This report, which appeared in the March 2000 issue of the local newspaper "VISTAS", did not generate much feedback.
On February 8th, The city Planning and Economic Development Committee voted four to one (Councillor Allan Higdon dissenting) to allow the Canada Lands Company project for a substantial residential/office development on the former Rideau Veterans lands to proceed. The committee brushed aside concerns about the exacerbation of traffic congestion, advising local communities to lobby the Region for a solution.
The obligatory section on 'Public input/Public comment' contained in the City planning document, was overwhelmingly negative, citing the general deterioration of the quality of life for the surrounding thousands of residents in terms of air pollution, traffic congestion etc., which this development (plus an additional half million square feet of new development on the books) will cause.
Canada Lands Company is a Crown Corporation which essentially lives off the proceeds of sales of federal public lands. In a slick and soothing 35 minute presentation by seven staff and consultants, it attempted to allay these fears by pointing out that the proposed development represented only six percent of the total site, which of course raises the question as to what they and others have in mind for the other 94 percent. Their 'vision' is to 'enhance the quality of life in communities where the company conducts business'. Two councillors clearly agreed, enthusiastically endorsing the proposal as being 'good for the community'. The only beneficiaries appear to be Canada Lands and their contractors, and the city tax coffers. It would be interesting to hear from these committee members, details of any conceivable benefit or enhancement for residents of the communities affected (Faircrest Heights, Alta Vista, Riverview, Canterbury etc.), which they can identify.
The views of the thousands of those community residents could only be represented by volunteers who had the time and resources to prepare briefs and be prepared to present them at a weekday hearing. Predictably that translated to half a dozen seniors speaking out against the threat to their community, attempting to counter the well funded PR of a federal government agency like Canada Lands. The result of that lopsided contest should come as absolutely no surprise. Expect more 'enhancements' unless more residents take up the cudgels, more often!.
Faircrest Heights Community Association executive.