Lansdowne end-date delayed two years

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Court challenges push back completion of renovations, but city documents say CFL team may face just one-year hold

By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen 

Renovating Lansdowne Park will take two years longer than planned, according to documents provided to city councillors Thursday evening, though a new professional football team could only be delayed for one year.

The documents describe changes to the so-called Lansdowne Partnership Plan, between the city and a group of private developers and sports businessmen called the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. Together, they'd renovate Frank Clair Stadium for a new CFL football team and minor-league soccer team and erect commercial and residential buildings on the northern part of the site. The city also plans to replace most of the expanse of parking lots at Lansdowne with a new urban park.

According to the original plan, it all was supposed to be finished by June 2013, just in time to field the football team for that season. Instead, according to a memo from city manager Kent Kirkpatrick, the stadium isn't expected to be substantially completed until December of that year and not ready for use until June 2014. Work on the park won't begin until January 2014 and won't be done until summer 2015, according to the new schedule.

City of Ottawa wins Lansdowne case

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OTTAWA — The City of Ottawa has won its legal case with the Friends of Lansdowne with the release Thursday afternoon of a decision that rejects all the Friends' arguments.

The Friends had gone to court to try to stop plans to redevelop the property at Bank Street and the Rideau Canal, claiming the city had violated its own procurement bylaw, promised illegal subsidies to private business, and negotiated the whole thing in bad faith. The plan calls for the city to go into partnership with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, a consortium of property developers and sports businessmen, to refurbish Frank Clair Stadium for pro football and soccer and build new residential and commercial space across the north end of the city-owned site.

Justice Charles Hackland dismisses each of the Friends' claims, finding either that the Friends didn't prove their point or that second-guessing politicians' political decisions is not the role of the court, as long as those decisions are made reasonably.

"The applicant's arguments ... even if correct factually or as matters of reasonable opinion, do not individually or taken together, amount to bad faith," Hackland wrote.

He wrote the public consultation on the Lansdowne plans was extensive, and so was the city's solicitation of expert outside advice. City council debated the matter thoroughly and made an honest decision, he found. On occasions where city staff presented erroneous or incomplete information to city council, Hackland found it they were the result of honest mistakes and didn't likely make any meaningful difference in councillors' deliberations.

The Friends pointed to a report from consulting firm Deloitte, presented to the city early in the consideration of the redevelopment proposal, which was critical of the prospective deal. The city didn't make it public or present it to councillors, a move the Friends alleged was improper. Hackland disagreed.

Lansdowne Park plan poor in pizzazz: Councillor

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By Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

A Lansdowne Park design review panel is scheduled meet for the first time this term of council on Thursday to pore through new concepts, which include retail drawings from a U.S.-based firm.

One committee member says the fresh drawings don’t knock his socks off.

“My socks are still firmly on,” Coun. David Chernushenko said Wednesday.

Chernushenko, who represents the Glebe community, said a prime piece of real estate requires more pizzazz than what he sees on paper and he plans to tell the architects exactly that.

Free parking at Lansdowne July 11-17

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The City has confirmed that free parking will be available at Lansdowne Park next week, as there are no paid parking events from July 11 to 17.