Senators owner Eugene Melnyk responds to failed mediation
Mediation efforts to move LeBreton Flats forward have fallen flat. The National Capital Commission says the mediator retained by RendezVous LeBreton was not able to reach a settlement between the parties involved. It came down to the wire on the $4-billion dollar deal to redevelop LeBreton Flats. In the end, the parties hoping to bring to life a property that's been dormant for decades were not able to ink an agreement.
But sources tell CTV News that an agreement had seemed promising except for one hold out: Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk.
Today, he fired back, claiming the deal was sidelined by the other partners.
The ice-encrusted sidewalks surrounding LeBreton Flats may be as close as we get to anything that resembles NHL ice. This piece of land has sat dormant for 50 years. It seems it will for a while longer.
“If they did build something maybe it would just be a mess,” says one man walking by the vacant land, “Clearly they can't cooperate.”
There certainly hasn't been any love lost between these two parties. It was a frosty relationship going into mediation with Eugene Melnyk suing John Ruddy's group for $700 million dollars and Ruddy countersuing for $1 billion.
The parties had been meeting for a month with a deadline of February 28th to reach a mediated settlement through Justice Warren Winkler.
Sources tell CTV News that two of the parties, John Ruddy, the founder of Trinity Development and DCDLS had signed off on a deal but that Eugene Melnyk had refused to go along with it.
Melnyk disputes that and, in a statement, claims the deal was "sidelined by the unfortunate actions of partners who were unwilling to address the concerns we proactively and transparently raised to the National Capital Commission, the Mayor, the City of Ottawa and the public about the impact of adjacent developments, and economic modelling flaws on the viability of RendezVous LeBreton,” adding, “We are devastated that our dream has been shattered. However, we will not let our vision die or allow our enthusiasm to be diminished by this ill-fated experience.”
Melnyk is referring to Trinity Development's proposal to build at 900 Albert. For his part, John Ruddy said in a statement, “While I am disappointed the mediation concluded without success, I would urge the National Capital Commission to move forward on the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats - regardless of whether Trinity Group plays a role or not - given the importance of this redevelopment to our community.”
A frustrated Jim Watson clearly put the blame on Melnyk's shoulders.
“One of frustrations in partnership was Melnyk,” he said, “While this process has failed, regrettably, in my view, we can't give up on LeBreton. It is too important to sit vacant for another 50 years.”
They are frustrations echoed by the former mayor of Ottawa, Jim Durrell, who played a key role in bringing the Ottawa Senators to Ottawa.
“This will hold up proper redevelopment of LeBreton Flats for many years.I invested an enormous amount of time, energy and political capital years ago to bring the Senators to Ottawa and I don't want to see that go to naught now because of an owner that is clearly struggling financially I guess.”
Pablo Rodriguez, the Minister responsible for the National Capital Commission added, “I'm confident, it's a priority for the NCC. I expect the NCC to be able to announce other things soon.”
If only those near these vacant lands were as confident.
“I don't think an NHL arena is ever going to move here,” said one man walking by LeBreton Flats, “but Kanata's all right for now.”
The NCC's next step is a March 7th meeting where it is expected they will re-start the process. A number of options are available including going to the second bidder, DCDLS.
For now, though, that leaves the future of LeBreton Flats in doubt and, accordingly, a new NHL arena.