Chiarelli pushes to make Lans­downe plan work

Coun­cil­lor seeks col­leagues’ sup­port for exclusive talks with de­vel­op­ers


Col­lege Ward Coun­cil­lor Rick Chiarelli has crafted a mo­tion that would have the city im­me­di­ately en­ter into ne­go­ti­a­tions with one group of busi­ness­men to re­de­velop Lans­downe Park.

The mo­tion was drafted Satur­day with city staff and Mayor Larry O’Brien, just one day af­ter Minto Group chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Roger Green­berg, one of the four busi­ness­men who make up the Lans­downe Live group, told the Ci­ti­zen ed­i­to­rial board he wants a “de­ci­sion in prin­ci­ple” to sup­port his group’s pro­posal at Wed­nes­day’s coun­cil meet­ing.

The Minto CEO said he is not pre­pared to have the city sit on the plan much longer, and needs to know where coun­cil stands on the un­so­licited pro­posal, which was made last fall.

Chiarelli stressed that if the mo­tion is car­ried Mon­day, it does not mean the Lans­downe Live pro­posal will be ac­cepted out­right; rather, the two sides would im­me­di­ately dive into a 60-day ne­go­ti­at­ing pe­riod, fol­lowed by 21 days of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

If they do carve out a deal, coun­cil will vote on it, fol­lowed by an­other round of con­sul­ta­tion.

“It (the mo­tion) is to en­ter into sole ne­go­ti­a­tions with Lans­downe Live to see if we can change the busi­ness model to some­thing that is mu­tu­ally agree­able,” said Chiarelli.

He said he told Green­berg about the mo­tion.

“This isn’t ex­actly what he wants, but I think he is happy with it,” said Chiarelli.

“And cer­tainly hap­pier than with any­thing else that was com­ing out of City Hall.”

Given that the land at Lans­downe alone is worth be­tween $75 mil­lion and $100 mil­lion, Chiarelli said one of the key is­sues to be ad­dressed is the idea of giv­ing an ex­pen­sive pub­lic as­set to some­one else to de­velop without any fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive.

“We want to change it (the pro­posal) so, first of all, there is an in­come stream to the city, be­cause this is a valu­able pub­lic as­set.”

Chiarelli says this could come in the form of a per­cent­age of rents, a com­mis­sion on sales, or a ticket sur­charge.

“It could be con­tri­bu­tions from other lev­els of gov­ern­ment to­ward the whole thing, it could be any num­ber of things, but that would all be sub­ject to ne­go­ti­a­tion,” he said.

If the mo­tion is ac­cepted, Chiarelli said the city would also be ne­go­ti­at­ing a lease longer than the 50-year lease the group pro­posed — with the city hav­ing the op­tion to sell Lans­downe to them or keep it at the end.

River Ward Coun­cil­lor Maria McRae said she will sup­port the mo­tion be­cause she says the city has a re­spon­si­bil­ity first and fore­most to pro­tect what it al­ready owns.

She stressed that the is­sue at large is not about whether to choose the Lans­downe Live bid over an­other bid by Ottawa Se­na­tors owner Eu­gene Mel­nyk to put a stadi- um in Kanata near Sco­tia­bank Place, the home of his NHL club.

She says the city has an obli­ga­tion to tax­pay­ers to “get that park up to stan­dard.

“It is de­spi­ca­ble that we have al­lowed Frank Clair Sta­dium to get to a point where we are sink­ing mil­lions of dol­lars into it like a black hole and it’s not us­able,” said McRae.

“And it’s got noth­ing to do with whether it’s used for foot­ball or soc­cer or con­certs. It has ev­ery­thing to do with the fact that we own an open-air sta­dium and we have al­lowed it to rot.”

She said she met with the Lans­downe Live group Thurs­day, and they pre­sented her with more data that show they can make a re­ju­ve­na­tion of Lans­downe “tax-neu­tral to the city,” given the city is al­ready pour­ing mil­lions of dol­lars into Lans­downe just to keep it in “an un­us­able form” since the de­mo­li­tion of the south-side seats last July.

She said the group raised the pos­si­bly of “satel­lite park­ing” op­tions, which will help ease con­ges­tion dur­ing the 10 home games per sea­son of a po­ten­tial ex­pan­sion Cana­dian Foot­ball League fran­chise.

Or­léans Coun­cil­lor Bob Monette said he will sec­ond Chiarelli’s mo­tion on Mon­day. He also said the city can­not af­ford to do noth­ing — leav­ing tax­pay­ers on the hook for mil­lions for the up­keep of an un­used fa­cil­ity — and said he thinks the mo­tion “goes in the right di­rec­tion.”

“It (the mo­tion) seems to find a mid­dle ground with how we can move ahead with this ... make Lans­downe work and also make it cost ef­fec­tive.”


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