Ottawa City Council announced it has approved a recommended model to procure the design and construction of a new event centre and north-side stands at Lansdowne.

Following Council approval in November for a concept plan that includes a new event centre, new north-side stands and a mixed-use development, the City studied a range of procurement models. The selected model, known as design-bid-build, will see the City award two distinct, fixed-price contracts: one for design and one for construction. The City has traditionally used this model to procure large-scale infrastructure, and it aligns with the Ottawa LRT Public Inquiry recommendation to opt for proven approaches when investing public funds in large-scale projects.

The preferred approach represents the best option in terms of cost and timelines. It requires preparation of a detailed design first, which will help determine final construction costs. The design will also inform how the new north-side stands will connect with the planned retail space, which will be important as the City prepares for the future disposal of air rights. The City is proposing to sell or lease those rights for the space above and below the retail building. The City’s financial contribution to the project will be paid for, in part, by the disposal of these rights.

As the City and its partners move ahead with detailed design, staff will report to Council later next year on the final package of approvals, including the final construction price, final air rights value, and any required funding strategy amendments prior to construction.

Council also approved several community improvement plans (CIPs), including the new Affordable Housing CIP that will encourage developers to increase the supply of affordable rental units. The Affordable Housing CIP will offer Tax Increment Equivalent Grants (TIEG) to help stimulate developer interest in creating new affordable housing. TIEGs leverage the projected uplift in a property’s tax revenue resulting from a development. It then offers that as a conditional grant to the developer.

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The Brownfield Redevelopment CIP has been redesigned so new applications are only eligible if they include housing. Proposals that qualify under the Affordable Housing CIP will see a repayment of grants at 75 per cent of property tax uplift, or up to 100 per cent if units are both affordable and located within a Protected Major Transit Station Area. This will encourage faster development near transit hubs. Repayment will be based on 50 per cent of property tax uplift for applications that do not qualify for the Affordable Housing CIP. The maximum eligible amount for a standalone Brownfield Redevelopment CIP application will be capped at $3 million. Where it is combined with any other CIP program, with the exception of the Affordable Housing CIP, the maximum grant will be capped at $5 million.

Economic Development CIPs for both Montreal Road and the Integrated Orléans CIPs will continue, with revised criteria that includes providing evidence that the redevelopment would result in a minimum increase of $250,000 in assessed property value. The CIP will provide an annual TIEG equal to 50 per cent of the municipal-property-tax increase attributable to the redevelopment. Part of the Economic Development CIP also requires projects to increase the number of housing units on a site. Projects that achieve sustainability goals, such as deconstruction, material salvage and re-use or green-building retrofits, will be prioritized. This CIP may be combined with the Brownfields, Affordable Housing, and Heritage CIPs.

City Manager Wendy Stephanson announced changes to the City’s administrative structure, including a new Strategic Initiatives department to deliver on Council’s highest priorities, including economic development, housing solutions and investments, and climate change and resiliency. With the creation of the Strategic Initiatives Department, the former Planning, Real Estate and Economic Development Department will become the Planning, Development and Building Services Department (PDBS).

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Featured image: (City of Ottawa)

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