Tuesday, May 9, 2006

911 Richmond Street: A case study in political obstruction

From the London Free Press:

City council's planning committee deferred a decision last night on an application to demolish the historic cottage-style home at 911 Richmond St. to build a 16-bedroom four-plex for students.

And lawyer Alan Patton was clearly frustrated when Coun. Rob Alder suggested the city find a way to "orchestrate" the rejection.
Not content with losing every court challenge over the development and forfeiting over $220,000 of taxpayer money for legal bills along the way, London city council is still unable to let go the apparent political benefits of invoking collective authority over private property to assuage the proprietary grunts of NIMBY-style activists — it's not their money or property at stake. It's small wonder that substituting the discretion of the property's owner with the gamesmanship of politically-motivated planning has created a rancour that has cost all Londoners… not that council with its vested interest in keeping matters within the political arena can be expected to recognize this. Alder speaks for the so-privileged few in a nutshell:
"That housing is not consistent with the direction we as a council wanted to (go) with along Richmond and the surrounding area."
And council's attempted appropriation of the property's actual use is entirely consistent with the inscrutability and arbitrariness of its justifications. So, will a heritage moniker do?
Alder and others on the committee are hoping to block the demolition using new provincial laws giving municipalities more power to protect heritage buildings.

Planner John Fleming said it's unclear whether the new legislation allows municipalities to protect heritage properties if they're designated after an owner applies for a demolition permit.
If it doesn't succeed, it can certainly at least have the effect of discouraging property development anywhere near the core… which would oddly enough have the consequence of giving developers a perverse incentive to develop at the city's edges at the same time that council bemoans urban sprawl. As another example of regulation creating perverse and unintended incentives, the Free Press also reports:
The London advisory committee on heritage wants to the city to designate the long-closed Capitol Theatre on Dundas Street, whose new owner says he wants to demolish it to make way for parking. City staff told city council's planning committee owner Shmuel Farhi hasn't applied for a demolition permit.


Anonymous said...

Well, what do you expect from a city that cannot get 2 traffic lights synchronised?

Bunch of brain-dead morons. Living proof that one should not breed with one's sister.

Pietr said...

"Not the direction that we" envisaged;so they either have absolutely nothing to say or do with it(not living there), or they want to live there themselves and wish to influence the planning situation in a directly corrupt way.