New worries sparked over Downsview Park

News Apr 21, 2014 by Lisa Queen North York Mirror

Two new issues concerning Downsview Park have both reawakened community fears about the future of the park and renewed demands to halt impending development, York Centre Councillor Maria Augimeri says.

“Downsview Park should not be for sale,” she told a press conference outside a developer’s sales centre at the park Monday, April 21.

“It seems the federal government; all it sees is dollar signs.”

Demanding the federal government hand over the park to the city, Augimeri pointed to two new concerns that have set off alarm bells in the community.

The first revolves around reports of the discovery of a memo marked secret from federal public works deputy minister Michelle d’Auray to former public works minister Rona Ambrose shortly after Ottawa put the park in the hands of Canada Lands Company in December 2012.

The transfer to Canada Lands, whose mandate is to manage, redevelop and sell surplus federal properties, upset the community that had spent years hashing out a truce for the park with the former board of directors.

The memo indicates d’Auray shared those concerns.

The second concern stems from Canada Lands recently approaching the city to discuss the plan that sets out development approved at the park, Augimeri said.

“What we found out now is another leak. Today, we learned Canada Lands has been asking if the city is prepared to revisit the official plan passed at the Ontario Municipal Board,” she said.

“This means, given the mandate (Canada Lands) has, that it is the real estate arm of the federal government, Downsview residents are quite concerned that they will try to reopen the official plan and bump up the densities. They already have permission for 10,000 units, 25,000 new people, here on this land. How much more does their greed call for?”

Canada Lands is merely looking at the best way of implementing the plan, spokesperson Manon Lapensée told The Mirror.

“(Canada Lands) discussed with the city our community consultation program and how we are seeking stakeholder input on how best to implement the approved secondary plan,” Lapensée said in an email.

“We carry out this type of consultation for all of our projects across Canada ensuring that the city is aware of our process.”

Canada Lands will be holding a community consultation meeting about the future of the park Wednesday, April 23.

But mayoral candidate David Soknacki, former chair of the Downsview Park board of directors, said he shares Augimeri’s concerns that Canada Lands wants to investigate more development at the park.

While the existing plan upset residents who don’t want any development at the park, it was eventually agreed to by ratepayers, the Ontario Municipal Board, council and the federal government, he said.

“My concern is that the document may be opened up again,” he said at the press conference.

“Frankly, I say no. I was part of a document of which we were all proud. It sets out a very high standard, yet a standard at which the park is financially self-sufficient.”

Resident Franca Cimaicata, who attended the press conference, said she is anxious about the future of Downsview Park.

“Sure, that makes me worried,” she said. “I want them to leave the park the way it is.”

Meanwhile, Augimeri has launched a new campaign called Set Downsview Free.

For more information, visit www.setdownsviewfree.com

New worries sparked over Downsview Park

News Apr 21, 2014 by Lisa Queen North York Mirror

Two new issues concerning Downsview Park have both reawakened community fears about the future of the park and renewed demands to halt impending development, York Centre Councillor Maria Augimeri says.

“Downsview Park should not be for sale,” she told a press conference outside a developer’s sales centre at the park Monday, April 21.

“It seems the federal government; all it sees is dollar signs.”

Demanding the federal government hand over the park to the city, Augimeri pointed to two new concerns that have set off alarm bells in the community.

The first revolves around reports of the discovery of a memo marked secret from federal public works deputy minister Michelle d’Auray to former public works minister Rona Ambrose shortly after Ottawa put the park in the hands of Canada Lands Company in December 2012.

The transfer to Canada Lands, whose mandate is to manage, redevelop and sell surplus federal properties, upset the community that had spent years hashing out a truce for the park with the former board of directors.

The memo indicates d’Auray shared those concerns.

The second concern stems from Canada Lands recently approaching the city to discuss the plan that sets out development approved at the park, Augimeri said.

“What we found out now is another leak. Today, we learned Canada Lands has been asking if the city is prepared to revisit the official plan passed at the Ontario Municipal Board,” she said.

“This means, given the mandate (Canada Lands) has, that it is the real estate arm of the federal government, Downsview residents are quite concerned that they will try to reopen the official plan and bump up the densities. They already have permission for 10,000 units, 25,000 new people, here on this land. How much more does their greed call for?”

