Leiper Shows Consultations Are A Farce: BENN




You cannot do indirectly what you are not permitted to do directly. That is a fundamental of common law … except if you are in government.

A long-standing protocol at the city says public consultations are a fundamental part of the zoning process. Even minor variances are subject to collecting input. Not that the city pays attention to the input it gets from residents. No, if public input isn’t what the city wants it is dismissed.

Look at an exchange of emails, as reported in The Bulldog, between the Federation of Citizens Associations and Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper, who is the chairman of the very influential planning committee. The topic at issue is the concept that Stittsville Councillor Glen Gower intended to table a motion to city councillor to approve changes to key elements of the official plan without following the standard public-consultation process.

The back story is that the province made a number of not-so-minor amendments to Ottawa’s Official Plan a year or so ago, as it is permitted to do by regulation. One of those changes was to increase building heights along minor corridors. The effect of this change was to increase the opportunities to increase the degree of intensification throughout the city. Some critics might view that as “developer-friendly.” Recently, as part of a full-scale retreat by the province on a not-too-closely related front, the amendments to Ottawa’s Official Plan were reversed.

FCA Condemns Fast-Tracking Of Building Height Limits

Thus comes the circumvention by Gower and fully endorsed by Leiper. As long as Leiper approves of the result, he doesn’t care about the means used to get there.

The city has adopted a phrase when it reports on the feedback it receives during the public-consultation process. They call it “What We heard.” That might not necessarily be what was said. Confused? Ask any couples who have been together for a few decades. Selective hearing becomes an art form over time.

So there you have it readers. As far as select members of city council are concerned, if the process gets in the way, circumvent it. Feel free to do indirectly what was not permitted directly.

The result? Council can no longer be bothered to pretend public consultations are anything other than a farce.

Ron Benn, a finance executive, has been a member of the Centrepointe Community Association for the better part of three decades.



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