LRT Stage 2 Update

With the recent announcement that the LRT Stage 1 handover to the city has been delayed again, it has raised the question of whether the city should be moving ahead with Stage 2.

The Stage 2 extension directly impacts the east end more than any other part of Ottawa. Stage 2 opens us up to the rest of the city; allowing us to realize the economic, transportation, and smart planning benefits that we have all been anticipating since the city first decided to build light rail.

If we delay, it is clear that the costs of the project will increase, substantially. The time it will take to get shovels in the ground will be significantly extended, meaning Blair Station will be the sole entry point to the LRT system for the entire east end of Ottawa; and the city will be required to pay additional costs for not pursuing the contract.

Let me be clear; what has happened with Stage 1 is unacceptable. The contract for the first stage of this project did not include a realistic timeline, did not provide the necessary accountability and reporting mechanisms, and penalties were not consistently enforced.

The Stage 2 contract already corrects many of these known issues by including tougher penalties, realistic timelines, and stricter reporting mechanisms.

As the public and council learns more about the failings of the Stage 1 contract, those lessons learned will guide our expectations for transparency and accountability as we embark on this next step in completing our city’s transit system.

For Innes Ward and Ottawa’s east end, Stage 2 will see the delivery of four new stations, including on the Montreal Road/174 overpass, Jeanne d’Arc Orléans, Place d’ Orléans and Trim Road.

Stage 1 is only a small part of the transit system; it was our down payment on a fulsome, reliable rail system that positions the east end as a new economic hub, increases property values, improves our commute, and connects us with the rest of the city, including the airport, the south end, and the west end.

The price of that connection is expensive, but the status quo of increasing vehicular traffic on our east end highways, arterial roads, and residential streets is not sustainable.

Stage 2 is an investment in our city’s prosperity and our sustainable future. Delaying Stage 2, and potentially adding a minimum of tens of millions of dollars to a project that provides us with a fully functioning, complete transit system, accomplishes nothing.