Western LRT (part i): Dominion Station

Not unexpectedly, the four “finalists” for the western continuation of the LRT mainline are all variations of the Richmond Road / Macdonald parkway alignment. In the next posts, I’ll look at several aspects of the route selection, but first, to Dominion Station. 

All four options show Dominion Station right where it is, the western-most point of the transitway trench where it joints the Macdonald Parkway.

dominion stn aerial


The current Dominion Station was a last-minute add-on to the transitway. It does provide convenient walk-in service for the adjacent low density housing and a cluster of high rises. Many buses had to stop at the traffic signals there anyway, so it wasn’t much of a delay.

But with LRT service, it is necessary to question whether it deserves to be on the light rail network, or if a station would be better located elsewhere. With rail, every train stops at every station, which takes up trip time, and the slower the trip the more trainsets are required to achieve the same frequency of service, which means a much more expensive capital and operating cost.

All four finalist options run the rail by the Dominion location in the same way. Looking at the map, and travelling from downtown towards the west, a train approaches from Westboro LRT Station. Starting right beyond the end of Berkley Avenue, the track will swing leftwards to take up an alignment roughly occupied on the aerial photo by the paved walking path. Once it reaches the area behind the former Collican Building,  now CIHI and Minto’s new Upper West condo, it would either swing across Rochester Field or continue west to Cleary.

It is extremely unlikely the engineers will design a station on a curve, so the station will have to slip either east, back towards the Westboro LRT Station, or westward, to be parallel to the Parkway. Neither of these options improves the station location.

If it slides east, it is even closer to Westboro Station. If west, it is more isolated in a field. Neither location is amenable to connections to bus service. And while its a nice idea to have a station on the riverfront parkland, it won’t exactly be a major generator or destination for users. Having lived within a block of that station, I’d note its a bloody cold spot all winter (and much of the spring, fall, and heck, even summer too).

One of the purposes of spending so much taxpayer money on an improved transportation system is to improve accessibility within the city. This spurs intensification. A shifted-east station is close to the Fendor intensification site at the north end of Winston and Roosevelt Avenues. Other intensification sites (eg the former CBC building on Lanark) are closer to the Westboro LRT Station.

If the chosen LRT option is to run through Rochester Field, it would be possible to install a station on the straight stretch as the track runs diagonally through the field towards Richmond Road, thus connecting the south entrance of the station directly to bus stops on Richmond. This site is also close to intensification potential when the Rogers Cable site and adjacent parking lots are replaced with apartment towers (there is room for at least four towers there). A Rochester station also has a better catchment zone for walk-ins from the Highland Park area.

It would be theoretically possible to consider a station parallel to Richmond, once the LRT goes under Richmond, but that begs all sorts of messy political issues about the number of ash trees it would sacrifice, and the bean-counters don’t like the cost of an underground station … so that leaves the Rochester Field location the most realistic option.

If the LRT alignment doesn’t use the Rochester Field, but goes along the parkway to Cleary, where would the Dominion Station best be located? I think it would be north of the Rogers site, as a road access could be provided when the site is redeveloped. But it’s still not a great, or even good, spot for a station.

Which makes me wonder if it would be built at all?



11 thoughts on “Western LRT (part i): Dominion Station

  1. Eric, have you been to the west end of Westboro recently? There are signs about for a 24-storey condo tower in behind the old RMOC building and Rogers. So a station back there would actually serve quite a lot.

    I also think you might want to consider how the track will curve through this area. If the line follows the old CPR corridor, then the current Dominion Station would actually be slightly bypassed by the tracks running slightly to the south. Take a look at your screen grab how the Transitway “bumps out” at Dominion. My guess is that this was intended to be “temporary” until such time as a full-fledged transitway was built, or at least a grade separation built to enter the Parkway median. The old CPR RoW goes through the clump of trees to the south of the station – at this time of year you can actually trace it out visually due to the lack of vegetation. The point being is that the line would be on tangent track by the time it gets to that apartment tower with the outdoor pool.

    More broadly, I think the powers-that-be should reconsider all the station locations. Westboro Station is where it is not because it’s a good place for a station but because it was the only place that could accommodate the bus ramps required by the BRT system. We no longer have that requirement. Since the stations don’t seem to survive conversion in a recognizable state anyway, these “facts on the ground” could be ignored.

