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Holmwood residents not happy

Posted by Alistair Steele

When the City reached this agreement with a group of Holmwood residents opposed to aspects of the Lansdowne Partnership Plan back in April, the news was greeted with a great sense of relief at City Hall. We had, it seemed, avoided a costly trip to the Ontario Municipal Board, not to mention more delays. Well it seems those Holmwood residents aren't too pleased with the way things have unfolded since then. Here's a letter from their lawyer, received by the City's legal department last night and shared with councillors today.

Letter August 24th Letter to Council - Final Version - signed with attachment.PDF

It should be noted that when a couple councillors brought the letter up at today's council meeting, city lawyers seemed unruffled by the latest legal threat.

Twitter wars: Watson vs. MacLeod

Posted by Alistair Steele

There's an intriguing little set-to going on over on the Twitter between Ottawa mayor Jim Watson and Nepean Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod. Watson is at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in London, and he's taken umbrage to comments he claims Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak made at the gathering. Here's how the conversation went (it's a bit hard to follow, but the animosity is unmistakable).

@JimWatsonOttawa: @timhudak- very concerned what you said at AMO- that you wouldn't commit to the final 5 years of the upload agreement signed by AMO and Prov  8:58 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @MacLeodLisa @blakebatson @CouncillorMcRae @timhudak I'm very concerned that there is no commitment to honour Prov-Mun upload agreement. Why  9:00 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @blakebatson @MacLeodLisa @CouncillorMcRae @timhudak I have copy and no where does it say what Tim said today that he won't honor agreement  9:15 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @MacLeodLisa @blakebatson @CouncillorMcRae @timhudak I campaigned at keeping taxes at 2.5 % and delivered 2.4 %. It was in my platform  9:16

@JimWatsonOttawa: @MacLeodLisa YOUR city is counting on over $30 million in upload savings over next 5 years in deal signed by AMO, Toronto and Province.  9:18

@JimWatsonOttawa: @MacLeodLisa. So will you fight to reverse your leaders policy to not honour this deal that benefits ALL 444 municipalities?  9:19

@MacLeodLisa: @JimWatsonOttawa no mention, only by you, of changing agreement.We'll fix arb,restore local decision making&bring consistency to inf funding  9:23 a.m.

@MacLeodLisa: @JimWatsonOttawa so I take it you'll be VERY active in campaigning for your party this provincial election.  9:24 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @MacLeodLisa he was asked by journalist if he would honour upload agreement and he would not commit! Delegates are not pleased.  9:38 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @MacLeodLisa I will continue to speak out anytime OUR city is not being treated fairly. That's my role as mayor  9:38 a.m.

@MacLeodLisa: @JimWatsonOttawa delegates I'm seeing on twitter seem to like it. Cc @tim_sutton  9:40 a.m.

@MacLeodLisa: @JimWatsonOttawa I hope you'll defend OUR village of North Gower who wants local decision making restored.  9:41 a.m. 

@JimWatsonOttawa:@andreahorwath along with @Dalton_McGuinty were both very clear they would NOT download costs to cities! Bravo.  9:43 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @JonathanWilling @MacLeodLisa he was asked if he would honour upload agreement and he wouldn't, in a q and a with ...  9:44 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @JonathanWilling ask Tim if he will honour the agreement signed between AMO, Toronto and Prov. He would NOT commit. Ask Peter hume  9:49 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @JonathanWilling by 2018 we have 30 m annually build into budget. It would mean deeper cuts to programs and services to makeup shortfall  9:51 a.m. 

@MacLeodLisa: Tim Hudak will help Ottawa by fixing arbitration system&saving us money, consistent infrastructure funding& restoring local decision making.  9:56 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @andreahorwath was asked the same question as @timhudak on uploading and she was crystal clear she WOULD honour agreement!  9:57

I think they're done now. We will endeavour to find out what, exactly, Tim Hudak said about provincial uploading.


I was wrong, they kept going at it. Here's the rest of their conversation (I'm not including Tweets that aren't directly related to the discussion at hand):

@MacLeodLisa:Under the McGuinty Liberals Ottawa City Councils opposition to windfarm in North Gower ignored. @timhudak will restore local decision making  9:57 a.m.

