Reconstruction work begins at Lansdowne

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By Laura Mueller, EMC News

Council's approval of preliminary Lansdowne Park reconstruction work on May 8 marked the first time the city councillor for Capital Ward, where the park is located, didn't cast a dissenting vote.

That doesn't mean David Chernushenko is suddenly onside with the project, it's just that he has no opportunity left to withhold his support for the plans, since council has already given the go-ahead.

Chernushenko still questions the need to move the Horticulture Building, but since council already voted to approve that move and remove the building' heritage designation to do so, there is no point in objecting on a vote now, he said.

"This isn't about 'Should we move it,'" he said. "It's about 'Should we move it now,' and make cleaning up the soil a more efficient and thorough job and allow the restoration of the building to go ahead."

If the city doesn't get started on that work, it runs the risk of not improving the Horticulture Building at all if the project falls through.

"We'll have ... (it) spruced up and ready for use, albeit against good heritage principals of not moving it, but I couldn't get that part," Chernushenko said. Moving ahead with some pre-construction work required city council to approve advancing $12.6 million from the total $14 million from the Lansdowne project's budget. Since councillors unanimously approved that plan on May 8, some work can now move forward, including the demolition of the Coliseum Building, relocation of utilities and other work related to moving the Horticulture Building.

Approving preliminary construction work doesn't mean the Lansdowne Partnership Plan with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group has been finalized, however.

The pact with the group of Ottawa business leaders working with the city to redevelop the park still needs the final approval of council.

The city's finance and economic development committee and city council will receive the final legal agreements with a report in the next few months.

On April 30, three Ontario Superior Court judges agreed that the city's partnership with the OSEG doesn't constitute an illegal subsidy for a private business, rejecting the Friends of Lansdowne's legal appeal of the project.