CITY HALL: Refined Indifference: MULVIHILL

 

mulvihill.new .logo

mulvihill.small .logo
A Blog About Vital Ottawa Issues

Donna Mulvihill is a community activist and former hospital coordinator.

To see an archive of Donna Mulvihill’s previous posts, click here.

To comment on Donna Mulvihill’s posts, click here.

 

Kanata Off-Leash Park Gone To The Dogs

“… not a huge concern …” And there you have it, folks.

OC Transpo general manager Renée Amilcar doesn’t think that a $1-million-a-month shortfall is a huge concern. Initial estimates forecasting monthly revenue have OC Transpo cutting services, cutting jobs and using precious few remaining reserve funds to keep things afloat. How long can this go on before Amilcar waves the white flag in surrender?

Apparently Amilcar isn’t very worried … “it’s still early and we still have time to see bigger ridership that will compensate there.” Really. Is she serious? OC Transpo is bleeding money but hey, don’t worry, be happy.


The initial budget was woefully optimistic in terms of ridership shoring up the balance sheet. Ridership will never be what it was before COVID hit but the folks at city hall just can’t seem to accept this fate. They have had more than three years to work on Plan B and management has absolutely nothing to show for the dismal effort put forward.

Hybrid workers are here to stay but that the powers-that-be won’t accept this is troubling in that management still hasn’t created a budget recognizing this monumental change. And it is monumental. The only suggestion made to improve the revenue stream was to raise fares and that novel idea landed with a great big thud.

OC Transpo management cut routes, raised fares, cancelled scheduled trips and those people truly believe that those unfortunate souls who travel to the downtown core each day shouldn’t be upset about adding two to three hours commute time to their day. Give your head a good, hard shake.

Transit riders’ needs are not a huge concern to the elected and appointed at city hall. They don’t care and it shows.

April 17, 2024

Kanata Off-Leash Park Gone To The Dogs

Can fencing for a dog park be anymore expensive or involve as much red tape? Read on.

A request for a fenced-in off-leash dog park for Kanata South (Bridlewood) was sent to the City of Ottawa. The following response was received:

“Given in part our current available park planning resources, we would like to pull in an external dog park subject matter expert (for example off Standing Offer). This consultant should be able to put together a preliminary study that would include:

A brief summary/memo of the opportunities and constraints onsite per our City standards;

A high-level concept plan for further circulation and communication (if this location is deemed appropriate);

A high-level Class D cost estimate for budgetary planning and commitment (if this location is deemed appropriate).

Unfortunately, there is no RCFS funding available for this project. If this is something that you would like PFP to make priority, this project (including the Preliminary Study/initial review) will need a funding source. Otherwise, we will place this request (the review of the off-leash dog park in Shetland Park) on our ‘Planned Work List’ for the coming years.

Hiring the consultant to perform the above-mentioned tasks, we would need a commitment of $90,000 to begin assessments.

Please note that we have experienced price escalation across the board on many Park construction projects. It is expected that the total cost of this project could be in the range of $435K. The approximate breakdown includes: $435,000 – $43,500 (10% dept planner fee) – $j19,575 (5% Isa dept delivery fee) – approx. $6,500 (HP 1.76% tax) – $63,949 (approx. 17.5% consultant fee) = approx. $301,476 allotted for the construction. Therefore, in summary it should be expected that approx. $345K will be needed in the future ($435K less $90K currently requested) to complete this project.

In addition, we would still have to do a community consultation (as outlined in the previous email) and the park designation would need to be changed if the majority of the residents who live near the park are in agreement with this”

Clear as mud. Right?

So, there is a huge chunk of parkland off of Shetland Drive that abuts the Trans Canada Trail. The ask was for consideration of some fencing and a gate so dogs could run free and enjoy themselves off-leash. How difficult could this be? Well, if anyone would like to know how much red-tape is involved in a very simple request, there you have it.

According to the city, an off-leash dog park on a massive chunk of existing parkland could cost upwards of $500,000. Some T-posts, cement, a few rolls of chain-link fence and a couple of gates plus some labour might cost $75,000 and would do the trick. It’s not rocket science but apparently too problematic or troublesome for the heavy-thinkers at Ottawa City Hall.

On any given day, there are more dogs than children at the baseball diamonds located in Devy Pines Park. How difficult would it be to install a few gates at one ball diamond so dogs can enjoy some freedom while socializing with their friends?

To no avail, Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley has been asked on multiple occasions for an off-leash dog park for residents’ furry friends. Hubley answers no one. When called out, he simply says he never received any messages about this. However, even when brought to his attention, he doesn’t respond.

Residents would do well to remember.

April 15, 2024

 

Downtown: What’s Sutcliffe’s Stance?

