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Today's letters: Keep the Senators in Kanata, build affordable housing or a park at LeBreton Flats

Saturday, April 1: The best use for LeBreton Flats is not a hockey arena, readers write. You can write us at

Actor Ryan Reynolds attending the Ottawa Senators game at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa Thursday night. Reynolds climbed over the wall of the box next to his to greet some young Senators fans.
Actor Ryan Reynolds attending the Ottawa Senators game at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa Thursday night. Reynolds climbed over the wall of the box next to his to greet some young Senators fans. Photo by Tony Caldwell /POSTMEDIA

Questionable subsidies for billionaires

Re: Potential new owner Ryan Reynolds makes second trip to Ottawa as sale of Senators heats up, March 30

As exciting as it is to have a celebrity in town, can we talk about how much the people of Ottawa would be willing to subsidise the owners of sports franchises?

When Edmonton built a new arena in 2016, city taxpayers contributed $226 million. In 2023, how much would Ottawa taxpayers be prepared to spend on a new stadium for the Senators?

And let’s not forget that the owners of the RedBlacks and 67s have put in a proposal to redevelop the Lansdowne stadium and arena. When that proposal was submitted in 2021, it came in at $333 million. With construction inflation and higher interest rates, that’s probably closer to $500 million in 2023.

Between these two projects, are the people of Ottawa ready to spend some $750 million subsidising billionaire sports owners?

Neil Saravanamuttoo, Ottawa

Senators should stay at the CTC

Re: LeBreton song and dance is getting old, March 29.

While I usually agree with Bruce Garrioch’s opinions on sports matters, I simply can’t accept his statement that LeBreton Flats makes the most sense for a new arena, in view of major changes in the Ottawa downtown scene since the pandemic.

First, the Canadian Tire Centre and the Senators have seen excellent attendance this year, including more than 10 sell-out games. The secret to success is a team that shows hope for the future along with the retention of fan favourite players, which has not been the case for the past six years due to mismanagement of the team. The location is not a deterrent to fans, and in fact is a benefit due to its location just off Hwy. 417. Further, the current arena provides one of the best fan experiences in the NHL.

Second, downtown has changed. It has been repeatedly taken over, by protesters such as the truckers convoy and by state visits by prominent politicians, with more of the same pending in the future. The work-from-home phenomenon, which will be a priority with public servant unions as they prepare for yet another strike, has resulted in closure of downtown stores and restaurants and a reluctance to live downtown. The core area has lost its appeal due to safety concerns in view of increasing crime and numbers of often-aggressive homeless people and drug users.

Also, LeBreton Flats is simply not downtown. It is not within walking distance for most downtown residents.

Third, the LRT, which would be the main mode of travel to the arena, has proven to be unreliable. It is doubtful that fans spending hundreds of dollars on tickets will want to rely on it to get to and from the games, particularly in winter. Parking and car access to LeBreton flats will be limited due to the location.

The Kanata area including Stittsville, Carp and Richmond is rapidly growing with many well-off people who can afford Senators tickets. There are many restaurants and amenities close to the Canadian Tire Centre. Hopefully it will be served by LRT at some point in the future

No, LeBreton Flats is not the place for an arena. Rather, it should be developed as a beautiful park, in keeping with similar parks present in most world-class capital cities.

Ray Dawes, Barry’s Bay

Build affordable housing, not an arena, at LeBreton Flats

Re: LeBreton song and dance is getting old, March 29.

Ever since the houses were expropriated and razed in the 1960s, Ottawa has talked about what to do with this piece of property. Ideas have come and gone. And there it sits. Meanwhile, a housing crisis continues to grow.

There is an abundance of luxury condos and rental units in this city. Why doesn’t Ottawa return Le Breton Flats to its working-class roots and dedicate it to affordable or social housing in the form of townhouses and low-to-mid-rise apartment buildings?

Yes, there is less money to be made by developers. But wouldn’t it be worth it to prevent the tragedy of another child dying in a mouldy “emergency” motel room? Wouldn’t it be worth it to be able to house most, if not all, of the chronically homeless? And wouldn’t it be worth it to reduce or eliminate the waiting list for social housing?

A new, 15-minute community, with access to reliable transit, essential services like a grocery store, schools, and healthy areas to walk, cycle and play right near the river would be a beacon to other cities. A group like Multi-Faith Housing would be ideal to spearhead it. Ottawa deserves this.

We can’t afford to turn our backs on our vulnerable populations any longer.

Sharon W. Moren, Kanata

Affordable housing unlikely to materialize

Re: LeBreton song and dance is getting old, March 29.

If we build an arena on LeBreton Flats at the expense of those who need housing so desperately, we will yet again let an opportunity to ameliorate the housing crisis slip through our municipal fingers.

The assurance of affordable housing to accompany the arena is unlikely to materialize, despite promises to build them. What always looks grand on paper and in the models somehow transforms into swanky condos and unaffordable restaurants.

Why not build a project that will help the thousands of people who actually make our city run with their small businesses and willingness to take on the jobs many others won’t?

If we are going to welcome newcomers, we need to do it properly. Housing them in motel rooms indefinitely is not the solution.

Please put the arena nonsense discussions away, and put your efforts toward something more useful, which will go a long way to sustaining our city and helping those who need it very much.

