Watson and Menard spar over Lansdowne during Council meeting
Ottawa City Council began today's meeting by handing out two City Builder Awards and taking care of smaller motions but it wasn’t long before the discussion shifted to the second stage of development for Lansdowne Park.
Several amendments were discussed, including the sustainability of the park expansion and the percentage of units that would be affordable housing in the development. Councillor Kitts forwarded a motion requesting that all future plans for Lansdowne Park should comply with special district policies previously adopted by the city council.
Councillor Shawn Menard tried to pass a motion sponsored by Rawlson King to shift any future approvals related to Lansdowne Park to the 2022-20226 Council session. Menard argued that because most sitting members of Council will not be returning for the 2022-2026 sitting of Council, a project of this size should not be approved by what Menard called “a lame-duck session.” His motion cited a 2004 act that supposedly stops Council from approving projects or expenditures over $50,000 that have not been previously delegated.
The Mayor made his feelings very clear and suggested that fellow councillors not vote for the motion. Menard again spoke, bringing up petitions by citizens concerned over the development and encouraging Council to support the move to delay until there is a new mayor in the city. Councillor Scott Moffatt retorted Councillor Menard by saying that lame-duck terms do not apply because each councillor is elected for a four-year term, and they are still within their authority to vote on issues. He said that if the next sitting of the Council would like to scrap the Lansdowne redevelopment provisions, that will happen within their mandate. Moffat said, “We are not elected to hold off, and hope that some change will come so that we will get more support for a position that we might have.”
Mayor Watson stated plainly and simply that the motion put forward by Menard will kill the second phase of the development and said, “there's a small group of people that are opinionated and passionate about wanting Lansdowne to fail.” The mayor said that a petition (Menard's) may have gotten 2000 signatures, but millions of people head to Lansdowne each year, and he sides with them.
Further motions were discussed regarding Lansdowne, including a proposal by Councillor McKenney and Councillor Menard to address affordable housing prices and concerns about Lansdowne's expansion. The Mayor also scrutinized this proposal, and it was voted down: 17 against, 7 in support.
Menard responded angrily when an additional motion regarding a city-wide public consultation on the further development of Lansdowne was not supported by City Manager Steve Kanellakos. Menard suggested that since 2012, the Council has “rammed through” everything regarding Lansdowne.
After the discussion of Lansdowne ended, a motion by Councillor King proposed several solutions, so extended power outages don’t plague the city again. These include: the mayor informing the Council of an action plan for future power outages and how they will be dealt with in the coming crisis and modernizing the smart grid so that citizens are more aware of when power outages are likely to be resolved. Councillors Gower and Dudas also forwarded motions on emergency preparedness, so that city staff are better briefed to assist citizens during emergencies.
Council is scheduled to meet again on June 22nd