Friday, December 31, 2010

NIMBY -- But You Pay Our Costs

Citizen Ellie's been out of the loop for a couple of months -- rehabbing a new knee and managing some holiday events for the family.
That doesn't mean she's stopped paying attention to municipal affairs, and a couple of issues which recently cropped up have given her cause for concern.
A small item in the local press a couple of weeks ago caught her eye.
Those of you who follow such things will remember that the anti-development group, Friends of Lansdowne Park, is taking the city to court in an attempt to stop the park redevelopment project.
Those of you who follow such things will remember these thumbsucking NIMBY-ites appearing at numerous public hearings where they set about to demonize community builders such as Roger Greenberg, Jeff Hunt and John Ruddy -- men who've made huge contributions to the public good in this city (The Ottawa Hospital and the Heart Institute spring immediately to mind as just two beneficiaries of their philanthropy).
Guess what ? The Friends of Lansdowne Park, perhaps realizing that they've bitten off a larger legal bill than they can collectively chew, are asking the city to cover their court costs. This means that you, me and the countless thousands of Ottawans who support the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's plan for the park would be on the hook for this courtroom time-waster if council agreed to this demand.
The Friends of Lansdowne Park obviously didn't pay any attention to the recent municipal election results. Some councillors who opposed the Lansdowne redevelopment plan read the tea leaves and decided to bow out gracefully and take their pensions. Others were unceremoniously turfed out by the electorate. Virtually all who voted against the project are no longer occupying seats at the council table.
Doesn't bode well for the Friends. Citizen Ellie believes the new council isn't going to spend taxpayers' money on frivolous legal actions -- and in Citizen Ellie's opinion, that's exactly what the Friends have in their court challenge.
Citizen Ellie was heartened this week to learn that OSEG had been granted intervenor status, which means that it will have a voice in the court proceedings.
And we're starting to hear that voice. OSEG has filed an affidavit responding to the Friends' suit, stating that the Friends' position is based on an "imperfect or incomplete understanding of the plan"; it "challenges not only the good faith of the city, but the good faith of OSEG"; the allegations are "careless and ill-founded, wholly disregarding the time and energy that OSEG has expended in its attempt, along with the City, to bring redevelopment to Lansdowne Park". The affidavit also states that "OSEG will bear the full cost of acquiring a CFL team and is also on the hook for any cost overruns accrued in the $129.5 million refurbishment of Frank Clair Stadium and the Civic Centre arena."
Citizen Ellie is not surprised that the Friends have an "imperfect or incomplete" understanding of the plan. After all, some of them hold unrealistic views regarding vehicle access in the Glebe -- would you believe barring cars completely ? The Friends don't want any changes at Lansdowne Park ! Period ! No argument !
Another group of NIMBY-ites is trying to stop development in Westboro -- on the Richmond Road site previously occupied by the Ursuline Convent. In this case, a combination of residential/commercial development is proposed -- development which meets current zoning regulations -- with plans which have been changed, changed and changed again in order to meet community concerns but to no avail. The Westboro thumbsuckers just don't want development. Period ! No argument !
So they are heading off to the Ontario Municipal Board where they are likely to get short shrift.
As yet we haven't been subject to a demand from this group that the taxpayers pick up the tab for their costs. But they surely won't be far behind their pals from the Glebe if they think their snouts will fit into the trough at city hall.
Citizen Ellie doesn't believe public dollars should be used to pay for actions brought by NIMBY-minded citizens. Taxpayers have already funded, and will continue to fund the city's costs as these two examples of foolishness continue.
Citizen Ellie has this advice for the Friends of Lansdowne: put your money where your mouth is ! Dredge it up from your own pockets or go out and fundraise. Property taxes are high enough without this sort of demand on the public purse !

Happy New Year ! Citizen Ellie hopes to resume regular weekly blogging in January.