A Personal Update on the Redevelopment of Lansdowne Park
Perhaps the most hotly-debated issue in city politics over the past four years has been the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park. It has occupied a large part of my time and energy – and that of my staff— and with good reason. How the city chooses to redevelop Lansdowne Park says a great deal about how we view and value public spaces, how we make decisions in this city, and how a community is engaged in civic affairs.
On August 25, Council voted by an overwhelming majority of 21-2 (only Councillor Diane Holmes joined me in dissenting) to adopt several key reports, including:
- Lansdowne Partnership Plan Implementation Status Update;
- Request for Offers Process – Lease or Sale of Air Rights at Lansdowne Park; and
- Horticulture Building – Conservation Review Board Recommendations
At the meeting, it was re-confirmed by Council that there is a strong desire to move forward with the Lansdowne Partnership Plan, that the potential sale of air rights on public land is acceptable, which for me it is not and that the Horticulture Building be de-designated and moved - contrary to the recommendations of the Ontario Conservation Review Board.
Though this result was disappointing to me and to many in Capital Ward as well as across the city, it cannot have come as a surprise. In my first few months in office, I made a point of speaking to the Mayor and as many of my fellow councillors as possible to determine where they stood on this project and the financial deal. I wanted to share with them my concerns, determine what reservations they might have and explore if or how they might be persuaded to either halt this process or fundamentally reshape how the city goes about redeveloping Lansdowne Park.
My conclusion was disappointing, though not entirely unexpected, given the public positions taken by so many of both the returning and newly elected councillors. Of the 23 members of Council plus Mayor Watson, a mere four (including myself) showed any interest in revisiting the matter. No amount of questioning by outside groups, lobbying by me or new “evidence” that seemed to weaken the case for this project moved them from their positions.
This left me with a fundamental choice to make. I could expend an enormous amount of energy trying to shift them in the hopes of getting the votes needed to reopen this matter, now knowing that it would be futile, or I could put that same energy into improving the agreement, the future governance, the actual content of what would be built at Lansdowne Park, and the transportation systems.
I chose the latter, and am convinced it was the right choice given the facts in front of me.
So, as our city government now moves to finalize the LPP, I feel it is important to report on what I have done and will do to bring about changes and improvements:
1. As a member of the Lansdowne Design Review Panel (LDRP), I have pushed for and achieved changes to building heights and mass, improvements to the design of buildings, greater prominence for the Aberdeen Pavilion, reduced prominence for cars and improved prominence of and infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, and a high level of sustainable design including resource efficiencies and materials choices. With my three LDRP colleagues, I will continue to insist on the highest quality of design for the mixed use zone (retail and commercial as well as residential), the new stadium and public spaces. We will continue to work towards the best design possible under the budget and conditions approved by Council in November 2010, and will only grant approvals when we are convinced we have done everything we can. I will also ensure that the signage plan for Lansdowne is respectful of neighbouring residents.
2. As the ward councillor chairing the Bank Street Reconstruction Advisory Committee, I have worked with the Glebe Community Association, the Glebe BIA and Citizens for Safe Cycling, as well as city staff and consultants, to improve cycling infrastructure and pedestrian safety on Bank Street fronting Lansdowne Park, as well as creating new lanes and turning areas for bicycles within the Lansdowne Park precinct. We have also worked very hard and collaboratively to ensure that the reconstruction of Bank Street will be completed quickly so as to renew and refresh this important main street and put local merchants in a better position to deal with the competition that is slated for Lansdowne Park.
3. As a councillor with a desire to see Lansdowne Park become a greener, healthier place for recreation and culture, I have provided input to the designers of the new park areas to ensure that local residents (and visitors from further afield) will have more opportunity to engage in passive and active recreation and cultural pursuits at a redeveloped Lansdowne Park.
4. At the August 18 meeting of the Finance and Economic Development Committee (of which I am not a voting member) and then at the August 25 meeting of Council, I asked many questions regarding the financial and legal agreements and called for greater clarity and transparency. I argued for the importance of respecting heritage designations and fulfilling existing commitments. I also defended the right (and indeed value) of public interest groups to take the City to court on important points of public interest, and called on my colleagues to defend this important element of a vibrant democracy. Concretely, I helped to get a commitment that all reports and studies would and will be made available to the public in a timely manner, and that final approval on any agreements will be retained by Council, not delegated to the city manager.
5. I will also be mindful of the need for the city to abide by the Ontario Municipal Board Minutes of Settlement with respect to the re-zoning of Lansdowne for the “Holmwood Group”, the Glebe and Old Ottawa South Community Associations and the Glebe Business Improvement Area.
I represent a diverse ward in a diverse city. I often hear from constituents and those outside of Capital Ward who do not support the project as a whole, or are opposed to some aspects of it. But I also hear from those who do support it, whether with reservations or out of resignation, or whether in the belief that it will be a significant improvement over what currently stands at Lansdowne Park. I must and I do listen to everyone.
In the end, though, I remain unconvinced that this is the best project for Ottawa, and that we should simply move forward because it’s better than doing nothing (which is, of course, not the real alternative). For this reason, I will be working hard in the months ahead to make any and all changes and improvements possible, and I will continue to point out the flaws that can and should be corrected.
