Building LeBetter Flats, part 6, The Sens again, with Plan B

If all that overindulgence in food and sweets still permits, recall the story a short while ago about the Senators moving to LeBreton Flats. As I pointed out then, it makes much more sense for a new hockey palace to go west of Preston rather than close to Booth.

Reasons? It would be adjacent the major station (Bayview) where the east-west Confederation Line crosses the north-south Trillium line (formerly known as the OTrain). The Prince of Wales former railway bridge over to Gatineau is supposed to have a cantilevered bike and ped path on it by 2018, according to our city’s official plan. I have no doubt the Trillium line will someday (soon….we can hope) be crossing the bridge too, where it might morph into the Fleur de Lis line to the Casino [more on that story in a few days, stay tuned…].

Using the western portion of LeBreton Flats for a stadium better fits the Senators time line, and would culminate the Flats residential build-out on both sides of Booth Street (which might, we hope, be put on a road diet to undo the City’s 2015 rebuilding of it into a highway). Here’s a pic:

Stadium - Bayview (cropped)


Moving the rink west also reduces the chances of it dwarfing the War Museum, which is a lower slung building designed to blend into the grass.

But that new rink location also thwarts the fantasy location for a new Museum of Science, Technology and whatnot. The Senators also demand a major show of public support, ie money. I am not sure the Feds will be enthused about anything that looks like a outright gift of land, or money, as it creates a precedent for other cities to demand similar taxpayer largesse. The NCC also needs to recover its pre-development costs of remediating the contaminated soils. The Feds might do a land trade, for eg taking the Kanata palladium site for development as a suburban office complex (ironically putting it out beyond the LRT line, rather like the National Defence site is now out in the western greenbelt, or the RCMP / JDS Fitel site on Prince of Wales). Dumber things have happened. But I imagine the Senators want those redevelopment lands / monies for themselves too.

I think the Senators team have to be very creative to come up with a structure on the Flats that somehow siphons off profits from the other urban [dev] elements to subsidize the rink. Lansdowne Park is a much smaller example and the stadium was a partial rebuild, not a from-scratch building. And the municipal taxpayer still had to dig deep into someone’s pockets to get that to come together. I don’t pretend to follow the nuances of those finances, since I am innumerate and have an aversion to other people’s hands in my pockets.

Doing up a proposal for the next phase of the Flats is not cheap. Private companies don’t like to deal with endless revisions or time delays or to waste money on a longshot. So the Senators should  have a Plan B. Somewhere they can reuse the planning effort and expense, have similar location parameters, and a more friendly developer.

Where might that be?

Look no further than a few hundred meters west, to the other side of the Bayview Station and north-south Trillium line. The City-owned Bayview Yards. Plan B could be Bayview Yards.

Will a hockey rink fit?

Here it is,  to the same scale as the other photoshop fantasy Palladium locations:

Stadium in Bayview Yards

As shown, the Hockey Palace would fit on the existing portion of Bayview Yards closest to the Bayview Station where the north-south-east-west LRT lines intersect. This is directly across Albert Street from Tom Brown arena. There is still room to the northwest for the City’s Innovation Centre that is to be built around the old sewer department building. Instant mixed use.

Here’s a closer-up:

Stadium in Bayview Yards - Cropped

There isn’t much other space left over for residential or other development that would build out a balanced urban place. Even if the Merkley site immediately west was developed, it isn’t [yet] owned by the City or Melnyck.

And the City would need a development that appeals to more than just sports fans. It already has the Innovation Centre office development underway, but would there be room for a new public library or other uses that could broaden the appeal of the location? If Melnyck could strike a deal with the City Centre folks, or Phoenix, owners of the SE triangular lot at 801 Albert that the City rezoned two years back for a pair of 40+ storey buildings, then there is potential for a more balanced cultural expression (books, pucks, technology  — are we missing anyone yet? shopping maybe? Winners*?).

If Melnyk owned the Phoenix site, for example, the Feds might agree to move some department into the two forty-storey towers, thus suitably laundering the Federal support; and the City could insert a Library at the base of the towers on a long term lease, thus showing its support. The City also owns the land under the ice surface, which has some value too.

Don’t forget to make room for the condos.


next: another LeBreton Flats, in another City, in another country, how are we doing in comparison?


*Shopping for winners … good pun though.

5 thoughts on “Building LeBetter Flats, part 6, The Sens again, with Plan B

  1. Look at Toronto Bmo Field was built on Ontario owned land now your typical soccer fan says it was greet but most claim a mixed use project should have been the better use of the lands.

  2. The second scenario seems much more likely to me: I have always thought that a new Sens arena on Federal land was too egregious, i.e. there was no “laundering” process extensive enough that would justify it. I’m sure the Sens would love the Bayview location just as well, as it gives them more direct access to the ~300K folks in Gatineau. And if that’s what it takes to get the train across the river, so be it.

    I know this series is about the flats, but on a related note: would the timeline for Hurdman development fit better with the Sens plans? And, it’s more of blank slate that they could do with what they wanted? And wouldn’t the city have a greater ability to issue all sorts of sweetheart deals, as cities are wont to do when the local sports team needs a new venue?

    Or, do you (and the Sens), think that the plans for Hurdman are more wishful thinking on the part of the city, and will be for the forseeable future?

  3. I like the idea of pushing any major arena off ‘The Flats’ and west of the Trillium line. There is a huge potential in that space. The City wants to upgrade the Tom Brown Arena, perhaps adding a second ice sheet. The City wants to upgrade the Laroche Park. Well, how about a professional NHL arena + a 4-ice-sheet ‘Sensplex’ + Baseball and Soccer on an expanded Laroche Park? Put a retractable roof on the arena and construct it to be versatile enough for summer uses – concerts, baseball, farmer’s market (too close to the Parkdale Market), trade shows, parade staging, an all-new ‘Ex’, … . (I seem to remember rumours of Merkley Supply having a plan to move.) As well, landscape the area to have a better relationship with the River. This can be the City’s downtown recreational centre, a central gathering place. On the south side of Scott Street, the old Tom Brown Arena site could be developed for mixed use; including a new Innovation Centre.

    For transportation, the location would be served by the Confederation Line, the Trillium Line, [assuming a repurposing of the Prince of Wales Bridge as a Rapibus extension] STO’s Rapibus, Bikewest (sorry, I see that it is unfortunately no longer in the plan), all the new multi-purpose paths around the LRT lines, the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, and Scott/Albert/Preston [imagine the road connection if the Champagne Expressway had been built]. [I am still hoping that the City has some foresight and is planning to widen the Bayview Road underpass of the Transitway/Confederation Line while the Transitway is being converted; otherwise it will forever remain a traffic bottle-neck when the Bayview yards are finally developed, in what-ever form that takes. It would be best to do it when the Transitway is shut down and the conversion might be our only chance.] How about an electric ferry across the river, similar to the one under Parliament Hill during the summer?

  4. I’m a huge fan of extending the O-Train to the airport – primarily to get the rail bridge back in use as a rail bridge. Since there’s a convenient line running from that bridge to the Casino Lac Leamy, and once the train runs to the airport, I’m certain Lotto Quebec will flex their muscle to get rail to their door.

    Voila. Rail between the cities.

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