Even Ottawa won't mess up LRT to the Airport!

Even Ottawa won't mess up LRT to the Airport!
Posted on January 24, 2016 | James Mihaychuk | Written on January 24, 2016
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Letter type:
Op-Ed

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

Q: With elected representatives from City Hall to Queen's Park on side, who will step up to have our city trip all over itself and get LRT to the Airport wrong?

A: No one. Hopefully, for once, we'll get it right!

The push to extend the Trillium LRT route directly to our Airport is essential for the future of our city as a sustainable and modern national capital. In addition to visitors to Ottawa, airport LRT service will benefit everyone who lives and works in the vicinity of the Macdonald - Cartier International Airport. The airport and it's workers are a sort of city with our city. Without what seems like something of a satellite community, the capital cannot function and our residents would be cutoff from distant relatives and their colleagues in the world of business. Now is the time to take full advantage of new federal infrastructure funds and to finish what was started with what was a long overdue improvement to the terminal buildings. Is time to link our airport community to the city as a whole using light rail. Anything less will undermine public confidence in our civic leaders and would, fairly or not, create a perception that incumbent providers were being favoured to the detriment of the community as a whole. To maximize the public benefit to all commuters, to young families, and to people of all abilities, the LRT cooridor should include parallel pedestrian and cycling pathway. At a minimum, Ottawans need to push for paths from the Sawmill Creek constructed wetland through the NCC Greenbelt and on to the Airport. This should render cycling along the paved shoulder of the Airport Parkway a thing of the past. Examples of this approach to pathways for active transportation already exist in the OCTranspo Transitway system, for example near Longfields station in Barrhaven. In "little" Ottawa there will always be naysayers who clog up the call-in shows, and, less frequently, the opinion pages. All too often, the shortsighted and those too parsimonious to invest in the future are the "squeaky wheels" in our city. They ignore the jobs created and the number of times that dollars change hands when local workers are gainfully employed. The same "penny wise, pound foolish" critics fail to factor into their simplistic calculations Ottawa's dubious reputation for traffic jams and low productivity. That reputation makes the Nation's Capital a laughingstock and scares away investment. Visitors from abroad can easily see that we lack basic transit amenities found in many U.S. and world cities of similar size, including many that are not capital cities. These naysayers are destined to command a promiment position atop the scrap heap of history. This can be the only appropriate commemoration of their small, sad vision for Ottawa as one of the world's most dismal and haphazardly designed capital cities in the industrialized world. In addition to our city's small-minded curmudgeons, there continue to be vested interests afraid of the effect on their bread and butter. This extends, in the case of the proverbial bad apples, to the those particular cab drivers who recently chose to become thugs and to intimidate innocent & unwitting guests to our city who were paying customers for taxi service. Whatever convictions ordinary Ottawans may hold regarding the role of unions and the right to strike, the vast majority of our citizens will never accept bullying by those whose duty it is to protect their passengers. The cabbies' answer to Uber, the LRT and other cost pressures will not be simple, but any solution must honour consumers and respect their right to choose their own way around town. More choice for the travelling public is both inevitable and essential to the vitality of our city. Any solutions going forward shall need to accept the new realities into account and adapt to them. A well-working app for local taxi dispatchers has been a welcome improvement. The only lasting solution to unwanted competition can be customer service, not altercations on our streets. In a world of urban planning decisions fraught with strife, LRT to an airport with an existing rail line passing nearby ought to be a complete no-brainer. Only in wonky, study-it-to-death, bureaucratic Ottawa could the happy ending to our Airport's travails have eluded us for so long. Now is the time. Let's all join the long queue of people looking to motivate and encourage these overdue improvements to the life of our city. Let's shout it from the rooftop, on social media and in the opinion pages: "LRT to the airport!"
 

No, nothing good ever came for free, but, yes - this time - for once - just maybe - everybody wins!

About The Author

 I am interested in sustainability, civic engagement and democratic renewal. You might meet me at the soccer pitch, at the Farmers Market, or walking or biking on local trails.
I'm a high-tech veteran and have... More