The Government of Ontario is at it again with the Union Station-Pearson Aiport link.
Meanwhile in the National Capital Region a company called Mobility Ottawa Outaouais: Systems and Enterprises Inc., or MOOSE, is trying to get inter-provincial commuter rail going in our neck of the woods. Although they're not asking for money from municipalities they will seek provincial or federal money to help pay for maintenance costs. MOOSE has spoken to a number of mayors in the region but we haven't heard anything from the mayor of Ottawa. I would love to see the mayor of Ottawa, not necessarily Jim Watson but whoever the office holder is at the time, take some leadership in the region even if it's just initiating dialogue on key regional issues.
Although I love the fact that an entrepreneur is taking the initiative to provide this service, where's the vision from higher levels of government? There are some areas where I want governments to do less and there are others where I want governments to do more, and transit infrastructure is one of them. Perhaps this is a Thomas Ahearn situtation where an entrepreneur will spearhead the thing and eventually some level of government will come on board. Hopefully they won't poo poo on the whole thing like they did to Thomas Ahearn's baby.
I'm not necessarily expecting the Government of Ontario to provide leadership on these kinds of projects like they do in Toronto because we're not their provincial capital, we're the national capital so our main partners should be the Federal Government and its agencies.
Once upon a time every Prime Minister who was elected would have a legacy project; something that would transform the capital. Perhaps because of financial constraints we haven't seen that in a number of years. In the future I'd love to see these legacy projects return; hopefully something that's more about urbanism than just beautification.
Ottawa is Canada's fourth largest metropolitan area (along with Gatineau), the second largest city in Ontario, and the economic engine of Eastern Ontario. Perhaps we should scrap "National Capital Region" and call it the "Greater Ottawa Area" so we all can remember these facts. The City's White Paper on Development in the Greater Ottawa-Gatineau Area says, "With two-thirds of the total population and 76% of the jobs, Ottawa serves as the region’s economic engine and main generator of growth. However, Ottawa has no planning jurisdiction beyond its borders and there is currently no Official Plan (OP) policy that addresses growth at a metropolitan level."
As the NCC develops its Horizon 2067 plan perhaps such a framework can be developed that will guide growth at a metropolitan/regional level (a framework driven by municipalities and supported by the NCC).
As I've said before, I believe the mandate of the NCC is spread too thin. It's a waterfront development agency/pseudo-interprovincial transit agency/national festivals agency and none of those mandates end up getting dedicated, 24/7 attention.
As I read about the contribution MetroLinx makes to the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area, I daydream about what a regional transportation authority, dedicating 100% of its time to growing regional transportation, could do for the capital region. Before we get proud and say we don't need to be like Toronto let's remember that OCRI's new business incubator and Invest Ottawa are both Toronto inspired. Perhaps this is another best practice we should borrow.
PIC: Artist's rendering of Airport Rail Link train