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Old June 2nd, 2006, 11:36 PM   #101
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From: http://ottsun.canoe.ca/News/OttawaAn...08938-sun.html
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Thu, June 1, 2006
Candidates demand delay for light rail

By DEREK PUDDICOMBE, OTTAWA SUN


TWO MAYORAL candidates and members of the business community want the north-south light-rail project halted until after November's municipal election.

One candidate, Alex Munter, has also renewed his request for an independent audit of the LRT project.

After the Sun reported yesterday that the $725-million budget for the north-south line could balloon to almost $900 million, Munter sent a letter to Mayor Bob Chiarelli, renewing his request that the city hire an independent auditor to look at the books to find the project's true cost.

"I am concerned, as many residents in Ottawa are, that we don't know what the real costs of the light-rail project are," said Munter.

He said an independent audit would capture not only what it will cost to build the rail network, but could also reveal what it will cost taxpayers to operate the O-Train.


Chiarelli went on the defence yesterday, saying the real cost of the project is not $900 million. He said only portions of projects identified as raising the cost of the north-south line are related to building light-rail transit.

He said the list of projects reported in the Sun was "good news," because portions of the $124 million worth of associated light-rail projects clearly identified in the 2006 budget will save the city money in the future. "We are taking advantage of the O-Train and increasing cost efficiencies substantially over the long haul," he said.

In a memo to city councillors late yesterday, Rejean Chartrand, the city's director of economic development and strategic projects, echoed Chiarelli's remarks.

WILL 'REDUCE COSTS'

"As council is fully aware through previous light-rail reports, and the 2006 budget debate, the light rail transit project was going to co-ordinate its work with other scheduled city projects in order to minimize public inconvenience and construction times (and) reduce costs," Chartrand wrote.

In the memo, Chartrand said only 20% -- or $6 million -- of the almost $30 million price tag for the Strandherd-Armstrong bridge that will cross the Rideau River near Barrhaven is associated with the LRT project.

Hume Rogers, the general manager of the Capital Hill Hotel and Suites, isn't against the project, but wants it done right.

"If they're all telling you it's not right, isn't it time to stop and re-evaluate?" asked Hume. "It's being pushed through. They should delay it until after the election."

Another mayoral candidate, Terry Kilrea, who recently launched runawaytrain.ca, a website keeping an eye on LRT costs, is also calling for a halt to the project.

This "proves that we need to give taxpayers a voice in stopping the planned light rail line and its runaway costs."
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Old June 2nd, 2006, 11:37 PM   #102
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From: http://ottsun.canoe.ca/News/OttawaAn...10716-sun.html
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Fri, June 2, 2006
LRT could top $1B: Councillor
Brooks vows to try and derail light rail project

By DEREK PUDDICOMBE, OTTAWA SUN


Talk of halting Ottawa's light rail transit plan frightens some city councillors, but signals relief for others.

Rideau Coun. Glenn Brooks likes the light rail concept, but says even with the provincial and federal governments' chipping in $400 million, taxpayers still can't afford it.

The current north-south line will likely top $1 billion, he said.

"I don't care how you slice it or how you dice it, the cost on this major capital project will continue to rise because of market conditions," said Brooks.

The city has said the budget for the project is $725 million, but the Sun reported earlier this week that according to an additional $124 million worth of projects in the 2006 budget that are associated with or related to the construction of LRT -- along with possible cost overruns in the "tens of millions" -- the price tag could soar to the $900 million range.


"I'm just a little country boy, but $900 million won't cover it," said Brooks. "I won't vote for it. It's not affordable."

Axing the project wouldn't be good news for Capital Coun. Clive Doucet.

ROAD CONSTRUCTION CASH

"The LRT not going forward scares the bejesus out of me," he said.

Doucet has failed for years to get the city to decrease its road construction budget and said linking any money for road construction to the light rail project is discouraging.

As part of the $124-million, city staff said about $66 million worth of road construction is related to the LRT project.

Baseline Coun. Rick Chiarelli wants a separate vote on a proposed line into Barrhaven that would cost an estimated $30 million on top of what council has already approved.

"You just can't shove in $30 million," he said.

But most councillors want to see all the financial information related to the project before they commit to a vote.

Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans says the information she and her colleagues have been receiving is like trying to put together a "big puzzle."

"We might be more comfortable when we know all the information," she said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bob Chiarelli is asking councillors for individual meetings to discuss the LRT project prior to a scheduled June 14 council meeting when the LRT design and financial information will be released.
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Old June 2nd, 2006, 11:38 PM   #103
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From: http://www.canada.com/ottawa/news/ci...07e3ba&k=33139
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Let public vote on big city projects
Munter: Mayoral candidate wants referendum on debt financing of $100M or more
Mohammed Adam, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Friday, June 02, 2006

In a major drive to change how city government works, mayoral candidate Alex Munter wants all major projects that require debt financing of $100 million or more to be approved by referendum.

Mr. Munter said yesterday that as mayor, he would give Ottawa residents the right to vote on mega-projects such as commuter rail. In proposing what he calls a "Capital Vote," Mr. Munter said he wants to engage citizens in decisions on large projects whose financial impact may last for generations. He is focusing on debt financing because it can affect the "financial sustainability" of the city.

A referendum would end the government secrecy that has plagued the city and prevented residents from learning the true cost of the north-south rail link, he said. A referendum campaign would require full disclosure of information about any project. Vote results would be binding on council. Projects requiring less debt financing would not be subject to a referendum.

"The idea is that if we are going to go into significant debt for a major project, it will involve going to the public, engaging the public in the debate, building and winning approval before we go ahead," Mr. Munter said.
"As mayor of Ottawa, we will never again be in a situation where decisions on big-ticket items are rammed through, based on artificial deadlines in the dying days of an electoral mandate.

