OPEN LETTER: Leiper’s Lansdowne Position Condemned

This is an open letter from community activist J.P. Unger concerning a statement by Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper on his Lansdowne position:

Dear Councillor Leiper,

I just read and was very surprised and disappointed to see in your latest newsletter, with regards to the “Lansdowne 2.0” proposal, that you say:

” I consider this to absolutely be an appropriate place for height and density as well as more retail amenities. I’m less concerned than some by transportation considerations…”

First and foremost: No, it’s absolutely an inappropriate place! It’s a park -the central park of Ottawa, land donated for that specific purpose. The fact that developers have already been taking large pieces and the City is starved for revenue does not make it appropriate at all.

I also found it surprisingly condescending and disrespectful of current and future residents of the area that you are “less concerned” by the transportation problems they would face for the foreseeable future, essentially saying just suffer it “until we make grown-up choices” on transit and active transportation. 

For a large part of the population, particularly for the aging population and the generation of our parents, private vehicles and taxis are not a choice but a costly necessity, given mobility and climate limitations, and the state of transit -which is a result of choices made by the City you are a leading member of. 

Your comments also beg the question: why are you not advocating for many more high-rises with even taller heights in your own ward? After all, much of Hintonburg, for example, is already a “great, walkable neighbourhood” as you say befits much higher density, and located between the LRT, major bus lines, bike and multi-use paths. 

But perhaps most importantly, I am deeply concerned that neither you nor the Mayor or any other councillor seems to be questioning the most basic premise underlying the Lansdowne 2.0 proposal: why should the City be owning, fixing and funding a stadium and arena meant to be used by private professional sport and entertainment businesses? 

It’s akin to saying that our cash-strapped City should build, fix and own shopping malls, so that we can help Zara, Apple and other wealthy companies make their businesses more profitable.  

I take no pride in the fact that at the February 2019 FEDCO meeting discussing the LRT Stage 2 vote, and then again by email before the full Council vote that followed, I warned all councillors (including those re-elected and on copy here) that counting on 30 years of gas tax revenue to fund the expected $4+ billion in debt should be avoided and would be a financial disaster -noting that the gas tax revenue would shrink significantly within 15 years from the switch to hybrid and electric vehicles or disappear altogether anytime by decision of a higher level of government (as it did just a few weeks later). No doubt this is why we now find the City counterproductively creating and raising all kinds of fees and taxes, changing sensible zonings to allow extra-tall high-rises even if they are in floodplains, and selling “air rights” and our most precious public places regardless -but I don’t see anyone acknowledging it, just rationalizing and diverting the discussion to “density” and “housing crisis”.

Similarly I say and ask you now, to please avoid and get rid of this gigantic financial sinkhole being considered, and stop the madness of having City-owned professional sport business arenas and stadiums. Sell them off, or even better, demolish them soon instead of having incredibly onerous refurbishments to extend their lifespan, and have private businesses specialized in such projects and venues fund new ones.


Juan Pedro (J.P.) Unger



Lansdowne: So Many Reasons To Vote No: BENN

Anti-Lansdowne 2.0 Forces Expert At Lobbying

Lansdowne Plan Includes Inverted Bathtub: RUBIN

Ottawans Must Take Back Their City Gov’t: QUOTABLE




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1 Response

  1. John Langstone says:

    Jeff is, ““less concerned” by the transportation problems they would face for the foreseeable future, essentially saying just suffer it “until we make grown-up choices” on transit and active transportation.” Jeff sees the REDBLACKS fan base cycling to games now? Tailgate parties to saddlebag parties indeed.

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