Sens deflect city's transit fee requests

The Sens aren’t hopping on board a city plan to roll transit into the price of hockey and event tickets.

OC Transpo managers were asked last fall to discuss implementing a cost-recovery plan for the Canadian Tire Centre, similar to the Lansdowne Park system that rolls bus fare into special event tickets.

But the Ottawa Senators aren’t interested, city staff confirmed Monday.  

The arena’s original site plan agreement stipulates the city must provide transit to the Kanata venue, OC Transpo general manager John Manconi explained.

Citing empty coffers, the Sens management aren’t willing to “change the model” to absorb the approximately $432,000 it costs each year to provide extra transit service during major concerts or hockey games, Mr. Manconi said.

Instead, staff will have to continue staff freezes and cuts to discretionary spending to find the money.

The Sens aren’t the only event planners annoyed with the city’s attempts to recoup costs.

Ottawa Bluesfest management has been resisting a deal that would require them to pay about $200,000 for the extra transit to its 10-day music festival at LeBreton Flats.

The city’s special events permit requires festivals to pay for any additional transit service to get guests to and from their event.

But even though the city has a bylaw to back it up, Mr. Manconi said a Bluesfest agreement still hasn’t been reached.

“We’re still trying to finalize some terms,” he said.

The issue caused some friction around the transit commission table Monday, as Coun. Jeff Leiper accused the city of nickel-and-diming Bluesfest, a non-profit festival that has significant economic and cultural impact in the capital.

But commission chairman Coun. Stephen Blais retorted that councillors who support a low-income transit pass – and who would raise taxes on the middle class to do it – shouldn’t defend multi-million dollar organizations.

“The hypocrisy at the moment is appalling,” he said.

Mr. Leiper said later that of all the multi-millionaires who should pay for special transit services, “I’d suggest taking a look at the bench of the Ottawa Senators.”

This article originally appeared on metronews.ca on May 9.