Getting Lansdowne right, converting offices into homes and consulting on the city budget

Hello neighbour,

It was an intense couple of days at the joint Planning and Finance Committee meeting to discuss Lansdowne 2.0 last week.

Hello neighbour,

It was an intense couple of days at the joint Planning and Finance Committee meeting to discuss Lansdowne 2.0 last week. We heard from nearly 90 delegates and there are more than 20 amending motions to consider. We’ll pick it up again tomorrow as a full council.

This is the biggest financial decision we will make as a council during this term. It represents nearly half a billion dollars in city spending/debt. And this is happening in the midst of a housing/homelessness crisis.

We have not been provided with financial estimates to fix the stadium and arena that we already own. Or to consider a future where a publicly owned asset is operated and maintained publicly.

It’s important to remember that the motivation for renegotiating Lansdowne is not coming from the city, it’s coming from the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. OSEG has hinted that they might reconsider their involvement if the finances are not rebalanced, underlining the central problem of public-private partnerships. Understanding that profit is a key motive in this deal should force us to be more exhaustive in our deliberations.

This deal is premised on ludicrous financial assumptions, including nearly a billion dollars in retail revenue over 40 years and contributions of at least $20 million from other levels of government. As it stands, the proposal would provide ZERO affordable housing on site and only contribute 10% of the value of the air rights in residential towers to the city’s affordable housing fund.

With this proposal, it’s the city that will bear all of the financial risk. Meanwhile we KNOW that if we marshalled the same resources to end homelessness and massively scale up affordable housing, that there would be tangible financial and moral benefits for every single person in our city.

In today’s Ottawa Citizen, I have a piece co-authored with Councillors Jessica Bradley and Sean Devine, calling on council to delay a final decision on Lansdowne until the Auditor General can release her audit of the project, which will be presented to Council in Spring 2024. I hope our colleagues on council will join us in advocating for more time and more information before we make a decision that will have an impact on city finances for decades to come.

Ariel with Councillors Jessica Bradley and Theresa Kavanagh, at the Purple Tie Gala last month, in support of Cornerstone Housing

Thank you, as always, for your engagement and commitment to a better city.

Ariel

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Office-to-residential conversions

At Planning and Housing Committee last week, Councillor Troster put forward a motion to introduce incentives for developers seeking to convert empty office buildings into housing in the downtown core. This was in addition to a suite of city-wide recommendations made by staff. Councillor Glen Gower wrote an excellent Substack post, explaining the new incentives and how we hope they will stimulate more residential development in parts of the city that are suffering from the loss of 9-5 office workers.

Budget 2024: Your priorities 

We want to hear from you! This month, our office launched a city budget survey with Councillors Leiper and Menard, to help us better understand the needs of residents across the city and how you want us to spend your tax dollars. This survey is open to residents across Ottawa – fill it out on our website today.

Help choose the design for the St. Luke’s Park basketball court 

Great news! The basketball court at St. Luke’s Park is getting completely re-done this summer. We worked with the local basketball community to come up with two design options. Check it out and vote on which one you like best.

Resources for residents dealing with trauma

Many residents have reached out because they are rightfully upset after a shooting occurred on Bank Street yesterday afternoon. Others have been in touch expressing deep upset about a rising level of hate in our community and deep worry for loved ones living in Gaza or in Israel. Here are some free resources that are available to you if you need support:

  • Counselling Connect: counsellingconnect.org, 613-233-4443 ext. 2109
  • Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region, 613-238-3311 (24h)
  • Mental Health Crisis Line, 1-866-531-2600 (24h)
  • Drug and Alcohol Helpline, 1-800-565-8603 (24h)
  • Youth Services Bureau 24/7 Crisis Line, chat.ysb.ca, 613-260-2360
  • Family Services of Ottawa – emergency counselling, 613-725-3601
  • Jewish Family Services of Ottawa, 613-722-2225
  • Catholic Family Services, 613-233-8478

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Meet the Helpers

Last week we hosted a virtual meeting with neighbours to discuss policy initiatives our office has worked on since our community safety meeting last summer and introduced neighbours to service providers from Belong Ottawa, Centre 507 and the Centretown Community Health Centre. These are the slides from our presentation during the meeting.

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