Ottawa Chamber of Commerce urges key decision-makers to collaborate to make the project a reality

[Ottawa] May 8, 2018: The Board of Directors of Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and its member organizations call for the expeditious completion of negotiations and activities that will allow for the timely redevelopment of the LeBreton Flats area in Ottawa’s upper west side.

After over 50 years of consideration, the Chamber welcomes the possibility of redevelopment and the opportunity to transform one of the most valuable pieces of urban real estate in North America with an iconic, world-class commercial and residential district that will enhance Ottawa’s tourist-friendly reputation — and our international standing as a G7 Capital City. With a proposed initial economic impact of $5.7 billion, 22,000+ jobs created and close to $800 million in tax revenue – LeBreton Flats represents a high impact economic project that will continue to contribute to Ottawa for generations.

As was illustrated in December 2017 at the Ottawa Business Journal and Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, Ottawa’s Economic Outlook event, the City of Edmonton and the Katz Group provided a best practices template for development through their ICE District. The Edmonton project includes the creation of one of Canada’s largest multi-use projects, combining office space, residential living, a public plaza, sports, entertainment and shopping in a single urban setting. This follows on the heels of comments made by NHL Commissioner, Mr. Gary Bettman, at the Mayor’s Breakfast in March 2017 on the leadership role of the Ottawa business community and its obligation to ensure the ongoing development of a vibrant city to bolster growth for the region. Ottawa would be well served by heeding such advice.

Collaboration and leadership are pivotal from the Rendezvous LeBreton private sector partnership, the National Capital Commission and the City of Ottawa if we are to realize such a transformative real estate development and construction project. This will be critical for the Nation’s Capital as we work together to re-imagine the city’s image —as a vibrant multicultural community; as a leader in global innovation through our burgeoning high-tech sector; as the epicenter of knowledge creation in Canada through our leading post-secondary educational institutions; as a sustainable green capital; and as a favourite destination for domestic and international business and leisure tourism.

Having recognized LeBreton Flats as a critical project for Ottawa’s future, the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce struck its Capital Build Task Force, to ensure that private sector support is demonstrated in a transparent and impactful way. The Task Force, a senior group of Ottawa business leaders, met last week and the LeBreton redevelopment is at the top of its list of advocacy targets.

“The business community is extremely supportive of the LeBreton redevelopment, and we want to lend our voice to ensure that the public, interested stakeholders and key decision-makers are working to make this project come to fruition”, said Ian Sherman, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Sherman added that “LeBreton embodies a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Ottawa business community, its residents and visitors and the Chamber intends to live up to its advocacy reputation of the past 160 years”, noting that “after all, it’s our raison d’être”.

By leveraging existing assets like access to the Ottawa River and LRT through this important transportation corridor; and building on the existing appeal of the Canadian War Museum, the National Holocaust Monument,  the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards and the future Zibi community, LeBreton Flats can become a significant tool for economic development — one that can be used to increase the capacity and performance of the Ottawa-Gatineau economy, as we compete to attract top talent to local businesses.

Mr. Sherman cited three areas of particular interest to the business sector that relate to the LeBreton project. At the top of the list is the opportunity to create a significant amount of jobs and to attract talent and investment to Ottawa, both during the construction phase and in ongoing operations. Following closely is the chance to clean up over one million cubic metres of environmental contamination at the site, which has been recognized as one of the most polluted brownfields in Canada. Finally, the importance of tourism to our regional economy and its priority for the local municipalities. A revitalized LeBreton Flats will create the proper balance in creating a sense of community and a signature destination for the National Capital Region.

Challenges remain for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats. However, from a business perspective, we believe that the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats will be transformational to our business community, to our city and to the residents of Ottawa. The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce offers its full support and calls on all parties involved to continue their commitment and collaboration to make LeBreton Flats a reality.