Dr. & Mrs. Q. Bristow|
11th May 1994
Dear Mr. Manley,
As Ottawa residents and tax payers since 1960, we write to express our alarm over the proposed sales of NCC parklands in general, and the thirty acre "Lynda Lane" site in particular, which is within 300 metres of our home.
Everyone knows that these green spaces, more than any other factors, are what has made the National Capital the desirable and attractive city it is for residents, and the tourist mecca that it has now become. Everyone also knows that they are almost all situated within easy reach of down-town and close to stable residential areas with all the necessary infrastructure and services already in place. As such, each one is worth a king's ransom for developers who would just love to carpet them in luxury condominiums, hotels, office-and-boutique space, or whatever else is currently profitable - and then move on with their ill gotten gains.
The projected revenue from this exercise is absolutely piffling in the context of the national budget, but it could make a few individuals very rich indeed and reduce this most attractive city to just another in the chain of drab North American urban centres that stretch across the continent. In theory there are checks and balances in place. The NCC is required to offer the parcels of land to provincial and municipal governments before developers are allowed to get their hands on them.
The problem with that is that municipal governments traditionally have a heavy over-representation of people with direct or indirect interests in land development, for the obvious reason that it puts them in the driver's seat in formulating by-laws and regulations on such things as construction permits, zoning, development fees, property taxes and the like, which affect their fortunes very directly. Our (too many!) levels of local government are unfortunately no exception and after watching the machinations they have gone through recently to foist commercial baseball and hockey stadiums on us (built with contributions of our own federal, provincial and municipal tax money!), we remain totally unconvinced that all the members will remain impartial in the decision-making process involved in dealing with these potentially immensely profitable parcels of land. In that regard it came as absolutely no surprise to us that the site of immediate concern to us, (Lynda Lane) was apparently almost bartered away before our local councillor (Peter Hume) got wind of it and sounded the alarm.
The Chairman of the NCC must do what he is told by Cabinet; you are now a member of Cabinet and we urge you to make the case for a review of these parkland sales, which were initiated by the previous government for what appears to us to have been blatantly political reasons. We suggest that the case would stand on the following points:
The one-off contribution to the Federal treasury from the sale of NCC parklands is minuscule in comparison to the tourist revenue generated for the local economy (for which those green spaces are crucial elements) for even a single season. Much of that tourist revenue is in US currency, and as such is directly equivalent to income earned from the export of goods and services.
The majority (if not all) of the lands are in central locations adjacent to residential areas where the infrastructure and amenities (roads, schools, transpo, shopping centres etc.,) are already in place. Such large parcels of land have not been available in such prime locations in the city for many years. This makes them potentially immensely profitable, if zoning can be changed to allow commercial development, or high-rise (and hence lucrative) luxury condominiums and the like.
Despite any solemn commitments made by individual Mayors and or councillors to protect the public interest in the first instance, the various levels of local government in the National Capital Region are so heavily infiltrated by development interests (like most local governments the world over), that with the stakes so high, they simply cannot be trusted to stand up indefinitely to pressure for rezoning and releasing lands that they may acquire, for the development of whatever provides the maximum profit for the industry at any given time.
|Quentin Bristow||Lucille Bristow,|