Mayor’s Remarks: Stage 2
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Thank you all for coming.
I’ve invited you here today to talk about how our city will grow and the fundamental tool that public transit offers us for intelligent planning.
And how – if we are smart – we can use our public transit investments to make sure our transportation system will serve Ottawa as we grow in the years to come.
This Council began its term by fundamentally taking the reins on light rail.
It had become clear that the project we inherited – the so-called cross-country, deep-dive route that had been planned – could not be constructed for the established budget.
Any cost overrun would be very much our problem.
The federal and provincial contributions were each capped at $600 million.
Already the City would be shouldering $900 million of the $2.1 billion originally budgeted to complete the Confederation Line.
So we knew, as a Council, that we needed to correct course – because we had to pay every penny of cost increases.
The Confederation Line deals with the downtown bottleneck that is strangling productivity increases in the transit system.
It lays the foundation for a move to broaden the benefits of Light Rail Transit and expand on the important project now under construction.
Increasing costs on the Confederation Line would mean fewer resources available for these extensions.
We simply could not allow the project to bloat.
So we took action.
It was about 10 months ago when we gathered in this room to unveil the final Confederation Line designs.
The Queen Street alignment achieves a better transit result with shallower, more accessible stations.
This, along with an innovative competition – one now being copied by other municipalities – brought the budget back into line.
The result, obtained with the very successful design-build-finance-maintain contract signed last year, has since proven the importance of Council’s actions.
We are finally going ahead with light rail.
Tunnel and all.
With construction now underway, I could not be more proud of the result we achieved.
This Council has put in place a new framework of fiscal prudence.
Before we went ahead with the Confederation Line, Council commissioned a long-term affordability review of public transit.
These operating costs continue to challenge us at budget time, so before starting with the Confederation Line we wanted to review our long-term financial model to ensure we had a strong plan.
A plan – not just for the first stage of LRT – but also for stages to come.
We set tough tests for this transit affordability review.
We looked at everything we were planning to build under the current Official Plan for public transit over the next 38 years – including the Confederation Line – covering both capital and operating costs.
We respected the 2.5% tax cap set by this Council.
Transit fares were held to the rate of inflation.
We did not allow any shifting of additional road moneys into public transit.
I want to underscore that point – we did not change the balance of investment toward transit and away from roads – and with today’s TMP we continue with this same balance of roads and transit without allowing any shift.
So the affordability test we established was very tough.
And this is, by the way, the first time this kind of comprehensive review of Ottawa’s public transit affordability has ever been done.
Further, this is the first time, that all of our City’s planning efforts are coming together at the same time:
The Official Plan… Infrastructure Master Plan… and the Transportation Master Plan, which includes the pedestrian and cycling plans.
These major planning efforts are interconnected, so it makes sense that we ensure synergy between them at such a crucial point in our city’s history.
The Transportation Master Plan we will release later today has at its foundation all of the tough affordability tests we continue to apply to maintain the framework of fiscal prudence that we have all committed to on this Council.
A framework that is fair for taxpayers and fair for transit users.
So let me tell you how we’ve changed things to ensure we have a realistic plan… a plan that does not over-promise.
And one that we can deliver while continuing to live within our means.
First, we changed the way estimates are being done for projects.
Too many tenders were coming in over the early estimates used in our financial planning.
We are being more comprehensive in the estimate process now, so our early financial planning is more realistic.
We changed the way these estimates come together to include ample contingencies.
We now look at the earliest stage to include estimates for property and utilities that we realistically will have to cover.
Second, we are placing an affordability lens on the planning choices right from the beginning.
This is an innovation in realistic planning on which Ottawa is leading the way.
We are proposing a TMP that, for the first time, fits within what we can afford and is built from the beginning to produce the biggest bang for the buck.
Third, we have taken a far more conservative view of how much it will cost to run our transit system.
We have built in the flexibility to match service with increased ridership and are assuming the highest cost scenario.
We have been far more conservative about the fairbox revenue we have in the model, so we know we will do at least that well.
We are taking this approach so that we have a solid base and when we do better at earning new transit riders, our budget picture will just improve.
Rather than building a model that counts on future success, we will aim for better, but not count on better.
So we have taken the affordability model for transit to the next step.
The tough tests from our first affordability review are now buttressed further by even far more conservative assumptions.
This is part of building a Transportation Master Plan that won’t over promise and under deliver.
With that framework of financial prudence in place, today I am going to focus on the transit plan because it is so central to ensuring we can maintain excellent mobility.
