So much for community mobilization.
I wrote earlier about being part of a community fight to preserve heritage grounds around an old convent. This is a piece of property which was sold to developers before any discussion with or informing of the community. It is a site on which the developers who purchased the property are aiming to double the recommended intensification.
The community has rallied and done their democratic best. There have been countless meetings, letters and phone calls to councillors, media campaigns, flyers, discussion boards, web sites. And yet, at the end of the day, the private developers win.
The Mayor admitted in Council today that he has “never seen the number of public meetings held on one issue”. Yet he said this to praise the newly elected Councillor who has essentially abandoned the community in this fight (as if she were the one organizing all these meetings!) instead of to rightfully acknowledge that the reason there have been so many meetings is because the community is so opposed to this development.
People in our ward who have been lobbying the council to act in the best interest in the community have even been writing to say that we agree to a $97/year levy in our taxes for the next 10 years in order to pay for it. (This a figure city staffers come up with based on an appraisal which would have seen the city pay $11.5M for a portion of the property the developers bought for $12M.)
And yet, at City Hall today, Councillors voted not to purchase any part of the former convent site. Every inch is handed over to the developers. The city even accepted “cash-in-lieu of parkland” from the developer – to ‘invest in improving and expanding parkland” in our ward. Salt on a wound I tell you. Salt on a wound.
It’s nice to think that for the next few years I have will have the drone of construction to keep me and my young family company each day. And instead of a 100-year old willow and other towering trees across the street, soon we will have a tower of concrete and steel. Our loss, the developer's gain.