Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Parker Avenue Mess Up

Bulk of Parker Avenue Needed for Water and Bus
How did it happen?

Some time ago, I suggested resistance by people along Parker to any change was not likely garner much sympathy. Declarations that the area was a park and then shielding access to the area by blocking roads so that only those living in the area could enjoy the land wasn't in the cards.

The land in question was never designated park land. It has always been zoned industrial and some of the area was used to move high powered hydro lines.

The Fort Rouge Yards/Parker Land Swap was a mess up from start to finish. These over clever moves never properly assessed the value of the lands in question, the future needs of those lands or the environmental concerns. And now we have city officials coming cup in hand with expropriation needs for water retention and bus rapid transit.

What a screw-up.

The bulk of the land around Parker Avenue is now needed for water retention to protect from flooding immediately north in Fort Rouge.  The rest of it is needed for bus rapid transit. If there is any land left for townhouses as was first suggested by the Gem Equities land swap, you've got me. Given the slow or non-development approach of Gem, it is possible we might all be in the old age homes before we ever saw houses in the Parker area.

In any event, the city has to use expropriation for land that just a few short years ago that it could have done this work of water retention and transit for nothing. Is the crazy or what?

Once again Parker Avenue people are not likely to be happy. Many of them will still want nothing to do with the city plans but the bugger my neighbours to the north and their flooding issues is not kosher. Likewise the BRT plans and expropriations everywhere is probably going to make for many sour faces.

A place to hold water
It is difficult to know why we get into these messes. It undermines the faith people have that projects can proceed the make sense logically, are researched, presented for discussion, modified and then carried out. There will always be some resistance but sometimes people buy in afterwards as in the case of Safeway in Osborne Village. There were many that wanted no change in configuration of the store but now there is wide acknowledgement that the vitality of that grocery store has been essential to the success of the residents living in that community.

A ferocious response can be expected when this move hits the council floor this week. I don't blame anyone for throwing their hands up in the air.

For the moment my support lies for those in the Fort Rouge area who may be getting flooded basements over water storage. They have every right as anyone in the city to protection of their properties. To that end, I support water retention if indeed the environmental assessments declare a need.

For the people of Parker Avenue, there is still a possibility of land to enjoy if pathways and the like come as part of the project.

As for the BRT expropriation, I still don't know enough about it to get a handle on it. Every time I think I am close to figuring it out, it seems I know nothing.

Everyone take a deep breath. It is going to be a long week.

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