Later today, the joint Transportation Committee and Transit Commission presentation will provide more detail on the road, sidewalk and cycling plans also included in the TMP.
It will be an integrated plan designed to improve our entire network and make our community more livable for the benefit all users.
We will move ahead to complete needed improvements for the bus system.
This includes a new Transitway from Bayshore to Moodie and from March to Terry Fox to connect Kanata.
There will be new measures to speed buses in the east along Blair, connecting La Cité into our rail network as well.
And we are fully funding these improvements without waiting any longer for federal and provincial contributions.
In the TMP, you will see a host of transit priority measures to improve reliability and shorten travel times.
These are all planned to be 100% municipally funded and not cost shared as they have been in past plans.
So we have a strong bus package.
We also have a strong cycling plan.
We are focused on completing a network around the city so that more people can safely choose to take a bike where they are going.
This means tackling key priority cycling links with improved facilities, leveraging our existing assets, and connecting missing links to community destinations across the city.
Our cycling plan includes what many in our community and around the Council table have been looking for.
Improving our road network is also a priority because realistically most of our trips are in personal vehicles.
Let me give you a few examples.
We will move quickly to increase traffic flows through key intersections along Prince of Wales – at Merivale, Fallowfield, Deakin, and at the Hunt Club bridge.
After that, we will move to fix the log-jam north from there to Colonnade Road.
We will also move on a major project – a four-lane extension of Greenbank from Cambrian to Jockvale.
This will ease the bottleneck that currently exists and would otherwise increase with the opening of the new rec centre and as well as planned development further to the south in Manotick and Richmond.
We will move quickly on the implementation of Chapman Mills Drive, the widening of Brian Cobourn from Navan to Mer Bleu, and the Kanata South Link widening.
This will create more options for commuters to get in and out of these fast-growing communities in our south, east and west.
We will also complete upgrades in areas where development has outpaced some parts of our road network such as sections of Klondike and Country Club Roads.
Every Councillor will be pleased to hear that we will move quickly to restore predictable travel times on the Airport Parkway where it bogs down between Hunt Club and Brookfield with new HOV and taxi lanes.
And our commitment to improve roads in rural areas is steadfast in this plan.
I am confident we have a strong set of priorities for our roads projects funded largely by growth and development charges.
The pedestrian plan will work on key links as well to recreation, schools, shopping, and leisure activities.
We will review pedestrian safety where there are community concerns – as we’ve heard on Merivale Road and Scott Street.
We will continue to build smarter streets as we rehabilitate older roads to include good pedestrian links and more safe cycling options.
We will take our first steps to mainstreeting Cyrville.
For the first time, the full capital plan includes an envelope for the funding of the pedestrian crossings, such as the bridge from Donald to Somerset for which several Councillors have been champions – including Councillors Clark and Fleury.
Funding for these projects will be included in the draft budget later this month.
And in addition to stand-alone projects, we will take a pragmatic and integrated approach to designing more complete streets – whether through growth or renewal – to better service all users and to make life on our streets more vibrant.
Where roads can better serve and more effectively service pedestrians, cyclists or transit, we will do so, but only where there is value in doing so in a manner that is practical, flexible and prudent.
Which leads us to the focus of my remarks this morning.
Our plan to spread the benefits of light rail right across our city.
Light rail transit is our most powerful smart growth tool.
When we are clear as a city about where Light Rail rapid transit will be into the future… we have a powerful effect on how our city grows.
Unlike a bus route, rail transit routes do not periodically change.
So the community can plan.
Businesses can plan.
And we get smarter growth.
The more quickly we move forward with strength and certainty on transit, the more attractive and reliable the system becomes.
And as options increase, more families will choose transit over the expenses of buying a second car.
Excellent public transit opens more possibilities for more people than you might think.
So… let’s start our discussion of Stage 2 of LRT with how much our fiscal plan contains for public transit growth projects, as opposed to renewals.
In previous TMPs, our plans for transit have assumed cost sharing with the federal and provincial governments, and that continues to be the case, as with other major municipalities in Canada.
After we complete the investment of $2.1 billion dedicated to the Confederation Line, we can afford $3 billion between now and 2031.
That is the envelope for growth-related transit projects that we can afford in our conservative financial plan.
But light rail improvements are not the only public transit infrastructure that we need to include in our budgeting.
Over the next ten years, we will service new growth with $500 million in bus transit improvements in the form of new Transitway links and priority lanes.
As I mentioned earlier, these links will no longer be dependent on receiving two-thirds funding from senior orders of government.
We want to move ahead with these projects without further delay.
