Council approves Lansdowne renewal plan

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Published on
November 9, 2023
Arts, heritage and events
Council, committees and City Hall
Planning, development and construction
Recreation and parks

City Council approved the plan for Lansdowne 2.0 today. The plan will help reinvigorate one of the City’s most important assets through the construction of a new mid-size event centre, new north-side stadium stands, a two-storey retail space and two residential towers. At the same time, it provides needed funds for affordable housing in Ottawa.

The existing arena and north-side stands are City-owned facilities that are functionally obsolete and will not be able to live up to their intended use in the future. Maintaining them would require costly, ongoing repairs to fix a growing number of deficiencies. By replacing them, the facilities will become accessible and the environmental impact of operating the building will be reduced. The arena is currently the least energy efficient City-owned facility. In addition, the City and its partner – the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) – will draw more major events to Ottawa, increasing potential City revenues and supporting Lansdowne businesses.

The new event centre will accommodate nearly 4,700 general admission seats, and capacity increases to 5,500 for hockey games and 6,500 for concerts. The proposed north-side stands reduce current seating capacity from 14,000 to 11,000 but includes standing room for an additional 900. The approved plan contemplates two residential towers with maximum heights of 40 storeys. Limiting redevelopment to two towers will ensure the site can accommodate about 2,600 square metres of new public space adjacent to Aberdeen Pavilion. The two-storey retail building would include about 4,550 square metres of commercial space.

The City’s total capital cost is estimated at about $419 million, but taxpayers will pay only about one third of that – around $146 million. The approved plan will deliver new City-owned facilities for a net cost of about $5 million a year after factoring in revenues from the sale of subterranean and air rights.

Council carried several motions to further refine the Lansdowne plan, committing the City to:

  • Increase the portion of estimated subterranean and air rights value to be allocated to the City’s affordable Housing reserve by 15 per cent (about $5.9 million), in line with the City’s Affordable Housing Land and Funding Policy.
  • Direct 50 per cent of any revenues from the disposal of subterranean and air rights that are above the estimated value of $39 million to the affordable housing reserve.
  • Remove the 770-unit cap on the number of dwellings that could be developed within the two residential towers and eliminate the minimum parking rate to help address housing needs and provide the City with additional funds through property tax uplift.
  • Work with OSEG to develop a social procurement framework to help increase opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups through the Lansdowne 2.0 project.
  • Extend the principles guiding traffic demand management for large events to other events held at Lansdowne.
  • Increase the community programming plan in the urban park at Lansdowne to better leverage City facilities on non-event days.
  • Advance options to increase and enhance public space at Lansdowne, including improving the interface between the event centre and the Great Lawn, improving access to washrooms and other amenities, and providing flexibility for community use.
  • Explore options to re-create a berm in proximity to the Great Lawn, preserving the public art piece, Moving Surfaces.
  • Assess the feasibility of possible new active transportation infrastructure, including a signalized crossing at Princess Patricia Way and Queen Elizabeth Drive (QED), pedestrian crossovers on both QED and Holmwood Avenue, protected cycling facilities on Fifth Avenue, a wider westbound bike lane at QED and extended sidewalks on Echo Drive.
  • Work with the National Capital Commission and Parks Canada to explore adding boat up access to Lansdowne and a pedestrian crossover on QED at Princess Patricia Way.
  • Work with OSEG to consider options for including a roof over the new north side stands.
  • Work with OSEG to explore future opportunities at Lansdowne for Ottawa-based independent concert promoters.
  • Prioritize a series of public realm improvements that would be funded from future City Budgets.
  • Explore making Aberdeen Square a more hospitable and pedestrian friendly area, possibly by closing or further reducing through traffic.
  • Consider providing electric charging stations and carshare facilities on City-controlled parking at Lansdowne, and including transportation demand management criteria in the request for offer for subterranean and air rights.
  • Study options to help reduce the potential financial risk to taxpayers stemming from this project.

Today’s decision means City work to find an affordable option to secure a vibrant future for Lansdowne will continue. As the City and its partners move ahead with detailed design for the proposed redevelopment, there will be further opportunities for Council to consider before construction begins. That will include opportunities to consider a report on Lansdowne from the City’s Auditor General.

More background information on the project is available on the Lansdowne public engagement site.