There are many development conflicts across the country and in many cases, the developers normally win, against the wishes of the community. The question I have is why don’t political decision-makers and developers listen to the people which would result in better, that is, integrated development. The Lansdowne Park redevelopment in Ottawa is a prime example of not listening to the opponents of the sole-source redevelopment plan. They warned that if they went ahead with the plan it was not only socially but economically unsustainable.
And guess what, Ottawa taxpayers will be on the hook for not listening. City staff are now recommending a deal to help the private sector group, OSEG, who runs its operations, to cover unexpected operational costs over the next year due to COVID-19. It will increase the city’s risk, delay any potential revenue from the park until 2054 and potentially prevent the city from making necessary changes to the deal for the benefit of the surrounding communities.
And it is specious to blame COVID-19, it was not economically viable before the pandemic, due to the lack of diversity of retail space, the limitations on the local farmer’s market and many other factors such as low sports venue attendance. If only they had listened to the public who proposed a dynamic inclusive plan for the 55-hectare space that included a skate park, a permanent market, a 100 percent public space for the enjoyment of present and future generations, with the City of Ottawa retaining full ownership of the land (Lansdowne Park Conservancy).
If there had been an open design and decision-making process, a compromise could have been reached between the competing visions rather than a sole-source deal with the private sector group.
Further exacerbating the lack of due process in development proposals, the Ontario government has just announced changes to limit the power of conservation authorities.
If only they would listen, to develop integrated plans that consider the ecological, social and economic imperatives of sustainable community development.