Ottawa City Council today (March 6 2012) approved a move of the LRT stop near the NAC to the ByWard Market to create a second stop to the Rideau Centre (http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/03/06/city-of-ottawa-committee-likes-lrt-changes) . The changes were announced to address safety concerns that LRT users would be coming out into open on Elgin Street. The NAC says it is unfortunate that the stop is lost to its 1.2 million people that attend NAC events annually. The Elgin LRT stop would allow NAC patrons to leave the car closer to home and take public transit to see a scheduled event.
The biggest losers on this move will be the businesses that are along the Elgin Street strip.
The change was approved and to my knowledge no businesses from Elgin were present to give an argument for keeping the stop. There is no reason to believe that adding a stop half a block east from a planned stop at the William Street Pedestrian Mall was going to increase traffic to the Byward Market. The move of the stop to Rideau Street leaves Elgin Street serviced by the LRT by the Downtown East station at O’Connor Street, one block further west than the current Metcalfe stop on the Downtown Transitway that now brings Transit riders to Elgin Street, the War Memorial, Chateau Laurier and the NAC. The way the LRT stations have now been placed, Elgin Street is losing hundreds (and more during special events) of LRT riders daily that are needed to sustain the businesses that are going to be part of the Elgin Street BIA.
Decisions like this at council affecting the Elgin street area are further evidence that Elgin Street businesses should have, actually NEED to have a BIA in place sooner rather than later. I was pleased after writing this https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/elgin-street-bia-is-mia/ to receive a call from Robin Duetta, who has been working with Keith Loiselle (owner of Woodys on Elgin) and a strong steering committee to form the Elgin Street BIA. They have a few things up their sleeve to focus the residential and business community to get behind the movement that has been in the making for quite some time. You can read a bit more about the Elgin Street BIA here in a piece written by Carleton Journalism student Yaelle Gang (on Twitter @yaellebgang) http://www.cusjc.ca/ottawainsight/?p=2587 . There is also a website at www.elginstreet.ca that is currently under construction, but no doubt will be ready to launch at a moment’s notice.
While the loss of an LRT stop cannot be reversed, a BIA (through the work being done by Keith Loiselle and his steering committee) should no doubt go a long way with Councillor Holmes and the rest of City Council to help shape and serve Elgin Street through the LRT construction and the expected road rehabilitation in 2014 and beyond.
I can be found Twitter @robertdekker and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. Please follow me and send your thoughts on this and other postings.