Check out autumn’s hottest stories to watch

biz stories to watch fall

Heading into the Labour Day weekend, it’s a good time to take stock and look ahead to the busy fall season. OBJ has compiled this list of news and developments to watch as we coast into the last few months of 2023.

Suspense builds for the downtown task force report

The Downtown Revitalization Task Force is in the final stages of drafting its long-awaited public report and plans to present its findings shortly, according to a spokesperson for the group. The task force, which was struck by Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi to address challenges in the downtown core, has spent the past year holding regular meetings and conducting surveys and consultations with the public. After considerable delays in recent months, the report is in its final draft stages, a spokesperson for Naqvi’s office said.

New direct flights from YOW

Porter Airlines will add two daily direct flights from Ottawa International Airport (YOW) to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in Florida, starting in November. These routes add to several Canadian destinations Porter has added as direct flights from YOW earlier this year, including Edmonton and Vancouver, as well as the new Air France direct flight to Paris. The Florida routes are Porter’s first to the U.S. using its 132-seat, all-economy Embraer E195-E2 aircraft. 

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Let’s hear from Andlauer

If we assume the deal allowing Michael Andlauer to buy the Ottawa Senators is a go (which should be confirmed shortly), then we can turn back to speculation about where a new hockey arena might be located. Earlier this year, the concept of building a new arena in the heart of downtown versus LeBreton Flats was gaining steam, with both pro and con arguments to be made. Ottawa residents will get one of their first opportunities to hear from Andlauer himself when he appears at the sold-out Sept. 14 OBJ and Ottawa Board of Trade Mayor’s Breakfast.

Imaginaire opens its doors at the Rideau Centre

Imaginaire, a Quebec-based collectibles and hobby store, will open in Ottawa’s Rideau Centre, its first location outside its home province. The retailer will occupy 20,000 square feet bridging the third and fourth floors, next to Simons, representing a $3-million investment. It plans to open its doors in October and expects to hire 50 to 60 employees. Owner Anthony Doyon said the nation’s capital is a prime location for Imaginaire since it gives the retailer the ability to access markets in both Ottawa and Gatineau.

Biz groups continue to press on CEBA deadline

Will the federal government further extend the deadline for CEBA loan repayment? In a recent statement to OBJ, a spokesperson for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland gave little indication that the government is reconsidering its stance, despite ongoing pleas from business groups to change the current Dec. 31, 2023 deadline.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the federal government acted swiftly to provide emergency support and ensure that Canadians and Canadian businesses could weather the storm. The (Canada Emergency Business Account) programme, which delivered over $49 billion to more than 890,000 small businesses and non-profits across the country, was an essential part of that effort,” said Katherine Cuplinskas, Freeland’s senior communications adviser and press secretary.

Vittoria Trattoria rebuilds from the ashes

More than four years after a fire tore through his ByWard Market restaurant, the owner of Vittoria Trattoria told OBJ recently he hopes to begin rebuilding the site in the next few months.

Domenic Santaguida said he and his business partners are awaiting permits from the city to officially begin reconstructing two heritage buildings at 55 and 57 William St. that were heavily damaged in an April 2019 blaze that caused more than $2 million in damage. The redevelopment will include a three-storey residential building with 17 short- and long-term rental apartments, as well as a 40-seat rooftop patio and event space.

Taggart proposal at 1081 Carling goes back to committee

A controversial proposal to build two high-rise residential buildings near the Civic Hospital campus on Carling Avenue will go back to the city’s planning and housing committee after an administrative snafu meant representatives from the federal government were not at the initial committee meeting, where the proposal was approved. Taggart Realty Management has applied with the city to build 16- and 27-storey towers at 1081 Carling Ave., which would include a total of 410 units. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada had pushed back, saying in a letter to city planners that it had “serious concerns” that shadows cast by the proposed buildings would disrupt research at the Central Experimental Farm across the street. 

Ottawa tech companies report earnings in choppy industry environment

We’ll get another chance to see how some of Ottawa’s largest tech companies are faring in the current challenging climate. Shopify, Calian and Kinaxis will report quarterly earnings in late fall. Latest earnings saw Shopify record a US$1.3-billion loss in its second quarter compared with a net loss of US$1.2 billion a year earlier. Shopify is also facing a class-action lawsuit alleging the company reneged on a deal it offered some employees who were laid off in a recent round of cuts. At Kinaxis, revenues rose more than 30 per cent year-over-year in the second quarter as the company continued to see surging demand for its supply-chain management software. Kinaxis posted a net loss of $2.5 million, compared with a loss of $2.6 million a year earlier. And Calian Group said it is making cuts in “targeted areas” after it reported higher revenues but lower profits in the third quarter compared with a year earlier. Calian reported revenues of $167 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2023, up from $150 million the previous year, and a net profit of $4.7 million, down from $6.8 million in the third quarter of 2022. 

Plans for proposed bus lane in Old Ottawa South go to council

We’ll soon find out what city council thinks of a plan that would improve public transit but also limit on-street parking on Bank Street in Old Ottawa South, where local business owners worry traffic to their stores will take a hit. Approved by the transportation committee recently, the proposal would add cycling lanes and a northbound bus lane to Bank Street between Aylmer Avenue and Billings Bridge, which spans the Rideau River. Recommendations from the committee meeting go to council on Sept. 13.

