The City of Ottawa is changing the alignment of the planned southern extension of the O-Train with an eye towards linking it to where the people are: the burgeoning community of Riverside South.
The Trillium Line currently extends south to Greenboro station. Under the plan for Phase 2 — scheduled to be complete by 2021 — the line was to split out to the airport while the main line extends south of Leitrim before curling to Bowesville Road.
Now the city wants to add about 800 metres to the main line and extend it to the edge of the urban boundary — south of Earl Armstrong Road — on an existing rail corridor before connecting with Bowesville.
This plan will make a possible future extension to Limebank Road and Riverside South more achievable, the city said.
The city is forecasting residential growth in Riverside South of nearly 15,000 households or approximately 40,000 people in the next 10 years, Mayor Jim Watson said in a statement.
"The new proposed alignment will bring thousands of residents closer to rail and have a reduced impact on environmentally sensitive Greenbelt lands," he said.
Moving the end of the Trillium Line to Earl Armstrong can be accomplished in the existing $3-billion budget for Phase 2 of LRT. However, extending the rail west by three kilometres to Limebank Road would cost $30 million, which the city doesn't have.
But the mayor and other city officials are going to try to raise the money through private means.
By fast-tracking development plans on the north and south of Earl Armstrong, the city hopes to receive enough so-called development charges — money developers pay to the city to build infrastructure — to fund the Trillium Line extension to Riverside South.
City officials admitted it's an ambitious plan, especially if it is to be realized within the existing Phase 2 timeline.