Escapade defies doubters with few medical emergencies, noise complaints

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Outdoor stage at Lansdowne Park shut down Sunday because of storms

CBC News

The Escapade music festival at Lansdowne Park went off relatively smoothly, despite concerns about drug use and noise in the buildup to the event.

However, severe thunder caused a bit of a scramble on Sunday when the main outdoor stage was shut down, although none of the main acts had to cancel.

Paramedics said 18 partygoers were treated during the two-night festival, and 10 of those cases were related to drugs and alcohol.

Two people overdosed on ecstasy and the sedative GHB, while another slipped and broke their leg, according to paramedics.

Michael Latimer of the Ottawa Paramedic Service told CBC News Sunday that those numbers suggest that there were fewer issues than they had anticipated.

None of the patients treated was in life-threatening condition, and responders did not have to use naloxone, a medication used to treat opiate overdose.

Concerns had been mounting because of an increase in overdoses in the city, especially with prom and festival season now underway.

For the first time in the festival's history, Ottawa police were on hand with what they call a "drug amnesty" box, where attendees could discard their drugs, no questions asked.

"It was a success, they did have some stuff that was dropped off anonymously before people entered the festival grounds," said Ali Shafaee, the festival's director of partnerships.

Organizers of the festival estimated that they spent about $200,000 on safety and security measures for the event.

Noise an issue for some

Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko said he personally received 10 to 12 noise complaints from residents of Old Ottawa South, but the noise stayed within what's allowed under city bylaws.

"I heard from a number of immediate neighbours who weren't happy, we've certainly had louder [events] but several found it louder than they'd play their home sound systems with the windows closed, was how they described it," he said.

City considers relaxing noise restrictions for Lansdowne Park events

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Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen

Lansdowne Park could rock until 1 a.m. on weekends if the city approves recommended changes to the noise bylaw for events.

The city has been studying several elements of its noise bylaw since 2015 and it’s getting closer to making suggestions to council.

One of the proposals involves noise created during special events, and specifically the activities at Lansdowne Park and the Canadian Tire Centre. An online public consultation is ongoing.

Both properties do a good job of managing noise issues, the city says. When noise happens, it’s usually after an event when people are going somewhere else.

To make sure there are bylaw resources to crack down on noise in residential neighbourhoods, the city wants to push the noise exemption to 1 a.m. for events at Lansdowne Park and the Canadian Tire Centre on Friday and Saturday, and also on Monday if it’s a statutory holiday. On other days, the noise cutoff would stay at 11 p.m.

The proposal “recognizes the cultural and economic benefits of special events programming,” the city says.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko, who represents the Glebe and Old Ottawa South, wasn’t available for comment Tuesday.

DND issues jet warning to avoid repeat of Redblacks fly-by freak-out

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 Football fans, nearby residents complained last year's fly-by took them by surprise

A CF-18 Hornet like this one will fly over TD Place on Aug. 25, 2016, to mark the annual Ottawa Redblacks appreciation game for the Canadian Armed Forces. (Staff Sgt. Perry Aston/HO-U.S. Air Force/Canadian Press)

CBC News

If you're going to this Thursday's Ottawa Redblacks game — or simply live near TD Place — don't let that evening's scheduled fighter jet fly-by freak you out..

At around 7:30 p.m., a CF-18 Hornet will roar over the stadium to mark the Canadian Armed Forces appreciation game, the Department of National Defence said in a statement Tuesday.

Both the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Ottawa Redblacks' ownership group issued apologies following last year's fly-by, after some rattled residents in the Glebe and Old Ottawa South — along with some startled football fans — complained they weren't properly notified and didn't know what was happening.

This year, the fighter jet will fly over TD Place "at an altitude no lower than 500 feet above the highest point of its route," the department said.

Once it's passed by, the jet will return to higher altitudes and return to base at 3 Wing in Bagotville, Que.

The Redblacks will be taking on the B.C. Lions, who are in second place in the CFL's West Division, on Thursday night.

Residents still fighting Lansdowne's massive TD billboard

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Tim Leah has been fighting to get the TD Bank logo removed from the RedBlacks stadium, saying it's a "blight" on the heritage landscape of the canal. EMMA JACKSON/METRO

The bright green TD Bank logo on the back of Lansdowne stadium conforms to all the city's rules, but residents say it's a "blight" on the heritage landscape.

By Emma Jackson, Metro

Appalling. Atrocious. Offensive.

Those are just some of the adjectives residents have attached to the massive green TD Bank logo on the backside of the RedBlacks stadium.

It’s a blight, they say, on the heritage landscape of the canal: a “knife in the eye” for visitors and locals trying to enjoy the paths and waterway that run through Old Ottawa South, according to John Dance, who has been trying to remove the sign since it was installed in 2014.

“You won’t go along the whole 200 kilometre length of the canal and see anything so atrocious as that,” said Dance.

TD owns the naming rights to the stadium at Lansdowne Park where the Ottawa RedBlacks, Ottawa 67s, and Ottawa Fury play.

After two years, Dance is still fighting for change.