Speaking on behalf of Mayor Bob Chiarelli, who was in Montreal yesterday, chief of staff John Crupi scoffed at the idea. He said a referendum outside the municipal election would cost taxpayers $3 million and one held during the election would cost at least $100,000, money the city can hardly afford.
"The idea of a referendum is a ludicrous notion," said Mr. Crupi. "The job of the mayor is to provide leadership and stewardship of a $2.5-billion corporation. This is an idea that hasn't been thought out well."

However, Mr. Chiarelli himself proposed a referendum in 2000, when he was regional chair, to decide if the new City of Ottawa should contribute $85 million for hospital renovation. It never happened.
In 1999, then-Nepean mayor Mary Pitt proposed a regional referendum to resolve municipal amalgamation, but none was held.

Referendums are generally not part of Canada's political heritage and would be considered a radical development if introduced in Ottawa city politics.

U.S. cities regularly use them and Houston and Virginia Beach have used them on light-rail projects. Vancouver is unique among major Canadian cities in using referendums during municipal elections to seek public backing for capital spending on everything from parks and recreation to roads and bridges.
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Old June 2nd, 2006, 11:39 PM   #104
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From: http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/...6-08678ea5f7ef
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Hopes dashed for new science museum
Cannon says there's no money for either Gatineau, Ottawa site

Published: Thursday, June 01, 2006

Federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon says the Conservative government does not have hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new Museum of Science and Technology, quashing hopes for a new facility any time soon -- in Gatineau or Ottawa.

Mr. Cannon, who vowed last month to use his influence to locate a planned museum in Jacques Cartier Park, now says the federal government has no intention of building a new museum, let alone putting it in Gatineau.

"This government has never committed to moving a museum, or at the very least, paying for it. There is no $600 (million) or $700 (million) or $800 million out there to build a new museum, let's be clear on that," Mr. Cannon told the Citizen. "It is not in our electoral program."

Mr. Cannon spoke on a wide range of issues, including the beautification of the capital and the future of the NCC.

Museum officials, who are scheduled to meet Heritage Minister Bev Oda for the first time tomorrow to brief her on the search for a new location, would not comment on what appears to be a major setback in their quest for a new and permanent home.

The science museum moved to its "temporary" St. Laurent Boulevard home in 1967 and has been fighting to move out the cramped former warehouse and bakery ever since. It has complained that its collection of about a million objects, including rare historic artifacts, is languishing in three warehouses. In 2003, a report recommended a 1.2-million-square-foot building at Bayview, near LeBreton Flats, an $808-million building constructed in two phases.

The consultants examined several sites, including Jacques Cartier Park.

Museum officials were waiting to brief the new heritage minister when Mr. Cannon told an Outaouais business group that he wants to "exercise (his) influence" to ensure Jacques Cartier becomes the new home of the museum. Outaouais politicians have long lobbied for the new museum to move across the river and many thought the move was a fait accompli.

As Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Quebec lieutenant, Mr. Cannon's has the clout to make it happen.

It was thought moving the museum to Quebec would fit the Conservative government's strategy of using the province as the stepping stone to a majority government.

But Mr. Cannon explained to the Citizen that when he spoke about relocating the museum to Gatineau, he was doing so as an MP, trying to do the best for his area.

He said he never promised government money to build the museum, nor did he say the move would happen in the government's current term.

"This is not something that will be done in the short-term," he said.

"Where in our electoral promises did we indicate that we have $700 (million) to $800 million to spend on building a new museum?"
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Old June 3rd, 2006, 06:00 PM   #105
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From: http://www.canada.com:80/ottawacitiz...3-640bfb18cf12
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Rail plan takes wrong turn

Randall Denley
The Ottawa Citizen

Saturday, June 03, 2006

When Ottawa city councillors finally get the details of the north-south light-rail project June 14, the temptation will be to immerse themselves in minutiae and lose sight of the big picture. Before they commit the city to spending $725 million in public money, councillors need to be able to answer three fundamental questions.

What is the real nature of our commuting problem? Is light rail the best solution to that problem? If we are going to choose rail, is the city's plan the right one, or is there a bolder, better way?

All of these questions should have been answered at the beginning of this long process, not the end, but that wasn't done. Councillors have been driven relentlessly forward by the enthusiasm of Mayor Bob Chiarelli and key staff members. From the beginning, the enthusiasts knew light rail was the solution. All they had to do was find a problem. Unfortunately, the problem the public sees everyday is the clogged east-west commute. The light rail solution does little or nothing to improve that.

The mismatch between the public's perception of what light rail should do and the city's actual plan is the greatest impediment to the enthusiastic public endorsement Chiarelli is seeking. Plainly put, the city's north-south plan just doesn't make much sense.

North-south will have some value to people who live in Barrhaven and want to go downtown or to Carleton University. It will also have some value to people who eventually move into Riverside South and have the same destinations. It's very modest value, at best. For Barrhaven commuters, it will still be faster to take the bus to get downtown than the train. That's not much of a selling point.

The city's ridership study projects 7,830 people will ride the new north-south train in morning rush hour by 2021, but that's based on the city's ambitious growth projections and a service level that's more frequent than initially planned. Even that best-case scenario predicts there will be only 1,090 new transit riders in the morning peak period. Doesn't sound like a lot of result for $725 million. People now riding the bus might like the switch to the train, but where's the value to everyone else?


The success of north-south relies heavily on the development of the Riverside South subdivision. Even with the new train, that's far from a sure thing. People have shown a strong preference for suburbs in the east and west, where there is already shopping, sports fields and rinks.

Riverside South doesn't have a great deal to recommend it and its road connections to the rest of the city are poor. Building a rail line to serve speculative population growth is an enormous gamble because light rail is inherently inflexible.

