Release: Watson pledges progress on Ottawa’s credible, affordable transit plan

If re-elected, Jim Watson’s top priority will be to work to complete the Confederation Line on time and on budget, and begin construction on the Stage 2 LRT project in 2018.  Today, Watson launched his first web ad, titled “Progress on Transportation”, which is focused on Ottawa’s credible, affordable transit plan. 

He also pledged to stand against any effort to press the reset button on this important city-building project.

“The October 27 election is a clear choice between the Stage 2 LRT project and pressing the reset button again,” said Watson. “Ottawa already suffered the devastating effects of a cancelled LRT project – we can’t go through that again. It would be financially irresponsible to undo the progress we’ve made over the last four years.”

Watson expressed his concern that starting from scratch would throw away the significant time, money, credibility, and consultation that have been invested over the last three years in planning Stage 2 of LRT.

Changes to the project, through changing routes or technologies, would require tearing up the current Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and halting four separate Environmental Assessments currently underway. These environmental assessment processes, which on average take up to two years, could not be restarted until a new route has been chosen.

The Stage 2 LRT project was unanimously supported by City Council last December. In its most recent budget, the Government of Ontario indicated that it will provide funding for the project.

After years of cancellations and delays, Stage 1 of LRT is finally under construction, with a fixed-price contract. Watson today announced that the downtown tunnel is now 60% excavated.

Watson outlined key transportation improvements that are moving forward as a result of the work undertaken during the current term of Council:

  • Progress in the east: Stage 2 will extend the Confederation Line east from Blair to Orléans, with new stations at St. Joseph, Jeanne D’Arc, Orléans Drive, and Place d’Orléans.
  • Progress in the west and south west: Stage 2 will extend the Confederation Line west to Bayshore and Algonquin College, with stops at Westboro, Dominion, Cleary, New Orchard, Lincoln Fields, Queensview, Pinecrest, Iris, Baseline and Bayshore.

    The City is currently also building the new Kanata BRT from Bayshore to Moodie. This $76-million investment will allow west-end residents to enjoy faster bus service in a new segregated Transitway, which will greatly improve commute times. Buses currently travel in mixed traffic along a 2.1 kilometre stretch between Bayshore and Moodie.
  • Progress in the south end: Stage 2 will extend the O-Train to Riverside South and Bowesville, with a new station in Centretown at Gladstone, as well as stops at Walkley, South Keys, Leitrim and Bowesville. The City of Ottawa is also currently studying the possibility of an airport spur line.

“After years of uncertainty, we are not only building a world-class transportation system – we are also rebuilding confidence in our city’s ability to get things done,” said Watson. “Today, the downtown tunnel is 60% excavated – making significant progress in spite of the sceptics who said it could not be done.”

Watson believes that pressing the reset button on the Stage 2 LRT project would also weaken the City’s ability to negotiate with other levels of government, as the newly elected Council would spend the majority of the next mandate rewriting the TMP and re-consulting the community on the route changes, stations and technology options. 

Rewriting the Transportation Master Plan from scratch would effectively delay better transit for residents in the east, west and south for at least 10 years, as these complex city-wide projects take a long time to plan, design and procure. Inevitably, consultations would lead to opposition in new areas of the city to new rail, transitway alignments, park and ride lots or new transit routes and pick-up and drop-off zones.

“The City of Ottawa has a clear, affordable transit plan that is the result of years of consultation, research, detailed costing and budgeting. We can’t afford to go back to the drawing board,” said Watson. “We need to build on our local expertise and momentum to continue improving transit in Ottawa and grow our economy.”

The municipal election will be held in less than one month, on Monday, October 27. Special advance polls open this coming week, on October 1, 2 and 3.