Rich burghers protest condo blocking dead peoples’ view

A picture of the view of Parliament Hill from the Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa

Image care of the Ottawa Citizen. Photograph by: Bruno Schlumberger , The Ottawa Citizen

I hope you’re all sitting down, because here comes another nutty story from Ottawa so shocking that you might have a fatal heart attack whose most serious consequence, (other than that minor thing that you’ve become dead), is that you won’t be able to see the Parliament Buildings while you slumber six feet under.

Yup, another handful of old wealthy people have gone nutzoid because someone wants to put up a 10-storey building that would house great unwashed hordes of not-quite-rich-enough people unworthy of living in our grossly over-priced neighbourhood.

(If I sold my place, I could buy Greece outright.)

As usual, the Old-Money Mafia tried playing the Heritage Card, but that is a little sketchy considering the 130-unit high-end condo complex will be built on land long occupied by a gas station, whose only heritage value is that the owner can recall when gas was 30 cents a gallon (that would be about a dime a kilopascalcentigram for those of you who understand the metric system better than me.)

So, without much prospect for sympathy on that count, they decided to enlist the aid of about 75,000 local residents whose panoramic view from their place of residence would be a teensy-bit curtailed, maybe, by this condo.

There are some heavy-hitters among the 75,000, former prime ministers, governors general, mayors, etc.

Alas, their influence has been somewhat diminished in this debate because they are, well, dead, and enjoying their post-post-retirement years buried in our local cemetery.

Trust me, their view from there of Parliament Hill ended with the abrupt blindness that coincidentally accompanies death. Even if they miraculously recover, they have to overcome the coffin thing and the earth and the alignment that has them staring straight up to, like, Heaven, where there are no politicians.

The local chattering classes, always opposed to any development that does not include a private tennis court and servants’ quarters, have therefore come up with an argument that marginally involves inconvenience to people still breathing.

You see, Ottawa has a bylaw (brought in through lobbying by this same obstructionist group) that sets height limits for any building that interferes with the line of sight to Parliament Hill from a pile of stones called The Tommy Douglas Memorial.

For my American readers, I should explain that Tommy Douglas is important to you because he is the grandfather of actor Kiefer Sutherland, whose show “24” validated current U.S. policy on torture. In a strange twist of fate, that policy would have been useless against Tommy back in the day because he was quick to confess he was a loud-mouthed socialist (“dangerous terrorist” in the U.S.) who gave us Medicare.

In Canada, he has fared better, being named our country’s Greatest Canadian a few years back, quite the achievement considering he faced stiff competition in this People’s Choice poll from an overbearing, bigoted TV hockey commentator whose entire wardrobe was created after an explosion in a textile factory.

So you might figure that gazillions of socialist pinko-pilgrims regularly stand shoulder-to-shoulder at Tommy’s shrine with only one thought in mind: “Mother of God, Comrade Grizelda, you wouldn’t be able to see Parliament five miles away if there were a building in the way. Mind you, we can’t see it now without a telescope and cataract surgery, but it’s the principle of the thing.”

Alas, there are no teeming masses waving Mao’s Little Red Book in the air while trampling the petunias.

Tommy shares the same fate as the other 75,000 residents in the cemetery—no matter how big the stone or the plaque, the rotten offspring don’t care shit once the will is read.

When I visited his grave the other day to prepare for this important epistle, I was the only person in the whole time zone (this is one big cemetery). No sign of Kiefer. Nor of Kiefer’s dad and Tommy’s son, notorious movie villain Donald Sutherland.

Tommy’s political progeny were also absent, voting for a new leader sporting a grizzled beard that ensures his party will never take power.

That leaves us with absolutely no one alive who might be inconvenienced by this new condo development that will eventually be adding $500,000 a year to city tax revenues (the units in the condo across the street from me go for up to $1 million each and I certainly didn’t bitch when I saw the plans for a building that would block my view of everything, never mind Parliament.)

Faced with such a weak argument, the anti-development crowd have added a new, more powerful wrinkle.

The building would apparently also block the view of Parliament from the cemetery’s Poet’s Corner, a hallowed spot revered by Canada’s 14 fans of poetry (mind you, one of them, Chastity Smert, 42, lives in Ottawa).

I’ll keep you posted on the massive protest rally to be held in the basement where she lives in her parents’ home.

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