Lansdowne 2.0 – my concerns
By Christie Diekmeyer
I’m concerned about the changes at Lansdowne which seem to be going full speed ahead despite very little knowledge about what is happening. This was not an election issue. Prior to the election, City Council agreed to study the proposal. They are putting a lot of effort into this and going backwards will not be an option.
They are planning to move the arena to the Great Lawn, taking away a big chunk of public space. That is my biggest concern. If they are going to move the arena, they should have a careful study as to where in the city is the best spot, which may not be where it is currently proposed to go, since there is no LRT stop and it is taking away parkland that is at a premium. My bias is space for people to use, not giving priority to watching sports. We need solutions to keep more active, not less.
I put my questions to the City’s Lansdowne Project Team in July, and these are their responses. Some answers I consider evasive.
Why is Lansdowne 2.0 not subject to a procurement process; why we are locked into the one developer?
The City will have a competitive procurement process for the construction of its new public facilities. Regarding the air rights for the residential development, the City will engage in a Request for Offer process whereby the air rights are offered either for lease or sale to a developer through a competitive bidding process.
Will this major expense be subject to a referendum? It was not an election issue.
This project will be a decision of Council as a whole.
How can we justify this major expense when it doesn’t benefit most people in Ottawa who don’t go to the 67’s games?
The City currently owns the facilities at Lansdowne (including the north side stands and TD Arena), which have been deemed functionally obsolescent through third party reports. The facilities are over 50 years old and will be close to 90 years old at the end of the partnership with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG). Currently, TD Arena is one of the most energy inefficient buildings in the City’s real estate portfolio. Renewing the City’s assets and keeping Lansdowne in a position to host local, provincial, national and international events greatly benefits our City and the sustainability of Lansdowne.
How can you justify taking away green space? The original Lansdowne proposal sought to give us green space, but many thought the amount given in the end was substandard, and now citizens are asked to relinquish more.
Staff are reviewing opportunities to improve public realm and green space at Lansdowne as part of the reporting back to Council. Staff are also reviewing the programmable space on the Great Lawn required for the range of festivals and events that the City hosts to ensure any space the Event Centre takes from the open space will not adversely impact programming or use of the Great Lawn.
Christie Diekmeyer is a long-time Glebe resident.