This past week I attended, along with many of my council colleagues, the public meeting “Let’s Talk Lansdowne” held at City Hall in the Heritage Building. It was no surprise that the vast majority of those in attendance opposed the proposed Lansdowne 2.0 project. I have heard from many residents on their concerns about the project and have received several briefings on the proposal by City staff.
On November 2, there will be a joint meeting of the Finance and Corporate Services Committee with the Planning and Housing Committee for which I am a member. I will be listening and asking questions to staff and delegates on the project. The final vote on this proposed project with be at City Council on November 9th.
I continue to be concerned about the use of taxpayer dollars for privately-owned projects such as OSEG at Lansdowne – is this the best use of City funds/facilities? I do not believe that the City of Ottawa should be financially responsible for the success or failure of private enterprises.
The current proposal provides no suggestions to help people access the site, except to increase parking at Lansdowne at the cost of $18.6 million – that’s over $132,000 per parking space. Is this a good use of City funds? We have recently learned OC Transpo is running at a deficit, and spending money towards building more parking will not to help us reach the goal of having the majority of trips be taken by sustainable transportation, and will only further contribute to congestion in the area.
The revised plan removes 500 units of housing. We are in a housing shortage and also an affordability shortage. The new proposal also removes the previous commitment to ensure 10% of the units are affordable housing. This is a major loss.
The plan suggests reaching out to Federal and Provincial partners for funding. But as a City we must prioritize where we put our efforts when asking these partners for help. Our top Term of Council Priority is affordable housing and ensuring people have a home to call their own. We need to remain focused on this goal when we evaluate suggestions for engaging at Federal and Provincial levels.
I remain deeply concerned about the new proposal. I do not see a compelling case for this project as presented when we know it is risky and has not previously proven to be fruitful. I will be voting against the proposal. I believe we can find other ways to ensure Lansdowne can become a vibrant space in our City.