Top court rejects Lansdowne challenge; Conservancy group loses battle to put redevelopment up for bids

The Supreme Court of Canada won’t hear a legal challenge over the city’s deal to redevelop Lansdowne Park, the court announced Thursday morning, ending the final appeal against the project.

John Martin and his Lansdowne Park Conservancy, a stripped-down redevelopment plan the city ignored in favour of the agreement it struck with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group of developers and sports businessmen to renovate the Glebe fairground, lost at every level of Canada’s court system and have run out of legal avenues.

Martin has argued that because his proposal included renovating Frank Clair Stadium at Lansdowne so a Canadian Football League team could play there, the fact that OSEG had a franchise agreement with the CFL wasn’t a unique enough characteristic to justify the city’s sole-sourced deal with the group fronted by the head of the Minto empire, Roger Greenberg. The city should have put the redevelopment rights up for bids, he contended.

Ontario’s divisional court dismissed his case as an abuse of the legal process, saying Martin’s argument was too much like the separate legal challenge brought by a different group, the Friends of Lansdowne Park. (They likewise lost in the courts and gave up their challenge last year.) Martin took his case to the Ontario Court of Appeal, which dismissed his argument that the divisional court didn’t give him a proper opportunity even to make his arguments.

Then Martin asked the Supreme Court to hear his arguments why it should overrule that decision. No, thanks, the Supreme Court said Thursday. There’s nothing here that’s worth our time.

   
 

At each stage, the courts have told Martin to pay a share of the city’s legal costs, an indication that the judges really think there is nothing to his arguments: the divisional court charged him $10,000, and the appeal court added $1,000 to his tab. The Supreme Court dismissed the case with costs, which means Martin is likely to have to pay an unspecified amount more.

The exact amount will have to be determined by the judges in a future exchange, said city lawyer Rick O’Connor by email.

OSEG’s plan for Lansdowne includes a major renovation to Frank Clair Stadium for pro football and soccer, with retail and residential space to pay for it.
Source: Ottawa Citizen

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