associations preaching the mantra of densification and how 'outgrowing' must now be replaced by 'ingrowing' as the route to the promised land. Think - toenails, the results of untramelled outgrowing is the need for ever larger shoes, the painful result of the other solution surely needs no comment. If you want to see a demonstration of densification taken to the limit, pay a visit to the 'Grand Circle' development now under construction, half a kilometre to the east off Conroy road, between Hunt Club and the railway tracks. Single family homes are spaced with the outer walls about six feet apart, with about ten feet of yard to the fence at the back and the same to the road in the front.
So long as you accept campaign contributions from developers, you are being asked to smooth the way for an industry which cannot even survive (let alone grow), without a continuously increasing population. That can't happen without jobs being available for the newcomers, hence the push by that industry for attacting new business investment. The only real 'smart growth' is strictly limited growth, and for them that is not an option, there must be continuous population growth or they are dead in the water. Is this the future you want for your children? Take it from someone who came from the hopelessly congested smog-ridden London of the 1950's, this is where we are currently heading - and all it takes is for good councillors to do nothing.
Thank you for your comments.
It might have been to your advantage to "connect the dots" on a few facts before you wrote your correspondence. For example, the fact that I voted against a staff recommendation respecting an approval of a subdivision application submitted by Minto due to the issues of safety, heritage, green space etc. in my ward. As a result of that vote and the cooperation of fellow councillors, we are currently examining, with the community, means of preserving a woodlot. Also, the fact that I requested a rescinding of delegated authority for a site plan application for office towers in my ward in order to permit residents an opportunity to have input in the process. You may wish to ask some of our City's developers about me "connecting the dots".
In a previous article in the Citizen respecting campaign contributions, I told a reporter that any inference that I or any other councillor can be bought with an election contribution is simple minded. I stand by that observation.
On the related issue of election finances, I can advise that I favour a system where individuals could receive a tax rebate for campaign contributions. I would not extend this to corporations, only individual contributions.