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A Park by Any Other Name

Capital Ward councillor and mayoral candidate Clive Doucet is challenging his opponents to state their position on Sylvia Holden Park. To be clear, we're talking about the strip of grass and trees running from south-east corner of Bank and Holmwood to the general vicinity of the Horticulture Building. We are NOT talking about Lansdowne Community Park, the area adjacent to the Lansdowne parking lot (think ball diamonds, wading pool and dog park). It's being preserved in more or less its current state. There's been massive confusion about the names, and "Sylvia Holden Park" has been used by city staff, councillors, and residents alike to refer to both properties.

Last week the city's Planning and Environment Committee approved the re-zoning of Lansdowne Park, and lumped Sylvia Holden in with the rest of it. If council approves the changes (and it will, by the now-familiar vote of 15-9), then Sylvia Holden Park disappears.

We know where the mayor stands on the issue. Larry O'Brien even sat in on that Planning Committee meeting to avoid an embarrassing loss (it would have risen to council anyway). Jim Watson has said the Lansdowne deal "isn't perfect," but he says he won't reverse council's decision because he's afraid doing so will cost taxpayers millions. He complicated things though when he pledged to stamp out sole-sourcing. Watson's opponents may start asking how he can take the ethical high road during the campaign, then stand on the shoulder after he's elected. O'Brien cancelled light rail because he didn't think is was a suitable plan. Will Watson make good on his integrity pledge and cancel Lansdowne?

Here's Doucet's challenge:

City Council is scheduled to vote on an extremely important motion, attached below, this Wednesday, September 22nd. The motion pertains to the future of a well-loved community park at the corner of Bank Street and Holmwood Avenue, with a street address of 945 Bank Street. The park stretches east to the Horticulture Building on Holmwood and is not to be confused with "Lansdowne Community Park" which was protected by a motion of council on June 28, 2010. 

To date, 15 members of Council, including the mayor, have been supporting the plan to decommission this community park so that the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) can build a 17-story commercial / condo tower and townhomes along the length of Holmwood, with 10-story buildings immediately behind them. This parkland will be lost forever and dozens of mature trees will be destroyed or relocated in the process.

On January 19, 1994, the Council of the old City of Ottawa adopted a policy on the decommissioning of parkland. The policy requires a 2/3 weighted vote of Council to decommission a park and applies to all parks listed in the City's parks inventory, which includes Sylvia Holden Park.

Mayoral candidate, Jim Watson, who represented Capital Ward when Sylvia Holden Park was officially named by Council on December 21, 1994 later wrote in the summer of 1995, in The Glebe Report: "This beautiful park which features three acres of green space and offers a spectacular view of the restored Aberdeen Pavilion is a fitting honour to Sylvia [Holden] and her dedication to the Glebe."

My question today to those running for mayor is this:

Do you support the decommissioning of Sylvia Holden Park at 945 Bank Street against the wishes of the local community and which is contrary to a 1994 policy designed to protect the very parks that we all cherish?

If you support the decommissioning of Sylvia Holden Park, would you also support decommissioning parks in other parts of the City?

Good questions. Will Doucet get any answers?

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