    Personally, I would prefer to see Westboro Station moved westwards to Churchill (likely on the east side of Churchill), where it damn well belongs. That move opens up the possibility for another station further east, likely at Island Park, to serve the plethora of condos in the Wellington-Island Park-Richmond Rd area. To the west, the current Dominion Station would end up moving south and slightly west.

    1. I agree, Put the Westboro station at Churchill and then add a station at IslandPark, but if you move the Dominion station too far west it starts to invade the catchment area of the Cleary station. Perhaps if the Dominion was moved to Rochester field, the Cleary and New Orchard stations could be replaced by a single Woodroffe Station. That might save some dough.

    2. David: I thought I mentioned the old RMOC building/ colican place / CIHI / minto’s new Upper West condo. And the potential of four towers on the Roger’s site. But by themselves, they don’t warrant a station. One would work behind Rogers but would still be better closer to Richmond, to facilitate bus transfers and to bring users closer to the centre of a catchment area. Having said that, we aren’t far apart on our views.

      Your suggestion for relocating Westboro station and adding one at Island Park is interesting. I don’t think there is much being kept of the old stations, and the trench excavation doesn’t need a lot of widening for a station, so moves are financially feasible. The Island Park station would make for a pleasant enough walk up to Richmond Road or to Island Park Towers, but otherwise that area is pretty thoroughly built out.

      Recall that the city’s portion of LRT construction is being paid for by development fees, so they will prefer stations and expenditures where intensification is likliest so they collect the money to pay for the LRT. That puts the existing Westboro Station pretty much in the heart of some intensification action.

      thanks for commenting,

  2. Dominion wasn’t a last-minute addition so much as a well-after-the-fact one. It only popped up ca 1999 or 2000.

  3. I agree with most of the common sense already posted, re: moving Westboro station, getting rid of Dominion.

    That said, 2023? Sigh. Eric, I feel like you have insinuated in the past that there is some serious “under promise/over deliver” going on here and that these dates are way too conservative. Is there really no way to try and slide this extension into the initial project? Deciding on Tunney’s as the interim terminus for all the transitway traffic…I guess we’ll see how it goes.

    1. The western LRT had to be planned for after the core LRT because choosing a route and going for approvals would have delayed the combined project forever. A larger project would also have had a much bigger headline pricetag (imagine the indignation about a $4B project instead of just a $2B). But now that the downtown LRT is contracted for, and a western LRT route selected (even if not fully approved by all the bureaucracy layers) then the City can go begging for money. And the LRT consortium will certainly be lobbying for a continuous build to the west… SO YEAH, I fully expect it to be underway by well before the current advertised date.

  4. And yet no one is willing to stand up for the (relatively) paltry amount it would cost to take the O-Train to the airport.

    O-Train to airport would guarantee O-Train to Gatineau as well, since there’s (conveniently) train tracks right be side the Lac Leamy casino.

    Of course, it’s a much smaller amount, so there’s a much smaller number of consultants, builders, and city staff pushing for it…

  5. Westboro Station really should be called McRae. It would also be nice if the new station entrance was aligned with the McRae Avenue axis which offers a wide sight line due to the hydro corridor. Rapid transit access would then be visible from Richmond Road all the way from the Superstore. The station could even be designed as a focal point in that space, framed by the proposed Westboro Collection buildings, creating a quasi-town square. The hydro towers could be replaced with special “artistic” versions (like the way the one beside Trailhead matches the style of the building), turning an eyesore into an interesting feature.

      1. Imagine, as well, if the future buildings on McRare were all designed and built to include open arcades that made walking to and from the station palatable even in inclement weather. I’m thinking of a modern version of the awesome streets of Bologna, Italy where they have continuous arcades for kilometres, built over centuries.

  6. When the original LRT route was being planned the best they could show was some sort of shuttle from a station adjacent to the airport. Apparently the airport’s owners were very much against an on-site LRT station, as they want to keep making money from their parking lots. So much for the most enviro-friendly option winning out!

    And yes, having the line go from the airport across the river to the Casino makes too much sense to actually happen. Much like the (disused?) rail line that heads NW from the current line out to high-tech land in Kanata. Is there no demand for business travelers to have a rail link between the airport and that area?

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