Ottawa

Amazon jobseekers left stranded by lack of bus service

With no plans for OC Transpo service directly to Amazon's new warehouse in Ottawa's east end, jobseekers like Jon Carignan say working there won't be an option.

Amazon wouldn't pay for OC Transpo service to new warehouse, councillor says

This file photo shows an Amazon 'fulfillment center' in New Jersey. The company's warehouse in east Ottawa is expected to employ 1,500 people during construction, and another 600 to sort packages and fill orders once it's open. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

With no plan to extend OC Transpo service to Amazon's new warehouse in Ottawa's rural east end, some jobseekers say working at the facility won't be an option.

The million-square-foot warehouse south of Highway 417 near Carlsbad Springs is still under construction, but is expected to employ nearly 600 people. Amazon has already posted job notices to fill the positions.

Accoring to OC Transpo​​​​​​'s travel planner, there are currently no morning trips to the site from major transit hubs such as downtown, Blair station or Place d'Orléans, and no afternoon trips from the site.

The nearest bus stop is about one kilometre away near the GreyHawk Golf Club, with three daily afternoon trips to the east end and three morning trips downtown on Route 222 — none of which will help most workers trying to get to the warehouse.

According to OC Transpo's travel planner, there's no direct bus service to the site of Amazon's future warehouse in the rural east end. (OC Transpo)

That's frustrating for Jon Carignan, who received a job offer from Amazon but can't afford the daily trip from Barrhaven to Boundary Road and back.

"I really want to take the job but I can't because I'd be worse off than my current situation," he said.

Jon Carignan said he's been offered a job at Amazon's Ottawa warehouse, but can't afford to get there from his home in Barrhaven. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

He said using ride-hailing apps such as Uber would cost him $50 a day, and the job would pay $16 per hour. 

Carignan said he's emailed every city councillor to complain about the situation.

Amazon declined bus plan

Coun. Stephen Blais said Amazon was offered transit service but didn't want to pay for it.

The chair of the transportation committee said the city was trying to resolve the situation.

"There have been options floated to Amazon to pay for private bus service that would connect to OC Transpo. I don't believe they're taking those options," Blais said.

"I think they've built 600 parking spots at the facility. People who are applying for jobs at Amazon should understand that it is located in a fairly remote part of Ottawa."

Coun. Stephen Blais, chair of Ottawa's transportation committee, said it shouldn't be left to taxpayers to subsidize Amazon's decision to set up in a remote area without transit service. (CBC)

Rural taxpayers in Carlsbad Springs don't currently pay the urban transit levy because there isn't the population density to provide service, he added.

"I don't think rural residents want to be forced to pay thousands of dollars in taxes every year so that taxpayers can subsidize public transit to a multi-billion-dollar international corporation," Blais said.

The city welcomed Amazon's arrival by waiving $800,000 in interest fees on some development charges, a motion Blais put forward.

In a written statement, Amazon said it values and is sensitive to its employees' transportation needs.

The company said it's working with OC Transpo and is open to speaking with the transit agency about service for current and future employees.

As for Carignan, he said he's angry that Amazon turned down a reasonable offer from the city.

"I would like to see OC Transpo or some sort of transportation to get people from Ottawa to the Amazon facility. It doesn't matter who pays for it."

About the Author

Matthew Kupfer

CBC Reporter

Matthew Kupfer has been a reporter and producer at CBC News since 2012. He can be reached at matthew.kupfer@cbc.ca and on Twitter @matthewkupfer

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.