Answer These Lansdowne Questions Councillor Carr

Former Winnipeg Free Press colleague Pauline Comeau has a mountain of questions for Alta Vista Councillor Marty Carr.

Comeau’s excellent work would look very good in The Bulldog:

Below is a note/list of questions sent to my Ward councillor, Alta Vista Councillor Marty Carr, this evening about Lansdowne 2.0 and which I am hoping to have answers to in the coming days and certainly before the Nov. 10th Council vote. 
 
The questions and issues of concern for me are not changed by the last-minute notice that a third tower will be added back into the plan and/or that any affordable housing deal — on the Lansdowne site or elsewhere in the City — is in the works. Neither are enough to cancel my opinion that citizens need more time to digest the complicated financial implications of Lansdowne 2.0 and to explore potential alternatives to ensure success on mutiple fronts for the future.
 
And this is being shared to ensure that you are all aware that this issue is still of interest across the City and that residents are seeking genuine consultation on this project that ensures as many opinions as possible are included ion any decision making.
 
The message sent to Councillor Carr:

Hello,

I’m seeking answers to questions listed below after following the Lansdowne 2.0 issue for weeks (and reading all I can on the City site) and after seeing information released last week by a group of Ottawa citizens, including several financial experts who are seriously concerned about the potential financial (and other) implications of the project for all Ottawa taxpayers long into the future, and who are calling for a pause on approval until more questions are answered.
 
The signatories of the group’s Oct. 24th press release, and others who have helped draft the group’s Lansdowne documents, include: Kevin Page, former Parliamentary Budget Officer and founding President and CEO of the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy; Michael Wernick, former clerk of the Privy Council for Canada; and Neil Saravanamuttoo, former G20 infrastructure chief economist (and now director of CitySHAPES, a non-profit organization focused on city-focused policy and community engagement to help build better cities in Canada).
 
These people are much more able to digest the financial complexity of this issue than the vast majority of Ottawa citizens, which is why I, and many others, are asking that our questions be addressed before any final vote goes forward and why we are asking that this project approval be delayed to give more time for taxpayers to digest the details so serious feedback can be a real part of any decisions.
 
Questions:
 
1) Why is the City going ahead with this approval process before the release of the Auditor General’s audit report on Lansdowne 1.0 (and any other potential AG information that is or could be related to this Lansdowne project)?
 
2) Did you, and all / any other elected City Hall officials who will vote on this issue this week and next, have access to the full version of the financial due diligence assessment provided by Ernst & Young before it was released yesterday?
3) Have you read these documents/seen any related details?
  • b) The Retail Mortgage Appraisal reports from 2014 and 2022 (referenced by OSEG at the May 2nd Finance Committee)?
  • c) The financial model detailing how the Lansdowne site is expected to make over $1 billion in retail leasing profits and $150M in Redblacks profits?
  • d) The risk matrix with clear documentation of the risks and contingencies the City is being asked to assume, as well as responsibility for mitigation strategies, with approval of this redevelopment plan?
4) If you have seen all these documents/information, are you still confident moving forward with Lansdowne 2.0/2.1 as it is, without any changes? If so, why — I am seeking any insights into these invisible documents (including the late release of the full EY assessment document yesterday) and also want to know if any of this information will ever be made public?
 
4) If you have not seen any or all of this information, are you OK with a vote on this project? If so, why are you not concerned about not having the information above before voting?
 
4) If Council moves to approve Lansdowne 2.0/2.1 — with or without any minor or major changes before a vote (including any tower addition and/or affordable housing deal on site or elsewhere) — would you be open to proposing that any approval be explicitly conditional on the findings of the anticipated Auditor General’s audit report? If not, why not?
 
5) Do you disagree with the consultants who concluded that the current stadium would be good for another 40 years at a cost of about $1million/yr in maintenance and repairs? If you disagree, please give details on why.
 
6) The due diligence consultant, Ernst & Young, called the City’s projections for the future returns from this project investment to be ‘optimistic’. Do you disagree with the ‘optimistic’ conclusion, and if so, please provide details on how you have reached a different conclusion?
7) The City’s goal is to attract even more (possibly millions) of people to this location for sporting and other events, retail, and high-rise residency. Why is this site the only one being considered considering the lack of any nearby LRT service? 
8) Do you have reasons to disagree with concerns (expressed by locals and others) that if this development succeeds as proposed that it will cause serious traffic issues on Bank St and surrounding streets? If so, why?
9) And tonight, just hours before the joint committee will vote on Lansdowne 2.0 — news broke that a third tower is now back in the plan. What is your opinion on this? 
10) And, finally, is this last minute change, just hours before a committee vote, enough time for the implications of the change to be clearly understood before a vote?
Thank you for any answers and other input you can provide.

 —


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1 Response

  1. Brian Tansey says:

    Here is a question for you Pauline: ( it’s now 11.00 a.m. on the day of the Jt. Mtg.) where have the original authors of that detailed financial transparency letter issued in June and apparently followed up on very recently by Carolyn McKenzie / Michael Wernick and Neil Saravanamutto ? Have they told us that they STILL do not have answers or a proper reply to their concerns ???

    If so .. how do we ‘explain that fall-off in their engagement … … unless they are ( all / some?) going to delegate today

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