public meeting serves up snake oil

Public meetings can be great fun, much more gripping entertainment than than the boob tube or the internet. Skeptical? Take a look at this:

Rick and his buddies hate facing the public, but after the media blew the whistle a “public meeting” was hastily organized. A full house was on hand to roast the councillor for his duplicity on the Baseline mega-development near Bells Corners. They wanted to find out how they will be affected by this shady deal.

Let me introduce some of the characters present at this dramatic event:

The guy who did most of the talking, the one selling the snake oil, was this planner from Fotenn Consultants Inc., hired by the developer Brigil to quarterback the project and get it through council.

His company made a donation to Rick’s election campaign war chest.

I’m not saying that Rick can be bought for such a small sum, but what does the company expect in return for its gift to the career politician? What other gifts does it make?

Ottawa Citizen editorial: “Who runs planning in this community? Certainly not municipal council. It’s city staff, the development industry and the OMB.” Former University of Ottawa geography professor and urban planner Barry Wellar is not surprised that developers are held in such low esteem, seeing them as constantly fighting to protect their own pockets, not the public interest.

The Sun’s account of the public meeting was entitled “Angry crowd pans Nepean development” but the editor toned it down a bit for the paper version. Fair enough, not everyone in the crowd was angry – there was a sprinkling of Team Chiarelli supporters present, not all of them Rick’s employees or co-opted community association executive members. Here’s a picture of two journalists from the community papers (near them a community activist who ran against Keith Egli in the last election) – wonder if they’ll put a Rick-friendly spin on this mess when their stories come out?

RC portrays himself as valiantly fighting to oppose anything but “moderate intensification” and the Citizen swallowed his snake oil. A seasoned council watcher wasn’t fooled:

“Classic Rick Chiarelli modus operandi — keep stuff that people might object to secret until the very last minute. No one really believes that Rick was surprised by this. There is no way that this got to this stage without Rick knowing about it. He knew and to claim otherwise is not the brightest move, since it is his job to know.

Anyway, for the residents of the area who may be concerned about this — this is how the situation will resolve itself. Rick will meet with you and tell you he is going to advocate for you. That will just be a meaningless lie to placate opposition. He will then do nothing, but, since you feel that you are being represented, you also will do nothing. If you do object at some point the developer will concede something meaningless and the community will be made to look unreasonable for not accepting the compromise. Rick is not on your side and if you trust him you are being very foolish.”

Here’s CFRA’s take on the public meeting:

West Enders Upset Over Planned Baseline Road High-Rise

Lauren Davis with Stephanie Kinsella

A planned Baseline Road high-rise has area residents up in arms.

One hundred fifty west enders showed up to a community meeting on Wednesday night at Ben Franklin Place to voice their concerns.

Five hundred eighty-eight units are planned for 2940 Baseline Road, with the tallest building reaching 16 storeys.

Brigil, the developer for the property, needs City Council to change the zoning, though, because right now, the maximum height for the area is set at seven storeys.

Lionel Rowe lives behind the property on Lake Crest Court; he argues that it’s too big and too tall.

“I’d like to see something reasonable that’s sort of [blends] in with the profile of the existing community,” Rowe tells CFRA. “It’s just like moving Manhattan into Lake Crest Court.”

Traffic impacts brought about jeers from attendees when they learned that numbers were based on counts done in the summer months.

Some residents argued that isn’t an accurate reflection.

Brigil, the development company, is promising to retain 53 per cent of the property as green space and provide over 700 parking spaces underground.

The issue will be up for debate at an October meeting of City Hall’s Planning Committee.

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