Friday, December 6, 2013

Ottawa's upcoming $72M investment in transit-oriented development

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the City of Ottawa is budgeting to spend about $72M in order to provide adequate water, sewer, road, and electrical services to three east Ottawa Confederation Line stations in order to enable the level of transit-oriented development that city staff are envisioning around the light rail stops.

The stations included in this $72M investment (as I'd like to think of it) are Lees, Hurdman, and Blair. The biggest price tag within that overall envelope is an estimated $25M to improve cycling infrastructure around and connecting to the stations, which seems like a wise concept that might allow people living and working in the area to forego personal automobiles in favour of cycling and transit (and, if the visions of progressive citizens become reality, bike- and car-sharing when necessary).

From the Citizen:
Lees, on the edge of the University of Ottawa campus, needs the least work: a mere $11 million, much of that in upgraded electricity service.
Hurdman, just across the Rideau River but practically isolated with fields on three sides (thanks to its location amid old closed landfills), needs the most: $35 million, with sewer pipes making up $15 million.
Blair, much farther east, needs $26 million worth of work, and the single biggest chunk of that is $13 million to improve the almost nonexistent bike routes to and from a station that’s tucked between the Gloucester Centre mall and a Highway 174 overpass.
I consider this a $72M investment, rather than an expense, because of the long-term benefits that would come as a result of encouraging higher-density and less car-dependent living around transit stations, and it seems likely that development charges around these stations may be able to recoup some of the costs. It's good to see the city putting money where their mouths are when discussing transit-oriented development, and hopefully developers and businesses also recognize the benefits of building in the vicinity of major rail stations.

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