‘Ottawa’ City’s Plan for LRT Flyover in Park Angers Homeowners
Homeowners near Connaught Park say they didn’t know the city wanted to build an LRT flyover through the greenspace, but their councillor maintains there was plenty of warning.
“It’s not just a couple of whackos saying we don’t like this,” David Sharpe said Monday morning after participating in a rush-hour protest involving about 15 people on Carling Avenue. “We have some substance to this.”
Sharpe said they’re shocked about the city’s intention to build a train bridge south of Lincoln Fields in the Pinecrest Creek corridor and equally stunned that they didn’t learn about the plan until a public meeting in September.
“I’m thinking, it’s turning in to a carnival,” Sharpe said of the flyover. “The whole integrity of the park will be gone forever. The view of many in the community is we weren’t consulted properly.”
Coun. Mark Taylor, who represents the Queensway Terrace North community, said there have been emails sent through the community association, flyers delivered to homes and information spread through social media. There have been numerous community meetings on the LRT extension since 2013, Taylor said.
One meeting with fresh designs happened in April 2015.
In 2013, the city announced a $3-billion plan to expand municipal rail service in multiple directions.
That meant the western stretch of the Stage 2 LRT expansion would send trains in two directions once they pass Lincoln Fields travelling westbound. Some trains would go west to Bayshore Shopping Centre and others will head south for Algonquin College.
The city wants to put the rail junction in the National Capital Commission greenspace between Carling Avenue and the Queensway where the Transitway currently runs. Westbound trains would enter a tunnel at the southwest corner of Connaught Park.
A 1996 plan called for a bus tunnel to begin in Connaught Park, which has long been considered part of a future transit corridor. The city then considered bypassing the park and scrubbing the tunnel by running the rapid transit route along the highway instead, but it would have required expropriating 25 homes on Roman Avenue. The city scrapped the idea in 2011.
Taylor said the new LRT plan is better for residents because the existing Transitway in the area will eventually be ripped out and grassed over.
“You’re getting rid of all the diesel buses that go through there,” Taylor said, adding that new trees will be planted to mask the rail line.
Still, residents who live beside the park fear a rail bridge sullying their backyard vistas. The bridge will be five metres above ground at its highest point.
Wayne Shimoon, who lives on Connaught Avenue, said he grew up in the community and has used the park his whole life. The 42-year-old father of three fears the park will become useless if there’s a flyover built in the middle of it.
“Having a big structure through a neighbourhood like that is stressful,” Shimoon said.
He believes traffic on Connaught Avenue will increase with people looking for parking near an LRT station. Property values along the park are also at risk, he said.
“The only thing we can do now is make noise,” Shimoon said. “It’s got to be changed completely.”
However, Taylor said the LRT route through the corridor isn’t subject to change.
“Is it subject to improvement? Yes, absolutely,” Taylor said.