Lansdowne’s In Trouble, Councillor Poll Reveals

 

In a surprising turn of events, a poll of councillors conducted by a reliable political source says that Ottawa City Council is at present strongly against approving Lansdowne 2.0.

The reason most often given by councillors was that they were unprepared to take on about $419 million of debt after the city had spent or has committed billions to a very troubled light-rail project.

The second reason, and this does not bode well for the immediate or long-term future of city-hall efficacy, was that many councillors don’t trust what they are being told by city staff. That has come about because of the lying and withholding of information by staff and senior politicians during the run-up and early implementation of light rail. All of that came out of the provincial light-rail inquiry that reported late last year. Many councillors feel they are seeing the same kind of actions in the Lansdowne machinations by staff that occurred with light rail.

Show Some Effort At Ottawa City Hall: THE VOTER

In fact the situation is so bad for Lansdowne that as of today at least, it looks as though Lansdowne might not even make it to council. Instead, it could die at committee before even being recommended to council. A special joint meeting of finance and planning committee slated for Nov. 2 shows 10 no votes to seven yes votes. Of the no votes, eight are strongly confirmed while two councillors are leaning no. Of the yes votes supporting Lansdowne, five are tentative no positions while only two are strongly confirmed.


Using both tentative and confirmed votes Lansdowne loses at committee if the poll is accurate. Interestingly of the 15 votes on committee, only two are strongly confirmed supporters of the new Lansdowne deal. So the Nov. 2 meeting is critical to the future of Lansdowne 2.0.

No is equally strong at council where 15 votes are likely while yes gets 10. Of the strongly confirmed votes on council, the no side has 11 while Lansdowne supporters have five.

All of this is surprising because long-time observers of Lansdowne presumed that, with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe strongly behind Lansdowne, a yes-side victory would be a slam dunk.

Now circumstances can change between now and Nov. 2 and Nov. 10, what with horse-trading and dealing behind the scenes, but at present the Lansdowne deal looks to be in jeopardy.

Of particular concern is that a large number of city councillors don’t trust their own public service.

That was not helped this week when new city manager Wendy Stephanson told the media that she thought her predecessor Steve Kanellakos was a “great” leader. Kanellakos was blasted by the provincial LRT inquiry for his light rail actions including withholding information from city council.

If Lansdowne fails, it means Sutcliffe is badly weakened. One of his main planks in last year’s election campaign was going forward with Lansdowne 2.0.

Ken Gray

 

Incorrect information appeared earlier in this post. In fact, the cost of Lansdowne 2.0 is $419 million.

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5 Responses

  1. Richard says:

    Good news in Ottawa, for once. Contact your councillor to reinforce the message . . no more money for OSEG and Landsdowne 2.0 or any other 2.*

  2. Ron Benn says:

    Councillors don’t trust staff to provide objective, complete reports? I’m shocked. Seriously! Why did it take this long?

  3. Michael Vickers says:

    It’s clear Sutcliffe is worried. He was door-knocking on my street in the Glebe on Friday afternoon, looking for any support that he could point to. And indeed, he tried to do so.

    However, the blonde smiling lady in the first picture – one of my neighbours – said to me of Sutcliffe “He seemed kind of limp overall.” The older lady – another neighbour, who lives right next to the QED – I expect would probably prefer not to have all that traffic right outside her front door.

    And when I told him that I was opposed to a number of his policies – Lansdowne, QED, his poor performance on LRT, and the his austerity budget – he simply crossed his arms and the convivial fellow in casual dress that he has presented himself as, disappeared.

  4. The Voter says:

    Michael,

    I fear Sutcliffe is coming up against the realization that being mayor isn’t the bed of roses that he might have been led to believe it would be when he signed up for the gig. He’s learning now what anyone going into the job with some prior experience as a councillor would have already known before they tossed their hat into the ring. Perhaps he should have talked to Larry O’Brien, the last ‘outsider’ mayor, to find out what it was really like.

    First of all, not everyone is going to agree with you. You may need a pretty thick skin to deal with the disagreements and even attacks that will come your way. Obviously, from your encounter with him, he hasn’t managed that yet, even on a preliminary level.

    Second, you need to know your stuff inside out and back-to-front. That means that you not only have to know your own side of the argument but the other side as well. That way, you can be prepared to discuss someone else’s position and, if possible, rebut the points of their arguments. In the course of doing that, you have to make sure that you’re open to the chance that your position may be, in whole or in part, wrong and you need to be able to admit that and change your stance.

    You also need to question not only the validity of your information but also its source. What interest do the people you’re talking to have in telling you the things you will then base your decision on? If they are not completely neutral, then you need to seek out information that will balance what you’re being told. You also have to look closely at who the people are that are feeding you info. Are they experts in the field and where are they getting their info?

    Sutcliffe has been caught out a few times already being unprepared for what’s coming at him. Maybe it’s time he steps back to look at how information is coming to him and from whom. He has people around him who know the ins and outs of city hall but he should be certain that they aren’t so firmly members of the Old Guard that their political knowledge should be listed with an asterisk next to it.

    He also needs to learn that positions you took on the campaign trail before you had all the information can be modified or even dropped when you discover that they a) aren’t the will of the people and/or b) don’t hold water. A good politician knows when it’s time to admit a mistake and move on from it.

    Let’s see if Sutcliffe has it in him to do the right thing. He’s got three more years to go and it’s not going to get any easier.

  5. Brian Tansey says:

    if what it takes for several Councillors to do their homework and be skeptical ( when there are sooo many signs they ought to be ) is simply previous debacles ( LRT ++) piling up then fine. But it’s still worrisome that many simply don’t do their homework and are not able to stay neutral until they do understand what’s what about a given issue

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