‘Ottawa’ Western LRT Tweaks Still irk Property Owners, ByWard Market Transformation Gains Ground
The city can’t escape controversy whenever it changes the western LRT route.
While folks at the Unitarian campus on Cleary Avenue are pleased the LRT tunnel won’t cut through their property, owners of neighbouring condos and a strip mall aren’t thrilled with the new alignment.
“The city must be prepared to pay for the consequences,” Randy Gordon told council’s finance and economic development committee Tuesday.
Gordon, chair of a working group at the 727 Richmond Rd. condo complex, chastised the city for surprising homeowners with the new alignment in March. The rail path would eat up some of the condo property. Required ventilation infrastructure would block the river vistas for some residents on the ground floor, Gordon said.
Charles Davies, president of the condo board at 75 Cleary Ave., said residents are concerned the LRT tunnel would come within a couple of metres of the building’s foundation. The noise from train wheels navigating a bend in the tracks could be disturbing, Davies said.
Chris Swail, the director of the city’s Stage 2 LRT project, said there several parts of the design at Cleary that need to be analyzed, but the city anticipates the winning builder will propose the best methods to reduce disturbances from the trains running near the condo.
Mary Flynn-Guglietti, a lawyer representing the owner of a small plaza at 747 Richmond Rd., bemoaned the “quick change in direction” by the city. The city says it needs to acquire the property for a train station. The owner wants to develop the property, not sell it to the city, the lawyer said.
“Ultimately we are being forced to the table,” Flynn-Guglietti said.
The committee approved the new Stage 2 LRT alignment. It includes some tweaks in the east end that would run trains in the median of Hwy. 174 for a longer distance.
Council will vote May 11.
Committee approves spending $1M on market changes
The finance and economic development committee approved a $1-million plan to start transforming the ByWard Market.
Half of the money would be spent on redesigning the area outside the George Street entrance of the central ByWard Market building. The other half would help change the governance to a municipal services corporation overseeing the ByWard and Parkdale markets.
ByWard Market standholders are nervous about losing vending space on George Street. The city doesn’t want to reintroduce vending to the spot until 2018.
Jo Riding, who represents the standholders, said sponsors have come forward to pay for six fancy booths in time for 2017.
Mayor Jim Watson said he would ask council to consider freeing up $100,000 in the city’s “unforeseen” expenses budget to pay for the booths if the sponsor money doesn’t come through. Watson wants the booths ready for Canada’s 150th birthday, since the market will be a major tourist attraction.
The ByWard Market BIA worries that changes in the district will affect business owners. The BIA wants more dialogue with the city.
The plan goes to council May 11.
Kanellakos takes the helm of city bureaucracy
New city manager Steve Kanellakos wants to make sure the city is on solid financial footing.
“The most important thing for me is our financial management and our sustainability,” Kanellakos said Tuesday, his second day as the top municipal bureaucrat in Ottawa.
Kanellakos said he spent the past month preparing for the job, including meeting with staff and coming into city hall on weekends. He’s been reconnecting with community stakeholders and union leaders.
It’s important to be a visible leader for city employees, he said.
“Part of the strategy is to be communicating with them on a regular basis,” Kanellakos said
Kanellakos, the former city manager of Vaughan and longtime executive at Ottawa City Hall, said he’s reviewing the city’s organizational structure, but not before collecting feedback from council and staff.