Kanata North BIA presents concerns on draft Transportation Master Plan at Committee Meeting

The following letter was presented to the Transportation Committee Meeting on Friday, Nov.15th, 2013 to express the concerns of the Kanata North business community with respect to the proposed Transportation Master Plan document which will go before Council on November 26th, 2013.

“The Kanata North Business Area is a significant business area and economic engine that benefits all of Ottawa with technology and knowledge based jobs, world class research and development.  As the second largest employment area in the City, we cannot overstate our position that the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) should give much greater recognition and consideration to the existing and future transportation needs of this dynamic and economically important area as well as the rest of Kanata. From the local perspective and also recognizing that we are and increasingly, will continue to be subject to the forces of a global economy, accessibility to public transportation is increasingly critical to attracting and retaining a talented workforce, and is an important factor in attracting national and international businesses to this area and retaining those businesses and people that are currently located here.

The TMP, as drafted, is a major step forward for the City of Ottawa, and we commend city staff and the Committee in their efforts in moving this essential economic and transportation tool forward. The Kanata North BIA was pleased to see the inclusion of LRT to Bayshore in this version of the plan.  However, we were disappointed to not see LRT further extended into Kanata.  The 2013 TMP has projected that by 2031, the overall city population will increase by 213,900, of which 78.7% is projected to occur in the Outer Suburbs. In the Outer Suburbs alone (excluding Rural Ottawa), the Kanata/Stittsville and Barrhaven areas represent 63% of this projected growth.  The Kanata/Stittsville areas alone represent 38 % of all growth in the Outer Suburbs (excluding Rural Ottawa).

Upon reviewing these growth projections on a city wide basis, the Kanata/Stittsville growth in populations to 2031 (27%) exceed that of all other areas in Ottawa, followed by Barrhaven at 16% and Orleans at 16% of projected growth by 2031.   We see evidence of this growth as recently as Wednesday of this week, when Bass Pro Shops announced it will open its 5th Canadian Store in Kanata North.  This announcement combined with other development already announced for Kanata North, accounts for more commercial construction activity within Kanata, than all of the rest of Ottawa – that’s including Lansdowne, the extension of Bayshore, the extension of Rideau Centre and St. Laurent Shopping Centre.

While we are cognizant of the budget limitations, we believe that giving recognition to the city’s own growth projections, the very real significant and beneficial economic impact of this area to Ottawa, together with a required commitment to continued and sustainable growth and economic vitality of this established business and employment area, more than justify the revisiting of Phase 2 priorities and expenditures for LRT and BRT as presently allocated.

The Kanata North BIA acknowledges the efforts of city staff and Transportation Committee in presenting a plan that is based on factual and detailed analysis. It is our belief however that the analysis failed to recognize one important consideration – that of economic development and the future population growth projections and employment for Kanata, including Kanata North.  It is our view that when a transportation expenditure of this magnitude is being considered, the City should reconsider and undertake a broader and more detailed analysis of the economic development implications, including all of the various options and factors presented herein.  This does not appear to have been done.

In addition to the above statements, we would like to draw your attention to two additional issues that have been raised within the Kanata North business community.  The first of which is the expected transition of 10,000 jobs to the Nortel campus in the near future, which will add considerable congestion to our roads, and increase bus ridership in our community.

The second issue is that there is a Community Design Plan currently under consideration for March Road north of Maxwell Bridge. However the widening of March Road through this area has been removed from the current TMP, despite being present in the last TMP and the development of 3000 homes is proceeding forward, without this essential infrastructure upgrade as part of this TMP.  This raises real concerns as to how the current infrastructure is going to be able to accommodate this large influx of people, development and road usage.

The Kanata North BIA members compete in the North-American and world markets to attract international businesses and new high value jobs to the Ottawa Area.  The enhancement of our road infrastructure and access to effective public transit and recognition of all the factors at play to such a significant business and employment hub for the City of Ottawa is a wise investment in the future that both Kanata and Kanata North needs in order to continue to grow, innovate and compete on a global scale. Our collective futures depend on it.”