Lansdowne: What Would Have Been Better? BENN

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How does one react to the news that something you believe in did not come to fruition?

Something that you worked hard to make happen did not end in success. Angry? Upset? Disappointed? A range of emotions for many who tried to convince Ottawa City Council to vote against Lansdowne 2.0.

One of the roles of a coach is to talk to the team after they lose the game that brings an end to the season. That talk needs to take place right after the game. It needs to be one with limited emotion. One that thanks the players for their efforts, and encourages them to consider what they could have done differently. How to improve themselves for next season.

Here’s The Breakdown Of The Lansdowne Vote

So, here are my “coach’s thoughts” on Lansdowne 2.0.


To those who developed the objectives, strategies and tactics necessary to provide councillors with enough information to make a reasoned decision on Lansdowne 2.0, thank you.

To those who committed so much of your time to finding city reports about Lansdowne in the morass that is the city website, a job well done.

For those who waded through the endless pages of bureaucratic pulp in those reports, searching for gems that might, or might not be there, your efforts are truly appreciated.

Your work to make the city a better place to live, work, enjoy were something worth doing, even if those efforts fell short of the goal. Why? Because by bringing the facts to light matters. Especially in a city where transparency is not a requirement. Where opaque is the default position. Because it is important to ensure that the residents of Ottawa have a better understanding of the consequences of decisions that are often made behind closed doors, before the theatre of the public vote.

We’re Not Getting Value For Civic Taxes: PATTON

So, to all those who dedicated so much time, effort and emotion to convincing council to reject Lansdowne 2.0, a profound thank you. Don’t let this disappointment prevent you from doing the same thing, next time, whenever and whatever the next time may be.

On to the difficult part. The unemotional analysis of what could have been done differently.

To the volunteers, the community activists, don’t spend too much time on this. Don’t beat yourselves up. Your role was to provide the information to council. You did that. You provided a wide array of facts and philosophies that would appeal to councillors, no matter what ideological base they are comfortable with.

To city staff: was there any information that was available to you that would have provided a more balanced view of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group proposal, but you did not provide it? Reflect on that for a long time. Consider the words of condemnation from the provincial LRT inquiry regarding the need for council to have all the information required to make a reasoned decision.

To the city councillors who voted against Lansdowne 2.0. Ask yourselves, what could I have done better? Or we, collectively? How is it that we could not convince just four more members of council that a “no” vote was the right vote?

To the city councillors who voted for Lansdowne 2.0. Ask yourselves, did I have an open mind? Was I willing to listen to the arguments against Lansdowne? Did you trade your vote in favour of Lansdowne for past or future favours?

Why is this important? Because the city deserves your, our, best efforts. Sometimes those best efforts result in success. Sometimes your best efforts fall short. Unlike Yoda, I believe that there is more than “Do or do not”, for without trying, there is no opportunity to do or do not.

Ron Benn, a finance executive, has been a member of the Centrepointe Community Association for the better part of three decades.

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7 Responses

  1. John Langstone says:

    And Ron, thank you for your efforts.

  2. Valerie Swinton says:

    Thanks a big bunch, Ron. Salve to a wounded soul.

  3. Peter Karwacki says:

    The majority voted for their notion of forward progress. They talked a good game about affordable housing and climate change impacts but instead prioritized funds for a rich man’s luxury sports stadium, pro male sports fans who like to drink and shop. The wrath of Khan will visit the city that fun forgot. The universe does not forget.

  4. Ron Benn says:

    Peter, I am a big believer in tangible results. When it comes to the impact on climate change, the outcomes are not tangible. The results are only measurable by formula. The same can be said about the endless babble about affordable housing.

    For Lansdowne 2.x, the impact of more or fewer residents living in the future array of high rises or the number of personal use vehicles parked on site is only “measurable” when plugged into a climate change formula. Select a different formula, get a different result. Play with the variables (mix of large ICE vehicles, SUVs, hybrids, PEVs), get a different result. In essence, decide what answer you want and play with the inputs to “prove” your point. Whatever. The results are not tangible.

    As for what passed for debate about the affordable housing. So many words. So little value added. Councillors were focused on the accounting for the cash flows. Not the cash flows. Shifting from 10% of the air rights to 25% of the air rights doesn’t change the amount received for the air rights. All it changes is the incremental debt the city will incur for Lansdowne, and where the money for affordable housing will or will not come from.

    If the city decided to allocate 10% of the $40 million (round numbers make the arithmetic result easier to type) to affordable housing, then the city needed to borrow another $4 million to fund Lansdowne 2.x. Now that council has decided to allocate 25%, they need to borrow another $10 million for Lansdowne ($6 million more). No more or less money arrived in the city bank account. The amount of money the city gets for the air rights is the only tangible measure. Everything else is just noise. And noise (virtue signals being a subset of noise) is the one thing that council is good at producing.

    That council as a whole doesn’t understand the limited value of their debates is not a surprise. Disappointing, but not surprising.

  5. Ron Benn says:

    To John, Valerie and all the others who were seeking a different result, keep in mind that this is just a variant of the old saying that it is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.

  6. Ken Gray says:

    Ron:

    In my experience that hasn’t always been true.

    cheers

    kgray

  7. The Voter says:

    First of all, I think that the LRT inquiry report should have been mandatory reading for anyone on Council, working in a councillor’s office or in the top four levels of any City department that had any involvement in the LRT process. There should then have been a test administered to see what they took from it and how deep their understanding was.

    I’m fairly confident in saying that there are those in the three groups whose reaction was that the problem was that they got caught and, next time, they need to be more careful. Others believe that Watson, Manconi and Kanellakos took the fall for it, it’s over and so everything should go back to the same-old same-old. Then there are the people who are wiping their brows saying “I’m glad it wasn’t me!” and going back to work. Some are thankful that they were not named although they knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it. Some genuinely had nothing to do with it and were unaware it was going on.

    Anyone who doesn’t see the moral and ethical transgressions listed in the report as wrong should be immediately relieved of their position.

    One of the realities of politics is the horse-trading that goes on behind the scenes. If you vote in favour of my motion today, I’ll support your position on issue X. I was struck by the speech that Councillor Carr gave to explain that her position was “No” but she’d be voting “Yes”. She sounded like she badly wanted to vote against Lansdowne but was searching for something. rational or not, that would allow her to do otherwise. She obviously found it because when it came her turn to vote, her opportunity to do what she knew was right, she flipped from her original stance and voted yes.

    It will be very interesting to watch what happens with the shelter being installed in the Heron Road Community Centre in her ward which requires that the community programming that was supposed to happen through the fall and winter be cancelled or moved. Could it be that some other location will be found for the shelter or, by some miracle, it will be discovered that the shelter and the programming can co-exist? Another Christmas miracle at City Hall! Or will it be the reward for holding her nose and voting for Lansdowne?

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