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Forget the night moves

OTTAWA, Ont. - The Region of Ottawa will go ahead with a $13.6-million King Edward Avenue improvement project that could see trucks unwelcome in the capital of Canada's downtown core, and blocked from...



OTTAWA, Ont. – The Region of Ottawa will go ahead with a $13.6-million King Edward Avenue improvement project that could see trucks unwelcome in the capital of Canada’s downtown core, and blocked from the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge – the busiest interprovincial truck link in the area.

Ottawa Region’s planning department may assign consultants to the King Edward Avenue development as early as June, and an environmental assessment, cost estimate and public consultation are expected to be complete by early 2002.

Hull Mayor Yves Ducharme has likened the impasse to a declaration of war. Ducharme told the Ottawa Citizen he feared that the Parti Quebecois would use the issue to demonstrate that if people in the National Capital region can’t get along, neither can Quebec and the rest of Canada.

“I think it is terrible. Nationalists will say to us they are spitting in your face. We are good federalists over here,” said Ducharme.

Ottawa’s regional council has been calling for the King Edward redevelopment since last year, but while bridge negotiations were showing progress, Chiarelli had put those plans on hold. Now, along King Edward, there could be more intersections, fewer lanes and the possibility that large trucks will have trouble moving around the city.

“A motion for a night ban on heavy trucks, with the option of making the ban from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. has to be officially approved by regional council on May 24,” says Ed Aquilina, senior policy advisor to Bob Chiarelli.

The next step, says Aquilina, would be a consultation process in June and July that will involve the trucking community. After a report is sent back to council, a three-month trial period for the nighttime truck ban would start in September or October.

Chiarelli is seeking the Outaouais government’s support for the construction of a new bridge across the Ottawa River, at two possible locations: Cumberland-Masson or just west of McLaurin Bay. But the Outaouais government is only supporting a bridge at Kettle Island, which would create another commuter link to Gatineau. Ottawa says that would send more heavy truck traffic through residential areas.

Up to 70,000 vehicles cross the bridge each weekday, 17,000 of which are light trucks, while another 2,000 are heavy trucks. “We’re not OK with Ottawa Region’s decision to ban nighttime truck traffic. It compromises the flow of goods between the provinces,” says Roland Morin, assistant to the general director for Gatineau Region.

Morin says that the region’s hands are tied: “We have little recourse.”

He says that numerous studies have indicated that the Kettle Island Bridge would be best suited to address the demands of interprovincial commercial traffic. Outaouais wants to stick to an already-established National Capital Commission plan that would see a Kettle Island and Britannia bridge, and has already set up corridors on the Quebec side to accommodate traffic from these bridges. Ottawa Region is pushing for the Cumberland-Masson or McLaurin Bay locations because of opposition from such upscale neighborhoods as Rockcliffe, says Morin. So far, there is an impasse in any further bridge negotiations as the motion for the truck ban heads to council to be approved May 24.

“There are no negotiations at this point. Gatineau region is only interested in the Kettle Island option, but we cannot have trucks moving through the national capital region. So, things are at a standstill at this point,” says Aquilina. n


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