Feds open bids for ‘major attraction’ in renewed bid for land project in Ottawa

OTTAWA – A federal agency is swinging open the doors for companies to propose one or more attractions to anchor a major land development project near the capital’s downtown.

The sprawling 29-hectare site known as LeBreton Flats sits on the Ottawa River just to the west of the city’s downtown core and has been the subject of development plans for decades.

The National Capital Commission is taking another jab at anchoring the site with entertainment venues, including a “major events centre” slated for a 2.56-hectare parcel that is almost the size of four soccer fields.

In the bid document, the head of the commission writes that a major events centre could be a concert hall or a sports arena, which just so happened to be proposed a few years ago before a legal feud felled the idea.

Applications are due by the end of February and the commission says it will evaluate options through to April.

Map of LeBreton Flats showing the location of parcels A2-4 and AD1

LeBreton Flats was a working-class and industrial neighbourhood until the federal government expropriated and razed it in the 1960s.

The ensuing decades saw plans come and go to build a major government complex. Part of the area has been redeveloped with the Canadian War Museum and some condominium buildings.

The most recent idea was for a $4.1-billion plan that included an arena for the Ottawa Senators so the National Hockey League team could move from its longtime suburban home.

The deal fell through two years ago when the partnership between team owner Eugene Melnyk and land developer John Ruddy ended in a legal dispute.

Along with a major events centre, the commission is also seeking ideas for a smaller venue on a half-hectare site that hugs an inlet of the Ottawa River.

In the document, commissioner CEO Tobi Nussbaum writes that the agency wants “innovative and financially sound concepts that could capture our interest” for both parcels up for bids.

The bid document also notes that ideas will also be evaluated on “opportunities for partnerships and benefits” for the Algonquin Nation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2021.

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