OSEG's withdrawal of Lansdowne plan 'a good thing for Ottawa'

Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard is applauding Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group for pulling the plug on its controversial pitch to take control of the city-run elements at Lansdowne.

Coun. Shawn Menard lauds decision to back away from controversial proposal

OSEG had proposed overseeing the programming for the city-run portions of Lansdowne, including the Aberdeen Pavilion, shown in this photo on July 4, 2017. (Andrew Foote/CBC News)

An Ottawa city councillor is applauding Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) for pulling the plug on its controversial pitch to take control of the city-run elements at Lansdowne.

In a Thursday update to constituents, Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard revealed that OSEG had recently withdrawn its proposal to handle programming at the Aberdeen Pavilion, the Horticulture Building, the Great Lawn and the outdoor plaza, where the Ottawa Farmers' Market is held.

"Instead, they have pledged to work in collaboration with the community, city and our office to see if there's a better approach for improving Lansdowne," wrote Menard, whose ward includes the Glebe urban park.

"I commend them for taking this approach."

Last October, OSEG — which already runs TD Place stadium and arena, and oversees sporting events there — made a pitch to expand its role at Lansdowne.

Their proposal, supported by city manager Steve Kanellakos, generated significant backlash, with hundreds of people voicing concerns at a community meeting held a few days after the proposal was made public.

Dan Chenier, GM of city parks and recreation, Capital Coun. Shawn Menard and OSEG CEO Mark Goudie addressed a crowd of hundreds last October at a community meeting about public space at Lansdowne. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

More than 40 delegations were also set to speak at a meeting of the city's finance and economic development committee in November before a last-minute compromise promising public consultations was tabled and approved.

In an interview Friday with Radio-Canada, Menard said OSEG CEO Mark Goudie recently got in touch and "made it known that he wanted to work collaboratively" instead.

'Full consultation'

Menard called that news "a good thing for Ottawa."

"There is going to be a full consultation on this for the whole 40-acre site, not just on the public side, but all of what exists at Landsowne and how we can improve it," he said.

"So I'm looking forward to talking more of [the site's] vendors and other folks that want to improve Lansdowne."

Events like the European-style Christmas market, which was held at Lansdowne for the first time last December, are part of an effort to bring people to the site more days of the week. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Before the controversial plan was made public last year, OSEG was looking at ways to revitalize the park after financial statements showed the development posted a net loss of $8 million in 2017.

Menard said that revitalization requires looking beyond big special events and instead at ways to ensure people visit Lansdowne on a daily basis.

"You really want walk-up and bike-up traffic to come as well. It's not just people driving in. You need the network of local communities to support the site," he said.


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