Bank Street Rehabilitation, Alta Vista Transport Corridor
Ottawa City Council passed its 2011 budget today, and I want to let you know about the following items that affect Capital Ward. The biggest news is that spending authority was approved to allow for the complete rehabilitation of Bank Street in the Glebe starting this year. This should come as a relief to many local residents and business owners who have been waiting patiently to get this disruptive but necessary roadwork over and done with.
Councillor, Capital Ward
- Bank Street Rehabilitation Project moved up to 2011–2012
- Alta Vista Transportation Corridor
- Lansdowne Park finances
Bank Street Rehabilitation Project moved up to 2011–2012
City Council approved my motion to accelerate the Bank Street Rehabilitation Project, so full reconstruction from the Rideau Canal to the Queensway can proceed this year. The project had already been deferred for about five years, and the infrastructure continues to deteriorate, so this will be good news for many Glebe merchants and residents. Now, we can finally move ahead.Council approved $17 million to speed up the reconstruction. The road and sewer work will be done this year, and the surface work, including street furniture, will be completed next year.
Road reconstruction is noisy, messy and inconvenient for merchants and shoppers alike, but the faster the work is done, the better. The City's original timetable — to rebuild Bank from the Rideau Canal to Holmwood Avenue in 2011, and postpone the rest — was unacceptable because it would have put established businesses north of Holmwood at a huge competitive disadvantage. Local merchants should not have to endure construction in front of their shops while trying to compete with new businesses opening at Lansdowne Park. The accelerated timetable means local businesses will be ready to take on the competition when the time comes.
This is the best available scenario, but there are tradeoffs. The first is that there won’t be a lot of time to revisit the original design developed in 2005. I’m pushing to get the Bank Street Reconstruction Advisory Committee reestablished as soon as possible so that we can get to work updating and fine-tuning the design.
The other, more serious tradeoff is that the City doesn’t have the funds to bury the Hydro wires as we had hoped. The community would have had to raise between $7 million and $10 million through a levy, which would require a long and divisive debate as we are seeing in Westboro, and with no certainty that it will be approved. The property owners and merchants would need to pay as much as $20,000 per building to upgrade their electrical connections.
On the bright side, we do have enough funding to make some significant improvements to the original 2005 design. I look forward to working with local residents, the Glebe Community Association and the Glebe BIA to come up with a final design that reflects current needs and wishes, and that leads to the best possible result for everyone.
Alta Vista Transportation Corridor
City Council approved $5 million in funding for the design phase of the “Hospital Link” portion of the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor. The 1.2 km road will run north from Riverside Drive to the hospitals on Smyth Road, at an estimated overall cost of more than $60 million for design and construction.
This is an enormous amount of money for such a short stretch of road. But what concerns me even more is the fact that this link is still identified in the City’s Official Plan as the first leg of the much longer Alta Vista Transportation Corridor.
During budget deliberations, I spoke out against the expensive Hospital Link and questioned whether the City would consider more cost-effective alternatives during the pending design process. In the end, Council decided by a vote of 21 to 3 to proceed with $5 million in funding for the Hospital Link design.
Whether or not the City ultimately builds the Hospital Link, I will work to have the rest of the Alta Vista roadway removed from the Official Plan, so that it never sees the light of day.
Lansdowne Park finances
I asked City staff several questions regarding the escalating cost of moving the Horticultural Building, and of finding a new home for the Lansdowne sports dome. City staff maintains that, in both instances, the original figures where merely estimates. They say the potential cost overruns are due to uncertainties regarding both Lansdowne Park and a future home for the sports dome.
As the only councillor asking questions about these cost escalations, it appears I will have to be the one looking out for the interests of taxpayers citywide when it comes to Lansdowne Park, whatever ends up happening here.