If you check the recent comments in this blog, you will notice that a person hiding behind the name, Mabel Blow, concludes his/her comment with this specific threat: ‘I’m going to be pushing the city to sell Lansdowne’, (should the city lose in court). Be careful about what you wish for,’ Mabel Blow warns.
Bingo! Plan B! Sell the land! It solves so many problems for the current Mayor who has been trying to give the park to developers for a very long time. He’s come close. In his first term as Mayor 1997-2000, Mr. Watson did his best to sell the site to Canderel Corp. for condos. He didn’t because the Regional Council under the then Chair Bob Chiarelli took it off his hands for a dollar in order to protect it from privatization.
He’s now leaning hard on Mr. O’Brien’s efforts to divest this public land to local developers and is held up only by the courts. Should he lose, going quickly back to his original plan – selling the park – solves a whole raft of problems for him in one fell swoop. There’s no public debate, no way of opposing a city land sale except for council which, given the runny jello backbone of this council, is impossible to imagine.
Once the land is sold, the stadium construction will be put on hold. Why? Because all staff reports of past years give Lansdowne, as a site for a new stadium a low priority, sixth out of seven potential sites. A land sale will be excellent news for the Mayor because the city never wanted to re-build there anyway. Now they can run a ‘competitive’ stadium process, which would qualify the city to scoop up some provincial and federal cash (not currently available due to sole-sourcing) and solve a pending horrendous “public transit to the ball game” debacle that would be a renewed Lansdowne stadium.
Secondly, there won’t be much anger from local merchants about big box stores because the unpublished reality is – Lansdowne is not an attractive spot for the likes of megastores anyway. For the same reasons, it doesn’t make sense to build a stadium there. Old Lansdowne Park will become as it would have become under the original Watson/Canderel proposal a collection of ‘stunning’ condos for some very rich folks and I’m sure, a very nice place to live.
Meanwhile on the corner of Fifth and Bank St., there hangs a large and handsome banner announcing STUNNING CONDOS coming soon, MINTO@ Lansdowne. There have also been advertisements on the buses and in local newspapers inviting customers to invest in Lansdowne Condos.
The total lack of interest in the outcome of the various legal actions regarding Lansdowne by both the city and its developers has always intrigued me. Whether or not simply selling Lansdowne is Plan B, we’ll have to wait and see but one thing we can be confident of is there is a Plan B and it won’t be about actually holding a worldwide competition to determine the reconfiguring of such an ancient and important piece of the city’s public land.
Nonetheless, it shouldn’t surprise anyone the courts are taking their time. This is serious stuff. There are billions of dollars of gold plated profit on the line, an irreplaceable public landscape next to a UNESCO World Heritage site and a precedent which will resonate right across Canada.