Critics, backers to lock horns over Lansdowne - Metro US

Critics, backers to lock horns over Lansdowne

While stories about the H1N1 virus have pushed the public debate over the proposed redevelopment of Lansdowne Park onto the back burner, rhetoric from both sides will pick up again leading up to a special city council meeting on Nov. 12 to discuss the issue.

Proponents of the $250-million plan to renovate Frank Clair Stadium and build a retail complex in one corner of the park insist the project is at worst, revenue neutral for taxpayers. Their plan, they say, will revitalize the park, increase property values in the area and propel business in the Glebe.

Dissidents argue that Ottawa residents will straddle a huge debt for a football stadium and shopping complex in an unsuitable location that will threaten local business.

To pay for the project, the city would have to take on at least $117 million in debt. Ian Lee, director of the MBA program at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University and one of the most vocal opponents, figures the total repayment cost of that loan would reach $280 million if it were financed over a 40-year term with 5.35 per cent interest.

“The city is going into debt, which will be repaid by taxpayer money,” said Lee, “and on top of that, we are giving away 25 per cent of the park to build retail and commercial stuff.

“The city has done a lousy job looking after it in the last 10 or 15 years. They have been poor trustees of this public asset,” he said.

“Now they want to really mismanage it by dropping a shopping mall into the middle of a 140-year-old park.”

If the city really wants a football team, he said, a new stadium should be located where it is easily accessed by transit and traffic.

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