Underperforming bus routes can be cancelled. Once tracks are laid, we're stuck with a train route indefinitely.

There are two real commuter problems in Ottawa. The most obvious is the peak period commute downtown from the eastern and western suburbs. It will gradually worsen as the population increases. People are understandably frustrated to see potential east-west routes that either won't take them directly downtown or will travel slowly down congested streets.

There is a likely increasing demand for commuting within one's own suburban area. The city's employment projections suggest the real growth of jobs will be in the suburbs, not downtown. That's part of a strong national trend, according to Statistics Canada. In the next 15 years, Kanata's jobs are expected to grow 40 per cent and Orleans 88 per cent while downtown employment rises by only 14 per cent.

Unfortunately, the suburban demand doesn't lend itself to rigid light rail because of a complex and diffuse commuting pattern. Many suburban workers work neither downtown nor in their own suburb, making it difficult for the city to anticipate and meet their commuting needs.

If the city wants more people to use transit, it must improve service to the new suburban jobs and it must make the main east-west commute more attractive. The north-south plan achieves neither of those goals. Instead, it speculates that many new people will move to the south and work downtown. One of the planned east-west routes would allow people to commute from Orleans to Kanata, but it seems a secondary need at best. The other route will trundle down Carling Avenue and Montreal Road, offering nothing that a bus can't deliver now.

There's a better approach. More about that tomorrow.
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Old June 3rd, 2006, 06:01 PM   #106
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From: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servl...Story/National
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Nuclear cleanup plan would store waste in caves near Ottawa River
DENNIS BUECKERT
Canadian Press
OTTAWA -- A $520-million plan to clean up nuclear research sites in Canada includes a proposal for underground waste disposal in caverns near the Ottawa River.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said yesterday previous governments have failed to deal with the legacy of radioactive waste from nuclear research and development dating to the 1940s.

"Today as part of the government's plan to deliver clean air, water, land and energy to our citizens, we are making a funding commitment of $520-million over five years to clean up the waste from past activities," he said at a news conference.

"This plan will reduce risks and liabilities over the long term and is consistent with international best practices."

The initiative is intended to clean up Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. facilities at Deep River, Ont., the Whiteshell Laboratories at Pinawa, Man., and three prototype reactors in Quebec and Ontario.

The waste is considered to be at the low or intermediate level in terms of radioactivity. It does not include highly radioactive spent fuel from Candu power reactors.

Mr. Lunn announced the plan at AECL's Chalk River Laboratories near the town of Deep River, Ont. The small community is situated next to the Ottawa River.

Mr. Lunn did not mention the potential use of underground caverns beside the large river.

However, Bill Kupferschmidt of AECL confirmed that underground storage of low-to-intermediate level nuclear waste is being considered.

"We certainly have in the late 1980s and 1990s been looking at the Chalk River site to determine whether it is an appropriate site for that very purpose. Preliminary studies were very positive and it's certainly one of the options."

People in the Deep River area are worried about the proposal, said Ole Hendrickson of the group Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County.

"This is a site that's got fractured bedrock, high rates of water movement right next to the river and it's seismically active. This is not the place for permanent disposal of nuclear waste."

Mr. Hendrickson is calling for a full-scale review under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

AECL is promising public consultations, but has not committed to a review under the act.

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a campaigner with environmental group Greenpeace, said the Chalk River site is not appropriate for nuclear waste disposal.

"These toxins need to be isolated from the environment for thousands and thousands of years and there's no guarantee that a man-made structure buried on the banks of the Ottawa River can stop that from entering the environment."

Some of the waste was generated before the formation of AECL and other material comes from universities, medical facilities and industry
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Old June 5th, 2006, 12:29 PM   #107
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hi ottawa people. im going to be at the 3rd anual dovercourt challenge skateboard slalom race gunning for first place. anyone who is in town should come watch me fail. its on july 1st and 2nd and it is at the corner of dovercourt and laurentian or something i believe. theres info about it at ontskate.proboards38.com in the ottawa sessions thread
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SEND IT BACK MAN! THAT MUST BE LIKE STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY BUMPS.
COME ON GUYS!!! WE NEED TO OBJECTIFY MORE WOMEN!!!
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Old June 6th, 2006, 03:55 AM   #108
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Not sure if it has been discussed yet but here's a new condo project for Ottawa, "Mondrian". I must admit looks pretty nice, "Toronto-style condo"-esque if you ask me.


http://www.urbancapital.ca/mondrian/main.html
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Old June 8th, 2006, 11:40 PM   #109
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From: http://www.canada.com:80/ottawacitiz...c-f4da72205784
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NCC's $1.7M steps must be accessible to disabled
tribunal: York Street structure an award-winner

Patrick Dare
The Ottawa Citizen

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The award-winning, $1.7 million York Street Steps next to the U.S. Embassy are discriminatory because they are not accessible to the disabled, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has found.

As a result, the National Capital Commission must now rethink its grand staircase.

The conflict over the granite steps, which connect ceremonial Ottawa with Lowertown, goes back to the 1990s, when they were being designed.

Lowertown resident Bob Brown, who was head of the city's disability issues advisory committee, objected to the fact that this major new connection between Sussex Drive and Mackenzie Avenue was not accessible to people who use wheelchairs. The NCC argued the eight-metre drop meant a ramp would not work and that disabled people would be able to use an elevator in the new Daly Building nearby.

Mr. Brown, a quadriplegic, filed a formal complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 1999, though the steps had already been built. Thus began an arduous battle with the NCC and Public Works and Government Services, culminating this week in a 71-page tribunal decision that upheld the complaint of discrimination.

