Ottawa-Gatineau rail link likely a decade away, despite political support

Gatineau’s mayor says a light-rail transit line could connect both sides of the Ottawa River.

By Dylan C. Robertson

In a year-end interview with Radio-Canada, Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said the biggest problem faced by the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) is poor transit connections with the Aylmer district.

"There are studies that have been done for the future high-speed link, whether it’s an LRT, bus, all that. We are doing this and we are moving towards a solution," Pedneaud-Jobin said.

He noted this could be achieved through a proposal by Hull-Aylmer MP Greg Fergus for an LRT that extends Ottawa’s existing O-Train over the decommissioned Prince of Wales railway bridge.

Last month, Ottawa South MP David McGuinty told Metro that regional MPs meet regularly to discuss ideas like an interprovincial LRT. “The river just isn’t that wide,” he said.

But the only environmental assessment for a possible LRT extension that Ottawa has announced involves Kanata, which wouldn’t start construction until 2031.

Also last month, Mayor Jim Watson said extending the LRT system into Gatineau should be in the city’s long-term plans after the train reaches Kanata.  

Watson said at the time that he is excited that the progress on the city’s LRT system will continue and expects there will be a commitment from the federal government for Phase 2 soon.

“It’s just a matter of time, crossing T’s and dotting I’s,” he said.

Watson said he’s glad that the environmental assessment for extending the train to Kanata, which he calls “Phase 3,” is in the city’s budget, but the city has to keep thinking decades out and next stop should be Gatineau.

“We don’t have the money for it and we haven’t even done an environmental assessment, but I think when you’re looking at transit, you have to be looking long term,” he said. “I see Phase 4 as going into Gatineau through the Prince of Wales Bridge connecting their Rapibus system to our train system.”

Watson said the two cities are so closely connected that ultimately a seamless transit connection has to happen.

“You look at the numbers and there are tens of thousands of people every day thatcross the bridges.”

This story originally appeared in Metro News.