Tue. May 17th, 2022

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Call it a warning shot for the next mayor and Ottawa City Council.

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When Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk stated that he looked to the ground in Gatineau on Wednesday afternoon for a new skating rink on The Bob McCown Podcast, it confirmed that relations between the NHL team and the city of Ottawa are still strained.

No, the next local elections will not be held until October 22, 2022, but with Mayor Jim Watson unwilling to say whether he will run for office again after being the longest-serving politician to sit in the seat in history in the city recently announced Melnyk that he is preparing to build a new ice rink in Kanata to replace the aging Canadian tire center.

But Melnyk noted during the 30-minute interview with McCown and the respected television station John Shannon that all options are on the table after the LeBreton Flats project with partner John Ruddy fell through and ended with both sides going to court, after they had sued each other.

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“I like it out in Kanata, but if I can not get anything done there, I have also had suggestions of still staying in the Ottawa area but crossing the river to Gatineau,” Melnyk said. “There is a beautiful country with beautiful scenery and it is closer to the center.

“But I’m still committed to Kanata, and I look at sometime in the next three to five years committing to one (area) or the other. I’ll have to build a new arena. I’ll have a new arena in about seven years from now. ”

See, there are no guarantees that Watson will return for another term, and there is a sense in many circles in this city that it’s time for a new face with more vision to lead Ottawa into the future. But if Watson decides to stay, you can expect the frosty relationship between the senators and City Hall to continue.

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If there is a change of leadership in the mayor’s chair, then there is a possibility that the tensions will disappear, and the work will begin in earnest with the construction of a new ice rink in Kanata on the 70 barrels of Melnyk, which is close to the current building.

Although many were quick to dismiss the idea of ​​moving the senators to Gatineau, Melnyk did not joke when he mentioned the possibility of McCown and Shannon because the organization has investigated it.

Melnyk expressed his frustration at trying to deal with the management of this city.

“I have not had the easiest time in the city of Ottawa. Not with the fans, believe it or not, there is a hierarchy in that city and it is politically yes, ”Melnyk said.

To do everything in the NHL, including building a new ice rink, you need the support of the mayor and council.

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The reason the senators did not make a serious application to be a hubby for the NHL playoff bubble last summer was because they knew Watson would not come on board to sell it. Toronto Mayor John Tory showed leadership in it to help make it happen.

Instead of being an opponent, Tory did everything possible in cooperation with the province and the federal government to make it work. He acted as if he were on the board of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

So if Melnyk tried to send a message to the next group of people who were chosen to lead this city, it was obtained.

Even one of the current council members sounded like he was extending an olive branch on Thursday.

Although longtime councilor in Kanata South Allan Hubley does not have the Canadian Tire Center in his riding, the senators are a big part of the economic engine in that part of town, and he himself admitted that he can understand why Melnyk would not be happy with the way he has been treated by the people who run this city.

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Speaking of The Rob Snow show on CityNews Thursday morning, Hubley announced that he and Stittsville councilor Glen Gower, a former senator, would be willing to sit down with the organization.

“I understand his frustration. I’m one of the councilors who will work with him for that area, and I know Councilor Gower will see good things happen where the Canadian Tire Center is, ”Hubley said. “I want him to focus on what he wants to do there because he has a good chance of making some things happen.”

Melnyk will see what happens in the coming months before making a decision. He stated twice during the interview his “No. 1 priority is to stay in Kanata ”, so it would be difficult to see through a switch to Gatineau. At least now that he has mentioned the possibility publicly, if Melnyk went through with a move, no one could claim he did not tell them.

He wants to see if LRT expands to Kanata and what the plan is for the city.

Hubley left the door open for discussions when Melnyk is ready.

“When he goes to remodel, it depends on what he wants to do, but who knows what programs are there to redevelop? We will definitely help him, ”Hubley said.

bgarrioch@postmedia.com

Twitter: @sungarrioch

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