February 1, 2020
At last week’s Joint Planning and Agriculture and Rural Affairs meeting, I brought forward a Direction to Staff that specially addressed the lack of transportation infrastructure in Notre-Dames-des-Champs, Bradley Estates, and the greater South Orléans communities.
Urban boundaries, intensification, and growth management are all terms that Ottawans have been hearing coming out of City Hall for the better part of the last year. Ottawa is currently moving towards the final stages of producing a new Official Plan, and a draft of the report that will shape the policies around the expansion into our City’s surrounding area, was presented and debated this past week.
While recent years have seen growth across the city, Orléans, and South Orléans in particular, has experienced issues and pressures that are unique to the East End.
These lands are bound by the Greenbelt, and as a result, traffic funnels west and south primarily using one road: Innes. Whether connecting at the split to the 417 north or south, taking Orléans or Jeanne d’Arc boulevards to the 174, or the Blackburn Bypass to Blair Road, for nearly all residents, their trip will at some point involve Innes Road.
Our existing road infrastructure, while perhaps managing existing traffic volumes (though many would argue that), will buckle under the expected population growth that Orléans will experience over the next 25 years. Meanwhile, development in these areas continues at a rapid pace, with no short-term solution to the lack of infrastructure in sight. In fact, development applications for these areas often cite the construction of the Cumberland Transitway and Brian Coburn Extension as being imminent, which, sadly it is not. The City has prioritized the need for Brian Coburn to be extended, which would also see the Cumberland Transitway built, but the City’s preferred, and only affordable option, Option 7, is being opposed by another level of government.
Without the Transitway, this area’s ability to connect to the closest LRT stations at Blair and Cyrville is severely diminished. Even with the extension of the O-Train east end in 2024, that connectivity issue remains.
Working with my Council colleagues, my Direction to Staff identifies the specific “gating” roadways, public transitways, and active transportation facilities that would be applicable for the approval of the South Orléans Category 1, as well as the Category 2 Notre-Dames-des-Champs lands, should they be recommended for inclusion within the urban boundary.
Instead of just building more residential units and hoping that, one day, infrastructure will catch up, this Direction means that before considering adding new development lands to these communities, the City must identify what infrastructure upgrades or expansions are needed and start saving toward their construction, before more shovels are put in the ground for new houses.
Ottawa will see an additional 400,000 residents by the middle of the century, whether the growth is managed through intensification in existing communities or new communities, these residents will need to travel – regardless of method. We must ensure that our community has the necessary infrastructure to support this growth before it happens.