Some public delegates voiced their concerns over the lack of ‘transparency’ on the Lansdowne 2.0 project proposal during the joint Finance and Corporate Services and Planning and Housing Committee meeting on Nov. 2. City Council has yet to vote on whether to approve the financial funding strategy for Lansdowne 2.0. According to the City of Ottawa, it will cost $419 million for the proposal which is projected to be completed by 2027.

A team member for the Lansdowne 2.0 project team said they made ‘significant’ changes to their list for the 2022 to 2023 plan. This includes going down from three to two residential tower buildings and a reduction in parking spaces from 740 to 336, restricted to residential users.

Carolyn Mackenzie, a member of the Glebe Community Association, said she questions the ‘transparency’ around the total parking costs.

“There is a parking garage at $19 million that will go into the residential towers,” said Mackenzie. “Somehow that does not appear to be included in that $419 million.”

Mackenzie also said that she requested access to information regarding the project and received empty financial statements.

The joint Finance and Corporate Services and Planning and Housing Committee shares Carolyn Mackenzie’s slide of the financial statement document she received from requesting access to information. [Screenshot © Koyuki Hayashi]

“Transparency is not just about what’s in a report, but also what is being communicated to residents,” said Mackenzie. “When our leaders have been telling us that this will only cost residents $5 million a year and present it as a fact, no less, this is not the transparency or leadership I think we deserve.”

The director of CitySHAPES, Neil Saravanamuttoo, said Lansdowne 2.0 will have a major impact on taxpayers. He said the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), which owns sports teams including the Ottawa Redblacks and Ottawa 67s, was inconsistent in their presentation when they reported having a ‘financially good’ year when in fact the group lost $9.1 million.

As a result, Saravanamuttoo said the city of Ottawa will add more ‘burden’ to taxpayers and increase the municipal tax by one per cent if they proceed with the project.

“We [residents] cannot take people’s words about the project and need to see the paperwork,” said Saravanamuttoo.

Capital ward Counc. Shawn Menard said Lansdowne 2.0 has created division among councillors, the public and the community and encourages to create a ‘better unified position’ to bring people together who want to support the project and “feel like they have some ownership.”  

“What would be an appropriate vision is to create more unity for people, what’s the process to get to more unity on a proposal like this,” He said.

City Council is scheduled to consider the plan, which got a rocky reception at a community meeting in early October, on Nov. 10.