The culture of secrecy at Ottawa City Hall is reaching astonishing proportions.
The exclusive post Sandy Soil Caused Rideau St. Collapse: Sinkhole Report in The Bulldog contained no shocking conclusions other than a city water main didn’t cause the sinkhole.
Video above: The van that never left the Rideau Street sinkhole.
That information must be given to lawyers representing clients who have filed numerous lawsuits to gain recompense for losses incurred by the sinkhole. So it was bound to become public sooner or later.
The sinkhole report has enormous importance to the public of Ottawa for it deals with residents’ safety. One little sinkhole appeared along the light-rail line as did two large ones at Waller Street and Rideau Street. An OC Transpo bus passed through the Rideau sinkhole location just before the collapse occurred. Ottawans should shudder at what might have happened if the bus arrived a few minutes early. Or if the foundations of surrounding buildings didn’t prove as resilient as they were.
The Rideau Street sinkhole became an international news story (and rightly so) … in other words it went way beyond Ottawa attention and yet the City of Ottawa refused to release the sinkhole report. The people of this community deserve … in fact they should demand … that the sinkhole report be released. It’s the people’s tax money and safety at risk. Ottawans need to know what the municipality is doing about sinkholes now that the city has experienced the aforementioned three plus the Highway 174 sinkhole that swallowed a car. Again the city got lucky and no one was hurt. Ottawans have an uncanny ability to avoid disaster in areas of municipal responsibility.
Hard to know how long the rabbit’s foot will continue to bring the community luck.
In 2001 when the area’s municipalities merged to form the new City of Ottawa, the mantra of the denizens of Laurier Avenue was open, caring and inclusive.
How does the withholding of the sinkhole report test against those three words?
Open: the report wasn’t released. That pretty much says it;
Caring: If city cared about the welfare of its inhabitants, it would tell them about the causes of the Rideau Street sinkhole and what measure are being take to ensure that such a dangerous occurrence would not happen again. Instead the city won’t release the report on the causes let alone the solutions. City staffers and politicians want to save their political posteriors rather than do what’s right. And that’s becoming a dangerous practice on Laurier Avenue. In other words, better to cover up than fix;
Inclusive: Well this is an easy one. The City of Ottawa didn’t tell the public what was in the sinkhole report beyond some broad generalities. Not good enough. The report is only inclusive to a few people at city hall instead of being in the public forum where it belongs;
So the City of Ottawa is not open, caring and inclusive. It is closed, uncaring and exclusive.
Ottawa voters should consider this in 2018 when they cast their municipal ballots. Ottawa needs a reform council with a mandate to open the municipal government.
The culture of secrecy at city hall is such that public servants won’t release a document that they will have to be submit to opposition lawyers before the various lawsuits take place. In addition the report finds the city not at fault. What’s to hide?
So why is this secret except that decision has become a habit and a municipal fall-back position?
The fall-back position should be: “How can we make this public?”
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