Memo to planning committee chairwoman Jan Harder: Ottawa is still a democracy despite your best efforts to the contrary.
The Barrhaven councillor has been running around city hall saying how badly she was treated by The Bulldog in the three-part saga on her political career and her recent faulty decisions as the head of a very important standing committee. Harder needs to realize that you can’t have it both ways.
You can’t be liked by the public when you are throwing zoning out the window. That might curry favour for you with the development community but not with the community at large. What Harder wants to be is loved when she is not doing her duty of defending the interests of the taxpayer and homeowner.
What Harder can’t handle (and so she blusters angrily like a child as a defence) is the truth. The truth with Harder is not pretty. Under her chairmanship, zoning in Ottawa has been destroyed.
Here’s the problem councillor. The public needs to be assured that when people pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into their home (in many cases their life savings) and a community that their implicit contract with the City of Ottawa will be honoured. If the neighbourhood is zoned single-family residential, it remains single-family residential. If zoning says 30 storeys, that doesn’t mean 65 storeys.
If the city won’t assure zoning certainty, then developers should be held responsible for the damage inflicted on home values in the community when 16- and 14-storey structures are constructed in residential neighbourhoods. Let’s see how quickly they want three extra storeys when neighbours can hit the developers up for say $300,000 per home in the vicinity of the tower.
In other words, if you take something away from someone without their permission, you are responsible for the consequences. Someone should take that principle to court to see how a judge feels about it. Come to think of it, we already know.
In addition, Harder tried and succeeded in keeping voters and taxpayers from being informed about the height and zoning report and 900 Albert. Harder gave the public only 24-hours notice of a consultation on the height and zoning report. The public was notified of 900 Albert on June 29 and given only five business days to respond during the Canada Day weekend. At the end of those five days, planning committee approved the enormous project and council passed it the next day. That’s an outrage.
One person in planning said that the reason the deal was so rushed was because the city didn’t want to offend the developer. Astonishing. If you weren’t sure who planning department worked for, well now it’s certain it isn’t you. Not sure? Ask planning for concierge for your little home project and see how that works out.
Harder is angry about her Bulldog coverage. Tough luck. If you aren’t standing up for the public, then you just got called on it. Harder has been exclaiming that “developers built this city” (thank goodness the lumber industry, tradespeople and the federal government had nothing to do with it). Harder’s demonstrations only dig her deeper into fertilizer. Are you proud of your actions, councillor?
“Developers built this city” is no defence for abrogating basic tenets of democracy.
Bluster all you want, Jan Harder. Voters and taxpayers know exactly who you support and it isn’t them. Constituents in Barrhaven need to get smart about Harder. Where’s your grade separation at Woodroffe Avenue and the Via Rail line where six people were killed? The study for it isn’t even ready. Hey, why hasn’t Harder got you a light-rail station Barrhaven and why is she throwing away $600,000 on an environmental study that will expire at least eight years before LRT construction is scheduled to begin to the south urban community.
Don’t feel sorry for yourself or try to defend your indefensible actions, councillor. You made your bed with gusto. Now sleep in it.
Harder should not be the planning committee chairwoman or a city councillor for that matter if she doesn’t understand and refuses to honour how our precious political system works.
That pesky democracy mandates an election for councillor in Barrhaven on Oct. 22. The Bulldog with gusto will not be endorsing Harder.
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