The Basic Unanswered Questions From Lansdowne (1)

News And Notes From The Standing Committee Meeting On Lansdowne (First of three parts)

Some questions arising from the finance and planning committee meeting concerning Lansdowne 2.0 on Thursday:

Why does the new arena, with three extra ice pads in addition to the major arena space, cost $80 million for the Olympiques major junior hockey team while the “event centre” at Lansdowne for the 67’s major junior hockey team costs about $250 million? The Gatineau arena holds 4,000 people while the Lansdowne event centre hold 5,500. So why does the event centre cost three times the amount of the Gatineau project which has four sports ice surfaces? The Gatineau arena also envisages a multi-sport synthetic surface, a physiotherapy centre, a sports retail outlet and two restaurants.

Why does Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group expect the public to believe its own purchased survey for Lansdowne which is released a day before the crucial Thursday committee meeting? Anyone can design a survey to make it get the answer it wants (even an “independent” one). In fact, you can make your own survey dance and sing the national anthem if you want.

Why is now the time to incur an extra $419 million of debt during a period of high interest rates that are putting homeowners and businesses in jeopardy?

The city manager Wendy Stephanson keeps saying that Lansdowne 1.0 made no money for the city. She knows, as the former chief financial officer for the city, why Lansdowne made no money for the city. That’s because it was never designed to make money for the city. The revenue from Lansdowne was capped at $1.5 million per year for the city if the project made money. However, that revenue was to be placed into a fund to repair city assets at Lansdowne. So the city got nothing for its massive costs at Lansdowne. In fact, the money to maintain city assets at Lansdowne came from the city and that money was given back to OSEG by council during the pandemic.

Stephanson calls the $419-million debt incurred by the city as an investment. No it isn’t. Lansdowne derives no pecuniary benefit for the city. The city assets are operated for the benefit of OSEG which paid no rent for them throughout Lansdowne 1.0. The city’s investment earned nothing. When the city gets its “rented” assets back from OSEG, it will be time to rebuild them. What value is an “asset” when it doesn’t appreciate in value and has only costs associated with it?

When Stephanson talks about millions of dollars of revenue from Lansdowne, she is only discussing the revenue accrued by OSEG. The city has derived no revenue from Lansdowne. Just costs.

Ken Gray



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