Are we closer to a LeBreton arena deal?

The NCC said a Sens LeBreton deal is moving forward well, and the mayor once again floats other locations…somewhere.

Good morning!

We’ll start off with a bit of housekeeping today. Next week I’ll be taking a vacation, and in my place Charlie Senack will be writing the Lookout. Charlie’s the editor of the Kitchissippi Times, and his byline appears in plenty of other places around the city too.

Long time readers will remember Charlie’s great work from last fall. I know you’ll be in good hands in my absence!

In today’s newsletter we’ve got a wee bit of LeBreton news, a roundup of all the latest in the region, and plenty of events for you to enjoy the weekend.

I’ll see you soon!

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor


Friday: 16 🌡️ 3 | 🌧

Saturday: 11 🌡️ 1 | 🌧

Sunday: 11 🌡️ 1 | 🌤

Monday: 13 🌡️ 2 | 🌤


Sens arena NCC’s first, but not only, choice for LeBreton

Artist’s rendering for illustrative purposes, subject to change.

Artist’s rendering for illustrative purposes, subject to change. Handout/Populous

What happened: While the NCC said talks with the Ottawa Senators were progressing well, and projected confidence a deal was nearly there, an arena isn’t the only option for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats. CEO Tobi Nussbaum told reporters that there are other options if the two sides don’t come to an agreement, according to CTV.

  • “There's a great need for housing and mixed use development in the city so, if, at some point, the two sides are not able to come to an agreement or the Senators make a decision that they're not going to build there, then yes, absolutely, we'll have to move to our second option,” he said.

Lease talks: The team made a presentation at a closed-door meeting today. The NCC is hoping to have a lease deal for a new arena in place by September, the deadline set by a memorandum of understanding between the two sides. Nussbaum told reporters before the meeting the team was working out the financial details for construction.

  • He also said that while LeBreton may not seem particularly downtown-y now, as it develops it will only become more dense.

A different location? Mayor Mark Sutcliffe meanwhile, believes there’s still an option to put an arena somewhere else downtown. The federal government’s push to cut its office space in half nationally has Sutcliffe once again pondering whether a downtown location other than LeBreton might be ideal for an arena. (While the bulk of its office space is in Ottawa-Gatineau, it’s not yet clear how much of the commercial space it offloads will be in the city.)

  • “The idea of converting some of those buildings to housing is very appealing; it's not easy, it's not simple but we do need to have more people living downtown if we're not going to have as many people working downtown.… Maybe we can have a new park downtown, maybe we can have other attractions downtown and, maybe, we can have a conversation about a downtown arena,” he said according to CTV. “If the Senators are interested in exploring a downtown option, I think it would be great for the downtown core.”

The mayor’s plan? Back in February, and again this week, we asked the mayor’s office whether he or his office had done any studies, made inquiries, identified viable sites, talked to possible developers, or essentially done anything concrete to back up the mayor’s hopes of an arena elsewhere in the core. The mayor’s office was unable to provide any by press time.

The Lookout’s view: It’s not clear what exactly the strategy here is from the mayor. Is it to put pressure on the NCC to give the Senators better terms? Is there some yet-to-be-revealed developer with another arena plan? Does the mayor just not like the NCC very much? Whatever the motive, Sutcliffe seems to prefer an arena go anywhere but LeBreton, but tends to keep things non-specific.

  • During his time as a talk radio host and columnist, this sort of “just asking questions” can be a useful exercise. As mayor, it would be better if there was something a little more solid behind the public pontificating. He is, after all, the mayor.

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🚤 $65,000: The difference between the prize value of the car people thought they had won (a $65,000 boat) and what they actually got (nothing) because of an error with the Tim Hortons roll up the rim contest. [CTV]

📸 112: The number of times this year a police officer has received a speeding ticket from an automated camera while on duty. Another 12 red-light camera tickets have been issued to officers. [CTV]


LRT tunnel missed inspection before concrete pieces fell

What happened: According to documents obtained by CBC, the St Laurent station where concrete debris fell from the ceiling and onto the LRT tracks in January 2023 was not inspected the year before. This, despite inspections from 2020 showing the severe and very severe condition of the concrete, the broadcaster reported.

  • The 2022 inspections, which are supposed to take place every two years, were deferred in most of the station because of construction work at the adjoining bus terminal. The area where debris fell was in one of the areas where inspections were skipped.

Aging infrastructure: The issue was not structural, but the outer layer of concrete peeled off and fell to the tracks below. Inspectors found cracking and delamination, as well as water stains and an active leak from the platform above. On the surface, some of the concrete, as well as some protective steel was showing signs of corrosion.

  • In 2020 the work to make repairs was considered minor rehabilitation, but the inspector marked it urgent.

