Future of Lansdowne: OSEG Takeover Dead But Consultation Lives On

John Dance

Once the public urban park facilities at Lansdowne reopen after the coronavirus pandemic ends, the park will remain under City of Ottawa management now that OSEG has withdrawn its proposal to take over control. Photo by John Dance

Once the public urban park facilities at Lansdowne reopen after the coronavirus pandemic ends, the park will remain under City of Ottawa management now that OSEG has withdrawn its proposal to take over control. Photo by John Dance

Consistent with the wishes of local community associations, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) has withdrawn its offer to take over the City of Ottawa’s management of the public and open space portion of Lansdowne Park. As community associations also proposed, consultation on the future of Lansdowne – rather than just on the merits of an OSEG takeover – will be pursued.

“I look forward to the consultation and the world-class park we can aim for,” says Richard Cundall, Old Ottawa East Community Association’s lead on the future of Lansdowne. “This is a great step in the right direction.”

“At the end of the day we just want a better Lansdowne,” Mark Goudie, OSEG’s chief executive officer, told The Mainstreeter. “We need to look at all of Lansdowne for the next 10 to 15 years.” In terms of the proposal to take over park programming from the City, Goudie said OSEG had thought this would be “non-controversial.” It turned out to be anything but. Last October, about 500 people showed up at a community association-sponsored meeting to address the proposal, and the vast majority spoke of the need for real consultation not merely about who should run the public parts of Lansdowne but also on its longterm future.

Subsequently, when the OSEG takeover proposal was before the relevant City committee, 40 of 42 public presentations opposed OSEG taking over the City’s programming role. The committee ended up deferring a decision on the takeover until consultation was completed but now, with the withdrawal of OSEG’s proposal, there will be much broader consultation.

“OSEG has pledged to work in collaboration with the community, city and our office to see if there’s a better approach for improving Lansdowne,” said Councillor Shawn Menard. “I commend them for taking this approach.”

A year ago, Menard released a vision document entitled “Lansdowne Park, A Place for People.” However, since then and without any community consultation, the City administration supported the OSEG’s now-withdrawn takeover proposal and also concluded a deal to rename Aberdeen Square as Casino Lac- Leamy Plaza.

The timeline and process for Lansdowne consultation have not yet been established nor has background information been provided to the public. A key goal of OSEG is to increase the number of annual park visitors from about four to five million.

As Goudie puts it, “We need a conversation about what we are trying to solve.” He notes that transportation is one of the biggest deterrents to people coming to the park, so he feels that solving the transportation issue should be a large part of the consultation.

Ottawa Mayor Ottawa Mayor originally dismissed opponents of OSEG’s takeover proposal as “the same people that are probably fighting the metric system,” but it seems they were fighting for better consultation, something all parties now seem to agree on.

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