Dr. Q. Bristow. P.Eng.
Ottawa. K1H 5L6
November 26th 2000
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
As a forty-odd year resident of this city, I am most encouraged that finally consideration is being given to some form of intervention in the free market driven evolution of development and accompanying transportation infrastructure. I am particularly relieved that at long last, the idea that light rail should be part of the ongoing transport policy is now taking hold, and that there will be attempts to limit the currently untrammelled urban sprawl.
As an active member and a director of my community association (Faircrest Heights), I am acutely aware that one of the problems which you face in attempting to limit unwanted development is the trump card of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), which developers can almost always rely on if any of their applications are rejected. It seems to me quite unconscionable that this unelected body (which appears never to have met a development project that it didn't like), should be used to hamstring the elected council of Canada's national capital city in setting its priorities for the future. I can well imagine that the threat of losing an appeal, with the attendant loss of time and money spent on a defence (not to mention the loss of credibility for the bureacrats involved), is a very real disincentive to do anything other than rubber stamp development applications.
I wonder if there would be any mileage in some form of collective protest by the council to highlight this black hole in the democratic process. For example an open letter to the Premier of Ontario in half-page adds in the Globe and Mail, National Post and the Citizen, denouncing this state of affairs. After all, we are talking about the nation's capital, not Hicktown Ontario, and I imagine there would be a considerable groundswell of support from across the land as well as within the city for some action, which it would be difficult for the provincial government to ignore.
When it comes to the excesses of development I know whereof I speak, I left the hopelessly congested, smog ridden over-developed city of London (U.K.) in 1957 to come to Ottawa, which was then a veritable Shangi-La. I have tried to provoke some discussion of the looming problem we now face with articles like the tongue-in-cheek scenario which ran in the Citizen a month or so ago . I am relieved that with the new thinking evident in the recent pronouncements by the Mayor, that the dire situation predicted in that article may not now come to pass.