Ottawa

Redesign for Montreal and Blair roads is too suburban, committee hears

The City of Ottawa has re-designed two major arterial roads in the east end to add cycling tracks and improve traffic flow, but some wonder whether the future $150-million project will lead to roads that are still too wide and suburban.

Staff have been planning $150-million overhaul of 2 main roads for years

The City of Ottawa has proposed a redesign of Montreal Road and Blair Road in Ottawa's east end to improve cycling and transit. (City of Ottawa)

The City of Ottawa has re-designed two major arterial roads in the east end to add cycling tracks and improve traffic flow, but some wonder whether the future $150-million project will lead to roads that are still too wide and suburban.

City staff spent a couple of years studying 5.5 kilometres of Montreal Road east of St. Laurent Boulevard, and 2.8 kilometres of Blair Road north of Highway 174.

The area affects how people make their way to and from the Blair and Montreal light rail stations, and includes the area where thousands of homes are being built at the Wateridge development on the former Rockcliffe air base.

The plans call for the number of traffic lanes to remain the same. For Montreal Road, staff recommend adding bus lanes in various places to give buses priority, and creating segregated cycling lanes. Blair Road would get a new, separate multi-use pathway on the west side and a cycling track on the east.

The city's new design for Montreal Road in the future "inner urban" area has been criticized as not urban enough for future development. (City of Ottawa)

An urban future

The Vanier Community Association pointed out part of the Montreal Road redesign between St. Laurent Boulevard and the Aviation Parkway falls in an area called "inner urban" under the new official plan up for debate in October.

That designation calls for far more people living in compact areas with more multi-storey buildings, which would require a different planning focus. 

"This section of Montreal Road needs to be more urban and less suburban," said Chris Greenshields, echoing comments made by the city's urban design review panel in July.

The city should have been more aggressive to boost transit use on Montreal Road, Greenshields said.

City staff said they considered many designs and found a compromise, which neither requires buying a lot of private land nor does it create extra congestion at intersections that might block transit lanes.

A redesigned Blair Road near the LRT station would include a multi-use pathway. (City of Ottawa)

Transportation committee chair, Coun. Tim Tierney, pointed to comments from the city's emergency services general manager about Montreal Road having the number of lanes unchanged so ambulances can come and go from the Montfort Hospital and use the fire station.

In all, the project would cost $150 million funded by revenues the city receives from gas taxes. The timeline will depend on the new list of priority transportation projects, and that master plan has been delayed to fall 2024.

A bus loop for the Montreal Road light rail station would move ahead as part of the construction of Stage 2 of light rail to Orléans.

Transportation committee approved the designs in a 10 to 1 vote with only Rideau-Vanier's Mathieu Fleury voting against.

If this design also gets the support of full city council, the City of Ottawa will post the environmental assessment for a 30-day public feedback period this fall.

The project could cost $150 million, according to estimates as of Sept, 1, 2021. (City of Ottawa)

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