Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Letter to the editor

South downtown plan predictably pro-developer

The StarPhoenix

Thursday, July 15, 2004

When the South Downtown draft concept plan was released on April 5, The SP said that the April 27 and 28 open houses at the Centennial Auditorium would be seen as hypocritical if it appeared that council's mind was already made up.

On Feb. 14, 2003, The SP reported that the Blairmore Group had approached then-councillor Don Atchison, but that he had declined to help. Atchison said, "It sounds like a very nice project but I have to step back."

Atchison complained about civic administrators and colleagues getting involved with certain proposals, insisting that it taints the appearance of fairness and the ability to make an impartial decision.

In October 2003, before consultant Gwyn Symmons arrived, Atchison said in Planet S that his vision for the Gathercole site included a spa, condos and live theatre. In February, after Symmons was retained, the CBC reported him saying he wanted a new spa hotel and condos there.

Symmons's final plan conveniently suggests that the development industry may respond with a hotel-spa concept. I wonder what happened to impartiality and bias?

It seems a coincidence that the city's concept plan for a hotel, condos, restaurant, theatre and Second Avenue extension appears to be similar to Blairmore's Option B expression of interest.

Primary land uses seem to be restricted to a "hotel" and "theatre" and the city "can specify certain requirements" in its request for proposals. Might this be to help ensure that certain parties get those projects?

Is no one concerned that the plan calls for the majority of the city's land to be sold, rather than leased?

The open houses were indeed hypocritical and had more to do with manufacturing consent for a pre-determined plan than seeking meaningful public input.

Joe Kuchta

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2004


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