@MacLeodLisa: RT @OREAGR: @TimHudak will treat municipalities as partners to be trusted and give them more power to make decisions locally #onpoli  9:59 a.m.

@MacLeodLisa: Ottawa resident can't afford another tax hike. With @timhudak we'll provide relief.  10:11 a.m.

@MacLeodLisa: Municipalities will continue to enjoy $1b in uploading under an @timhudak government Cc @JimWatsonOttawa @JonathanWilling @alistairsteele  10:20 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @MacLeodLisa @timhudak @JonathanWilling @alistairsteele the deal was $1.5 billion. So are you cancelling the rest of the upload deal?  10:22 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @rmgard @willsamuel @Dalton_McGuinty. I make no apologies for defending our city's interest. Uploading deal was good for cities. Saves $120m  10:39 a.m.

@MacLeodLisa: RT @jasonlietaer: Despite #OLP spin/fearmongering, municipalities will receive $1b in uploading under an @timhudak government #onpoli  10:41 a.m.

@JimWatsonOttawa: @rjperry61 I'm standing up for a very good agreement I signed that saves Ottawa $120 million! This year alone savings was $25 million!  10:48 a.m.



Friends to appeal

Posted by Alistair Steele

Here's the official announcement from Friends of Lansdowne:

Friends of Lansdowne to Appeal Municipal Act Ruling

Friends of Lansdowne Inc. has decided to take its Lansdowne Legal Challenge to the Ontario Court of Appeal. A formal notice, setting out the grounds for appeal, will be filed by August 28, 2011. If successful, the appeal will quash the City's decision to approve the $400 million Lansdowne Partnership Plan.

"Friends of Lansdowne has 7,000 people on its mailing list from all over the region" said June Creelman, President of Friends of Lansdowne Inc. "We have had an overwhelming call from our supporters to continue our fight for transparent and accountable government at the municipal level."

Friends of Lansdowne will argue that the Superior Court allowed Ottawa's City Council far too much latitude in regard to restrictions set out in provincial law concerning competitive procurement, the use of tax dollars to assist commercial entities and the requirement that it put the public interest first.

"As an Ottawa resident and taxpayer, I expect municipal government to be transparent and accountable when they are spending $400 million dollars of taxpayers' money and developing nearly 40 acres of public land. I certainly don't want tax dollars used to subsidize a commercial shopping centre and two sports teams." said Ian Lee, a spokesman for Friends of Lansdowne.

The Appeal need not delay redevelopment of a sports stadium. Since the redevelopment of the stadium is to be paid in full by taxpayers, the City can proceed with construction of a stadium at Lansdowne, or in another more transit-friendly location, regardless of any appeal. City officials have announced that they do not plan to finalize the deal with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group until spring 2012. Friends of Lansdowne expects its appeal to be heard later this year or early next.

As a city-wide community group, Friends of Lansdowne has sought an open, transparent process and has opposed sole-sourcing. "This is the first time the Ontario Court of Appeal will be asked to address key issues raised by this case. I hope property taxpayers come out the winners", said Ms. Creelman.

A pint with your popcorn?

Posted by Alistair Steele

There's been some talk, in the Twitterverse and elsewhere, about Empire Theatres' plan to serve alcohol at their new multiplex at Lansdowne Park. Is stopping in for a quick one before the curtain rises part of the "premium VIP guest experience" the Nova Scotia-based cinema chain promises? This illustration of the lounge area certainly makes it look like the kind of place where you could order a rye and ginger.

empire-lounge-300.jpgOn closer inspection though, those are coffee cups on the tables. Maybe what Empire has in mind is something more like this. In fact Ciniplex now serves alcohol inside theatres at three locations, in London, Toronto and Oakville. "It's a hit," a Ciniplex spokesperson says of its 19-and-older screening rooms. "People seem to really like it."

Empire Theatres is mum on its plans, at least for now. The company says it's still in "development and research" with movie-goers, and will issue more details about its Lansdowne multiplex soon.

If the theatre is allowed to serve alcohol, it will be another blow for the nearby Mayfair Theatre. The historic cinema's owners are already worried a multiplex at Lansdowne will put them out of business. To add insult to injury, when they sought permission to serve booze during screenings, they were turned down.