By Mohamed Adam, Ottawa Citizen, February 6, 2020
For years, the relationship between the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau has been marked by an indifference to shared interests that has undermined progress in the capital. For two cities that are so intertwined socially and economically, Ottawa and Gatineau live in splendid isolation when it comes to the big issues that affect the capital. If one goes one way, the other moves in the opposite direction – each marching to its own drum, oblivious to what binds them. Sometimes, it seems as if an ocean – not a river – lies between them. It’s no wonder anything resembling integrated capital planning has eluded us for decades.
(...)Under the express direction of the federal government, the National Capital Commission is working to develop, by the spring of next year, a long-term interprovincial “crossings plan” that includes LRT, buses, cars, cycling and walking. A consultant would be hired to work with the two provincial governments, the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, as well as their transit authorities, to produce a blueprint that “reflects their values, plans and priorities.”
(...)At the heart of a sometimes-tense relationship between the cities is the issue of a new bridge, which Gatineau residents, constantly caught up in traffic bottlenecks on the five bridges, desperately want. But in Ottawa, most people oppose a new bridge because of the unwanted traffic it would funnel into neighbourhoods along connecting roads. This has become an intractable problem, and the real question as this new transportation plan is crafted is whether the two cities can dig deep and somehow find common ground. The reality is that without their buy-in, little will be achieved.