On the Right Track for Ward 5 and the City of Ottawa
Previously, Mr. Annable wrote a posting which announced a presentation on regional heavy rail. One of the speakers was the President of MOOSE, which is as best as I can figure out a For Profit consortium aimed at utilizing existing heavy rail lines to form a commuter systems from outlying communities into the City of Ottawa. I can not speak to the business model but given there has been pushback in the past from communities like Arnprior I would certainly ask some questions. Transit is one of the three big “T” items the next council must face, the other two being Trash and Taxes.
What I proposed 4 years ago and with some updating to reflect new situations, propose the city look at now is an integrated, bus/LRT/Heavy rail solution. For the point of discussion, I am keeping the concept Ontario only and Ottawa focused. A discussion and details would take a lot more space to spell out than I should use here but here is a high level concept for YOUR consideration.
My mantra has always been plagiarism is the highest form of flattery because you can see what others have done and build off of their efforts. For this discussion let’s call the new system “Go Transit Valley Style” and reach out to our MPP’s to initiate a dialog on getting provincial dollars to assist in the set up and operation of a Bus and Heavy Rail System with convenient connections to OC Transpo and the 400 series highways. Without being too specific, let us assume the 416/417 area would be an ideal western Ottawa interface point. Also know that the O Train and Heavy [think VIA] rail run on the same guage tracks so train size could increase with demand and distance traveled.
Currently, there is a major OC transit point at Bayshore which to put it bluntly, is less than adequate. Traffic, parking and road congestion all are issues. Putting in LRT likely would make things worse. What if, the transition point was moved to a location where there could be a lot of vehicle parking for commuters, easy access to the 416/417, and frequent travel to Kanata either by bus and/or Light/Heavy Rail? Suppose the location allowed DND employees who now live in Orleans to have an easy one or no transfer commute to work? Maybe the Feds would chip in as part of the 2017 celebration funding.
Reduced traffic on the road, particularly the Bayshore to Kanata stretch of 417, East end residents having easier travel to work than they might have now, could result with this type of multimodal travel transfer point. Maybe it makes too much sense to be considered.
I am not running for Mayor, but am for Council in Ward 5 so let me talk about in my back yard. There is an existing, and based on the train I heard on it earlier this week, viable heavy rail likely to at least Dunrobin, heavy rail line. Every time discussion comes up, Eli says there is no money to buy this stretch track. Most people in Ward 5 also know that the province has mandated that the city allow developers to build approximately 3000 new homes catering for 8000 new residents on both sides of the stretch of March Road between Klondike and St. Isadore’s. That development is temporarily in abeyance and will not resume concept design until after the new council takes office.
The ballsy move comes next. Have the developers and the province go away and come back with a plan to fund the purchase. The developers have the opportunity to design the new community with a transit station in walking distance of 1500 new homes and a short commute [Kiss and Ride/Bike and Ride…] for another 1500. That equates to the population of Arnprior. Would new home buyers pay a premium to not have to drive to work? I would say yes. I do not have access to the figures and the math may not work out but as an outside the box solution, it works, and well.
Reviewing, my thoughts for what right now is a total green field development [for my purposes, focused on the West End only] to do the following transit wise:
- Move the LRT and OC Transpo location from Bayshore to a location near the 416/417 interchange and the Former Nortel/soon to be DND location interfacing with the existing heavy rail line.
- Establish “Go Transit Valley Style” bus links with Carleton Place/ Arnprior/Smiths Falls with provincial financial support. The province does it for the GTA, why not for Ottawa?
- Put an “O-Train” type vehicle on a route from the item 1) location to stations along the line at perhaps March Valley Road, another at Klondike, another in the Kanata North development, another at Riddell, or at Kerwin or even Thomas Dolan. If/as demand changed so would the schedule.
- Use the track that runs up to Arnprior, even if just to March Road for peak time use. A lot of high tech workers in that area would likely use the system if it existed.
This is an idea, one to generate discussion both pro and con and for leaders at all 3 levels of government to discuss. We need a Strategic, long term vision of where the city should be going. Navel gazing and nay saying must be stopped and replaced with a long term vision. Things like this take time and don’t happen overnight, nor does everybody get what they want tomorrow.
Lastly, I want to return to the development along March Road that is causing so much grief that I mentioned previously. The plan, from my involvement with it was to move the Ward 4 boundary up so that it encapsulates the development. The Citizen asked about boundary changes, all of the Ward 4 and Ward 5 candidates said no, things are fine. I agreed but for a reason.
I want that development in ward 5 and to use those dollars to keep the rural part of the ward rural. It would allow funds potentially to purchase items such as well friendly snow and ice treatments for rural roads.
Please visit my website at www.aronec.ca to see what I believe is the best defined, thought out and viable candidate platform in Ward 5. The decision you make when you vote is important so please take a few minutes and make an informed and not “Miss Congeniality” based decision.