Blog: Friends of Lansdowne Inc. Decision
This is the letter I wrote to my Council colleagues following the decision made by the Friends of Lansdowne Inc. not to seek leave to appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada. I wanted to share it with you.
Dear Council colleague,
Today we learned that the Friends of Lansdowne Inc. has decided to not seek leave to appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada.
This is an important moment in our City’s history as it removes a significant legal hurdle which could have further delayed the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park.
Although the City’s decision to proceed with Lansdowne redevelopment had been affirmed by both the Superior Court of Justice and Ontario Court of Appeal, the decision by Friends of Lansdowne brings their court action to an end.
It also provides greater certainty to our residents that the City can now proceed with the redevelopment of Lansdowne.
The Courts may still deal with the request for leave to appeal brought by the Lansdowne Park Conservancy/John Martin, this request relates to the City’s victory on March 23, 2012, when the Divisional Court of Ontario dismissed the Conservancy’s action, finding it an Abuse of Process and later awarding the City $10,000 in costs against John Martin.
Today’s decision by the Friends of Lansdowne is significant for the City in that it provides us with the opportunity to turn the page and to proceed with the planned revitalization of Lansdowne Park.
Although Lansdowne Park is an important asset, it has been allowed to deteriorate to such a point that it no longer generates pride in our City. It is a park in name only but our City Council has developed a vision that will make Lansdowne Park a place that residents and tourists will once again want to frequent.
Some have disagreed with Council’s vision for Lansdowne – it is their right and prerogative to do so in a democratic society.
And it is each citizen’s right to use our court system to challenge decisions made by our democratically elected Council. Although I disagreed with their decision to do so, I have always respected their right to challenge Council’s decisions in Court.
I ask all Members of Council to join with me in respecting each and every resident’s right to fully use all legal avenues available to challenge decisions made by our elected officials.
Let me restate what I said on April 30th – healthy debate and divergent views make for a stronger democracy. The Friends of Lansdowne’s decision not to seek leave to appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada does not put an end to the healthy debate about Lansdowne.
Residents may choose to continue to oppose parts or all of the planned redevelopment – it is their democratic right to do so.
But now that the courts have ruled in a definitive manner, it is Council’s duty to proceed with Lansdowne’s redevelopment. It is time to put an end to that debate and move forward. I am deeply convinced that we will be proud of the final outcome.
Great cities are made of great neighbourhoods – and I am convinced that, over time, we will look back at the decision to proceed as one that will improve both neighbourhoods around Lansdowne and our City as whole.
The new Lansdowne will be unrecognizable from the current dilapidated facility. At the end of the day, we will see a dramatic increase in public parkland at Lansdowne. We will see a healthy mix of public, retail, housing and entertainment venues that will bring more people back to the Glebe and Old Ottawa South and help sustain the many small business that enrich the area.
Namely, our residents will see 26 acres of asphalt reduced to just 2 acres. The current 6 acres of green space, including the playing field, will be transformed into more than 18 acres of parkland that everyone can enjoy. We will rebuild the Civic Centre and revitalize the Horticulture Building – which is not open for public enjoyment and is currently being used as a storage shed.
This will be a bicycle and pedestrian friendly development. We can now move to convert large swaths of this cherished Cityasset from a parking lot to parkland.
On April 30th in a statement to the media, I respectfully asked Friends of Lansdowne to help us move forward. I reminded the Friends of Lansdowne and the people of Ottawa that both sides had together spent more than $1.5 million in total in legal fees.
We can now redirect our energies to the job of revitalizing Lansdowne Park for the benefit of current and future generations of Ottawans.
I want to take this opportunity to challenge all Members of Council to leave no stone unturned to continue to improve the Lansdowne redevelopment project.
I have said from day one that I am committed to doing so, and I will continue to work with Members of Council and our residents in this spirit.
There are many more decisions to come with regards to Lansdowne.
I have had some very constructive discussions with Councillor Chernushenko over the past weeks about how we can improve Lansdowne in the coming years.
I will continue to work closely with all Members of Council as we proceed with the creation of a City-wide destination that all of us can take pride in.
- Jim Watson