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NEWS: Two women chain bikes to backhoe to stop tree cutting at Lansdowne Park

Signs and tree-branches from fallen trees interwoven into fence at Lansdowne Park last night

CBC reports, “A small group of protestors chained two bicycles to a backhoe as workers began cutting down trees in Silvia Holden Park, along the south side of Holmwood Avenue. …(As a result), the city has temporarily halted work to cut down trees as part of preparation for the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park until residents could be properly notified. …Some 60 trees were scheduled for removal to allow work crews to move the Horticulture building to a spot east of its current location.”

“Diane McIntyre was one of two women who chained her bike to the construction equipment. Tree cutting at Lansdowne Park was halted Tuesday along Holmwood Avenue. ‘I had a phone call this morning, telling me that this was happening. So I rode over, chained my bike, and just said could we please take a pause here,’ said McIntyre. Her friend Martha McKeen, who locked her bike to the backhoe’s load, said residents weren’t told about the work. ‘There was no forewarning. No notices in our mailboxes that this was about to take place this morning,’ she said.”

“Area councillor David Chernushenko ordered the work halted, saying residents on the street should have been notified by mail before the work began. …No further work would take place there until Monday at the earliest, said Chernushenko. The contractor doing the work, EllisDon, issued an apology on Tuesday evening.”

But sadly the tree cutting is scheduled to proceed once proper notice is given.

A loss to the commons
The Council of Canadians has been supportive of the Friends of Lansdowne legal challenge against the City to stop the ‘redevelopment’ of Lansdowne Park. The group’s lawyer (and Council of Canadians Board member) Steven Shrybman has written, “At issue is a P3 scheme to privatize Lansdowne Park which is arguably the City of Ottawa’s most valuable public asset. …The City has decided to give most of the park to private developers for commercial development while subsidizing their investments and losses in football and hockey franchises. …Unlike most P3 fights, this one is about public space, not services. It is about the commons, and whether it will be enclosed by commercial interests. Lansdowne Park can be for the people of Ottawa, what such places as the Forks in Winnipeg, English Bay in Vancouver, or Millenium Park in Chicago are for those communities. Or it can be another place to shop.”

In March 2011, the Ottawa chapter of the Council of Canadians organized a public forum in defence of Lansdowne Park. That forum featured Shrybman and Maude Barlow. At that event, Barlow said, “The debate over Lansdowne Park is part of the struggle around the world to protect the commons against private interests. The commons includes public space and that which is part of our shared, common heritage and needed for life. …Lansdowne is a public jewel. It doesn’t belong to those who gave it away. We have to live with our mistakes for a long time, so we need to change this. …I grew up in this city and have visited Lansdowne Park since I was a child. This is a private deal with private developers. The process is wrong, the model is wrong. It will transform Lansdowne Park into just another shopping mall…”

On April 30, 2012, the CBC reported, “The Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously struck down an appeal of the legality of the city’s planned redevelopment of Lansdowne Park. Friends of Lansdowne had challenged the sole-sourced partnership between the city and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), but lost the first legal round last summer. The appeal process began in a Toronto courtroom in late November but the three-judge panel agreed to dismiss the arguments made by the Friends of Lansdowne group. The group has 60 days to appeal the ruling but the Supreme Court of Canada can refuse the case based on the unanimous decision. …Friends of Lansdowne president June Creelman said the group was ‘deeply disappointed’ in the outcome but respected the decision of the Court of Appeal. The group said it would now focus on asking the province to reform the Municipal Act to ensure heritage and environmental approvals are obtained before the city begins construction.”

For previous blogs and more background on Lansdowne Park, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22lansdowne+park%22