Ottawa

Watson responds to MP calls for Elgin Street LRT entrance

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said he has reached out to three Ottawa-area members of parliament who questioned the city's decision to scrap plans for a downtown light rail station at Confederation Square.
An LRT entrance near the National Arts Centre would also allow tourists to be within sight of the Parliament Buildings and the National War Memorial, the head of the NCC said. (Google Street View)

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said he has reached out to three Ottawa-area Members of Parliament who questioned the city's decision to scrap plans for a downtown light rail station at Confederation Square.

Ottawa Centre's NDP representative Paul Dewar, Ottawa-Vanier Liberal Mauril Belanger and Ottawa-Orleans Conservative Royal Galipeau said in a letter dated Friday that council should review its options given the concentration of important sites and cultural and government institutions at the Elgin Street square.

The three said they want the city to go back to the original plan of having a station with a western entrance at Confederation Square and an eastern entrance at the Rideau Centre.

"In our view, eschewing the idea of placing a station at Confederation Square casts aside the vision for enhanced access to the Parliamentary precincts — the most recognizable landmark in our city and perhaps our country," they wrote.

Watson said he met Friday with Galipeau and convinced the Ottawa-Orleans MP that the city's plans were on the right track.

"I think Mr. Galipeau was a little embarrassed to learn that we actually have a station that's a four-minute walk from Parliament Hill," said Watson.

Watson later took to Twitter to say he had spoken with both Dewar and Belanger about offering a technical briefing of the project.

In his officer Friday, the mayor said that while tweaks to the light rail plan are always possible, adding a fourth station in the downtown is not an option.

"Adding another station is not only going to slow down the process it's going to add $50 million to the budget which we don't have," said Watson. "The stations in the downtown core are spaced out so they make the most sense and attract the most number of passengers."

The city had at one time considered digging under the Rideau Canal to connect a station to Elgin Street and Confederation Square, but changed their plans to save $50 million on the more than $2.1 billion project.

The three MPs are not the only ones to question the decision, however.

National Capital Commission chief executive Marie Lemay last month called Elgin "a prime location" and said moving the station was "a lost opportunity."

In addition to being within sight of the Parliament buildings and the Rideau Canal, Confederation Square at Elgin Street and Queen Street is also home to the National War Memorial and lies across from the National Arts Centre.

 

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