Sean Devine’s Simple Wrong Ideology

Simple ideas to solve complicated problems. Oh that it were only this easy.

Knoxdale-Merivale Councillor Sean Devine gives you a very rudimentary dissertation on the merits of intensification (see video below).

And that’s because his thoughts are based on ideology rather than practicality.

Good neighbourhoods are very difficult to build over the decades and have a human infrastructure that people such as Devine don’t come close to understanding.

Let’s start with this. The councillor asked the work crew on the construction project below how the neighbourhood is taking six units on a one unit lot. According to Devine, the workers on the site said people didn’t like the project but now they’re starting to come around. Is Devine sure the workers on this small project are employees or are part of the building company as part-owners. Even without that, the workers know their jobs are tied to many more of these little projects. So of course the neighbours are coming around. It might not be true but It’s good for our business.

But Devine takes their words as truth. The councillor would make one lousy reporter. Let’s ask biased people what their conception of the truth is. What you get is propaganda, not facts. Propaganda that supports the councillor’s ideology.

Propaganda that fits the councillor’s version of the truth. Not the truth.

Did he ask the next-door neighbours how they’re enjoying the construction? Or how they won’t be able to sell their homes during the construction? Or how the constant din is affecting their children? How are the kids enjoying playing in the backyard to sound of skill-saws? And how are the neighbours enjoying the sharp decline in their property values, some of whom are using their homes as equity for their retirement? And what if this project delays their retirement or badly diminishes it? Or the city must support them in their retirement?

And what of elderly Mrs. Smith in the neighbourhood. She’s alone and doesn’t want to go to a seniors residence (a nice term for storage). One of her neighbours cuts her lawn. Another helps her with groceries. She babysits some kids in the neighbourhood.

Infill and intensification break down these human relationships.

Renters don’t have the same buy-in to a neighbourhood without the pecuniary and sweat equity that homeowners have. Do enough of this kind of infill and people just say “forget it” and move elsewhere. The trickle becomes a wave and then you have block-busting. That’s a joy for developers because then they can buy up blocks and build multi-unit buildings.

Intensification, Sean Devine, is something you would support for climate-change reasons but don’t kid yourself. Intensification is for developers’ bank balances. Do you really think Premier Doug Ford’s municipal intensification measures are to help save the world climate? Ford might have a different agenda.

Governments get involved in neighbourhoods at their peril. Governments turned King Edward Avenue from a leafy, lovely neighbourhood into an industrial roadway and destroyed businesses. The city government is fixing the mess in the ByWard Market by putting a police office in a shopping mall. The mall owner must be pleased because the homeless people in the mall have been moved … into the mess in the market. What does that solve?

Ottawa City Council decided to improve the city’s transportation network and its climate by building a late, unreliable $6.4-billion LRT that has forced people into their cars because it doesn’t work. Or this council rushed into buying $1-billion of e-buses to save the planet. Except that Hydro Ottawa doesn’t have the capacity to charge those buses so the city is now building huge gas-powered generators to do the job. So much for Ottawa solving the world’s climate woes.

And now we have council encouraging infill into successful neighbourhoods in the faint hope that will help repair the climate. What it will do is change the whole city, and if the past is the guide with the city, not for the better. Your agent will give you good odds this council is on the way to destroying the human infrastructure in neighbourhoods in a misguided attempt to fix the climate through intensification. Let’s see council handle the social damage this will cause. There’s a very good chance this council, with this huge intensification initiative, can destroy the whole city. First they destroy transit, then the roads, then paramedics, waste management … we could go on … then the whole damn city.

So here’s some advice for our council that knows better than us on how we should live.

You don’t.

What this city touches it destroys.

Rather than ruin more things, why not concentrate on fixing the things this council and city government has broken. Like transit for example, And, as an aside, that doesn’t happen without a plan or by declaring Beacon Hill-Cyrville the official domain of Nickelback. Bet ya\ou a shawarma on that/

A little knowledge goes a short way and this council has taken that adage and changed it with … a little knowledge can actually drive things backwards.

If the city government doesn’t know what it is doing (and by all evidence it does not), could it at least stay out of fields that it doesn’t understand such as Devine’s simple short essay on intensification.

Stop telling smart residents how they should live because council doesn’t know. It doesn’t have the faintest idea. Stop dealing with complicated problems with simple, distorted answers based on ideology or the intelligence council doesn’t have.

Maybe council has convinced itself it knows better but look at the tale of the tape. Check the evidence. Council doesn’t have a clue.

And in the unlikely event councillors did know, they’d screw it up.

Ken Gray



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Nickelback Crisis Averted

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5 Responses

  1. C from Kanata says:

    Good comment. We are looking at literally thousands of apartments coming to N. Kanata, some with 50% parking. Plus thousands of other housing units. Estimated 6,000 new high school students. Karen McCrimmon just announced one high school will get an extension for 25 new classrooms, but they already have 30 portables, so they will still have 5 portables after the extension. Plus high schools in N. Kanata will need 200 more classrooms or portables to support the influx of students, with no new English high schools even being considered (1 French high school is coming). Plus no new sports fields, pools or recreation being considered. And now they are setting their sights on the Kanata North Research park for residential developments, without consideration of the social aspects of communities. We are making a new Jane-Finch disaster in Kanata. No wonder people are moving out.

  2. Ken Gray says:


    Ottawa was once a nice place to live.



  3. Been There says:

    Why can’t our councillors and planners realize, that in a geographically immense city like Ottawa a one size planning solution does not fit all.

  4. Andrew says:

    Sad to hear that the 2 Hectares/1000 people is being thrown out in Kanata as well as the under-served residents in the core. Lansdowne 2.0 is removing greenspace when it is in the Official Plan and Parks and Rec Master Plan to actually try to bring in more in the area to meet this standard (which is met in some areas). The master plan states: “Council will pursue a target for parks and leisure areas of 2.0 hectares per1,000 people in the urban areas and villages

    New parks will be distributed equitably, accessible by foot or bicycle, visible within the community, and designed for a wide spectrum of users”.

    How do we make the council adhere to such a reasonable standard and not destroy livability??

  5. Ken Gray says:


    One way would be for councillors to deal with reality rather than their perceived reality.

    I learned subsequent to posting this story that in fact the people on that street are furious about the six units.

    Would it bust anyone’s butt to tell the truth?



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