Shawn Menard’s Lansdowne 2.0 takeaways

The Lansdowne 2.0 proposal is heading to the joint committee meeting of the Ottawa Planning and Housing Committee, and the Finance and Corporate Services Committee on November 3. Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard, where Lansdowne is located, has the following takeaways from the city staff report. (Edited for length; for the full version, go to

Key Takeaways from the Report: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good
· Staff have moved away from misleadingly framing Lansdowne 2.0 as “revenue neutral;”
· The high-rise tower closest to the historic Aberdeen Pavilion has been removed, and in its place, some new accessible green space is being proposed;
· One of the remaining two towers is now being proposed to have a relatively more modest height of 25 storeys;
· The report suggests that through traffic may be removed from Aberdeen Square, though falls short of committing to it;
· The report proposes to increase the trivial annual rent charged to the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) for their use and operation of Lansdowne Park, raising it from $1 to $500,000; and
· The number of additional parking stalls has come down significantly with the removal of the third tower, from 739 to 336 parking stalls.

The Bad
· The cost has risen to $419 million for taxpayers.
· Despite moving away from talk of revenue neutrality, “property tax uplift” is still being used as a way to finance, in part, the Lansdowne 2.0 proposal;
· One of the two towers is still a luxury skyscraper at 40 storeys with zero affordable housing;
· Too many additional parking stalls remain, bringing hundreds of additional cars;
· There is no new transportation plan, and no commitments to make needed improvements to our transit and transportation system to resolve longstanding problems;
· The proposed investments for public realm enhancements is the bare minimum proposed in the 2022 report ($10 million), and there is no advanced timeline to implement them;
· The proposal assumes that other levels of government will contribute $20 million, without which, Ottawa taxpayers will pay more;
· On sports/entertainment: no green space from which to enjoy a game as the hill will be replaced by an arena with no green roof; fewer seats in the new arena and stadium; ticket prices to increase; no roof for the north side stands; no new transportation solutions for suburban and rural commuters, such as park-and-rides or permanent free shuttle; and the proposed music hall has been removed.

The Ugly
· The green roof initially proposed for the new event centre—that we campaigned on making accessible— has been jettisoned entirely;
· The initial inadequate commitment for 10 per cent market affordable housing units has been abandoned entirely;
· Worse, the report calls for council to waive the 25 per cent affordable housing budget requirements of our Affordable Housing Land and Funding Policy, replacing it with a 10 per cent requirement instead. This means property tax dollars and revenues earmarked for affordable housing will instead pay for Lansdowne 2.0;
· Small retail, GoodLife Fitness and all of the “J-block” built in 2014 is to be demolished with construction to replace it expected to take 7-10 years;
· The city will keep a large loan for the roof of the Civic Centre that is to be demolished;
· The city will incur $18.6 million of debt to build 140 parking spaces for the new residential towers (under the new North side stands). Debt servicing to cost the city $600,000 annually;
· substantially more risk for the city as the debt repayment relies, in part, on waterfall returns, which so far have produced $0;
· The retail podium land would be sold to a developer ($39 million) and then repurchased at market rates by the city (estimated at over $34 million) once that retail is built, with a renegotiated retail loan that OSEG is to secure. The scheme seems to be absent from the $419 million total cost; and
· The city has identified a risk that OSEG could leave the deal, but there has been zero risk mitigation or alternative planning. An identified risk without planning to mitigate it may indicate that the risk is being used to pressure councillors and the public to accept the plan

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