Augimeri calls on feds to give city control of Downsview Park
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Monday, April 21, 2014 1:23PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 21, 2014 2:05PM EDT
A North York councillor is accusing the federal government of mounting a secret campaign to sell off a vast swath of parkland to private developers.
Two years ago the Ontario Municipal Board issued a ruling that paved the way for the construction of about 1,000 residential units at Downsview Park as part of a project intended to transform the 231-hectare park into a vast “urban park.”
Now, Ward 9 Coun. Maria Augimeri says she has obtained a leaked memo which suggests that the owner of the parkland — Canada Lands Co. — is trying to revisit the decision with the goal of selling even more of the land to developers.
“The leak came forwards two days ago and suggests that Canada Lands has asked a consultant company to investigate whether the City of Toronto would be open to revisiting the Ontario Municipal Board decision to build 1,000 units on these lands,” Augimeri told CP24. “How much more do they want to build? I’d like to know.”
Augimeri refused to release the memo or comment on how it was obtained, but said that the information contained in it proves the federal government and a Crown corporation it uses to sell real estate should not be in control of Downsview Park.
Meanwhile, in a statement to CP24 a spokesperson for Minister of Public Works and Government Services Diane Finley said that the government has no plans to sell the land.
“As we’ve indicated many times, there is no intention to sell the parkland at Downsview Park,” the statement read. “This has not changed.”
Canada Lands Co. was given control of the land in 2012, prompting speculation over whether the Crown corporation would look to sell it to the highest bidder on the open market.
According to a statement on its website Canada Lands Co. exists "to ensure the commercially oriented, orderly disposition of surplus properties with optimal value to the Canadian taxpayer."
“I am saying to the federal government today stop selling our parkland. The fate of Downsview should not be decided in a backroom in Ottawa. It should be given to the people of Toronto,” Augimeri said Monday. “We can create the vision that Downsview deserves and build this park for everyone. Please set Downsview free.”
Under the city’s control, Augimeri said that Downsview Park could become a “Central Park for Toronto,” one that would be a “place of reprieve” for residents across the city.
“We can create the vision that Downsview deserves and build this park for everyone,” she said.
Canada Lands Co. will hold a public meeting to discuss the future of Downsview Park on Wednesday.
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