The City Of Ottawa Screw-Up List


The Bulldog does this as a public service.

The Bulldog has listed a record of City of Ottawa screw-ups. Residents hear every day what great jobs our politicians are doing. That’s not necessarily the case.

So here is the reality fact check. One of the readers of The Bulldog thought it was a good idea. The staff and management of The Bulldog agrees.

If you would like to add one of your candidates for the city screw-up list, please send it along to

  • In Oct. 2017, OC Transpo is fined $42,000 for safety violations on the O-Train line;
  • In Sept. 2017, an employee at a long-term-care residence taunts a dying woman;
  • In August 2017, a rare order from the provincial government told the city to clean up it’s long-term-care homes because of systemic abuse and neglect;
  • In July 2017, the Salvation Army says it was told not to release its plans for a homeless shelter in Vanier until the deal was done, thereby eliminating meaningful public consultation;
  • In July 2017 two ex-nurses have their visiting privileges to their mothers restricted because they complained about conditions is a city long-term care home. In another city home, a man with dementia is beaten by an employee;
  • The city is told it is buying the wrong turf for a multi-purpose field. Football teams refuse to play on it. Estimate to replace the turf is about $1 million;
  • The municipality in May 2017 raises a March For Life flag at city hall and runs into a wave of complaints from councillors and pro-choice supporters;
  • A contractor to the LRT project hits a gas main and four blocks of downtown had to be evacuated in May 2017;
  • An enormous crane falls on its side at the eastern entrance to the light-rail project in April 2017. No one was hurt.
  • Mayor Jim Watson orders safety study of Laurier bike lanes during 2016 cycling season after young woman killed on the lanes. The cycling season of 2017 is well under way but no safety report despite having all winter to complete it;
  • City holds public consultations on changing the noise bylaw but gives no information on what is under consideration;
  • City continues to lose millions on the badly flawed Orgaworld contract;
  • Another person in March 2017 is injured in light-rail tunnel construction project but the city doesn’t release any information on the incident until four days later. Instead the public is informed by a leaked document in The Bulldog of the accident. Mayor Jim Watson doesn’t comment on the accident;
  • Charges are laid against an Ottawa police constable but the mayor refuses to comment saying the Abdi issue is before the courts. Nevertheless the chairman of the Ottawa Police Services Board speaks to the situation surrounding the Abdi case. Previously Watson was criticized for taking too long to comment on the Abdi death;
  • Ottawa 2017 receives more than $28 million in public and private money but won’t reveal how much sponsors gave. No large lasting legacy project will come out of Ottawa 2017;
  • Ottawa 2017 offers free gas to Montrealers while at city hall at the same time, the city discusses ways to be more environmentally conscious. Mayor Jim Watson defends the free-gas offer;
  • Phase 2 of light rail costs more than twice the amount of the Chiarelli plan Phase 2 and unlike the Chiarelli plan, it does not get to Barrhaven or Kanata;
  • After two transfers from the airport, Phase 2 stops at Moodie Drive short of Kanata;
  • It takes two transfers to get from the airport to downtown;
  • Trillium light-rail line to be closed for 16 months during Phase 2 construction;
  • Current Phase 2 of light rail to be completed by 2023 while Chiarelli Phase 2 would have been finished in 2014;
  • Building a light-rail project for $2.1 billion that is three times the cost of the first Chiarelli plan and one-third the length;
  • Putting add-ons to the project separate from the $2.1 billion to make the project look like it is on-time and on-budget;
  • No ridership study done on $2.1-billion light-rail project;
  • Trying to cut snow-plowing service levels just after Canada Day weekend and when former U.S. president Barrack Obama was in town;
  • Losing the Strandherd-Armstrong bridge in Siemens first light-rail plan (it would have been paid for by Siemens in the LRT contract) and then thrusting the cost on taxpayers when it is eventually built;
  • Original contractor for SA bridge goes bankrupt and the completion date is two years late. Bridge cost $48 million that had the first light-rail project gone forth would have been included in its $700-million LRT project total;
  • Some councillors say Orgaworld contract was drawn up on the back of an envelope;
  • Some councillors say they were misled by staff on Orgaworld contract;
  • Trillium commuter rail line is rebuilt with no appreciable improvement in trip time;
  • City supports putting 16-storey and 14-storey building on two-storey residential street in Westboro;
  • Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge has to be rebuilt;

Photo above: The Prince of Wales Bridge remains unused despite the city buying the bridge during Chiarelli mayoralty.

