STO public consultation
The citizens favour a tramway that would pass through Wilfrid Lavigne
The “rail-based structuring system” proposed by the STO will not be a light train, but rather a fully electric tramway.
This is one of the many conclusions that emerged from the consultation report, a western study presented by the STO on November 6.
“What is very clear is the importance of a structuring link for the people of western Gatineau. More than 80% of respondents agree on this fact. It is also obvious that this system will include a rail component. The consultation was done; we were able to take the pulse of the population; now it remains to be seen what the final form of the project will be,” said STO Chair Myriam Nadeau in an interview with the Bulletin.
Of the five scenarios studied, 78% of respondents prefer one of the three scenarios with rails, with the all-rail scenario being the most popular. Forty-seven per cent of respondents stated that they perceive this solution to be the fastest, most efficient, most reliable, environmentally friendly and sustainable in the long term. Western residents favour this option even more, with a 51% support rate.
Why a Tramway?
Choosing a tramway over a light rail system like in Ottawa will meet the needs of Gatineau’s population while saving on infrastructure costs.
A tramway is a rail technology in the “family” of light rail systems (LRT), but this is distinguished by several factors, including the possibility of integration into the urban grid, allowing for a more proximity-oriented service, rather than a light rail system completely focused on separate and distinct sites.
The Tramway has more stations than an LRT system because it is integrated with roads used by motorists, allowing more residents to be within walking distance of a station, even though Gatineau’s urban density is much lower than Ottawa’s.
The system favoured by the city is composed of vehicles, with drivers, of smaller capacity capable of crossing intersections, with absolute priority at traffic lights.
As it is integrated with the roads, the system travels at a more moderate speed, about 22 km/h compared to 35 km/h.
The provisional route
Although changes are required during the future phases of the project, the city’s initial mandate was to serve both the North and South axes of West Gatineau.
For the northern axis, residents preferred to use Boulevard du Plateau, starting from Vanier Road, rather than via Les Allumettières with a support ratio of 50% and 28% respectively. Voting citizens argued that this option would better serve homes and businesses and be more accessible on foot or by bike.
For the south axis, which is intended to join Chemin d’Aylmer to serve the downtown area of the sector, residents favoured the option of driving through Allumetières to Wilfrid-Lavigne Boulevard. The structuring link will therefore take a right on Wilfrid-Lavigne from Allumettières to serve the axis of the Chemin d’Aylmer.
48% of the 668 respondents were in favour of the tramway using Wilfrid-Lavigne, arguing that this option had less impact on residents and merchants and allowed more space to develop the structuring system.
The option of the structuring link going through Eardley and Principale was almost completely rejected with only 16% in favour, a choice that surprised Aylmer District Councillor Audrey Bureau.
“I thought Eardley would have been favoured since it would have allowed more direct access to the main one, but I understand that moving to Eardley would be more complicated given the size of the street. Ultimately, the Wilfrid Lavigne route will have little impact on the urban fabric and will also make it easier to serve residents north of Les Allumettières, while leaving more room for active transportation in Old Aylmer,” explained Ms. Bureau.
For the section serving the Hull sector, more than half of the respondents wanted to see the course pass behind the UQO rather than on Alexandre-Taché.
Connection to the confederation line
The planned structuring system will make it easy to make a connection on the Confederation Line. However, to get further downtown, opportunities are limited due to constraints related to significant impacts on traffic, buildings and businesses.
With respect to how far the train should go in Ottawa, 58% of respondents felt that the system should go further than Lyon Station. 26% of respondents believe that the system should go to the Parliament Station instead; 20% believe that the route should continue to Elgin Street; and 12% believe that none of these three options is acceptable and that the system should go further in Ottawa.
31% felt that Lyon station is a sufficient distance.
The next steps
The final report on the study will be tabled some time in 2020. In the meantime, further targeted consultations will be held with, among others, the advisory committees and residents of the neighbourhoods directly affected.
Following the tabling of the report, the city will have to obtain the necessary funding and develop the preliminary and detailed plans and specifications to carry out the work. The new system is currently scheduled to be commissioned in 8 to 10 years.
The city is still waiting to hear about the federal government’s commitment to the project, while the Government of Quebec has indicated that it is prepared to finance 60% of the $2.1 billion project.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator