Opposed to parkade, but will not sign
If the group behind a counter-petition to quash the Lorne Street parkade is going to be successful, it will have to reach its 6,000-plus signature total without two prominent John Henrys.
City councillors Denis Walsh and Marg Spina have been outspoken in their opposition to the parkade, but neither plan to sign the form.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate in my role as a city councillor,” Walsh told KTW.
He said he has spoken clearly about his opposition to the parkade and now believes the petition is an opportunity for the public to express its opinion.
Walsh said he’ll accept the results either way.
“If the taxpayers are OK with that expenditure and putting a parkade in our park, I’ll accept that,” he said.
On Aug. 30, council gave the final approval to a bylaw to borrow $8 million to build the parkade, triggering the alternative-approval process.
Opponents have until Oct. 11 to gather 10 per cent of the electorate’s signatures, forcing council to drop the project or send it to referendum.
Spina said she generally doesn’t sign petitions because she wants to keep an open mind if new information surfaces.
“I don’t think the role of politicians is to sign counter-petitions,” she said.
“It’s to make sure the democratic process has a chance to be followed.”
Spina said she is prepared to listen to what residents have to say, but suggested that, based on the calls and emails she has received, there isn’t support for a parkade in that particular location.
“I think democracy will tell us how people feel about the parkade,” Spina said.
The counter-petition drive is being led by a group called Friends of Riverside Park.
The city has determined the electorate number to be 65,332, which means the group will need to collect 6,533 signatures.
It’s been reported the group gathered 250 signatures on the first day of its campaign on Aug. 31.
In May, council decided to proceed with a two-level, 350-stall parkade in the Lorne Street parking lot adjacent to Riverside Park.
The parkade is estimated to cost $7.8 million, with the project expected to go to tender in late December.