Mayor says no to $2 million to help build Elgin St. LRT station
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has turned down a $2 million offer from the family of a late local businessman to resurrect plans to build a light rail station at Confederation Square on Elgin Street in the city's downtown core.
"The fact of the matter is we need 40 to 50 million dollars for a station," said Watson. "Not two million."
The money has been offered by the Gillin family, owners of the Lord Elgin Hotel. The family's late patriarch, Patrick Gillin, began advocating for an underground rail system through the city's downtown core in the early-‘80s. He remained an ardent supporter of the construction of the system until his death in 2009.
In a letter to Ottawa City Council Tuesday, Jeff Gillin, Patrick's son, wrote the following:
"My family believes so strongly in the importance of an Elgin Street entrance to the Light Rail Transit System, and that the distance between the two downtown stations as now proposed is too great, that we are willing to make a financial contribution to make a station entrance at Confederation Square happen."
The city had initially planned to build a station on Elgin Street, near Confederation Square and the National Arts Centre, but cancelled it last month due to budgetary concerns.
"I have a very clear mandate from the public to keep the project on time and on budget," said Mayor Jim 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."
Watson also said that having more stations along the light rail route will slow the service down.
"The more stations you add, the less rapid the transit is," Watson said. "We committed to three stations in the downtown. We're delivering on three stations."
According to the current plans, there will be an LRT station at the entrance to the Byward Market. The closest one west of the Rideau Canal would be located about two blocks east of Elgin Street at the intersection of Queen and O'Connor streets.
The decision to bypass Elgin Street angered many local business owners who said they were counting on the station to bring pedestrian traffic into the area.
City council is scheduled to vote on the decision to eliminate the Confederation Square station Wednesday.
The Gillin family has asked council to delay the decision for thirty days so they can reach out to other business owners in the area to raise support for the station.
But Watson said the vote will go ahead as scheduled.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua