No government should be allowed to throw away $3.2 billion.
The cancelled previous plan had light rail going to Kanata, Orleans and Barrhaven for $2.8 billion and would have been completed in 2014. The current project costs $6 billion and doesn’t get to Kanata and Barrhaven.
Where is the extra $3.2 billion going? Are we building a Chevy or a Mercedes? Or is the City of Ottawa afraid of massive overruns?
That $3.2 billion is about the size of the whole Ottawa annual budget. Light rail is absolutely out-of-control in Ottawa.
So what to do? The last person in the world to probe this would be Mayor Jim Watson who probably doesn’t understand the details of LRT anyway. This project is his baby. And his Bobblehead council has approved the plan so it won’t create an investigation. In fact when Gloucester-Southgate Councillor Diane Deans called for an audit, she was met by anger and outright hatred from her council colleagues. That said, she was right and council is terrified of having the LRT plan exposed for what it is … a mess. How can you overspend to the tune of $3.2 billion?
How can you have two major sinkholes along its route?
Video above: Mayor Jim Watson, in a rare sighting in his office, describes Phase 2 of Ottawa’s light-rail project.
The city’s current auditor general is too close to his former colleagues on staff and is more likely to investigate the egregious spending surrounding the paper-clip budget than $3.2 billion of questionable LRT money. And count on it, city staff and Watson like it just this way. Fewer awkward questions to answer.
Watson is a master of avoiding political controversy. Unfortunately he’s a lousy administrator and would rather attend a brownie-baking contest than a private LRT meeting. Lots of votes at Brownie-Fest, none at LRT meeting. So goes the master campaigner.
So who monitors the city government? It used to be the media until its numbers were pared to the bone and a few Watson lap-dogs entered the mix. Without a vigilant media and without debate on the Stepford Council, as one senior city-hall figure said, the municipal administration is getting away with murder.
So only one person can stop this massive overspending. Municipalities are creatures of the provincial government as a number of suburban municipalities discovered at amalgamation. With the stroke of a Mike Harris pen, they were eliminated.
That leaves one person to stop this LRT travesty. Her name is Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. She even has some skin in the game given that the province has contributed large amounts of money to this boondoggle.
Wynne must hold a public inquiry as soon as possible before the highly questionable Phase 2 of Ottawa light rail begins construction. The project should be put on hold until the inquiry reports. Watson prides himself as a no-nonsense mayor who stopped the dilly-dallying on LRT. But $3.2 billion is far too high a price to overcome dilly-dallying. It is project administration completely out of control.
In short, Watson doesn’t know what he is doing … period.
Should the provincial hold a public inquiry into the administrative fiasco? Emphatically yes, yes, yes.
The province needs to save Ottawa taxpayers from this money-gorging by the municipal government.
If Wynne needs a second opinion on how badly the project is being administered, she need go only as far as her cabinet.
The man who designed the first economical light-rail system for Ottawa is her current infrastructure minister and former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli.
Ask Chiarelli, Premier Wynne.
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