Ottawa readies to huddle

Lansdowne Live partners Roger Greenberg, left, and John Ruddy present their proposal at Ottawa City...

Lansdowne Live partners Roger Greenberg, left, and John Ruddy present their proposal at Ottawa City Hall on Monday. (Sun Media/Darren Brown)

SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

When the dust settles today, the Lansdowne Live proposal could become what some councillors are calling Lansdowne Lite.

If the motion tabled on Monday to negotiate solely with the Lansdowne Live group passes at council today, an overall design concept for the park would be complete within 60 days, and work could begin soon after.

Would it include a refurbished stadium, an arena, an aquarium? How would the farmers' market be affected? Parking? Green space? The nature of any commercial development?

All these details would be hammered out within 60 days by the city and the Lansdowne Live group, who presented to a special city committee Monday their proposal to redevelop the park and renovate Frank Clair Stadium and the Civic Centre.

AMENDMENT

College Coun. Rick Chiarelli believes he has enough support to get the motion passed, especially with an amending motion put forward by Coun. Diane Deans that would prevent housing units and restrict retail development to boutique-style stores.

It needs 13 yes votes -- or a clear majority -- to pass, and an informal poll of all 23 councillors by the Sun yesterday showed 10 prepared to back the motion. The mayor will also cast his vote and he's in favour of the motion. Seven councillors were opposed and six were either undecided or declined to comment.

But Roger Greenberg, one of four local businessmen behind the Lansdowne Live proposal, said it's tough to gauge how the events will unfold today because he was hearing rumours of more motions and amendments.

Greenberg said as long as he gets a statement of principle from the city, he's willing to negotiate the details.

"The residential was never a big part of the proposal," he said. "We thought it would provide a buffer for the residents along Holmwood Ave., but if the city doesn't want it, just tell us. As for big box stores, they were never part of the development."

Even the stadium, which the Lansdowne Live group needs to secure a CFL franchise, is up for negotiation. Greenberg has guaranteed his group can deliver the necessary renovations to Frank Clair Stadium and the adjoining Civic Centre for $97 million, which the city could borrow and pay back over 30 years by diverting the $3.8 million it would spend annually to maintain the stadium as it exists now.

Jeff Hunt, owner of the Ottawa 67's and also part of the Lansdowne Live group, hopes to at least get a renovated Civic Centre or new arena out of the deal.

AQUARIUM

The aquarium, proposed for the Aberdeen Pavillion, is also negotiable. Greenberg said it would be contracted to a private firm and therefore not cost the city money. Councillors appear to be divided on the aquarium component.

They all agree something must be done with Lansdowne Park, but they don't all agree that Lansdowne Live -- or even Lansdowne Lite -- is the right way to proceed.

The most vocal opponents are Capital Coun. Clive Doucet, Alta Vista Coun. Peter Hume and Kitchissippi Coun. Christine Leadman, who believe the vision for Lansdowne should be open to competition.

"It sets a bad precedent to go with one group," Leadman said. "The city owns other parcels of land. What do we say to another group that comes along and wants to develop that land?"


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