The WLRt is great news for Westboro. But there may be a downside. The current plan calls for the first 500 meters of tracks (from Berkely to the western edge of Rochester Field at Skead Avenue) to be either at grade or in a shallow trench with high fences, overhead electrical wires and 7/24 lighting.
From the information currently available, the city proposes to take out 1.2 km of urban forest along the the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway on National Capital owned lands to make room for the tracks and stations. This area contains hundreds of mature trees and is one of the few large wooded areas in Westboro enjoyed daily by many residents and contributing to Westboro’s reputation as one of Ottawa’s top liveabe residential communities
Currently, plans call for the park at the end of Berkley Avenue to be mostly replaced by a large covered station and a 100m platform in a trench running from Roosevelt to Dominion Avenue, the length of a football field. The LRT is not a city tram. Nor is it the smaller lighter trains running in some european cities. City plans call for 600 passenger 310 ton trains, twice the weight of the O Train running every 3 minutes. The trains require overhead wires and high fences cutting-off access to the park except at the new stations themselves.
City proposal: 100 meter platform and a shallow 500 meter trench to Skead Avenue.
The urban forest will disappear.
The National Capital Commission (NCC) has posed two conditions to consider the project: continuously uninterrupted access to the parkland and minimal visual impact. Likely the only way this can be achieved is if the trains, tracks and stations are underground so that the forest can be restored. Our councillor, Jeff Leiper supports the NCC conditions and made it a campaign promise.
The NCC and the City have been sparring in the media over this issue since meeting the NCC conditions will likely require more money. In November 2013, the NCC officially rejected the proposed city route but apparently not the first 500 meters in Westboro which remain at grade or slightly trenched effectively leaving Westboro the only community along the western route with tracks at grade in a park!
Mayor Watson and John Baird agreed to engage in private discussions and promised a solution 100 days later (early March 2015).
Underground solution: Trains, tracks and stations are underground and the forest is restored.
Meanwhile our Councillor, Jeff Leiper is asking for support from all concerned Community Associations including Westboro to present a united community approach to the city. He is asking that we support the following statements which were originally put forward by the Champlain Park Community Association:
- The Byron linear park, Rochester Field and the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway should be maintained and preferably enhanced as attractive, user-friendly urban green spaces. All three provide much cherished core community benefits. They must not be compromised.
- If the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway route is ultimately chosen, the engineering design must be fully compatible with the NCC’s on-going efforts to develop and implement its long-term vision for an accessible and more animated water-front park adjacent to the Ottawa River.
- In our view, the best, and likely the only way to respect these principles, is to fully tunnel the LRT should the City and the NCC agree upon any of the above routes.
This would ensure that the entire line from Berkley Avenue to Skead and beyond would be fully underground and allow for mature trees to again grow in the park lands.
Let us know if you wish your community Association to support these statements by providing your comments below.