Coalition wants people-centric LeBreton Flats deal

A new coalition is pushing the National Capital Commission to ensure the next plan for LeBreton Flats comes with real benefits to the community. 

New group wants promises of community space, housing in writing

The coalition wants to ensure the redevelopment leads to benefits for the community, not just money for the businesses and developers. (Kate Porter/CBC)

A new coalition wants to make the next plan for LeBreton Flats come with real benefits to the community.

The LeBreton Flats Community Benefits Coalition is pushing for a binding community benefits agreement with the National Capital Commission that would force whoever develops the land on the western edge of downtown Ottawa to include things such as social housing, park space, childcare spaces and labour commitments.

The NCC's board is set to vote on a concept plan for the area early in 2020. 

George Brown, a lawyer and member of the coalition, said it's about ensuring the land is developed responsibly.

"When we design communities we tend to look just at the buildings," he said at a Monday afternoon meeting.

"No one talks about what the makeup of the community is going to be, what sort of social infrastructure is in that community."

George Brown, a lawyer and member of the coalition, said they want to ensure there is a real benefit to the community. (Ryan Tumilty/CBC)

Brown said he believes there are developers willing to take the extra step and sign onto an agreement like this.

He said in early talks they have had with the NCC, it seems interested in the idea.   

"We are urging the NCC board of directors to recognize that [this agreement] is an important part of whatever gets approved at LeBreton Flats," he said. 

Céline Carrière, co-chair of the Ottawa Social Housing Network, said they believe this will actually give the NCC ammunition when it is negotiating in the future. 

"When they go out to have conversations with developers it will, in fact, empower the NCC and give them the tools to say, 'We have to have an element of community art space or we must have a certain amount of affordable child care.'" 

In a statement, Katie Paris, the NCC's director of major real estate development, said they see a common approach with what the NCC wants from the development and what the coalition wants. 

She said they hope to continue talking with the coalition as the project moves forward.

The NCC reset the development of LeBreton Flats after the previous development with RendezVous LeBreton Group became embroiled in a legal dispute between Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and developer John Ruddy.

with files from Radio-Canada's Roxane Léouzon