Passing cars honked in support as one of about 100 protesters who gathered at Dow’s Lake at noon on Sunday waved a large Joni Mitchell-inspired placard that read “Don’t Pave Paradise to Put Up a Parking Lot.”
The planned parking lot in question will also have a massive hospital attached, a plan that will remove almost 700 mature trees, which many of Sunday’s demonstrators also oppose.
According to former city councillor Clive Doucet, who organized the protest, the proposal for a new Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital should be re-examined with the aim of returning it to its original planned site, at Tunney’s Pasture.
Doucet, who now lives in Cape Breton, says he thought that the Dow’s Lake site was pretty much a done deal until he learned of Ottawa integrity commissioner Robert Marleau’s recent report, finding that Barrhaven Coun. and planning committee chair Jan Harder violated the city’s code of conduct by hiring the daughter of longtime development consultant Jack Stirling.
“To my mind,” said Doucet, “that is what we were talking about three years ago, in 2018, when we (ReImagine Ottawa) put together a panel — including a medical physicist, an environmental engineer, a retired Superior Court judge, and an investigative journalist — who all said the decision to move from Tunney’s, made in 72 hours, doesn’t look right.”
The Tunney‘s Pasture site, Doucet added, “makes more sense. There’s better transit, better road access, and it’s totally urban. Whereas this is heritage property, essential green space for the city of Ottawa, since forever. It’s on a fault line and has the worst access. This project will take the most beautiful park and turn it into an enormous complex.
“The people of Canada own the Farm, and Tunney’s Pasture. They should say to the City of Ottawa, ‘Sorry, we want to take a look at this.’”
Also in attendance Sunday was Capital Ward Coun. Shawn Menard, who said he was concerned about political interference in the decision to relocate the project, and some aspects of the proposal itself, including a planned four-storey parking garage.
“We need to bury parking,” he said. “And we need LRT on-site, and not next door.
One nearby resident who attended Sunday’s rally, David Moyer said he’s worried that building a new hospital at Dow’s Lake may be the beginning of the end for the Experimental Farm.
“This may be something that developers use as a thin edge of the wedge. Once you’ve damaged part of the Farm, it’s easier to damage the rest of it.
“The Experimental Farm is an extremely valuable place, for downtown, for the city, for the country. And the idea that we’d damage it for such foolish reason is ridiculous, when everyone knows that Tunney’s Pasture was the original choice for this and approved by everybody, until developers decided they wanted it.
“I just don’t see that there’s any excuse to damage the Farm.”
City council is expected to vote on the hospital’s master plan at the end of August.
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