Tech hubs eager for Kanata rail line

Light rail to Kanata is officially on the books – and it’s about time, businesses say.

By Emma Jackson.

Mayor Jim Watson announced Wednesday the city will study a light rail line from Bayshore to Palladium Drive.

They’ll split the $2- to $3-million bill with the feds, and the prep work won’t be finished until 2019. Construction won’t begin until 2023 or later, depending on funding.

But it’s a crucial step towards fast-tracking a project the city wasn’t even going to consider until after 2031, said Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley.

And it’s a critical part of attracting young, car-free talent to Kanata’s tech hubs, which contribute $7.8 billion to the economy and have productivity levels three times the national average, according to recent report.

“There’s a lot of younger people coming into the business and fewer and fewer of them are driving,” said George Chamberlain, CEO of Pleora Technologies.

It’s hard to know who’s turning down jobs because of transit, but Mr. Chamberlain said his bus-riding staff struggle to take advantage of flexible hours or get to downtown meetings.

Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson said local companies regularly complain about poor bus service to their business parks.

“I get calls from people saying, ‘We’re hiring young people, they don’t have cars. They can’t get here,’” Ms. Wilkinson said. She’s worked with OC Transpo to tweak the system, which has helped.

But this train will change the game, said Kanata-Carleton MP Karen McCrimmon.

“You need to connect our business parks with our research hubs with our universities,” said Ms. McCrimmon. “Those connections are absolutely critical.”

A big question mark still hovers over the Canadian Tire Centre, which will likely lose the Ottawa Senators to LeBreton Flats sometime in the next decade.

Owner Eugene Melnyk couldn’t be reached for comment, but Mr. Watson said “there’s no question” the arena’s fate will impact final LRT decisions, including preferred routes.

This article originally appeared on metronews.ca on June 8.