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Light Rail Seen as Route to 'Big City' Status for Ottawa

By unanimous vote, Ottawa's city council approved the contract to build a $2.1 billion light rail system for the Canadian capital this week, reports David Reevely. The vote comes after the failure of a similarly bold rail plan approved six years ago.

If all goes as planned, the residents of Ottawa will be hopping on board the 12.5-kilometer "Confederation Line" at one of 13 stations in 2018. Because a $725-million rail plan that city council approved in 2006 fell victim to shifting political winds, on the day of the most recent vote "the ghost of rail plans past haunted the council chamber," says Reevely

But rather than dwell on past failures, the councillors instead focused on the expected impact the rail project will have on the city. “Today we start a process of change and a process of growth … from a small-medium-sized city, to a big city,” Alta Vista Coun. Peter Hume said.

““This is a project for our city. It’s a project for my kids, and for their kids,” Knoxdale-Merivale’s Keith Egli said.

"Even at its peak," writes Reevely, "the last project got only about two-thirds support from the politicians of the day and never finally secured federal funding — which, for this project, arrived mid-meeting in the hands of Ottawa-Orléans MP Royal Galipeau, who bore two copies of a funding agreement signed by Transportation Minister Denis Lebel."

“You’re going to be proud that we have helped create a transportation system that will be the envy of many cities around the world, not just Canada,” mayor Jim Watson told the council.

Full Story: Ottawa train contract gets 24-0 approval from council

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