“If we want to retain that UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for the Rideau Canal, it has to come down, or be severely modified,” Dance said.

He has asked Capital Coun. David Chernushenko to raise the issue with his council colleagues.

According to Dance, the 36 square-metre billboard has no business there.

It’s only 50 metres from the Queen Elizabeth Parkway, when the city’s own sign bylaws dictate billboards should be 500 metres back.

But, Lansdowne has its own sign rules – council approved a detailed plan in 2012 - and the billboard complies with every one of them, said the city's urban design manager John Smit.

Doesn’t matter, said Dance.

“It’s still not appropriate for its proximity to a heritage site,” he said. “When you’re walking along that beautiful canal, what dominates the viewscape is that TD sign.”

He’s not the only hater.

Old Ottawa South resident Tim Leah has sent his share of letters to TD Bank, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), and city councillors.

“It just grates on me every time I go by, and I’m sure it grates on a lot of people,” he said.

Both Dance and Leah feel the community wasn’t properly consulted.

Lansdowne’s wayfinding plan was included as part of site plan consultations in 2010, Smit said, and residents could address the issue at planning committee in June 2012.

But since the billboard itself conformed to the plan, it was “not subject to public consultation,” Smit said.

OSEG’s Graeme Ivory said the sign is compliant, but “we are always open to discussing any matter” with the community.

Lansdowne Park has limits as city works on facility occupancy rate

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The city isn't convinced spending about $1 million to install air conditioning in the revamped Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park would be a good investment. JANA CHYTILOVA / OTTAWA CITIZEN


Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen

A non-competition agreement with the EY Centre prevents the city from pursuing trade shows for Lansdowne Park, whose city-run buildings had just over half of the rental times booked in 2015.

It’s one of the barriers to maximizing rental space in the Horticulture Building and the Aberdeen Pavilion.

The deal to keep trade shows away from Lansdowne was struck when the city partnered with Shenkman Corp. to build the exposition hall near the Ottawa International Airport. The city contributed $8.5 million to the facility, which the city believed was necessary to bring trade shows to Ottawa when Lansdowne was redeveloped.

EY Centre president Kevin McCrann said the facility hasn’t had to enforce the non-competition agreement with the city over trade shows.

“The majority of the time there is no issue,” McCrann said, adding that the new Lansdowne isn’t exactly conducive to trade shows.

A spokesman for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group said TD Place isn’t in the trade show business, anyway. (The city runs the Aberdeen Pavilion and Horticulture Building. OSEG runs TD Place.) The trade show space in the “salons” of the old Civic Centre became commercial space in the TD Place redevelopment.

RedBlacks to build forest at Trim park-and-ride

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The Ottawa Redblacks announced on July 5 that every touchdown the team scores will be converted to trees at Trim Park and Ride. The partnership with the city aims to create a Redblacks forest. Michelle Nash Baker/METROLAND

By Michelle Nash Baker, Metro Community News

This football season touchdowns are going to be a little greener in Ottawa.

Since the Ottawa RedBlacks hit the field in 2014, the Canadian Football League team has cut down a tree and cut individual log slices — called cookies — every time the team scores a touchdown, and gives them to community members as souvenirs.

Now in an effort to go full circle, the team announced on July 5 it would also plant a tree for every touchdown.

"This initiative adds a new dimension to our touchdown story and extends it to the entire community,” said Bernie Ashe, chief executive officer of Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the company that owns the team.

Ashe said the cookies are symbols of excellence to community heroes.

"Now we’re creating a forest of trees for the future,” he said.

Last year the team scored 35 touchdowns. Ashe said he didn’t think it was unreasonable to be able to plant 35 to 40 trees after this season.

City environment committee chairman and Capital Coun. David Chernushenko said the initiative is a fun idea.

“Climate change and deforestation is serious but that doesn’t mean we always have to be serious about helping it,” Chernushenko said.

The RedBlacks have partnered with the city to create its RedBlacks Forest at the Trim Road park-and-ride in Orleans. The location was picked by the city as a thank you to all the Orleans football fans who take transit for the CFL games.

Each tree will cost around $100 Ashe said, which OSEG will cover. Ashe said he thinks it’s an area that could stand to gain a few trees.

“We think this is a really cool way to give back,” Ashe said. “I’m looking forward to growing a forest in my community.”

Chernushenko agreed.

“The symbolism is fabulous and I’m looking forward to expanding the initiative beyond Trim,” Chernushenko said.

The trees will vary in species and will be planted in the fall of 2016 or the spring of 2017, as weather permits.

Lansdowne Park posts another loss despite rising revenues

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Expect 'normalized operations' by 2017-18, CEO tells city finance committee

By Hillary Johnstone, CBC News

Nearly all of the retail and residential space at Lansdowne is now occupied, according to Roger Greenberg, executive chair of OSEG and Minto.
Lansdowne Park posted a loss of $985,000 in 2015, a significant improvement from its $11-million operating deficit in 2014, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group reported to Ottawa's finance and economic development committee Tuesday.

OSEG CEO Bernie Ashe told the committee Lansdowne is still in "startup mode," and has not yet realized "the full potential of the site" in terms of the number of events it hosts and leasing revenue from retailers.

