Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Business support for tunnel plans: Part three

Great story in the Ottawa Business Journal about how businesses in downtown are reacting to the city's four proposed transit plans. At least when it comes to the businesses that the OBJ is interviewing, the response is largely positive, and the reasons presented are pretty interesting:
  • People aren't as hostile towards a transfer from bus to train as planners traditionally thought.
  • The short-term costs, especially of Option Three, are not as obstructive when examined in the long-run of multi-generational use.
  • Underground retail development will be a boon to Ottawa's economy.
  • The rumoured $1B cost for the tunnel is inflated, according to a representative of the advocacy group Transit 2000. According to him, the cost would be closer to $400-500M.
  • Larger sidewalks and bike lanes.
  • A potential for another open market area similar to the ByWard Market, possibly on Albert or Slater.
  • Reinvigorated street-level restaurants and shops with less traffic at street level.

There was also an interesting point about using Municipal Bonds to help finance the project, which is an interesting proposition:

Mr. [Gerry] LePage [of the Downtown Coalition] suggested an independent, "blue ribbon" financial committee be set up to find revenue streams, one that could tap into "world class financiers."

"It should (also) look into municipal bonds," he added. "We can raise hundreds of millions that way."

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