Public Values

Ottawa City Council acted in bad faith in plans to privatize heritage park

Friends of Lansdowne launch legal challenge.

Ottawa City Council acted in bad faith in plans to privatize heritage parkOTTAWA, September 9, 2010: Legal proceedings were initiated in the Superior Court of Ontario seeking an order to quash Ottawa City Council decisions approving the public-private partnership scheme to redevelop Lansdowne Park. The application was made on behalf of Friends of Lansdowne and two city residents, Gary Sealey and Doug Ward - all three are represented by the law firm Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP.

The application contends that the City acted unlawfully by approving the scheme without competitive bids or otherwise complying with City bylaws and by failing to meet the standard of good faith required of municipal governments.

Gary Sealey, who lives in Kanata, says "I don't live anywhere near Lansdowne Park, but I am very concerned that the City has not protected the interests of taxpayers. There is a lot of public money as at risk with the Lansdowne development and by failing to seek competitive proposals, the City has not exercised due diligence. As a heritage buff, I'm also concerned that the City has failed to follow the proper process for protecting significant heritage resources".

Doug Ward, echoes Sealey's concerns: "I've been watching this from the beginning and have been appalled by the City's lack of respect for fair, public process. Instead of listening to and protecting public and community interests, the City has acted as a booster for the development. It has misrepresented the benefits and downplayed the real costs and impacts." Ward goes on to say " It is City Council's job to respect its own rules and to protect the public interest".

This is not the first time the Lansdowne Partnership Plan has been legally challenged. An earlier call for a judicial review by Ottawa businessman, John Martin, is being withdrawn now that this new legal action is going ahead. "It only makes sense to pool resources with Friends of Lansdowne" says Martin. "A single coordinated legal challenge is in everyone's best interest."

The Friends of Lansdowne is an all-volunteer, city-wide coalition. Its objectives are to promote Lansdowne Park as a sustainable, accessible, public space for the benefit of all Ottawans and visitors, today and in the future; and to support revitalization of Lansdowne Park, which is fair, open, fiscally responsible and consistent with the site's heritage values.

Steven Shrybman, who is handling the case, is a partner with Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP, one of Canada's leading labour law, civil litigation and criminal law firms. Mr. Shrybman has a strong track record in successfully litigating public interest cases such as the privatization of Hydro One.

Posted: September 13, 2010

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