Rochester Field for western LRT?

Gary Boyd is applauding the National Capital Commission’s decision to deny the city’s request for an LRT extension across federal land.

“That’s what we were hoping for,” said the Fraser Ave. resident.

“We really don’t want it to go by here at all and have the disruption.”

NCC officials held a surprise press conference downtown Friday morning, announcing two options for the city and its massive transit project: Bury the stretch near the Sir John A. Macdonald Pkwy., or use Rochester Field.

“That was always, what we felt, was the best option … to go across Rochester Field,” Boyd said.

The city is now left finding an acceptable preferred route.

Boyd has been considering selling his home for at least a year now, due to the project.

“It is getting very busy; another condo being built behind us so I don’t think anything’s changed that way; move somewhere quieter,” he said.

But many residents are staying put.

Kitchissippi Coun. Katherine Hobbs said the community was never happy about the prospect of Rochester Field being an option for an LRT cut-through.

“I think now it looks like we’re going to have to look at that corridor,” Hobbs said, adding she believes it’s a “valuable piece of land” that should be used for something “green-related.”

Hobbs’s term as councillor ends Nov. 30 since she was defeated in the municipal election.

Jeff Leiper, the councillor-elect for Kitchissippi, said any impact to the green space in Rochester Field would be “unacceptable.”

The fear in the community now is that the Byron linear park could once again be in play after the city found a route that avoided eliminating the strip of parkland.

Leiper said it would be a surprise if council agreed to any option that would sacrifice the Byron linear park, something he’s “adamantly opposed” to.

“I’m still digesting the implications of the announcement,” Leiper said.

A spokesman for federal minister John Baird said the NCC’s move isn’t political, noting the city can’t take federal land availability for granted.

“The NCC has an important responsibility to protect our nation’s capital and its green space. The city’s job is public transit,” Adam Hodge wrote in an e-mail.

The feds “remain confident” the NCC and city “can come to a decision that is beneficial for the people of Ottawa.”

-With files from Jon Willing


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