Historically, LeBreton Flats was part of a major trading route after the War of 1812, and was a hub of industrial activity until the Second World War. It was completely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1900, but was soon rebuilt.
The federal government expropriated the area in the 1960s to make room for a new federal government campus. However, those government offices found other homes and, for years, LeBreton Flats lay empty. While the NCC acquired the majority of the site, municipal governments still owned municipal streets and infrastructure in the area.
Over the past two decades, the NCC has made significant investments to bring life back to LeBreton Flats.
Adjacent to the southern shore of the Ottawa River, LeBreton Flats is home to the Canadian War Museum, two parks, multi-use pathways, the Mill Street Brew Pub and the National Holocaust Monument. The site is immediately adjacent to the soon-to-be-completed Ottawa light rail transit system.
Windmill Development Group is currently applying for federal and municipal approvals for the development of approximately 330,000 square metres of development on Chaudières and Albert islands and the Gatineau shoreline. Almost two thirds of that development will be residential, with the balance to be split between retail, hotel, community and cultural space.
The City of Ottawa approved the Escarpment Area District Plan in 2008. This area is in the northwest corner of the downtown core, east of LeBreton Flats. As it redevelops with primarily mixed-use development, this area will be a connector between LeBreton Flats and the downtown core.
Windmill Development Group has built a condominium development at 428 Sparks Street, just east of LeBreton Flats, on the escarpment.
In 2013, the City of Ottawa adopted the Bayview Station Community Design Plan for an intensified mixed-use community centred around the intersection of the east–west Confederation Line LRT and the north–south O-Train line. This area is immediately west of LeBreton Flats. This plan will permit the transformation of former industrial lands and municipal works yards around the future Bayview transit station. The Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards opened in this area in 2016.
The future Preston–Carling district will be a mixed-use urban community. Part of the plan envisages a high-density, mixed-use development area around the Carling Avenue O-Train / future LRT station along Carling and Champagne avenues. In this area, proposed residential towers are expected to exceed 30 storeys.
In 2017, the City of Ottawa approved plans to develop a new 20,000-square-metre Ottawa Central Library joint facility with Library and Archives Canada at 557 Wellington Street. The joint facility will be a one-of-a-kind destination for residents and visitors — both a civic and a national landmark. The Government of Canada will make a decision regarding Library and Archives Canada’s participation in the joint facility in spring 2017.