Transportation – Light Rail Transit

Ottawa’s Confederation Line: a trip towards a more sustainable city

Ottawa Light Rail Transit – Confederation Line Project. Photo: Infrastructure Ontario

The Ottawa Biosphere Eco-City (OBEC) Initiative organizes public workshops to share information and ideas on sustainability. These follow OBEC’s ten Themes – Transportation, Energy, Design, Habitat, Food, Natural Capital, Waste, Health, Recreation and Sense of Place.

Jim Birtch, OBEC Chair Photo: Y. Zhang

In September 2018, an OBEC workshop on the Theme of Transportation took place at The Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Ave. It focused on the advent of Light Rail Transit, with implications for energy and health. The following key points can give you a sense of the workshop.


Jim Birtch, Chair OBEC, had created the Biosphere Eco-City (BEC) model. He quickly explained:

  • Why OBEC works to create a Culture of Sustainability
  • What Tools OBEC uses to engage people,
  • How discussions on Themes can identify issues and lead to action,
  • That this workshop is helping to build this new Culture

You can find details on the BEC model elsewhere on the website.


With phase 2, 70% of Ottawa residents will be within 15 minutes of Light Rail Transit.

Marc Mageriowitcz is a planner for the City of Ottawa, working on Phase 1 and 2 of Light Rail Transit (LRT) implementation. He gave some interesting statistics:

  • Marc Mageriowitcz, LRT Planner Photo: Y. Zhang

    At 2758 sq. km Ottawa is larger than Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton combined

  • Ottawa had reached capacity on moving buses through downtown
  • The LRT will have 13 stations and run 12.5 km (Phase 1)
  • Blair Road to Tunney’s Pasture will take 25 minutes
  • The electric cars will produce zero emissions
  • The LRT will reduce CO2 by 94,000 tonnes/year by 2031
  • Every station will be accessible and comfortable
  • Public art is included along with the alignment for both phases of the LRT
  • Phase 2 will go to Trim Rd (E), Moodie & Baseline (W), Limebank and airport (S)
  • 70% of Ottawa residents will be within 5 km of the LRT
  • Richmond Road and Byron Avenue, which have been torn up for construction will be re-assembled as complete streets
  • Almost 100 trees have been replanted to parks and people’s homes

For information see


Governments should dedicate land by Light Rail Transit stations to affordable housing.

Trevor Haché is Vice-President of the Healthy Transportation Coalition (HTC). His group was key to a 50% decrease in bus fares for low-income people. Trevor began his talk by recognizing that the workshop was taking place on Unceded Algonquin territory. He spoke on three main areas: Location of Affordable Housing, Bike Lanes to the LRT, and HTC studies of neighborhoods, as follows:

Trevo Haché, Healthy Transportation Coalition Photo: Y. Zhang

Need for Affordable Housing Near LRT Stations

  • 10,000 people are on waiting lists for affordable housing in Ottawa
  • In other cities, housing prices increased dramatically around light rail
  • Governments should dedicate land by LRT stations to affordable housing

Develop Bike Lanes to Connect to the LRT

  • Ottawa needs to identify missing links on its bike paths
  • Portland, Oregon mapped low-income areas and planned transit for them
  • Ottawa needs safe cycling and pedestrian paths to LRT stations
  • For cyclists, this needs to go beyond the 5 km currently considered

HTC Neighbourhood Studies and Recommendations

  • Cummings – need safe cycling routes
  • Vanier – need safe cycling routes and dedicated bike lanes
  • Hawthorne/Sheffield – need safe cycling routes and dedicated bike lanes
  • Baseline – need a safe pedestrian bridge on Woodroffe
  • Heron Gate – need safe cycling routes
  • Bells Corners – need safe cycling routes and dedicated bike lanes

For information see


For Pedestrian Safety and Walkability sidewalk maintenance should be a priority.

John Woodward is a member of the Transportation Committee in the Council on Aging of Ottawa (COA). He spoke on two topics: Pedestrian Safety and Walkability in Ottawa, and Design of the LRT stations. Here is a summary of his remarks:

John Woodhouse, Council on Aging of Ottawa Photo: Y. Zhang

Pedestrian Safety and Walkability

  • COA study showed the importance of curb cuts to prevent falling
  • COA study showed the need for longer lights for street crossing
  • Right on red turns are particularly dangerous for pedestrians
  • Snow and freezing rain cause many pedestrian problems
  • Broken sidewalks and paving are also a problem
  • Sidewalk maintenance should be a priority over roads

Design of the LRT stations for Seniors and the Mobility Impaired

  • Ease of boarding the LRT will be very good
  • Streetscapes above underground stations are good for pedestrians
  • COA visits have helped to “debug” some facilities
  • Getting to LRT stations needs emphasis
  • LRT has the potential to transform Ottawa’s culture for the better

To learn about Council on Aging of Ottawa see


Studies, funded by the Independent Electricity System Operators, profile good work as a catalyst for future actions.

Kathryn Norman, Sustainable Eastern Ontario Photo: Y. Zhang

Kathryn Norman is the Program and Communications Officer of Sustainable Eastern Ontario (SEO). She had coordinated development of 20 Energy Management Case Studies. The first study was on Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit Project, and the OBEC workshop was based on this.

These studies were funded by the Independent Electricity System Operators (IESO). The goal was to profile good work as a catalyst for future actions. Kathryn provided highlights of the studies:

  • LRT – will change the way people move around Ottawa
  • Ottawa’s Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging – will encourage EV adoption
  • Ottawa’s City Fleet Plan – has reduced emissions by 6.3% since 2013
  • Bus Parking Lot Lighting Retrofit – has reduced emissions by 87 tonnes/yr.
  • Riverside Bus Station Retrofit – has reduced emissions by 278 tonnes/yr.

Viewers can read other case studies on:

Complete streets, University of Ottawa energy retrofit, LEED Energy efficiency at Algonquin College, Energy savings for Ottawa Catholic and Public schools, Municipal building design, Building engineering and management, Energy savings for Ottawa and Queensway-Carleton hospitals, Facility renewal at the Perley and Rideau health centre, Efficient lighting at Carleton Lodge long-term care, Light Emitting Diode streetlights, Ontario’s Peaksaver electricity program, Hydropower installation at Chaudière Falls, Energy from Waste at Trail Road.

The case studies are on the SEO website –



Alastair Larwill, Workshop MC Photo: Y. Zhang

Drivers don’t look for pedestrians and ignore stop signs. A broad education campaign is needed.

Pedestrian safety

  • Drivers don’t look for pedestrians and often ignore stop signs
  • Getting worse and a broad education campaign is needed
  • Danger from vehicles and cyclists

Transit for off-peak hours

  • Shift workers need transit at off-peak hours
  • LRT will run every 2.5 to 3 minutes to 10 PM
  • Buses will run at night to ensure a 24-hour system
  • Healthy Transportation Coalition wants a transit riders group

What happens to the buses?

  • Buses will replace the LRT during construction
  • Feeder buses will be needed to bring people to the LRT