City Hall: Time For Your Howard Beale Moment


An Ottawa Public Library-funded poll showed that 72 per cent of respondents agreed with the OPL on 557 Wellington St. for their new concrete monolith.

Imagine that.

And the reason for this? Cost. The public likes the 557 Wellington St. spot because it is cheaper than the other proposed downtown locations.

That’s a relief. Count on Ottawans, when given a chance, to opt for the low-cost alternative. That bargain-basement 19th-century library will set us back about $100 million and be obsolete as soon as the doors open but of the dumb options on the table this is the least-expensive dumb option.

The kids will be at home using that new-fangled, librarian-free Google. Oh those kids. Without librarians guiding them, they’ll be poisoned by alternative facts. God help us all.

Video above: Peter Finch as Howard Beale from the movie Network doing an imitation of the editor of The Bulldog.

Pity our economy-minded Ottawans if they ever discover that our city overpaid on the Confederation Line by $1.4 billion. Or that we will be tunnelling Phase 2 of LRT along a park where nobody lives. Or that we’re studying building a multi-billion dollar truck tunnel to keep dangerous goods out of downtown except that dangerous goods can’t be shipped through a tunnel. Or that we turned down a $1-billion bridge without city funding that would have solved getting dangerous goods out of downtown.

You know I’m not a real smart guy but those previous four sentences just wobble the mind.

Still I heard from a senior public servant this week that my little proposal of an Internet library and small libraries to house computers for public access (particularly for underprivileged kids) sounds like a good idea but it doesn’t work. Might save some money. No reason why it doesn’t work … it just doesn’t work. Who can argue with that?

When you read those four sentences above starting with ‘Pity’ and end with ‘town’, you wonder how anyone from city staff can express an opinion in good conscience. Hey, I didn’t even mention Orgaworld.

At rest, Ottawans will choose going with the cheapest alternative, OPL-funded survey or not.

But again those four sentences above show we are blowing our fiscal brains out on projects that don’t work. Hard to imagine but a $100-million cheapo version of an obsolete library is a minute mistake compared to the above unbelievable four sentences.

If Ottawans ever wake up from their municipal coma to discover how billions of dollars are being flushed down the toilet on projects that don’t work, they will turf this council out so far their next meeting will be in Hawkesbury.

And by the way, you know why Ottawa City Hall is not open, caring and inclusive? Because the mayor, council and city staff are scared the public will discover their past and present mult-billion dollar miscues. Yes I am thinking the squelched sinkhole report which could badly damage (as the city would have it) it’s pile of lawsuits over the Rideau Street depression.

That said, we were told by city clerk Rick O’Connor that the city didn’t do anything wrong. Well that’s a relief. Perhaps O’Connor’s lawyerly brilliant mind is way ahead of my plodding model but if the city didn’t do anything wrong on the sinkhole, how could the report damage future lawsuits?

Obviously the law is much more complicated than I can comprehend.

But back on topic. Maybe we can recover some of the flushed money from the previous four sentences by rooting around in the sewage storage tunnel.

It’s time for The Bulldog to get Howard Beale out again from the movie Network. I think I’m doing an imitation of him right now with this post.

I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore.

Don’t worry … I’ll be better tomorrow.



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5 thoughts on “City Hall: Time For Your Howard Beale Moment

  1. You also didn’t mention the bridge over the Airport Parkway or the Strandherd Bridge, now the Vimy Bridge. Such restraint.

    Strandherd was included in the original Chiarelli LRT plan and, even after they found new money to fund it, it definitely wasn’t “on time” or “on budget”.


    1. The Voter:

      I believe the Vimy Memorial Bridge was to be paid for by Siemens in the original LRT contract.

      So take that off the cost of the estimated top-ended contract of $700 million for the first rail plan.

      The O’Brien/Watson plan was a ridiculous by O’Brien and Watson didn’t have the guts to overturn it or didn’t know better or both.




      1. I’m adding the Vimy Bridge as well as the Siemens penalty costs to the total price of the LRT as part of the O’Brien & Co. decision to change horses. Deciding to dump Chiarelli’s plan was a decision to pay those bills in addition to the actual costs of the LRT but keep them out of the ‘advertised’ sticker price.
        I say “O’Brien & Co.” because, while he was the instigator, he wasn’t the only one who voted for it and some of his accomplices are still at the Council table.


  2. Better stop flushing stuff down the toilet or else Ottawans will end up funding a new sewage treatment plant too.

    If Peter Finch studied you to help him be the character Howard Beale then perhaps Beale came back to Ottawa later to teach his lairdship how to fly a plane into the ground. (Beale was in Flight of the Phoenix , a movie about crashing)


  3. Has anybody compiled a list of the bills for all the overbudget/incomplete/abandonned projects of the Watson era? It would be useful for the next election campaign not only for him but his acolytes on Council.


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