City could get an office tower for a steal

A clause in a 20-year-old lease could give the city a chance to buy an office tower for far below market prices.

Good morning!

We’ve got a pretty busy newsletter today, so I won’t keep you long. But I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend! It was certainly lovely.

Today, we’ve got the latest on a city plan to possibly buy an office building for far below market rate, the province’s plan to put beer in corner stores early, and plenty of events to get you through the week.

Let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor


Monday: 20 🌡️ 14 | ⛈️

Tuesday: 19 🌡️ 12 | 🌧

Wednesday: 4 🌡️ 12 | ☁️


City has chance to buy office tower for fraction of its value

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What happened: The City of Ottawa has a chance to buy a Centrepointe office tower and surrounding lands it already occupies for a fraction of the property’s value, according to a staff report. The Mary Pitt Centre has been leased by the city from the Arnon Corporation, but terms built in the lease mean it can be purchased for $72 million to $80 million less than it’s actually worth.

  • The building is the home of Ottawa Public Health and other city departments.

The details: The actual value of the land and the building is estimated to be worth between $84 million to $92 million. The city took over the lease for the building from Nortel Networks, as that company began downsizing. In negotiations in 2002 and 2003 with the building’s owner, the city built in the option to buy the land for $10 million, plus capital expenditure fees, now estimated at about $2.2 million. 

  • This gives the city the option to buy the property for a total of about $12.2 million, tens of millions below its current market value.

Timeline: If the city decides it wants to buy the property, it has to notify Arnon between Sept. 2 this year and Feb. 28 of next year. If the city does not buy the property, they will have to renegotiate the lease or move. There is no clause to extend the current lease, and it is unlikely a similar clause to buy the property for a cut rate would be added in.

Long-term costs: The city spends $9.5 million per year leasing the property. The base rent is $6.3 million per year, with the rest covering operating expenses. With maintenance and repair costs expected to be about $1 million per year over the next two decades, the city expects to save $5.3 million per year by buying the building. 

What’s next: The finance committee will vote on whether to buy the property next Tuesday, after which point the full council will have to approve the measure.

What it means: The undeveloped land could be used for housing, College Ward Coun. Laine Johnson told CBC. Affordable housing or a mixed development are all possibilities for the 6.88-hectare site.

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🔬 $171.6 million: Five scientific research organizations in the city will receive their share up to this amount from the federal government’s strategic science fund. [CTV]

💰 $549,235: The amount The Ottawa Hospital paid an outside auditor to investigate potential irregularities in the hospital’s accounting from 2015-2018. The hospital sued several managers, before settling those cases years later. The cost of those settlements and the legal fees involved are being kept secret by the hospital. [CBC]


Ontario pays off major brewers to bring beer to convenience stores

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What happened: The province will pay The Beer Store $225 million to end the almost-monopoly the retailer has on the alcohol market 16 months early, CBC reported. The Beer Store is co-owned by Molson Coors, Labatt, and Sleeman breweries.

  • In 2015, the province signed a 10-year deal to keep The Beer Store the primary retailer in the province. This new announcement ends that agreement before it runs out.

The details: More stores, including convenience stores and gas stations, will be able to start selling beer and other low-alcohol drinks on Sept. 4. Grocery stores that already have a licence will be able to sell pre-mixed cocktails Aug. 1, and currently unlicensed grocery stores will be able to sell booze starting Oct. 31.

  • Stores will be able to sell packs of beer up as large as 30 cans or bottles. Currently, only The Beer Store can sell large packs. The Beer Store will continue to manage the bottle return program, and act as the distributor in the province.

Payout politics: The nearly quarter billion dollars will go to The Beer Store to maintain jobs and offset the cost of the opening up of the beer market to more retailers. The province insists the money will not go directly to the conglomerates that own the retailer, and will be audited.

  • The finance minister said the money will “help maintain perhaps unprofitable Beer Stores” and will “minimize the disruption” of fully ending the Beer Store’s monopoly on beer sales.

LCBO: The LCBO will remain the only place to buy harder spirits — whiskey, rum, gin, etc. — and will also stay as the wholesale seller of alcohol in the province. New retailers will get a 10% discount off the LCBO’s retail wholesale price until 2026.


Check out the new open positions in Ottawa.

  1. Project coordinator at Urbacity Design Build

  2. Administration manager at the New Zealand High Commission

  3. Coroporate communications and marketing manager at Canada Green Building Council

  4. Audio visual project manager at Applied Electronics

  5. Service navigation coordinator at Rise

Local jobs are selected by the Lookout team and are not paid ads, unless specifically noted.


