City council got an earful from opponents of the $175-million redevelopment of Lansdowne Park at Friday’s meeting, but there are few signs anyone’s really listening.
An alternative plan by the Lansdowne Park Conservancy and big-time stadium designers NBBJ to keep Lansdowne entirely public and run it on a non-profit basis was dismissed last week by the city’s chief procurement officer without any discussion of its merits or flaws.
Even if city staff are correct in their interpretation that the city’s procurement rules don’t oblige them to consider the competing bid, wouldn’t common sense suggest at least looking at it?
Maybe things are getting better. At least John Martin, point man for the Conservancy, wasn’t threatened with arrest for trespassing this time, as he was last year when he tried to attend a Lansdowne information session at city hall. He was accused of disrupting the process by presenting his ideas, which makes me wonder exactly what this process is.
Instead, chief procurement officer Jeff Byrne wrote the Conservancy saying their bid was too late. Things have progressed too far with the Ottawa Sports Entertainment Group’s plan since council approved it in June.
But construction hasn’t begun. Martin and crew say their plan, cheaper, more respectful of heritage buildings, and done without all those controversial retail, office and condo developments, is ready to go and could be completed in 30 months.
Many are also asking why a lame duck council, a striking proportion of which has just been repudiated by electorate, is still making decisions on this matter, voting, for example, on a site plan today.
The details on Lansdowne regularly make my head hurt (this isn’t, incidentally, hard to do) but I sat in on Martin’s proposal last week, and it seems to have enough substance to merit something other than a rejection out of hand and a half-apologetic gesture towards the time clock.
Many have asked at various stages in the process, what is the big hurry? Lansdowne’s been there 150 years. Why not take the time to ensure we don’t screw it up?
Supporters of the sole-sourced OSEG bid, both on and off council, have sometimes replied that there’s no better plan on offer, that developers aren’t exactly lining up to do this job.
Except we can clearly see someone else lining up, carrying what they say is a better plan. Is it really too late to even hear them out?