To Manley 02/04/00
Dr. Q. Bristow P.Eng.
Billings Ave.
Ottawa,
K1H 5L6

2nd April 2000


The Hon. John Manley
(M.P. Ottawa South)

Dear Mr. Manley,

Disposal of Crown Lands must respect Public Interest

I have finally received a reply from you (28th March), to my email to you of January 29th . In that message I expressed concern over the way in which the Canada Lands Company is allowed to dispose of federal crown lands with (apparently) only the normal commercial development objectives as a mandate, and with no particular regard for the public interest, for example whether or not a development project is actually needed, and whether the public interest is served in any way by the result.

I pointed out that in the particular project concerned (development of the former Rideau Veterans lands in the Smyth Road Health Complex), the only beneficiaries will be the Canada Lands Company and assorted consultants and developers. I suggested that a truly public interest long-term use for this federally owned land would be to hold it in reserve for future needs of the Ottawa Hospital, such as long term care facilities.

To say that your reply was 'disappointing' would be the understatement of the century. One half of it was devoted to telling me what the mandate of the Canada Lands Company is, something that obviously I already know, and then suggesting that I call their Director of Real Estate for more information about the project! Nothing that I can say to him will address the question of the necessity for political oversight of their decisions, which was the point I made in my email to you. Neither this nor any other of the points which I made were seriously addressed.

The other half seems to be a spirited defence of the rationale behind your actions on the Hockey subsidy question. I had indeed alluded to that en passant, saying that I had written a letter which was published in the Citizen, supporting your final decision, no more explanation was needed. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this was merely 'boiler plate' to be tacked on to any reply to a constituent where the word 'Hockey' had appeared. (If you decide to reply to this letter, I urge you not to mention it again!)

I had assumed that you would be aware that there are a lot of very valuable parcels of federally owned land in your constituency which developers are eager to acquire. I assumed you were also aware that a significant segment of your constituents are very concerned that the federal government is attempting simply to wash its hands of any responsibility in the disposition of those lands when they become "surplus", by claiming that the Canada Lands Company operates as an arms length corporation with no provision for direction or oversight from the government.

We both know that as a crown corporation, any one of their activities can be reviewed by the cabinet on any occasion if it chooses to do so. I would hope that since we are in a surplus situation, that it would now be cabinet policy that the disposal of any federal crown land must be in the public interest. I can only repeat the point that I made in my original email; the dumping of a residential/office development into that Health Complex is not in the public interest from any conceivable point of view, and will be detrimental to the quality of life for area residents.

I am posting this (and other correspondence I have from time to time with officialdom concerning land use in the Ottawa South area), on my personal web site as a community service.

Yours faithfully,

Quentin Bristow.