COMMENT: Keep pushing for light rail to Stittsville

"Take the O" by Payton Chung. Used under a Creative Commons license. Original photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paytonc/7651883490/

All of a sudden, Mayor Jim Watson doesn’t seem entirely on board with sending the third stage of LRT to Kanata and Stittsville.

Now, it could go to Barrhaven first instead. He says that will be left up to the next city council after this fall’s municipal election. But in the meantime, Watson and Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder want city council’s approval to spend $600,000 on an environmental assessment to plan out how a potential light rain extension to Barrhaven would work.

Residents in Kanata-Stittsville have been led to believe, for some time now, that after stage two light rail (as far west as Moodie) is completed, the next stop would be Kanata and, now that it’s in the council-approved route, Stittsville.

“We are going to make sure we are ready for the next phase of light rail in Ottawa – taking the train from Bayshore to Kanata,” Watson said in a City of Ottawa news release in 2016, when the environmental assessment for Kanata LRT was announced.

The Mayor’s office tells this news site that Watson hasn’t changed his position on phase three. He’d still like to see trains go west and also to Barrhaven. But unless there’s money to do both at the same time, it sure seems like a different position to us.

Why the shift? Because it’s an election year and Watson would like another term in office. How he benefits from putting uncertainty into future light rail is not clear, but the Ottawa Citizen’s David Reevely points out that as of very recently Ottawa’s top MPP on the government side of the house is Nepean’s Lisa MacLeod, a friend of Harder.

There is clearly more benefit to sending light rail to Stittsville ASAP. The City of Ottawa estimates the population of Kanata-Stittsville is 121,730, whereas Barrhaven’s so-designated subarea of South Nepean is pegged at 87,115 (a difference in size about equal to Stittsville’s population).

Barrhaven residents are also already better served by buses than residents of Stittsville, with a wider array of routes and 24-hour service via the 95. Meanwhile, the 61 stops going to Stittsville shortly after midnight on weekdays.

A close-up of Stittsville on OC Transpo’s system map.
Barrhaven is shown on OC Transpo’s system map.

We need to keep pushing for light rail to Stittsville and our representatives — MPs Pierre Poilievre and Karen McCrimmon, MPPs Goldie Ghamari and Merrilee Fullerton and whomever is councillor next term — are going to need to go to bat for us to make sure it happens in phase three.


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10 thoughts on “COMMENT: Keep pushing for light rail to Stittsville”

  1. It’s almost like Stage 3 could go to both Stittsville and Barrhaven, just like Stage 2 will go to Orleans, Nepean, and Riverside South.

    1. It’s highly unlikely they will have money to do both at the same time, so somebody is going to get it first.

  2. I am a Stittsville resident but IMHO, we should only be pushing for LRT to Terry Fox to get it through the Green Belt in the short term. Beyond that the argument falls apart. Here are some thoughts:

    1. Most people will never live withing walking distance of an LRT station, so a transfer from bus/car will always be necessary.
    2. The Environmental Assessment says the 6.4 km extension from Moodie to Terry Fox Station will only cost $710 million (or $110.94 million/km), which is excellent value.
    3. The extensions to Palladium (3 km) and Hazeldean (1.9 km) will cost $640 million ($213.33 million / km) and $500 million ($263.16 million / km), which is much more expensive.
    4. Kanata residents would use the Eagleson or Terry Fox stations so only those west of Kanata would use the extension beyond Terry Fox. Stittsville’s population is currently pegged at just under 34 thousand and even if it does more than double to 75,000 in the next twenty years, it will still be lower than Barrhaven.
    5. Given that the planned route does a funny loop to the north to Campeau Dr, south to just west of the Canadian Tire Centre (the entrance is on the east side) and backtracks to the south-east to Hazeldean just east of the Toys R Us (see links to maps below), the extension won’t be as beneficial to Stittsville residents as people are hoping.
    6. As for Barrhaven already having a transitway, don’t forget that on the 2.5km stretch between Baseline Station and just south of Hunt Club buses run on Woodroffe Ave. They do have bus lanes, but they do have to stop for traffic lights and the bus stops are much closer together than normal for a transitway, delaying buses even more (not to mention the lower speed limit).
    7. In Barrhaven we have an opportunity to save money for the extension by combining the work with the planned project to grade separate of the VIA Rail corridor in Barrhaven.

    In summary, the Environmental Assessment will give us clarity as to where we will get the best bang for the buck for LRT extensions (I’m expecting it to be more expensive than the extension to Terry Fox, but cheaper than the extensions beyond that). I the end the priority should be to extend LRT to the three largest communities beyond the greenbelt (Orleans, Kanata and Barrhaven) as soon as possible. Once they are all connected, we can then evaluate what other extensions or new lines are needed the most (which could include an extension to Stittsville).

    For reference, you can find a rough sketch of the proposed route to Kanata-Stittsville here on Stittsville Central (http://stittsvillecentral.ottawastartinter.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/lrt-december-2017.jpg). Also, I analyzed the Environmental Assessment and generated a more accurate map, which can be found here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=16vx5U4OGZpYisB_J8C6eI-cT2ZQ1q5i7&usp=sharing

  3. Let me guess, Glen Glower will promise LRT for Stittsville! You’ve been called out already by the mayor and you continue to spread misinformation.

    By the way, this area voted conservative, surely they don’t expect more funding for infrastructure, right? You don’t get your cake and eat it too. The mayor and council are right to suspect that funding will be a problem in the new regime voted into power in Ontario.

    If Lisa McLeod and Harder are buddies and obviously influencing the way forward for this deal., maybe our new MPP, who you so highly praise, can get us a better deal?

    1. Thanks for your comment. Glen Gower stepped away from this news site while he seeks a council seat to avoid a conflict of interest. You can learn more here: stittsvillecentral.ca/new-editor-takes-the-reins-at-stittsvillecentral-ca/

      1. Devyn, are you not fully involved in Glen’s campaign? I don’t doubt Glen’s stepped away. However, I don’t think you’re disclosing your involvement. I want readers to be aware of the potential bias.

  4. Politics and relationships aside, My unsophisticated look at ( google, wikipedia, City of Ottawa site) population numbers, business type and density gave me the impression there is a need for LRT to old Kanata Morgans Grant, the High tech park, then a line to new Kanata, Glen Cairn, and the new Stittsville covers prob over 170,000 citizens. Barhaven and its box stores, some new commercial occupancies with new residential growth to the south, would cover a population of about 160,000. You could claim favouritism but I think the factor to drive the issue is demographics.
    The whole city is well behind its growth rate as far as services and infrastructure is concerned. Sewers, roads busses trains, Hydro distribution and telecom, all behind pre-amalgamation levels.

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