Letter to Mayor Watson Concerning the Downtown Truck Problem

110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1J1

May 31, 2013

Dear Mayor Watson:

Thank you for taking the initiative to reach out to us in your May 27, 2013 email on the interprovincial crossing project. Action Sandy Hill (ASH) is very interested in your offer of further communications on this matter and we will make our views known at Transportation Committee meeting on June 5, 2013.

ASH is concerned that the interprovincial crossings project as currently conceived does not represent a full solution to the problem of interprovincial through truck traffic on downtown streets. We have been consistent with this view since the Phase I Study recommendations were announced in 2008.

While we are not per se opposed to the construction of the bridge, we believe other worthwhile alternatives, including the potential of a downtown tunnel, have not been explored or even considered by the City of Ottawa, the Province of Ontario, and the NCC in the current planning framework.

However, ASH is very concerned about the risks that yet another study may pose to moving forward intentionally and meaningfully on a solution to the truck problem. An “Other Options” study cannot become a stall tactic or be the reason for rejecting the progress made on the interprovincial crossings study to date.

Therefore our support for investigation of other option, including a downtown tunnel project, is conditional on measurable and concrete commitments to move forward in a timely manner. This will require commitments of time, money, and clear support from the Province of Ontario. There must also be a commitment to report back to council in an acceptable time frame that should not exceed six to twelve months.

A solution to the downtown truck problem has been a consistent message in the City’s Official Plan for decades and is backed up with a ruling from the OMB. Although we are sympathetic to your views that the City’s priority investments at this time should be on better transit, we have some discomfort in the wording of your email which seems to imply that further public funds should be directed only to transit and that a solution to the truck problem would have to be self-financed through tolls only. We would submit to you that the removal of thousands of trucks per day from downtown streets is an important priority investment that warrants access to available public funds.

Returning to your mention of a truck tunnel as an example of a potential creative solution, we would like to point out that our community among others in fact had made significant efforts to ask for more investigation of just such an undertaking in Phase 1 (2008) and again at the end of Phase 2A (2010). Both times the City of Ottawa’s legal department and planning staff made explicit efforts to shut down debate about a truck tunnel option. One of the ways in which you can demonstrate to us that you are serious about your suggestions to explore creative alternatives is to build support for your ideas at City Hall and at Queen’s Park.

Thank you again for directing your attention to this important matter. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you at your earliest convenience and to hear more about the creative exploration process that will lead to a meaningful solution to the downtown truck problem in a timely manner.

Chair, Transportation Committee
Action Sandy Hill

President, Action Sandy Hill

Downloadable Letter to Mayor Waston Concerning the Downtown Truck Problem 31-May-13