Hail Mary for a Convent

A copy of my letter to Mayor Jim Watson on the Ashcroft Convent Park Purchase.

Mayor Watson:

I write to you to appeal to your sense of vision, of what kind of City you want Ottawa to be at the end of your term and beyond.

The Les Soeurs de la Visitation property is a gem. A rare gem that will not come again. It is an oasis of peace and tranquility in an increasingly hectic city. A city that truly cares about growth, about development, about keeping the city a desirable place to live will not allow this kind of gem to be dug up and have as many beige condos stuffed on to it as the developer can possibly manage.

The only option on the table right now is: either pay $95 a year per $350,000 in tax value, or take the beige condos. It’s either/or. And it doesn’t have to be. There are several options that would allow the development, the park and the community to live in harmony without forcing the average Kitchissippi resident to shell out hundreds of dollars per year. For example, the boundaries of the park could be easily modified to allow better vehicular access to the site, and would decrease the price of the land purchase. Win/Win. Putting the levy over 20 years instead of 10 would better allow the residents of Kitchissippi to afford the park – which, I think you will find, most residents are generally in favour of if the price is not prohibitive. Again, Win/Win. These are valid, straightforward options. They should be investigated.

The residents of Kitchissippi waited for months for the valuation and the public consultation on the park, and have been given mere days to provide feedback. We fought hard to get this concession from the city in 2010, and we still believe that the park and the preservation of the land is incredibly important, especially since there will be over 1000 new condo units in that area once all the current projects underway on that part of Richmond road are finished.  People need open space, and in that area of Westboro this is the perfect opportunity to provide it. And this isn’t just any park: it’s a park on a beautiful, serene, historic piece of land. It is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I implore you: Do not let this opportunity to preserve this valuable space be lost. I beg of you, work with the community and the planning committee to find alternatives. A $95/$350K levy is unpalatable to most, but most still would approve of the park purchase if the price was reasonable. I am begging you to find a way to make this work.

Shannon McKarney

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