On October 10, the City of Ottawa publicly released its Transportation Master Plan (TMP), Cycling Plan and Pedestrian Plan. Like many people, I hoped these documents — and the mayor’s speech that opened the day — would signal an important change in strategic direction and spending priorities. I was looking for a substantial shift in favour of public transit, walking and cycling, and a significant move away from car-centric planning and spending.
To some degree, that’s what we got, although the shift is subtle. Yes, the City has made a major commitment to expanding the light rail system faster and further, and cycling and walking have been granted greater prominence. But actual spending on traditional road projects will not be significantly downgraded.
Still, I shouldn’t be overly critical, as tempting as that is when I think of how many roads are to be built and/or expanded under the TMP.
The City now has a more ambitious goal to increase non-car commuting to 55% of trips in the morning peak, instead of 50%. Not earth shattering, but it’s a move in the right direction — by which I mean less congestion, pollution and noise, more people choosing active transportation and, with additional Complete Streets, more vibrant and people-friendly roads across the city.
Here’s an overview of other benefits for the city as a whole and for Capital Ward.
The boldest element of the TMP is its commitment to expanding Ottawa’s light rail network much earlier than anticipated, and in three directions at once. As soon as trains are rolling on the first phase of the Confederation Line in 2018, construction would begin on Phase Two. By 2023, residents should be able to travel by rail as far east as Place d’Orleans and as far west as Bayshore, where a new grade separated bus transitway will take them onward to March Road and Carling.