FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 24, 2011
Citizens take City of Ottawa to Court in Precedent-Setting Appeal
Friends of Lansdowne Inc., a broad-based community group in Ottawa, will ask Ontario’s highest court to strike down as unlawful a City by-law authorizing commercial and residential development on public land at historic Lansdowne Park in Canada’s capital. This is the first time an appellate court in Canada is being asked to interpret municipal legislation prohibiting cities from granting of financial assistance to developers. The hearing at the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto takes place on Monday, November 28, starting at 10:30 a.m.
"With hundreds of millions of property tax dollars are at stake, Ottawa residents deserve an open, transparent and competitive process, not a sole-source deal", said June Creelman, President of Friends of Lansdowne. "A significant portion of Lansdowne Park, a 37 acre publicly-owned property on the banks of the Rideau Canal, a world heritage site, is slated to become a shopping centre."
Friends of Lansdowne contends the City of Ottawa violated the Municipal Act by failing to follow procurement by-laws, by giving bonuses (or financial assistance) to the developers and by acting in bad faith. The group also contends that the City failed to exercise due diligence and made misleading statements about the scheme to the public.
The case has several unusual aspects:
- The City of Ottawa launched an international design competition and then abandoned it in favour of a sole-source deal with local developer
- The City negotiated a deal that will cost taxpayers an estimated $400 million dollars, yet did not do any independent financial analysis to ensure that taxpayers were getting value for money.
- The City agreed to lease downtown public land to developers for only $1/year for three decades and also agreed to cover the costs and losses of professional sports franchises owned by the developers.
"This appeal has implications for City Councils all over Ontario and Canada" says Creelman. "It raises fundamental questions relating to the accountability of municipal governments and the latitude they have under provincial law".
For more information: www.letsgetitright.ca.
June Creelman 613-854-4814
Ian Lee 613-222-7722