May 3, 2010
- John Sankey, President
- Alan Asselstine, Treasurer
- Peter Brimacombe, Secretary
- Fred McLennan
- Gisè1e Loiselle-Branch, Membership
- Liz Russell
- Jerry Beausoleil
- Maria McRae, Councillor
- Nichole Hoover, Assistant to the Councillor
- Frank Horgor
- Michael Tiger
- Martin Canning
Michael Tiger: He has followed the proposal to redevelop Lansdowne Park as a resident and a taxpayer who lives in the Glebe and has recently retired from Industry Canada. The Lansdowne Live proposal is faulty and represents a misuse of taxpayer’s funds on three major counts:
- the process to select the private group goes against all normal, open government procurement policies;
- transportation is grossly inadequate to service the development (both mass transit and parking); and
- the harmful financial impact on businesses in the Glebe and Ottawa South and the many negative impacts on the neighbourhood, given the scale of the project.
An international design competition for all of Lansdowne was approved by Council. It was cancelled after 8 months without explanation by the City Manager. Some months later, the current project was announced as an unsolicited sole-source venture by the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) led by Roger Greenberg, President of Minto. A project of this importance, dealing with a major city asset of 37.5 acres, should have a formal design competition to allow Council and citizens to consider various ideas and not just one proposal. On April 6, 2009, City Council considered two totally separate unsolicited proposals. One was by the Senators Sports & Entertainment Group (led by Eugene Melynk) for a 20,000 seat soccer stadium in Kanata next to ScotiaBank Place with 8,000 parking spots. The other was for the Lansdowne renewal project with only 2,200 parking spots.
The City Manager presented Council with additional Lansdowne options, including one that would require only $3.8 million per year for 10 years (or $38 million) to fix up the stadium and the arena and provide these facilities with another 30 years of useful life. Council decided not to pursue the Kanata soccer (and mixed use) proposal which was based upon splitting the $100 million costs between federal, provincial and municipal governments. Council decided to further explore the OSEG proposal. Under the OSEG proposal, the City will pay the entire cost ($129 million) for stadium renovations and some underground parking. Surprisingly, there are no Federal or Provincial funds, the most likely reason being that the project is sole-sourced. The current plan is to -hand control of the entire site to OSEG for at least 30 years. The City will provide OSEG with 10 acres of land for 30 years at no cost. On the 10 acres, OSEG will build a shopping complex of nearly 300,000 sq ft which is similar in size to Billings Bridge before its recent expansion. In addition, OSEG will build an office block, a hotel, a Cineplex, a condo tower and 40 town homes, all of which will be on public land provided rent free by the City for 30 years. These other projects will be provided with rental leases of 50 years renewable to 70 years.
A complex revenue sharing arrangement is being negotiated as part of the proposal. Because the City is providing the land, it is deemed to have equity of $20 million in the entire project ($2 million an acre).
Transportation to the new development and site parking is inadequate to deal with large crowds and major events. While people have attended events at Lansdowne for years, there has never been adequate parking at the site nor in the immediate neighbourhood. With the addition of a shopping complex and the growth in the city, ready access to Lansdowne will require mass transit. The proposal is to use distant satellite parking with shuttle buses. Major parking restrictions on various routes are planned for large events, such as football. Overall, there will not be easy access to the site. Most Canadian cities have built their stadiums next to mass transit. As an example, in Montreal, McGill Stadium is close to the Metro which can handle 20,000 people per hour. Toronto’s Skydome, Air Canada Centre, BC Place in Vancouver, Calgary are other examples. In Ottawa, the stadium and shopping complex will not be anywhere close to rapid transit nor are there plans to extend mass transit to Lansdowne. There are many other options which the City could have and should have considered; a solid transportation and parking plan are two vital missing elements.
Martin Canning: He is a member of the Friends of Lansdowne and he lives in Somerset Ward. He doesn’t like the look and feel of the OSEG plan. The provincial MPP Yasir Naqvi doesn’t like it either.
John Sankey: He is in touch with three councillors who oppose the OSEG plan: Alex Cullen, Diane Holmes and Clive Doucet.
Frank Horger: It seems that the developer always gets his own way.
Alan Asselstine: This case is different than most developments because it is the City and not the developer that owns the land.
Martin Canning: He loves football and lived in Saskatchewan which supports football with a population of only 1 million. Saskatchewan has built up its team over years before embarking on major retrofits to the stadium. You need to build the team first and then worry about a stadium second. The OSEG plan would add significant commercial space which would compete unfairly with established businesses in the area, all of whom had to purchase their land or pay rent to building owners who purchased their land.
Alan Asselstine: In the case of Scotia Bank Place, hockey was the bait to get the land rezoned. In the case of Lansdowne Park, sports is the bait for commercial development. The Hunt Club Community Association opposed the O Train because it does not provide efficient transportation. It looks like the people in the Glebe would like to have their own private park but this runs contrary to the need to have a denser more efficient city. The Lansdowne Live plan is a chance to revitalize the area with viable economic development. He went to a big soccer match at Lansdowne Park and everybody walked! Transportation was not a problem.
Peter Brimacombe : The former Councillor Wendy Stewart tried to promote Lansdowne Park but could not generate the income needed for major renovations. Lansdowne Park needs major renovations. Commercial and residential space must be built in the City core.
John Sankey: He thanked Michael Tiger and Martin Canning for their presentations.
Motion: To approve the March minutes, moved by Liz Russell, seconded by Alan Asselstine, carried.
John Sankey: In Uplands Park there is a sign right next to the play structures saying dogs are allowed.
Maria McRae: There will be signs posted in Owl Park. Maria then presented her report. City Staff are now requesting proposals for the construction of the Pathway. This Friday will mark the official opening of the Expanded Hunt Club-Riverside Park Community Centre.
Alan Asselstine: He is a member of a group that plays basketball in Holy Family gym. In the past the group was insured through the Hunt Club Recreational Association but it no longer exists. Alan would now like the group to be insured through the City-run Community Centre.
Maria McRae: The basketball group should continue and she will endeavor to make arrangements to insure the group through the City.
Next meeting: Monday, June 7 at 19:30