Ottawa

NCC 'keeping Orléans down' by rejecting boulevard plan, councillors say

Ottawa's east-end councillors say they're frustrated with the National Capital Commission after it withdrew support for a boulevard extension that would have eased local traffic and connected more residents to light rail.

City's preferred option could put Mer Bleue wetland at risk, NCC says

From left to right, east-end councillors Stephen Blais, Tim Tierney, Laura Dudas and Matt Luloff have written a letter to federal candidates, asking them to get the NCC on board with plans to extend Brian Coburn Boulevard. (CBC)

Ottawa's east-end councillors say they're frustrated with the National Capital Commission after it withdrew support for a boulevard extension that would have eased local traffic and connected more residents to light rail.

The plan was to connect Brian Coburn Boulevard to Innes Road and the Blair LRT station, improving the east-west flow of traffic with lanes for cars and buses and a dedicated cycling path.

The NCC said while it still supports the project, it objects to road alignments that run counter to the Greenbelt Master Plan — and that includes "Option 7," the route preferred by councillors.

Councillors Stephen Blais, Laura Dudas, Matt Luloff and Tim Tierney have all signed a letter sent to federal candidates, asking them to urge the NCC to support the preferred option.

Option 7 for the Brian Coburn Boulevard extension runs along Renaud Road and would include bus rapid transit lanes running parallel to passenger vehicle traffic. (City of Ottawa)

'They have a vise grip around Orléans'

Blais said the NCC is telling the city they don't want to talk about the best option for relieving east-end gridlock that could stymie growth.

"They basically told Orléans residents that you're going to be stuck with what you've got," Blais told CBC News. 

"The NCC plays a major role, and has for a long time, in keeping Orléans down. They have a vise grip around Orléans because of where the Greenbelt is."

Dudas said the NCC does not appear to understand the importance of the project and she wants them to come see the area for themselves.

"Option 7 is the only option," Dudas said. "It's completely frustrating that the NCC is not seeing that at this point." 

The National Capital Commission says it can't support the preferred extension of Brian Coburn Boulevard, in part because it could compromise the ecologically sensitive Mer Bleue Bog, seen here in 2016. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Bog at risk, NCC says

The commission's objection will hamper efforts to connect people to the newly-built $2.1 billion Confederation LRT line, Dudas said, and the $4.6-billion Phase 2 expansion.

"We will continue to see more and more congestion on our existing roads. It will mean that we can't provide the long-term transit options that will allow people to see transit as a viable option," Dudas said.

"We're growing at leaps and bounds and we just can't accommodate that growth with our current infrastructure." 

The NCC said the proposed alignment would risk compromising the Mer Bleue wetland, home to federally-protected species at risk, and it needs to conform to federal laws because it runs through NCC land.

The NCC said it will continue to work with city staff to find a solution.

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