Fan hopes for renewal

Long-time Lansdowne Park devotee Angelo Toffolo prays that one day the historic site will resume...

Long-time Lansdowne Park devotee Angelo Toffolo prays that one day the historic site will resume it's place atop Ottawa's list of attractions. (Sun Media/Darren Brown)

DEREK PUDDICOMBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

For Angelo Toffolo, growing up in the Glebe meant spending hours watching the Ottawa Rough Riders practice on Frank Clair Stadium's grassy field and spending his allowance at the annual summer exhibition at Lansdowne Park.

The Toffolos moved to the Glebe in 1955, and never were they bothered by the throngs of people attending a game or other events at the park.

“It was a place to go and see cool events and to watch Russ Jackson toss passes to Whit Tucker,” said Toffolo, who addressed a special council meeting Thursday about a proposal to redevelop Lansdowne Park. “Friends and family would flock to our house to park their cars or drop in before an event.”

Toffolo, who now lives within a 15-minute walk of Lansdowne Park, said the spot remains an ideal location for a stadium and traffic concerns are exaggerated.

“After a game, the streets were back to normal within 45 minutes,” he said.

However, a new opinion poll says almost 80% of Ottawa residents reject the Lansdowne Live proposal.

Public opinion and research firm COMPAS Inc. surveyed 360 residents from across the city between Nov. 7 and 9, and says the results are accurate within 5.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Friends of Lansdowne commissioned the poll, which says 77% of Ottawans reject the plan, 18% support it, 3% want Lansdowne left alone and 2% are unsure.

Those surveyed were asked several questions including if council should “decline the current proposal and have the kind of open, transparent competition that people have a right to expect from their governments,” and if they should postpone the decision until the “city’s needs for light rail are fully satisfied and taxpayers can know all the costs.”

Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group’s plan includes renovating Frank Clair Stadium and the Civic Centre, and building 400,000 sq. ft. of retail space, a hotel and an underground parking lot for 1,200 vehicles.

There are more than 100 public delegations scheduled to speak about the proposal, which has forced council to extend the debate into next week.

Council voted to halt public delegations at 7 p.m. Thursday and continue Friday. Council was expected to vote Friday on whether to proceed with the plan but now has put aside Monday to continue the discussion.

Conrad Winn, principal pollster with COMPAS, said there are major concerns about the proposal.

“There are lots of worries,” said Winn, who added the majority of the 360 residents surveyed don’t trust their municipal officials.

Nik Nanos’s firm conducted a separate poll for the city that surveyed 1,003 residents on the proposal late last month. He said although there were some similarities between the two polls, the COMPAS results are surprising.

The Nanos poll found about half of those surveyed were neutral about the plan and 22.5% were against it, while 18.7% were for it and 9% were unsure.


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