Will we see a buyer for Carlingwood Mall?

Carlingwood Shopping Centre, which opened in 1956 and now contains the country’s largest Canadian Tire store, was put on the market in July. TD Securities director of real estate brokerage Elliot Medoff posted on LinkedIn that TD Cornerstone Commercial Realty and Cushman & Wakefield Ottawa are brokering the sale of the 632,700-square-foot complex, which is operated by Strathallen Property Management. Located on a 30-acre site at the corner of Carling and Woodroffe avenues, Carlingwood Shopping Centre is one of the city’s largest malls. Its largest tenant is Canadian Tire, which opened a two-level, 263,500-square-foot location in the mall last fall.

Another office conversion takes shape

The developer that transformed a vacant commercial building on Albert Street into an apartment complex is launching its second office-to-residential conversion project in downtown Ottawa. CLV Group plans to gut the recently vacated Narono Building at 360 Laurier Ave. W. and turn it into a residential development with 139 rental units, said president Oz Drewniak. It will be the second major conversion project for CLV Group, which recently finished redeveloping the 11-storey Trebla Building at 473 Albert St. into a 158-unit apartment complex. Drewniak said it will take about two years to complete the conversion process at 360 Laurier.

Will Ottawa’s new voice in cabinet be heard?

In the wake of significant changes to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet in July, Ottawa was left without a local MP holding a senior ministerial role. However, the shuffle could still be good news for Ottawa, experts suggest. The city’s lone representative in cabinet, Kanata-Carleton MP Jenna Sudds, was appointed minister of families, children and social development. “Jenna is unique and with the strategic value she’s going to bring, she’s also an experienced councillor who knows the inner workings of the city,” said Muhammad Ali, vice-president at Ottawa public affairs consulting agency Crestview Strategy. 

Sudds worked as an economist in the federal government for 12 years before becoming the inaugural president and executive director of the Kanata North Business Association. Sudds also served as executive director at the CIO Strategy Council, a national technology council.

Things may get active at former Canadian Tire on Carling

Altea Active signed a lease with RioCan REIT in April to take possession of the old Canadian Tire retail store on Carling Avenue in August. It plans to turn the 129,000-square-foot space into a premier spot for residents to be active, both physically and socially. The new facility, slated to open in late 2024, will offer fitness facilities, strength and cardio equipment, personal and small group training, spa amenities and “luxury” hospitality. A number of local business leaders have invested in the company’s $30-million-plus project. 

New views on Wellington Street?

While talks about the control and management of Wellington Street between the city and federal government appear to have stalled, it will be interesting to see if a new federal minister at Public Services and Procurement Canada will have new views on the matter. In April, the stretch of Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill reopened to vehicles after a 15-month closure. In advance of the opening, then Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek wrote to Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe saying the federal government wants its jurisdiction to include both Wellington and Sparks streets as a way to address security issues and to create a vibrant public space. Such an ownership transfer, she wrote, would offer “a unique opportunity” to “reimagine this space as Canada’s preeminent civic forum.” Many business leaders have been clear in their views: the street needs to stay open and be kept under the purview of the municipal government.

Big developments on the horizon

Several developers have filed applications with the city in recent months. Here are some of the bigger proposals:

  • Theberge Homes has filed a proposal that would see a pair of 24-storey highrises and a 32-storey tower constructed at 780 Baseline Rd. on the corner of Fisher Avenue, just south of the Central Experimental Farm.
  • Brigil plans to build two highrises comprising nearly 600 apartments on Richmond Road at Assaly Road. The new project calls for two towers of 28 and 32 storeys connected by a four-storey podium. 
  • Colonnade BridgePort says it plans to build five residential highrises with upwards of 1,200 units on property near the Blair LRT station it purchased earlier this year. The firm has filed an application to develop the four-acre parcel of land at 2000 City Park Dr., about 450 metres west of Blair Station and the nearby Gloucester Centre mall.
  • Brigil wants to construct 700 rental suites next to property it is already developing on Baseline Road. The Gatineau-based firm’s latest proposal calls for two highrises of 28 and 32 storeys plus a nine-storey building at 2946 Baseline Rd., just east of the Queensway Carleton Hospital.
  • Katasa Group has submitted an application to build two towers of 25 and 20 storeys at 1531 St. Laurent Blvd. near the corner of Belfast Road. A vacant one-storey commercial building occupies part of the site, with a surface parking lot covering the rest.
  • The company that owns the former Greyhound bus terminal land plans to build three highrises ranging from 26 to 40 storeys on the site that would include more than 1,000 rental apartment units and commercial space. A development application for the 2.8-acre property on Catherine Street filed on behalf of Brigil says the project – which would be built in two phases and result in more than a million square feet of new real estate – will act “as a catalyst for the regeneration of the southern edge of the downtown area.”
  • In a move that would dramatically reshape the east-end skyline, a Toronto-based developer has applied to build a trio of mixed-use highrises in Orléans that would include more than 1,100 residential units along with retail and office space. Bayview Group’s proposal calls for towers of 30, 35 and 40 storeys on a 2.2-acre plot of land at 265 Centrum Blvd. The property is located just east of Place d’Orléans mall and the Orléans Town Centre.

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