The Ottawa International Airport Authority is “not pleased” that it won’t be getting a stop on the city’s expanded rail line and isn’t immediately willing to give up land the city needs to execute its multibillion-dollar plan.
Incoming Ottawa International Airport Authority president and CEO Mark Laroche.
By Jacob Serebrin
The organization released remarks its president and CEO, Mark Laroche, made to senior transportation staff at the city during a meeting held last Friday to discuss the city’s recently announced draft transportation master plan.
The document, which sets out the city’s transportation priorities decades into the future, did not include a stop at the airport as part of its $2.5-billion plan to build out the city’s rail system. Bus service would instead continue to be the main transit option for getting to and from the site.
Mr. Laroche warned that not including the airport as a stop could cost more than the city suggests.
“The bottom line is that the City needs a comprehensive solution that brings the transit system right to the airport, sooner than what is being proposed, so that we can collectively serve the city and our visitors in a world class way,” a printed copy of Mr. Laroche’s remarks read..
He also expressed concern that the plan involves using CP rail lines on airport land that the authority plans to use to expand its system of runways.
The authority wants an O-Train terminus at the airport with service to Riverside South by bus rapid transit.
“This solution would not interfere with the airport’s ability to grow and expand its runway infrastructure. Furthermore, the overall cost appears to be much more affordable than the other scenario,” said Mr. Laroche.
The city considered a number of different options for taking rail out to the airport – including running a “spur line” that would jut out from the existing line – but ultimately decided against them.
The authority is warning that it might not be willing to negotiate when it comes to the use of airport land if its demands aren’t met.
“We believe the City needs the Authority at the table if it wants to use parts of our land in its proposed plan – whatever form that may take. We negotiated it in the past, but we need to ensure, now more than ever, that the needs of the entire community will be adequately met,” said Mr. Laroche.
Mr. Laroche is happier about other elements of the plan. For example, he’s pleased the city plans to widen the Ottawa Airport Parkway between Brookfield and Hunt Club roads while making improvements to other adjacent thoroughfares.
According to his remarks, the airport and the city have been in negotiations to extend train service to the airport since 2004, when an environmental assessment was first conducted.
That plan resulted in a lease agreement between the city and the airport for a rail link in 2006, however the city later cancelled that project.