Today I am pleased to present to you a plan for Stage 2 that can, I believe, form a rally point for all levels of government and for our own Council.
This period in our city’s development is similar to the build out of the Transitway decades ago – a time of major investment for decades of reward.
We want to gain the full benefit of LRT to enable a shift to a more sustainable transportation future.
And through this Stage 2 plan…
We will shift LRT up an entire generation.
Building on the Confederation Line…
I am pleased to announce today that the Stage 2 plan moves decisively to spread the benefit of Light Rail to the west, east and south.
This plan responds to Council’s direction and desire to build on the work we are doing now to dramatically improve the O-Train.
I want to take you through each segment of Stage 2 in some detail.
First, let’s look west and southwest.
We’ve put a lot of time and energy into working with the community to find a route through to the west.
The Richmond Underground will provide the rapid rail transit extension that we need.
I want to thank Councillors Hobbs, Taylor and Egli for their strong leadership here.
Making good use of our existing Transitway infrastructure, we will continue with electric light rail west of Tunney’s Pasture, where it will stop at upgraded versions of the stations we have today at Westboro and Dominion.
From Dominion Station, the route will travel down the former CP rail corridor to quickly enter the cover of a tunnel to maintain access to the waterfront.
We will bury and enclose the line near residents to ensure continued views and quiet enjoyment for homeowners along the corridor.
And we will continue to work with the NCC to meet their requirements.
This underground section will continue to a new open-air station just past Cleary.
We have moved the station at Cleary slightly to the west and reduced its footprint to take into account input during our public meetings.
From Cleary, the tunnel will descend gradually before crossing under Richmond Road, stopping at a second new open-air station at New Orchard, before traveling underground to Lincoln Fields.
These two stations will provide new, convenient rapid transit service for west end residents.
And perhaps most significantly, the Byron Linear Park will be protected from one end to the other.
Some residents may say “why should we pay for that to be underground?”
The answer is clear to me…
We have to move through some very well established neighbourhoods here… and we need to do right by them.
Light rail needs to be implemented in a way that enhances the existing character of those communities and benefits the residents and businesses there with far better transit access.
From Lincoln Fields, I support moving quickly to deploy light rail west to Bayshore Shopping Centre and south to Baseline.
Beginning with the south route, we will travel from Lincoln Fields under the Queensway, through a new station at Iris, to Baseline.
Finally, we will bring the significant investment we already have in Baseline Station into service as we link Algonquin College, Carleton, the University of Ottawa, and La Cité.
Now that’s an education powerhouse in the capital connected by rapid transit.
And with the quick and frequent feeder bus service to the growing southwest Barrhaven community, down the already built dedicated Transitway, we will dramatically improve the transit experience for the fastest growing areas of the city and make it more affordable to carry more passengers.
I want to thank Councillors Harder and Desroches for the advancing of increased service for their constituents.
Now let’s look at the route from Lincoln Fields to Bayshore.
There had been a busway planned for this section that would have faced near immediate demand for conversion to LRT.
So instead of building for buses – looking at wasteful and disruptive conversion costs – and then going to rail, we are going to leapfrog to better transit for the west now.
From Lincoln Fields, the route to Bayshore will split off to the south of Woodroffe High School from the line to Baseline that I just described.
The train then runs through an expanded Connaught Tunnel past the existing Pinecrest Bus Garage.
Thanks here again to Councillor Taylor for improving on the plan to account for the concerns of people in the Roman Avenue area.
As with the Richmond Underground, working with the community we’ve found better solutions.
From there the line will run onto the City right-of-way just north of the Queensway, stopping at a new Queensview station.
This will serve the area’s residents and businesses, including Hewlett Packard and the Leon’s.
This will also include a new walking bridge across the Queensway, which will connect the rail line to the Pinecrest Shopping Complex, the new Ikea to the south, and other nearby businesses.
From Queensview, the route makes an additional stop on the west side of Pinecrest to serve the residential communities north and south before continuing on to Bayshore Shopping Centre.
Once at Bayshore, the line will tie-in to the bus network infrastructure where a new Bayshore-to-Moodie dedicated busway will connect with the existing west BRT and the new March to Terry Fox busway I described earlier.
This will provide continuous rapid transit to Kanata, something advocated by Councillors Hubley and Wilkinson.
Now… to the south.
Building on the $59 million improvement underway now to increase service, we will make further enhancements to the O-Train to serve communities in the south and growing ridership along the line.
We will open the system to serve more areas by adding stations at Gladstone, Walkley Road, and South Keys, creating more convenient options for people to make transit a part of their day.
