* Lansdowne Live – A lesson in social responsibility for Orleans

“Lansdowne Live” certainly came to Orleans last night.  Passion and emotion, and angry people, were certainly flying high.  This is an interesting case from the perspective of ethics, sustainable communities and social responsibility, with some lessons for Orleans as we plan our future.    

The Lansdowne issue is clearly an issue of balancing competing interests and rights.  The rights of the developer to make a profit.  The expectation exists for the city to minimize costs through a fair and open competition.  The rights of the local community not to have quality of life adversely affected, but in fact improved (ie, to have facilities they care about, decreased traffic congestion, parking problems, noise, the concerns of small business.). The requirement exists for the city as a whole to benefit from this (ie possibly to address shortage of sports and trade show capacity).  There is a need for the project to be honest, environmentally and socially responsible, affordable and sustainable.

 From an ethics perspective, we should seek to balance rights, the ethic of care, the values we have, and seek to maximize the good and minimize the bad consequences, as tradeoffs are considered.  We need to balance economic and social interests.  Gone are the days when social responsibility considerations can be discounted by large overpowering development and economic interests.

 So the question becomes which interests are given the most weight when interests compete, and which must give way.  If we give primacy to the ethic of care (which would be my choice), the rights of the local community should be given the highest weight.  The local community deserves a reasonably safe, quiet and beautiful family oriented neighborhood with decreased traffic congestion and decreased parking problems.  This project is in the middle of a huge residential area and that counts.  People come first.  If we sacrifice the few for the many, we diminish the many.  Unlimited development, profit and expansion is not everything.   A crumbling stadium and a significant interest in professional football does not seem to be what this community cares about.

 If we truly care about people, then maybe we should bulldoze the stadium and create a green space, a park, a small market, with spaces for community sports fields or small open air concerts.  We look elsewhere for professional sports and trade show spaces.  Quality of life counts.  There is no force so great as a community discovering what it cares about.  What they care about is what is sustainable, because they will look after it.  They deserve to be listened to and their comments should be taken seriously.

 We in Orleans, would do well to pay close attention to the lessons learned here, as the NCR and City “Futures Forum” begins to make far reaching and similar decisions that will affect the development of Orleans.  We have to ensure that where we are going is a direction that we care about, and that puts families and people first.

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5 thoughts on “* Lansdowne Live – A lesson in social responsibility for Orleans

  1. Hi Paul – just thought I would leave a link to http://www.letsgetitright.ca – your reader’s can enter their thoughts on the Landowne plan there and we’ll take care of forwarding it to the Mayor, Council and optionally to the Media as well. I believe we should have continued with the open design competition because I would like to see more than one option put forward for Lansdowne!

  2. Interesting comments regarding this situation. However, I would take another path in deciding the ultimate use of Lansdowne Park.

    In evaluating the historical context of the City of Ottawa, Lansdowne has been a cultural landmark in this city for over 150 years. It has provided a central meeting space for the populace off the region via the presentation of exhibitions, markets, fairs, and yes, sporting events.

    There is not a single member of the community surrounding Lansdowne Park who was not aware of the activities that occur there when they made the decision to live in that area. The residents of the area were completely aware of the tenor of the community. Most moved to that urban environment specifically because of the energized and active lifestyle that surrounds the Bank Street/Lansdowne Park microcommunity. Parking problems have existed there for decades – it is a fact of life in their community.

    It is disingenuous for them to come forward now to propose that Lansdowne should be converted to a parkland facility with grass, trees, some bike paths and a couple of soccer fields. This is foreign to the historical context of the City of Ottawa and it is foreign to the context of the Bank Street community around Lansdowne. Furthermore, for those wanting to enjoy a parkland setting, they have a glorious park that is literally moments away at the Arboretum – not to mention hundreds of acres of “greenspace” at the Experimental Farm. Seems that there is a serious case of having their cake and wanting to eating it too.

    If anything, given its location with the city, the area should be targeted for urban intensification – not a reduction in the utility of the available real estate.

    Now, if this situation is at loggerheads and cannot be resolved satisfactorily, then I propose we relocate the whole project to Orleans. I for one would love to bike down to the river to enjoy outdoor concerts, professional football and soccer, junior hockey, dining and shopping…

    I think I’ve changed my mind. Lansdowne should be converted to parkland. Let’s start an initiative today for Orleans Live!

    • I certainly thank you for your point of view. I would say that decades of parking problems for whatever reason does not justify the city continuing to ignore the issue if something can be done. On the issue of city “tenor” or historical context, when tradition outlives its ulitity, it is time to make new traditions.

      I am uneasy with the words “urbal intensification”. There is a real concern there that, if not carefully managed, with priority to people and values, that this can lead to increased congestion/noise and decrease “liveability” instead of improving it. Both economic and social interests can be very powerful and deserve to exist in a healthy balance. However, in general, people come first. A city exists for people, and people are not to be discounted or exploited. I believe that if the local community wants a park, then they should have a significant say in this. We do not have to economically exploit everything we can. There is more to life than this.

      On professional sports, for whatever reason professional sports do not do well in the demographics of this city, be it baseball or football. We should face this fact. Community and amateur sports fare much better and encourage participation and healthier lifestyles.

      On your comment of having an “Orleans live”, in some sense, this is underway now, with such as hotel plans, a college, medical facility, new arts center, transit plans, the Innis road development. We must not repeat the mistakes of this Lansdowne mess. The “business” of Orleans is families and quality of life, not congestion, noise or pollution. We are moving forward now in the NCR/Cities “futures forum” which may set the stage for similar decisions and development in the future, and we should take a firm hand in shaping these decisions. This is a question of what we care about. Good luck to us. Paul

  3. If the people who live in this area and bought their homes there knowing the stadium was there to begin with and likely would remain, my question is why would they buy in such a location? It’s very similar to why I wouldn’t purchase a home near an airport. Why? Well, because the airport exists there. Maybe this is a complicated case in logic for some to comprehend though, I can appreciate that.

    • I think the real question is that when opportunities arise to make life better for people (airports or stadiums or congestion or whatever), do not we have a moral obligation to do so if we can? It is how we would wish to be treated. Perhaps abandoning people so readily to economic interests. is not how we would like to define ourselves as a community, a community who cares for each other. Paul

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