City defends removal of Ottawa River rail line tracks

The City of Ottawa is brushing aside concerns it failed in its role as a rail owner when it dismantled a section of tracks near Prince of Wales Bridge in order to build a new entrance to Bayview Station.

City's top lawyer says ripping up some tracks doesn't mean they are discontinuing line

Tracks of the Ottawa River rail line were removed as the city worked on an entrance to the light rail transit system's Bayview Station. The city says temporarily making some parts of a line inoperable does not mean the line has been discontinued. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

The City of Ottawa is brushing aside concerns it failed in its role as a rail owner when it dismantled a section of tracks near the Prince of Wales Bridge in order to build a new entrance to Bayview Station.

The Canadian Transportation Agency had ordered the city to show by Wednesday why it wasn't in breach of its duty to maintain the rail line when it dismantled about 240 metres of the Ottawa River Line near Bayview Station.

The directive from the transportation agency came after a complaint from Moose Consortium Inc., a group that has had ambitions of offering rail services to outlying communities in Quebec and Ontario.

In a letter to council on Wednesday, City Solicitor Rick O'Connor said while city workers may have rendered some part of the rail line inoperable, it didn't mean the city was discontinuing the line.

City has no intention of discontinuing line

"In light of its clearly stated position, the City has not legally discontinued the [Ottawa River Line] under the CTA, nor does it have any intention of doing so at any point in the foreseeable future," O'Connor wrote.

"The legal 'discontinuance' of a rail line is a concept separate and apart from the physical state and actual usability of that rail line, for present purposes."

The city, in its response to the CTA, also noted that city council had passed motions in March to direct staff and the mayor to explore discussions with Gatineau and its mayor on possible enhancements to public transit between the cities, including, but not limited to, the future use of the Prince of Wales Bridge.