Ottawa·LeBreton Flats

DCDLS rips RendezVous bid, NCC process for LeBreton redevelopment

The consortium whose multi-billion dollar bid to transform Ottawa's Lebreton Flats came second last week has ​raised a litany of concerns over both details of the winning proposal and the National Capital Commission's selection process, hours before a sweeping gag order on all participants goes into effect.

Letter from Devcore Group's lawyer comes hours before cone of silence falls over negotiations

Daniel Peritz, vice-president of Devcore Canderel DLS Group, principal architect Ritchard Brisbin and National Capital Commission CEO Mark Kristmanson (left to right) take part in presentations on the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats in Ottawa, on Jan. 26, 2016. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

The consortium whose multi-billion dollar bid to transform Ottawa's Lebreton Flats came second last week has ​raised a litany of concerns over both details of the winning proposal and the National Capital Commission's selection process, hours before a sweeping gag order on all participants goes into effect.

In a letter to the NCC's chief of real estate development, Yannick Bouchard, Debbie Bellinger, a lawyer for Devcore, Canderel and DLS Group, describes her client's "disappointment with the result" reached by a five-member selection committee and approved by the NCC's board of directors on April 28.

"We are perplexed as to how the proposal of the Rendez Vous LeBreton team met the requirements of the Request for Qualifications, based on your stated objectives which were to see development for primarily non-residential uses, such as museums, galleries, special attractions, hospitality and office space, which fosters public access and experience," Bellinger wrote. 

The RendezVous bid included about 4,400 residential units, while the DCDLS bid had about half that number, as well as a wider array of museums and other public attractions. In its presentation to the NCC board last week, the selection committee found the RendezVous bid had an "optimistic residential absorption rate," yet it still came out on top.

DCDLS is "further perplexed" over a public statement by the NCC — apparently in response to public criticism that the Ottawa Senators-backed RendezVous bid failed to include elements of "national significance" —  that it intends to look for ways to "lift the national prominence" of the winning proposal.

"This allows one team to improve upon its proposal and to introduce elements that were not part of its formal submission. Our position in the overall process will be severely prejudiced by that approach," Bellinger wrote. 

DCDLS demands scoring results

DCDLS is demanding the NCC release the results of the scoring, "in order for us to maintain commitments from our partners over the coming months," Bellinger wrote.

And DCDLS wants the NCC to forbid any interaction between the winning bidder and its own development partners, consultants and prospective tenants, "to the extent that if the Rendez Vous LeBreton group violates the foregoing we will reserve all legal rights including the right to insist that Rendez Vous LeBreton be disqualified."

DCDLS questions the silence of a fairness monitor appointed to the process on the subject of public meetings between RendezVous LeBreton Group and "leaders of the business community."

"We would like to understand how, given the serious confidentiality requirements of the RFP (request for proposals), the fairness monitor overlooked the gathering together publicly of city officials, members of the business community and the media, without comment or disqualification of the other team, particularly after prior notice of the time and location of these meetings," Bellinger wrote.

Covering LRT will cause delays, DCDLS warns

Bellinger notes the board of the NCC seemed particularly swayed by RendezVous LeBreton Group's proposal to cover the light rail tracks that will traverse the site.

"We studied the feasibility and viability of this option in the context of our own proposal, and concluded that this approach is not economically viable, is technically difficult to implement, and more importantly will result in significant delays in the planned opening of the Confederation Line of the LRT," Bellinger warns.

Finally, Bellinger urges the NCC to reiterate its official position that the process is ongoing, and negotiations with both groups continue. 

"In our view the NCC should be making a public statement to confirm that the process is not over and that as yet there is no confirmed 'winner' in the process."

DCDLS has requested ongoing, regular meetings with the NCC and says it will remain involved in the process for now, "but will revisit its position from time to time based on its assessment of where things stand."

NCC responds

In response to the letter, NCC spokesman Nicholas Galletti told CBC: "The National Capital Commission stands by the integrity of its competitive solicitation process for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats. Every aspect of the process and all communications with both proponents were monitored by the independent fairness monitors hired to oversee the competition and they have deemed the process to be fair, impartial and transparent.

"We understand the disappointment of the DCDLS team, but the evaluation committee came to a clear result. RendezVous LeBreton ranked highest and have thus obtained the right to negotiate first with the NCC."

Should the NCC fail to reach an agreement with RendezVous LeBreton Group, it reserves the right to negotiate with DCDLS, Galletti said.

Reached by CBC, neither Senators owner Eugene Melnyk nor RendezVous LeBreton Group project manager Graham Bird would comment on the letter from DCDLS Group. 

A gag order affecting all participants in the LeBreton Flats redevelopment process goes into effect at midnight Wednesday, and stays in effect until negotiations are complete.

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