There are alternatives to the Lansdowne Partnership Plan (LPP).
For instance, there is a common-sense, less costly and more flexible alternative; an “incremental” approach to the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park.
It starts by having a design competition for the whole of Lansdowne Park, but the winning design would be implemented in stages, and not all at once. This incremental approach would be compatible not only with the design guidelines for Lansdowne Park approved by City Council in 2007, but also with federal and provincial heritage requirements, and with the City of Ottawa’s long-term plans, in particular for transportation. It could also use the best ideas emerging from the present design competition for the New Urban Park at Lansdowne.
Unlike the LPP, this type of approach has procurement integrity, is transparent in terms of costs to the taxpayer, does not give away valuable public lands to private interests, and would not disrupt any current Lansdowne Park users/tenants. Indeed, it provides for fast-tracked improvements for all existing and aspiring users/tenants, e.g. professional sports at Frank Clair Stadium, Ottawa 67s, Farmers’ Market, Trade Shows, etc, without closing the options for the longer-term City-wide future.
Other alternatives to LPP also deserve consideration before final decisions are made by Council on June 28. These include:
- The Senators Sports and Entertainment (SS&E) proposed stadium on city land next to the Scotiabank Place with federal, provincial and municpal funding which would reduce Ottawa taxpayers’ burden; Scotiabank Place has 8,200 parking spots and is accessible to the Queensway, Ottawa’s major transportation corridor. The transitway can be extended to this site.
- The idea of a Lansdowne Park Conservancy [read the original bid to the City of Ottawa from the Lansdowne Park Conservancy here], for further information visit the Conservancy websiteor contact John Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org. New design images for Lansdowne can be viewed at http://www.lpc-cpl.ca/proposal.html.
- Les Johnson’s alternative design for Lansdowne Park can be found at here.
Let us know if you know of others.
The Main Characteristics of the Incremental Approach
The key to this alternative is that it separates the stadium question from the Lansdowne
Park question, and proposes an incremental approach for both projects.
- Undertake minimal renovations to the Frank Clair stadium now. The successful Montreal Alouettes have taken 10 years to refurbish gradually the stadium they use for $42 million.
- Brings football to Ottawa two years sooner
- Costs far less
- Allows City to see if football team will succeed before spending $130 million
- Plan for a long-term stadium on transit, using an open and competitive process.
- Competitive process is fair and brings better value to city
- Builds on $2 billion dollar investment in rapid transit
- Makes stadium more accessible to more people and is better for the environment
- Will be eligible for provincial and federal funding like stadiums in other cities (this will probably reduce costs to Ottawa taxpayers by 2/3rds)
- Knowing that in the long-term, the stadium will not be at Lansdowne Park, prepare a long-term vision for a Lansdowne Park, without a stadium. Use proper planning and consultation processes and then have a design competition and develop an overall master plan and budget.
- The future of an important city asset is planned in a fair open and transparent way to meet the needs of the citizens of Ottawa.
- Implement the master plan over time
- Costs are spread out over time, rather than the city taking on major debt
- Some parts, such as greening asphalt, could be done immediately as they are low cost.
- Revenue producing uses such as trade fairs and exhibits can continue
- Farmers Market can grow gradually.
- Keeps the park in public hands and run by the city (rather than a corporation)
- Sell a small portion of Lansdowne (possibly along Bank Street) to finance the development of the park overall. Rezoning (according to the master plan) and selling just a few acres of the 37 acre property should generate enough money to finance initial minimal improvements.
- City makes money from the sale of land that can be used for the public good to create a public space (as opposed to current plan to give away land rent-free to developers)
- City gets taxes generated by new uses
- Process is transparent and competitive
- No pretense – if public land is to be converted to private uses (condos, offices, stores) then it is sold for this purpose (rather than entering into a so-called partnership that in effect privatizes the land, but pretends it doesn’t)
This alternative approach would bring football to Ottawa sooner and create a more accessible stadium which will meet the city’s long-term needs better, and cost Ottawa taxpayers less.
At the same time, it would allow Lansdowne to be developed gradually, pay for itself and keep the vast majority of the park for public purposes.
This alternative would be a better deal for taxpayers. This is one way that we could get Lansdowne Right.
A Comparison: The Incremental Approach versus the Lansdowne Partnership Plan
The Alternative Incremental Approach
The Lansdowne Partnership Plan
|Open, competitive, and transparent||
A back-room deal
|Great, world class design for ALL of Lansdowne Park. The best design components resulting from the design competition for the “New Urban Park” or “Front Lawn” applied over time to the whole of Lansdowne Park.||Great, world class design for one third of Lansdowne Park, and sole-sourced “take it or leave it” designs for the stadium and mixed-use areas (two-thirds of Lansdowne Park).|
|Simple and financially responsible||
Complex and financially irresponsible
|Minimizes risk to taxpayers||Exposes taxpayers to huge risks|
|Keeps the City’s options open with respect to development in relation to upcoming massive investments in light rail||Puts the City in a strait-jacket with respect to future developments in relation to light rail|
|Keep s the City’s options open with respect to federal and provincial funding of a future stadium located on mass transit/light rail||No option for federal and provincial funding due to sole-sourcing, and lack of synchronization with mass transit/light rail|
|An immediate, common-sense, and incremental approach to improvement of the whole of Lansdowne Park in the context of existing longer-term City-wide plans for development and transportation
||Short-sighted, irreversible and expensive long-term commitments to a fancy professional sports stadium and commercial development at Lansdowne Park
|Some congestion in the short-run, but in the longer-term this will be eased by synchronization and partnership with mass transit/light rail||More and perpetual transportation gridlock, with attempts at shuttles and street closures, etc. Complete lack of synchronization with City-wide plans for mass transit/light rail|
|Professional sports in Lansdowne Park within months, and elsewhere in Ottawa in the long-term if proven to be economically viable||Professional sports within Lansdowne after a two year delay, and then in perpetuity, if economically viable. More probably, if not economically viable, partly or mainly because of lack of access to mass transit, then Ottawa has a “white elephant” on its hands.|
|Retains and protects public lands for public use||A give-away of 10 acres of public lands for private commercial development rent-free|
|Gives local businesses a level playing field||Unfair competition to existing local businesses|
|Uses all tax revenues for City governance and services||The dangerous precedent of siphoning off a percentage of tax revenues for specific projects|
|Transparency, simplicity, accounting integrity, and financial realism||Murkiness, complexity, accounting acrobatics, and financial dreaming|