Open Letter to the National Capital Commission (NCC)
One of the most pressing issues facing Cumberland Ward is that development is outpacing infrastructure. Our current road network cannot accommodate the volume of new housing forecasted for the area. This impacts our day-to-day lives with congestion, pollution and delays, and it deeply threatens the healthy growth of our community. A frustrating and long-standing stalemate with the National Capital Commission (NCC), leaves us with no path forward for smart development centred around rapid transit and active transportation. This cannot continue.
Grateful to my east end colleagues Laura Dudas (Innes Ward), Tim Tierney (Beacon Hill—Cyrville Ward), Matthew Luloff (Orléans Ward), Stephen Blais, MPP (Orléans), Marie-France Lalonde, MP (Orléans) and Francis Drouin, MP (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell) for coming together to implore the NCC to help the City of Ottawa meet its goals of housing density, mobility and environmental resilience.
The Full Letter:
"The City of Ottawa, Federal and Provincial governments, have spent decades working hand in hand, to choose a preferred option for the Brian Coburn Boulevard extension. Our choice is unanimous: Option 7.
The need for the extension of Brian Coburn Boulevard is indisputable. Over the next 25 years, Orléans is projected to see its population grow by an astounding 41%, from 117,900 in 2018 to 166,600 by 2046. This rapid growth has already begun, and the development has been primarily focused in the south Orléans area. This growth is required to meet the demands for the growing City of Ottawa, yet it is taxing existing, overburdened infrastructure.
Orléans South cannot rely on 30+ year old north-south connections to the 174, roadways never designed for this volume of traffic; nor can residents be expected to funnel exclusively onto the only existing east-west roadway – Innes Rd. For the health and safety of Orléans residents, existing and future, the community requires a modern, dedicated roadway to relieve pressures on existing overburdened roadways, and to connect Orléans residents with the rest of the City.
The Brian Coburn Boulevard extension is the only project that can offer such a connection, and would also include a dedicated, grade separated transitway, as well as a multi-use pathway to support active transportation. The Brian Coburn Boulevard Extension is not a new project. This proposal is the product of decades of traffic studies, environmental assessments, data collection, and consultations – with both the public and governmental partners such as the NCC.
The NCC provided input into the evaluation criteria, shared feedback and concerns, and even added criteria related to Greenbelt policies and principles, to help shape the development criteria. These extensive consultations with NCC included 14 individual meetings and workshops and attendance at 3 Agency Consultation Meetings.
Based on 31 different metrics and measurements used in the evaluation of the 4 design options being considered, a significant 71% represented the natural, social and cultural environment, while 26% and 3% represented transportation and cost respectively. When all 31 metrics were considered, Option 7 ranked first. When the Environmental Assessment study completed the comprehensive evaluation, in consultation with the NCC, it was concluded that Option 7 ranked the highest overall.
Option 7 then became the City of Ottawa’s Technically Preferred Plan. Option 7 was the plan that offered:
o The least impacts to farmland.
o The least habitat fragmentation.
o The least encroachment on core natural area.
o The least impact on wetlands.
o Was the plan that provided an opportunity to improve and protect Mud Creek from erosion. o And remarkably, was the plan that offered the lowest cost to taxpayers.
Mindful of the NCC mission to protect greenspace in the National Capital Region, and that building any transportation infrastructure would impact that, the City of Ottawa also presented the NCC with a land exchange of 47 hectares as compensation and a mitigation strategy, versus the 43 hectares of land required to implement this project. The bulk of these lands being wooded forest- which would permanently protect the trees from development.
Building Option 7 and this land exchange, would greatly help to improve and protect the local area. The plan would see the closure of existing through traffic in the Mer Bleue Bog area; would lessen mortality rates for species at risk; would relocate existing roads away from International Ramsar Site; and would see substantial ecological and environmental improvements to Mud Creek and the surrounding area through the Ecological Restoration and Enhancement Plan and the overall Landscape Mitigation Strategy.
We urge all NCC Board members to consider the above facts and be mindful of the impact their decisions are having on local residents, both existing and future. As well, the impact that further delays on this project are having on the current housing crisis in Ottawa. We implore the NCC to revisit their decision and to support Option 7, a plan completely in line with the National Capital Commission’s mission to be a partner and steward in the development and conservation of the National Capital Region."