Karen Howard considers herself an insider. As a lawyer and former City Councillor she is friends with Mayor Jim Watson and municipal and local politicians. So, she admits to being shocked and blindsided when a 4600 square metre Children's Playground for Mooney's Bay was announced by City of Ottawa officials May 13th. Why, she wonders, was no one in the community consulted?
Her quest for answers has not been successful. Howard says she is a stickler for process. and someone obviously "threw out the rule book" when it came to approving a million dollars in Ottawa Taxpayers money to help build what will be Canada's largest playground.
No one, except project insiders knew about the plans. Councillor Riley Brockington says that was because of a confidentiality agreement with Sinking Ship, the production company funding half of the project.
Friday, May 27th, Mayor Watson tried to address some community groups and residents concerns by saying there was "misinformation" about the confidentiality agreement, and "nothing" prevented the city from having a public meeting.
Since then, (early Saturday morning, May 28th) an internal city memo from Watson to city staff was leaked to the media. In it, the Mayor praises the project in glowing terms, and outlines two measures the city will be taking to ensure its success.
Karen Howard has a copy of that leaked memo, which she says contains false information and raises more red flags.
Mayor Jim Watson is strongly behind the Children's Playground Project at Mooney's Bay, saying it was to be a " surprise legacy project for Canada's 150th birthday, next year."
Opponents are quick to point out the irony in the Mayor's statement, given how he condemned the Federal Conservative Government and NCC for springing the Victims to Communism Monument on Ottawa without consultation. And there's more. Howard and others are openly questioning fears the proposed site is toxic.
According to the Mayor' own memo, The City's Park's, Recreation and Cultural Services will host a community outreach and consultation session on Tuesday, May 31 from 7-9.
Giver, the reality show behind the playground, will also host a community engagement session Wed. June 1st at the Carleton Heights Community Heights centre from 4-8.