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Sunday 24 Oct 2021

Golden Opportunity
David Simmonds

Source: next-espisode.net

Six hundred and eighty-eight acres of land lying on the Picton heights.  An operating airport with three runways takes up 398 of those acres. A business park of 101 acres, with 320,000 square feet of commercial space, fully leased, with a waiting list.  

There’s more

A heritage air base with its World War II buildings largely intact. Historic site of the filming of the first season of Canada’s Worst Driver.  Residential zoning already in place for 45 acres, with another 128 acres earmarked as future residential.  All of this, the former Camp Picton airbase, could be yours for a shade under $15 million. 

The real estate listing says it is a “great site for special events, e.g., film production.’’  That’s only a start. Let the imagination run wild. 

It’s not actually that expensive. Just get seven or eight like-minded homeowners from downtown Toronto or 14-or-5 homeowners from the County, to mortgage their houses. They could quickly form a small consortium to do the deal.

If  a deal can’t be put together from the ground up, there’s always the eccentric billionaire market to consider.  Someone out there would surely jump at the chance to have their own private redoubt to fly in and out of. For instance, Tobias Lutke, the Ottawa based billionaire behind the Shopify company, could fly down in less than an hour on a Friday night, and then spend two full days at the Sandbanks before heading home on the Monday morning, without having to take a day off work.

The only drawback might be a difficulty in obtaining a park pass. He might have to buy himself the Lake on the Mountain resort to ensure he has a place to go swimming. Perhaps, he could build a resort with lake on the property.

It might be in the league of elite Golf Clubs.

May someone, say Donald Trump, would be interested in developing the property into an elite private golf club. Employees of the club could sport period attire to give you the impression you were playing golf with General Dwight Eisenhower or Prime Minister Mackenzie King. Vintage golf sticks would be used; the 19th hole would be in the barracks.

A billionaire, with a keen interest in astronomy and astronautics, say, Richard Branson, might want to acquire the airbase to erect a massive telescope so that he can watch his intergalactic planes circle the earth.  He could locate a giant mirror above the airbase and watch himself. Perhaps he could watch a few hot air balloons from the facility, too. 

A truly eccentric billionaire might want to negotiate for the right to call his acquisition a principality and himself a prince. After all, the airbase property is more than a hundred acres larger than the whole of Monaco. That would suggest the building of high-end hotels and a casino, which would save County residents from having to go to Belleville or Gananoque to waste their money, assuming we were allowed to enter.

We could wear our most glamorous clothes and feel the thrill of ordering our cocktails shaken, but not stirred, as does James Bond. The airbase could eventually host an annual Formula 1 Grand Prix and join the international circuit. George Clooney could film a jewellery heist movie at the airbase, drawing on the experience of the Canada’s Worst Driver crew.   

If the market for private purchasers dries up, there’s always the government of Canada? With a deficit this year in the hundreds of billions of dollars, $15 million on top of that would be a mere decimal point, much less than the cost of a federal election or the Trans Mountain pipeline.  

How would the government use it?   There are any number of possibilities.  An International G-7 or G-20 conference centre?  A model affordable housing community with state-of-the-art eco features?   A political re-education camp teaching gender, racial and cultural wokeness to the unwoken?  

Who wouldn't finance such projects?

It’s a wonder the property hasn’t been snapped up already. I’ve always dreamed of developing my own Bluegrass music appreciation centre, which is sure to appeal to just an elite few.  What bank would turn down my request for financing?

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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