Covenant parkade: Logic should prevail

The lawyer representing the granddaughter of Stanley Simpson, says he is surprised City Hall was advised it could build a parkade on Simpson Covenant lands.

The city is proposing to erect a parkade on covenant lands beside Memorial Arena as part of a larger project that would see a surface parking lot across the street turned into an Interior Health complex, employing close to 1,000 people.

Tom Smithwick, who helped Simpson successfully win a Supreme Court challenge against the city four years ago, says he is surprised at the city's response to a letter from Simpson questioning the legality of placing a commercial enterprise on covenant lands.

"If they feel building a parkade and renting it out is not a commercial purpose, that is somewhat surprising to me by way of interpretation of law," says Smithwick.

"How would you define it if not a commercial venture to be building something and then renting it out? Common sense would kind of tell you that."

In 2008, a Supreme Court Judge ruled the land is the subject of an historic document preventing the lands from being used for commercial purposes.

"It's (parkade) a commercial purpose and I think the law would tell you it's a commercial purpose," says Smithwick.

"The last time we went through this there was the same kind of attitude and the court told them (City Hall) they were wrong. One would hope we don't have to go to court again."

When asked if Simpson was prepared to go the distance again, Smithwick indicated he didn't know.

He says she has done it before when she was told she was wrong but the courts agreed with her.

"To have to go through it all again - that would be shameful. Wouldn't it," stated Smithwick.

"Will it never end? Will commitments never be honoured? Why would you go through this? Particularly when the land is such a valuable piece of land with such a multitude of positive purposes."

Smithwick adds that, while it is a surface parking lot now, it could still be used for more positive purposes down the road.

Once a parking structure is built, it will be that for decades and decades.

"Is that the best use you can find for a piece of property like this. You've got to shake your head and say, does this make sense?"


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