The $5 billion estimated cost of the city’s proposed rapid transit network is a reason to take time when reviewing the project, said the province’s minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Following his speech to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual conference Monday, Ottawa West Nepean MPP Jim Watson, said he was concerned with the cost of the plan, which is around five times greater than the original transit plan.
“I want to make sure that we have the estimates right on things like the tunnel,” he said.
Watson said he did not want to be in a position, where in a few years, the tunnel ends up costing two or three times more than the original estimate.
Watson said he couldn’t give a date as to when the province would get back to the city with a response for funding the project. He said the ministries of Transportation and Energy and Infrastructure are reviewing the plan.
“It took years to get the plan in place, it’s going to take month to do the due diligence to make sure we have the answers to questions,” he said. “This is a very significant amount of tax dollars and we want to make sure we get it right.”
However, Watson said the province is prepared to provide funding on top of the $200 million that was been set aside for the Ottawa’s rapid transit network several years ago.
John Baird, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities reiterated the federal government’s $200 million commitment and said he would be willing to go to bat for more funding.
“I think it’s better costed than the previous plan,” he said. “We want to be there for the city, but obviously every level of government has financial limitations.”
The city is in the midst of an environmental assessment for the downtown Ottawa transit tunnel to determine the potential effects of the tunnel on the environment, and any strategies to offset the negative impacts. A report from the study is expected in January 2010.