Public transit, municipal priorities, and federal government

Petition: 425

Issue(s): Air quality, Climate change, Environmental assessment, Governance, Transport

Petitioner(s): A Canadian organization

Petitioner Location(s): Ottawa, Ontario

Date Received: 31 May 2019

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition raises questions about the federal government’s Budget 2019 announcement to fund a study for a sixth interprovincial bridge crossing the Ottawa River between the cities of Ottawa, Ontario, and Gatineau, Quebec. The petition expresses concerns that construction of a sixth bridge will increase greenhouse gas emissions from vehicular traffic. The petition argues that government interventions that promote car usage over public transit will increase greenhouse gas emissions, which undermine Canada’s Paris Agreement commitment to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

The petition asserts that the government should instead focus on intercity public light rail transit (LRT) using the existing but currently closed Prince of Wales Bridge, a railway bridge across the Ottawa River. The petition questions the April 2019 federal Cabinet decision to rescind a 2018 Canadian Transportation Agency order that the City of Ottawa repair the Prince of Wales Bridge so it could be reopened. Additionally, the petition asserts that improvements to public transit and a transition to LRT better aligns with federal climate change targets as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The petition asks whether the government carried out an environmental assessment and consultations before the Budget 2019 announcement. The petition also asks whether the government held consultations with local stakeholders and politicians before the decision was made to rescind the agency order on the Prince of Wales Bridge. The petition requests data on additional estimated vehicular usage and increased greenhouse gas emissions associated with constructing this new bridge compared with constructing and using an intercity LRT line across the Prince of Wales Bridge. In addition, the petition asks for details on federal contributions to the LRT systems in Ottawa and Gatineau between 2015 and 2019 compared with contributions to bridge and road maintenance and construction.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Transport Canada