For immediate release
June 15, 2011
Broken Laws, Bad Faith, Bonuses to Developers and the $62 Million Question:
Friends of Lansdowne Makes its Legal Case
The Friends of Lansdowne has laid out its legal case against the City of Ottawa in a 117-page document filed on June 13, 2011 with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The document sets out page after page of facts to demonstrate its contention that City Council and officials acted illegally in approving a complex public-private partnership scheme for the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park.
“This reads like a story on how NOT to plan the development of an important public space” says Doug Ward of the Friends of Lansdowne. “Our evidence shows that the City of Ottawa misled the public about the nature of the Lansdowne scheme. It approved a deal that benefits private developers more than the taxpayers of this city and it ignored every rule in the book about the way to manage public resources. It’s incredible that here in Canada’s capital, a city full of public servants, fair public process was completely ignored.”
His views are echoed by Professor Ian Lee of Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business. “The City didn’t exercise even a modicum of due diligence. There was absolutely no independent review of the financials done by the City. The Friends of Lansdowne found that there was a $62 million discrepancy in the city's funding equity between the deal approved by the City Council 12 months ago and what the City Manager now says was intended. What is going on? Was it misrepresentation, a mistake or was it downright negligence. It’s the $62 million dollar question!”
City Councils all over Ontario and Canada will be watching the Friends of Lansdowne legal challenge closely. Unlike typical development squabbles, this fight is not about specifics of building heights, traffic and density, but about the fundamentals of governance at the municipal level. There is very little precedent this sort of case. If the Friends win, the Lansdowne Legal Challenge will make new law for Ontario that will hold municipalities to higher standards of accountability and good governance.
Doug Ward concludes: “The Lansdowne Legal Challenge is about accountability and transparency. It will clarify the obligation of elected councilors and public officials to act in good faith and to serve the public interest not private purposes. We can’t wait to make our case in court next week.”
The Friends of Lansdowne is a grassroots coalition of citizens interested in the revitalization of Lansdowne Park. The Lansdowne Legal Challenge will be heard in the Provincial Court House on Elgin Street from June 21-23, 2011. The hearing is open to the public.
For more information:
The factum is posted at www.letsgetitright.ca