The fight over Lansdowne Park
The last legal challenge to the $300 million redevelopment of the Lansdowne Park begins on Tuesday, one that will either pave the way for construction to begin on the long-awaited project, or put the city back to square one with the public space.
Timeline: Lansdowne Park
Ottawa Renegades play last game at Frank Clair Stadium after franchise suspended.
November Council approves design competition for Lansdowne Park.
March CFL approves franchise to OSEG, conditional on stadium redevelopment.
May Design competition delayed because of stadium stability and possible impact of CFL franchise award.
October OSEG publicly presents Lansdowne Live, the first iteration of their Lansdowne Park proposal, to the city.
January City receives another proposal from Senator Sports & Entertainment for stadium in Kanata.
April Council defeats motion to reintroduce design competition and decides to pursue OSEG proposal.
September City receives business plan from OSEG; city begins 2 months of public consultation for plan.
November Council approves initial plan, directs staff to negotiate partnership with OSEG.
May Redevelopment plan details released, showing mix of residential, commercial and retail space alongside stadium and park.
June Council approves project agreement, directs city manager Kent Kirkpatrick to negotiate and execute plan on behalf of city.
September Friends of Lansdowne file court challenge of Lansdowne Park project; council also approves Lansdowne rezoning, allowing for two residential towers and row of condos on Holmwood Ave.
November Council approves revised site plan of Lansdowne, including move of Horticulture building.
April City announces settlement with groups challenging Lansdowne proposal at Ontario Municipal Board; deal removes mid-rise condos from Holmwood and caps building heights and sets aside more greenspace.
June 15 Final three challenges to plan at OMB are dismissed
June 21 Friends of Lansdowne legal challenge begins
It was just under a year ago that Ottawa city council voted to form a public-private partnership with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to renovate Lansdowne Park.
Under the deal, OSEG will oversee renovations of Frank Clair Stadium, and build a mix of condominium and retail space in the rest of the park.
The city has argued it was justified in sole-sourcing the project because OSEG is the only group capable of redeveloping Lansdowne Park and at the same time securing a Canadian Football League team and a junior hockey team — the Ottawa 67's — as tenants.
The deal attracted a vocal group of opponents, who said it was bad for Ottawa taxpayers, and would create traffic problems near the 16-hectare central Ottawa property, on Bank Street, just north of the Rideau Canal.
Heritage groups also opposed moving the Horticulture Building from its current location to a site at the edge of Holmwood Avenue.
In September of last year, the group Friends of Lansdowne Park filed a lawsuit, alleging the city broke a half-dozen municipal and provincial regulations by entering into a partnership with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group without seeking other bids.
Friends of Lansdowne also say the planned revamp of Lansdowne Park may endanger some of its heritage features.
Application seeks to stop construction
The application seeks to overturn council's decision and prevent the city from starting construction until the matter is dealt with.
The City of Ottawa and OSEG have a lot riding on the decision.
The Lansdowne site, and in particular Frank Clair Stadium, has fallen into disrepair as the city decided what to do with it once the Ottawa Renegades folded in 2006. The renovations are viewed as long overdue.
Meanwhile, OSEG has been awarded Canadian Football League and North American Soccer League franchises — both on the condition there is an appropriate stadium in place.
Part of the difficulty of following the Lansdowne Park process, both for the players in the legal proceedings but also the public at large, is that the plans have changed a number of times.
For example, city staff had at one time considered moving the Ottawa Art Gallery into the space, only to drop the plan and keep the gallery downtown.
The site plan released in November also featured a group of nine-storey residential buildings to be built behind townhouses facing Holmwood Avenue, but these were later dropped as part of a settlement with groups fighting the proposed plan at the Ontario Municipal Board.
Friends of Lansdowne has alleged in court papers filed two weeks ago that there are discrepancies between what council approved in June 2010, and the actual deal with OSEG. They also say the city's return on its investment will not be enough to recoup the costs.
But city lawyers have countered that council knew the goal of revenue neutrality would focus on whether cash on a yearly basis matched or exceeded expenditures, and therefore did not impact the city's annual budget.
Senior Justice Charles Hackland has set aside two-and-a-half days this week and another three days in the last week of June to hear the case.