Despite the loss, revenues are rising, according to OSEG; Lansdowne pulled in more than $40 million in 2015, compared to less than $25 million in 2014.

The group pegged its short-term revenue projections for Lansdowne at $50 million per year.

"We're not where we want to be yet. There are still improvements that we can undertake," Roger Greenberg, executive chair of OSEG, told CBC News.

"But certainly the direction from 2014 to 2015, and into 2016, is very positive."

Majority of retail, residential space now leased or sold

Greenberg, who is also executive chair of Minto, said 97 per cent of the retail space at Lansdowne has been leased, while only half a dozen of the approximately 155 condo units at Minto's The Rideau tower remain unsold.

OSEG CEO Bernie Ashe said he expects Lansdowne Park to achieve 'normalized operations' by 2017-18. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

According to the report presented to the committee Tuesday, both the Vibe condo building at the northwest corner of the site and the 48 townhomes along Holmwood Avenue are fully occupied.

Minto also owns five floors of office space at Lansdowne, but only two of them have been leased, according to Greenberg.  

Ashe said he expects Lansdowne to achieve "normalized operations" by 2017-2018, which will then lead to "operating profitability at OSEG, and on the entire site."

At Tuesday's committee meeting, several city councillors and Mayor Watson told OSEG how pleased they are with Lansdowne's progress.  

"There were a lot of doom and gloom critics that thought … the sky was going to fall down when we went ahead with Lansdowne," said Watson.

"But it's actually turned out to be a good deal financially. It's a good deal to bring life back to that site, because it was a pretty decrepit site for decades."

More jet power coming for Lansdowne Park water plaza

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The city wants to turn up the jets at the water plaza in Lansdowne Park. JULIE OLIVER / OTTAWA CITIZEN 

Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen

Lansdowne Park’s water play area is getting more jet power.

Parks and recreation head Dan Chenier said Tuesday the city will increase the power of the jets at the water plaza, which features streams of water lightly jumping out of the ground next to a beacon.

Chenier said the city also wants to add “toys” to the water plaza for kids to play with.

Work is expected in August.

The city has been trying to keep the playing to the part of the water plaza with the jets, since the beacon is really a piece of art called Uplift made of granite and brushed stainless steel. Keeping kids off the artwork has been futile since it’s attractive as a play structure.

Council’s finance and economic development committee received an update on the operations at Lansdowne and the city’s partnership with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.

A common challenge for the city and OSEG is mitigating the sounds that come from Lansdowne activities and the various speaker systems.

The sounds of Lansdowne is a delicate issue. Music is bleeding between restaurants. Concerts are bugging some Glebe residents. Receptions in the Horticulture Building are keeping neighbours up at night.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko defended neighbours who complain about the noise.

“We do like fun, just not until 2 a.m. every morning,” Chernushenko said.

Chenier said the city is still learning about how the sound travels from Lansdowne. There is a review ongoing and the city is assessing mitigation techniques, he said.

OSEG CEO Bernie Ashe said Lansdowne is still in “start-up” mode, even with most of the condo units and retail spaces filled up. The company is still trying to lease offices.

“Normalized operations” at Lansdowne will happen in 2017-2018, Ashe said.

The new air conditioning system is now at full capacity in TD Place arena. On June 18 fans sweltered watching UFC matches because only 60 per cent of the air conditioning had been installed.

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City stands to make $32 million from Lansdowne Park deal

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Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen

Months after it appeared extra costs at Lansdowne Park had wiped out the possibility of the city turning a profit on the project, a report released Tuesday shows Ottawa now stands to earn more than $30 million.

The Lansdowne Partnership Plan annual report outlines the park’s financial performance for 2015, a year that saw the Ottawa Redblacks make it to the Grey Cup and an influx of new restaurants and retailers open.

Revenue in 2015 increased 72 per cent over 2014 to $43 million, including an increase of $4.7 million from TD Place and $11.5 million from retail.

Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) still reported a deficit of about $985,000 last year, but it was much smaller than the $11 million operating loss in 2014.

The long-term outlook has also improved since the last update.

Total payments over the 30-year partnership are now estimated to be $457 million, compared to last year’s estimate of $424 million.

The city is now set to receive $32 million, compared to last year’s estimate of zero.

OSEG says the reason for this increase is the agreement city council made last fall to guarantee $24 million to OSEG to settle an outstanding dispute over costs to fix the stadium and Ottawa Civic Centre.

The report says 2.5 million people visited Lansdowne in 2015. The equivalent of 1,000 full-time jobs have been created at the park, including 375 with OSEG.

The retail district is now 97 per cent leased and all major tenants are in place. Active marketing efforts are underway to lease the remaining three floors of the office tower, OSEG says.

The finance committee will discuss the report at its July 5 meeting.

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If you don’t find the information you need on these pages, please visit, or to contact the City directly by email at newlansdowne@ottawa.caor by calling 3-1-1 (press 1 for English, then 5 for the Lansdowne line). If necessary, you may also contact the project manager, Marco Manconi, at 613-580-2424 ext. 43229, or by email.