Thursday, August 29, 2013
Is Giorgio Mammoliti's giant flagpole dream dead?
There was supposed to be a giant Canadian flag. Atop a giant flagpole, North America’s largest. Tourists were supposed to flock to the adjacent square. And a long-ignored corner of the city was supposed to stand tall as a destination — a destination where otherwise Canadian Canadians might well break down in grateful tears.
“It waves so slowly,” Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said in 2010 of a similar flag in Mexico City, “you want to cry about how proud we are to be Canadian.”
In 2010, Mammoliti’s council colleagues took a break from Viagra jokes long enough to approve the project 30-6. Mammoliti said the flag would be flying by Canada Day 2011.
It never happened.
The city was directed to buy two vacant hectares at Finch and Arrow Rd., erect the 125-metre pole, and then recoup the millions of dollars in costs from the Emery Village Business Improvement Area. But negotiations with the landowner failed “over a year ago,” said city official Mike Major. “There were always challenges to delivering this project ... a key issue was the city being able to acquire the property at a reasonable price.”
Whether the project is all but dead depends on whom you talk to. Sandra Farina, the BIA’s executive director, said Wednesday that the group is “not currently pursuing it in any which way right now.”
She added: “There’s nothing happening with the BIA and the flagpole right now. We are at a standstill with that. It’s not an ongoing issue.”
Mammoliti disagrees. “The Emery Village Square is a project that is alive,” he said in an email, “and well deserved” by the area.
After the Star contacted Mammoliti, Farina quickly issued a “clarification” email, saying: “I want to reiterate and clarify that the Emery Village Square project is an active file.”
BIA board member Tim Lambrinos said the city “sabotaged” the project by walking away from land talks even though the two sides weren’t far apart. He said there is still hope: a private investor, whom he didn’t name might come on board. “I think it’s going to fly,” he said.
Visitors to Mammoliti’s office have long been greeted by an architectural model of the project Mammoliti proudly placed just outside. But this summer it has been missing the miniature flagpole.
Somebody took the thing. Nobody knows why.
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