While a move by the Ottawa Senators to a downtown arena is not a done deal and could be years in the making, business organizations and civic politicians in Kanata and Stittsville say it is vital that there be a new community vision for their area.
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While a move by the Ottawa Senators to a downtown arena is not a done deal and could be years in the making, business organizations and civic politicians in Kanata and Stittsville say it is vital that there be a new community vision for their area. In fact, some argue that the departure of the hockey team could be a golden opportunity for renewal in Ottawa’s west-end communities. However, coming up with a new development strategy depends largely on what the Senators organization decides to do with the land it owns around the Canadian Tire Centre. “Right now, the master planning document for the area is the Kanata West Concept Plan, which dates back about 20 years,” Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower told OBJ. “Ideally, I’d like to see redevelopment into a vibrant neighbourhood with a mix of homes, employment, retail and entertainment, including a strong sports/entertainment anchor for the west end.” “This is private property, so future uses of the land will be initiated by the landowner,” added Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley. “(Eugene) Melnyk, as owner, had a plan to convert the space into an entertainment and mixed-use site that I was supportive of and remain willing to work with (the landowners) on any ideas that serve our city.” Hubley said residents near the arena want the team to be financially successful “and accept that may involve a relocation, but we also have to ensure there is no negative impacts on existing communities such as mine. I will work with all parties that share that priority.” Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe told OBJ City Hall must recognize that the city’s core gain of the team moving closer to downtown is a loss for another part of the city, adding any negative impacts must be mitigated in the future. “I don't want to see a win for the downtown at the expense of Kanata and the west end,” he said. “We need to make sure there is a strong plan for the CTC site. That is very important.” “I’ve had some very preliminary conversations with the Senators and city staff about future planning for the CTC, but I don’t expect we’ll start any formal discussions for at least another year when there’s more certainty about LeBreton Flats and timelines,” added Gower. ”First and foremost will be to get clarity from the Senators organization about their plans for the building and the land that they own.” If the NHL club leaves the area, it will end a nearly 30-year relationship between the Senators and the communities of Stittsville and Kanata. “This is a huge loss to the business community, so there must be a proactive plan to replace (that) … when the Sens move,” Kanata Central BIA executive director Lauri Moussa said. With the Senators hockey team in the area, other businesses developed and created jobs throughout the community, Moussa said, adding that the team also brought tourists to the west end, creating a general awareness about what the area has to offer. “The land (the CTC) sits on is extremely valuable and it needs a plan sooner rather than later,” Moussa added. “We will need a vision plan for that area,” Gower agreed. “We must take into account that there is not going to be something that brings in 20,000 people … a night to the area in the future,” he said of the venue that hosts hockey games as well as concerts and other large events. “The area continues to attract more and more residents and we have to keep that in mind for our future planning,” Gower said of the rapid growth of Stittsville and Kanata and the role that light rail transit will have on future planning. Currently, the master plan for expanding light rail transit to west-end Ottawa includes a transit station at the CTC.