Eugene Melnyk ‘very confident’ as LeBreton Flats deal inches along


The future of LeBreton Flats and a new downtown arena for the Ottawa Senators could soon be in the hands of city councillors as Rendezvous LeBreton prepares to submit official applications to redevelop the land.


The details were discussed in a closed-door meeting between Sens owner Eugene Melnyk, Trinity Group CEO John Ruddy and top city officials, including Mayor Jim Watson.

“I have more confidence today than ever,” Melnyk said after the meeting. “I’m very confident that this is going to go forward.”

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk says he hasn’t changed his mind when it comes to moving the arena downtown. He describes the move as “a fluid situation.” 1:17

The National Capital Commission (NCC) struck a deal in principal with Rendezvous LeBreton in January to build a new NHL arena, an accessible community centre, 4,000 units of housing, a French-language public school and public space. The investment for the entire proposed development is thought to be about $4 billion.

The next step is for Rendezvous LeBreton to submit a formal application to the city, which will be released to the public before city council gets a chance to vote on it.

Roll out the red carpet, not the red tape

That application is expected “in the next little while,” Watson said.

He wants to make sure the city’s approval process doesn’t slow down the process or create a “hindrance.”

“I’ve told our staff that this a project that we want to roll out the red carpet and not the red tape on this because it’s a very massive investment on the part of the private sector,” Watson said.

Mayor Jim Watson, left, and Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk attended a closed-door meeting to discuss next steps in the process to redevelop LeBreton Flats. (Laura Osman, CBC)

The mayor reiterated he doesn’t want to see public money fund the new downtown arena, and Rendezvous LeBreton is not asking the city pay. The group has all the funding it needs, Melnyk said.

“We are fully capable of funding our portion of what we need to accomplish,” he said. “I think, as a team effort here, that everything required can get done.”

Hurdles ahead

Melnyk has waffled publicly over whether the team needs to move downtown or stay put at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata.

Today he called the situation “fluid.”

Melnyk said the project still has some hurdles to overcome, but he’s more confident than ever that the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats will go forward. (Laura Osman, CBC)

“The one thing that’s constant always is that we’re here to stay in Ottawa for a very long time,” he said. “We want to make sure that the Lebreton project, if accomplished, is a success for many, many years.”

The project still faces some hurdles, though Melnyk declined to say what those are. He is keeping an eye on the saturation of the condo market in the area.

Rendezvous LeBreton is “close” to a final development agreement with the NCC, he said.

Several large development applications have been approved by city council recently — most notably a Trinity Groups complex including 65-, 56- and 27-storey towers at 900 Albert St.

Several studies are underway to determine if the market can handle another large housing development in the area, but the project has not been scaled back.