City Issues Release Of Pure Pro-Lansdowne Propaganda

 

Why did city staff, no doubt with the approval of Mayor Mark Sutcliffe (at least we hope so), send out a stilted press release promoting Lansdowne 2.0?

Why did city staff release this document on the same day as the giant Lansdowne consultation organized by community activists?

Why does it have a section that talks about the cost of not going forward with Lansdowne? Why does it not look at the down-side of Lansdowne such as bastardizing the city budget with a horribly expensive frill? Why does it not have a section on the poor transit and transportation location of Lansdowne?

What are the financial implications of doing this project? The city is crying poor about transit in this town and yet it can find two-thirds of a billion dollars to rebuild huge parts of Lansdowne. Explain that city staff.

LANSDOWNE: Don’t Buy Something You Don’t Understand


And most importantly, why is the City of Ottawa releasing a document that is pure pro-Lansdowne 2.0 propaganda using taxpayer money? In case the city missed it, many people in this community are against this project and won’t be happy to discover that their taxes are being used to promote something they are against.

Furthermore, this is not a public-service document informing residents of road construction or an acute health situation. This document is meant to influence Ottawa sentiment on Lansdowne. City staff has lost its moral compass. It is biased. That is not its role. With this document, city staff is going over the heads of city council. That is anti-democratic.

Staff has become completely out of control on Lansdowne and is promoting the project with bias and not simply informing the public. City staff is using taxpayer money to influence the public and city council to support Lansdowne.

City staff is trying to get a positive vote at council. That is NOT its job. Its job is to present the public and city council with unbiased information supporting Lansdowne … a fair appraisal of the project. Staff is trying to dictate policy. It has gone far beyond its role as public servant. This is unethical.

And if nothing else, it shows just how much the development community influences democracy at Ottawa City Hall.

Ottawa Has A Crisis In Municipal Gov’t: QUOTABLE

This is a release from the City of Ottawa:

The City of Ottawa has received a proposal from the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) to strengthen the partnership and redevelop Lansdowne to make it financially stable for the long term and to rehabilitate public infrastructure.

Proposal
The proposal is to demolish the existing north stadium stands and arena complex, and build a new, world-class event centre and north stadium stands. This new public infrastructure will make the venues accessible and sustainable, better positioning Lansdowne as an iconic, landmark site. A new retail podium and additional residential units are also included within the proposal.

Project Update
Since the launch of the Lansdowne 2.0 Project, City Staff have worked to ensure a robust public engagement process has taken place. This has included a dedicated project website for residents to review information, a dedicated email address for residents to send in questions and concerns, four public information sessions, multiple surveys, weekly coffee chats, pop-up events, and weekly meetings with the Ward Councillor.

The results of the City’s engagement can be found in the final As We Heard It report on the project website. The Lansdowne project team would like to thank everyone for taking the time to provide their feedback.

Over the last 10 months, city staff has been working on the following:

  • The City launched it’s the planning process the required Zoning By-law Amendment and Official Plan Amendment
  • The City launched its Public Engagement Process noted above
  • The City initiated and completed its Request for Expression of Interest of the Property Rights (REOI)
  • The City hired a third-party financial consultant for financial analysis on the 2022 funding strategy, as well as cash flow and financing projections that Council approved and directed staff to investigate further.

Key Public Input
The key themes of public comments from the three public information sessions, email correspondence and coffee chat series include:

Give Public Clear Lansdowne Fiscal Picture: OPEN LETTER

Key Themes:

  • Density and Intensification –3 towers and potential 40 stories in height
  • Green Space – Loss of green space on Great Lawn, tree canopy
  • Transportation and Transit – Car traffic within Lansdowne, traffic on event nights, access to QED
  • Active Transportation – Cycling infrastructure, pedestrian safety
  • Public Realm & Urban Park – Lack of public washrooms, insufficient shade, public art
  • Financial Model – Transparency, financial risk
  • Retail and Entertainment – Lack of local vendors

Key Changes
As a result of public feedback, financial due diligence, expert 3rd party advice, and proper city planning, many significant features have changed since the original OSEG proposal was received by the City in May 2022.

  • 2 mixed-use towers – The original proposal included 3 high-rise towers. The staff report limits the potential to 2 towers only.
  • 40 and 25 stories – The original proposal included 3 towers that could be up to 40 stories. Staff recommend capping the max unit number which would result in only one tower potentially being 40 stories in height.
  • Max. 770 units – The original proposal included a unit count of 1200 units. Staff recommend capping the maximum amount of density at 770 units. This allows the flexibility of design but does not allow a second tower of 40 stories in height.
  • 336 residential parking spaces – The original proposal included 739 residential parking spaces – reduction of 403 spaces and now implies a parking ratio of 0.4 spaces per unit.
  • 35 parking spaces for Event Centre – The original proposal did not include any parking spaces for Event Centre. These new spaces will be dedicated to accessibility, and ease of access for events and minor sports at the Event Centre.
  • 27,900 s.f. new public realm – The original proposal did not include any include of public realm space. With the removal of the 3rd tower, this opens up 27,900 square feet of new public realm space.
  • 49,000 s.f. of retail – The original proposal included 108,000 square feet of retail space, this has been reduced to 49,000 square feet of retail space

