Column: Busy July - LRT, Lansdowne, Rural Review

July 11, 2011


Back in November and December, I was told by some that July is generally a quiet month. Lansdowne and LRT were on the schedule for this July, not to mention the AGM for the Manotick Mill Quarter Corporation. Toss in the pending birth of my third child and July 2011 promises to be a busy one, but quite good at the same time.

In the months leading up to the 2010 election, I heard time and time again that we needed to move forward with Lansdowne and LRT and there was minimal appetite to start all over. The biggest issue with LRT was always the cost and as I said to many of you during last year’s campaign, we need to keep this project around the $2.1 Billion figure to be able to move forward. As of right now, it appears as though we’ve done just that.

LRT
Last week’s LRT announcement came after much speculation around a higher cost in the range of $2.8 to $3 Billion. At that number, moving forward with this project would have been near impossible. Knowing that the Mayor and Council were looking for a firm budget on this project, Staff came back with an altered design that achieves the same intent with no increase in cost and a more efficient service time delivered.

The specifics of the project are essentially the same in terms of route length, where it begins and ends, the number of stations, and most importantly, the cost. The changed elements are the keys to this that will allow us the finally move forward and put shovels in the ground. Here are three key points that make this project stronger and more viable than the original one put forward in the last term of Council.

Tunnel: The new tunnel design will see it begin at Lebreton Flats entering underground at grade under Queen Street. The tunnel will now be shallower by 24m at most points, meaning that instead of going down 12 storeys to get on the train, you’ll now only have to go down 4 storeys. This reduces risk during the construction process as instead of boring, a much more predictable cut and cover construction process can be used. This shallower tunnel will allow shortened travelling distances and decrease descent time for passengers from 2 minutes to 1 minute.

Contract: The contract will be a Design-Build-Finance-Maintain Fixed-Price contract. This approach brings equity and debt partners to the table and provides greater accountability throughout the project. The construction consortium will have full responsibility for construction, design, integration, and ongoing maintenance with all of this coming at a fixed-price, meaning the construction consortium are responsible for cost overruns.

Infrastructure Ontario: This Provincial Crown Corporation will be engaged throughout the procurement process to ensure maximum benefits for the LRT project. Infrastructure Ontario has extensive experience in delivering projects of this nature on-time and on-budget. The City will engage them as the Commercial Procurement Lead on the LRT project and they will be in that role from the procurement phase up to financial close.

The next step for the City of Ottawa on the LRT project will be the Request for Proposal process which will see a contract presented to Council in December 2012. The City began a Request for Qualifications approximately two weeks ago and in that short time has seen over 70 interested parties come forward, meaning this will be a very competitive process which bodes well for the City and its residents.

Lansdowne
The redevelopment of Lansdowne currently sits in the courts. Having avoided the OMB, Lansdowne’s last hurdle is its legal battle with the Friends of Lansdowne group. A court decision is expected in the coming weeks and then we’ll then know whether we are redeveloping the site or not.

Farm Tour
Last week, the Ottawa Federation of Agriculture, as well the Arnprior Federation of Agriculture organized and sponsored a tour of rural farms for Councillors and City staff. Joined by Councillors Thompson, El-Chantiry, Chernushenko and Wilkinson, we toured farms in Rideau-Goulbourn and West Carleton along with staff from Rural Affairs, Building Code, and Planning. It was a great opportunity for many to, not only see the size of these two rural wards (60% of the entire City), but to see these farm operations, big and small, and to hear some of the challenges they face in conducting their business. I’d like to thank the OFA and AFA for organizing the tour and also the Fraser family and the Schouten family for hosting us on your farms.

Rural Review Summary
In the spring of 2011 the Rural Review Team held 14 different public meetings with residents of the villages of Ottawa to talk about their ideas on future village planning. Thanks to the over 500 people who attended this series of workshops they were a great success. To review the results, please visit www.ottawa.ca/ruralreview or contact my office for a copy of the summary for your village. I deliver!

In the months ahead, the Rural Review Team will use the information from residents to prepare visions, policies and schedules governing village development in the years to come. Drafts of the vision, policies and schedules will be presented to the public at community meetings in the fall of 2011.

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As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns please email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or call me at 613-580-2491. Don’t forget to also visit me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. The best way to keep up to date and informed on all issues is by visiting RideauGoulbourn.ca as this site is updated daily.

If you would like to make an appointment to see me in the Ward offices – either North Gower or Goulbourn, please call ahead to make an appointment.