OTTAWA - Ontario's top court has dismissed an appeal challenging the proposed redevelopment of Ottawa's Lansdowne Park.
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon says the move is a major step towards the return of pro football to the Canadian capital.
On Monday, the Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously agreed with a 2011 Superior Court ruling that the city of Ottawa legally entered a partnership with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to redevelop Lansdowne Park.
The Appeal Court's three-judge panel rejected an application from the citizen group Friends of Lansdowne, which opposed the development and argued the city of Ottawa had acted in bad faith in approving the project.
June Creelman, president of Friends of Lansdowne, said the group was disappointed by the decision.
"Our 7000 supporters have raised nearly $300,000 to bring this public interest case forward because there were important principles of transparency and accountability at stake, not just for Lansdowne but for municipal projects all across Canada," Creelman said in a statement.
Ottawa city councillor Rick Chiarelli calls the ruling a "victory for democracy."
Chiarelli notes the project has now been approved by city council, the Ontario Municipal Board, Ontario Superior Court and the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Friends of Lansdowne has 60 days to appeal the ruling but the Supreme Court of Canada can refuse to hear the case because of the Court of Appeal's unanimous decision.
"Today the return of the CFL to Ottawa is a major step closer," Cohon said in a statement. ''While the opponents can still technically seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, today's ruling keeps up us on track to have Ottawa rejoin our league as early as the 2014 season.''
In 2008, the CFL conditionally awarded Ottawa an expansion franchise and while a firm date for its return was never set, the expectation was the team would be on the field come 2013. However, legal challenges have pushed that back to 2014.
Ottawa has been without a CFL club since the league indefinitely suspended the Ottawa Renegades prior to the 2006 season after four years of operation. The Renegades were born after the Ottawa Rough Riders folded in 1996.
(CFRA, The Canadian Press)