How The NCC Ate The City’s LRT Lunch



Early on in the light-rail planning process, the National Capital Commission made it clear that its officials thought Carling Avenue was the correct route for LRT.

Then the NCC stopped discussing the issue … perhaps feeling it was treading on areas of municipal jurisdiction.

Not such a problem for the City of Ottawa. It started building this huge, over-priced project with no western exit secured. It presumed it could use NCC land on the Macdonald Parkway.

Video above: Ottawa LRT … looks great.

The city was wrong. The NCC didn’t want it, perhaps thinking its resistance would push rail down Carling Avenue … a location even a grade-school student would say is correct.

But the city kept demanding the parkway land. So the NCC made the city an impossible offer.

If the city wanted to use the parkway lands, it would have to tunnel the light-rail line down the parkway. Not even an idiot would buy into that alternative because of the huge cost. The NCC had effectively blocked light rail down the parkway.

Or so it thought.

The Crown corporation didn’t see the idiocy of the City of Ottawa coming.

The municipality said OK … we’ll tunnel.


The NCC had to have been the most shocked organization in Ottawa. The municipality bought into this ridiculous demand. The city was actually going to pay for tunnelling down a park where no one lived. Who knew?

Jim Watson’s administration made this out to be a great compromise and he the key to this mighty accommodation.

Compromise? Are you kidding me? The NCC ate Watson’s lunch. It got everything it wanted (and much much more) and couldn’t believe the city would bite at such a ridiculous demand.

Now taxpayers are paying to tunnel a light-rail line beneath a park where no one lives.



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3 thoughts on “How The NCC Ate The City’s LRT Lunch

  1. Perhaps we should have called in Jim Durrell on the LRT route. He solved the Civic Hospital impasse and got it moved from Tunney’s to Carling Avenue. Maybe he could have done the same for the train and even connected the two.
    You say nobody lives along the Parkway tunnel route. Give it a few years and development will blanket the area with 20+ storey apartment towers and maybe some big box stores to boot.
    LRT will be a disaster on several levels for the communities it will pass through.

  2. I wish I had Sheridan’s patience and skills at finding old news sources, but it is my recollection that the city stated that the cost of cutting a trench, and then covering it (as contrasted with actually tunnelling) along the Western Parkway would exceed $80 million.

    In contrast to what many of the people who report to work on Laurier Avenue would tell us, the NCC did not steal the city’s lunch. The city walked up to the NCC, handed the NCC their lunch, and sent the taxpayers of the city the bill.

    Of all of Mayor Jim Watson’s failures, and there are many, this is the most egregious. It was either gross incompetence for failing to understand the most basic of property development rules, notably control the land rights of the entire route before you start construction, or a game of political chicken. In either case, it will cost us more than $80 million, irrespective of which of my three taxpayer pockets are picked.

    1. Ron:

      Watson throws around tens of millions of dollars as though they are nickels and either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care what the implications are in terms of debt and the amount of money our grandchildren will be paying in interest because of his mistakes.

      He’s only interested in the politics and how it applies to his re-election.




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