Business owners speak out against LRT changes
Some downtown business owners are speaking out against plans to move a light rail station from Confederation Square a few blocks east to the entrance of the Byward Market.
"If it skips over Elgin, it's going to change Elgin Street forever," said Keith Loiselle, the owner of Woody's Pub, located near the station's original location. "When you have a small town and a highway goes through a town it brings business."
"A new highway that is rebuilt and goes around that town…that town dies."
His concerns are shared by other business owners in the area, including Sam Elsaadi, chair of the Sparks Street BIA.
"I think they should look into the project again and think of the long term instead of thinking of the short term—a small budget," said Elsaadi.
The $2.1 billion budget for the project is one of the main reasons for moving the station, said Mayor Jim Watson.
"I have a very clear mandate from the public to keep the project on time and on budget," said Watson. "It's going to be a great Chevy, it's not going to be a Cadillac system."
"The taxpayers can't afford a Cadillac system and they also want to see some action."
Moving the station will mean the LRT tunnel under the Rideau Canal won't have to be as deep and will therefore help the city keep the cost as low as possible.
"To add one more station would cost about $40 million which we just don't have," said Watson.
One transit expert said the cost for an extra station might be worth it.
"One more station would solve this," said David Jeanes, president of Transport Action Canada. "Keep the Rideau Station as moved, that's fine, but put back a station to serve Confederation Square on the west side of the canal."
City council must approve the route before the project can go ahead. Major construction of the LRT system will likely begin by the end of 2013.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Ellen Mauro