Revitalization of Bank Street in Old Ottawa South
You are invited to attend a meeting regarding the revitalization of Bank Street in Old Ottawa South, hosted by Councillor David Chernushenko.
When: Sunday, September 25th from 3:30 - 6:30pm
Where: Southminster United Church, 7 Galt Street (Parlour Room, 2nd Floor)
What does the future hold for Bank Street in Old Ottawa South, “between the bridges”? Why has this section of Bank not yet achieved its full potential? What will it take to build a vibrant “high street” for Old Ottawa South, and what are you prepared to do about it? These are the kinds of questions Councillor Chernushenko will be asking when he hosts a community visioning session on Sunday, September 25th from 3:30 to 6:30pm at the Southminster United Church on Galt Street. Please watch www.capitalward.ca for further details or subscribe to Capital Ward News to keep up on this and other community issues and events.
Bank Street Community Design Plan (Bank St. South of the Rideau River)
The Bank Street Community Design Plan is now in its final stages. The study area includes the Bank Street corridor from the Rideau River in the North to Ledbury Park in the South. The final open house is expected to be held at the end of September (date and location to be determined). The final report is expected to be presented to the City of Ottawa Planning Committee at the beginning of December.
Background: Bank Street South of the Rideau River is expected to experience significant growth over the next 20 years. Already a bottleneck for through-traffic from the South end of the city, City staff and urban planners are attempting to redesign the arterial main street in a manner that would encourage alternative modes of transportation, such as walking, cycling, and using public transit. Zoning is also a large focus of this study. The aim is to encourage residential, commercial, and very minimal light industrial development that would ultimately allow residents to live, work, and play in the area.
Reconstruction of Bank Street in the Glebe - Open House
Residents are invited to attend a Bank Street Reconstruction Open House:
Date: Wednesday, September 21
Time: 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Location: Ecclesiax Church, 2 Monk Street at Fifth Avenue in the Glebe (in the Sanctuary)
Councillor Chernushenko will be in attendance along with City staff, project consultants and members of the Bank Street Reconstruction Advisory Committee (which includes representatives from the Glebe Community Association) to answer your questions and provide up-to-date illustrations and information on the project, including streetscaping.
Coffee, tea and light refreshments will be served. All are welcome.
Old Ottawa East Community Design Plan
I am very happy to report that the Old Ottawa East Community Design Plan was unanimously passed by City Council last week.
This is a milestone for Old Ottawa East as we can now look forward to the revitalization of Main Street, the integration into the community of new neighbourhoods on what are now mostly vacant lands, and the creation of pedestrian-friendly community spaces and paths.
I also believe it’s an important milestone for the City of Ottawa in terms of how communities plan their own future with the help and support of stakeholders of all types. The amazing results OOE obtained speak volumes about the manner in which everyone, including the community association, the Planning Department, the land owners, the developers, and the various advisors worked cooperatively and together to create a very promising vision for Old Ottawa East.
I want to congratulate everyone for arriving at a vision that puts us on the path to a community that will be more vibrant and sustainable, while accommodating our lengthy and important heritage.
Check Your Route - Major Changes Are Coming to OC Transpo
Beginning Sunday, September 4th, there will be major route changes to OC Transpo.
OC Transpo is encouraging residents to get ready for the September service changes with a “check your route” campaign.
www.checkyourroute.ca was created to help the public to review route changes, plan trips and gather information on the new system. This resource provides advance-route planning and schedule information so customers can easily use OC Transpo services in the lead up to September 4, and beyond.
Residents are able to access the updated Travel Planner from both the checkyourroute.ca and OC Transpo websites, which provides a 60-day view of every bus route. Further, through “Mobi”, OC Transpo’s new mobile application, residents can easily plan their routes using their smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.
Advertisements, as well as new maps and schedules have been placed at bus stops and stations across the City, as well as through the regular channels such as octranspo.com, sales centres, City Hall, Client Service Centres, libraries and OC Transpo customer service (613-741-4390).
There will also be a number of OC Transpo personnel at Transit stations across the City during the first week of the service change to help customers navigate the new system.
This campaign has been designed to ensure that all transit users are aware and prepared for the changes taking place on September 4.
Saturday, September 17, 2011 10am - 5pm
Carleton University Fieldhouse, Bronson Avenue, Ottawa
Free Admission and Parking
Join us for this one day environmental exhibition featuring displays from small and large businesses, government and non-profit organizations in the Ottawa community. Find out how you can help the planet, save money and improve your health by learning more about local food, nature, transportation, energy, lifestyle, home and garden, mom’s and babies, health and wellness and more!
Featuring over 125 Exhibits; Cooking demonstrations; Local wine and beer tastings and Children's Eco-Carnival;
In addition to the cooking demonstrations, the Ottawa Eco-Fair will again offer a 100-mile Lunch featuring food from local producers and suppliers that had visitors raving at last year’s EcoFair!
An informative and fun-filled day for the whole family to enjoy!
For more information about the Ottawa Eco-Fair go to www.ottawaecofair.ca
Contact: Jill Sturdy
Coordinator, Ottawa EcoFair
including street and sidewalk maintenance, garbage pickup, recycling and by-law enforcement.