Should The Police Get Involved In The Pothole Scandal?

Here’s the problem with the report generated by City of Ottawa staff on the pothole scandal.

It tells taxpayers in the most basic manner what happened. The difficulty is that it doesn’t deal with how it happened.

Here are some questions that remain to be asked:

  • What reprimand or firings occurred as a result of substandard asphalt being purchased and placed on roads?
  • Why was the test of the asphalt not done before it was used?
  • Why did experienced road people not notice the asphalt was substandard until the test?
  • Did staff know about the quality of the asphalt but chose not to report because of sloppiness, not wanting to raise a ruckus or did they choose not to report for some other reason outside the course of everyday work?
  • Who is being sued to recover money from buying substandard asphalt or did the firm(s) in question volunteerly refund taxpayer money?
  • Why did staff not check asphalt quality when it was well known throughout municipalities and the industry that substandard asphalt was being distributed in Ontario?
  • We see that the city is embarking on a program of more effective pothole filling? What does this have to do with the basic questions surrounding the scandal? The horses have left the barn.
  • “The Public Works & Environmental Services Department remains committed to providing a high
    level of service to the residents and businesses of Ottawa. The department looks forward to
    continuing to address these issues in a timely manner to ensure contractual and operational
    oversight is strengthened, and processes are well documented and implemented consistently
    city-wide.” Just how strong was that commitment in dealing with the use of substandard asphalt? Perhaps the words “remains committed” might not be very accurate. If the department was already committed to providing a high quality of service, this scandal would not have happened.
  • Is the department and the City of Ottawa as a whole so ashamed and nervous of its work in this matter that it had to release this document when it was least likely to be covered by the media on Friday evening? From the outside, the release time appears cowardly or someone is very nervous about this.
  • Or is there another reason of which we don’t know that is making staff keep this issue as low-profile as possible.
  • Is there a need to bring in law-enforcement authorities to look at this situation? Perhaps someone familiar with this situation should file a complaint with the police if that is the case.


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3 thoughts on “Should The Police Get Involved In The Pothole Scandal?

  1. What I’m not clear on is whether the asphalt providers came back and, at their cost, replaced/repaired the potholes for which they’d already been paid. Or was the remediation done by City staff with new materials paid for by the City?
    I know that street repairs are done according to a prioritized list. If the City redid the first round of pothole repairs, doesn’t that mean that places that were next on the list didn’t get done in a timely manner? In addition, those at the bottom of the approved list would have been pushed off the list because double work was being done in locations closer to the top. What places were bumped to redo the result of faulty material?


  2. Missing from your list of questions is “Who will be repaying Ottawans for the damage done to their vehicles because the work has not been done according to standard?”

    Jim Watson would, of course, laugh this question off. Wouldn’t it ne nice to be chauffeured around town at on the taxpayers’ dime!


  3. Ken. I gave this issue further thought and realized that yes, this issue is criminal. Whichever councillor has roads and traffic as a portfolio should be fired now.
    Reporting software which displays a green light when things are going well, orange when things are heading south, and red when further attention is required, can be purchased everywhere (most people refer to this as dashboard technology). A simple count of work orders showing the increase in pothole-related work should have caught someone’s attention so this issue could be investigated (If someone notes city hall has this software in-house, then the question is “Why aren’t they using it?”)
    Prior to the last election Mayor Jim Watson said he’d keep taxes at a two-per-cent increase per annum over four years. We live in the information age but don’t use the tools we have to deal effectively with problems. Watson should be telling voters his goal over the next four years is to reduce taxes through more effective use of technology purchased with their tax dollars and better management practices.


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