Circle the wagons! Here come Case Ootes

a question of urban design
Cranston Thirwell III reporting:

Everyone by now knows about Councillor Case Ootes‘s [rhymes with “odious” –ed.] sad decline. From his role as the man behind Toronto city hall’s throne just two terms ago, when as Deputy Mayor he administered day-to-day operations for Mayor Mel Lastman, Ootes has been, shall we say, “distracted” from the role that should have been his: Mr. Behind-the-scenes Operator running Toronto.

Instead he’s become Mr Magoo.
letter to the \"ad\" itor?

To say any particular act “caused” his fall would be an overstatement, but in fact the distraction, early on, took a predictable turn. Much like the “Clown Army” role in distracting the police at the G8 events (to allow hard-core protesters to get closer to the criminals inside the fences), the issues surrounding bicycle infrastructure and its promotion in the City of Toronto have been used to distract Sr. Ootes from his more nefarious duties. The result of this distraction has been the creation of a vacuum at the right wing of city hall, and the elevation of a crowd of so-called “progressives” to the reigns of power.

Fact is, no one’s minding the proverbial shop. Not that it’s meant the “progressives” have accomplished much.

But Ootes exemplifies the “lame duck” role: a man who quacked to power with just 20 votes in the last election–the smallest majority in the history of Toronto politics–and who no one expects to stick around for another drubbing.

So it comes as no surprise that Ootes is carving a path for his retirement. Just what form that retirement will take is not hard to predict: Ootes will buy a Winnebago and use it to burn up some of the planet’s remaining fossil fuels as he tours the continent. But where will he park while in Toronto? Because for sure the tony cul-de-sac off Taylor Creek Ravine won’t permit his monster truck a parkplatz.

It’s no doubt in fantasizing about the RV home he hopes to use for his farewell cruise into the sunset that Ootes hit upon a problem. Here in Toronto, there isn’t really any respect for the RV classes. If fact, in all the city the archaic behemoths are welcome only at one “park:” the Glen Rouge campground, far to the east, in ward 44, home of councillor Ron Moeser. A friend of ours who bicycled to the Rouge park for a relaxing hike along the river found the route there a dangerous sewer of cars, and it’s hard to see even a confirmed carhead like Sr. Ootes happy with the commute (for his is likely to be one of those ridiculous get-ups you see where the RV is towing a small car for the local jaunts).

Now for Ootes, as for most of us, the personal is political: just as he helped his son the motorcyclist by arranging for motorcycles to park for free on city streets and sidewalks (and is currently striving for motorcycles to be permitted on HOV commuter lanes), he is also struggling with the city to arrange for the subsidised creation of an RV park on public lands closer to the downtown core.

This past week he experienced a minor setback in this quest; this time it was Toronto’s economic development corporation (TEDCO) that shot him down.

We know Ootes; he is a tenacious brute and not for long will this setback slow him down. We know this isn’t the last of his RV fantasy we will hear of. It’s true that no RV campsite is to be allowed at the Exhibition parking lot or at Parc Downsview Park, but there are other open spaces around town. Lots of them.

In fact the Governor’s Bridge Ratepayers Association, the bosses of them plywood mansions what gave Ootes his 20-vote boost to power in the last election, can expect a call from Sr. Odious in the near future.

Ootes to aide: “Get George V. Hughes or Mary McDonald Maude on the line, wouldya? It’s payback time. That Nesbitt Park thingie’s basicaly empty after all.”

RV park shot down by economic development committee:

RV owners will have to park elsewhere
RV owners will have to park elsewhere
Plan to create a local RV site shot down at committee
June 7, 2007 05:12 PM

Creating a resort for recreational vehicles in the absence of a development application isn’t a priority for the city, members of Toronto’s Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO) agreed Thursday.
“I don’t believe this is a core function of the city to provide an RV site,” committee chair and Ward 27 (Toronto Centre-Rosedale) Councillor Kyle Rae said, noting that no one has come forward and proposed such a project.

“The concept needs to have legs first,” said Rae, who told his colleague he’d be prepared to consider an application if someone was interested in developing a park here.

Ward 29 (Toronto-Danforth) Councillor Case Ootes, who raised the concept, argued that an RV park has great tourism potential for the city.

