New Plans for Hard Rock Casino Ottawa?

Hard Rock puts the brakes on its Ottawa casino plan to explore moving the site’s entrance.

Hard Rock Puts Brakes on Ottawa Casino to Reassess Site EntranceFor nearly a full decade now, the government of Ontario has been working diligently to modernize its gaming facilities. It started with the “bundling” of all its major casino properties, then offering their day-to-day management to the highest, qualified bidder. Some of those bundles came with the option to expand in certain areas, such as the Canadian capitol of Ottawa.

In 2018, Hard Rock International – a company with a well-established reputation for building branded casino properties all across North America, including BC’s Hard Rock Vancouver – proposed a plan to expand the city’s Rideau Carleton Raceway. The project called for a full casino gaming floor, large theatre, additional restaurants, and a hotel.

City council was thrilled with the original plan, destined for Albion Road (artistic rendering shown right). They gave it the thumbs up, and presenters went to work tweaking the blueprint for its upcoming Hard Rock Ottawa entertainment complex. However, the final prints didn’t quite look like the original ones. The expansion, which was originally scheduled to be built on the north side of Rideau Carleton, is now destined for the southern side of the raceway.

Hard Rock Ottawa Casino Reassess Site Entrance

Moving the complex from one side to the other may not seem like a big deal – certainly not when there’s plenty of open space on the either side to work with. However, the new entrance to the Hard Rock Casino is now facing a direction that has no road access.

The company was well aware of this when it submitted its plans. Much to their relief, the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee – the same committee that was responsible for approving the rezoning application necessary to expand the casino in the first place – liked the new plans too. They liked it so much that they’ve already approved the move to the south end, despite the fact that it would require some expedient road work to take place in the very near future.

You see, the original expansion plans would have put the new Hard Rock casino entrance on Albion Road. With that in mind, a 2018 traffic assessment report indicated that this location would not cause any significant traffic increase. Altering the site of the expansion to the south side will require the casino to face Earl Armstrong Road; a thoroughfare that was not scheduled for completion in that area for the next ten years.

Committee Suggests Road Crews Get Busy on Earl Armstrong Extension

After approving the new site location last week, the agricultural and rural affairs committee is now recommending that city staff bump up the timeline for the Earl Armstrong extension. Osgoode Councilman George Darouze is confident Ottawa’s south end representatives will support the project, helping to resolve traffic gridlock issues that have existed in that area for some time now.

“We need to make sure that Earl Armstrong is well-built for all of us,” said Dazoure, “not only for my ward, [but] because traffic doesn’t know boundaries.”

Working in the plan’s favor is the previous completion of an environmental assessment for that new section of Earl Armstrong Road. The assessment was completed last year, paving the way for immediate action, should city council give the newly altered Hard Rock Ottawa Casino plan the green light.

As Darouze points out, city council has deemed support of the casino expansion a priority, as it stands to become a major economic driver in the region. Once all the necessary checkmarks are in place, construction can begin. Ottawa city planners report that the company is hoping to break ground before the year is out.

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