There’s a lot of hoopla in the mainstream media these days with everybody and their brother popping up with new plans for Lansdowne Park.
The alternative plans tend to share some elements in common:
The Glebe will get a big grassy and treed park. Someone else’s money will restore some older, architecturally significant buildings into marvellous wonders for the local neighborhood. Locals will wander in on bicycles and by foot to buy directly from the friendly farmer locally-grown no-downside produce. After that they can linger by Venetian canals sipping coffee from organically grown (in the shade) responsibility harvested 100 mile coffee beans, while the breeze waffles in the gentle strains of the NAC orchestra playing in the park. Tourists come (by transit, of course, or maybe electric vaporettos or bixi bikes) to wander, mouths agape, at the wonder that is the heart of The Glebe. The vital canal side sidewalks are enlived by the thousands of residents who live in the park … except for the plans that insist no one may live in the park, unless maybe they are renters.
Gone will be the football stadium, soccer stadium, and outdoor concert venue. Where did they go? Over to Bayview, of course. Nothing attracts amateur planners like a big “empty” lot.
What happens to the plans already in place for that neighborhood? What happened to their plans for lively cafes along an historic aquaduct? Fun riverside walks? Vital mixed income condo developments? Ethnic shopping nirvana?
Gone. Replaced by a giant stadium or stadii, deafened by outdoor concerts, swarmed by hodes or car parkers (not everyone will arrive and depart by magically silent bullfrog-powered transit). For most days and evenings, the stadium areas will be vacant wideswept voids, interrupted by tractor trailer bays and large parking structures (pressed into cost-recovery use as park and ride facilities to encourage car commuters to drive to the edge of the downtown core and take free transit…).
Oh, think maybe the locals might prefer the “other plans” already developed and approved by Council and subject to subdivision agreements and into which millions of tax dollars in infrastructure development and land remediation have already been poured? Well, here, toss them a library building, now that’s an intellectual+jock=happy formula. Nevermind that the City already has a new library on track, approved land purchase, and has a library board and ward councillor opposed to moving to Bayview, well they can be changed, just a triffling issue.
Too much of the Lansdowne Park dreaming seems hinged on dreams of the Glebe getting a urban area high-culture park to foster their Florida-inspired nirvana while fobbing off the noisy and troublesome stuff to another neighborhood, without bothering to ask if the recipients of all this largesse want it.
Just for the record, I am not totally opposed to the idea of a utopian-dream stadium at Bayview, but I am sure concerned about what sort of stadium the neighborhood would actually end up with.