  • Hurdman Bridge has significant technical problems;
  • Protesters of west-end light-rail project detour are not allowed to address city transportation commission. Transportation commission members aren’t allowed to either;
  • Les Soeurs de la Visitation condo site has two condos along Richmond Road blocking the view of the historic and beautiful convent. No use has been found for the convent. The rest of the huge site, including a 19th-century garden and huge old trees, is now a mostly unused gravel parking lot;
  • Light-rail project causes huge sinkhole on Waller Street. No one is hurt;
  • Light-rail project experiences second sinkhole not far away on Rideau Street. Gets international news coverage. Miraculously, no one is hurt;
  • City refuses to release report on the cause or causes of the Rideau sinkhole saying it could hurt the city’s case in upcoming civil suits though the city maintains strongly that it wasn’t the cause of the sinkhole. If it weren’t the cause of the sinkhole, how could the city’s cases be hurt?
  • Kitchissippi Councillor Katherine Hobbs and Mayor Jim Watson walk on amendments to the noise bylaw allowing the Lansdowne and Les Soeurs de la Visitation convent construction sites to work late setting a precedent for other breaches of the noise bylaw;
  • City staff flies in the face of city council to cancel an international design competition for a renovated Lansdowne;
  • No formal competition is held to build Lansdowne development;
  • City sees revenue to be derived from Lansdowne delayed;
  • City swallows cost of unforeseen arena roof repairs at Lansdowne;
  • Lansdowne arena leaks before renovation and leaks after renovation;
  • Ottawa Library Board faces significant opposition to site location for new central library at 557 Wellington St;
  • Mayor Jim Watson cancels RFP on Ottawa casino, then awards the project to Rideau-Carleton Raceway. Watson asks for two licences for casinos in Ottawa when only one was to be allowed. Other bidders angry because they had prepared bids. Watson blames problem on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne;
  • Phase 2 of the LRT project is to be tunnelled under a park where no one lives;
  • City dismisses tunnelling down Carling Avenue where people live because it says it is too expensive;
  • Mayor Jim Watson and local Liberal MPPs turn down $1-billion Kettle Island bridge to be built by other levels of government. Bridge would have got trucks carrying dangerous goods out of downtown;
  • Watson is spending millions of dollars on a study of a multi-billion truck tunnel under downtown Ottawa to get trucks carrying dangerous materials out of downtown. However Watson refuses to consider that dangerous materials can’t be trucked through a tunnel. Study continues;
  • Six people killed in 2014 in bus-train crash north of Barrhaven and yet study on overpasses for dangerous level-crossings in the area has still not been released;
  • City creates “concierge program” that gives big developers staff guides to wisk them through the approvals process;
  • City might have to tear up $1.3 million worth of dangerous field turf at Minto Field;
  • City to sod Alexandra bridge to celebrate Canada Day 2017;
  • Plasco plasma-gasificaton plant found unworkable;
  • City doesn’t issue news release on 30-year contract for $180 million for light rail maintenance let to Alstom;
  • Bulldog blacklisted for no announced reason. Blacklist rescinded in face of public and media pressure;
  • City refuses to release details of LRT expropriations;
  • City repeatedly throws out zoning height restrictions across the city for new developments after Watson says zoning is just a suggestion in Ottawa;
  • City goes forward with LRT without securing western exit (which results in heated controversy with National Capital Commission) and without finishing land deals;
  • City refuses to release details on land deals for LRT route. Still not released as of Feb. 12, 2017 so land deals not completed despite tunnelling completed;
  • Watson spends $2.1 billion on LRT but can’t spare $10 million of city’s share of $40 million it would cost to run rail, pedestrians and bicycles across unused Prince of Wales Bridge;
  • Watson wildly overstates the cost of using Prince of Wales Bridge for light-rail line to Gatineau;
  • City operating debt sets all-time record;
  • O-Train has horrible start-up problems after overhaul including technical woes that stop the train from appearing at ribbon-cutting;
  • City of Ottawa repeatedly and mistakenly releases document revealing what stories media is working on;
  • Residents not told of giant playground at Mooney’s Bay until land clearing already occurring;
  • Buses to continue on Scott Street during the night after LRT begins;
  • City doesn’t consult with New Edinburgh residents on sewage tunnel until well after the point of no return on the project;
  • Cyclists repeatedly hit by motorists and one young woman killed on new city bike lanes on O’Connor Street and Laurier Avenue. City orders study;
  • Despite tossing out community design plans and zoning for height in older areas of the city for condo towers, the suburbs grow faster in population than downtown … meaning that the city’s intensification plan doesn’t work and suburban sprawl continues unabated;
  • Lansdowne splash pad is shadow of first plans;
  • City of Ottawa only checks Alstom light-rail cars for extreme weather conditions long after deal struck;
  • Because City of Ottawa did not make provisions for a western outlet for the light-rail line, Phase 2 will have to be tunnelled down the Macdonald Parkway to meet NCC demands;
  • City of Ottawa says tunnelling LRT down the Macdonald Parkway costs the same as running light rail on the surface raising questions about how accurately the city estimates project costs. How much cost padding is going into Phase 2?
  • City rejects bid from two of the best owners in Minor League Baseball to operate a Blue Jays AA farm team at the Coventry Road ball park and instead picks a much cheaper bid for the lowest tier of professional which has drawn less than 3,000 fans a game for its first two years;
  • Highway 174 sinkhole.

This list will be updated as further screw-ups occur. If there are any missing, please send them along the


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