City staff ask for more authority in Lansdowne approvals

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By Alex Boutilier, Metro

Given tight timelines for the construction of Lansdowne Park, Ottawa's city manager is looking for more authority to execute deals with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.

The authority, if approved, would give City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick the ability to directly sign off on matters relating to the Lansdowne Partnership Plan.

In a report due before the city's finance and economic development committee Tuesday, staff note the authority would only extend to provisions already contained within the legal agreement between the city and OSEG. Any proposed changes to that agreement would still require committee and council approval.

That same report indicates construction at the Lansdowne Park redevelopment is as scheduled and on budget. The report also recommends Minto Communities construct retail sections under its residential buildings, as well as the office building.

"OSEG notes that it is preferable from cost, engineering, construction and warranty perspectives to have one contractor instead of two different contractors build these portions of the retail base buildings and the residential and office buildings above them," the report states. "Minto would earn a fee for the construction of these retail base buildings but the city has received assurances from Minto that the fee being earned is at or below current market rates for equivalent services."

Minto's CEO, Roger Greenberg, is a partner at OSEG. The city's finance and economic development committee is scheduled to discuss the matter Tuesday morning.

Lansdowne Park: A study in exceptions to the rule

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By Steve Collins, Metro Ottawa

It will bring little joy to long-suffering neighbours, but granting construction crews at Lansdowne Park an exemption from noise bylaws, allowing work to continue around the clock when needed, fits a well-established pattern. The park's redevelopment has been a study in exceptions, advice rejected and rules bent.

The cancellation of a competitive bid process in favour of a sole-sourced deal with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group set the tone — and fuelled lawsuits from Friends of Lansdowne, a residents' group opposed to the redevelopment, and the Lansdowne Park Conservancy, whose competing proposal would have kept the park in public hands but didn't get a serious look.

Friends of Lansdowne, for their part, were threatened with a change in policy that would allow the city to go after the citizens' association for legal costs. Last year, city lawyers grew impatient with the court's deliberations in the case and wrote a rather unusual letter asking when a decision might be expected.

Time and again, city officials have pleaded the urgency of the redevelopment and looming deadlines to justify cutting the odd procedural corner. Often, those deadlines seemed largely self-inflicted.

Take the snap vote council took to authorize $400,000 for a bid on two FIFA events, the under-20 Women's World Cup in 2014 and the Women's World Cup in 2015. Impending deadlines, we were told, meant the money was needed right away, and once the bids went ahead, we'd need the new venue in which to host them, stat.

The benefits of hosting such major-league events aren't seriously in doubt, but booking them into a nonexistent stadium? Possibly a bit rash.

As events shook out, the under-20 World Cup won't take place here in 2014, so now the replacement exigency is the need to have everything in place for North American Soccer League and Canadian Football League teams next year.

Next year will also, incidentally, be an election year, which might be the best explanation for all the hustle.

Lansdowne's Horticulture Building, which will turn 100 in 2014, stood in the way of planned retail space and underground parking. So we uprooted and relocated it in a rather impressive feat of engineering that nonetheless contravened the advice of the city's heritage advisory committee and the provincial Conservation Review Board, who were of the staid opinion that the historic building should stay in its historic location. Terribly sorry, exceptional circumstances, etc.

The question, after all these exceptions, is whether we'll end up with something truly exceptional at Lansdowne Park. The city and OSEG and the sun-dappled conceptual drawings assure us we will.

Late-night construction at Lansdowne approved

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Concrete pouring work also approved at former convent site

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CBC News

Ottawa city council has approved a motion to extend construction hours at Lansdowne Park and the site of a former convent in Westboro.

The motion will allow construction crews at Lansdowne Park to work as late as 1 a.m. for concrete pouring, three to four times a month.

It is work that must be done all at once and continuously, because of limited manpower, according to councillor Steve Desroches.

The motion also allows for work crews to work past 1 a.m. in rare cases when they need to work later, but the city's project manager for Lansdowne said any overnight work would be limited to finishing work.

Capital Ward councillor David Chernushenko, who represents residents living near the Lansdowne construction, dissented with the motion. He said he hoped work like this is a last resort, and said he hoped residents continue to get enough warning.

Chernushenko says he found out about the Lansdowne construction hour change yesterday, and said most area residents are likely learning of it today.

The motion also allows for construction at 114 Richmond Road, the site of the former Sisters of the Visitation convent, to go all night until May, then until 2 a.m. through the end of August.

Lansdowne, Westboro convent construction exempted from late-night noise bylaws

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By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Massive construction projects at Lansdowne Park and at a former convent on Richmond Road just got a little worse for nearby residents: City council gave builders permission Wednesday for noisy concrete work at both sites to run late into the night.

The trouble, according to the motions councillors approved Wednesday, is that when concrete is poured in cold weather it has to be warmed with gas heaters so it sets properly. Councillors exempted both projects from the city's usual construction-noise bylaw. The exemptions are slightly different for each site, but will effectively allow heaters to run 24 hours a day until May and to let work go on till 1 a.m. several days a week.

On a couple of occasions at Lansdowne, councillors heard, concrete will have to be poured around the clock. Residents will have to be warned at least two days in advance.

The approval for the convent site at 114 Richmond Rd., where Ashcroft is building a condominium complex, was unanimous; Glebe councillor David Chernushenko was the lone vote against the approval for Lansdowne, "in solidarity" with residents.

They've been through a lot, Chernushenko said, starting with preliminary construction a year ago, digging and dust in the hot summer, and lately weeks of compaction work, in which soil is pressed down soil so it can built on.

"Which, if you haven't heard it, is short for having the fillings in your teeth shaken for hours on end," Chernushenko said.

Worse than that, nearby residents were among those most opposed to the Lansdowne redevelopment project in the first place.

Construction manager Marco Manconi said everything that can be done to minimize the effects on neighbours is being done. But the nature of the work and the intense construction schedule needed to get the site ready for football games by summer 2014 makes the inconvenience unavoidable.

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