The decision found the York Street Steps -- a popular path for traffic between the Byward Market and Major's Hill Park and Parliament Hill -- are inaccessible in contravention of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The decision, by tribunal member Paul Groarke, found that the federal government, through the NCC and Public Works, failed to do meaningful consultations and explore solutions to the access problem, such as by using the Canada Revenue Agency's Connaught Building near the steps.

The decision instructs the parties involved to negotiate a solution so the York Street Steps become accessible. A consulting group estimated an elevator could cost $427,000.

If negotiations fail, the tribunal can issue an order to rectify the situation. While it is hard to predict what that order might be, it could force the NCC to provide an elevator.

The NCC yesterday refused to comment on the decision, saying it is studying the document. The tribunal decision can be appealed to the Federal Court.

Canadian human rights law allows that accommodation to be provided for the disabled is not supposed to present an "undue hardship" to the federal government and should be "reasonable."

When the York Street Steps were built in the 1990s, they were a source of considerable pride for the NCC, providing an impressive corridor and view between the "town" of the Byward Market and the "Crown" of the Chateau Laurier and Parliament Hill.

The 45 steps were designed as part of the U.S. Embassy project next door.

In 2000, they won the Ontario Association of Landscape Artists' Award of Excellence.

The tribunal decision released yesterday makes it clear that relations between Mr. Brown and the NCC have been testy.

Mr. Brown described one meeting held to try to resolve the issue "a sham." At another meeting, he was told he should not discuss the issue with the city's advisory committee and he felt "gagged."

The tribunal reports that Mr. Brown, and others who found the steps inaccessible, found "the attitude of the NCC patronizing."

Meetings for the project with members of the public began in 1994.

Mr. Brown, who could not be reached yesterday, said in his testimony before the tribunal that as a resident of Lowertown, he did not want to experience an unequal level of access when travelling in his neighbourhood.

"If I am with other people, it is undignified. I am made to feel like a second-class citizen because I am not permitted to use the same facility as other citizens of Canada," he said. He noted his concerns extended to the elderly, those with children in strollers and anyone who has difficulty climbing steps.

The tribunal found: "The NCC has an obligation to accommodate those persons who cannot climb the York Street Steps. ... Mr. Brown and people with disabilities have no means of climbing the hill and gaining entry to Major's Hill Park at the York Street Steps. The steps accordingly discriminate against them."

Philippe Dufresne, acting senior counsel for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, said the decision underlines the fact that, under the Canadian Human Rights Act, builders, architects, planners and owners must consider accessibility in the design of federal properties and need to "canvass all reasonable options."

Charles Matthews, president of Disabled and Proud, an Ottawa advocacy group for the disabled, said the tribunal's decision shows it's important to do any urban design with an eye to accommodating everyone.

He said "it's like pulling teeth" to have meaningful input into NCC building projects. He said accessible design doesn't have to cost more, and in some instances, ramps cost less than steps.
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Old June 8th, 2006, 11:42 PM   #110
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From: http://www.canada.com:80/ottawacitiz...9-cddb16e46412
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Roof-only bus shelters get committee OK
Bedard's plea to remove Rideau Street structures' walls goes to council next week

Jake Rupert
The Ottawa Citizen

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The city's transit committee voted yesterday to remove glass-walled bus shelters from Rideau Street in favour of roof-only shelters, after being told that walls breed drug traffic and loitering.

With the five-to-three vote, the committee rejected the advice of city staff, OC Transpo officials and the municipality's transit advisory panel.

The committee did so after hearing police officers, business owners and the impassioned plea of downtown Councillor Georges Bedard to take the action because drug dealers, vagrants and loiterers are using the shelters for "illegal activity" that is "killing the street."

Committee members voted for the action without knowing how much it will cost.

An estimate of shelter replacement costs will be presented to city council next week. Council will vote on Mr. Bedard's request, along with four other anti-crime initiatives dealing with Rideau Street the committee passed yesterday.

Mr. Bedard asked only for the shelter alterations, but after hearing just how bad things have become on Rideau Street, the committee also ordered:

- OC Transpo officials to come up with a better security plan for the area by October;

- City staff to redesign the section of the street near the Rideau Centre that accommodates transit users -- to produce a safe, secure environment;

- The immediate removal of flower boxes and other objects that compromise the safety and security of the area; and

- And that city staff and appropriate advisory committees find ways to implement recommendations contained in an Ottawa police security audit of the area.

Mr. Bedard was elated.

"I'm more than pleased. There's huge problems on that street, and in the past there has been a reluctance to deal with it in the larger sense. Now, we're going to look at the whole problem."

Brian McQuaid works for McGrath Canada, a collection agency with offices on Rideau Street, and is president of the Downtown Rideau Board of Management. He and members of the Rideau Street Business Association argued for Mr. Bedard's request.

"It's about time council realized Rideau Street is a very important part of the city, and that it's deteriorating badly," he said.

During the committee meeting, municipal politicians heard repeatedly that a bad element has taken over Rideau Street, particularly in the area around the bus shelters on the north side between Sussex Drive and William Street.

The concerns are drug deals taking place around the clock, aggressive panhandling, vagrants and drug users loitering and sleeping in and against the shelters.

In the past, Mr. Bedard's requests that OC Transpo take down the shelters were rejected because OC Transpo officials want to provide shelter for bus riders, especially in the winter.

Yesterday, city bureaucrat John Manconi said that while he was concerned about crime in the area, alternatives were being looked at. Replacing the shelters "is not a cheap proposition," he said.

He urged the committee to hold off on something as drastic as ordering the shelters' removal until a better plan could be found.

Lynne McCarney, chairwoman of the city's citizens' transit advisory committee, complained that not one transit user, nor her committee, were consulted by Mr. Bedard. She said shelters without roofs would only provide protection from a gentle rain, and this would have a "huge negative impact" on the 5,000 people who use the bus stops each day.

