Save Our Greenspace

Ottawa Communities Fighting to Preserve Our Greenspace / Updates on the LRT Project

October 23, 2006

OTrain Ridership increases

O-Train ridership is increasing. Like, alot. 12,000 per day is not unusual these days. If ridership continues to expand, we'd exceed the estimated ridership of the Chiarelli Deluxe Streetcar by the time that would roll into service.

Think about it - spend nothing or spend one billion dollars and you amount to the same increase in ridership. "We're planning for the future - the O-Train doesn't cut it" some people (Diane Deans?) have said. Planning for the future doesn't mean gutting a system with 20 years+ useful life left. Nor does it mean replacing it with the most expsensive far-flug plan possible.

Planning for the future started in October of 2000 when Mayor Chiarelli stated that the O-Train would be expanded upon (not replaced) for 1-2 million$ per km.

Watch for yourself in the video "The Light Rail Dream":

What happened Bob? Fortunately, Alex Munter is heading in the right direction on this issue.

October 11, 2006

Candidates' vision for LRT in Ottawa

Let me start by saying that I think Mr. Baird has been in his right to
ask to see the contract. It would have been smarter, having seen
the business case for the city's proposed Billion-Dollar Streetcar
system, he'd said "no thanks, show me something that has value for money."

Let's not forget that the federal liberals (of which Mr. Chiarelli is a
supporter) got kicked out of office for a "mere" $130Million lost in the
AdScam that Justice Gomery investigated. Mr. Harper's conversatives
came in on a platform of accountability, and I can not call spending
$200million of my tax money on a streetcar system that will move fewer
people than our current system, move them slower, and cause significant disruption to our existing bus system to be good "accountability".

Mr. Baird, bowing to political pressure seems to have found a
politically acceptable out in delaying things. This seems acceptable
to me, and is really only what numerous people asked for in July.

It is now time to hear from all candidates what they would do. Calling
for an "audit" is not clear enough to me.

There are three choices: a) approve the project as it is. b) cancel the
project completely. c) design and build incrementally on what we have.

Option (c) is what I thought I voted for in 2000 and 2003 when I voted
for Mr. Chiarelli. He has not delivered on it, and he's on record on

I am calling upon all candidates to state clearly what they would do,
and if the option is (c), then tell us what your vision is, or endorse a
specific vision.

From Mr. M. Richardson, (whom I agree with).

October 10, 2006

Ottawa voters will decide on LRT

Federal Government Approves O-Train Funding
But Baird says Newly Elected Council Will Have Final Say
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ottawa's newly elected City Council will have a chance to give the "green light" to the north-south Light Rail Transit Project.

Treasury Board President John Baird has announced the City of Ottawa will receive 200 million dollars in federal funding for the proposed O-Train.

But Baird says the funding will be subject to the final approval of the new city council that will be elected on November 13th.

Treasury Board Staff spent the Thanksgiving Weekend reviewing the 600 page contract between the City of Ottawa and Siemens-PCL Dufferin.

Baird tells CFRA News "I was initially told the drop dead date was late September, then I was told October 4th, October 5th and then October 15th. But when I read the contract in its entirety, in fact there is no penalties until December 15th."

Federal Officials say the City of Ottawa has until December 15 to sign a contribution agreement with the Federal Government without causing any increase in the cost of the project.

Baird adds that is why the newly elected city council and Ottawa taxpayers should have a voice in the decision on the O-Train.

Mayor Bob Chiarelli and City Staff had suggested the contract had to be approved by October 15th.

Baird does tell CFRA News he has some concerns and questions about the O-Train, but the final decision rests with Ottawa taxpayers and elected officials.

Open House: Innes-Walkley-Hunt Club Connection

The attached scan (pdf) is an ad which appeared in the South Ottawa EMC local newspaper. It's an invitation to a Public Open House re: a new road to connect Innes, Walkley and Hunt Club, with a new interchange on the 417.

A portion of the project will be in the Greenbelt.

The project proponents are Ottawa and the Ministry of Transport, who have begun an environmental assessment. "Through this assessment we have confirmed the need (for the project) and are now determining the form and function of these facilities to serve the transportation demands of the city."

Purpose of the Open House is to hear comments on 1) Assessment of Alternatives, 2) Present the technically preferred alternative and refinements, and to present next steps in the study.

City staff, Ministry of Transport staff, NCC staff and National Capital Engineering consultants will be available to answer questions (like, what determined the need for this project?).

WHEN: Wed. Oct 18, 2006 - 5 to 8:00 pm
WHERE: Jim Durrell Arena, 1265 Walkley Road

October 05, 2006

Ineffective LRT Plan should be improved.

