Comment 130470

By Haveacow (registered) | Posted December 19, 2019 at 15:46:49

Back in 2006 after the municipal election, the new Mayor of Ottawa Larry O'Brien cancelled a signed contract for the North-South LRT project, hoping to get a better deal with the then LRT designer, main contractor and development partner, Siemens. There was a court case, which the city lost, forcing us to pay $43 million in costs and reparations to the Siemens Corporation. Mayor O'Brien was a Conservative he didn't hide it, he and many local Conservative groups as well as the Ottawa Tax Payer Coalition were against this "Liberal Boondoggle". Paying extra to stop this much needed project was what hurt the most.

I can say 13 years later, it was painful but we finally did get our LRT line, the Confederation LRT Line. Yes, it has had some big teething issues since opening on September 14, 2019 but it's a good line and the problems are subsiding slowly. Stage 2 LRT, 44 km of new line and 8 km of upgraded line all for the bargain price of $4.6 Billion, will open (hopefully) in stages between 2022 and 2025. The Confederation Line moves more people per day than the entire HSR transit system does (official numbers not yet publicly available). Ridership is estimated to be 195,000-230,000 riders per business day, around 10,000 passengers/hour/direction during peak hours. This high number of passengers is one of the chief symptoms with the line's technical issues. Transit ridership overall was up by almost 4% this year compared to September and October of last year.

Lastly, if you want to bring home the true cost of the cancellation of the B-Line LRT, do a organised and orderly count of lost development and spending opportunities. A running count of the amount of lost development due to LRT's cancellation s devastating to critics of the project. A former Councilor told me that, the loss in development to Carleton University alone (which was in his ward) due to the cancellation of the North-South LRT project, was almost a Billion dollars. Even with the Confederation Line being built and upgrades to the Trillium Line over the years, most of that development never came back. Let us see what happens when the original Trillium Line gets upgraded and extended with Stage 2 LRT expansion. Bus Rapid Transit can move people but it will never be able to reproduce the development potential of rail. We have seen this in Ottawa.

In Ottawa from 1985 to roughly 2003, there was almost no interest in development around our Lebreton Flats and Bayview development areas while the Transitway (Ottawa's high capacity Bus Rapid Transit Network) ran east to west directly through the centre of both (includes 2 stations). Water and sewer lines nobody wanted to pay for with BRT running right past the proposed building sites. As soon as LRT became a possible reality, for that section of Transitway, bang! Suddenly developers were interested. Even with the cancellation of the North-South LRT Line in 2006 and the years of planning and uncertainty that followed, until the approval and money for the Confederation Line in 2011, developers remained interested. Two not one, sewer and watermain projects were completed by 2011, one of them completely paid for by private money. Some condo construction even was started and completed in the extreme east end of the Flats, before the LRT was even finished. So, we maybe waiting still to find out if the Ottawa Senators new arena gets built there but the new central Ottawa Public Library is under construction. This is because of LRT, BRT had no effect for developers in this area. Only $400 Million in development over 30+ years was attributable to BRT. The current development from the O-Train (now the Trillium Line) on Preston Street and new development from the Confederation Line is already in the high Billions of dollars. LRT grows cities.

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