Yesterday at 4pm we got our first official look at both bids to redevelop LeBreton Flats. There are a lot of details that aren't fully known yet, but here is what we have in terms of the big picture.
There are a few elements that both bids contain - retail, housing, office space and hotels were pretty much a given. The implementations differ in look, , but the basic concepts are the same.
Both contain the option for a new central branch of the Ottawa Public Library. The DCDLS bid puts the library right on the LRT with a direct connection to the Pimisi LRT station, while Rendez-Vous LeBreton plan actually puts the library outside the parcel of land up in this process on another adjacent section of land that is part owned by the NCC and part owned by the city.
Another common element is a large outdoor square suitable for festivals, major outdoor events and concerts. Rendez-Vous LeBreton has the "LeBreton Square", while DCDLS calls theirs "Canada Square".
The Canadian Science and Technology Museum has a place in both bids - though as an extension and not a full new location. DCDLS has the Science & Innovation Pavilion that would house rotating exhibits from the Museum's extensive collection that don't have a space in the main location. Rendez-Vous LeBreton has outdoor installations along the Innovation Promenade, ending in their own Innovation Pavilion which is presumably serving the same function as DCDLS's offer.
Then, of course, the arenas. Apart from the look, there's not a whole lot of specifics available on the websites for either bid. We know the exact location within LeBreton Flats differs slightly - DCDLS has theirs situated at the western end of LeBreton with the building actually integrating the Bayview LRT station. Rendez-Vous LeBreton is more central in the development, equal distance from the Bayview and Pimisi LRT stations. DCDLS also seems to have more of the building below-grade than is typical, while Rendez-Vous LeBreton's concept shows them using the more normal height for an event-customized facade and a rooftop park that they say will provide spectacular views of Nepean Bay and Parliament Hill.
So what are the completely different elements?
As reported, the Rendez-Vous LeBreton bid includes a new two-pad Sensplex that would double as the Senators practice facility. Sticking with the sporting facilities is the Abilities Centre, which would be a multi-use facility providing recreation and rehabilitation programs for the public and would be fully equipped to support the needs of people with disabilities or activity limitations.
They also have Canada House, a facility that is probably best described as a full service support centre for members of the Canadian military and their families. It would provide mental and physical health services, short and long term accomodations and act as a communal gathering place.
The last major piece we know about is the aqueduct. The plan would turn the area around unused heritage aqueduct in to a promenade with shops and cafes, and the aqueduct itself into a skateway during the winter like a mini Rideau Canal.
The DCDLS has a slightly longer list of distinct elements. They include a band shell with ampitheatre seating for 4000 and open space that can fit another 6000. The back wall of the shell would be a video screen capable of showing live broadcasts. In terms of public institutions, their bid includes three full museums. The first is the Canada Communication Centre which would focus on all types of media from print to social, and cover the history of communications in Canada. The World Automotive Experience is described as an automotive museum, vintage car show and an auto show combined. Third is a "Brewseum" - the name itself is probably descriptive enough to give you an idea of what it will contain. On top of the museums, there would also be a planetarium.
Bridging the gap between the more educational attractions and straight up entertainment is the "Blue Planet Pavilion", for all things water. It would house a Ripley's Aquarium, as well as a beach and outdoor swimming. Rounding out the entertainment options are an indoor skate park promising to be "the best skate park in the world", and indoor skydiving.
In terms of community services, the DCDLS bid includes a YMCA and a French language public elementary school.
I would encourage everyone to visit bid websites while you still can to read up on the details and peruse the galleries. Rendez-Vous LeBreton has theirs at www.illuminationlebreton.ca, while DCDLS has theirs at lebretonreimagine.ca. Note these websites are only available through February 8th, then the NCC makes both groups put them back under lock and key.