Happier times: Eugene Melnyk (L), Pierre Dorion and Guy Boucher (R) have a laugh during the 15th annual Eugene Melnyk Skate for Kids at Canadian Tire Centre on December 20, 2018. Will the Senators ever get a downtown arena?
Jean Levac / Postmedia News
Well, that time-waster is over and done with.We refer, of course, to the failed “mediation” on LeBreton Flats – the last-gasp, two-month process that was supposed to somehow re-establish peace between the warring factions in the original RendezVous LeBreton development proposal and save the day for an NHL hockey arena.It was always hard to see how this struggling marriage could be patched up. While the feuding partners, Eugene Melnyk of Capital Sports Management Inc. and John Ruddy of Trinity Development Group Inc. – plus the increasingly desperate National Capital Commission – felt obliged to try, we are exactly where we were last fall: A jewel of downtown land that should house a “dynamic new community” (in the NCC’s words) remains barren.This does not mean we are back at square one, however. When the NCC initially named the Melnyk/Ruddy RendezVous pitch as its favourite vision for the Flats, it also identified a backup proposal from Devcore Canderel DLS. There were good reasons to choose the RendezVous LeBreton group, but the DCDLS proposal was also attractive.DCDLS’s initial proposal offered a linear park, a skate park, an urban beach and an outdoor bandshell. It talked about an aquarium or planetarium, and even squeezed in a “theatre of sports and entertainment,” in case the Senators ever wanted to become tenants. But the vision didn’t depend on an NHL arena.Related This past November, as it reluctantly prepared to pull the plug on RendezVous – and before mediation efforts were announced – the NCC said it would proceed “either within the established solicitation process (read: DCDLS) or within a new process.” In short, it CAN start from square one, but does not have to.Many feel it should. The mayor wants a fresh call for proposals. Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney wants diverse players involved. And of course the NCC has a new CEO, Tobi Nussbaum, whose first big challenge is figuring out the next, best course of action to bring something spectacular to the Flats. He may also have firm ideas of how to proceed.An NHL hockey arena should never have been the only conceivable centrepiece for LeBreton. In fact, a statement from Melnyk Wednesday said he will still “explore alternative approaches in central locations that could accommodate a world-class hub.” This suggests he has other venues in mind beyond the Flats.So the NCC needs to expand its own imagination for the site. Starting, perhaps, by chatting anew with Devcore.ALSO IN OPINION:Kassam: Global Affairs Canada owes its diplomats answers over Cuba illnessGeimer: Canada’s policy toward Venezuela is shamefulGlavin: Chrystia Freeland and the Lima Group are doing the right things on Venezuela. That doesn’t mean they’ll succeed