Casino's backers gambling on road extension

Hard Rock Ottawa has submitted a new plan for its $318-million casino expansion, but now the entertainment complex will face a road that doesn't yet exist.

The company received city council's approval for a major expansion of the Rideau Carleton Casino in 2018. Originally, the complex, which features an expanded casino, a 1,600-seat theatre, restaurants and a 178-room hotel, was to be situated on the north side of the existing building, but now Hard Rock wants to build it on the south side.

That means instead of facing Albion Road, the main driveway to the entertainment complex will eventually lead to a four-lane extension of Earl Armstrong Road, which connects to Bank Street.

The problem is, the city doesn't plan on completing that section of Earl Armstrong for more than a decade. 

Committee OK's plan

Earlier this week the city's agricultural and rural affairs committee not only approved Hard Rock's new location, but also asked city staff to consider bumping up the Earl Armstrong extension when it compiles its new list of projects to expand the city's road network.

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Osgoode Coun. George Darouze is hoping he'll have the support of councillors who represent Ottawa's south end, where traffic gridlock is an ongoing problem.

"We need to make sure that Earl Armstrong is well-built for all of us, not only for my ward, because traffic doesn't know boundaries," Darouze said. 

The environmental assessment that paves the way for that new section of Earl Armstrong Road was finished last year.

Darouze noted council has made supporting Hard Rock Ottawa a priority this term because its casino complex is expected to become a major economic generator.

Hard Rock Ottawa expects to begin construction later this year, according to a report from Ottawa city planners.