OTTAWA - A couple of councillors balked at learning that transit users in the world’s second-coldest capital city could still be exposed to the elements at the 13 new stations included in the light rail project.
There are no heating or cooling systems planned for the stations, and instead of doors, the hubs will have “gates.”
However, transit users will be shielded from the elements by glass elements and wind barriers, said architect Peter Busby during the special council meeting held on July 14 to consider changes to the LRT proposal.
Instead of heaters, the stations would have radiant heating systems, with seats that become warm as people sit on them.
“I appreciate nothing is going to fall on my head directly, but what is going to happen if there is wind whistling through there?” said Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli, who echoed Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans’ concerns.
The stations themselves will be designed to reflect the textures found in Ottawa’s landscape, Busby said.
“Nature is a fundamental part of the infrastructure,” he said.
The stations will include a lot of stone, wooden “wave” form ceilings meant to mimic movement and water elements using rainwater capturing systems that will be used to create water features.
Those elements will be incorporated into some of the components of existing Transitway stations where possible, while some of the stations will be brand new.
Another issue that miffed some councillors was the lack of washrooms in any of the stations.
Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes led the charge in questioning city staff about why washrooms in the LRT stations weren’t considered.
Washrooms aren’t a common feature in subway systems because of the cost associated with building and maintaining the facilities, not to mention the security risk they pose, staff told her.
As one OC Transpo manager put it: “There are activities which people choose to carry out which are ones that you would not want to support.”
However, Orleans Coun. Bob Monette pointed out that some systems, including the ones in Calgary and Edmonton, do have washrooms. He suggested it is something the city should at least look at including.
There are washrooms close by to many of the transit hubs, pointed out deputy city manager of infrastructure Nancy Schepers. But she added that it is a decision that is still up to council to make, if councillors want washrooms included.
Stations in your neighbourhood
Tunney’s Pasture Station
Tunney’s Pasture is the western end-point for the first phase of the light rail system and is considered a “temporary” station while the city figures out which direction it will head as it continues to the west, so the station will be less elaborate. The existing bus platforms will be extended to 120 metres in length and the four lanes of Transitway will be converted to two rail lines. Bus service at Tunney’s will be moved up from the lower level so it is at ground level. The city will need to buy some federally owned property.
- Access: From bus loop, Scott Street and Holland Avenue.
Bayview is the transfer hub from the diesel O-Train line, which will be separate from the electric light-rail system. The station is one of several that will have a theme; in this case it’s “sustainability.” That means it will feature “environmentally friendly and eco-conscious art and design.” A new pedestrian crossing from the south will provide safe access from future developments, as much of the land surrounding Bayview is yet to be developed. Bayview is also significant because it provides the most likely placement for an interprovincial transit crossing – a possibility that the new station design incorporates. Most of the work for the Bayview station will have to be done on land owned by the National Capital Commission.
- Access: Albert Street to the south east and O-Train to the west.
The station’s design will reflect the theme “Algonquin,” which will include a visible storm-management fountain-type system and water garden. The city will work with the Algonquin community to develop concepts that express the aboriginal culture. As for the rail line, it will be located just south of the existing Transitway. The station will incorporate a rebuilt Booth Street Bridge, with the platform located one level below the bridge. Special attention will need to be paid to creating pedestrian connections that respect surrounding heritage features, such as the Canadian War Museum and Park, the Fleet Street Pumping Station, the Ottawa River and Chaudière Falls.
- Access: Booth Street Bridge to the east and west, and below the bridge to pathways.
Downtown West Station
Downtown West will replace a number of street bus stations along the Transitway and will be themed “Bytown” to reflect the early origins of Ottawa. The station is in a transitional area between dense downtown commercial and office buildings and a more residential neighbourhood to the west, part of Centretown. Both station entrances would be located on private property. It will be located 15 metres below street level.
- Access: West access will be through a tunnel at Lyon and Albert streets, which is land currently used as a parking lot. East access will be from Queen Street at Place de Ville, with potential access through the office tower from Albert Street.
