Monday, 8 August 2011

Solving Urbandale's Beaver Pond Forest Subdivision Marketing Dilemma

The normal method of promoting house sales by telling buyers their houses will be close to the wilderness of the South March Highlands probably isn't going to work for Urbandale, because reminding potential buyers that they just clear cut the Beaver Pond Forest is probably not their best marketing strategy.

So I am going to try to put myself into Urbandale's mindspace. One thing they have got to be thinking right now is why does Bill Teron dare criticize them and why is he still a hero and they the villains. After all, it was Bill Teron who, as a developer, assembled the land for development and sold it to Campeau, who sold it to Genstar who sold it to them. And they have a good point.

BUT, they also have to realize that when they acquired the land they also inherited the responsibility for all the actions that got the land to the point it is in the development process, and that includes the bullying and blackmailing that led to the meaningless 40% agreement, which leaves very little land protected - narrow strips of "protected land" are not ecologically sustainable and a developed golf course is not environmentally protected land.

I think they are quickly going to learn that normal does not apply in this case. Normally potential house buyers see rows of pretty streets and and brand new houses and have little thought to what was there before. Urbandale knows that in this case all potential buyers are going to be completely aware of what was there before - the Beaver Pond Forest - part of the most significant environmental lands in Ottawa, the near wilderness South March Highlands. They are going to know it has been clear cut to build the houses they are looking at and that every new house purchased paves the way for more destruction of the South March Highlands.

It may be easy to dismiss the first factor - it's done now, we can't bring the trees back. But the second one is going to gnaw on potential buyers because they will feel the responsibility and guilt of helping to destroy the rest of the forest that KNL/Urbandale plans to develop. And while there may be some potential buyers that don't care, even some who take glee in being anti-environment, anti-earth - is that really who Urbandale wants to market their houses to. No doubt concerns over the destruction of the Beaver Pond Forest is going to affect sales of all Urbandale homes in the Ottawa area.

There is a way out - a way to turn Urbandale into the hero rather than the villain and one that would gain them my praise. Why would I praise the people who just clear cut the Beaver Pond Forest. Because I believe it is never too late to do the right thing, and because I believe in redemption.

The solution of course is obvious. Remove that last factor, the threat to the rest of Urbandale's South March Highlands lands that purchasing a house in the former Beaver Pond Forest represents.

Urbandale can protect the lands by donating them to the City and they can even gain a financial advantage by doing it in as way that maximizes their tax benefit.

Of course I would still expect them to respect the First Nations archeological and cultural heritage within the Beaver Pond Forest site and find appropriate Storm Water Management plans that do not pollute the rest of the South March Highlands.

Urbandale could use some good press right now and it certainly would boost their marketing ability all over Ottawa. And sometimes (even better late than never) being a hero just feels good.

Lyon Sachs and Mary Jarvis are you ready to feel praise rather than condemnation. Are you ready to become heroes.

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