Councillor Sean Chu says it’s now up to the province and the developer to make the next move on the controversial Highland Park development.
An engineering report released late last week recommends the city buy back a “significant portion” of the former golf course land from the developer who purchased it, in order to keep that land for storm water catchment.
Chu said he agrees with the report’s assessment, which recommends spending an estimated $35 million on storm water remediation, including using space within the former Highland Park Golf Course for catchment.
Confederation Creek, which runs through the former golf course land, has been vaulted – meaning the city essentially turned it into a storm water pipe or channel, but Chu said the province could still deem it to be a natural water way and therefore part of Crown land.
“The province will have to come in and do a study to see how much, if any they need to take over,” he said.
He said the developer – Maple Projects Inc. – was aware of what could happen.
“They were told by administration,” said Chu.
“The developer always knows – everything depends on the water study.”
Elise Bieche, president of the Highland Park Community Association, has long argued that the land needs to remain a greenspace.
She doesn’t have much sympathy for the developer.
“A private developer took a gamble,” she said. “He bought a site that has a lot of history going back to 1956. This report is delivering the same message that keeps coming back over and over again: that this site has a lot of water on it and it’s largely undevelopable.”
She hopes the city will get on with what’s recommended in the report.
“The next logical thing to do is to assess the value of the site, and I’m not prepared to speculate on that (value),” said Bieche.
She added that she doesn’t believe taxpayers should be penalized by a private investor who took a gamble on a piece of land.