An email sent to Industry Minister (and Ottawa South MP) John Manley, dated the 29th of January 2000, in the hope that he might be persuaded to intervene to prevent the sale of the federal land in the Health Complex on Smyth Road for residential/office development. His reply (dated two months later), was-shall we say-"unhelpful"
Dear Mr. Manley,
This is in part to let you know that as a constituent I think that you did the right thing over the hockey business. I was sufficiently ticked about the biased interpretation of the COMPAS/Citizen poll, which purported to show that your re-election chances had been adversely affected by your decision, that I took it apart in a letter to the Citizen (Tuesday 25 Jan) pointing out that no such conclusion could possibly be drawn from the data provided.
The other part of this message has to do with the proposal by Canada Lands to develop the site of the Rideau Veterans land in the Health Complex bordering Smyth Road. This will come before the City Planning and Econmic Development Committee on Tuesday February the 8th and all those interested will have the usual opportunity to make a 5 minute presentation. A number of us from the executive of the Faircrest Heights Community Association will be doing that. Attached (as a Corel Word Perfect file) is a written submission that I am sending to the Committee as an individual.
One of the thrusts of my argument is that the project is not needed, that it would add totally unnecessary congestion in the Health Complex, and that the Federal Government certainly does not need the money from the sale of that land. In my view it would make a lot of sense for the Government simply to cede the land to the Ottawa Hospital Board, with the proviso that it be used to further the delivery of health care to this region as and when the Hospital considers it appropriate.
I haven't attempted to spell out what form this should take, or when it should happen, but it is pretty obvious that with the health care system in crisis, with a growing need for example for more long-term care facilities, that the land will be needed over the next few years for yet more expansion or new facilities of one sort or another. This would surely be seen as a far-sighted commitment by the Federal Government and very much in line with Health Minister Rock's recent proposals.
It seems from my perspective (and no doubt from that of very many of your constituents in this area), that Canada Lands simply has an ongoing mandate to dispose of federal lands as and when they become available, without any case-by-case consideration of any local issues that may be involved. I have no doubt that most of the proceeds go to keeping the Crown Corporation afloat, with very little going back to the Treasury. In my view there ought to be close political oversight of each and every disposition, to ensure that the usual formula of sale to private developers for residential/retail/commercial/industrial or whatever, is in fact in the best interests of the communities surrounding the lands to be divested.
In this particular case I can tell you that it most certainly is not. Once the currently vacant land within the Health Complex is filled up with totally unnecessary and unwanted residential and office development, there will be no going back. When the time comes (not if - but when) that new health care related building (such as long term care facilities)is needed even more urgently than it is now, it will have to be put in somehwere else, not adjacent to hospital facilities which is the obvious choice.
Dr. Q. Bristow. P.Eng.
Ottawa K1H 5L6