Lansdowne Plan Includes Inverted Bathtub: RUBIN

Freedom-of-information researcher Ken Rubin thinks it’s time to start over on Lansdowne’s most recent plan:

If the two Marks – Mayor Sutcliffe and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group President Goudie get their way, Lansdowne Park’s future is settled with their revised concept plan 2.1.

But the brutalist changeover and faulty financing aspects of their plans, endorsed by city planners, will destroy Lansdowne forever as a sustainable regional park while placing a heavy burden on taxpayers.

Suggested changes put forward for the centre of the park are a more costly quarter-a-billion-dollar OSEG-dominated events centre seating 5,500 and 25- and 40-storey high-rise towers with some 770 residential units, with a few of those floors possibly becoming a hotel.

Hey Elon, About That Trip To Vars …

But just how safe, well-vented, and attractive is the proposed hidden underground bunker-like event centre? How does an event centre that appears to be a most ugly giant upside-down bath tub contribute to civic pride and imagination? Is it really a world-class asset or a concrete white elephant joke without its green-sod roof?

And what do two out-of-scale and out-of-place and unneeded luxury high-rise towers contribute to the park’s essence and regional affordable housing? Nothing.

Already, the Glebe Community Association has presented a more modest scaled-down alternative design plan that uses the existing civic centre space with some community event and housing space that is more in keeping with the park while retaining and enhancing Lansdowne’s green space.

The two Marks want us to believe that the suggested development-resulting multi-million-dollar city debt load and loans for their Lansdowne 2.1 project are manageable costs. Skeptics doing the maths seriously doubt this and point to the already large debt brought on by Lansdowne 1.0 construction that has led to revenue shortages.

The financing of Lansdowne 2.1 project remains dubious and is far from transparent. Admission is made that costs have risen, likely to be more than $500 million for taxpayers. Even the revised rental lease for private-sector development rights goes from the ridiculous price of $1.00 a year to half-a-million dollars a year. That remain very low for the development of such valuable space. At least, no one is longer saying that the work is “revenue neutral”.

Without the new council thoroughly debating where to begin, city staff had in April 2023 gone ahead under the former Lansdowne 2.0 concept plan and asked developers and OSEG for their expression of interest in demolitions, building, and renovating Lansdowne.

City staff note that Sutcliffe will still have to go cap-in-hand to federal and provincial authorities for additional capital funding of at least $20 to $50 million dollars or more. These senior governments though are getting cautious having seen their large investments in Ottawa’s LRT project squandered. So expect a no answer.

Sutcliffe, a booster of what Lansdowne 1.0 box stores and condo towers has done for the city, thinks the compromise of dropping putting up a third tower even closer to the Aberdeen Pavilion is a sufficient deploy to get OSEG plans underway with city zoning changes and approvals being a shoe-in in November.

Still unresolved, however, are the area’s traffic and parking-management plans, and still under question is just how urgent is repairing the civic stadium’s north stands. Public realm enhancements are just not emphasized and there. New retail commercial and sports revenues expectations are obscured and doubtful.

The fullest potential of Lansdowne Park does not revolve around continuing with a City-OSEG partnership or their proposal.

Better to fully audit what failed with Lansdowne 1.0, be fully transparent, pause, then seriously conduct extensively public consultations and rethink a publicly inspired design that’s best for Lansdowne Park in 2024. Just say no to the ill-thought out and light-on-information 2.1 plan.

Ken Rubin writes about local matters and is a freedom-of-information specialist.



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3 Responses

  1. Richard says:

    The “partnership” in which Ottawa is a junior limited partner needs to be dissolved.

  2. John Langstone says:

    A key point for me are the financial projections going 43 years into the future. Take for example the REDBLACKS. Here we have a franchise that has gone broke at
    least twice since the mid 90s, has never made money as the REDBLACKS and
    is projected to have a positive cash flow long into the future
    because we have a new, smaller stadium with no roof. As substantiation for a project of this scope, this logic is stomach turning.

  3. Bruce says:

    Ever since the use of Marijuana has been legalized, Ottawa city council and staff have been having dreams. Not saying the two are intertwined just mentioning a possible connection. Lets develop version 2.3 over another pipe?

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