City council approves $7 billion transit plan
Published Friday, November 28, 2008 6:42PM EST
Ottawa city council finally approved a $7 billion transit plan late Friday afternoon after a lengthy debate, though finding money will be the next phase.
After two days of marathon meetings, councillors voted to accept the staff recommendation of east-west light rail from Blair to Tunney's Pasture, plus a downtown tunnel.
"This is the right plan. This is the plan that will solve transit issues in the City of Ottawa for the balance of this century and form the baseline of a system that will be beneficial for many, many generations," Mayor Larry O'Brien told reporters earlier in the day.
Councillor Clive Doucet, who represents Capital ward, said the plan would make Ottawa the bus capital of North America, instead of a leader in urban transit.
"I think we completely distorted what we originally set out to do," Doucet said. "We set out to bring light rail to all parts of the city. This is a bus plan."
The next deadline is March 2009, and some councilors are already issuing warnings about funding commitments from the federal and provincial governments.
"I think it's time for all of us who had difficulty with (the plan) to work together," said Councillor Rick Chiarelli.
"The City of Ottawa can't go three-quarters of a billion dollars in debt over this. You can't ask the property tax payer to pay thousands of dollars more per house.
And given the topsy-turvy history of rapid transit in Ottawa, OC Transpo users told CTV Ottawa they'll be holding their collective breath until shovels are in the ground -- which could take years.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua
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