Our neighbourhood is once again in the midst of a major development battle. A 5 acre (2 hectare) site, that houses a former convent, was recently purchased by a major developer. The developer has held of series of public meetings concerning its plans to develop the site and to make “adaptive reuse” of the convent buildings in accordance with city guidelines provided at the time of purchase. While everyone, especially the developer and the lead architect (a very good friend and neighbour), fully appreciates the great heritage value of the historic buildings, our city council recently took the extreme step of giving the entire 5 acre property a heritage designation, instead of just the building and an appropriate “apron”.
While this designation has been warmly welcomed by the community (and trumpeted by the anti-development forces), I have the strong sense that celebration is premature. In fact, I suspect that the over-reaching designation may, and probably should, be overturned in the current court challenge as an inappropriate hi-jacking of the heritage provisions into a covert “tool” for development control. While I am a moderate voice that welcomes an open debate about intensification and that greatly values heritage, I fear that grabbing and celebrating too much may be a set up for the community and the city to yet again get the development that we deserve rather than the development we want (or at least can live with after being consulted with and listened to).
I have very similar feelings about the recent opensource.com post by Rob Tiller entited Total victory for open source software in a patent lawsuit . While I have no desire to rain on the Red Hat and Novell parade, it is important to put their victory in an appropriate context. While this can be seen as an important victory by the two companies and the open source software community, it is only “a” jury trial victory against two non-practicing entities with respect to four claims under three U.S. patents. In the grand scheme of things, it was a sub-skirmish in one small battle in a world war. And while a boxer should celebrate a good first round, he or she must not forget that a match has many rounds.
While I can not comment on the accuracy of Rob’s post, I am concerned with its tone. One lesson that war repeatedly teaches us is that it we must be gracious in victory. I believe that Red Hat, Novell, and the open source software community should be using this opportunity to explore prospects of peace. As I mentioned some time ago in my The double-edged sword of enforcement post, ”it is time for the OSS community to come together to unleash its awesome creativity to address and overcome these challenges in a constructive and healthy manner that respects the double-edged sword of enforcement.” While the open source community may not, at this sliver of time, be in the stages of grief that I touched on in my post earlier this week, I would encourage it to seize this moment to “channel its creativity and energy into acceptance and even bargaining” and not celebrate too much!