Podcast: Casino reopening, Cyrville development opportunities, road-trippers return to Ottawa

In this Behind the Headlines podcast episode, OBJ publisher Michael Curran speaks with OBJ editors David Sali and Peter Kovessy about some of the week’s biggest stories.

This is an edited transcript of the panel discussion. To hear the full interview, please watch the video above. Prefer an audio version of this podcast? Listen to it on SoundCloud or Spotify. 

CURRAN: We saw this week that the Casino reopened with some new health and safety measures put in place. Peter, what are some of the risks in reopening a facility like this?

KOVESSY: The casino was really marketing an experience to its visitors, so the big question is how visitors will react. Will they embrace this new casino experience? Early indications suggest that there is a pent-up demand. When we touched base with the casino earlier this week, they reported that half of the available slots over the next three weeks have already been booked, and they are at capacity this upcoming weekend. We are keen to see if that demand continues over the next few weeks. 

CURRAN: A massive four-tower property development proposal was put forward in the Cyrville neighbourhood, just up the road from the LRT station. Dave, could this be a catalyst for even more development?

SALI: We’re already seeing development in the general vicinity. Just up the road near Blair Station we have the RioCan Frontier apartment complex. There is also Colonnade Bridgeport looking to partner with a Toronto-based group on a mixed-use urban village project near the Via Rail station, and the federal government wants to build a mix of office and residential space near St. Laurent. The developer of this latest Cyrville project sees it as an opportunity to attract younger tenants because of the proximity to transit and as a way to develop the untapped potential of the area. 

CURRAN: We heard this week that hotels are seeing a boost in traffic thanks to road-trippers visiting the city on small excursions. Peter, what does this mean for the city and the sector? 

KOVESSY: A lot of hotels are reporting visitors from Montreal and Toronto are bringing their bikes to Ottawa for a change of scenery. Across the city, two-thirds of the local hotels are now open, which is up from about 50 per cent during the peak of the pandemic. Occupancy is also up, sitting at around 20 per cent, which is about double what it was a few months ago, but nowhere near the 80 per cent we would have been seeing in a regular season.