Canada Lands is merely looking at the best way of implementing the plan, spokesperson Manon Lapensée told The Mirror.

“(Canada Lands) discussed with the city our community consultation program and how we are seeking stakeholder input on how best to implement the approved secondary plan,” Lapensée said in an email.

“We carry out this type of consultation for all of our projects across Canada ensuring that the city is aware of our process.”

Canada Lands will be holding a community consultation meeting about the future of the park Wednesday, April 23.

But mayoral candidate David Soknacki, former chair of the Downsview Park board of directors, said he shares Augimeri’s concerns that Canada Lands wants to investigate more development at the park.

While the existing plan upset residents who don’t want any development at the park, it was eventually agreed to by ratepayers, the Ontario Municipal Board, council and the federal government, he said.

“My concern is that the document may be opened up again,” he said at the press conference.

“Frankly, I say no. I was part of a document of which we were all proud. It sets out a very high standard, yet a standard at which the park is financially self-sufficient.”

Resident Franca Cimaicata, who attended the press conference, said she is anxious about the future of Downsview Park.

“Sure, that makes me worried,” she said. “I want them to leave the park the way it is.”

Meanwhile, Augimeri has launched a new campaign called Set Downsview Free.

For more information, visit www.setdownsviewfree.com

New worries sparked over Downsview Park

News Apr 21, 2014 by Lisa Queen North York Mirror

Two new issues concerning Downsview Park have both reawakened community fears about the future of the park and renewed demands to halt impending development, York Centre Councillor Maria Augimeri says.

“Downsview Park should not be for sale,” she told a press conference outside a developer’s sales centre at the park Monday, April 21.

“It seems the federal government; all it sees is dollar signs.”

Demanding the federal government hand over the park to the city, Augimeri pointed to two new concerns that have set off alarm bells in the community.

The first revolves around reports of the discovery of a memo marked secret from federal public works deputy minister Michelle d’Auray to former public works minister Rona Ambrose shortly after Ottawa put the park in the hands of Canada Lands Company in December 2012.

The transfer to Canada Lands, whose mandate is to manage, redevelop and sell surplus federal properties, upset the community that had spent years hashing out a truce for the park with the former board of directors.

The memo indicates d’Auray shared those concerns.

The second concern stems from Canada Lands recently approaching the city to discuss the plan that sets out development approved at the park, Augimeri said.

“What we found out now is another leak. Today, we learned Canada Lands has been asking if the city is prepared to revisit the official plan passed at the Ontario Municipal Board,” she said.

“This means, given the mandate (Canada Lands) has, that it is the real estate arm of the federal government, Downsview residents are quite concerned that they will try to reopen the official plan and bump up the densities. They already have permission for 10,000 units, 25,000 new people, here on this land. How much more does their greed call for?”

Canada Lands is merely looking at the best way of implementing the plan, spokesperson Manon Lapensée told The Mirror.

“(Canada Lands) discussed with the city our community consultation program and how we are seeking stakeholder input on how best to implement the approved secondary plan,” Lapensée said in an email.

“We carry out this type of consultation for all of our projects across Canada ensuring that the city is aware of our process.”

Canada Lands will be holding a community consultation meeting about the future of the park Wednesday, April 23.

But mayoral candidate David Soknacki, former chair of the Downsview Park board of directors, said he shares Augimeri’s concerns that Canada Lands wants to investigate more development at the park.

While the existing plan upset residents who don’t want any development at the park, it was eventually agreed to by ratepayers, the Ontario Municipal Board, council and the federal government, he said.

“My concern is that the document may be opened up again,” he said at the press conference.

“Frankly, I say no. I was part of a document of which we were all proud. It sets out a very high standard, yet a standard at which the park is financially self-sufficient.”

Resident Franca Cimaicata, who attended the press conference, said she is anxious about the future of Downsview Park.

“Sure, that makes me worried,” she said. “I want them to leave the park the way it is.”

Meanwhile, Augimeri has launched a new campaign called Set Downsview Free.

For more information, visit www.setdownsviewfree.com