This from Ontario Premier Doug Ford:

“If you accept that this is permanent and the Government of Canada is not coming back as the anchor tenant, that means the city has to find a new anchor tenant.”

Ottawa is now more than two years post-COVID and the push to redevelop unused downtown office buildings into housing is just starting to take shape. Red tape abounds.

The easier solution would indeed be to force government workers back to the office but to what end? Propping up restaurants, coffee bars and retail shops isn’t the sole responsibility of government employees. It might be a quick fix to an overarching problem but what happens to those same businesses when the clock strikes four and those same offices empty?

A quick survey will tell anyone interested that most employees aren’t anxious to spend on frills when a good number are struggling pay-cheque to pay-cheque to provide housing and food for their families or for themselves. Those who use public transit might see their time as being more valuable than spending two to three hours commuting to and from the office. It’s a great soundbite to rile up the crowd but realistically it just doesn’t cut it. Using public servants as whipping posts is the wrong way to tackle all that ails the downtown core.

Perhaps Premier Ford would be better discussing the recent unjust carbon tax levied on Ontarians. Perhaps Ford could focus his attention on the province as a whole and how he could better the lives of residents. Or, perhaps he could work with the city to remove or reduce the red tape that smothers core development and provide funding to initiate housing to prop up those businesses he is so concerned about.

According to Mayor Mark Sutcliffe,”I respect the right of public servants to work from wherever they choose and whatever they negotiate with the federal government. That’s not my issue. But there is an impact on downtown Ottawa and I’m concerned about that.”

Well Your Worship, that was not your opinion when you met with then Treasury Board president Mona Fortier to plead with her to order employees back to the office. It certainly seemed to be your issue then and your respect for the rights of public servants was nowhere to be seen.

Does the squeaky wheel really get the grease or will commonsense prevail. And will it be all-aboard to move forward as expeditiously as possible to retrofit and revamp empty office buildings into housing so those residents can support businesses in the core?

March 11, 2024

 

Ottawa City Council Doesn’t Care

Does the mayor or any City of Ottawa councillors care? Serious question.

Finance committee approved the next steps in Lansdowne 2.0 with barely a glance at the financials which weigh in at a  $419 million cost to taxpayers.

Snap of the fingers and, boom, it’s a done deal. Despite the City of Gatineau spending $160 million less for a sports complex much better than the proposed one at Lansdowne, this committee didn’t even blink. They used that well-worn rubber stamp that must be a hold-over from the previous council lead by former mayor Jim Watson to approve a watered-down version of that previously trotted out to residents.

Apparent is that most councillors seated around the horseshoe have absolutely no comprehension of the reports they are supposed to familiarize themselves with to speak coherently at committee and council. This council knows no bounds at embarrassing itself. Even more embarrassing is few really seem to care.

Councillors and the mayor are elected to be the guardians of the public purse and have residents’ best financial interests at stake. They are not elected to use tax dollars as only they see fit or as they are directed by someone(s) with more authority than they.

April 11, 2024

 

Have A Heart Ottawa City Council

Nothing in life is free and you can take that to the bank.

It seems that wherever a buck can be had, and residents can be fleeced, one of Ottawa’s do-gooder councillors will find a way to grab that cash. Orleans South-Navan Councillor Catherine Kitts recently moved a motion on behalf of Alta Vista Councillor Marty Carr to install parking meters along Lynda Lane adjacent to the general campus of The Ottawa Hospital.

Was Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and the rest of council in favour? Perhaps not as this foolish motion has been deep-sixed for the time-being.

Ottawa City Council might not realize this, but there are individuals and families who simply cannot afford the exorbitant parking fees hospitals charge. Parking along Lynda Lane provides some measure of relief to those who visit loved ones in hospital. Let’s not take that little bit of dignity away from them.

Some semblance of empathy and compassion towards the financial hardships others may be experiencing would go a long way in providing a level of understanding that is sadly lacking with this council.

March 28, 2024

 

Heritage Buildings Or A Dump?

Heritage status or dilapidated mess? It should be easier than this.

Brian Dagenais felt positive when he bought three 150-year-old completely rundown houses with the intention of demolishing the existing and building 24 new rental units keeping within the style and feel of Lowertown. That was until City of Ottawa program manager Lesley Collins stepped in to advise that they are located in the Lowertown West heritage conservation district and are designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act.

According to Collins, in a conservation district, it is the “sum of the parts” that is important and not every building as “these buildings are considered to be ‘contributing buildings’ within that area which means they contribute to the overall value … and … it’s about the contextual value .. the sense of place you get in a historic neighbourhood.” So, having rundown, dilapidated, rat-and-squatter infested buildings more resembling lean-to’s than houses actually adds to the character of the neighbourhood. Gotcha. The neighbours must be just so impressed.

