I would just like to express how let down by city staff and council Lower Sapperton residents feel.
Only one councillor, Betty McIntosh, had the clarity and presence of mind to separate the issue of EFry "doing good work" from the issue at hand: changing the OCP for two lots and thereby setting a precedent for other developers to start buying up houses and set in motion an unstoppable wave of uninvited redevelopment of a perfectly viable family neighbourhood.
The mayor did not have the guts to even show up for this most contentious issue that has been playing out since November of 2010.
Even if he did attend his grandson's graduation, he had plenty of time to speak up and ensure when the date for the public hearing was picked that it did not conflict with his schedule. I'm also pretty sure that whatever event he attended it did not keep him occupied from 6 p.m. to well past 1 a.m. the next morning.
Our local councillor, Lorrie Williams, did not have the guts to support our neighbourhood or stand up against it. At the last possible second, after never excusing herself from anything related to this OCP in the past, Lorrie decided not to vote. These people are voted in to represent us, and they failed miserably.
City staff and council completely turned their back on the will of the people who live in this neighbourhood; the people who have (in many case for decades) paid property taxes to this city and pay for their salaries.
They have effectively said: We do not care about you or your neighbourhood.
It is appalling the total lack of leadership, vision and creativity demonstrated by city staff and council.
There were so many available compromises that would have seen the OCP kept intact and provided for the Elizabeth Fry Society to expand.
There are many properties available right nearby that are properly zoned. The city could purchase the 46-year-old parking lot at 275 Sherbrooke St. (which 402 East Columbia desperately needs) and finally legitimize it. They could make a land swap or grant to EFry for compensation.
The house at 273 Sherbrooke could be renovated into a fourplex and provide real non-market housing to women and children. Homes with some space and a yard, that fit into the neighbourhood and allowed the families to mix in instead of being institutionalized in a building that has no street entrances; and no hope for proper integration into the wider community.
The house could be sold to someone else and the monies saved put towards another properly zoned location.
It would be cheaper to buy built-out condos in the nearby Brewery District for long-term housing. Three hundred and fifty square feet is hardly a long-term solution.
Equally distressing is the total lack of grace shown by EFry. They got an idea in their head and refused to let it go no matter how many great alternatives were brought forward. EFry, in concert with city staff and council (save for Betty McIntosh) have acted like bullies, demanding to have their way, no matter who got hurt. I am so embarrassed for the lot of them.
The way the Elizabeth Fry Society brought in women from Surrey and Abbotsford and other areas to talk about the hardship in their lives (and I am in no way diminishing the value of their experience and the help received by the society) was just sickening - they were used before and they are still being used: by the Elizabeth Fry Society.
The society kept saying that they tried to work with the neighbourhood, and yet their actions spoke volumes as they actually made zero effort to work something out that allowed for the preservation of a historic single-dwelling neighbourhood and facilitated their expansion.
I admire and thank all of my friends and neighbours who put so much time into keeping our community intact.
We can all hold our heads high knowing that we did the right thing - something that can't be said for city staff and most of council.
Catherine Cartwright, Lower Sapperton