Wellington Street handover is not a simple decision, Ottawa officials tell MPs

Access to underground services, allowing for emergency access, rerouting transit vehicles, as well as the real estate value of the road are among the concerns

Article content

OTTAWA — Local officials told MPs considering whether the federal government should control the street in front of Parliament Hill that it would be a complicated handover and there are a lot of details beyond just security to be worked out.

Advertisement 2

Article content

MPs on a parliamentary committee have been studying the notion of transferring control over Wellington Street, which runs in front of the Parliamentary precinct and the Prime Minister’s Office, to the federal government. The street was taken over by the Freedom Convoy protesters for more than three weeks in February.

Ottawa City manager Steve Kanellakos told MPs that handing over the roadway would require a lot of work to ensure the city could still access underground services, allow for emergency access and rerouting transit vehicles, as well as the real estate value of the road.

He said in normal times, the street handles 56,000 trips a day and it’s a major connection in the downtown.

“It’s a very valuable asset, and is used by residents from both sides of the Ottawa River and by millions of tourists who visit the nation’s capital every year,” he said.

Advertisement 3

Article content

The street has been effectively closed since the convoy was cleared in a massive police operation. Kanellakos said the city has received many complaints about the closure.

The occupation of Wellington was put to an end when the Trudeau government invoked the Emergencies Act, giving police extraordinary powers. Kanellakos was asked by Conservative MP Kelly McCauley if the city’s police had requested the use of the act and he said they had not.

In a report to his city council, also released Thursday, Kanellakos said the city had spent an estimated $37 million dealing with the protest.

“We were seeking resources and we did use the act to put an end to the occupation,” he told MPs.

He said the city had spent almost $400,000 on towing services, most of which has now been recovered. The city issued 3,800 parking tickets to protesters over the three weeks the convoy was in Ottawa, about half of which Kanellakos said had been paid. He said 110 vehicles were towed with most of them now back in the hands of owners, but about five per cent are still sitting in tow yards.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Kanellakos told MPs that the city is eager to see a return to normal downtown with more government office workers returning to the core.

“The City of Ottawa is very concerned about not having people coming back downtown to what it was pre-pandemic, because it has an impact on businesses.”

Further complicating any turnover of Wellington Street is a proposal to put a new tramway down Wellington, connecting Ottawa and Gatineau.

Gatineau’s Société de transport de l’Outaouais is proposing the tramway to link the two cities and is studying exactly what route it should take, but Wellington Street is a much less costly route than the alternative of tunneling under nearby Sparks Street.

National Capital Commission CEO Tobi Nussbaum said the NCC has only started conversations about what might be involved in a transfer, working with other federal departments to determine who would be in charge.

Advertisement 5

Article content

But he said there are definite benefits to the idea that are worth considering.

“The transfer of Wellington Street to the federal jurisdiction offers the opportunity to rethink the use of this important space for people visiting the capital for gathering and peaceful protest,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say we have a very open mind and are positively inclined towards a rethink of how that space can work.”

The committee is expected to make a recommendation on the idea soon, but it won’t be binding on the government. A transfer would require negotiations between governments before it could go ahead.

While the federal government doesn’t control the road itself, it owns all of the buildings on that section of Wellington Street and recently awarded a contract for a major redevelopment of those buildings.

• Email: [email protected] | Twitter:



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Checkout latest world news below links :
World News || Latest News || U.S. News

Source link

The post Wellington Street handover is not a simple decision, Ottawa officials tell MPs appeared first on WorldNewsEra.

Tags :