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Stage 2 of LRT $1 billion higher and delayed two years

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Stage 2 for Light Rail in Ottawa is estimated to cost $1billion more than originally estimated. At a technical briefing Friday city staff said the cost is now estimated at $4.6 billion from $3.6 billion.

The project, which will see LRT taken west to Moodie, east to Trim Rd., and extend the O-Train Trillium Line to Riverside South, is also delayed by two years to 2025.

The Director of O-Train Planning, Chris Swail, says the original deadline of 2023 was an ‘aggressive target’ set in 2017.

“We were hopeful but we weren’t going to bet the house on it,” Swail said. “Since then we brought on a lot of additional scope – so the extension from Bayshore to Moodie, the Limebank extension that goes from Bowesville Rd. all the way to the west side of Limebank – that came into the program late so we were playing catch up.”

The preferred proponents to lead the projects were also announced Friday. East West Connectors, made up of Kiewit Corporation and Vinci Construction, was selected at the preferred choice to expand the east-west Confederation Line. SNC Lavalin was selected at the preferred choice for the Trillium Line.

The bids from East West Connectors – a factor in the price increase.

“Market pressures have increased pricing over the last couple of years by the tune of almost $600million,” Swail said.

City staff was also asked about the commitment from the provincial government. Right now there is only a verbal agreement and nothing on paper.

“We are confident that this money is going to come through, it’s a great project, and all indications from the new government is that they also believe it’s a great project,” Swail said.

Stage 2 of LRT is expected to add 44 kilometres of track and 24 new stations bringing more than 70 per cent of residents within 5 kilometres of rail.

Swail says shovels are expected to be in the ground this summer.  

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City staff propose ‘gold belt’ to hem in future Ottawa development

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The City of Ottawa is about to have a second marathon debate about where to allow future suburbs to be built, and this time staff propose hemming in development by creating what’s being dubbed the “gold belt.”

Eight months after city council decided to expand the urban boundary by 1,281 hectares to help house a growing population, senior city planners have released the map of which properties should be developed — and which property owners stand to see values soar if their lands are rezoned. 

They include areas north of Kanata on March Road, near the future Bowesville O-Train station in the south end, and at the southern edge of Orléans.

Scoring rural properties on such things as how close they are to transit and how costly it would be to build pipes and roads proved a challenge over the past several months, however.

“The easy land has been gobbled up in years past, in previous boundary expansions,” said Coun. Scott Moffatt, who belongs to a group of councillors that meets about the new official plan. “So now we’re looking at those leftover pieces and where we can [grow], knowing council was clear we would not be touching agricultural lands.”

270 hectares short of goal

Staff struggled to come up with all 1,281 hectares council approved adding in May 2020 because they had too many issues with “sub-optimal” lands.

Instead, they recommended converting 1,011 hectares of rural land to urban for now to meet provincial requirements, and then spending the next five years studying three options for making up the 270-hectare shortfall.

That opens the door to creating an entirely new suburb. 

For instance, one option involves a huge parcel near the Amazon warehouse southeast of the city where the Algonquins of Ontario envision a community of 35,000 to 45,000 people called Tewin, which they would build with developers Taggart.

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How an Ottawa woman built a majestic snow dragon in her front yard

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OTTAWA — You may sometimes feel winter drag on, but one Ottawa woman is not letting that dim her creativity.

Dr. Mary Naciuk is family doctor and rural emergency room physician. She spent some of her free time this weekend building a majestic snow dragon in front of her south Ottawa home.

“It’s just fun to get outside and do something creative,” she told CTV News on Sunday.

There was plenty of snow to use, after Ottawa saw a record 21 cm of snow on Saturday.

She said that after her husband cleared the driveway, the pile of snow left behind lent itself to being turned into a magnificent dragon, but it takes more than just the right kind of snow to make a sculpture like this.

Naciuk tells CTV News a shovel, a butter knife, a spoon and even a blowtorch were used to give the dragon its sharp edges and defined scales.

“Anything pointy with a small detail is really hard to do with just your fingers or the butter knife and spoon I was using, so (the blowtorch) just makes a fine point,” she said.

Her son tweeted about it on Saturday and Naciuk says many people have stopped to take a look.

My mom has reached the pass me a blowtorch and shovel and watch me make a snow dragon stage of the pandemic

(I was only allowed to shovel piles of snow) pic.twitter.com/aphZotpHiC — Tom Naciuk (@NaciukThomas) January 16, 2021

“A lot of people stop on their way to the ice rink and have a look and take pictures. It’s kind of fun,” she said.

It was a welcome relief to spend some time working on something creative outdoors, Naciuk said.

“Get outside, get some exercise, clear your mind, do something that is not COVID for a few hours. It obeys all the rules. It was great,” she said, adding that the dragon took her about five hours to build.

She’s been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for months. 

“It’s been a steep learning curve. It’s been exhausting,” she said. “A lot of the time is learning how to deliver care to people and maintain all the precautions that we need to. That’s been hard. A lot of people are not able to work from time to time, so we fill a lot of extra shifts. It’s been a lot more hours of work than it used to be, that’s for sure.”

Naciuk returns to work on Monday after a weekend of respite but says if the conditions are right—a nice mild day, a good snowfall, and some free time—another sculpture may well appear.

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Keeping the vaccines flowing, staying at home, and a new American President: Five stories to watch this week

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OTTAWA — The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Ottawa continues, but there are questions about supply. How are police and bylaw handling the new stay-at-home order? And, a day of prayer for a beloved spiritual leader.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch this week.

Vaccine rollout continues

Residents of Ottawa will continue to roll up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccines but there are new questions about how much supply the city will have.

Last week, it was announced that Pfizer would be cutting shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine to Canada in half over the next month because of an expansion of its European factory. That means it’s unclear how many additional doses Ottawa will be receiving in the coming weeks.

On Saturday, Mayor Jim Watson told the CTV News at Six that between 5,800 and 6,000 doses were expected in the city on Tuesday, but now he’s unsure if that will be delivered.

The City’s vaccination teams have visited all 28 of the city’s long-term care homes and are expected to begin working with residents and staff of the city’s high-risk retirement homes soon.

Will COVID-19 cases keep climbing?

It has now been three weeks since the provincewide shutdown began in Ontario and it remains to be seen if Ottawa’s curve will start to bend toward lower rates.

The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa more than doubled in the first two weeks of January and the number of people in hospitals nearly quadrupled. However, the number of new cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period has been slowly dropping in the past few days.

It is still too early to tell whether the stay-at-home order that came into effect on Jan. 14 has had any effect on transmission.

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