June 22 & 23, 2011 Of Waterfalls, Champagne and Bonuses
On Wednesday June 22 at the Elgin St. Courthouse it was Waterfall Revelation Day— and all about how the financial architecture of the Lansdowne deal discriminates against City of Ottawa taxpayers and overwhelmingly favours the OSEG developer group.
FOL lawyer Steven Shrybman explained to Justice Hackland how the financial hierarchy of the deal is arranged into a tiered structure that gives initial and favoured priority of investment return to OSEG and little if no investment return to the City. Shrybman noted that payments from the Waterfall for the 10 acres of public land will not flow to the City before 2038, some 27 or more years from now, if any flows at all. The overall arrangement is discriminatory in favour of OSEG against all other potential bidders and a clear breach of Sec. 106 of the Municipal Act, which prohibits bonusing of commercial enterprises.
Mr. Shrybman explained how OSEG is always in first position for payment of revenues from the overall scheme and is in a preferred position in the Waterfall scheme. OSEG will be paid an annual return on invested capital of 8%. The City will receive a similar return on its funding equity, which is now estimated to be much less than OSEG’s equity. After receiving the initial 8% return, OSEG will maintain a privileged priority payment position over the City─ the entire capital that OSEG invests will be paid back to it, before the City sees any return payment on its land, which is called “deemed equity” and is valued at only $20 million. The public land will be leased to OSEG at $1 a year for 30 years.
“More worrisome, still,” Shrybman argued, “if there are any losses incurred in the operation of the stadium and sports franchises, losses which are indeed projected in the pro formas advanced by the City, such losses will be capitalized as an equity contribution from OSEG and be positioned in priority position to be repaid from the Waterfall”.