FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2011
Friends of Lansdowne to Appeal Municipal Act Ruling
Friends of Lansdowne Inc. has decided to take its Lansdowne Legal Challenge to the Ontario Court of Appeal. A formal notice, setting out the grounds for appeal, will be filed by August 28, 2011. If successful, the appeal will quash the City's decision to approve the $400 million Lansdowne Partnership Plan.
"Friends of Lansdowne has 7,000 people on its mailing list from all over the region" said June Creelman, President of Friends of Lansdowne Inc. "We have had an overwhelming call from our supporters to continue our fight for transparent and accountable government at the municipal level."
Friends of Lansdowne will argue that the Superior Court allowed Ottawa's City Council far too much latitude in regard to restrictions set out in provincial law concerning competitive procurement, the use of tax dollars to assist commercial entities and the requirement that it put the public interest first.
"As an Ottawa resident and taxpayer, I expect municipal government to be transparent and accountable when they are spending $400 million dollars of taxpayers' money and developing nearly 40 acres of public land. I certainly don't want tax dollars used to subsidize a commercial shopping centre and two sports teams." said Ian Lee, a spokesman for Friends of Lansdowne.
The Appeal need not delay redevelopment of a sports stadium. Since the redevelopment of the stadium is to be paid in full by taxpayers, the City can proceed with construction of a stadium at Lansdowne, or in another more transit-friendly location, regardless of any appeal. City officials have announced that they do not plan to finalize the deal with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group until spring 2012. Friends of Lansdowne expects its appeal to be heard later this year or early next.
As a city-wide community group, Friends of Lansdowne has sought an open, transparent process and has opposed sole-sourcing. "This is the first time the Ontario Court of Appeal will be asked to address key issues raised by this case. I hope property taxpayers come out the winners", said Ms. Creelman.
June Creelman 613-233-5814 (evenings)
Ian Lee 613-222-7722
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why has FOL decided to Appeal?
FOL believes that municipal governments must be transparent and accountable. In fact, this obligation is required of them under the Municipal Act. We believe the judge gave the City far too much latitude in allowing it to decide how to observe these principles in deciding the future of Lansdowne Park. If allowed to stand the deference accorded City Council would allow it to do almost anything it wants, without regard to provincial law.
We continue to believe that the City acted unlawfully when it approved the LPP.The grounds for our appeal will be set out in more detail when the notice of appeal is filed on or before Aug. 28, 2011.
2. Aren’t you just trying to delay the project from proceeding?
The City has announced that it does not intend to close the deal with OSEG until late spring 2012. We expect our appeal to be heard and decided well in advance of that schedule.
The Appeal need not delay redevelopment of a sports stadium. Since the City is paying the full cost of the stadium redevelopment, it can proceed with a stadium at Lansdowne or elsewhere in the City any time it wishes.
3. What are your chances of success?
We are confident we have strong grounds for appealing this ruling. We also believe that it is important to appeal a decision that accords Ottawa and other municipalities a virtual carte blanche to ignore provincial statutes and due public process. This would set a dangerous precedent and deny community groups of their rights to question municipal actions where there are grounds to regard them as unlawful.
4. Why are you announcing this decision now when you have until August 28th and your lawyer has not yet filed your appeal?
There is a meeting of the Finance and Economic Development Committee Thursday, August 18, to consider making further commitments to the Lansdowne project. Having made the decision to proceed, we thought it appropriate to advise the City even though the paper work may take a little while longer.
5. Why are saying that the Lansdowne scheme will cost $400 million?
This is the estimated total cost to taxpayers over 40 years including interest costs.
It is made up of:
- $130 M stadium
- $35 M urban park
- $8.5 M trade show centre
Amortized over 40 years, the annual debt servicing cost is about $10 million a year so 40 x 10 M is $400 M.
Note that this $400 million dollar cost is just the actual money taxpayers are putting in.
On top of this, the City is including 10 acres of prime downtown public land that it is leasing for only $1 a year. The City estimates the value of the land at $25 million—the City will not get any return on this for at least 25 years if at all (depending on interest rates, profits etc.) So this is a very costly scheme.