By David Reevely, The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — The city expects to spend as much as another $200,000 fighting in court to defend its plans for Lansdowne Park — and perhaps more, as new legal threats land at City Hall.
That could take the total tab past $1.7 million.
City council voted Thursday to continue with its Lansdowne plans, accepting a longer timeline for the project that will see work finished in 2015, two years later than it was all supposed to have been done. Councillors also agreed to revised financial projections that strengthen the city's financial position somewhat, but also to spend more money sooner on the project's design work and on preparing to move the historic Horticulture Building elsewhere on the Glebe site to make way for a parking garage and commercial space. The vote was 21-2, with downtown councillors David Chernushenko and Diane Holmes dissenting.
Part of the delay is caused by a court case brought by a community group called the Friends of Lansdowne Park. According to a report to councillors, the litigation occupied a great deal of staff time before Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland in July rejected the Friends' allegations that the city's deal with the private Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (to renovate Frank Clair Stadium and construct retail and commercial space along the northern and western edges of the site) amounts to an illegal subsidy, violated the city's procurement bylaw and was negotiated in bad faith.
The Friends have filed formal notice of their intention to appeal, and city solicitor Rick O'Connor told councillors that he expects the next stage of the case to cost between $100,000 and $200,000 in fees for the private lawyers hired to represent the city. There's room allowed for it in the revised timeline for the project.