IBM Smarter Cities Challenge hops on board to help with transit-oriented development

on .

City of Ottawa

The City of Ottawa welcomed a team of IBM experts today as they begin a three-week, pro bono consulting engagement on ways to encourage new development along Ottawa's future Light Rail Transit (LRT) corridor.

The project is being funded by an IBM 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge grant valued at US$400,000 and will be led by a team from IBM's global technology workforce to work closely with City leaders and deliver recommendations on the City's LRT plan.

"We are extremely privileged to receive this free work as part of the 2012 IBM Smart City Challenge," said Mayor Jim Watson. "I am looking forward to their expert recommendations on how we can turn our Transit-Oriented Development plans into action, creating new destination neighbourhoods in Ottawa"

The City is planning to create compact neighbourhoods with mixes of business and residential development around the light-rail stations through the adoption of Transit-Oriented Development plans that will be presented to planning committee for approval later this fall. The first three stations of these plans will focus on revitalizing the areas around Cyrville, St. Laurent, and VIA Rail transit stations. The IBM team will gather and analyze information from a broad spectrum of stakeholders and data sources to provide the City with recommendations on the best ways to increase market interest for residential and business growth in these areas.

Ottawa was one of two Canadian cities and 33 municipalities worldwide selected from over 150 submissions in the IBM's 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge, a 100-city competitive grant program IBM launched in 2011.As part of the initiative, the company sends a team of IBM experts to each winning city to study and make recommendations on projects of local importance. To date, teams have developed recommendations for more than 40 cities around the world, on projects related to transportation, urban planning, sustainability, health, finance, public safety and education challenges.

"We have learned a tremendous amount about the challenges facing today's cities and how IBM, through the expertise of our employees, can add value as city leaders look for solutions," said Normand Chatelier, corporate citizenship program manager for IBM. "We look forward to helping Ottawa's leaders build a path to more thriving communities along the LRT corridor."

"The long-term plan for the intensification and revitalization of these urban centres will lead to growth in transit ridership," said Councillor Peter Hume, chair of the City's Planning Committee. "I am looking forward to IBM's recommendations on how to create the right conditions needed to attract residents to live and work around these transit stations. This will help us maximize the return on our investment in the Light Rail project, and help make Ottawa more liveable and economically sustainable by providing growth opportunities with infrastructure expansion."