A Strategic Plan for Interprovincial Crossings and Sustainable Transportation for Canada’s Capital Region

The NCC is leading the development of the Long-Term Integrated Interprovincial Crossings Plan in collaboration with its provincial and municipal partners. This Plan will recommend the best way to manage congestion across the Ottawa River, from now to 2050.

This Plan is particularly important now as more and more people and goods are expected to cross back and forth between Ottawa and Gatineau.

Finding solutions for how people and goods travel more easily and efficiently across the Ottawa River is critical to the long-term wellbeing of Canada’s Capital Region - environmentally, socially, and economically.

The Plan is one of a series of NCC and PSPC initiatives that are working towards the continued safety and function of the interprovincial crossings in Canada’s Capital Region. Learn more about all the studies taking place.

The latest on the project

In fall 2020, over 1300 participants took part in the first phase of a series of public consultations and stakeholder sessions about the project.

Input received through the engagement process will be reviewed and taken into account to refine the Plan’s vision, goals and guiding principles. It will also help shape the range of scenarios that will be evaluated in the next phase.

We will engage with the public again in late 2020 or early 2021 on the possible scenarios.

We thank everyone who participated in this first step of the process. A public consultation report will be published before the next public consultation.

Context

There are currently nine interprovincial crossings in Canada’s Capital Region including seven bridges and two ferries. The maps below (Exhibit 1) show the location of these crossings.

Exhibit 1: Maps of interprovincial bridges and ferries in Canada’s Capital Region

Most interprovincial travel is made using the five vehicular bridges in the urban area. These are the Champlain Bridge, Chaudière Crossing, Portage Bridge, Alexandra Bridge and Macdonald-Cartier Bridge. Two other bridges — the Prince of Wales Bridge near the Region’s core area and the Beachburg Rail Corridor Bridge in the west — are not in use.

The two ferry crossings are located at the Region’s eastern and western edges.

Canada’s Capital Region, which consists mainly of the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, between which the Ottawa River flows, and the Municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, is an integrated hub of economic, social and tourism activity. It is also one of the most populous metropolitan regions in Canada.

Many of the five interprovincial vehicular bridges are at or beyond their designed car-carrying capacity, leading to peak period congestion and delays. The population of the Ottawa-Gatineau area is expected to grow by one-fifth (19%, or approximately 300,000 people), therefore increasing demand for interprovincial travel.

Past studies have shown that by 2031, the existing interprovincial vehicular bridges will have exceeded their designed capacity.

About the Plan

This Plan sets a blueprint for collaborating with partnering agencies to establish a shared long-term vision and strategies for the interprovincial transport of people and goods in the Region to 2050. The Plan treats the interprovincial crossings as a part of a “complete system” and will support the Region’s continued prosperity and quality of life, and satisfy the environmental, economic and social needs of communities and businesses.

Objectives

The objectives of the Plan are to:

  • Improve the movement of people and goods on the existing bridges.
  • Assess how planned modifications to some of the bridges will influence future interprovincial travel demands and patterns. For example, the implications of modifying the Alexandra Bridge to become primarily a pedestrian and cycling bridge.
  • Recommend innovative solutions to meet future travel needs including how to improve public transit across the Ottawa River, making it easier and safer to travel by foot or bike, and improve the management of congestion.
  • Recommend strategies that can reduce interprovincial heavy truck traffic through the Capital core area.
  • Account for emerging remote work trends (such as working from home) and emerging technological innovations that can affect how people travel.
  • Recommend a workable governance framework for interprovincial transportation planning that is more collaborative and responsive.

Process and timeline

The 2019 federal budget directed that the NCC develop the Long-Term Integrated Interprovincial Crossing Plan in collaboration with both provincial and municipal governments.

The development of the plan is under way, and will be undertaken in four phases.

Vision & Principles (Summer / Fall 2020)

Phase 2 identifies the long-term vision, goals and principles that will help us evaluate options for improving the flow of people and goods across the Ottawa River, from now to 2050. These are based on research done at Phase 1 and will be refined using feedback and input from stakeholders and the public.

Needs & Opportunities (Spring 2020)

Phase 1 is the foundation for the Plan. It identifies existing conditions, trends and outlooks that will influence the transportation needs of the Region over the long-term. This phase has been completed.

Develop & Evaluate Future Scenarios (Fall / Winter 2020/2021)

Phase 3 develops and reviews a number of long-term future alternative scenarios. This phase imagines possible futures that will help guide decisions for the Region, including infrastructure and strategic directions needed to make the Plan’s vision a reality.

This phase will use modelling tools and technical analysis, and will consider existing and planned transportation investments in the Region. It will also benefit from public and stakeholder feedback on the scenarios.

The Strategic Plan (Spring 2021)

In Phase 4 we will finalize the Plan, detailing the selected scenario and supporting strategies. A draft copy of the plan will be made available for public comment.

Engagement - Share your vision, concerns, and ideas

The strategic plan process invites and welcomes input from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation and the Pikwàkanagàn Algonquins First Nation, the public and stakeholders.

Engagement will be organized as follows:

  • Engagement Round One: To introduce the Strategic Plan and seek comments on the vision, guiding principles and criteria for evaluating possible solutions (known as “alternative scenarios”), as developed in Phase 2.
  • Engagement Round Two: To invite public feedback on a range of possible interprovincial transportation scenarios, drawing from the analysis done at Phase 3.
  • Engagement Round Three: To present the technically preferred future interprovincial transportation scenario and seek input to help refine and finalize it.
  • Engagement Round Four: To share the final draft Plan and collect feedback.

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