Ref N°: ACS2008-PTE-PLA-0105
Offer of Provincial Funding for Environmental Assessment of Improvements to Ottawa ROAD 174/ Prescott-Russell Road 17 East of Trim Road
OFFRE DE FINANCEMENT PROVINCIAL POUR L’ÉVALUATION ENVIRONNEMENTALE CONCERNANT LES AMÉLIORATIONS À LA ROUTE 174 D’OTTAWA/ROUTE 17 DE PRESCOTT-RUSSELL À L’EST DU CHEMIN TRIM
That the Transportation Committee recommend Council advise the Province of Ontario that the City of Ottawa is unable to accept the offer of $5M at this time to fund an environmental assessment for the widening of the Highway 174 (Trim Road easterly to Rockland) on the basis that the expansion is not needed to address growth pressures in the City of Ottawa over the 20-year planning period and is therefore not included in the current Official Plan of the City of Ottawa.
Que le Comité des transports recommande au Conseil d’aviser la province de l’Ontario que la Ville d’Ottawa ne peut pas présentement accepter l’offre de 5 M$ pour financer une évaluation environnementale dans le cadre de l’agrandissement de l’autoroute 174 (de l’est du chemin Trim jusqu’à Rockland) parce que l’agrandissement n’est pas requis pour répondre aux pressions démographiques de la ville d’Ottawa sur une période de planification de 20 ans, et donc que cet agrandissement n’est pas inclus dans le Plan officiel actuel de la Ville d’Ottawa.
In June 1992, the Ministry of Transportation completed its Highway 17 Widening Study, which recommended a four-laning of the highway to a semi-limited access status for the 22-kilometre segment between Trim Road and County Highway 8 east of Rockland. A median barrier was proposed with at-grade intersections at key crossroads, and with limited access (right-in, right-out only) to properties (houses) situated on the north side along the Ottawa River.
Shortly thereafter, the Province downloaded the Highway to the former Region of Ottawa-Carleton and the United Counties of Prescott and Russell.
On 3 August 2007, the Office of the Premier announced a funding contribution towards the widening of the Highway 174 to four lanes between Trim Road and County Road 8. This contribution is conditional on federal funding as well as contributions from the City of Ottawa and the County of Prescott-Russell as follows:
Ontario $40 M
Canada $40 M
County of Prescott-Russell $ 9 M
Project Total $104 M
On 19 October 2007, the Government of Canada announced its $40M contribution under the Build Canada Fund. The press release indicated that the widening is needed to improve safety, reduce congestion, and protect the environment by reducing air pollution from idling cars.
On 31 March 2008, the City received a letter from the Ministry of Transportation offering a grant of $5M towards the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the widening of the Highway 174. Funds would be transferred to the City by 30 June 2008 provided that certain conditions were met – including the stipulation that the City (and the County) has a bylaw/council resolution in place by 30 April 2008 that would direct the funds towards an EA study for the roadway widening. A copy of the letter is attached as Document 1.
The former Region’s 1997 Official Plan (OP) and Transportation Master Plan (TMP) identified roadway infrastructure needs to support forecasted growth. The Region’s list of roadways did not include any improvements to Regional Road 174 east of Trim Road. Similarly in 2003, the amalgamated City of Ottawa produced a new OP and TMP – and once again, using the 2021 timeframe, no infrastructure changes to the City’s Highway 174 were proposed for the rural portion east of Trim Road. Currently, the OP and TMP are being updated and the demand on roadway infrastructure will be reassessed as part of this exercise. The results will be presented to Council for approval in early 2009. It is, however, not anticipated that this project will be a short-term priority and therefore, within the five-year “life” of an EA.
In addition, the Mayor’s Task Force on Transportation released its findings in June 2007 – with recommendations that included the need to examine public transit travel, as an alternative option to auto use, for residents in the greater Ottawa Area (commuter shed areas linked to Ottawa).
The widening of the Highway 174 would certainly be of value to residents of Clarence/Rockland and communities east of the City’s boundary, but currently it presents little benefit to residents of Ottawa. A widened freeway in the rural area could also encourage sprawl and out migration to surrounding municipalities, which is not in line with the City’s smart growth principles.
The Government of Canada’s press release made reference to safety as a need to widen the highway. If there are safety issues, they can be resolved in various ways (lighting, signage, geometrics), which may not require the widening of a 22-kilometre stretch of road. The City’s Traffic and Parking Operations Branch has already initiated an In-Service Safety Review study of Highway 174 from Trim Road to the City boundary. The Study involves an in-depth independent engineering review and analysis of the subject highway. The outcome of the Study will be a set of recommendations an implementation plan to improve road safety and traffic operations in the short-, medium- and long-term.
In the broader context of transportation needs for the City of Ottawa, there are many projects in both the rural and urban area that have not been implemented due to significant lack of funding over the years. The $40M required as the City’s share of the widening could be put to better use elsewhere that would bring more benefit to residents of Ottawa.
Furthermore, one of the objectives of the on-going Interprovincial Crossings Study is to link the new river crossing to the highway system (either directly or via an arterial road). There are several east-end crossing options that connect to the Highway 174 before tying into the Highway 417. While the Crossings Study will identify impacts on the existing road network, perhaps it is time for the Province (a funding partner of the Interprovincial Crossings Study) to reconsider the importance of the Highway 174 as a provincial facility that connects neighbouring municipalities.
No formal consultation took place in the development of this report. However, the City, following the Provincial and Federal funding announcements, received public comments indicating a strong opposition to the widening of the Highway 174.
Since the widening of the Highway 174 (east of Trim) is not identified in the current TMP, no funding was set aside for this work. This project is not identified in the Development Charges By-law and policies restrict the City from incurring DC debt for projects that are not listed in the background study documents.
If the City were to fund this project, it will have to do so from the tax base (at 100 per cent).
Document 1 Correspondence from Minister Jim Bradley (MTO) to Mayor O’Brien
(Received 31 March 2008)
Upon receipt of Council approval of the report recommendation, the City Clerk will advise the Province that the City does not support the widening of the Highway 174 (east of Trim Road) and cannot accept the $5M grant to undertake an environmental assessment at this time.
CORRESPONDENCE FROM MINISTER JIM BRADLEY (MTO)