Watson, Kanellakos to negotiate with NCC over Lebreton Flats
The city has hung high hopes on the development, and will send the mayor and city manager to hammer out the deal.
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Mayor Jim Watson and city manager Steve Kanellakos will be involved with the negotiations around the future of LeBreton Flats, with the Coun. Catherine McKenney (who represents the ward) left on the sidelines for the time being.
Council approved a plan that will see the city be involved in the negotiations between RendezVous LeBreton, who won the bid to develop the site, and the National Capital Commission, who own the land.
McKenney and Coun. Jeff Leiper expressed concern with the exclusivity of participation in the negotiations, and accused staff of intentionally cutting McKenney out of the process.
“I absolutely understand that no one particular councillor should be at the table with veto or further influence than other,” said Leiper. “But in wake of lets call it some offline discussion, it looks like the local ward councillor is being deliberately kept out of the loop.”
Kanellakos was adamant that that was not the case, and planning GM Stephen Willis noted that her role would become more important when the application moved from a city-wide negotiation to a specific planning matter.
City staff are going into the negotiations with a fairly conservative mandate, with the goal of “protecting the taxpayer” being paramount; McKenney has vocally advocated that more community infrastructure, like parks, be part of the plan, and that the city not make too many exemptions on
Notably, the city doesn’t want to be on the hook for the cost of cleaning up the land. Since the NCC demolished a housing community on the site in the 1950s, the site has become contaminated—leading Watson to believe that ultimately, the responsibility for cleaning up the site lies with the feds.
“I truly believe that if the federal government is going to sell or lease the land, it should be taken care of before it’s passed over to the new owners,” said Watson.