And we will extend the line to Leitrim and Bowesville and provide expanded park and ride facilities to support commuting from Barrhaven and Riverside South to those stations.
This will be a full grade-separated route with new structures to cross Leitrim, Lester and Bowesville roads.
My thanks to Councillors Deans and Desroches for their strong push for further expansion south now, not later.
And to Councillors Hobbs, McRae and Holmes for underscoring the importance of added stations to serve the residents along the O-Train line more directly.
Finally…to the east.
We will complete the conversion of the light rail line from Blair Station through to Place D’Orleans.
Four new stations will be put in place: at St. Joseph, Jeanne D’Arc, Orleans Drive, and Place d’ Orleans.
The construction of LRT along our existing highway alignment will also free up the existing lanes used for buses today.
During the EA process we will look at how to use these former bus lanes to expand the highway for HOV lanes.
Currently, 60 per cent of Orleans residents who work downtown use transit each weekday.
That takes a lot of articulated and double decker buses we won’t have to fill with diesel or replace at the end of the decade if we get moving more quickly.
But this is not just about daily commutes to downtown.
When complete, 90 per cent of Orleans’ residents will live within five kilometers of light rail.
And moving quickly will be a game changer for renewed economic growth in the east end as rail will open access and tie the east to the downtown and beyond.
Councillors Blais, Monette, Tierney and Bloess have been real leaders for balanced economic development.
The east has suffered over the last ten years with shifting federal employment patterns.
We want to work with the Government of Canada to locate jobs in the east and to attract employers there to support balanced growth.
Bringing the benefits of light rail east to Place d’Orleans will make that difference.
Last month, we announced a major employment complex has been attracted to north Orleans.
I believe Stage 2 will give us what we need as a team to make the case for bringing more federal and private sector jobs to Orleans.
In sum what I have just laid out can be built for less than $2.5 Billion.
– $400 million to get to Lincoln Fields from Bayshore
– $980 million to get to Baseline from Tunney’s Pasture
– $500 million to finish getting to Orleans
– $100 million for further O-train enhancements; and
– $500 million for the trains and expanded storage facilities needed to serve the full system.
This should be a package we can all agree to get a move on.
Stage 2 of light rail will build on the benefits of the Confederation Line for our city as a whole.
We could go slowly and build each segment of the network over a protracted period of time, suffering wasteful and disruptive conversions along the way…
Or we can move ahead and use public transit to help define how we grow.
We could muddle through paying for another twenty or thirty years of long-haul buses…
Or we can make the most of LRT by completing the network to realize the benefits more quickly.
Instead of phasing these extensions to 2031, what I am proposing as Stage 2 is a single LRT project.
A project that will bring rail west to Bayshore and Baseline… south to Bowesville… and east to Orleans.
It would all be done together… well in advance of any previous schedule this city has ever seen.
That means if our federal and provincial partners come to the table with their share of funds, we could have this impressive system up and running within five years of completing the Confederation Line – as early as 2023.
Like all major municipalities with large transit projects, these are plans we can only undertake together.
We all know the old saying:
When you stand still, you fall behind.
The leading municipalities in this country are ready with clear plans for cost sharing of needed transit improvements.
Let me be clear, coming together with a strong plan and a united voice is the way we will succeed.
Together… with our partners Ontario and Canada, we need to get ahead of growth and use transit planning, as so many other cities around the world have done, to develop in a healthy way.
Together, we can move up light rail an entire generation.
By completing this, we will add 35 kilometers of new rail and 19 new stations that will improve public transit, attract new customers and contain costs.
We’ll have a system that can handle the growth instead of struggling with increasingly crowded buses and increasingly divisive budget battles.
We will have a system that is reliable and on-time because the main spines will be dedicated and freed from competing with traffic.
We can replace most of our articulated bus fleet with more efficient trains that will be quieter and far less polluting.
We can get more than 450,000 buses a year off the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway.
Best of all, our city will be connected with a light rail transit spine from east to west to south.
As our community ages, it will help to keep our citizens out and about.
Big celebrations that our capital city hosts, like Canada Day, will have a lot less transportation frustration.
Beyond connecting our post secondary institutions, as I’ve mentioned, the network will stretch from our fastest growing communities in the east, west and south.
It will connect six major shopping malls, many hotels from the Delta to the Hampton to the Westin, not to mention our libraries, arts facilities and recreational facilities.
All connected with an upgraded transit experience—safe, modern, comfortable and accessible light rail—that will help define for the better how we grow and develop as a healthy urban municipality.
Let’s move forward…
East, west, south…
And let’s define our own success as a community.