Thank you very much for your generous support of the Lansdowne legal challenge. We have been very successful with our fundraising so far, but we still have a significant way to go.
Any litigation is costly but this case is particularly onerous due to its complexity. Furthermore, continued obfuscation by the City of Ottawa has led to extra work and costly delays. The case has now been postponed from April and is expected to be heard the week of June 20.
Our lawyer, Steven Shyrbman and his colleagues at Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP, have done everything they can to keep costs down. They have discounted their rates by 40%, used volunteer researchers to help out, and have found outside sources of funding to retain expert witnesses. But they can only do so much when our deep-pocketed opponents drive up costs, perhaps in the hopes of wearing us down.
But Friends of Lansdowne is determined to fight for the public good. If we win, we will be breaking new legal ground in Canada as this is one of the first cases where citizens have challenged a municipal government to respect its own laws and to act in good faith in the public interest.
That is why I am asking you again to make a donation and by spreading the word to friends, neighbhours and colleagues who may also be willing to support us.
As you may know, the key grounds for our application to the Ontario Superior Court to quash the City of Ottawa's decisions relating to the Lansdowne Partnership Plan are three-fold:
- The City broke its own procurement rules when it gave a sole source contract to redevelop Lansdowne Park
- The City accorded preferential treatment and unfair advantages or 'bonuses' to the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group
- The City acted in bad faith and failed to meet its duty to protect the public interest
Here are some 'bad faith' features of the Lansdowne Partnership Plan that we are opposing:
1. The give away of public land and assets to private interests. Ten acres of Lansdowne Park are to be leased to the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) for $1.00/year for 30 years. OSEG plans to put retail stores, cinemas, an LCBO and high-rise condos on this publicly-owned land. The lease can be extended for up to 70 years. In addition, the stadium and civic centre will be renovated at public expense, and leased to the developers for $1 a year. So public land, that has been enjoyed by the citizens of Ottawa for over a century, is essentially being privatized and citizens are not even getting a reasonable return.
2. A bad financial deal. The City will not only provide public land and assets for a nominal fee, but it will also spend more than $178 million on the project. Taxpayers will repay the debt - an estimated $10 million a year - for the next 40 years.
OSEG is putting in $30 million of equity and investing in a shopping centre and condo development. A complex profit distribution scheme has been arranged with six different levels of payments. OSEG's large mortgage debt for its shopping complex will be repaid before any profits are distributed. After that,there are some shared financial arrangements with an 8% return on equity to both parties. However, the 8% payment for the 10 acres of city land (valued at some $23 million) will only after 25 years - should there be any profits to distribute in 2038.
3. A 70 year deal for 5 years of football. The City will transfer all responsibility for Lansdowne Park to a new corporation with extensive powers. It will enter into leases of up to 70 years with the developers, who will have a management contract for the entire site. Yet developers are only guaranteeing to maintain their ownership of the football and hockey teams for 5 years. There's much more, including failure to communicate the real facts of the scheme to the public in an honest manner, but perhaps this is enough.
We have a good chance of stopping this flawed plan. You can make a donation
- at http://www.letsgetitright.ca/
- at any TD bank to account 3248-5207023 (please let our Treasurer know by email at FoL.Donations@gmail.com)
- by sending a cheque to Friends of Lansdowne c/o Ted Lupinski CA 137 Second Ave, Suite 2 Ottawa ON K1S 2H4
If you have questions, please ask. Thanks.
Ken Shipley Friends of Lansdowne
firstname.lastname@example.org 613 234 1862
P.S. I should also remind you of other initiatives that are underway. Appeals have been launched related to zoning and to heritage designation. There is also action on environmental issues. There's a huge amount of volunteer time and effort going into this. Thanks again for your part in it.