Barnsdale Highway 416 Interchange To Receive Provincial Funding

By Charlie Senack

The long-awaited Barrhaven Barnsdale highway 416 interchange is finally one step closer to happening after Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced funding for the project.

Ford was in Ottawa on March 28 to take part in the Mayor’s breakfast series — the largest on record with over 600 attendees at the Shaw Centre. There he announced a ‘historic” $543 million funding deal for the city, labeled as a “new deal for Ottawa.”

In his weekly newsletter, Barrhaven West councillor David Hill said the new interchange will be of great benefit to the community, particularly for Half Moon Bay residents.

“I have heard from many of you that we need to better balance our infrastructure investments with residential growth,” he said. “I have said that I would advocate on this and am doing everything that I can to improve our situation.  Getting the $20 million additional Greenbank realignment allocation and now the Barnsdale Interchange will greatly improve the traffic concerns in the Stonebridge/Half Moon Bay areas.”

Barrhaven is rapidly growing, in fact it’s one of the fastest growing suburbs in Canada. The cookie-cutter community of over 100,000 people has added about 1,500 homes per year, totalling about 3,500 new residents. Much of the development is occurring on the south side of the Jock River in Half Moon Bay.

Once built, the Barnsdale interchange will fill a roughly 10 kilometer gap between the existing interchanges at Fallowfield Road and the other at Bankfield Road. It’s unclear when construction will begin or how much it will cost.

In his fireside chat at the breakfast, Ford thanked Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod for her longtime advocacy efforts to get the interchange built, calling it “a game changer.” MacLeod joked the funding was a present for her 18th anniversary in provincial politics.

No investments in transit

There are some concerns over what was not included. Little to no mention was made over affordable housing and OC Transpo is not getting any additional funding. The transit group is reporting a $50 million deficit this year due to low ridership caused by the COVID-19 system and a lack of trust in the struggling system.

A recent “new deal” for the City of Toronto saw $600 million in provincial funding budgeted for transit.

When asked why Ottawa’s bus and light rail system was being left out, Ford said ridership needs to pick up before more transit funding is brought to the table. He’s already said funding for a possible Phase 3 LRT line to Barrhaven is out of the question for now.

The Premier also put the blame on the federal government who has only mandated federal office workers back to in-person work two days a week.

“Talking about the federal government, we need the ridership to go up and keep the economy going downtown to be able to pay for the LRT and all that,” Ford said at a city hall press conference. “But they have to get people back to work. It sounds crazy to be begging people to go to work for three days. But it really affects the downtown. We need them to go back to work. To go into the restaurants, to go into the shops downtown, to get on transit. That’s what we need.”

Barrhaven east councillor Wilson Lo, who used to work for OC Transpo, previously told the Barrhaven Independent it shouldn’t be suburban residents’ job to support the downtown core. He said a revitalization of the area was necessary.

“I don’t think we should be responsible for supporting downtown businesses. I think downtown residents should support downtown businesses just like how Barrhaven supports Barrhaven and Kanata supports Kanata,” said Lo last June. “Downtown needs to support itself. It can’t rely on people who don’t want to be there.”

Sutcliffe said it was important for all three political parties to work together in order to find a solution. 

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada has said Ford should stay out of federal issues and “leave this issue at the negotiating table where it belongs.”

Ford, who said he will be in Ottawa again next week, was also pressed over why he hasn’t visited the Nation’s Capital recently, including when a tornado hit the Barrhaven community last summer. A defensive Premier said he’s been here “countless times.”

“Ottawa is one of my favourite places to go. I have a great time. It’s very productive every time I’m here,” he said.