Ottawa LRT construction plans annoy Eastway Gardens residents

Homeowners near Ottawa’s main train station say their concerns about noise and traffic with upcoming light rail construction aren’t being listened to.

Communication around noise and traffic concerns lacking, residents say

This future site of an Ottawa light rail maintenance facility borders the eight streets of Eastway Gardens in east Ottawa. (CBC)

Homeowners near Ottawa’s main train station say their concerns about noise and traffic with upcoming light rail construction aren’t being listened to.

Eastway Gardens, a community of eight streets and about 400 homes at the intersection of Belfast and Tremblay roads, already has an industrial neighbour — tracks leading to the Tremblay Road Via Rail station.

In the coming months it will also be experiencing construction of a tunnel from the Confederation light rail line to the Belfast Road maintenance facility.

Molly Jo Beauchamp says she doesn't feel like Eastway Gardens residents matter to light rail planners. (CBC)

Molly Jo Beauchamp’s Eastway Gardens backyard backs onto two-storey high piles of rubble from tunnel construction, which she said when complete will take trains to the maintenance facility 24 hours a day.

“They’re supposed to be erecting a berm but we don't know if it will absorb the noise or will it just deflect it into our backyards,” she said.

“They’re going to do whatever they want to do, I as a neighbour don't feel like we matter.”

Already traffic bottlenecks

The Belfast Road bridge will close for as long as a year in May as Highway 417 widens and Belfast Road south of Tremblay Road will be closing for up to two years as well on May 20, both domino effects of the light rail work.

Residents who spoke to CBC News said they already have to deal with bottlenecks at rush hours, in part from trucks coming to and from the surrounding industrial areas.

“What happens when they reroute all the traffic onto Riverside (Drive), it's going to be even worse,” said Eastway Gardens resident Mick Kitor.

“We're surrounded on four sides by construction… we’re not saying ‘not in our backyard’, we get this has to take place, but at least let us get into our backyard.”

Kitor also said residents had been told the bridge replacement would take a few weeks, only to find out about a month ago it would take much longer.

Councillor says he's in the dark too

Alta Vista councillor Peter Hume, who represents the area, said the public-private partnership with the Rideau Transit Group isn’t working.

“Quite frankly, it's an incredibly bad partnership when it comes to communications,” he said.

“People look to me and they say ‘OK, what's going on?’ and I have to say I don't know.”

Ottawa’s deputy city manager Nancy Schepers said in an email the councillor and residents haven’t been kept up-to-date because the light rail group’s plans and design are evolving.

The Rideau Transit Group declined an interview for this story.

The City of Ottawa said area residents can hear more about construction plans at a public meeting May 1 at the Overbrook Community Centre from 6 to 8 p.m.

Beauchamp said two other, similar public meetings have been announced, then cancelled by the city since last June.