Lansdowne Park – Aberdeen Square Public Consultation Has Been Ignored

JOHN DANCE

Despite a consultation meeting and many suggestions from residents, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) has to date refused to alter its design for improvements to Aberdeen Square, the City-operated area just to the north of Lansdowne Park’s Aberdeen Pavilion.

Originally presented to the Lansdowne Community Consultation Group back in August, the proposed improvements were front and centre at a public consultation in October which was followed by an opportunity for residents to submit their suggestions. Then, at the November 30 meeting of the Community Consultation Group, OSEG presented its “What We Heard” report, summarizing the consultation.

And the conclusion? To proceed with what was presented back in August. OSEG’s failure to budge prompted a protest by community members of the consultation group, and Councillor Shawn Menard requested that the design be modified to reflect the consultations. Specifically, he called for smaller and fewer entrance structures, a small stage, electrical infrastructure to support stage events, some permanent seating and thriving trees.

Mark Gowdie, OSEG’s CEO, responded that any modifications to the design would require Casino Lac-Leamy’s consent because the casino had already agreed to the original design and they were providing key funding for the project as part of the sponsorship/naming rights deal they have for the square.

Asked recently if any decision has yet been reached on the design, Dan Chenier, the City of Ottawa’s general manager of recreation, cultural and facility services, responded that “[T]he City and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group are still reviewing the requested changes to the proposal and discussions on this matter have not yet concluded.”

“A possibly more fundamental issue than OSEG’s intransigence is why OSEG has been a primary actor in the process related to Aberdeen Square at all – as opposed to the City more actively engaging and representing the public interest,” says Doug Macaulay, a member of OOECA’s Lansdowne committee.

In other Lansdowne news, in December, City Council approved a 10-year extension to its deal with OSEG and a variety of other provisions to help OSEG whether the pandemic’s dire business effects. As a result of Councillor Menard’s initiative and as had been suggested by the Glebe’s June Creelman, OSEG committed to keeping the RedBlacks and the Ottawa 67s at Lansdowne for 10 years longer than had previously been agreed.

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