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 comprehensive plan will identify sustainable interprovincial transportation options, including strategies, services, programs and infrastructure, to improve interprovincial travel in the Capital Region from now to the year 2050.

The plan will be based on the most up-to-date information available on population, employment, environmental and climate change trends, economic growth, mobility and land development patterns in the Capital Region.

The plan will also consider a range of evolving societal and technological changes that are revolutionizing how we will be travelling in the foreseeable and longer term futures. These include broad responses to the climate change agenda, shifting demographic trends and the emergence of new mobility technologies.

Finding solutions for how people and goods can travel safely, more efficiently and sustainably across the Ottawa River is critical to the long-term well-being of Canada’s Capital Region — environmentally, socially and economically.

The plan is the overarching strategy in the series of NCC and Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) initiatives that are working toward 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 1,300 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 informed the plan’s vision, goals and guiding principles. It also helped shape the range of scenarios that are being evaluated in Phase 3 of the initiative.

Context

There are currently nine interprovincial crossings in Canada’s Capital Region: 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: the Champlain Bridge, Chaudières 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, though the City of Ottawa plans to accommodate cycling and walking on the Prince of Wales Bridge soon.

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, on either side of the Ottawa River, and part of 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 vehicle bridges are near their designed car-carrying capacity, leading to peak period delays.

Past studies have shown that, by 2031, the existing interprovincial vehicle bridges will have exceeded their designed capacity. This means serious concerted efforts are made to reduce or manage travel demand, increase transit modal share, and improve active mobility options and facilities.

About the Plan

This plan sets a blueprint for collaboration with partnering agencies to establish a shared long-term vision and strategies (to 2050) for the interprovincial transport of people and goods in the region. 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, as well as satisfy the environmental, economic and social needs of communities and businesses.

Objectives

The plan will propose a long-term interprovincial transportation strategy with a vision and approaches, for all parties to build on past successes and move forward to meet emerging challenges. It will provide a profile of transportation issues, long-term goals and priorities to make sustainable mobility possible.

It will also map the way forward to achieve the following vision and objectives, while respecting the mandates of each partner:

  • Propose sustainable and innovative choices to support interprovincial mobility.
  • Promote, at the regional level, the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient mobility networks and systems.
  • Optimize the “people movement” capacity of the interprovincial network, while taking into account the notion of induced demand.
  • Evaluate other possible solutions to reduce interprovincial heavy truck traffic in downtown areas.
  • Provide an overview of the interprovincial transportation system to 2050 and beyond.
  • Take into account trends and important changes to be anticipated in terms of mobility.
  • Evaluate governance options that consider the current responsibilities of each partner, future changes in infrastructure stewardship and future mobility technologies.

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 is being undertaken in four phases.

Vision and 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 completed during Phase 1, and will be refined using feedback and input from stakeholders and the public.

Needs and opportunities (summer/fall 2020)

Phase 1 is the foundation for the plan. It identifies existing conditions, trends and outlooks that will influence the region’s transportation needs over the long term.

Develop and evaluate future scenarios

Phase 3 develops and reviews a number of long-term 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 is using forecasting modelling tools and backcasting analysis, and is considering existing and planned transportation investments in the region. It is also benefiting from public and stakeholder feedback on the scenarios.

The strategic plan

In Phase 4, we will finalize the plan, detailing alternative short and longer-term strategies and actions that support sustainable interprovincial movement of people and goods. A draft copy of the plan will be made available for public comment.

Engagement: Share your vision, concerns and ideas

Engagement is organized as follows:

  • Round one (completed in Fall 2020): Introduced the strategic plan, and sought comments on the vision, guiding principles and criteria for evaluating possible solutions.
  • Round two: Invites feedback on a range of possible interprovincial transportation scenarios.
  • Round three: Share the draft plan, and collect feedback.

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