Which route does the most damage to useable green space?

Without a doubt, the Richmond-Byron route options are by far the most destructive to Ottawa’s green space when compared against other possible corridors.

In the case of Carling Ave options, the proposed route would largely run along the centre median of Carling Ave.  This strip of grass is approximately 5-6m wide, but it is completely unusable by residents as functional green space because, as anyone who has walked across Carling knows well, it is surrounded by six lanes of busy traffic. At intersections, the median narrows significantly for turning lanes.  This grass would disappear and lanes would most likely be narrowed or reduced to accommodate the train line, which engineers for the City indicate as requiring 10m width.

The case of the Ottawa River Parkway is the most counterintuitive of the three types of routes.  This area is rightly known and celebrated as a valued green space; however, running through the middle of it are two 2-lane asphalt highways.  The City’s proposal for this route is to lay rail lines on the east-bound section of the Parkway from Dominion to Lincoln Fields.  Doing so swaps asphalt for rail, and damages almost no green space.  This option removes the least amount of useable green space from Ottawa.

The Richmond-Byron route options are the only ones that involve significant destruction of City parkland.  The Byron Linear Park features a winding path for walking, running, and biking that’s approximately 3km long. It runs through a green space that is usually a little more than 20m in width but ranges from as little as 12m up to 30m.  It features nearly 1000 trees and is home to the Westboro Cenotaph.  Under its current top-ranked option, the City proposes to run the rail line on the southern two lanes of Richmond Rd where it is four lanes (650m Golden and Westminster).  Doing so will still require destroying about 20% of the park and may necessitate removing more trees than this to accommodate the overhead power lines for the trains.  The impact is far greater of the rest of the park west of Westminster, where the are not lanes of Richmond Rd to remove for rail.  With many large commercial and residential buildings close to the northern edge of Richmond, the park is the only remaining option: for about 2.5kms, the Richmond-Byron options destroy highly-used green space.  The width parameters also may not fully account for whatever appropriate barriers the City will need to erect to protect the families who use this park frequently from the 60km/h commuter trains that will be rolling through every 2-3 minutes meters away.

One of the City’s proposed Richmond-Byron routes is worse still than the scenario described above.  it’s fourth-ranked option would see the trains run from the end of the current Transitway from Dominion across Rochester Field and join Richmond-Byron just east of Westminster.  In this case, the train route would destroy green space effectively the entire way from Dominion to Lincoln Fields, trading most of the 650m section that ran mostly along 2 lanes of asphalt on Richmond for the green space of Rochester Field.

Only Richmond-Byron options destroy thousands of meters of park.  They are far more destructive to Ottawa’s useable green space than any of the other possibilities, with the Rochester Field option being essentially fully destructive along its entire length.  There are clearly smarter choices than these Richmond-Byon options.