A large group of politicians showed up at the Terry Fox transit station today for what was billed as “an important announcement regarding Ottawa’s future transit options”. The announcement turned out to be about launching a study to look at extending light rail from Bayshore to Kanata sooner than planned.
The City and federal government will split a tab of at least $2-million for the Environmental Assessment (EA) study, which will take a couple years to complete.
As it stands, light rail will be extended to Bayshore by 2023, but there’s no plan to bring it to Kanata until after 2031. If funding becomes available, it’s conceivable that the timetable could be moved up to sometime in the next decade.
The EA would answer some important questions, like what route the rail would follow, where stops would be located, how many people would use it, and so on. Would the end point be at Eagleson or would it run all the way to Canadian Tire Centre or beyond?
Last month, a group of west end businesses and politicians called on the city to “immediately fund and undertake” an environmental assessment (EA) for light rail transit to Terry Fox. They said having a completed EA would mean that the project would be ready to go if federal infrastructure money comes available.
We're going west! Today we announce the Environmental Assessment required for starting work to extend LRT to Kanata! pic.twitter.com/FUMEW7KUaB
— Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) June 8, 2016
— Karen McCrimmon (@karenmccrimmon) June 8, 2016
Here’s a press release from the City of Ottawa about today’s announcement:
Today, Mayor Jim Watson, alongside Karen McCrimmon, MP for Kanata-Carleton and local Ward Councillors Allan Hubley (Kanata South), Marianne Wilkinson (Kanata North), Eli El-Chantiry (West Carleton-March), Mark Taylor (Bay) and Shad Qadri (Stittsville), announced that the City of Ottawa will begin the planning work that is needed to extend light rail transit (LRT) from Bayshore to Kanata.
City of Ottawa staff will be preparing the first stage of the Environmental Assessment for Bayshore Station to Palladium Drive over the summer, so that the Statement of Work will be ready for Transportation Committee this September.
“After the North-South LRT project was cancelled a decade ago, many residents thought they wouldn’t see LRT in their lifetime. But, since that time, successive Councils have made light rail transit the City’s number one priority – and we have made sure that our federal and provincial partners know that Ottawa is ready for rail,” said Mayor Jim Watson.
Mayor Watson added: “With the close co-operation of all three levels of government, the Confederation Line will be finished in 2018. Exactly one year ago today, on June 8, 2015, City Council approved the Stage 2 light rail transit Environmental Assessment – and on Friday, June 3, 2016, based on that EA, the Province of Ontario committed more than $1 billion to the residents of Ottawa to make Stage 2 a reality for 2023. Now, 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.”
“The Government of Ontario has demonstrated its commitment to new investments in public transit across the province. As someone who helped bring Ottawa’s first light rail system, the O-Train (now known as the Trillium Line) into service, I am especially proud that my colleagues and I are partners in expanding light rail farther west, east and south so that 70 per cent of Ottawa’s population will live within 5 kilometres of a 50-kilometre LRT system. I am pleased to see that our municipal government wants to keep the momentum going to Kanata,” said The Honourable Bob Chiarelli, MPP Ottawa West-Nepean.
“Kanata’s high-tech industry is a major economic hub in this region,” noted Karen McCrimmon, MP for Kanata-Carleton. “I am committed to working alongside Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa City Council to ensure the success of the Bayshore Station to Palladium Drive Environmental Assessment, so that the west end of this city – and the communities nearby – have the infrastructure needed to sustain the innovation culture we are known for when the next round of transit funding becomes available.”