Prospectus: LRT will define Ottawa in the 2020s

Confederation line

In each issue of the OBJ newsmagazine, publisher Michael Curran shares his prospectus for the Ottawa business community. Read the January edition of the newsmagazine here.

’Tis the season for nostalgia and crystal ball gazing. As the year and the decade draw to a close – and a fresh one begins – there is almost a human compulsion to take stock.

How can I resist?

If you take the broadest local perspective, both for the year and the decade, and ponder the most significant challenge and achievement locally, you might arrive at a three-letter answer: LRT.

In 2010, only days into the new decade, Jim Watson declared his intention to become mayor of the amalgamated city. His decisive electoral win (he received double the votes of his nearest competitor, Larry O’Brien) in October of that year would set the stage for the biggest infrastructure decision in the city’s history. The official vote to approve the Confederation Line came in December 2012, and, as we all know, the trains started to roll this September as the decade came to an end.

As a new decade takes root, the second stage of LRT is gathering steam, particularly along Hwy. 174 and near EY Centre down by the airport. By the midpoint of the 2020s, the Confederation Line will run from Trim Road in the east to Moodie Drive in the west and Limebank Road in the south. This second stage will realize the full value of the investment and bring much more transit-oriented development.

Beyond transportation, another city-defining project looms large this decade: the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats.

A few weeks back, I was a fly on the wall in a meeting hosted by the Ottawa Board of Trade, which brought the National Capital Commission face to face with a room of seasoned developers and real estate executives. To say it was fascinating would be an understatement.

Chief among the feedback the audience provided to the NCC on its updated LeBreton plan:

  • build a stronger business case that ensures new residential units can be absorbed into the market;

  • provide more certainty on timing for the NCC’s phased approach to development in order to mitigate some of the risks for private-sector investors;

  • take a private-sector approach to maximizing the value of sold land in order to increase available funds for elements of LeBreton that need public money.

The NCC was also urged to take a more proactive role, along with the city, in finding a financial solution that allows a new NHL arena to be constructed. In other words, follow the lead of Edmonton and Calgary.

The 2020s in Ottawa will be defined by LRT and its massive spinoff investments. Now the hard work needs to get done on LeBreton so the 2030s will see the realization of an expanded downtown core and all the significant benefits that come with that.

New year, new newsmagazine

In the first edition of the new year, we look at some of the companies and trends to watch as a new decade dawns. Print editor David Sali examines the city's rental housing market and talks to experts to find out if the wave of new construction that marked 2019 is expected to continue in the years ahead.

Meanwhile, Techopia editor Craig Lord gives you a sneak peek at four tech companies that are poised for big breakouts over the next 12 months.

Also in this issue, we discover how Ottawa Tourism is hoping free rides on the LRT will help encourage convention-goers from foreign countries to explore more of the capital, while Caroline Phillips provides full coverage of the city's social scene and a profile of Shannon Gorman, the new CEO of the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation.