Mount Royal parkland will not be sold to Calgary philanthropist Don Taylor
Council votes no to Evamy Ridge land sale, but agrees to settlement
Calgary city council has decided not to sell a parcel of land in Mount Royal to prominent businessman and philanthropist Don Taylor.
He was lobbying to purchase 3,700 square feet of land next to his property at the top of Hillcrest Avenue S.W.
The sale has been controversial because of opposition from neighbours who wanted to see the land remain public.
City council debated the issue Tuesday afternoon and voted 9-3 to keep it. Councillors then voted 10-3 to negotiate a settlement with Taylor.
While the terms of the settlement have not been made public, the negotiation is not expected to include land.
"I'm simply gratified to see the city place a high value on public open space," said Charlene Prickett with the Mount Royal Community Association.
The green space was a gift from CP Rail in 1920 with the understanding that it would remain public.
In the letter previously sent to his neighbours, Taylor said that until 2006 he was under the impression the land already belonged to him. There was even a basketball court on it when he purchased the lot with a spectacular view of Calgary’s downtown roughly 20 years ago.
When the slope adjacent to the property began to fail a few years ago, Taylor says he paid roughly $812,000 to help cover the costs of a retaining wall on the condition he would be allowed to buy the land back at fair market value.
But one neighbour said that deal only came about after "protracted negotiations" and it was a cost-shared arrangement among the city and all of the affected homes in the area.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the contentious issue is among one of the most disappointing experiences he has had during his time in office.
"I didn't appreciate the tone that was taken by many members of the community," he said. "Not all, in fact I should be more specific and say the Cliff Bungalow-Mission community did not take that tone."
Taylor could not be reached for an interview.
His son David Taylor wrote in an email to CBC: "My father is on his way back to Canada. We are not going to comment until the city contacts us and explains their ideas on settlement."
The businessman is known for donating tens of millions to local universities and the Calgary Stampede.
Some of the donations include $25 million to build the Taylor Family Digital Library at the University of Calgary, a $40-million endowment to create the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the school and $20 million for a new concert hall at Mount Royal University.
- See a map of the land below. On mobile? Click here