By: Michael Power

A $16.6 million commitment from the provincial government is set to make Algonquin College the centre of a major transit hub for west end commuters city officials announced Thursday, Nov. 1.

Mayor Jim Watson, provincial Transport Minister Bob Chiarelli, and college President Kent MacDonald made the announcement in the ACCE building to a crowded room of media, city councillors and municipal officials.

“Once completed, the project will allow the City of Ottawa to extend the south-west transitway from Baseline Road towards Tallwood Drive including providing access through the transit tunnel adjacent to [the ACCE] building,” said the mayor.

Chiarelli took the federal government to task for investing just $6 billion in infrastructure this year while the province of Ontario is investing more than double that amount in the same time.

“This year alone, the [provincial government] will invest $12.9 billion in the infrastructure of Ontario,” he said of this year’s provincial budget.

Chiarelli said he hoped that the province and the city could persuade the federal government to join the project as a partner through the P3 Canada Fund, a fund specifically for public-private partnerships.

“Although the federal government has stated quite clearly that their current infrastructure programs have wound up, P3 Canada has funding for public-private partnership projects and so this is one of the things that is possible to explore with Algonquin and the city, and the province,” said Chiarelli. “There could be a public-private partnership evolving out of this. That’s actually been contemplated for quite a period of time.

“Today’s announcement is going to significantly improve the commute for students enrolled at Algonquin College and the entire west end transit corridor,” Chiarelli said.

“[The project] will provide significant enhancement for the entire Centrepoint community and supports Algonquin College as one of the economic engines of Ottawa and Eastern Ontario,” said Chiarelli. “We can’t underline that enough; it is a driver for talent, it creates talent, it does probably more than any other college in ensuring that they find jobs. They work with the local business community to determine what the human resource needs are and they deliver and they deliver big time. So we are very, very proud of the contribution of Algonquin.”

Watson said that this project has been on the books since Chiarelli was mayor. “This was one of the missing pieces of the puzzle to ensure that we’re making progress with respect to transit in our community,” said Watson.

“We expect to have shovels in the ground by the end of 2013 with completion in late 2015 to early 2016,” said Watson.
The mayor also suggested that improved transit to Baseline station could help expand the college’s Woodroffe campus.