Downtown East Station
The closest station to Parliament Hill, the Downtown East station will reflect a “Confederation” theme and include elements that recognize Ottawa’s role as the nation’s capital. Like Downtown West, this station will replace a number of Transitway bus stations. It will be located 16 metres below street level. The descent by stairs, elevator or escalator will take about a minute at both downtown stations.
- Access: Entrances are situated along the south side of Queen Street at the Sun Life Building and World Exchange Plaza on either side of O’Connor Street. The plans identify a possible alternate entrance to the north, at O’Connor and Sparks Street.
By far the largest station, it will cut a swath underground from the Rideau Centre mall to Elgin Street. It is also the deepest station at 29 metres in depth (a two-minute journey), below the Rideau Canal. Keeping with its “Gallery” theme, it will be a space for temporary art exhibits. Partnerships with art/academic institutions are being considered. The station will also provide universal access to the Rideau Canal using ramps. Building the station will involve a partnership with land owners as diverse at the company that owns the Rideau Centre, the NCC and federal public works and Parks Canada.
- Access: On the west side at Elgin Street, beside the National Arts Centre. The east entrance will be located inside the south side of the mall, near the food court.
Featuring an “Innovation” theme, this station will reflect the academic nature of its location, with details to be worked out in partnership with the University of Ottawa. It will involve rebuilding part of the existing Transitway station because the rail line will run along the current bus line, but the number of lanes for traffic on Nicholas Street will not be reduced.
- Access: At the location of the existing Transitway station, people can access Campus Station from the University of Ottawa to the east, and from a pedestrian tunnel under Nicholas Street to the west for residents in the Golden Triangle, who can cross the Corktown footbridge.
This exiting Transitway station south of the Queensway and north of the Rideau River will be converted for rail. The bus line is already one level below the street and it will remain that way, with additional cycling and pedestrian connections. This is another area that has a lot of room to grow, especially with residential developments to the southwest, close to the University of Ottawa.
- Access: From Less Avenue to the north and south.
Hurdman will continue to be a major transit hub and transfer point, with the addition of rail. Trains will actually be at one level above grade at Hurdman Station, so passengers arriving by bus will have to go up about seven metres. Lands north of Hurdman are owned by the NCC and are slated for development.
- Access: On the north, there are connections to pathways along the Rideau River, while the south provides access to the Transitway, Industrial Avenue and Riverside Drive.
This station will mark a spot where light rail meets heavy rail at the VIA station, which will be framed by the glass enclosures of the OC Transpo LRT station entrances. It will be an extension of the existing overhead walkways and the platform itself will be located one storey below the VIA Rail station. Of special note, the plans include the possibility of a pedestrian connection over Highway 417 to the Ottawa Baseball Stadium, the RCMP headquarters and Overbrook, a plan that is currently in the works but has received some criticism from city council.
- Access: North to Tremblay Road, a future pedestrian bridge and cycling pathways, and south to the VIA station.
St. Laurent Station
One of the stations that will see the fewest changes, St. Laurent will basically be converted from a below-ground bus line to a rail line. A wood “wave” form will be added as a new ceiling and design detail to integrate it with the rest of the stations. Buses will continue to operate above ground.
Access: Northwest to the St. Laurent Mall and bus connections; southwest to cycling and pedestrian pathways.
The Cyrville Station is another that will be designed with a boom in residential development in mind; an expanse of land directly north of the station is expected to be developed with homes, especially once LRT is available. The nearby Queensway Corporate Centre also has a lot of room for expansion, with one new office building already under construction. There will be access from both the east and west sides of Cyrville Road so riders won’t have to cross the busy street.
- Access: From the east and west sides of Cyrville Road.
The large, existing Blair Transitway Station will be renovated to incorporate LRT and will become the east-end hub and transfer point from buses to LRT. Buses will remain on the lower level, with trains one level above and a pedestrian overpass another level above the trains. A new roof structure will a wood-finished underside will form a new roof sweeping over the existing pedestrian walkway, and wind-break walls will also be added.
- Access: Northwest to the Gloucester City Centre and southeast to the Regional Road 174 pedestrian overpass
A train storage and maintenance centre will be located on a 16 hectare site on the north side of Belfast Road just east of where Belfast Road crosses the VIA right-of-way.