Re: Peter Hume's Planning Surprise: Whopper Watch

Re: Peter Hume's Planning Surprise: Whopper Watch
Posted on May 30, 2013 | Jay Baltz | Written on May 29, 2013
Comments
Letter type:
Comment

Publisher

Publisher:
The Bulldog

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

I wrote this internet comment on Ken Gray's blog, The Bulldog, yesterday regarding City of Ottawa Planning Chair Peter Hume's recent statement that he was surprised to hear Ottawa residents think the Planning committee is in the pocket of developers. Hume's comment was the subject of a recent Joanne Chianello column: http://bit.ly/135x9vp.

It certainly isn’t as simple as Councillors or the Planning Department being “in the pocket of the developer.” There seems to be a combination of things that lead to constant conflict, major buildings in inappropriate locations, and a nearly complete lack of predictability in Ottawa planning.

First is the utter failure of Planning and Council to be able to craft an Official Plan and Community Design Plans that actually hold up and aren’t riddled with loopholes. Each new OP or CDP, we are told, will fix the problem, but it never does. Second is that, because virtually all significant new developments proceed by spot rezoning, the important decisions are all made behind closed doors in the Planning Department before the public even hear about it. Third is that the Ontario Municipal Board makes it difficult to actually plan, since they override local decisions routinely–exacerbated by the fact that Ottawa lacks an Official Plan that is clear and enforceable.

Finally, the perception of collusion between developers and the City is not helped by the fact that many Councillors get so much of their campaign funding from the development industry. At least one councillor on Planning Committee received up to nearly 70% of their itemized 2010 campaign funding from development-related corporations or people related to that industry.

The Mayor is fond of saying you can’t buy a Councillor with a few hundred dollars. But when two-thirds of their funding comes from an industry they directly regulate, the perception, at least, will be that they are not able to act completely independently of influence.

Related article

Related article:

About The Author

Jay Baltz's picture

Jay Baltz is a member of the Board of Directors of the Hintonburg Community Association and its past president, serves on the board of Heritage Ottawa, and is past chair of the City’s Built Heritage Advisory... More

Comments

Great insight Jay, thanks for sharing! I thought Hume's comment was pretty funny when I read it in Joanne Chianello's column. He’s been Chair of the Planning Committee for longer than I have been back in Ottawa and that’s all I’ve heard for the last five years!

Unfortunately for residents, Peter Hume isn’t the right person to bring forward the changes to Ottawa’s Official Plan because he’s taken too long to bring them forward as Chair. No one trusts him anymore.

Watch for a potential loophole in the new OP presented under the guise of ‘in the public’s interest’ as a way for staff to override any community objections to future developments and zoning changes. Its being discussed internally at the FCA right now.

Another point that @David made to this discussion on the Bulldog (http://bit.ly/18B1l3L) is that many City planners have already worked for developers and go on to work for developers later on in their careers, so they have a predisposition to developer interests. I know that David's point is accurate because a City of Ottawa planner once told me this.

Its very sad that planning and development in Ottawa, Canada's capital, can't be conducted in a more transparent, accountable and honorable way.