ottawa-lansdowne-site-plan

The site plan for the Lansdowne Park redevelopment calls for the Horticultural Building to move east from its present location to the edge of Holmwood Avenue. ((City of Ottawa))

Ottawa city council has approved the site plan of the Lansdowne Park redevelopment, including the move of the Horticulture Building, after an acrimonious meeting on Monday.

The vote paves the way for the $175-million project to move to city staff to deal with zoning challenges, building code applications and other details.

Outgoing Capital Ward councillor Clive Doucet had sought to push the task of approval of the site plan to the new council, which will be sworn in on Dec. 1. But his motion was defeated, paving the way for the vote. Council approved the plan by a vote of 16 to 5.

"Well, I think it's a sad thing for Ottawa," said Doucet.

"I don't think [future generations are] going to be excited at all. I think they're going to be saying, 'What were you doing? Why did you do it?" And we wont' have an answer. But ... maybe, someone will remember there was one councillor who objected from the beginning and to the end."

Mayor Larry O'Brien told Doucet after the vote that the battle is over.

"When the horse dies, you dismount," O'Brien said. "And I think we've brought you right to the end of the path on that one."

Challenges remain

But the new council still faces challenges as it tries to move ahead with the plan. The group Friends of Lansdowne Park is launching a legal challenge against the project. Hearings in that case are expected to begin in the spring.

The city also might have to contend with appeals by heritage groups to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Critics of the plan say the redevelopment would have a negative impact on existing heritage buildings on the site, change the character of the neighbourhood and lead to greater traffic congestion in the area. Proponents say the space at Lansdowne Park is underutilized, badly in need of a makeover and that council has already delayed decisions for too long.

One of the more hotly contested details was the move of the Horticulture Building east of its present location. Critics, including the Built Heritage Advisory Committee, argued the building deserved a special heritage easement to protect its current location.

The project — which includes a refurbished Frank Clair Stadium for a potential Canadian Football League team, along with condominiums and shops — will be developed in partnership with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, and was agreed to by the city in June.

But many of the details of the plan weren't known until the fall, and it fell upon the outgoing council to give the more detailed site plan its approval.

The site plan also includes a possible new home for the Ottawa Art Gallery facing Bank Street.

Construction is scheduled to commence on the project in June 2011.