Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CFL return to Ottawa more of a slow march, rather than a two minute drill

The prospect of the CFL's return to the nation's capital took a slight detour this week, with word that the ownership of the proposed franchise has decided to put on the back burner their quest for a General Manger for the team.

With the approval stage of the team's hoped for home at Lansdowne Park still in the midst of legal dispute, the owners are  now targeting 2014 as the launch date for the city's return to the CFL, that of course probably contingent on whether the City of Ottawa and it's warring factions in opposition to the Lansdowne project ever get their act together.

The latest stumbling block to a rebuilding of the Lansdowne site is the fate of the Horticulture building, purported by some seemingly to be an architectural gem that must be left in its historic state, not to be moved as was the original plan of development.

OMB supports Lansdowne project; remaining challenge to be heard in court next week
Internal Document: City's Lansdowne Media Strategy
Friends of Lansdown post legal case to scrap redevelopment plan
Mayor and councillors unfazed by recommendation against moving Horticulture Building
Watson calls proposal to move Ottawa Art Gallery to Lansdowne "political"

Now, this is an interesting twist of the tale of Lansdowne, the Rideau canal side lands that have been the home for both football, hockey and exhibitions in its long and regaled history.

I grew up not far from the place, spent more than a few summers wandering the midway of the Central Canada Exhibition and then it's spawn the SuperEx, and while we remember the Cattle Castle to this day, (some memories and aromas are forever ingrained) we can't say we had any particular attachment to the other various pavilions of the Lansdowne area, most of which seemed to be just blocks of cinder hosting trade show like items of some interest.

Having long ago left the city, we are not quite up to speed on all the uses of the various buildings at Lansdowne now, nor are we aware of all the issues of the day in the region when it comes to large scale land developments.

But this approval process for an entertainment complex, which seems to be along the same lines as the myriad of developments across North America these days with its mixed land use prospects, seems to have taken on glacial proportions when it comes to moving forward.

If anything, in a city that through Parliament Hill has long been regarded across the nation as a place where change is done at a snails pace, this land debate over the Lansdowne site makes the folks on the Hill look like fast moving and efficient administrators.

The concept of a stadium on the banks of the Rideau has been part of Ottawa history through the decades of the last century, so the idea of a football stadium/hockey rink there is not exactly something just dropped onto the populace.

The fact that the proposed project seems to be designed to make the site much more beneficial to the Metropolitan Ottawa region beyond the football, hockey or exhibition dates, should be celebrated, bringing back life to a part of the city that perhaps has been forgotten owing to the city's massive sprawl over the last few decades.

The latest approach of those that are against the development, using a building that really has little resonance to the population at large as its stop sign, is an indication that the greater good of the community can be held hostage by those who wish to stop any form of forward movement in the city.

The ownership group that has been assembled for the CFL's return appears to be a first class group, with the public face of Ottawa 67's owner Jeff Hunt in the fore front, the prospects for a successful return to the league, with an engaged local ownership has never been better.

The only thing seemingly in the way of a rebirth of a valuable part of Ottawa's past (both with football and with Lansdowne) seems to be a small, but loud group of opponents, seemingly well organized though we wonder if their complaints resonate with the larger pool of residents that call Ottawa home.

Hopefully the rest of the city's residents will begin to weigh in on this and send some indication as to what they want for the Lansdowne site.

Far too often in Ottawa's history the chance to develop something of a grand scale has slipped by (especially when it comes to the ages old debate over the future of Lansdowne Park), once again it seems that the same old scenario is rising up.

Hopefully some common sense will prevail and what appears to be a positive development for the city's south side will finally get a go ahead and with it the ownership group of the city's CFL team can get back to work on putting together a management team to bring a successful CFL team back to the field in the nations capital.

For those with a bit of time on their hands, the Ottawa Citizen is providing coverage of the OMB hearings this week, providing a glimpse into the political machinations involved in the development.

Some of their findings can be reviewed below.

Lansdowne showdown begins
Lansdowne Hearings Day 1
Lansdowne Hearings Day 2
Lansdowne Hearings Day 3
Lansdowne Hearings Day 4
Lansdowne Hearings Day 5

Friends of Lansdowne get their day in court
Judge questions lack of expert evidence on alleged Lansdowne subsidies
Judge questions lack of expertise to deal with Lansdowne case

CBC-- Lansdowne bad-faith claims rejected by city lawyer
CBC-- Lansdowne sole sourced deal questioned
CBC-- Lansdowne Park legal showdown begins
CBC-- The fight over Lansdowne Park
CBC-- Read the documents: Lansdowne Park hearings
CTV-- Trial begins for Lansdowne redevelopment project

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