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Lansdowne 2.0 met with construction questions


The future of Lansdowne Park is being debated as community members pose questions about whether the design plans, which include the addition of skyscrapers, more retail space and a new arena, is worth the potential loss of valuable green space.

Lansdowne Park is a bustling hub of activity on game days for football, soccer and hockey. It's also an attractive venue for live music, like the recent Escapade Music Festival, and on weekends during the farmers market, but the area lacks a vibrant weekday atmosphere, something soon-to-be area resident James Hall would like to see change.

"There is no housing. It's not mixed use, it's not a neighbourhood, it's just a commercial plaza," he says. "I want it to also become a place where people can come and enjoy and not feel like they are standing in an empty parking lot."

But a second phase, dubbed 'Lansdowne 2.0', offers a promise to change that, with a new Civic Centre arena, more retail space and the construction of three skyscrapers, adding 1,200 residential units, to be completed in 2029. Last year, cost estimates hovered around $330M.

But Diane McIntyre does not like the re-envisioned look of Lansdowne, as the condo units would tower where the current arena and north stands sit.

"The skyscrapers will put the Aberdeen Pavilion and the entire site in shadow for most of the day," she says, adding that nearly one-and-a-half acres of green space would also be lost. "It's really important that we increase our recreational space and live up to our promises of a 40 per cent tree canopy."

McIntyre is not alone. On Monday, dozens of community members joined Coun. Shawn Menard for a tour of Lansdowne, pointing out a host of potential problems with the plans of the public-private partnership between the city and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.

"This will be the biggest potential investment this term of council and I think a lot of councillors are looking at this and saying let's get this right and the proposal that was un consulted on from last year cannot stand," says Menard. "I think the vast majority of residents in Ottawa are saying let's get input first, let's get something done here, let's have better active transportation, let's have better transit solutions, let's get people in here from the suburbs that can get here easily instead of being stuck in traffic at all times. I think people, once they see the financial aspects, which didn't work in Lansdowne 1.0, they start to question the financials of Lansdowne 2.0."

Menard wants more public consultation before moving ahead with any construction and also calls for the inclusion of more affordable housing, no green space to be lost, a priority on public spaces and for no skyscrapers.

Lansdowne is lacking in revenue and a recent financial report shows the city may never recoup its investment with OSEG unless a second phase of development moves ahead.

"We're committed at OSEG to a community response in delivering a better Lansdowne. OSEG delivered what city council unanimously asked us to do, they asked us to deliver a proposal that would repair the aging facilities that are city-owned," says OSEG vice president of brand and impact Janice Barresi. "The renewal of these facilities are critical to the profitability and the long-term sustainability of the partnership … and we hear from businesses that increased density and attracting more events to Lansdowne is key to their profitability."

Dean Stresman owns Sunset Grill, a restaurant in the heart of Lansdowne, and says the sustainability of his business requires people on site.

"The weekend events are what makes the money. It's 80 per cent of the business created on the Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the proposed Lansdowne 2.0 brings more people to the site everyday and that's important for us as a small business," he says. "It's the longevity of what our city is going to be looking forward to for the next you know, 20, 30 years or more and if more people could live here, they would work here and play here. I mean it's the whole bottle of wax."

The city is expected to review the 'Lansdowne 2.0' development proposal in July. Top Stories

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