Adam: Yes, Ottawa needs to approve LRT Stage 2 now

By Mohammed Adam, Ottawa Citizen, March 4, 2019

Money matters obviously, and Ottawa councillors are right to question the skyrocketing cost of Stage 2 LRT, which has shot up to $4.6 billion from the original estimate of $3.4 billion. A number of councillors are unhappy not only at the $1.2-billion increase, but at being stampeded into approving such a complex project with little debate. Stage 1 has been such a debacle, with the missed deadlines and conflicts with builder Rideau Transit Group (RTG), that some want the city to complete it before proceeding with the second phase. And that’s even before the latest reports about whether the trains can really cope with Ottawa winters.

The councillors are right on all counts. In an ideal situation, council would take time to consider this next phase. But given the troubled history of LRT in this city – and how far we’ve come this time – there’s no choice but to move ahead with this project now. I wish there were a better way to do this, but there just isn’t. The city has been discussing this project for years and can’t postpone it at this critical moment to take a second look at the cost.

Ottawa residents have long embraced this project and public consultation is done. It would be laughable and an enormous waste of money to spend $2.1 billion on a 12.5-kilometre Confederation Line from Bayview to Blair, then just walk away. We have to get on with the 44-kilometre expansion to Moodie Drive, Algonquin College, Riverside South and the airport, and all the way to Trim Road.

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