💐 Friends and colleagues shared fond memories of former councillor Diane Deans at a celebration of life on Saturday. Deans died earlier this month five years after an ovarian cancer diagnosis. [CTV]

🏃‍♀️ Tesfaye Anbesa won the men’s race at the Ottawa International Marathon on Sunday, while Maregu Hayelom won the women's; both runners are from Ethiopia. Arnaud Francioni and Rachel Hannah were the top-finishing Canadians in the men’s and women’s respectively. The oldest finisher was 85-year-old Bob Brisebois from Rockland. [CTV]

🏃‍♂️ When Mayor Mark Sutcliffe crossed the finish line at Ottawa Race Weekend, Dhanushka Wickramasinghe was there to give him his finishing medal. Sutcliffe was raising money through Ottawa Victim Services for Wickramasinghe, whose family was killed in a knife attack this year. You can donate here (select the “Dhanushka Wickramasinghe Fund” in the Fund dropdown menu). [Mark Sutcliffe/Twitter]

🚨 A 53-year-old cyclist was killed in a collision with a transport truck. The man’s name was not released, and OPP is investigating. [CBC]

🔧 Charlie Donevan, known as Mr. Gananoque, was mourned over the weekend. Donevan died earlier this month at the age of 99. He ran a downtown hardware store, and was a key figure in supporting the local arts scene, as well as donating a piece of land to the Thousand Islands National Park. [CBC]

🚓 A driver had his car impounded for driving to an OPP detachment the day after having his licence suspended for allegedly driving drunk. His licence had been suspended Friday night for 90 days, but police said he drove to the OPP detachment the next day to retrieve a cell phone the police did not have. [CTV]

🚌 The city held a job fair for OC Transpo on Saturday. The agency is looking to hire drivers and maintenance staff to keep up its service levels. [CBC]

💥 A man was taken to hospital with serious but not life-threatening conditions with gunshot wounds. He was shot on Ogilvie near St. Laurent on Thursday night. [CBC]

🚔 A 68-year-old man was charged with causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal after allegedly stomping a gosling to death last week at Hazeldean Mall. The family of geese had nested in a planter at the mall. [CBC]

🚑 A woman hit by a driver in Barrhaven on Thursday died of their injuries. The woman was hit near Strandherd and Longfields. [CBC]


What to do this week

🎶 Fundraising Concert for LCRC, Monday 7 pm: An evening of music to raise money for the Lowertown Community Resource Centre. At l'école secondaire publique De La Salle, 501 Old St. Patrick St. Tickets start at $10.

🎹 Love is a Journey, Tuesday 12:10 pm: Soprano Patricia Beckett and pianist Frédéric Lacroix play the music of Handel, Schubert, Wagner, and Mozart as part of the Music as Sanctuary series. At St. Andrew’s Church, 82 Kent St. Free, donations welcome.

📖 Steve Paikin Book Launch, Thursday 5 pm: Join author Steve Paikin as he launches his book John Turner: An Intimate Biography of Canada’s 17th Prime Minister. Attendees get a copy of the book, and will have a chance to get it signed and chat with the author. At Walter House, 282 Somerset St. W. Tickets $50.

🌎 Climate Leap, Thursday 6:30 pm: Join a community of friendly climate enthusiasts at their monthly event as they discuss “What would an Ottawa Climate Week Look Like?.”  At Happy Goat (Sandy Hill), 317 Wilbrod St. Register here (Free).

🎸 Jeremy Fisher at the New Ed Fieldhouse, Saturday: Singer-songwriter Jeremy Fisher puts on two concerts, a 2 pm afternoon show for youth, and an 8 pm evening show. At the New Edinburgh Park Fieldhouse, 203 Stanley Ave. Tickets $25-$35.

🫒 Masterclass by Aurelius Fine Oils, Saturday 1 pm: Learn all about the intricacies of fine olive oil in a deep dive hosted by Mike George. At Chef’s Paradise, 1314 Bank St. Tickets $40.

🥊 InFightStyle Cup, Saturday 6 pm: An all-women night of Muay Thai fights. At the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, 11 Aviation Pkwy. Tickets start at $56.

🎤 Edinburgh or Bust! A Night of Comedy, Saturday 8 pm: Join headline Rick Currie and friends for a night of comedy, all in support of the Ottawa Little Theatre’s production of An Act of Grace who are raising money for a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. At the Ottawa Little Theatre, 400 King Edward Ave. Tickets $23.

Capital EatsHelping you discover the best restaurants, food and drinks in Ottawa and the Capital Region. From the team at Ottawa Lookout. Read by 18,000+ locals.
  • The Glebe was packed Saturday for the annual Great Glebe Garage Sale. [CTV]

  • Thinking about starting therapy? Shepherd Psychotherapy is accepting new clients for in-person and online sessions. [Sponsored]

  • Drive-in movie theatres like Pembroke’s Skylight are facing hard times as few people come to the movies. [CTV]

  • After a successful first campaign, the PWHL will expand to 30 games next season. [The Associated Press]

  • Tired of drowning in science news? Dive into The Aurorean! Their weekly briefing scours 100+ sources to bring you the juiciest bits of science news every Wednesday. Stay ahead of the curve—subscribe now for free! 🔬 [Sponsored]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


Congrats to everyone who got the answer to last week’s Ottawa Wordle. The solution was LEAKY, as in the roof of St-Laurent Station.

For this week’s Ottawa Quiz, we want to know…

How much does the city expect to save every year by buying the Mary Pitt Centre?

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