Cost of Doing Nothing
The City has reviewed the cost of not proceeding with 2.0. It is important for residents also understand the current situation. Some of the key factors of not proceeding with making Lansdowne Park sustainable are as follows:

  • The current Civic Centre (arena) is functionally obsolete and will eventually need to be replaced.
  • The stadium (TD Place) and arena (Civic Centre) are City assets, and it is the City’s responsibility to replace them. They will need to be replaced eventually.
  • As they age, the cost to maintain will only increase.
  • The sports facilities are the most energy inefficient buildings the City owns – also increasing cost to operate.
  • The Partnership with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) is not financially sustainable – year over year deficits since 2014.
  • Cannot assume that OSEG will continue to fund these deficits.
  • Finding another investor/operator either from the private or non-profit sector will cost the City much more than today.  We currently pay nothing into the Partnership’s closed financial system.
  • Could cost the City up to $400M or more to keep the old building and continue operations for the next 42 years.

The business case for Lansdowne 2.0 is positive. The City will gain a $419 million dollar asset for $5 million annually in debt serving investment from the City. No other City asset has a stream of revenue similar to Lansdowne to help to fund it. Lansdowne Park has City owned assets that will need to be renewed eventually and the City gains, and retains ownership, of new assets – Event Centre and North Side Stands

Committee and Council

Following months of engagement and review, the City will be considering the Lansdowne Partnership Plan – Authorization to Proceed to the Next Steps in the Redevelopment Report and recommendations at:

  • November 2, 2023 – Joint Finance and Corporate Services and Planning
    and Housing Committee
  • November 6, 2023 – Built Heritage Committee
  • November 10, 2023 – City Council

Next Steps
Should City Council approve of this report and continue with the project, there will be many more opportunities to engage with staff and the City. Some of the next decision points that will come back to Council in the future include:

  • A report of the construction procurement model
  • Event Centre Site Plan
  • Issue the Request For Offers (RFO) for mixed-use towers
  • Construction Procurement tender price

For more information please visit the project webpage here.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns please send us an email at LansdowneRenewal@Ottawa.ca.

 

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5 Responses

  1. Ron Benn says:

    The city is promoting the ongoing Lansdowne renovation/restoration as an either or situation. Either we spend another more than $400 million now, or we will spend a lot more over the next two generations. Choices are seldom binary. There are more flavours of ice cream than chocolate or vanilla.

    Where is the discussion about deferring the project until the city gets its financial situation in order? Say in five years?

    Manipulating public opinion by using straw man arguments is what third rate political actors do. Leaders? They lead. They examine situations in an objective manner, ask questions. Suggest alternatives. Make decisions based on priorities.

    Over to you council. Are you third rate political actors? Or are you leaders?

  2. Val Swinton says:

    Agree!! Note also the omission in the press release of the removal of affordable housing with a paltry payment in lieu instead. I’d say that counts as a “key change.” I love the “many more opportunities to engage” – we’ve heard this at every stage and it just is not true. The latest is that we don’t need to wait for the Ottawa Auditor General’s report on L1.0 — the plan can be adjusted after that. Just how stupid do they think we are?

  3. Nicholas says:

    I think we know the answer to your questions Ron. (Spoiler alert: third rate is an understatement).

    City staff have lost their way and it happened a LONG time ago. Council has been letting staff get away with pretty much anything for a couple of decades now. I can’t believe I’m saying it but I long for the days of Cullen, and Thompson and their ilk. Current council are too trusting of staff and are afraid to actually read reports and ask the tough questions. Green bin, LRT, Lansdowne… the list of failures goes on.

    I remember my councilor and his decision to vote for stage 2 LRT saying that he wanted more information before voting, but in the grand scheme of things would trust staff and the work that they did on the file. He completely ignored the fact that everyone else in the City knew that LRT was a fiasco and stage 2 would be another log on the fire, yet he voted for the dumpster fire anyway.

    I honestly do not know what to do. Council don’t have the intestinal fortitude to grill staff when it counts; heck, I don’t even know if council recognize when those opportunities appear. We’ve tried replacing a few councilors, but it doesn’t seem to have made a difference.

  4. Ken Gray says:

    Nicholas:

    Council needs to take municipal government back from staff, particularly in development.

    They need to be aggressive asking important questions. Many councillors are scared of staff. And staff can shut them down or make life difficult for them.

    But if you are a strong person, not an impolite person, you should be asking tough questions of staff.

    Also councillors forget that staff has its own agenda which is what is best for it … not necessarily for the city or councillors. Councillors must see through that and be polite but aggressive.

    Many councillors are signing off their authority to staff. it’s the other way around. Staff isn’t respecting staff because councillors don’t make themselves strong enough to be respected.

    cheers

    kgray

  5. John Langstone says:

    I concur with the above. And did you notice that the City couldn’t even get Lansdowne 2.1 described correctly. One point was: Density and Intensification –3 towers and potential 40 stories in height. The actual proposal is two towers with lesser heights. Here we want to get into a project of this scope, and cant get this right. Inspires confidence indeed. I’m not allowed to include links in comments, but there is a YouTube link to the presentation at Lansdowne last night. Walter Robinson gave a financial presentation around 20 minutes in that should be required watching for everyone in Ottawa. And hopefully councilors. (I sent the link to Ken).

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