Sunday, August 3, 2008

Naqvi, part seven: Bi-provincial partnerships

One of the most interesting obstacles that faces public transit in Ottawa is the proximity and, in many ways, inseparability between the actual city of Ottawa and the National Capital Region, which includes our neighbours across the river in Quebec. Any transit infrastructure that Ottawa and Ontario fund must necessarily incorporate the needs of commuters from Quebec, incorporating another set of municipal and provincial governments into the discussion.

Yasir Naqvi, as the member of provincial parliament for Ottawa Centre, is in a strong position to comment on the relationship between Ontario and Quebec. In an exclusive interview with, he expressed his faith that the two central Canadian provinces are willing and eager to work together on transit issues.

We have a good working relationship with the government of Quebec, and I think dialogue obviously fosters that. One of the things the two governments are looking at is the speed rail in the Quebec-Windsor corridor, I think something which a lot of people have been expecting for some time. Those conversations are taking place, the feasibility studies, so that's a step in the right direction.

Naqvi went on to describe the somewhat unique challenges Ottawa faces when making transit plans, and how to appease all levels of government--including the National Capital Commission (NCC)--when making the big decisions.

I think the challenge lies that we are, in the case of Ottawa, always have to be mindful that not only are we looking at three levels of government—you've got the federal government in terms of the NCC, the provincial government in terms of the financing element, and you've got the municipal government, the custodian, the operator of the transit system—but you've got the other level, which is dealing with the provincial government on the other side. But I think there is a lot of goodwill, I think there is a lot of recognition that something needs to be done keeping in mind the long-term vision of the growth of the region.

One of the main reasons for Ottawa's current transit plan, especially with regards to the downtown tunnel, is to get bus congestion off the roads so our downtown streets are more conducive to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. If, however, commuters from the other side of the river come in on Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) buses, then the objectives are not fully met. What it amounts to is yet another challenge facing transit planners: ensuring that OC Transpo buses aren't the only ones that our transit plans take into consideration.


Part seven of Yasir Naqvi on Public Transit in Ottawa, a exclusive:

Part One: Introduction
Part Two: Effective Public Transit
Part Three: Provincial Funding
Part Four: The Cancelled North-South Line
Part Five: Subway is "a good idea"
Part Six: Rail on the Ottawa River Parkway
Part Seven: Bi-Provincial Partnerships

No comments: