LRT Stage 2: Change in Cleary Station met with mixed reaction

A change in the location of one station in the proposal for Stage 2 for Light Rail is causing concern among residents.

Cleary Station in Westboro will be built on Byron Linear Park, between Cleary Avenue and Sherbourne Road. The green space is across from the original location at 747 Richmond, where the city had planned to tear down a strip mall to make room for Cleary station.

Bay Ward Councillor Theresa Kavanagh and Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper held a public meeting to consult with residents and address their concerns Monday night.

A change in the location of one station in the proposal for Stage 2 for Light Rail is causing concern among residents.

Cleary Station in Westboro will be built on Byron Linear Park, between Cleary Avenue and Sherbourne Road. The green space is across from the original location at 747 Richmond, where the city had planned to tear down a strip mall to make room for Cleary station.

Bay Ward Councillor Theresa Kavanagh and Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper held a public meeting to consult with residents and address their concerns Monday night.

Kavanagh found out about the change less than two weeks ago when a more than 100 page report detailing the latest proposal was made public Feb 22.

"This is a problem in communication," said Kavanagh.

"Kind of shocked, like what? We didn't know."

Kavanagh said some people were kept in the loop but she wasn't one of them, after taking over from former councillor Mark Taylor. But Kavanagh says, it's not that she's against the new location, but she's concerned for the residents who have had little time to digest the changes.

"They're being presented something in the last minute," said Kavanagh.

"This ward wants it, it's going to be a game change, but it's the way it's been done, it's been rushed and it's over budget."

Stage 2 for Light Rail in Ottawa is estimated to cost $1 billion more than originally estimated, and will have a two-year delay. However, the second stage has grown from 30 kilometres to 44 and from 19 stations to 24, expanding the transit system to further areas.

In the report, the city says the move was to improve the design and alignment during the in-market period, and was made for technical and cost-saving purposes.

Reaction to the re-location has been mixed.

"They kicked out a bunch of businesses to use this space (747 Richmond) and businesses closed because they couldn't afford to reopen at other locations," one frustrated resident told CTV Monday.

"I like the greenery, we walk there a lot and I wouldn't like to see it changed," said Joannie Marks.

Others are more welcoming to the news, if it shaves off costs.

"Whatever costs less," said Bill Newman.

"They should be looking for other cost savings, they could run it above ground for example."

No decision has been made on the future of 747 Richmond, which the city now owns, but Kavanagh says she'd like to see it used for affordable housing.

Ottawa's city councillors are expected to vote on the plan Wednesday, however, a motion has been tabled to delay the vote.