Councillors Alex Cullen, Clive Doucet and Janet Stavinga voted against Mr. Bedard's request. Councillors Bedard, Doug Thompson, Maria McRae, Rainer Bloess and Eli El-Chantiry voted for it.

Mr. Cullen said taking away bus shelters would just move the drug dealers and other bad apples somewhere else. "And, quite frankly, I don't understand how we can have drug deals happening in broad daylight without the police making arrests. If it's that obvious, arrest them."

The Rideau Street strip has been a challenge for successive city councils. In the late 1970s, with half the stores closed, the city turned Rideau into a bus mall, built a convention centre and lured a new hotel to the area.

But by the mid-80s, the new bus shelters had become symbols of the street's continued decay. And by the early 1990s, with the bus mall in disrepute, council opened the street again to non-bus traffic.
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Old June 8th, 2006, 11:42 PM   #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis007
Not sure if it has been discussed yet but here's a new condo project for Ottawa, "Mondrian". I must admit looks pretty nice, "Toronto-style condo"-esque if you ask me.


http://www.urbancapital.ca/mondrian/main.html
Cool! I like it.
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Old June 8th, 2006, 11:47 PM   #112
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From: http://ottsun.canoe.ca/News/OttawaAn...19892-sun.html
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Thu, June 8, 2006
Rideau St. mess needs makeover

By SUSAN SHERRING, OTTAWA SUN


What's it going to take to get Rideau St. right? That seems to be the million-dollar question.

A passionate Rideau-Vanier Coun. Georges Bedard pleaded with his fellow city councillors yesterday to tear down several bus shelters on Rideau St. because of serious ongoing problems with crime.

"We have to deal with this now. We can't spend any more time studying the issue," Bedard said, nearly begging his colleagues to listen to the facts.

The facts, as Bedard sees them, are simple.

The shelters aren't being used by transit users, but by criminals, who use them for their illegal activities.


"The downtown is dying. Don't kill it any further," Bedard said.

Makes you wonder how many times we have to do over Rideau St. before we get it right, doesn't it?

If we're going to tear down the shelters, fine. Staff certainly weren't offering up any concrete alternatives and time's a-wasting. But this time, let's do it right.

Bedard couldn't agree more.

He said planners are ignoring many of the facts about the area, including the fact that about a quarter of a million people visit the area every week, creating huge congestion problems.

Bedard believes the shelters were built without looking at the overall environment of the area, the traffic, the population, the criminal element, the pedestrian traffic.

Certainly, none of these are new problems.

For those with long memories of Rideau St., you'll recall the disaster that was the Rideau St. mall enclosures.

Not only did the enclosures help jump-start a growing decline of area businesses, they also attracted a less-than-desirable clientele to the area.

"But things are different today. Ten years ago, we weren't talking about the problem with crack, we weren't talking about many of the problems we're facing today," Bedard said after the transportation committee meeting, where members recommended council tear down four shelters.

Bedard's call was endorsed by the Downtown Rideau BIA and the Ottawa police.

'DON'T NEED MORE STUDIES'

Fine. Tear down the shelters, and this time, don't replace them with anything until all the ramifications of any actions are taken into consideration.

OC Transpo staff tried to dig in their heels on this one, for reasons that are hard to understand. Instead of acting now and heeding Bedard's warnings, staff instead said the issue needed to be studied further.

The "Let's talk some more" suggestion appeared to send Bedard -- who has been working on this issue since being elected in 2003 -- around the bend.

"We don't need more studies," he said.

Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Paul Johnston backed up Bedard at yesterday's meeting, agreeing an unsavoury element is being aided by the convenience of the shelters.

Will tearing down the shelters eliminate the area as a haven for drug dealing and other illegal activities?

"It'll be reduced. And we can create a safer environment," Johnston said.

But let's not forget, this is Ottawa. We have horrible winters. And the replacement canopy that is now being proposed isn't going to protect transit riders from the cold. For a city that's desperately attempting to increase transit riders, this isn't a step in the right direction.

But Bedard, who came to committee well prepared, had all the answers for those who suggested taking down the shelters would punish the innocent transit riders.

"They're not using them anyway. They're afraid to use them," he said.

The cost for tearing down the shelters?

Well, it seems no one knows for sure. No one at OC Transpo had an answer.

OC Transpo managers were told to bring the numbers with them when the issue goes to council next week. They started to pout, saying they weren't sure they could do it.

Just do it. And this time, do it right.
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Old June 10th, 2006, 12:48 AM   #113
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From: http://ottsun.canoe.ca/News/OttawaAn...9/1622951.html
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Fri, June 9, 2006
Province to help fund 2 transport projects
West-end transitway, east-end highway project get boosts

By SUSAN SHERRING, Ottawa Sun


Two multi-million-dollar transportation projects - one which will benefit east-end motorists and the other west-end transit users - are one step closer to becoming a reality.

The announcement was made this morning by Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli and Jim Watson, the MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean and the minister of health promotion.

The projects, which still need council approval, will get $18.5 million of a $32.5 million provincial transportation grant.

In the east end, motorists frustrated with the 417/174 split will see improved traffic flow and reduced congestion.

“One of the long outstanding irritants for east-bound motorists returning home at the end of the day is the traffic gridlock at what is locally known as the 417/174 split,” Chiarelli said. The cost of the improvements is slated at roughly $5 million.


The West Transitway extension is expected to cost in the neighbourhood of $30 million, with $15.5 million coming from the province.

The extension will see a new two-lane transitway corridor 1.85 km in length, which will follow the north edge of the Queensway from Pinecrest Rd. to the existing Bayshore transit station.

