How Will the LRT Affect Downtown Ottawa?

As an influx of tourists and patriotism are set to take over the nation’s capital in the coming month, Ottawa has done everything from welcoming the world to Lansdowne to spending $300,000 on fireworks for Canada’s long-awaited 150th anniversary. The Dutch even engineered a special tulip meant to resemble the Canadian flag for the occasion, which is a nice touch. But as all things come and go, so will Canada’s landmark birthday on July 1st.
 
 
Residents of Ottawa will hardly have to time to catch their breath, as sweeping change will continue to engulf the city for the foreseeable future. For years the nation’s capital has been growing at a faster rate than Canada as a whole and is projected to surpass a population of one-million within the next decade. If one considers Gatineau part of Greater Ottawa – which many do – when the city’s population is already comfortably over that crucial million. Well aware of this projected growth, City Hall has already begun to improve Ottawa’s infrastructure accordingly. The primary example of these changes is, of course, the introduction of a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system.
 
 
Costing over five-billion dollars, the impact of LRT will first be felt in the downtown core, where Confederation Line (stage 1) is set to launch in 2018. This will manifest itself by both increasing the quality of life of local residents as well as upping property values in the area.
 
 

Freeing Downtown

Anyone who has ever lived, worked or even seen downtown Ottawa can tell you that both Slater and Albert street(s) are not pleasant places to be during rush hour. It’s not hard to understand why either, as buses currently make over 6000 combined trips on those two streets on a daily basis. Not only does this equate to longer commutes for those waiting for a bus, but it also means intense congestion for several hours each day.
 
LRT will aim to provide a solution for these issues by replacing over 60% of the buses that travel along Albert Street and a ridiculous 95% of bus trips from Slater Street. Assuming that the trains run on time – which is admittedly a big assumption for OC Transpo – commuters who travel in and out of the downtown core on a daily basis have a real reason for optimism. Not only will the LRT theoretically reduce waiting times to board public transportation, but the city estimates that a rail-system will lower an average commute anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
 
In an unexpected yet pleasant surprise, OC Transpo does not currently plan on gouging Ottawa residents in regards to LRT fares. As a matter of fact, the cost to ride light-rail will be the same as the current bus fare, and transfers between rail and bus routes will be free. A superior public transportation system combined with a low price of admission will surely convert some motorists to LRT – although the city’s estimate of taking 10,000 off the road may be a tad over-confident – which will further reduce congestion downtown.
 
Less traffic, shorter boarding times, and faster commutes? All of the price residents are currently paying? Sounds like a good deal.
 
 

Rising Property Value

A generally accepted effect of a new transit system being introduced into a city is the rise of property values in the areas with easy access to that system. Studies have proven this effect in New Jersey, various Californian cities, and even in nearby Hamilton. Although there are certainly negative aspects of living close to a transit station – such as noise pollution and increased traffic – the proximity to rapid rail transit appears to outweigh these consequences.
 
Ottawa has followed this longstanding trend, and since the proposition of the LRT in 2011, properties situated near the future transit system have continued to increase in value. This upward direction has picked up steam in recent months, especially in the downtown condo market. These once empty condos have been selling at higher prices and spending less time on the market than ever before in 2017, and there’s no reason to expect this to stop anytime soon. While this is welcome news to current homeowners, it likely means increased rent in downtown Ottawa and the surrounding areas.
 
Light rail effectively extends the reach of the urban core by reducing the time it takes the average person travel to and from the area. As previously mentioned, the LRT will reduce commutes by up to 15 minutes. Not only will this give Ottawa residents in Westboro, Nepean and Orleans faster than ever access to downtown, but it also means that those areas will appreciate in value as well. Now that it won’t take forty-plus minutes to bus in and out of Nepean, residents who are priced out of central Ottawa may find a suitable haven in these areas. There are also plans to include thousands of affordable housing units in the development of Lebreton Flats, so not all hope is lost to renters.
 
With all of this being said, the initial boost a new transit system provides to nearby properties after it is introduced is rarely fully sustained in the long run. So if you’re looking to take advantage of the increased housing market in Ottawa, it’s a good idea to get some help from a real estate agent from Bennett Property Shop.
 
All in all, Ottawa as a metropolitan area has been crying out for a better public transportation system for years and hopefully, LRT is the solution the city needs. By alleviating the traffic nightmare in downtown in addition to increasing the speed in which residents can navigate the city, property values are sure to rise in urban areas along the LRT. Although low-income renters may be ushered out of the downtown core by these increased prices, the improved transit system means that the surrounding areas are more accessible than ever, which will provide more and more housing options to residents of every economic bracket.
 
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