Current status: Repairs required removing the damaged bits of concrete, using a technique known as scaling. The city said the repairs have since been successfully completed. The tunnel was built for the Transitway bus network in the 1980s. It is considered normal for infrastructure of this age to require similar maintenance.


🚨 A driver going the wrong way on the 417 was killed in a head-on collision with another car. Two other people were taken to hospital with serious injuries. [CTV]

📝 The Ottawa Hospital is running a pilot project on AI software that will assist doctors in writing paper work. The program will record the conversation between a doctor and patient, and then produce clinical notes for the doctor’s approval. The program is only for patients who consent to participating. [CTV]

🚰 To solve Casselman’s drinking water problems, the town would have to change its water source to the Ottawa River from the Nation River. That would cost $100 million, which the town will need help from another level of government to pay for. [CTV]

🏳️‍🌈 The village of Merrickville changed its policies to allow the Pride flag and other flags to be flown at municipal buildings. [CTV]

A decision by Perth town council to forbid the opening of a private gun range was upheld by the Ontario Land Tribunal. The site of the range was once a police gun range, but was only occasionally used by the OPP. [CBC]

🚭 Bylaw is looking to find and close illegal hookah bars in the city. The city knows of at least 13 still operating. The owners and patrons believe the current crackdown infringes on their rights to practise cultural customs. [CBC]


What to do this weekend

🥚 Pysanka Bingo and Varenyky Dinner, Friday 6 pm: The 75th annual fundraiser for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Prizes include traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs. Ticket includes dinner and one bingo card. At 1000 Byron Ave. Adult tickets $28.

🎩 The Great Gatsby, Friday 7:30 pm: New Opera Lyra's world-premiere of “The Great Gatsby,” an opera written by Andrew Ager based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. At Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Ave. Ticket prices vary.

🕯️ A Night of Ink and Embers, Friday 8 pm: Shop by candlelight for books, all while sipping a drink. At the Spaniel's Tale Bookstore, 1131 Wellington St. W. Tickets $14.

♻️ Eco Market 2024 - In Celebration of Earth Day, Saturday 9 am: Dozens of vendors with plenty of eco-friendly products, and raising money for Nature Conservancy Canada. Also includes a bicycle tire repair workshop. At Re4m Design and Fabrication, 136-D Billings Ave. Free!

🐦 Bird Feed Wreath Making, Saturday 2 pm: Make a decorative wreath that doubles as a bird feeder. No experience necessary! At 86 Spadina Ave. Tickets $23.

🎻 Expect the Unexpected - A Musical Surprise, Saturday 7:30 pm: The Ottawa Pops Orchestra is putting on a surprise season finale. What is it? They won’t say, you’ll just have to go to find out. At Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, 355 Cooper St. Tickets start at $17.

👒 Farm Tour West End, Sunday 10 am: Get a tour of a local eco farm. Message ahead and you can even take home a baby apple tree or willow tree cuttings. See and experience farm life. At Sweet William Farms, 139 March Rd. Tickets $12.

🍄 Mushroom - Watercolour Workshop, Sunday 12 pm: Learn the basics of watercolour painting in this guided class. All materials provided, with no experience necessary. At Art Haven Ceramic Cafe, 150 Katimavik Rd. #Unit 124. Tickets $71.


What happened this week in food

Capital Eats is written by our food editor Ralf Joneikies.

🥡 The restaurant Cumin and Pepper shows real potential, and there’s a more-than solid foundation here.

🍷 Enjoy this floral Spanish white wine with your summer lunches. It pairs very well with Thai or Indonesian food, and even ceviche. (Insiders)

👩‍🍳 Meet some of Ontario’s fine artisanal food creators, from cookies to birch syrups, they’re all worth a try.

🍣 This new sushi restaurant in Orléans makes for some of the city’s best fine Japanese cuisine. (Insiders)

🍸 There’s a reason pre-prohibition cocktails are popular. Give this one a try, and you’ll always get the Last Word. (Insiders)

  • No need to be alarmed, a military convoy will travel from Ottawa to North Bay on the 417 as part of a training exercise this weekend. [CBC]

  • The Outdoor & Adventure Travel Show is this weekend, Sat/Sun, 10-5 at the Nepean Sportsplex with free admission and free parking. See you there! [Sponsored]

  • The Parkdale on- and offramps will be closed later this month while the noise barriers along the highway are replaced [CTV]

  • A calf was born at a dairy farm on the day of the eclipse in Kingston with a crescent shaped mark on her head. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • Congrats to the six winners of this year’s Ottawa Valley Tourism Awards! [CTV]

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


Congrats to Adam, Chantal, Gord, James, and GJ, who all knew that this week’s Guesser was the old veterans’ hospital near the General campus. (It also happens to be a building the federal government hopes to turn into housing.)

Think you can solve this week’s Ottawa Wordle? Play now.

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