Watson: Ottawa’s Biggest Sports Subsidizer In History



“We’re not interested in subsidizing an arena.”

Mayor Jim Watson on the proposed Ottawa Senators rink at LeBreton Flats


Might this be the biggest whopper in recent Ottawa times?

Maybe “on-time and on-budget”, another Watsonism, on LRT might be larger. Maybe not.

Watson was the greatest supporter of the Lansdowne park redevelopment without question. You couldn’t get the mayor’s face out of the local papers without a backdrop of Lansdowne construction behind it.

So Watson was supporting $167 million of city taxpayer money going into the Lansdowne arena (sorry Your Worship but did you say you weren’t interested in subsidizing an arena? Perhaps you misspoke), the football stadium and even the parking garage.

And for all this, the city gets about $1.4 million a year in the so-called waterfall that in fact goes to maintenance of the garage and sports facilities. So if the money the city accrues from the tricklefall actually went back to the city, it would take 147 years for taxpayers to get back their investment. But realistically with the tricklefall going to maintenance of the site, the city gets nothing.

Not only that, it effectively means that the 67’s, Redblacks and Fury are paying no rent. In fact the city must ask permission of the Lansdowne group to use its own facilities. So there’s another subsidy.

In fact with the extremely expensive sports facilities refurbishment by the city at Lansdowne, Watson most certainly becomes the great sports facility subsidizer in Ottawa municipal history.

Oh yes, don’t forget the city leases out a swath of land to the group at a nominal charge.



Watson also said that the city won’t pay for contaminated soil cleanup at LeBreton Flats where the proposed Senators arena would be built. That’s shocking because every other developer in town, according to city policy, who builds on polluted land gets half the remediation costs covered by the municipality.

But all this is a moot point. The National Capital Commission lowered the cost of the land at LeBreton to take into account remediation expenses. So the polluted-land issue has already been decided. Why is Watson talking about it except to score political points. Another whopper.

Add to that the fact that the Senators haven’t asked for city money. Doesn’t someone have to ask for something before you deny it?

So in summary, Watson won’t subsidize an arena despite being Ottawa’s biggest professional sports subsidizer in history and the principals aren’t asking for a handout anyway. Meanwhile Watson says the city won’t pay for LeBreton polluted soil remediation when, in fact, the NCC has already covered it.

Let’s see … in the mayor’s statements last week we have hypocrisy on an enormous scale, misleading information and simple avoidance of the facts.

The job of the mayor is to lead, not to mislead.

Watson’s statements on the LeBreton issue are unworthy of the mayor of Ottawa.


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2 thoughts on “Watson: Ottawa’s Biggest Sports Subsidizer In History

  1. The problem is that there are those who will take Watson’s statements at face value. They see him as the good guy taking on the nasty millionaire who’s looking for a free ride and Watson’s playing that for all it’s worth. He’s seen the success of that strategy south of the border and is adapting it for his own benefit here.
    Unfortunately not everyone reads the Bulldog and so isn’t getting a balanced picture. :-(


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