Ottawa

Melnyk loses 1st round in fight over roundabout near CTC

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has lost the first round in his fight against a proposed roundabout he says will make traffic worse for fans leaving hockey games at Canadian Tire Centre.

City committee gives road project green light despite objections from Senators owner

Fans mill about the Canadian Tire Centre plaza on Oct. 4, 2018. (CBC)

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has lost the first round in his fight against a proposed roundabout he says will make traffic worse for fans leaving hockey games at Canadian Tire Centre.

Developers looking to build a 714-home subdivision nearby want the roundabout where Palladium Drive curves around the Palladium Auto Park.

But Brian Crombie, the NHL club's chief financial officer, told the city's planning committee Thursday the 2,400 vehicles that use that route to leave Senators games will have to queue an extra four minutes if the roundabout goes ahead.

Palladium Drive works, and this proposal destroys the one thing that currently works best.- Brian Crombie, CFO, Ottawa Senators

"This road network must be able to serve all of the community, including the patrons of the Canadian Tire Centre," said Crombie, reading from a letter from Melnyk to the committee. "The number one complaint by far ... has been congestion experienced by over one million people annually."

Crombie told the committee a study commissioned by the developers only takes into account morning and afternoon commutes, not traffic before and after hockey games.

"Palladium Drive works, and this proposal destroys the one thing that currently works best," Crombie said.

The planning committee voted unanimously to allow the roundabout, part of a $49.5-million arterial road extension, despite Melnyk's objections.

Ottawa Senators chief financial officer Brian Crombie read the committee a letter from his boss, owner Eugene Melnyk. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Sens suggest alternative

The Senators hired their own traffic consultant who suggested an alternative route that Crombie said would cost just $6 million, but he said the Senators wouldn't pay for it because the organization feels it already contributed enough when Palladium Drive was originally built.

Consultants for the developers panned that idea as unviable, saying it makes "no sense."

Coun. Stephen Blais asked Crombie if the Senators had changed their minds about a surcharge to allow fans to use their game tickets as a transit pass, similar to deals the city has signed with Bluesfest and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. 

Crombie said such a surcharge would reduce revenue, and noted most fans don't get to games by public transit anyway.

"The Ottawa Senators currently enjoy revenue at the bottom of the NHL, so the answer to your question is no," he replied to Blais.

Not 'a good balance'

Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower acknowledged the team's importance to the city, but also noted the importance of the road project.

"To delay our transportation plans in this area, and also the ability of the [subdivision] to move forward, for one to three minutes of egress time at the end of the game, doesn't seem like a good balance," Gower said.

He said he's pleased developers Cavanagh Construction and Shenkman Corporation, through a numbered company, will build the roundabout, which will eventually be part of a Robert Grant Avenue extension. They will be repaid $10.5 million by the city over the course of a few years.

The project goes to city council for final approval Dec. 11.

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