Finance committee recommends $332 million ‘Lansdowne 2.0’ plan to board

Much like Lansdowne’s first redevelopment, there is a lot of trepidation in the city, particularly in the communities around the site, about a revised public-private partnership which city staff say would be a good financial affair for property taxpayers.

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People suspicious of a $332.6 million redevelopment proposal for Lansdowne Park on Friday accused the city of replicating a lackluster model of the first project and called on the council to consult widely with the public before approving the plan .

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But, after listening to about 30 presentations from enthusiastic and protesting delegates in a meeting that lasted more than eight hours, the finance and economic development committee unanimously approved a staff-recommended strategy for pursuing a new arena of event center and north side stands, partly paid for by revenue from a high-rise development on the site.

The board will be asked to ratify the committee’s Lansdowne 2.0 decision on May 25.

The Finance Committee is the easiest sign-off for Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the City and supporters of the partnership; when it comes to Lansdowne, most of the skepticism on the board has come from non-committee members.

Much like Lansdowne’s first redevelopment, there is a lot of trepidation in the city, particularly in the communities around the site, about a revised public-private partnership which city staff say would be a good financial affair for property taxpayers.

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Skeptics argued that they had not seen Lansdowne realize the vision of the first redevelopment under the partnership.

“I remember the Taylor Swift song that goes, ‘I think I’ve seen this movie before,'” said June Creelman, who helped lead the Friends of Lansdowne group that fought the city/OSEG partnership. before the courts more than 10 years ago.

“The ending was definitely not what was promised last time around,” Creelman said.

“We are doubling down on a failing strategy,” Neil Saravanamuttoo said during his deputation.

A view of the retail strip behind the north side stadium stands at Lansdowne Park on Friday.  City Council will be called upon to ratify the Finance and Economic Development Committee's Lansdowne 2.0 decision at its May 25 meeting.
A view of the retail strip behind the north side stadium stands at Lansdowne Park on Friday. City Council will be called upon to ratify the Finance and Economic Development Committee’s Lansdowne 2.0 decision at its May 25 meeting. Photo by ERROL MCGIHON /Postmedia

One issue identified by speakers is the proposed 1,200 new homes in high-rise buildings that could exceed 40 stories, but on property not directly served by rapid transit. The city has yet to make detailed planning arguments other than that the site could use more homes and that 1,200 units would provide the property taxes needed to fund the Lansdowne 2.0 project.

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The city is expected to borrow $275.5 million and make $13.8 million in annual principal and interest payments for 40 years to help pay for new sports facilities and part of a new retail component . The city would rely on future property taxes, the sale of residential development “air rights” and ticket surcharges to pay off debt.

If council votes to go ahead with Lansdowne 2.0, the city plans to spend $8 million on pre-construction work, including holding a competition for air rights and working on planning approvals.

The three community associations closest to Lansdowne said the city should slow down and reconsider a financial Hail Mary.

Proponents, however, said the council should not put up a block ahead of Lansdowne 2.0.

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Patrick Burke, President and CEO of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, Sueling Ching, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism, Michael Crockatt and Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie expressed support for the city’s recommendations .

Jon Sinden, who moved from Toronto to Old Ottawa South with his family three years ago, told the committee how Lansdowne enriched his family’s lives during their short time in Ottawa through concerts and events. sportsmen. Sinden urged councilors to endorse Lansdowne 2.0.

OSEG managing partner Roger Greenberg said Lansdowne’s first redevelopment should have replaced all sports facilities and built more houses.

“We’re 10 years smarter and trying to address the two glaring weaknesses that remain in the situation,” Greenberg said.

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Com. Shawn Menard, who represents the Lansdowne area, was angry that no committee member moved his motion for discussion on his behalf, calling the committee members’ behavior “shameful”. He wanted to recommend launching a public consultation before committing the City to the next stage of Lansdowne 2.0.

Ménard, who is not a member of the committee, will have the opportunity to present motions at the next municipal council.

“We were on a very good track, then we ignored what we said and what we were going to do,” Ménard said of the consultations.

City Manager Steve Kanellakos said public consultations would not have been practical without having a proposal to share. “Public consultation is implicit in the next steps,” Kanellakos said.

The next city council will have the final say in 2023 on whether to adopt Lansdowne 2.0.

Mayor Jim Watson defended the city’s approach, saying the blue-sky drills hadn’t led to financially realistic projects.

Watson, who is not running for office, said he believes most people like what the city and OSEG have done at Lansdowne so far. He acknowledged the suggestion by many that the proposed redevelopment of Lansdowne should be an election issue.

“I really hope that’s the case,” Watson said.

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

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