Thursday, October 23, 2014

Feds tell Maria Augimeri to stop 'misinformation' about Downsview Park

TORONTO - A federal cabinet minister has instructed a long-serving city councillor to stop spreading “misinformation” about plans for Downsview Park as she campaigns for re-election.

But York Centre (Ward 9) Councillor Maria Augimeri has dismissed the criticism, accusing the government of selling off pieces of the park.

“We urge Councillor Augimeri to stop the spread of misinformation and instead work with us to help deliver Downsview Park for the people of the city she represents,” Public Works Minister Diane Finlay said in a Sept. 17 letter.

Finlay insisted the federal government has spent millions on reintegrating the former military base into the community through the Canada Lands Corporation which has overseen work at Downview Park.

“The government’s position has been clear from the start: the parkland will not be sold,” Finlay said.

Anthony Fernando, who is running against Augimeri, said he wrote the minister to see if plans for the lands have changed. The current federal plan would see some development take place where old housing already exists on the base, not on the parkland portion.

He accused Augimeri of using fear of development to drum up votes.

“(Augimeri) knows fear is an effective motivator and she’s trying to scare them by creating a bogeyman with Downsview Park and portraying herself as the only one who will fight against it,” he said.

Fernando also alleged that Augimeri is using her taxpayer-funded office resources in her efforts to “save” Downsview Park. He’s filed a complaint with the city’s integrity commissioner, but says it won’t be heard until well after the election.

“At the very least we believe the citizens of Toronto and Downsview need to know the truth,” Fernando said.

But Augimeri countered parts of the park are currently up for sale.

“If it’s misinformation, it’s their misinformation. I’m using their maps,” she said of federal information used in her campaign literature.

Augimeri said Downsview-area residents don’t believe Fernando, adding that she’s been using her office resources to fight for the park for years and denying that the integrity commissioner is investigating.

“Does it matter what he’s saying?” she added. “After (the election) he’ll be gone. It doesn’t matter what he’s saying, right? People know that it’s not true because people in the community and I have been fighting for Downsview Park for 17 years.”

She also dismissed Finlay’s letter, predicting the federal Conservatives will lose their seat in the area over the issue.

“Who would believe them anyway?” she said. “There’s a for sale sign up there. There’s a sales centre. You can buy a house there now as we speak.”​​
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