Senators' Leeder steps down from 2017 tourism initiative

Mark Brownlee
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Less than a month after unsuccessfully lobbying councillors to give his boss the chance to bid on a new casino, the president of the Ottawa Senators has stepped down from several economic development roles connected to the City of Ottawa.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

Cyril Leeder will no longer be a part of the group, which includes Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and two city councillors, that is planning the city's celebrations for Canada's 150th birthday in 2017 – a tourism initiative in which Mr. Watson has invested significant energy.

Mr. Leeder informed the city of his intention to no longer serve on the committee last week, according to a letter Mr. Watson wrote back on Monday and then released to reporters.

He will also no longer be a member of the board of the Ottawa Convention Centre and on committees with Ottawa Tourism, according to media reports.

That means one of the key connections between the Senators and wider economic development initiatives in the city has now been severed.

Attempts on Monday evening to reach Mr. Leeder for comment, through a Senators' spokesman, were unsuccessful.

His resignation comes as his boss, Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk, continues to consider legal action against the city over what he considers to be an unfair process for managing the development of a new casino.

City councillors voted in August to only approve a new casino if the province's gambling body, the Ontario and Lottery and Gaming Corp., decides to put it at the Rideau Carleton Raceway southeast of downtown.

That effectively denied Mr. Melnyk the chance to bid to have the facility close to the Senators' arena in Kanata. He wanted to construct it there to help him diversify his revenues and make up for what he said are regular losses for the National Hockey League team.

Mr.Watson, in the letter dated Monday, thanked Mr. Leeder for "being a valued member and contributor to all of the community-building embodied by such volunteer organisations."

"There is no doubt that you will be missed by all involved," Mr. Watson wrote. "However, I understand entirely that your core business responsibilities for the Ottawa Senators and Senators Sports & Entertainment must take precedence for you at this time."

It's still unclear what the impact will be on other partnerships between the two groups.

The Senators and the city work together on several other tourism initiatives, including on major sporting events such as the IIHF Women's World Hockey Championship held last April.

Those partnerships give the team a chance to fill the Canadian Tire Centre when there is little else going on with the municipality providing public backing through measures such as special bus service as a means of driving tourists to the city.

See also: The man behind Ottawa’s events engine.

Organizations: Ottawa Convention Centre, Lottery and Gaming, National Hockey League Ottawa Senators IIHF Women Canadian Tire Centre

Geographic location: Ottawa, Canada, Ontario Kanata

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Recent comments

  • Jerry
    September 17, 2013 - 16:23

    Who wants a casino in Kanata anyway? Not Kanata residents!

  • Jerry
    September 17, 2013 - 16:09

    Who wants a casino in Kanata anyway?

  • Marc
    September 17, 2013 - 02:44

    Nice job blowing a solid relationship with the most high profile business in Ottawa. I wonder if Mr. Leeder is going to run for Mayor or is some other person who is going to run this city properly take up the job. Mayor Jim Watson has lost my confidence, my trust and my support.

  • The Greek
    September 13, 2013 - 20:50

    This isn't good. I love the Sens, but the team and the city are bigger then the owners wants and needs. Mr M. decides what happens with the Sens and the mayor and council decide for the city. Cheap move Cyril, the city won't be held hostage because someone is mad!

  • Greg Weatherdon
    September 10, 2013 - 17:27

    This is what a "closed process" gets you. A complete withdrawal of the Senators, one of Ottawa's highest profile organizations, along with their resources and expertise in helping to promote the city. It's too bad this happened, but hats off to the Sens and Cyril for taking such action. Maybe the citizens will start to question some of councils decisions and actions now. I know I do!

  • Barry McKay
    September 10, 2013 - 10:07

    And this won't be the end if it. The mayor has totally misread the situation and made a total hash of the casino file. On top of this we now find out that we are to be the recipients of another garbage mountain to take care of Toronto's garbage. What Ottawa could do with is a mayor swap - Ford for Watson. Mayor Ford would certainly tell the Queens Park Liberals what to do with both their casino and garbage mountain decisions. Unfortunately, with our current toothless mayor and council, we are stuck with them.