Mayoral candidates discuss interprovincial bridge during Oct. 17 streamed debate

By Manor Park Chronicle

The contentious issue of truck traffic and a new interprovincial bridge was tackled during an Ottawa mayoral candidates debate Oct 17.

The four candidates in attendance all gave their opinions on whether a new link across the river is needed.

About mid-way in the two-hour debate, moderator, and CBC Ottawa journalist, Joanne Chianello, posed the question, “How do you see removing heavy truck traffic from the downtown?” Each candidate was given 30 seconds in which to respond. Although the option of an interprovincial bridge was not specified in the question, the topic was raised immediately.

Bob Chiarelli, who was regional chair of Ottawa-Carleton from and 1997 to 2001 and Ottawa mayor from 2001 until 2006, said the issue needs to be resolved by the federal and provincial governments. Responding to a follow-up question, he said, “Quite frankly, the city needs two bridges–one east, one west.”

Nour Kadri, who teaches at the University of Ottawa on several topics, including “smart cities,” said that the city has needed a new bridge for decades and that the federal and provincial governments need to “accelerate” the issue. As mayor, he would meet with the mayor of Gatineau and lobby the Ontario and Quebec governments.

Catherine McKenney, currently a councillor representing Somerset Ward, said she does not support a bridge. However, she said the idea of building a tunnel, currently being explored by the city, will “never get funded.”

“We’ve got to find a way of not allowing truck traffic through a city and for goods and services to be delivered,” she said.

She suggested setting up depots so that large trucks can come in and deposit their goods that would then be delivered in smaller vehicles, “mostly electric,” into the downtown.

Mark Sutcliffe, entrepreneur and broadcaster, said heavy trucks should not be allowed downtown and that the city should continue exploring the possibility of building a tunnel. “We need to see if that’s a solution that can happen.”

“I don’t support another bridge until we follow that process through.”

The debate was sponsored by the Glebe Community Association and 20 other community associations from across the city, including the Manor Park Community Association.

The debate took place Monday Oct. 17 in the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park, and was streamed by Rogers TV. The full debate can be viewed here.

Voting day is Monday October 24.