Along with the provincial money, a portion of the construction budget will be covered through development charges, the provincial gas tax rebate and $15.5 million from the province.
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Old June 10th, 2006, 12:50 AM   #114
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From: http://www.canada.com:80/ottawacitiz...b-9a7682337cca
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Two bids bring Library close to fruition

Ken Gray
The Ottawa Citizen

Friday, June 09, 2006

Did you think construction of a new central library was dead? Think again.

In January, city manager Kent Kirkpatrick told the Ottawa Public Library that it should stop any plans to proceed with a new central library because the municipality simply didn't have the money.

Normally, that would be enough for most organizations, but not our indomitable librarians. No, these custodians of knowledge keep marching in their sensible shoes toward their goal of a central library that doesn't leak or have mice in the stacks like the current model does. Librarians are quiet, but persistent.

And now that fight is beginning to bear fruit.

OPL chairman Rick Chiarelli says two developers have approached the library board with separate proposals to build a new main branch for the system.

One bid would have a public-private partnership with the city constructing a new main branch downtown, Mr. Chiarelli said. The library prefers a downtown location.

The second proposal would see a public-public-private partnership at Bayview with the developer teaming with both the federal and municipal governments, the OPL chairman and Baseline councillor said. The land for the Bayview plan would be at least partly owned by the city.

Mr. Chiarelli said neither developer wants to go public with its plans before the Nov. 13 municipal election so that its ideas do not become a campaign issue.

So where does the money come from, with Mr. Kirkpatrick so adamant that the city cupboard is bare?

Mr. Chiarelli maintains that a new central branch will cost about $60 million. That's despite the fact a library staff report, just circulated to board members this week, says the a new main building will cost about $155 million in 2012. However, Mr. Chiarelli says the report doesn't say whether the private portion of the development is included in the $155 million tally.

Let's do the math on the Chiarelli $60-million figure.

Well, there is expected to be about $18 million available from the sale of OPL's current downtown branch on prime real estate at Laurier Avenue and Metcalfe Street. That branch would be redundant with the construction of a new building.

Then the library has created a charitable foundation which hopes to raise about $15 million.

Mr. Chiarelli expects the private partner would bring about $10 million to the project and, if the federal government gets involved at Bayview, maybe $10 million or more from that government.

If the library could be incorporated into a federal museum strategy, Mr. Chiarelli said, there could be even more than $10 million from Parliament Hill.

Another of Mr. Chiarelli's hats is the chairmanship of the city's long-range financial plan committee. He believes that, when its deliberations are complete, there could be $7 million available from the municipality for a new main branch.

So, if my math is correct, that tally comes to $60 million. Coincidence perhaps?

"We're not that far away" from a new main branch, Mr. Chiarelli said in a recent interview.

His secret weapon in this quest is none other than Treasury Board President John Baird. The senior cabinet minister for Ottawa is a longtime buddy from their school days. Mr. Chiarelli expects to meet with "a certain Ottawa cabinet minister" over the next couple of months to make a pitch for the main branch.

Mr. Chiarelli is not alone in his hope for a new branch. Barbara Clubb, the city librarian and chief executive officer of the OPL, sent me a letter recently in which she said: "Right now we are proceeding with developing the formal building program, but that does not in any way guarantee that the project will go forward anytime soon."

Cautious optimism, but optimism nevertheless.

There is so much to be said for a new central library. Amalgamation has been good for the OPL, merging the materials of the former lower-tier municipal systems. The result, for those who have gone online to explore, is an outstanding wealth of knowledge.

A new central library would be the showcase of this system and an architectural gem for the city.

And while the library and not a few patrons would like the structure located in the downtown core, my preference would be at Bayview. Notwithstanding the funding help that could result from the federal government there, Bayview will be the hub of the rail and rapid-bus transit system, allowing people of all social, ethnic and economic classes easy access to the OPL headquarters.

It's also not far from the Queensway and Quebec bridges, meaning car drivers and those from the Outaouais will have good access. The new north-south light-rail line would also connect the library to Carleton University and the University of Ottawa while the Transitway links it to Algonquin College.

Not only that, but Bayview is located near Mechanicsville and could give some of the underprivileged of that area help up the economic ladder. So too, it is near large groups of new Canadians in the Chinese, Vietnamese and Italian neighbourhoods near Preston and Somerset streets. Imagine the building as a language centre as well as a library.

In a downtown novelty shop, there is a "Librarian Action Figure" that, when you push a button, the librarian raises an index finger to her mouth in the classic "Shsssh" pose. Such is the cliche surrounding librarians.

But don't underestimate them. As the progress toward a new central library shows, once librarians decide they want something, they are unstoppable.

Ken Gray is the city editorial page editor and a member of the newspaper's editorial board.
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Old June 13th, 2006, 03:18 AM   #115
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Anyone have updates on the planned construction on the Sussex Drive lot between the Saudi Embassy and the Lester B Pearson building?
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Old June 16th, 2006, 12:52 AM   #116
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From: http://www.canada.com:80/ottawacitiz...9-9be540132a8d
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Stall light-rail until election, coalition says
November vote is perfect time to debate transit issue, group says