The project should be stopped and rethought using a value-for-money comparison against other alternatives. The use of $800 million to $1 billion dollars for only 29 km of light rail is not a good investment. Net new ridership is pegged at 1090 people according to the city's own ridership study. The extremely successful current O-Train should be retained and expanded upon, not replaced.

Other economically sustainable alternatives developed in a phased approach would cost less and bring more value to the city in terms of ridership, downtown congestion relief and pollution reduction. Residents, taxpayers and transportation experts agree that the city is going down a very expensive and inflexible path. Please direct the city to change course and consider better options such as:
  • Retain the current diesel O-Train (currently up for sale) and expand the service into Gatineau and the airport.
  • Remove buses from downtown and provide an electric rail service from Bayview to Hurdman, using the buses to provide a better local service.
  • Extend the diesel OTrain to a park and ride in Leitrim.
  • Use the VIA corridor (an available, shorter route) to connect Barrhaven to downtown.
  • Align the track along the Airport Parkway, not through forested greenspace.
  • Put the maintenance yard at the existing brownfield Walkley site, not in a federally-protected wetland.
Any of these options, if worked into the current project properly, would see a greater impact on Ottawa's modal split goal.

If any part of the $200 million in federal money is to be used on this project, then the city must adhere to the terms of the MOU by providing a business case justifying that the project is superior to other alternatives. I for one, don't think it will be possible unless the project plan is altered.


Ron Rancourt

O-Train should stay in Ottawa!

Brian writes...
I keep hearing the city stating that the proposed LRT is the only option for fast effiecient transit in the city to solve the traffic woes but that is completely not true. Part of the agreement with the city and siemens states that once construction begins on the electric LRT, The talents are going to be put for sale. I was wondering should the propose LRT not go ahead, will the current DMU O-Train continue to run? Are there any options looking forward to expand the O-Train perhaps as south as Letrim? and possibly the airport?
Hello Brian,

Thank you for taking the time to write us. You may not be surprised to hear that we share the same concerns you do. The on July 12th City Council instructed staff to sell the Talents as soon as their proposed project gets funding approval, for delivery shortly after April 1st 2007. This is no April Fools joke. We have been told from OC Transpo executives that there is considerable buyer interest, so they expect a sale to be quick and final.

Now is the time to call and write politicians and make sure they know your views.

Here is how you can contact the incumbent Councillors:

Here is how you can contact the incumbent area MPs:

Your voice can make a difference!

October 04, 2006

Baird knows we need value-for-money audit

Feds may brake trains
Funding audit could kill light rail project

Federal funding for Ottawa's billion-dollar light rail project may be losing steam.

A City Hall source told the Sun yesterday that Treasury Board president John Baird will announce this week that he is so concerned about the viability of the city's north-south light rail transit project that his department may call for an audit on the "value for money" taxpayers would be receiving.

"They will make an announcement this week," the Sun was told.

When contacted, Baird's office said the city will get the $200 million the feds have committed for infrastructure -- but a decision to look at whether that money should be allocated to light rail will be announced soon.

"That decision will be made shortly," said Patrick Robert, Baird's press secretary. "The decision on light rail has not been made yet."


The light rail project is funded by all three levels of government with $200 million coming from the province and the feds. The province has told the city its funding is secure.

Mayoral candidate Larry O'Brien said starting a review and putting a microscope to the cost of the project versus the number of new riders anticipated to be generated is exactly what the government should be doing.

"This is a very interesting situation," said O'Brien. "It's not a slam dunk that they will release the funding."

He added it would be unprecedented if the government went ahead and cut the city a cheque without some sort of review. In a Sept. 21 letter to Baird, O'Brien suggested the "system needs a formal audit and due diligence to ensure that the City of Ottawa is not left with a very expensive and ineffective transit system."

Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, who voted for the north-south LRT project, said an audit is a concern and could kill the project.


"Council made the decision to go ahead based on the contributions," said Deans.

"This could seriously jeopardize the project if we lost the federal funding."

Baird has also received pressure from Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Gord Hunter, who voted against LRT. He wrote to the minister and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in July asking them to take a closer look at the business case for LRT.

Hunter says the city's ridership study that LRT will attract 5,000 new riders doesn't support the expenditure.

"We should not be spending $1 billion for the benefit of a very few," said Hunter. "This is very good news."

September 24, 2006

Who's driving this train? - R. Denley, Ottawa Citizen

Clearly, it's up to us to get a downtown route
Randall Denley, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, September 23, 2006

Comments and emphasis in Bold, added by Ron Rancourt.

Building east-west light-rail is the key promise in Mayor Bob Chiarelli's re-election campaign, but the majority of his own councillors say the way the mayor and city staff are going about it is wrong. They want the city to at least consider a fast downtown train route that would use the Queensway, Highway 174 or the transitway.

