‘Ottawa’ Pimisi LRT Station at LeBreton a Tribute to Algonquin People
A warm June sun beat down on the drummers who welcomed dignitaries Thursday to the site of a future LRT station intended to acknowledge and celebrate the Algonquin people.
When Ottawa’s $2.1-billion Confederation line opens in 2018, Pimisi, the first stop west of downtown, will connect riders to everything from government offices in Gatineau to the Canadian War Museum to future housing and entertainment developments at LeBreton Flats and along the Ottawa River.
Here are five things to know about the new station now under construction.
1, The name
The Algonquins of Ontario chose the name Pimisi, which means eel in the Algonquin language. Eels have a sacred significance as a source of spirituality, medicine and food. They were an essential part of the traditional Algonquin economy and were often smoked so they could be kept over winter, said Chief Kirby Whiteduck of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn,
Renderings revealed Thursday show a statue of an eel placed in an aqueduct adjacent to the train platform.
2, The symbolism
Coming on the heels of National Aboriginal Day, Whiteduck says the Algonquin-inspired naming of the LRT station is “very important.”
“It’s very symbolic of an emerging relationship with the city and also with the other partners. For us, it is a growing relationship, a positive one and we think it is on the path of reconciliation that has been talked about so much recently,” he said.
3, The look and feel
Pimisi is situated beneath and to the west of the new Booth Street Bridge, where bus service will be available.
A trio of escalators will bring riders down to and up from the platform and, on the north side, a plaza will overlook the heritage aqueduct. Reclaimed ash wood will be used as roof soffits and benches.
Public artworks will be created by Algonquin Anishnabe artists, including a mosaic by Doreen Stevens.
4, The connection to the LeBreton Flats redevelopment
The winning bidder, RendezVous LeBreton, wants to cover the LRT line through LeBreton Flats to make sure the rail corridor doesn’t divide the site. It’s one of the big reasons why the team won the negotiation rights to develop the site.
The city, however, hasn’t said much about how constructing above and around the rail line would affect LRT service, which begins in spring 2018. Shovels aren’t expected to go into the ground at LeBreton Flats until after the transit line opens.
Mayor Jim Watson said Thursday he’s pleased the redevelopment will be accessible by two nearby LRT stations — Pimisi and Bayview — but was adamant the city won’t be doing any extra work.
“If there are any changes that are going to take place, it will have to be done after the station is built and the cost will have to be borne by the developer, not the taxpayers,” he said.
5, The absence of bike lanes on Booth Street
Pimisi station, Booth Street and the surrounding area will soon become one of Ottawa’s key connection points. It’s where people travelling to and from Chinatown, Little Italy, Gatineau or the new Zibi development will collide with those travelling between downtown and all points west.
But for those on two wheels, Booth Street might feel lacking. The section of road between Albert and Wellington is being rebuilt as part of this project, yet the plan for the road includes no specific cycling amenities.
There will be two lanes in each direction with “the one lane being a wider, shared cycling lane,” explained Steve Cripps, head of the city’s LRT office.
The station will, however, connect up with new and existing multi-use pathways, he said.