Should Phase 2 Light Rail Be Cancelled? Yes

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The first two phases of Ottawa’s light-rail project are the largest fiscal fiasco in the history of this municipality.

Why?

Together they cost about $6 billion. Former mayor Bob Chiarelli gave us much more for $2.8 billion.

For this exorbitant price, Ottawans are getting architectural monuments of stations designed to win obscure public servants awards on taxpayers’ backs. Furthermore these great moments in building aren’t even heated. You want to get people on public transit in Ottawa? Heat the stations.

Ottawans don’t need these monuments but a system that works. Put some more heat into the old red stations and that will get people on trains. Public transit in Toronto isn’t pretty but it is functional. Same in Calgary.

In Ottawa LRT might be arguably pretty but completely dysfunctional. Lines are being tunnelled down parks where people don’t live. The routes have been designed to maximize profits for developers by travelling through tony areas rather than through neighbourhoods that need economic uplift and where people actually live.

There are no practical reasons for putting the line down the Macdonald Parkway except so that transit-oriented-development can be spread throughout the old west end rather than down Carling Avenue where it is needed. Ottawa’s planning department was so adamantly against Carling that it drew up a report that said TOD down that wide and city-owned thoroughfare would not pay for its construction. It’s not supposed to. And how much economic uplift can come down a route where no one lives and where the National Capital Commission prohibits development?

So PC leader Doug Ford, in wanting to review transit plans, can do Ottawa taxpayers a huge favour by canning Phase 2 of LRT. It is far, far too expensive, not built for transit but developers and is located in just about the worst spot possible in the city. Only Ottawa’s planning department could come up with such a disaster.

Ford should demand a new Phase 2 that travels down Carling Avenue because the current plan is monstrously over-priced and poorly planned.

The PC leader, and likely premier, should simply say, “Come back to me with a plan that works, is economical and serves the most number of people.”

In other words … practical. That should confuse the hell out of the current light-rail team.

And oh yes. Get a new light-rail team.

 

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