Jake Rupert, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Tuesday, June 13, 2006
A broad coalition of community groups is asking the city to put its light-rail plan on hold until after the November municipal election.
The coalition, calling itself "Get it Right," is made up of business improvement associations, the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, Heritage Ottawa, Save Our Greenspace, public transit monitoring group Transport 2000 and others.
Yesterday, the coalition said it wants the decision on whether to proceed with the electric rail line, estimated to cost about $725 million, to be debated during the election so voters have clearer information on what the project is, its cost, and the candidates' positions.
They also want the entire project reviewed to ensure the city is spending taxpayers' money wisely, which they don't believe is the case.
"We need to talk about this more, and the best place for public debate is in an election campaign and vote," said Ottawa Chamber of Commerce past-president David Glastonbury.
Mayor Bob Chiarelli, who has been leading the charge for the project, and city staff in charge of it say the concerns are baseless, and it's time to move forward.
The coalition is concerned about various parts of the project and says the deadline for getting construction started -- this fall -- is too aggressive.
The members say because of this, the project has been rushed and full public consultation has been sacrificed to meet the deadline.
A consortium of companies has been chosen to design, build, provide cars for and maintain the line for 15 years. Details of the contract have been settled.
Those details -- the design of the line, stations, cars, and how much it will all cost -- are to be released at a city council meeting tomorrow.
After this, city staff are going to hold six open houses across the city to explain the proposal. Members of the public will be able to make submissions on the plan to councillors June 28. City councillors are to vote on whether to go ahead with the project in mid-July.
Hume Rogers heads the Albert Slater Coalition and is the general manager of the Capital Hill Hotel & Suites on Albert Street. The proposed line would use the two streets to get across the west side of downtown.
Mr. Rogers says giving the public two weeks to absorb the details of the plan and comment on it is not enough time.
Mr. Glastonbury said there's no good reason to keep tight deadlines on such a huge project and the wisdom behind the project needs to be reviewed.
He said project leaders haven't demonstrated value for the money it will cost, and what he's seen leads him to the opposite conclusion.
"For all that money, we need to get some more answers before we go ahead with this project," Mr. Glastonbury said. "The concept of light-rail is supported by the chamber, but we just don't think there's value for money in this plan."
Members of Transport 2000, which supports light-rail, too, have long maintained that the plan is flawed because it doesn't go through enough populated areas, won't have enough ridership, won't be as fast as bus service and isn't the cheapest or most efficient system available.
The greenspace alliance is against the proposal because it will run through a lot of open areas that are now forested, and because the proposed maintenance yard for the line is on airport land that is currently a forest.
The alliance is also concerned that the project will go over budget.
The coalition joins a chorus demanding the decision be delayed. This includes some city councillors and Mr. Chiarelli's two main opponents in the mayoral race.
As decision time approaches and calls to slow down the project increase, the mayor or city staff in charge of it have come out swinging after any criticism of the proposed line. Yesterday was no exception.
The city's light-rail project leader, Rejean Chartrand, said he understands people are concerned about the design and costs of the project, but he's sure he will be able to demonstrate that taxpayers are getting value.
He said the project has gone through rigorous scrutiny from the public and the provincial and federal governments, which are contributing $400 million, and that it's time for the next step.
"What we're building and why we are building it has been looked at, discussed, and decided upon," he said.
"I understand concerns over price and design, but, at some point, you have to move from the planning stage to the construction stage, and that's where we are now."
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Old June 16th, 2006, 12:54 AM   #117
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From: http://www.canada.com:80/ottawacitiz...a-fcb1f92c094d
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Making Rideau Street worse

David Reevely
The Ottawa Citizen

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Somebody should take away Georges Bedard's licence to zone before anybody else gets hurt.

The councillor for Rideau-Vanier is trying to make Rideau Street an even less pleasant place. It's not easy, but he's found a way. The means, which city council's transportation committee has already endorsed, is to take the sides off the bus shelters at the west end of Rideau Street, outside both The Bay and the Rideau Centre. The end is to eliminate places where criminal activity allegedly takes place, particularly within the bus shelters. Despite the shelters' glass walls, maps and other adornments on the insides apparently create places where people can deal drugs. The local business improvement group is ticked.

Nobody wants that, and anyone who's walked along that block of Rideau knows they have something to be unhappy about. Western Rideau Street is probably the most unpleasant part of town, with sheer department-store walls, roaring buses, blasting music, and menacing hangers-out conspiring to make the block feel unsafe at almost any time of day.

"These areas have become a hangout for groups of loiterers who take up even more of the limited sidewalk space and who sit on the sidewalk leaning against the shelters with their legs stretched out into the public right of way," reads Mr. Bedard's report to the transportation committee, which he persuaded to vote 5-3 in favour of taking the walls off the bus shelters.

The problem: These are bus shelters. You are supposed to loiter in them. You can go watch it yourself. Ninety-nine per cent of the people "loitering" there are waiting for buses.

"OC Transpo has not been willing to replace the shelters," Mr. Bedard writes, "preferring to ignore the security issues in favour of protecting clients against inclement weather."

Those Transpo people are such jerks.

Mr Bedard's approach, supported by the police, is to attack loitering generally by making standing on Rideau Street as unpleasant as possible. Take away as much shelter from the elements as possible, remove places to sit ("The benches do not need to be comfortable ... eliminate all butt rests," advise Const. Marianne Laver and Sgt. Bill VanRyswyk in a jargon-free report), and so on. You want to wait for a bus? Bring a folding chair.

Also an umbrella. The police suggest not only opening the bus shelters to blowing rain and snow, but taking off the canopy at The Bay's west end. The one under which literally hundreds of people line up for Outaouais buses every day, sheltered from the elements and as out of the way of pedestrian traffic as they could be.

There's very little street crime on Merivale Road, I guess, so the more we can make Rideau Street like that, the better the place will be.

To be fair to the police, they make some excellent suggestions, too, chiefly to do with renovating the whole area to eliminate dead zones for which nobody's responsible.

Mr. Bedard's report refers to "a concave area directly behind the bus shelter between The Bay Department Store and McDonald's Restaurant, which is a particularly popular area for individuals to loiter and commit illegal acts as it is not easily visible from the street, therefore providing optimal concealment due to the obstruction of the bus shelter." Focus on the tortured logic: The Bay has a wide niche in its facade where bad people congregate, therefore we must remove the bus shelter. Maybe The Bay could fill in the niche? Remedy the deeply stupid design decision that's the actual cause of the problem?