Pamela Cowan, Ottawa

Health program for babies is vital

Re: Health program for babies is facing a funding crisis, March 30.

Another example of Ontario’s failing health system is now hitting our youngest citizens at their most vulnerable.

Everyone knows prevention is the best tool we have in identifying and tackling potential health issues and a healthy baby, healthy children program is vital to this end. Why can’t part of the recently allocated $300 million in the 2023 Ontario government budget “to support contract rate increases to stabilize the home and community care workforce” be partially allocated to these programs?

Let’s put the money now where it’s needed. Our children can’t wait for bureaucracy and red tape to slowly grind these budget promises into reality sometime in the future.

Suzanne Legault-Desmier, Orléans

Is a cone of silence in place?

Re: Council eyes $13-million tax break for airport hotel, March 28

I object in the strongest terms to giving tax relief to a private hotel venture associated with the Ottawa International Airport, and even more so given the need for funds to expend on the much higher priority of affordable housing.

Worse, it appears evident that council still has limited understanding of the property tax burden implications of Bill 23, whether there will be a $39-million transit hole to fill due to a provincial transfer shortfall, that the LRT program has involved nasty financial surprises every year since the first shovel went in the ground, or that the previous council came off smelling to high heaven as a result of granting multi-million dollar tax relief gifts to a Porsche dealership and to Hyatt for a hotel on Moodie Drive.

I believe council has totally failed transparency and accountability tests by not ensuring that citizens are fully informed about this latest gambit, which suggests that a cone of silence is in place to limit communications about this proposed giveaway of hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

It is appalling that citizens are obliged to spend time objecting to the notion that it is OK for mayor and councillors to fritter away tax dollars on a corporate supplication seeking public monies on a high-end hotel when there are many other ways to receive far higher and more beneficent public returns on investment.

Barry Wellar, Nepean

Public benefit of new airport hotel is elusive

Re: Council eyes $13-million tax break for airport hotel, March 28

I was appalled to learn that the City Council was seriously considering a $13-million tax break for the construction of another hotel near the Ottawa International Airport. This would be an obscene waste of taxpayers’ dollars. Did we elect a new mayor and council just to see a repeat of the same stupidity that led to the LRT fiasco?

What possible benefit would the ordinary property taxpayer obtain from this ridiculous proposal?

Scott Parsons, Nepean

NCC prohibitively prices e-bike rentals

Re: Gatineau Park car restrictions unfair, hikers and walkers say, March 20

If the NCC maintains its restrictions on Gatineau Park this summer, it will not be very bike-friendly at all (or at least e-bike-friendly).

If we wish to take our two grandchildren to the Champlain Lookout on a nice summer weekday morning, the NCC will rent us e-bikes for four hours at $65 each plus tax. So for about $300, we can have a nice morning outing.

To see this as very limiting to the elderly or families is beyond dispute. I thought the idea was to encourage access.

Jay Miller, Ottawa

Equitable access is the issue

Re: Gatineau Park car restrictions unfair, hikers and walkers say, March 20

This discussion has erroneously been cast as an “us-versus-them” debate. I am not anti-bicycles. As a park user in all seasons, and the proud granddaughter of the first woman to own a bicycle in Ottawa, I would like to see equitable access to the park. The last few years we have seen the functionaries of the NCC close the parkways for 88 per cent of the time on week days. How is this fair?

Retirees, young families and less able people than the cyclists who zoom around at top speed or have electrically assisted machines have hardly any opportunity to gain access to the upper reaches of the park’s beauty spots. Seniors particularly would like to walk in the mornings when the weather is cooler. Parkway access is important to reach the trailheads.

Equitable use of the park is a right, not a privilege to be doled out by the bureaucrats.

Meriel Beament Bradford, Chelsea

Circular reasoning for the carbon tax

Re: Federal carbon tax set to rise in Ontario, Prairies, March 31

I am at a loss to understand the logic of collecting a carbon tax through our gasoline and natural gas purchases and then going through the substantial bureaucratic cost to return the tax to the people from whom it was collected. Perhaps we could more accurately label this tax a “Bureaucratic Merry-Go-Round Enhancement Tax.”

Robert Broatch, Ottawa

Canada should follow Australia’s example

Letter writer Francois Jeanjean considers interference by the Chinese Communist Party as just a tempest in a teapot. He is obviously unaware of well-documented political interference in Australia.

Clive Hamilton’s book Silent Invasion reveals Chinese interference started soon after Tiananmen Square. From politics to culture, real estate, universities to unions and even in primary schools, he uncovered compelling evidence of the Communist Party’s infiltration of Australia. In 2018, Australia passed the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act.

The same interference has been happening in Canada for years. Canada should take immediate action to protect our country from political interference from all countries.

Nancy Biggs, Orléans

A shout-out to Service Canada staff

Knowing there had been lengthy and frustrating delays and long line-ups for passport renewals in past months, I had set my expectations low as I recently walked through the doors to Service Canada on Meadowlands Drive without any advance booking.

What a pleasant surprise to experience a very orderly, efficient and pleasant transaction all within 45 minutes. Kudos to a well-run office and competent, respectful staff.

John DeVries, Ottawa

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