Published on July 28, 2011 11:23 PM by dbo.
The judge in the Friends of Lansdowne vs the City of Ottawa issued his ruling today, dismissing the Friends lawsuit and stating the city acted in good faith, no unlawful bonusing occurred and no procurement bylaws were broken. While a significant hurdle to clear, it does not put the project immediately on track for construction to begin.
When we left off in June, the Friends were wrapping up their case with evidence that a consultant warned the city should not subsidize the CFL. When the city’s turn to argue their case came, they refuted the bad-faith claims and backed up their claims the Lansdowne deal is not illegal. The city brought forth as evidence that the city followed the advice of one of its critics in having the agreement audited and reviewed. The city concluded its arguments and the case was in the hands of the judge June 30 who expected a decision in July.
Waiting for the legal case to be decided, the councillor for the Lansdowne area stated the designs for the park lack pizzazz. Before one lawsuit could be put to bed, the Lansdowne Park Conservancy threatened a second lawsuit. This lawsuit was about the Conservancy’s plan not being considered by the city, and the group not receiving a hearing with the city’s chief procurement officer. That the Conservancy didn’t unveil plans until June, 2010 with revisions in November, 2010 means little to this group. Their plan is entitled to consideration, even if it is late by years by all calculations, as can been seen in this timeline of events.
Despite the tactics to kill the development with lawsuit delays and appeals, the sports-side members of the OSEG partners have shown remarkable patience and restraint. It is very clear that as much as these lawsuits are disguised as being on principles of democracy, public fiscal responsibility and fairness in the procurement process, it is really about stopping a project that they don’t like. They can’t say it is about not wanting a stadium or commercial development because those arguments are not winnable. Their disguised arguments are weak as well, but with a war chest and appeals, they may be able to make the developers give up and walk away. It has been five years already and by current schedules it will be another three before the project is finished. If OSEG sticks with it, that says a lot about how committed they are to their city.