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SRO at Lansdowne Park Information Meeting

They started arriving at 7 pm. By 7:15 more than 100 people were on hand getting
information and picking up handouts at tables sponsored by ORSA (Ottawa Regional
Society of Architects), Glebe Historical Society, Friends of Lansdowne Park, Glebe
Community Association, Hopewell School Grade 4-5 class, and others. By 7:30 all 300
seats were filled. Additional 250 or more people stood 2 and 3 rows thick along the side
walls or sat on the floor beside the podium.

They came for information and to express their concerns and frustration. And they were
not disappointed. Expert moderator Anne Scotton outlined the evening program that
began with a panel of 4 speakers: Bob Brocklebank, president of the GCA, who outlined
the recent activity concerning the state of Lansdowne Park, the Design Lansdowne
process commenced then aborted by the City when they received an unsolicited proposal,
up to the present negotiations between the two parties; Dr. Caroline Andrew, University
of Ottawa professor, who stressed the importance of public process and citizen
engagement, citing some good examples in recent history and reminding the audience
that Lansdowne Park has been an important public space for a long time and will
continue to be so far into the future; Dr. Ian Lee, professor and director of the Sprott
School of Management of Carleton University and previously a commercial banker, who
explained the importance to the city of a good business plan, and the ways in which the
Lansdowne Live proposal falls short; and Robert Webster, architect representing ORSA,
who said that, “Design is not an object; it is a process” and showed examples of major
public spaces in other cities.

The next 22 minutes was devoted to audience comments, one minute per person,
followed by short summary responses from the panellists. These were well articulated yet
passionate pleas for valuing public process and doing the right thing, such as:
“How councillors vote on this issue is a reflection of whether they see Lansdowne Park
as an asset or a liability.”
“In the recent past, other communities succeeded in stopping projects imposed on them,
for example the American Embassy in Rockcliffe Park, the Hampton Park off ramp, a
high rise hotel in the Byward Market.”
“There is no plan B if and when the CFL franchise fails again.”
“A heritage public space next to a UNESCO World Heritage Site in a G-8 capital
deserves better. How will it remain a park? How will it be a civic place?”
“Neighbourhoods have been killed by excess traffic and commercialization. Don’t let that
happen here.”

Dr. Andrew responded that the audience and organizers should build from here to a public
process that is city-wide. Dr. Lee reiterated the risk involved in the flawed business plan,
as well as the aversion to increased taxes by many citizens including those who live in the
wards whose councillors voted to negotiate with the proponents of the unsolicited
proposal. Mr. Webster restated that a flawed process results in a flawed product.
Additional points emerged in the question and answer period that followed. The large
audience seemed to be in agreement about some main issues:
• Public space should be used for the public good.
• Consultation is essential for a good product and for the protection of social
• Taxpayers should not have to pay for commercial ventures, especially when the
city has many jeopardized programs and infrastructure.
• Competition results in higher standards and better outcomes.
• The city must not fall for a bad business plan, for reasons of nostalgia, short-
sightedness, cronyism or any other reason.
• This is not a ‘nimby’ or Glebe-centric issue, but affects the entire city.

The evening ended with a reminder that this is the beginning of several steps to follow.
1. Keep informed and ready for the response when the city calls for it.
2. Write letters to the press and to your councillor and mayor.
3. Tell your friends, especially in suburban and rural areas to contact their
4. Sign petitions.
5. Disseminate information by E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, phone, etc.
6. Attend the rally on Sunday June 14 at 1 pm at Lansdowne Park.

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