By David Reevely, The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — Ottawa's city councillors are looking forward to asking some questions about the Lansdowne Park redevelopment plans in very stern voices, but neither a vague report on the expected retail tenants there nor worse financial projections seem likely to derail the project.
Of the councillors approached by the Citizen, only Diane Deans, who voted against the Lansdowne redevelopment in the early going but switched to become a reluctant supporter as it gained momentum, signalled she might bring the tally of No votes to three out of 24 members of city council.
"I'm really not comfortable. All the way along we've been asking about cost overruns and who pays for them and we've been given assurances all along that we won't have these kind of cost overruns and now it's quite clear that we will," she said.
According to the latest financial report on the city's joint venture with a group of developers and sports businessmen, the city's up-front costs have increased $12 million, to about $218 million in all.
"The whole thing was portrayed as a new destination with a new kind of shopping experience and that doesn't seem to have materialized, either," Deans added. In the same package of reports the city released late Tuesday, an account of the businesses that have signed leases revealed that the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group has nailed down nobody besides the long-announced Whole Foods grocery store and an Empire Theatres cinema. They account for 90,000 square feet of the expected 360,000 square feet of retail space at Lansdowne, though OSEG says another 174,000 square feet are very nearly spoken for by tenants who just haven't quite reached the point of signing leases.
The project comes up for final votes by city council's finance committee on Oct. 2 and full city council Oct. 10. Deans described her vote as "in doubt at the moment." She'd join Capital Coun. David Chernushenko and Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes, who've voted against the project every time they've had a chance, if she opposes it.