The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on April 23, 1989 · 17
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 17

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 23, 1989
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SECTION C PAGES C1-C12 n CLASSIFIEDC c-i Groups' wishlist could put facelift costs into orbit By Ron Eade Citizen staff writer fter 20 years of talk, planning, and more talk, Ottawa Council finally seems poised to give Lansdowne Park the facelift it so desperately needs. It won't come cheaply. At $44 million, the job will be more than cosmetic. The city has little choice. The 53-acre park and buildings have fallen victim to years of neglect and it shows. . Among its blemishes, the 1898 Aberdeen Pavilion is in such bad shape that engineers must inspect it twice yearly to ensure it is safe. The 75-year-old Horticultural Building also needs extensive repair. Both are heritage structures. Even the newcomer to the park, the 22-year-old Civic Centre, requires upgrading of facilities, utilities, the arena floor and pipes. . "It comes down to money," said Mayor Jim Durrell. "We haven't had councils in the last 25-30 years put any money into the park. I'm hoping this council will accept that challenge." ' A tall order, indeed. More than just repairing creaky cattle barns and exhibit halls, Ottawa planners must satisfy myriad demands from special interest groups. No one disputes that Lansdowne needs help. She may be a grand dowager in tatters but her potential remains prime, nestled in a most enviable urban spot between Bank Street and the Rideau Canal. "It's 53 acres of prime land that's served us well for over 100 years, and it's going to serve us for another 100," Durrell said. "So, no matter what sum of money, it's going to be a good investment for our future." Durrell hopes private investors may chip in to buy commercial space, or maybe a "small" hotel on top "to make it go." Already, four plans have been proposed to dress the place up, each with its own emphasis on exhibition halls, playing fields, parking and public promenades to satisfy no end of wishes. . They will be presented May 31 to a special meeting of city standing committees, and to council June 7, complete with more detailed cost estimates. " Capital Ward Aid. Lynn Smyth wants to accelerate the process by presenting the plans Wednesday to Ottawa's community services committee and combining the ideas for council. But not everyone's dream can come true The cost of refurbishing the Aberdeen alone will be $9.6 million. After four years of fundraising, the city has committed $3 million toward the pavilion, the province $2 million, and the federal government $1 million with a possibility it could pay more. ' The recreation department plans to ask the city in June for $2.6 million more for the pavilion. . j Building a multi-level garage, as some suggest to open more green space, could add $30 million. That's based on $15,000 a space for up to 2,000 cars. It, alone, would send the $44-million park estimate into orbit at $70 million. However, the city could tap into its $14-million parking reserve fund to help offset the cost. Hon Connelly, president of the Ottawa Association of Exhibition Managers, said 18,000 square metres of new show space is required to boost the $67-million trade exhibit business to $100 million a year. That will stimulate 6,000 local firms and create jobs, he said. ? "It could serve the arts, culture, recreation, Winterlude and political conventions," Connelly said. ; Until that happens, Ottawa will continue to lose trade show business because Lansdowne just isn't up to snuff. We've got everything from leaky roofs to no heating systems, to literally swan dung running down the walls," Cajmelly said. "These are the most decrepit facilities bar none in Canada, if not North America." Well, get in line: Neighbors want more playing fields arid community space in the Glebe; businessmen want more space for trade exhibitions; heritage activists want to Save buildings that are costly to refit; the Rough Riders Football Club wants to consolidate its two Lansdowne offices in orife handy building. Lost in the queue is the Central Cana- i-hiryr'if . v '.. I. t i ... i ii i w I. . ' 1 " 1 n j. . ..i ,.', n - . ump-iaLf- VtfU I " v i. r ; v s v ar Mjari&m, T" waste Warren McCaully: Man in charge v ' r?i da Exhibition, which the city assumes will vacate the site for a new fairground. "We could see the writing on the wall when the city took back management of the park in 1975," said Exhibition President Gary Guzzo. "But it's not easy to relocate. If we have to move in 1991 or '92, we will be ... in tents, no question about that." The city has not given the Ex a deadline. Warren McCaully, the city's man in charge of the queen-sized overhaul said the issue boils down to priorities: "It's a question of the mix of features we want to have and, of course, the economics as well." The city's plan in January was patterned after council's 1984 development strategy. Three months later, the plan already needs to change because planning committee Tuesday voted to preserve the Horticultural building that staff wanted to bulldoze. In addition, the city's $44-million plan would have demolished four other buildings, erected a new trade show hall of 13,500 square metres, installed underground links, created a community play area in the park's northeast corner, and smothered acres of property under asphalt That plan drew a chorus of catcalls from Glebe residents. They complained it would destroy too many buildings, it didn't recognize neighborhood recreational needs, and it kept too much surface parking on what is now an ocean of asphalt Heritage activists thought they could do better. One week ago, Heritage Ottawa held a design bee with 18 volunteer planners and architects who formed teams and produced three ideas of their own. "The ideas were fantastic," said Heri- X V of transforming 'asphalt jungle' - . -' 22 x x These are the most decrepit facilities bar none in Canada, if not North America Ron Connelly Ottawa Association of Exhibition Managers president tage Ottawa President Richard Cannings. No one was asked to estimate costs, however. Unfettered by economics, one group proposed a transitway on Bank Street and a pedestrian overpass, an underground garage for 2,000 cars under a central