On February 7, 2012, the City released updated plans for Lansdowne Park. http://ottawa.ca/en/city_hall/planningprojectsreports/public_consult/lansdowne_partnership/index.html. Here are some preliminary observations:
- The renderings of Bank Street make it appear as if the high-rise towers will shimmer in the sun and magically disappear from view. But they will be solid buildings up to 18 storeys high that will block sunlight from the street and cause wind tunnels.
- The new commercial buildings will block views of the Aberdeen Pavilion to such an extent that you will barely be able to see this historic landmark from Bank Street or Adelaide.
- The back of the relocated and de-designated Horticulture Building will be demolished and replaced with a glass entry.
- The drawings depict the site as a pedestrian precinct. In fact, Lansdowne Park will be cut through with roadways that will be congested with cars, buses and delivery trucks.
- The underground parking garage is 9000 parking spots short of what would be required under normal zoning requirements for this development.
In our view, these renderings are deceptive. We also believe that the introductory text on the City's website is misleading. It states that the master site plan was approved in November 2010 and suggests that the financial and legal terms of the project were negotiated in June 2010. In fact, the final site plan was just released today and has not been approved. Nor has the final agreement with OSEG been signed. During the court case, the City said it could not release the agreements because they were still being negotiated.
And of course, that brings us to the point that the City should acknowledge that the very legality of the arrangement with OSEG is under review by the Ontario Court of Appeal. The City should also be transparent in explaining that there are still several provincial authorities who need to approve the project and have not done so yet.
The City is not holding any public consultations on this new design for Lansdowne Park. When consultations were held in 2009, the proposed development was substantially different and had not been costed. At that time, only 1 in 5 Ottawans expressed strong support for the project. What would the level of support be now that the cost to taxpayers is estimated to be $400 million?
Friends of Lansdowne believes that the public has a right to see realistic images and scale models that set Lansdowne in the context of its surroundings. Citizens also need to know the detailed terms of the agreement with OSEG, what the real costs are and how much control is being given to private commercial enterprises.
Given the track record of the past four years, we don't expect the City to begin a fair, open and transparent process unless we win our legal challenge. However, if you care to make your voice heard, contact the Mayor at firstname.lastname@example.org.