MOOSE interprovincial bridge, real estate development project wins legal victory

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The Prince of Wales bridge -- the key link in MOOSE's regional commuter rail proposal

CTA orders city to repair Prince of Wales Bridge within 12 month or offer rail line for sale

Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Proponents for an inter-city rail project tied to anticipated real estate developments in eastern Ontario and western Quebec have won a legal victory in a Feb. 16 Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) decision[gview file=”https://ottawaconstructionnews.com/wp-content/uploads/R-2018-23-eng.pdf”]ordering the City of Ottawa to either restore a portion of rail line leading to the bridge within a year, or permanently discontinue it.

Joseph Potvin representing the MOOSE Consortium says, if the city discontinues the rail line, his organization would have the legal authority to purchase it at a reasonable cost under CTA regulations that require railway companies to advertise the discontinuance and invite applications from others to purchase discontinued lines.

The city tore up a track section of the east-west rail line it owns as part of the O-Train service as it was building the Bayview Light Rail Transit station. Mayor Jim Watson has indicated that the city visualizes using the rail line as part of the city’s LRT system by connecting it to Gatineau sometime in the future, but that the plans for this interprovincial expansion are not imminent.

The city told the CTA last September that it would take about two years to realign the tracks and three years to restore the bridge. The CTA responded by telling the city the timelines weren’t reasonable. The city then told the CTA that the agency was exceeding its jurisdiction, The Ottawa Citizen has reported.

In a memo to councillors, city solicitor Rick O’Connor says Ottawa’s lawyers are reviewing the decision because the costs to restore the line would be significant. “That review is intended to inform a recommendation as to the next steps to be taken in this matter, which may include a request for judicial review.”

“MOOSE is well prepared for the steps the city is required to take, and our initiative is strongly in (the) interests of City of Ottawa citizens and businesses,” Potvin said.

Under the original MOOSE plans, the privately operated rail system would connect municipalities including Smiths Falls and Wakefield with Ottawa though the rail line, and the company would make its profit by sharing in the appreciated land value at stations along the route. MOOSE would pay Ottawa a fee for using the city-owned bridge over the Ottawa River.

MOOSE’s business plan is based on arcane federal railway rules, coupled with the proposed rail service’s interprovincial route.

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