The question has not even gone to city council yet, but the MPP representing Roman Avenue residents yesterday indicated that moving bus lanes onto the Queensway is not a permanent solution that will save 25 homes from expropriation.
“I don’t know if there is a solution that is going to please everyone,” Ottawa Nepean-West MPP Jim Watson, the minister responsible for cities, said yesterday. “There is congestion now in the area we are talking about. Are we in a situation where the Queensway is going to stay exactly the same in perpetuity? I doubt that very much.
“What happens … when there is a need to expand (Highway 417) further?”
City planners say Ottawa could save $46 million by extending the Transitway through the Roman Ave. properties, although it would involve expropriating 25 homes. Councillors agreed this week to explore other options first, including asking the province to reserve two 417 lanes for buses as an alternative to a Transitway extension.
Watson said he’ll wait for council to pass a motion before discussing the issue with transportation minister Jim Bradley, but he cautioned advocates of the proposal.
“What MTO and the province has to be concerned about is that we don’t make a decision today that will harm the future growth of the city 20 years from now.”
Bay ward Coun. Alex Cullen said Watson’s comments confirm signals the city has been getting from MTO.
“It means if we do not get space on the Queensway, we’re back to square one,” he said.
“Unfortunately the uncertainty continues while (residents) become a football punted from the city to the province to the city again. It’s too bad.”
But Capital ward Coun. Clive Doucet maintains converting the 417 lanes makes the most sense.
“It doesn’t make sense to force us into this really noxious decision of tearing down people’s homes at a huge expense when for almost a generation these rights of way are going to be open to us,” he said. “At least for the next 15 years, let’s use that extra space for a bus lane.”