Council approves next step for Lansdowne 2.0 project

Ottawa city council has approved the next step in the Lansdowne 2.0 project at Wednesday’s meeting.

After the city studied a range of procurement models, they settled on a “design-bid-build” model that will see Ottawa award two fixed-priced contracts — one for designs and one for construction — of the new event centre and north-side stands.

According to city officials, this model is traditionally used to procure large-scale infrastructure. They also say it aligns with the Ottawa LRT Public Inquiry recommendation to opt for proven approaches when investing public funds in large-scale projects.

“The preferred approach represents the best option in terms of cost and timelines,” wrote the city in a release. “It requires preparation of a detailed design first, which will help determine final construction costs.”

The city also says that the design will inform how the new north-side stands will connect with the planned retail space, which is important as the city is preparing for the future disposal of air rights.

“The city is proposing to sell or lease those rights for the space above and below the retail building [and] the city’s financial contribution to the project will be paid for, in part, by the disposal of these rights,” added the release.

This latest decision follows council’s approval last November of the controversial plan, despite local opposition and a higher price tag. Costs ballooned from an estimated $332 million in 2022 to $419 million in 2023 thanks to rising inflation and interest rates.

Residents’ reception was overwhelmingly negative as the first redevelopment phase of Lansdowne Park has not seen any positive cashflows.

In addition to the removal of a residential tower, the amended plan also cancelled plans for a green roof above the new civic centre, contained fewer retail spaces and has no affordable housing units.

Council also approved a $20 million line of credit to be taken out and repaid by the Lansdowne Master Limited Partnership and guaranteed by the city.

Nineteen councillors and Mayor Mark Sutcliffe voted for the project, with six voting against.

Staff is expected to report to city council later next year on the final package of approvals. This includes the final construction price, final air rights value and any required funding strategy amendments before construction starts.

With files from Chris Kurys.

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