Today at the City’s Transportation Committee, we received a presentation from Ministry of Transportation (MTO) officials about their planned closure of the eastbound on-ramp that runs from westbound Carling (behind Westgate Shopping Centre). I took that opportunity to again state publicly my opposition to the plan.
That closure, the MTO argues, is required in order to facilitate the Queensway widening planned for between Maitland and Island Park. With the addition of a new travel lane, leaving two ramps open in such a short space would, they consider, constitute a significant safety problem
Since this issue was first raised last summer, I and Councillor Brockington have expended considerable time opposing the closure. As I stated as recently as my February 18 email newsletter, we’re concerned especially about the traffic impacts in the adjoining neighbourhoods. We co-wrote last year to the Transportation Ministry as well as to our MPP to express our strong desire to see that ramp remain open, and have continued lobbying Minister Naqvi.
At Committee today, I re-iterated that opposition.
Today, I joined the Mayor, representatives of all levels of government and The Ottawa Hospital leadership team at an announcement touting the Sir John Carling (CEF - East) site as a compromise location for a new Civic campus. I believe that this is a viable option that juggles multiple public interests to the larger benefit of Kitchissippi residents and residents of Ottawa. It continues to preserve a hospital close to the core, is well served today and will be better served in future by rapid transit, and preserves the research fields at the Central Experimental Farm.
For the last week, I have been soliciting feedback from Kitchissippi residents. It won't be a surprise that the issue has been hotly debated, and that there has been a split of opinion. With over 100 emails now having crossed our desk, I'm fairly confident in saying that there was remarkable generosity shown the Tunney's Pasture option. Of those notes in which we could discern a preference, there was a very slim majority in favour of the Tunney's site. But, there was also a very substantial minority approaching close to half adamantly opposed to it.
Today, the National Capital Commission announced that its preferred option for re-locating or re-building the Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital is Tunney’s Pasture. It will take some time to digest the NCC’s analysis, and to talk to residents about their reaction to this news.
As I seek Kitchissippi residents’ advice more widely, I can say that the selection will likely be hotly debated in the ward and around the city, and several considerations will rise to the fore in the days ahead. I do not envy the NCC its task in the face of multiple competing public interests.
While the site poses localized challenges, it's important to note that there are some considerable advantages to preserving a hospital in Ottawa’s core, saving the research fields at the Central Experimental Farm, and reducing reliance on cars by locating on mass transit.