Indeed, problems with The Bay's facade occupy the first three of the police's 15 recommendations for improving the area. Spitting on transit users takes up only two.

But addressing those problems would be expensive, so no wonder the business owners aren't interested. The Bay and the Rideau Centre are responsible for the mess outside their doors: They treat the street as though it doesn't matter, with their blank walls and utility entrances and parking lot and nothing, but nothing, to make that stretch of Rideau Street anything but a place to either pass through quickly or plant yourself and wait for trouble.

The business association's slapped-together submission to city council puts virtually all the blame on the bus shelters.

Mr. Bedard is buying it, and worse, so are too many of his fellow councillors. Stop them before they vote again.

David Reevely is a member of the Citizen's editorial board. E-mail: [email protected]

© The Ottawa Citizen 2006






Copyright © 2006 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.
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Old June 16th, 2006, 12:55 AM   #118
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From: http://www.ottawabusinessjournal.com...0677179107.php
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Mayor on offensive at light rail open house
By Jim Donnelly, Ottawa Business Journal Staff
Wed, Jun 14, 2006 4:00 PM EST

The city of Ottawa unveiled its much-maligned light rail transit plan to councillors and the general public Wednesday, during an afternoon open house meant to dispel criticism that's been leveled at the proposal.

Presented was the proposed north-south line expected to connect the University of Ottawa, Rideau Centre, the downtown core and Carleton University with Riverside South and the Barrhaven Town Centre.

The proposed route is expected to be 29.4 kilometres long, with 22 electrified LRT vehicles, 23 stations and three new park-and-ride facilities. The city says it expects 3,100 direct construction-related new jobs from the project, and another 5,500 jobs indirectly throughout the planned 40-month construction process.

Mayor Bob Chiarelli defended the city's plan, explaining its being expedited in connection with other issues like a $30 million re-investment in the current east-west transit way.

He said building the north-south route first, instead of a Kanata-to-Orleans route, is practical and makes sense.

"We already have a billion dollars invested in east-west transit," he said. "North-south has not had much transit. So, for many reasons, it was right to start and not the least of which is that we have a proven pilot project in the north-south at the present time.

"Were looking forward, very very much, to the public open houses, the consultation process, the tough questioning we're going to get from councillors," he said, adding that different stages of the plan have collectively passed through 35 council votes.

"And it's carried every one of those votes, and every one of them has been very hotly debated with a lot of tough questioning from council, and that's the way it should be," he said. "Something that's this important needs to go through the mill, and needs to be assessed from every possible angle before we proceed."

He dismissed questions from journalists as to whether the project could end up topping $1 billion, a number that's been cited by rival politicians and community groups alike.

"It's absolutely incorrect, and it's totally politicizing the issue to use those types of untrue numbers."
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Old June 18th, 2006, 08:41 AM   #119
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The LRT plan pisses me off.

They think that a streetcar style LRT downtown will reduce congestion and allow rapid transit across downtown. How is this any different then the current bus system?

I realize that the proposed downtown underground tunnel would be expensive, but it actually would reduce downtown congestion and would make the train useful... otherwise I see no reason to even waste money on this (may as well take the bus) except for the fact that it's somewhat cool.

A tunnel would also allow future expansion of a Toronto-style underground PATH system, which I would LOVE to see downtown as it's so damn cold.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 10:30 PM   #120
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From: http://www.ottawasun.com/News/Ottawa...58915-sun.html
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Thu, June 29, 2006
LRT debate gets rolling
Business people, rural community and builders voice support for construction of north-south line

By DEREK PUDDICOMBE

OTTAWA'S GREAT light rail transit debate has begun.

More than 40 public delegations spoke their minds yesterday, many throwing their support behind the proposed $800-million north-south light rail transit line, one of the largest projects in the city's history.

Most of the day was spent going back and forth between those for and against the 30-km electric rail line proposed to run from Barrhaven to the University of Ottawa.

Lori Mellor, president of the Preston St. BIA, told council members building a north-south line will alleviate the growing traffic problem.

NO SURPRISE


"If we are to protect our neighbourhoods, we have to move ahead with LRT now," said. "We have serious traffic problems downtown."

Bob McKinley, president of the Rural Advisory Committee, said the rural community supports light rail and would like it built as soon as possible.

"It's time for rural Ottawa to get into the 21st century and transit is going to be part of our future whether you like it or not," said McKinley.

It was no surprise to many that the city's construction industry threw its support behind the project and urged it not be delayed. The city and Siemens, the company chosen to construct the line, have said a delay could add an extra $50 million to the project.

"Construction costs never ever go down," said Ted Phillips, representing the Ottawa-Carleton Home Builders Association. Phillips said if the project is delayed, costs of concrete, steel and other construction costs will likely rise and add more than $100 million to the cost of the line.

Not everyone supports light rail.

Since the city announced it was pursuing a north-south transit line, some residents began to ask why an east-west line was not being considered first.

Candidate for Kanata Ward councillor Marianne Wilkinson isn't against the concept of light rail, but says she and several Kanata residents would have preferred if the city looked at an east-west route before deciding to go north-south.

"We feel the city is not using its money wisely," said Wilkinson.

However, Mellor said commuters travelling east-west already have several transit options with an extensive transitway and Hwy. 417.

FAIR CHANCE

David Jeanes, a member of Transport 2000, said the city has failed to give taxpayers a fair chance to debate the project.

"It's the public that needs to be on board with this," said Jeanes.

Terry Kilrea, a candidate for mayor spoke to council members, and said there was no reason why the project can't be delayed until after the next municipal election this November to give residents more opportunity to debate the project.

Council will vote to accept or reject the LRT project on July 12.
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