Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to thank the committee members for inviting me to appear before the committee.
My name is Patrick Leclerc, and I am the General Manager of the Société de transport de l'Outaouais. With me is my colleague Alain Tremblay, Project Office Manager, Tramway Gatineau-Ottawa.
For over 10 years, the STO, in collaboration with several partners, including Public Services and Procurement Canada, the National Capital Commission, the City of Ottawa and Ville de Gatineau, has been studying and developing a dedicated public transit system that would link both sides of the river in our region. The challenges of connecting two provinces, two cities, including Canada’s capital, and two public transit systems, very likely make this future transportation project one of the most complex in Canada.
Without a doubt, these challenges add up, but they are greatly surpassed by the benefits expected in terms of mobility between the two cities, redesign of the urban space and safety around the parliamentary precinct.
At this point, we are still looking at two options for the tram’s insertion into downtown Ottawa. For today’s purposes, I will focus on the at‑grade insertion of the tram on Wellington Street. As you will see, this is quite an interesting solution from several points of view.
To begin with, this is far more than a transportation project: it is an opportunity to revitalize the heart of the nation's capital. The tram’s insertion on Wellington would involve significant urban redevelopment, enabling active transportation and public transit modes to safely co‑exist. The plans also include a public space conducive to official events and ceremonies, urban design and landscaping that will create an inviting public environment only steps from Canada’s Parliament and nearby businesses and residential neighbourhoods. Three stations are planned to meet transit riders’ needs and to align with the OC Transpo system.
Expanding the pedestrian perimeter on Wellington Street will also improve the safety aspect for everyone. Here, I am referring to residents, merchants, workers, pedestrians, cyclists, public transit users, tourists and, of course, dignitaries visiting the Parliament buildings. The next steps in the project involve an in‑depth analysis of the access points to the parliamentary precinct to ensure safe and fluid traffic.
Because of its frequency and high capacity, we are confident that the tram will encourage more people to use public transit, which in turn will significantly reduce the number of cars in the downtown. The STO will also review its current service offer and reduce the number of buses crossing to Ottawa. This significant reduction in the number of vehicles will enhance both the safety and fluidity of traffic in the heart of the nation’s capital.
There is no denying that the national capital region is expanding, and that transportation needs are constantly growing. The Gatineau-Ottawa tramway project will be able to meet those needs, well beyond the next 30 to 50 years. From an environmental point of view, the tram will be able to accelerate the shift from solo driving to public transit. It will also be an invaluable asset in achieving ambitious greenhouse gas, or GHG, emission reduction targets set by municipalities and other levels of government.
And with that, Madam Chair, I conclude my testimony.
Thank you for giving me this splendid opportunity.
I will be happy to answer committee members' questions.