The mayor says he's offering leadership on the light-rail issue, but he can't even get his own colleagues on the same page. The Chiarelli caboose seems to have become detached from the train.

At a conceptual level, east-west light-rail sounds good. People in Orleans and Kanata want improved transit and they like the idea of rail. The problem is in the options city staff are putting forward. The three routes the city is studying won't really address the desire of people in the suburbs to get downtown quickly.

The city is considering what amounts to streetcar lines along Carling Avenue and Montreal Road, as well as a somewhat faster train that would loop south [hence why Diane Deans loves this plan], connecting Orleans to Kanata. The city plan calls for people making the main east-west commute to rely on buses or cars indefinitely.

The mayor backs this plan, saying these three options will give us the information we need, and if councillors want other routes considered, they can amend the existing studies.

I polled all 21 councillors to find out if they think those three routes offer the appropriate east-west solution, or if the city should be looking at alternatives. Of the 15 councillors who responded, 11 think the staff plan should be changed. Only four support the existing plan. Six did not

Councillors are backing away from the plan the city approved in 2003 because transit riders are telling them they want quick and direct transit access to downtown. That won't happen unless the people we elect take action.

If the do-nothing course is followed, there will be no quick route to downtown to consider. Just as in the north-south line, councillors have effectively predetermined where rail will go by identifying the corridors for study. The environmental assessment then looks at the best route within the corridor. Staff aren't going to consider things councillors didn't ask them to look at. Some councillors still think staff are studying all the east-west alternatives, not understanding that the alternatives are only minor route variations within the corridors councillors have already approved.

History predicts the next step. When the results of all these environmental assessments come back in 2009, councillors will be dismayed because none of the routes are really what they want. They will complain, then shrug and say starting over to study a new route would take too long, and it's urgent to get east-west built. Plus, they will already have spent about $9 million studying the stuff in hand. Then they'll choose a poor route, [the root developers urged city staff to take] arguing there's nothing better in front of them.

It doesn't have to be that way, but it will be, unless councillors show some leadership. It's clear someone has to act, and several councillors say they will, after the election. It isn't complicated. They need to add a study corridor that would include the Queensway, the transitway and Highway 174. There seems to be considerable support on council for this kind of route.

The fact is, councillors didn't get this right back in 2003, when they approved the three east-west corridors. Councillor Clive Doucet describes the situation well. The issue is really whether we want a rapid transit system to the downtown to serve commuters only, or if we want a slower transit system that provides both local and commuter service. The city plans provide only for the latter, but Doucet wants a debate to settle the point.

The councillors who want new alternatives include Alex Cullen, Michel Bellemare, Peggy Feltmate, Gord Hunter, Jacques Legendre, Rainer Bloess, Bob Monette, Peter Hume, Rob Jellett, Maria McRae and Doucet.

Councillor Diane Deans supports the staff plan because most of the future growth will be in the south, she says, so rail lines that serve the south are appropriate. Councillor Jan Harder thinks it's the public's job to shoot down the routes staff are studying and propose better ones. Must be what they're paying us the big bucks for. [In reality, the public isn't heard on this issue. Take the Public Working Group for the placement of the LRT Maintenance Yard for example.] Councillor Rick Chiarelli wants to leave it to the city's "highly-paid professional staff," believing that they will show councillors how to choose the best route. [Only dead fish go with the flow, Rick.]

The question for the election is not simply is transit good, or even is east-west transit good. Candidates for mayor and council should be able to tell us what approach they think is best. For the ones who haven't yet got the message that true rapid transit to downtown is what's required, now's the time to tell them.

Contact Randall Denley at 596-3756 or at

© The Ottawa Citizen 2006

September 14, 2006

Ottawa Gatineau Rail link is much needed - video

How long will the Prince Of Wales railway bridge go unused?

Honestly, I can't believe this situation. We have thousands of people crossing the river each day, with STO buses crowding downtown streets (and travelling empty 50% of the time), bridges in disrepair, pollution and time wasted sitting in traffic.

This is the National Captial Region. We need a train link to connect Ottawa and Gatineau!

See the video at the above link (opens in new window). Also see the diesel vs electric argument. These videos come curtesy of the people behind Tell Me Why.

We have a proven O-Train pilot project that is in jeapardy. If city staff get their way the three trains will be sold off for $7M. It's a waste of our investment and lost revenue for both cities, not to mention the number of cars and buses that could be taken off the road if we had an Inter-City Rail link.

The O-Train should be extended into Gatineau. It's economical and it makes sense. WHAT IS HOLDING THIS BACK? WHY HASN'T THIS BEEN DONE?