Airport CEO asks city for more seamless LRT ride to downtown

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City committee leaves door open for a one-transfer trip in the future, just not to start

The new Stage 2 map shows LRT extending to Moodie Drive in the west, Trim Road in the east, and a spur line to the Ottawa International Airport in the south. (City of Ottawa) 

By Kate Porter, CBC News

The future light rail ride between the Ottawa International Airport and downtown should be more seamless, especially during off-peak times and on weekends, the airport's CEO told city councillors and the mayor as they debated plans for more than $3 billion worth of light rail construction.

On Friday, the finance and economic development committee unanimously approved the wide-ranging procurement and design plans for Stage 2 of light rail, with its long and complicated list of recommendations.

Stage 2 of Ottawa's LRT to extend farther, cost more than originally planned
Details emerged when the massive staff report was made public Feb. 17: the trip from the Ottawa International Airport to downtown would take about 40 minutes.

That would involve a transfer at the future South Keys station and again at Bayview, where riders would switch from the diesel-powered Trillium line to electric cars on the east-west Confederation Line into downtown.

Airport CEO asks for better transit ride

Vehicle congestion at the airport is getting worse, CEO Mark Laroche told the finance committee.

​"Business and leisure travellers to and from the airport need predictability, reliability and frequency if they're going to use mass transit to and from the downtown core," said Laroche, who has advocated for the airport link.

Laroche told the committee he's reassured because the station at South Keys will be built in a way that still allows the possibility for airport trains to travel straight to Bayview.

He asked that when the contract goes out to tender this spring, the city ask bidders to propose ways to allow trains to travel without transfers at South Keys, at least on weekends and off-peak times.

The city is open to ideas for faster service, said Mayor Jim Watson.

"But we don't want to mislead people. We think what we've put forward is realistic and affordable and within budget," he told reporters.

Stage 2 LRT public information session

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Wednesday, March 1, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave. W. (Champlain Room)

The City of Ottawa will host a public information session on Stage 2 LRT on Wednesday, March 1, starting at 6:30 p.m.

 
A link to the Facebook Live event will be sent to you in advance of the Information Session. If you plan on hosting a viewing event in your ward, please inform Don Lonie (Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.) so that the details can be shared with the public.
 
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions,

Residents are invited to participate in an public information session on the Stage 2 Light Rail Transit (LRT) proposal, the largest infrastructure project in the City's history.

City staff will deliver a presentation on the Stage 2 LRT project and take residents' questions. You can attend in person at City Hall or take part in an interactive online session. The presentation will be broadcast live on the City of Ottawa's Facebook page, where residents are invited to participate in an online question and answer period. They will also be able to view the public information session on the City's YouTube channel. For more details, please visit ottawa.ca.

 

City urged to work faster on climate change strategy

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City councillors faced criticism from local environmental organizers who pointed to a lack of hard data in the city's plan to cut carbon emissions.

By Haley Ritchie, Metro

Winterlude could one day become waterlude if we don't move fast enough, according to one speaker urging city councillors to move faster on its climate change plan.

"Climate change is here, it's impacts are increasingly severe," said Coun. David Chernushenko, who kicked off Tuesday's environmental committee meeting with a global tally of flooding, wildfires and short winters.

"They're just as real here in Ottawa, where we have not yet seen anything close to the scale of the impacts on other places," he said.

Staff gave an update to councillors on the city's renewable energy strategy, including the $300,000 set aside last year for pilot projects meant to "increase energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy generation."

Most initiatives target the largest carbon emitters: buildings and vehicles. Many members of the public who spoke expressed concern that not enough was being done.

Angela Keller-Herzog, a small business owner living in downtown Ottawa, criticized the city's plan for lacking hard data and not providing incentives to individuals. Keller-Herzog said her bed and breakfast has solar panels and bicycles for guests.

"We shouldn't be complacent and we're not actually doing that great," she said.

Chernushenko called the crique "accurate and necessary."

Graham Saul from Ecology Ottawa echoed that criticism, concerned that the city wasn't moving fast enough to combat climate change.

"I'm seeing a real disconnect between what the community is looking for and what we're prepared to do," said Coun. Jeff Leiper.

"I know for real change to occur we need to set bold targets, finance those, measure them and report back. Those four steps help us to go forward," said Coun. Catherine McKenney. "Without any one of them it's easy to not meet what we want to meet."

Renewable energy strategy could be toothless and delayed, advocates worry

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Final report originally due last fall now slated for later this year

By Kate Porter, CBC News

The City of Ottawa's strategy to shift toward wasting less energy and using more renewable power was due last fall, but now environmental advocates worry concrete steps won't be laid out and funding won't even flow until after the 2018 municipal election.

The renewable energy strategy was made a priority for this term of council back in 2015 and the final report was due to be delivered by late 2016, but has now been pushed back to the end of this year.

On Tuesday, a staff update at the city's environment committee meeting presented residents with a glimpse of what to expect when the "energy evolution" report lands this fall, but Ecology Ottawa foresees more studies, no specific recommendations to change policies and therefore, no budget.

"I'm really worried about this process, and I really hope I'm wrong," Ecology Ottawa executive director Graham Saul told councillors at the meeting

He fears as this four-year council term ends, the issue will be "punted" to after the next municipal election in 2018 and a new crew of councillors.

"There's no sense of urgency," agreed Angela Keller-Herzog, who has spent thousands of dollars to install solar panels on her bed and breakfast.

"As a small business owner, I've done my part and I want the city to do its part."

Delays due to staff reorganization, broad consultation

The delay is partly due to a big staff reorganization and layoffs, said Coun. David Chernushenko, who chairs the environment committee.

The employee who was leading the renewable energy file has been shifted to a different role.

The process is further complicated because the city has been collaborating and holding meetings with some 100 people from dozens of local organizations — from developers and energy companies to school boards and government departments.

For instance, the chief financial officer of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board attended Tuesday's meeting to praise the city for taking the lead

"This really had to be something that involved the city as a whole," said Chernushenko. "The City of Ottawa, the corporation, only consumes about 10 per cent of the energy and therefore emits about 10 per cent of the greenhouse gases of the city as a whole."

Chernushenko promised to push for the renewable energy report this fall to include as many specific recommendations as possible, and to argue that the plan receive money in the 2018 budget, "as tough a challenge as that's going to be."