Remarks by Mayor Watson on the decision made by the Ontario Court of Appeal regarding Lansdowne Park

Complete English version to follow shortly

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Good afternoon, Bon après-midi. 

Today the Ontario Court of Appeal rendered its decision in the case of the Friends of Lansdowne appeal.

La Cour d’appel de l’Ontario a rendu son verdict aujourd’hui dans l’affaire du redéveloppement du parc Lansdowne.

As you will recall, the Court heard arguments on this matter on November 28th of last year.
 
I am pleased to report that the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group have successfully defended the decision of Mr. Justice Hackland in the Friends of Lansdowne appeal.

Le panel composé de trois juges a rejetté les arguments mis de l’avant par Friends of Lansdowne.

The three judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal, chaired by Chief Justice Winkler, unanimously dismissed the Friends of Lansdowne legal arguments in the case.

In this decision the Court of Appeal has ruled that Justice Hackland did not err in his July 2011 decision in which he dismissed each of the arguments put forward to challenge the legality of City Council’s decision to proceed with the Lansdowne Park revitalization plan.

And so today our City stands at a very important crossroads.
 
On two separate occasions, a democratically elected City Council has voted to undertake the revitalization of a once magnificent City asset – one which has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair which can no longer serve as a point of pride.

And on two separate occasions the courts have ruled unanimously that City Council acted legally and within its rights to approve the park’s revitalization.

C’est important de souligner - à deux différentes occasions les tribunaux ont donné raison - de façon unanime - au conseil municipal d’Ottawa. 

Now, we can and often do disagree on issues in our community – healthy debate and divergent views make for a stronger democracy.

But even though some may disagree on the future of Lansdowne, I am deeply convinced that most reasonable people in our City would agree on this important point:

It is time to renew the vitality and importance of Lansdowne.

Il est temps aujourd’hui de refaire la vitalité et l’importance de la place de Lansdowne dans notre ville.

I mean now...not some distant time in the future.

Let’s start today...pursuing a shared goal of making Lansdowne, once again, a prime gathering place for residents and visitors.

Let’s start today...the process that will see 26 acres of asphalt reduced to just 2 acres.

Let’s start today to turn the current 6 acres of green space, including the playing field, into more than 18 acres of urban parkland that everyone can enjoy.

Let’s rebuild the Civic Centre and breathe new life into the Horticulture Building.

And, most of all, let’s work together to make this New Lansdowne the very best it can be.

Le plus important aujourd’hui est de travailler ensemble pour rebâtir le Parc Lansdowne. 

I also want to speak directly to the leadership of Friends of Lansdowne.

As a strong defender of democracy and the principles of democracy, I know that their opposition to the Lansdowne Park revitalization is genuine and sincere. 

I also know that they, too, are passionate about what should be done with Lansdowne.

They share our desire to see the park improved – but we differ on what those improvements should be and the process to be followed.

We have now brought the matter to the highest court in Ontario and have been given a clear signal that the City has the authority to move forward.

This issue has divided our community and the surrounding neighbourhoods for far too long.

I would respectfully ask Friends of Lansdowne to help us move forward.

Both sides together have spent close to $1.5 Million in total and we have two unanimous decisions that allow the work to proceed.

I believe it’s time to accept and respect the Court’s validation of City Council’s decisions and move forward with this important city-building project.

I also want to take this opportunity to let the people of Ottawa know that the City of Ottawa will continue to do everything in its power to preserve Lansdowne Park for the use and benefit of current and future generations.

I will be recommending that Council proceed with the park’s revitalization, including those measures announced last week, and to be debated tomorrow at our Finance and Economic Development Committee.

The City of Ottawa will continue to exercise its legal rights and responsibilities in the stewardship of the park as we proceed with the needed revitalization.

C’est le temps de tourner la page – c’est ce que les gens d’Ottawa veulent.

The story and history of Lansdowne began in 1847 with the gift of land from the Dominion government.

Now we need to get to work readying this magnificent meeting place for our country’s next big celebration in the lead up to our 150th Celebration of Confederation in 2017

Thank you.

Merci.