Let’s revisit the bridge issue and the option I am putting forward in the spirit of finding a workable solution.
I have always supported the construction of a new bridge to get the heavy trucks out of the core of the city. I cannot however support an option which would put them in another community, thus ruling out option 5 (Kettle Island corridor), which passes right through several populated areas on both sides of the Ottawa River, or option 6 (Lower Duck corridor), that would go through a densely populated and long established community on the Quebec side. As for option 7, I have strong reservations with the work of Phase 1 consultants who needlessly included a swath of Convent Glen in the prospective corridor.
What we need is an option that considers a corridor away from established communities, that does not punch a hole through the green belt, and that provides an economic development opportunity. The Canotek option considers a corridor on the Ontario side of the River, immediately east of the Canotek Industrial Park and the R.O. Pickard Sewage Treatment Plant, as well as entirely west of the green belt, thus avoiding it. The corridor would cross the River, touching on the eastern tip of Lower Duck Island and making a landfall on the Quebec side where there is a soon to be abandoned quarry; then northward to Route 148 – which provides an easy access to the Gatineau Executive Airport and Highway 50. You can see and read about this option on-line by visiting either www.pourunmeilleurpont.org (French) or www.stopthebridge.org (English).
The Canotek option necessitates prior modifications resulting in several positive impacts:
¨ Fixing the split (where highways 417 and 174 meet).
¨ Widening highway 174 from the split to at least the 10th Line and perhaps further.
¨ Extending the proposed light rail transit way from Blair to Canotek.
¨ Ensuring that the Canotek corridor and the Rockcliffe Parkway do not intersect.
¨ Moving further east the Montréal Road "on and off" ramps in order to align them with the Canotek corridor, thus ensuring that the heavy trucks would not use Shefford Road to access the Industrial Park, and that the additional commuter traffic is directed to the Queensway and not Montréal Road.
The Ontario Municipal Board has stipulated that the next bridge should be located within the green belt. Again, in the spirit of finding a workable solution, I propose the Canotek corridor. Being more than a kilometre away from Beacon Hill, this route is not only avoiding residential areas but it is also the only option which would not touch the green belt (unlike options 6 and 7).
At the end of Phase 1, the Ontario government asked that 3 criteria be given more consideration: community well-being, encouraging transit use and economic development.
The Canotek option puts heavy trucks away from established communities. Should the light rail project be immediately extended to Canotek from Blair (and eventually across the bridge to link up with the Outaouais transit services), it would provide more incentives for transit use. So would the creation of park and ride facilities in the immediate vicinity. Finally, linking Canotek industrial park to the Gatineau Airport would create a new economic development infrastructure that would help the east end of both Gatineau and Ottawa.
It behooves the National Capital Commission, as well as both the Ontario and Quebec transportation departments, that one way or another, the Canotek corridor is seriously considered. Indeed, the creation of Phase 2A was to inject enough flexibility in Phase 2B to enable the consultants to look at an option such as the Canotek corridor. Should that not be the case, I believe Ontario and Quebec should seek suspension of the entire process until the ability to examine the Canotek option is secured.
I recently met with a group of people from the region who are working to develop a proposal for construction of a tunnel under downtown Ottawa, that would link Nicholas Street to the McDonald-Cartier Bridge. In addition to the Canotek corridor, this proposal deserves to be duly studied.