After the first Western LRT public consultation meeting in June I reached out to other attendees to see if there was interest in having an extra informal discussion. There was a lot of interest and we're meeting tonight to brainstorm and share the different viewpoints we all have on the topic. Eric Darwin has already provided a good synopsis of the situation.
By default I lean towards putting grade separated light rail onto Carling first. In the long term there is more development potential along Carling than along the river. It will link employment centres, hospitals, shopping centres and is already zoned for commercial use on both sides. The Western Parkway will always be shielded from intensification by the NCC or by nature herself.
That said, choosing Carling may impact travel times for suburban commuters travelling to and from the core. I'm hoping Delcan will provide details like that when we meet again in September so we can balance the needs of suburban commuters and daytime/nighttime/weekend transit users inside the greenbelt. Suburban residents will probably always own cars for the foreseable future even if they use transit for work. I'd like to see us put some focus on encouraging a much higher modal split within the core by providing excellent "week long" service too. Light rail on Carling will encourage more car-free households. Light rail needs to be about more than just commuting.
It will be an interesting discussion for sure. Look for an update tonight after the meeting.
You may also be interested in the supporting studies for the LRT project.