Ottawa Board of Trade unhappy with NCC’s new direction for LeBreton Flats

LeBreton
A rendering of Devcore Canderel DLS's vision for LeBreton Flats, which the Ottawa Board of Trade believes the NCC should consider for the land.

The Ottawa Board of Trade is urging the National Capital Commission to return to the negotiating table with previous bidders on the LeBreton Flats redevelopment in hopes of salvaging a grand vision for the long-vacant land.

The recently amalgamated local chamber of commerce, which acts as an advocate for more than 1,000 member businesses in the capital, released a statement Friday expressing its disapproval with the NCC’s new plan for LeBreton Flats. Following the collapse of preferred proponent RendezVous LeBreton’s bid to redevelop the site with a series of condos and an NHL arena, the NCC announced last week it intends to parcel out the 55-acre swath of land west of Ottawa’s downtown core into individual developments rather than handing the entire chunk of prime real estate over to a single entity.

The NCC’s new chief executive Tobi Nussbaum said the new approach looks to strike a “balance between ambition and humility.”

From OBOT’s perspective, dividing up the land into a multi-party, multi-phased operation will create a neighbourhood focused on zoning, rather than “the magnificent, inspiring and high impact city-building initiative” that had been in the works for the past few years.

OBOT president and CEO Ian Faris said in a statement that an overarching vision for the Flats need not include an arena for the Ottawa Senators – a key piece of the RendezVous LeBreton plan that became a sticking point in negotiations as to who would fund its construction – and that there was still time to salvage previous proposals for the land.

“It is unfortunate that a deal did not come to fruition collectively with the parties, however it’s now time to shift the focus to the future and hopefully preserve the significant city-building promise that LeBreton Flats represents,” Faris said.

The OBOT statement implores the NCC to pick up negotiations with “previous bidders” in the request-for-proposals process.

Though not mentioned by name in OBOT’s release, runner-up proponent Devcore Canderel DLS has stated previously that it would be ready to pick up negotiations with the NCC should RendezVous LeBreton partners Capital Sports Management and Trinity Development Group fail to reconcile their differences. The DCDLS consortium, which is backed by Quebec billionaires André Desmarais and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, went as far as to say the NCC has a “legal obligation” to engage in discussions with the group.

OBOT chair Ian Sherman said in a statement that the LeBreton Flats redevelopment is key to promoting Ottawa as a tourist destination, remediating contamination below the site and attracting talent and further business investment to the National Capital Region.