“There are millions of RV users in North American that simply don’t come to Toronto because there is no place for them to park their vehicles,” he said.

But Ootes failed to convince his colleagues to study potential sites for such a facility.

A staff report presented to the committee Thursday stated there are nine RV-friendly campgrounds and parks located within one hour of Toronto, including the Glen Rouge Campground in Scarborough.

However, all of the current facilities operate near capacity during peak season.

And none of the facilities offer the kinds of amenities sought by high-end RV owners.

“There aren’t any facilities that we in good conscience can recommend to our viewers,” Rob Engman of RVTV, a TV show dedicated to the RV lifestyle, told the committee. He said a local resort would be well received by RV users who travel throughout North America.

“These people are no different than any other tourists other than the fact they take their hotel room with them,” he said, noting that users are happy to pay for premium services and are keen to visit local attractions.

Engman said the port lands or the CNE grounds would be an ideal location for a park. Downsview is another option, he said.

But even if a developer were to propose the idea, the waterfront isn’t a suitable location, said Ward 19 (Trinity-Spadina) Councillor Joe Pantalone.

“It does not make any sense whatsoever,” Pantalone said of the suggestion that an RV park could be established at the Exhibition or Ontario Place, two sites that are booked with events throughout much of the year.

“There simply is not the space. … I think people should simply forget about it. … It’s not an achievable desire unless you plan to do serious damage to all those jewels (that) are part of Toronto’s festival constellation,” he said in reference to events like the CNE and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, which are hosted on the grounds.

As for the port lands, Pantalone, who serves on the board of TEDCO, said that’s also a bad idea.

“We are trying to achieve the highest and best use for those areas,” he said, adding the best use “is not an RV campground.”

Previous report in East York Mirror and Car Advertiser, back when Ootes was still hopeful:

RV park still being considered for Toronto
May 31, 2007 03:39 PM

Toronto’s economic development committee will consider a report on options for recreational vehicle tourism next week.

And Ward 29 (Toronto-Danforth) Councillor Case Ootes is optimistic an RV park can be created in the city.

Ootes, who first raised the idea about a year ago, brought the matter forward again in January.

And although the staff report being presented next week doesn’t suggest a specific location, the idea hasn’t been ruled out.

“The report is not shutting it down,” Ootes said. “The question is, are there opportunities here to further pursue the whole idea? I think what they’re looking for is further direction.”

The report notes there are nine RV-friendly campgrounds and parks located within one hour of Toronto, including the Glen Rouge Campground in Scarborough.

However all of the current facilities operate at close to capacity during peak season.

And none of the facilities offer the kinds of amenities sought by high-end RV owners.

“The analysis of the upscale RV market and the facilities currently offered in the Toronto area and in other cities in North America and Europe suggests that there may be a potential to add to our current RV facilities,” the report states.

Ootes has said that there is a huge RV market in North America and he believes Toronto is losing out on a big opportunity for tourism.

He reported that roughly eight million U.S. households own RVs. There are also about 800,000 RVs in Canada, he said.

Economic development staff indicate that Downsview Park, the port lands and Woodbine are all sites with the potential to host RV facilities.

“The most obvious place would be the Exhibition grounds and I’m not ruling that out,” Ootes said, adding that Downsview is another good option.

“It’s been sitting vacant for years and nothing ever happens so maybe this is an opportunity to take a look at that,” Ootes said.

The economic development committee meets June 7.

2 Responses to “Circle the wagons! Here come Case Ootes


    [...] But we’re not holding our breath for Lakey. He’s got greener pastures, anyway. Any day now we expect to hear about his move to San Diego to join Jacob Richler and Case Ootes in a Winnebago. [...]


    [...] But that’s just it. It’s not forever. It may not even be memorable. I mean, look at the World Trade Centre. Look at Pruitt Igoe. Forever? What could be more forever than a 110-storey tower or two? But today? It’s all garbage, buried at Fresh Kills or melted down at a Chinese foundry. And your writing is garbage too. Even now, it steams in the dustbin alongside the prose stylings of Jack Lakey and the forgotten antics of Case Ootes. [...]

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