A day before council is to vote on a $2.1 billion light rail plan, city councillors got into a verbal dust-up Wednesday morning over what areas of the city should be studied for rail transportation next.
Rideau-Goulbourn Councillor Scott Moffat tweeted “ZING!” during the City Council meeting, characterizing the tone of debate as councilors accused each other of “jumping the queue” in attempts to get rail service to their wards sooner.
Cumberland Councillor Stephen Blais introduced a motion–which was eventually approved–that asks city staff to develop options for building a rapid transit rail line to Orleans, at the earliest opportunity, given certain financial constraints.
Blais’ motion has staff looking at ways to spend money earmarked in the city’s long-term transportation plan for rapid bus service to Orleans on rail instead–and do that before city staff updates the citywide Transportation Master Plan next year, he said.
Gloucester Southgate Councillor Diane Deans objected, saying the motion would help the east “jump the queue” for transportation projects. She suggested an amendment to remove the words “at the earliest opportunity” from the motion.
It was voted down. But first, Blais said her “diatribe about queue-jumping was not well-received.”
“In terms of cue-jumping, a month ago, Councillor Deans you put forward a motion to the Transit Commission to spend $200,000 of unbudgeted money to advance the O Train expansion to Leitrim,” said Blais.
He added that his motion will allow the city to plan properly for the citywide transportation master plan, which in look at “who gets what when” next year.
His motion passed unanimously after Deans’ amendment failed.
Mayor Jim Watson said that the location for the next rail project won’t be decided until the first project has been started.
“It’s great to dream about the next phases, and it’s great to see council very enthusiastic about wanting the route further east, further west and further south, but let’s get phase one done first, and then we’ll start working on the following phases,” he said.
Council is set to vote on the $2.1 billion LRT line from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Station on Thursday.