Brisbin leading Rideau-Carleton’s casino plans: sources

The architect behind the Ottawa Convention Centre and Ottawa International Airport terminal is working with the owners of the Rideau-Carleton Raceway to prepare the facility’s plans for a new casino, several sources say.

Ritchard Brisbin
 of BBB Architects is described by some as a well-respected and powerful partner with a track record of securing the buy-in of approval authorities such as the city and National Capital Commission, as well as community groups for various past projects.

Rideau-Carleton’s bid to host a casino received a major boost earlier this month when Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he’d ask councillors to support a motion that would only allow a new casino to be constructed if it’s built at the Rideau-Carleton Raceway.

Up until then, developers, casino operators and landowners elsewhere in the city had been informally aligning themselves in preparation for a request for proposals that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. was expected to release this summer.

With the option of a new casino downtown, at the airport, near Scotiabank Place, at the Ottawa Train Yards or elsewhere expected to be off the table, companies interested in developing a local casino are now looking to speak with Rideau-Carleton and Mr. Brisbin.

“Ritchard is my new best friend,” joked one industry source.

It is unclear who else – if anyone – is formally part of the BBB-Rideau-Carleton Raceway team.

In an interview last fall, Rideau-Carleton spokesperson Alex Lawryk said the raceway already had a specific casino operator in mind. However, sources told OBJ that as recently as this spring, no general contractor or casino operator had exclusively partnered with BBB or Rideau-Carleton.

Mr. Lawryk declined to speak publicly when reached by phone following the mayor’s announcement. Mr. Brisbin did not return calls seeking comment.