promenade, storefronts and booths from Bank Street to the Aberdeen, a dance platform in front of the pavilion and a gazebo by the canal. A second group suggested breaking up the main parking lot into smaller ones throughout the site. It also proposed bringing the Rideau Canal into the park under a bridge for the Queen Elizabeth Driveway. The third envisioned a multi-level garage, new curling facilities, an exposition centre, refurbishing many buildings slated for demolition even a pavilion for Royal Swans. In short, something for everyone. Those plans were widely applauded Monday at the Glebe Community Centre, scene of a remarkable shift from January when neighbors wanted to show city planners the door. This time, about 100 residents liked the generous distribution of outdoor rec t i 1 S'' 1 iMiH John Major. Citizen CIVIC CENTRE COLISEUM COMMERCE ABERDEEN MCELROY CURL-O-DROME PURE FOOD CENTURY reation fields, walkways, water features and multi-tier parking. Aid. Smyth was "delighted" with results. "There's a real richness of concepts here," she said. "There's more green space with these plans, and of course green space has been on my wish list . . ." Durrell said a home for Royal Swans caught his fancy. "I was intrigued with the parking garages to reduce some of the surface parking ... I was also enthralled with the major festival space proposed in a couple of the designs." Brian Jonah, Glebe Community Association president, said he wants space for "participation recreation" like soccer, T-ball and baseball. "And we want to preserve the wading pool and play structures." Resident Elaine Marlin said the new proposals "replace what would have been taken away by the city plan." John Bond, of Ottawa South Community Association, welcomed attempts to remove the "asphalt jungle." "Underground parking may be something the city has to swallow to create a park-like atmosphere," said Nancy Mitchell, of Ottawa East. In that case, it will have to swallow hard. The city estimates a parking structure to accommodate 2,000 cars could cost $30 million. The expense of underground parking and tunnels could soar even higher because Lansdowne has a high water table, being so close to the canal. To overcome it, engineers must build something akin to a concrete ark. "Everything is possible," McCaully said. "All you need is money." McCaully will spend the next five weeks figuring out how much. Weapons still have place, unfortunately CLAIRE HOY gfeaffTfl-i . .... ,.Mi.iM)ii Lenin understated his case. But then, he never saw Ottawa Council at work. When he applauded the "useful idiots" in the West for helping spread his particular poison, he probably had no idea how widespread the idiocy would ; become. Ask Riverside Aid. George Brown and Capital Aid. Lynn Smyth, who led the lemmings into a condemnation of ARMX '89, a controversial weapons show slated for Lansdowne Park May 23-25. To Brown, the region is becoming "the capital for the defence industry across the country." Actually, it's not. No matter. "I morally object," Brown thundered. Smyth, at a news conference with Brown, promised to seek support from other Canadian cities to oppose arms shows. Given the yahoos who populate these councils, she'll probably get it. "It's bullets, it's arms, it's lasers, it's tanks," she said. "We're not talking defence here." Oh? Just what does she think is used for defence? Pea-shooters? Slingshots? What does she want our peacekeeping troops to use? Or are they too involved in immoral activities? Certainly, arms are often used by tyrants to keep themselves in office, just as arms are used, and unfortunately needed, to extricate those tyrants from office. The disputed exhibition will feature the products of more than 400 arma- . ment manufacturers from 16 countries, attracting about 13,000 buyers from 60 countries. It is not open to the public. Britannia Aid. Jim Jones cast the only vote against a motion to disallow future ; ARMX shows. Canterbury Aid. Michael McSweeney meant to, but after calling Brown's move "a simple motion from simple aldermen," he voted for it anyway, admitting later he goofed. He wasn't the only one. However sad it is, history should tell us that we need arms. This is not to say the arms industry should be any less open to legitimate scrutiny than any other industry. Perhaps moreso, given the stakes. But reality being what it is, it is a legitimate industry. Canada exports about $2 billion a year in military commodities ranging from airplanes, to electronic equipment, light armored vehicles, rifles and anti-tank air defence systems. Thousands of Canadians work in the industry and, if one is to take Brown at his word, they should be ashamed for using the proceeds of such immorality to feed their kids. Perhaps Brown, Smyth and their fellow travellers can explain this notion to their constituents who work for DND, or those veterans who used arms to help preserve our democracy in two wars this century. As you'd expect in an issue of this nature, the screamers have been aroused. On May 20, the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade will hold a "public inquiry ... to raise public awareness about ARMX and to protest this largest arms and weapons exhibition ever to be staged in Canada." The inquiry's "findings" and recommendations will be presented at a public rally two days later at Confederation Park. What do you suppose they'll find? Just look at their list of "panelists, experts and witnesses." All the usual suspects will be there. Not a single person who can speak for the other side. Not one. The only disagreement we'll see is just how radical they should become in expressing their collective moral outrage. They have no interest in hearing from anybody who might question their omnipotence. After all, conflicting views can be damned inconvenient when you've al- , ready pre-determined The Truth. Opponents might even show up armed with facts. It's easier to dismiss them as warmongers if they're not around to defend themselves. Different views can even spark debate, making it tougher to guarantee propaganda points are scored. Which is why, taking its cue from council the coalition will vigorously address only one side of the issue. It just shows that a whole new generation of Neville Chamberlains is alive and well. Comforting, eh? '

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