Confederation Line LRT projected to boost economy in Ottawa

The chamber of commerce is on board with the city’s Confederation Line light-rail project and the 20,000 person-years in jobs it’s projected to create.

“The economic impact of people being able to get around the city is huge,” said Dave Donaldson, chairman of the board of directors.

During the Dec. 5 announcement, Premier Dalton McGuinty noted an estimated 80% of jobs generated from this project will be local.

Construction will produce more than 3,200 direct person-years of trades employment, including road building, civil works, tunnelling, track work, bridge work, as well as structural, architectural, electrical and mechanical work, and systems and communications jobs, according to a report in the Dec. 12 council agenda.

“Highly skilled technical staff will be hired, leading to an additional 700 person-years of employment in Ottawa. Also, 375 person-years of engineering employment will be created,” the report reads.

“These direct jobs will create a multiplier effect in the local economy, which is anticipated to generate more than 20,000 people years of employment in indirect or induced impact over the construction period.”

The LRT is slated to be operational in 2018.

“So 2017, 2018, those jobs won’t be around anymore, unless there’s further expansion of the route,” Donaldson said.

But maintenance jobs will be ongoing.

“There will be secondary manufacturing jobs for replacement, repair — all those kinds of things will occur as well,” he said.

Donaldson said he lived in Vancouver when the SkyTrain, the oldest and one of the longest fully-automated, driverless, rapid transit systems in the world was implemented in 1986.

“So all of a sudden you have new developments opening up, new residential areas opening up, because people can access transit more easily,” said Donaldson.

“You have hubs opening up with new apartment buildings, new business buildings, so there’s that whole aspect as well. No idea what the numbers will be, but overall there will be an economic boom.”

Earlier this week, Mark Fazio, a vice-president with EllisDon, said the Rideau Transit Group — which won the LRT contract — will have plenty of business opportunities for local companies.

“First and foremost what you should remember is the group that makes up RTG comprises of construction firms, general contractors and design firms. The majority of the physical work that is done on any project is performed by subcontractors, upwards of 90% or 95%. None of that work has been committed to any partner,” Fazio said.

“There is immense opportunity that remains for members of the local community to become involved in the project itself.”

EllisDon, which has an Ottawa office, is actively looking for Ottawa-area suppliers.

A special council meeting takes place Wednesday to debate the plan, and voting day is Dec. 19.

— With files from Jon Willing

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

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