Society

RendezVous LeBreton Group bid ranked highest to redevelop LeBreton Flats

The National Capital Commission unveiled today that RendezVous LeBreton Group held the highest-ranked bid to develop the LeBreton Flats area, vacant since the 1960s. The group and its competitor, Devcore Canderel DLS Group, duked it out to secure their visions of the large parcel of land.

The commission said it will officially enter into negotiations with RendezVous LeBreton, but emphasized that there is still a lot of work to be done.

The two short-listed proposals included a new arena for the Senators, a central library, and creative ideas for commercial, retail and residential space.

The commission lauded both groups on their “bold and ambitious” proposals.

A view of the exterior of the Senators current arena, the Canadian Tire Centre. Photo courtesy of Andre Ringuette Freestyle
A view of the exterior of the Senators current arena, the Canadian Tire Centre. Photo courtesy of Andre Ringuette Freestyle Photography

Devcore Canderel’s Canadensis proposal included such eccentric perks as a skydiving tunnel, a Ripley’s aquarium, a skate park, and planetariums.

The RendezVous LeBreton Group’s IllumiNATION proposal, backed by Sens owner Eugene Melnyk, was more reserved and included an event centre, an Innovation Promenade highlighting scientific and technological invention, and a grandiose Abilities Centre accessible to all.

Inspired by this long-awaited decision for LeBreton Flats, Ottawa Magazine looks at some other high-profile proposals for our city. From bizarre to mundane, some died on the drawing board and others have yet to be signed, sealed, and (sometimes) demolished.

LeBreton Flats, circa 1962 – The new Diefenbaker government razed the area, considered a slum, in 1962 in order to build a new defence headquarters and multiple freeways. The plan fell through after negotiations between the National Capital Commission, regional and municipal governments stalled.

Ottawa Airport Rail Spur – a dream of many an Ottawan who wants to avoid the hefty cost of taxis or airport parking, the spur is dependent on federal cash that may be a long time in coming, despite support from local MPs. A delay in widening the Airport Parkway until 2020 due to cash flow issues will give more headaches to commuters.

The Daly Building – Originally home to Ottawa’s first department store in 1905 and later filled with civil servants, plans were numerous for this historic building located on the corner of Rideau and Sussex. Before its contentious demolition in the early 90s, plans included a hotel and conference centre, and it was even rumoured to be in the running for the Church of Scientology’s new downtown headquarters. Plans for a national aquarium, a glass teepee structure, and a permanent park at the site were later scrapped, and it was leased to Claridge Developments.

Read more about the Chicago-style building some loved to hate in our article.

National Portrait Gallery – The plan to build a national portrait gallery at the former U.S. embassy on Wellington Street, killed by the Conservative government in 2009, may be rising from the ashes after Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said she would find a use for the building in the near future. Library and Archives Canada has over 20,000 paintings, drawings and prints and millions of photographs that could be installed in the new gallery.

Interprovincial truck tunnel – The city wants to diminish loud, smelly and potentially dangerous truck traffic between Ottawa and Gatineau by building a tunnel underneath King Edward heading north to the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, or one starting at Laurier Avenue and running underneath the ByWard Market. The city will find out the price tag when the tunnel assessment study comes out this spring.

The Great Stadium Debate: It was Landsdowne vs. Kanata in 2008. Owner Eugene Melnyk of the Ottawa Senators duked it out with CFL team investors in a soccer vs. football stadium bid. Melnyk’s plan to build a 30,000-seat soccer stadium in Kanata and bring a Major League Soccer franchise was challenged by the group’s proposal to revitalize then-decrepit Landsdowne Park and bring a CFL team back to the city. Now it’s all Redblacks history.

Find out more about how Redblacks players heart Ottawa city and the stadium that won the battle.

Victims of Communism Memorial: The Harper government’s plan to build a hulking memorial to victims of communism became controversial due to its subject matter and the decision to build it on land originally set aside for a new federal court building. The newly-anointed Liberal government rejected the site, and today the NCC approved building the memorial at the Garden of the Provinces and Territories. The memorial will be smaller, less expensive, and boast a different design yet to be approved by the NCC.

Read more in Matt Harrison’s take on the memorial’s “revisionism” of Canadian history.

It’s your turn, Ottawa! Use your social media savvy to Tweet or Facebook Ottawa Magazine about city proposals you’ve rooted for, hated or just found plain weird.