“Lansdowne Live” certainly came to Orleans last night. Passion and emotion, and angry people, were certainly flying high. This is an interesting case from the perspective of ethics, sustainable communities and social responsibility, with some lessons for Orleans as we plan our future.
The Lansdowne issue is clearly an issue of balancing competing interests and rights. The rights of the developer to make a profit. The expectation exists for the city to minimize costs through a fair and open competition. The rights of the local community not to have quality of life adversely affected, but in fact improved (ie, to have facilities they care about, decreased traffic congestion, parking problems, noise, the concerns of small business.). The requirement exists for the city as a whole to benefit from this (ie possibly to address shortage of sports and trade show capacity). There is a need for the project to be honest, environmentally and socially responsible, affordable and sustainable.
From an ethics perspective, we should seek to balance rights, the ethic of care, the values we have, and seek to maximize the good and minimize the bad consequences, as tradeoffs are considered. We need to balance economic and social interests. Gone are the days when social responsibility considerations can be discounted by large overpowering development and economic interests.
So the question becomes which interests are given the most weight when interests compete, and which must give way. If we give primacy to the ethic of care (which would be my choice), the rights of the local community should be given the highest weight. The local community deserves a reasonably safe, quiet and beautiful family oriented neighborhood with decreased traffic congestion and decreased parking problems. This project is in the middle of a huge residential area and that counts. People come first. If we sacrifice the few for the many, we diminish the many. Unlimited development, profit and expansion is not everything. A crumbling stadium and a significant interest in professional football does not seem to be what this community cares about.
If we truly care about people, then maybe we should bulldoze the stadium and create a green space, a park, a small market, with spaces for community sports fields or small open air concerts. We look elsewhere for professional sports and trade show spaces. Quality of life counts. There is no force so great as a community discovering what it cares about. What they care about is what is sustainable, because they will look after it. They deserve to be listened to and their comments should be taken seriously.
We in Orleans, would do well to pay close attention to the lessons learned here, as the NCR and City “Futures Forum” begins to make far reaching and similar decisions that will affect the development of Orleans. We have to ensure that where we are going is a direction that we care about, and that puts families and people first.