Shops, homes and offices could soon surround Ottawa's passenger train station.

Via Rail has selected Canderel Property Management as a partner to help it develop about 3.4 hectares of its 9.3-hectare property on Tremblay Road, east of downtown Ottawa, said Via Rail spokesman Malcolm Andrew.

"There is, we think, a great deal of potential that is untapped," he said.

Via will retain ownership of the property, but the "field is wide open" to different types of development, which could include stores, offices and housing, Andrew said. The result is expected to provide rental income for Via and also benefit customers, he added.

"There are not a lot of services in and around the station proper as it sits today."

Bus terminal possible

Andrews confirmed Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien had also written to Via to suggest moving the city's intercity bus terminal to the train station and that Greyhound had made similar proposals twice over the past decade.

"This is certainly something that the developer will want to have a look at and see whether it might fit into a larger development proposal."

He said it's a coincidence that the letter arrived at a time when Via is exploring development of its lands.

Canderel is currently studying the options and will meet with Via to discuss its findings. The company's previous development projects include the Bell Campus in Montreal and the Residences of College Park in Toronto.

Via has already done significant development around some of its other stations, including Winnipeg and Vancouver. This past January, it issued a request for letters of interest to develop the Ottawa station.

Meanwhile, the owner of the downtown bus terminal said he wants to keep that station where it is on Catherine Street.

"I bought it as an income property," said Stewart Robertson, who is based in Vancouver. "I didn't buy it to go turn it into a shopping centre or anything else."