Clive Doucet: You can’t eat condos | Unpublished

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Unpublished Opinions

Clive Doucet's picture
Grand Etang, Nova Scotia
About the author

Clive Doucet is a distinguished Canadian writer and city politician. He was elected for four consecutive terms to city council in Ottawa from 1997 to 2010 when he retired to run for Mayor.

As a city politician he was awarded the Gallon Prize as the 2005 Canadian eco-councillor of the year. He was defeated twice by Jim Watson in 2010 and 2018 when he ran for the Mayor’s chair. He presently lives in Grand Etang, Inverness Co., Nova Scotia.

Mr. Doucet has agreed to write a series of nine essays about his Ottawa municipal career which
Unpublished Media will begin publishing in January 2023.

The story and opinions are his own.

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Clive Doucet: You can’t eat condos

February 12, 2024
Former Ottawa City Councillor Clive Doucet during his 2018 Mayoral campaign

The Central Experimental Farm belongs to all Canadians.  It’s where winter wheat was developed which revolutionized western wheat production and continues to produce important environmental research which used around the world. The developers American consultant tells us forty years of environmental science is not (not) threatened by shading from the most recent developer proposal for more condo towers at the privatized end of the Farm.  This consultant is located in Michigan and is paid for by the same developers who wants the condos built.

Sorry, but there is a serious conflict of interest here, but this shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Every project the city has ever done since the days of Mayor Chiarelli (1997-2006) ended (the O train won a procurement award, not a court date) has been littered with them.  The only surprising thing about the developers shade study is the developer had to go as far as Michigan to find a consultant who could give him the shade white wash he needed. Apparently no one local could stomach signing on.

I should have learned a long time ago to just close my eyes and ignore the carnage. Unfortunately for my blood pressure, neither distance or time from my hometown can seem to stop me from caring. The destructiveness of this most recent proposal beggars the imagination.  In a sane world, it should not be possible for a national treasure owned by all Canadians, benefiting all Canadians to be threatened by one developer’s profit line. But, we said the same thing about Lansdowne Park which had been given to the city in perpetuity by local farmers in 1868 for agricultural and public use.  When first proposed back in 2006, it just didn’t seem possible a proposal to surround a heritage building like the Aberdeen Pavilion (there’s only one other like it on the planet) with a big box mall, then publicly fund a stadium to the tune of 160 million, then hand it over to the same mall developers gratis to run the stadium as they wished.  The whole idea just seemed too crazy.

The reality has been otherwise.  Since Mayor Chiarelli’s days,  Ottawa City Council has become a publicly funded tool used by developers to increase their profit margins.  This has been the way it has been for decades.  The only sitting Mayor to challenge the developer hegemony in the city was Mayor Bob Chiarelli who stood up for putting the LRT where it should have gone along Carling Avenue.  He also made the mistake of opposing privatizing Lansdowne Park.  Sadly, he was hounded out of office by the righteous left which couldn’t make up its mind who to support in 2006 and split the vote.  Since then it’s been a free for all and Ottawa has been littered with developer carnage ever since.

The city’s failed LRT was about servicing developers who held land along the western parkway.  It never made any sense.  It had nothing to do with giving Ottawa the transit where it was needed which was along Carling where people worked, shopped and hospitals were located. To do this, the Council ignored the National Capital Commission’s request to stay away from the parkways and river front.

The massive Tewin subdivision was all about getting the cheapest land possible into the hands of local developers for the maximum profit possible. To make this possible City Council ruptured its own urban growth line against the recommendations of city planners.

Just as the Lansdowne privatization had nothing to do with football, nor does the continued colonizing of the National Experimental Farm have anything to do with housing.  It’s about very big business getting what they want and is just another statement about the power of the  economic vision that has created the climate and economic crisis which Canada is facing today.  It can’t be seen in any other way. The privatization of the farm puts large corporate profits first and pushes 100 years of agricultural research to the back of the bus.  At the same time, it flushes local priorities like preserving historic urban green space down the toilet.

This is a colonial vision of economic development where the colonists are not foreigners but local pashas, and the gold mine is the city. It’s one of the principal drivers behind climate change today. Growth for growth’s sake as we have known for what seems like forever now, doesn’t work, but as a city councillor I could see no way of overcoming it.  The developer lobby was simply too powerful and remains so.

Clive Doucet is a former Ottawa City Councillor and author.  His last book was “Grandfather’s House, On Returning to Cape Breton”.  His newest, “The :Poetry of Necessary Things: A Poet’s Memoir” is expected this fall.

Field One was quoted in the footnotes of the Nobel Prize won by the IPCC and Al Gore. (

New hospital would be built on site of 'irreplaceable' soil experiment: scientist

The land in question includes fields that have been in continuous use for experimentation since 1886