It wouldn’t take too long for an average Joe to take a look and declare the buildings inhabitable but for heritage sake, leave them stand even though the add-on parts of the building negate any heritage value.

So Dagenesis, having received a two-page 30-year old report for information purposes, has no option but to carry a mortgage of $28,000 each month on properties he is unable to demolish, pay an application fee and submit the necessary plans and studies to staff who will then review the application and make recommendations to the built heritage committee and to city council.

There is common sense and then there is just plain old nonsense. Not everything is cut from the same cloth. Built heritage committee and city staff would be wise to recognize this and, in the process, save well-meaning business people time, money and patience.

March 21, 2024

 

Brockington’s Right On Light Rail

Surprised? No. Disappointed? Yes

River Councillor Riley Brockington recently uttered the words that many residents will continue to echo as they relate to the infamous LRT system.

Brockington isn’t surprised but is disappointed in the delays given that the north-south Trillium Line of the LRT was supposed to be the easiest leg. That might very well be the case had the SNC-Lavalin subsidiary awarded the contract not twice failed the technical requirements. So colour us shocked at the latest delay.

Carleton University administrators and student associations have contacted Capital Shawn Menard to express their concerns about the lengthy delays. Sadly, students will just have to take it like everyone else. Rest assured, one would not appreciate a repeat of the deliberate malfeasance associated with the Confederation Line so better to make sure all the nuts and bolts are securely connected lest egregious violations of public trust rear their ugly head again.

While the initial launch date for the Trillium Line was slated for August 2022, it’s not ready to roll. OC Transpo general manager Renée Amilcar was confident that a spring opening was still on track, however, Amilcar recently learned that driver training and software testing would delay the opening for at least several months and troubleshooting problems might further delay the opening.

According to Brockington, the city needs the train to be safe and thoroughly tested so it’s important to know that whatever bugs found are addressed and fixed. He believes that people not adhering to deadlines and honouring contracts need to be held accountable and that the people of Ottawa are exhausted.

Because this is a fixed price project, the city is only responsible for the cost initially agreed upon and any claims from the contractor will be reviewed at a later date. It will be interesting to learn whether the contractor does submit any claims and what exactly they’re for. So, in fact, a fixed price might not necessarily be true.

Perhaps auditor general Nathalie Gougeon might reconsider, revise her to-do list, and move LRT Trillium Line to the top.

March 10, 2024

Don’t Snub Seniors Because They Are Old

Did you know …

* Every day an elderly person spends lying in a bed, it takes two days to recover the strength and function that has been lost;

* A patient’s frail skin begins to break down after eight hours of lying on a stretcher and this immobility will eventually lead to painful bed sores;

* Typical wait times in many Ontario emergency departments can be near or above 20 hours.

Research has shown that many seniors leave the hospital in much worse shape than when they entered and spending long days mostly, or entirely, lying in a bed only adds to the problems. For elderly people, already very frail and low on strength, a long period of mostly inactivity can easily transition them into a bad situation because their once sharp mind can become less so in very little time and while the patient may have recovered from the initial diagnosis, a prolonged stay in hospital may leave that same patient immobile.

While cognitive issues such as confusion, hallucinations, problems with awareness, and mood change are common symptoms in elderly patients, those symptoms may complicate recovery. As well, the ability to regain their independence may be compromised. This may be related to an injury and is one more issue that limits a patient’s ability to move.  Movement aids in recovery and the negative impact of hospital stays has been long understood. Many hospitals work hard to keep patients mobile, with daily walks down hallways and/or to common areas for other activities to stimulate awareness, muscles and mobility. Bed sores are a result of a system that does not encourage movement in elderly patients. The aim is to encourage elderly patients to get out of bed for meals three times a day. Staffing shortages may play a key role in this issue.

Elderly patients might benefit from caregivers, nurses, and support help who have a clear understanding of the needs associated with elderly patient ailments. Pre-arranged home care is of the utmost importance.  Nursing and personal support workers should be carefully scheduled well ahead of time for minimal disruption to the patient’s well-being. Nutritious meals, fresh fruits, cereals, whole grains, vegetables, soups and stews help ensure proper proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins should be consumed daily and will help in the healing process. Family and friends can be incredibly helpful in the post-hospital healing phase. Unfortunately, not all seniors are lucky enough to have the personal care a family can provide.

Government agencies assist with homecare but connecting with the appropriate agency can sometimes be an exercise in frustration. There seems to be not enough support staff for the number of patients needing care and this number will only increase as the baby boomers age. Those who have private home care can often recover more quickly than those who rely on government assisted care.The proper response from government officials would be to recognize the shortage of affordable home care personnel and work to resolve it by providing additional funds for staff such as PSWs, RNs, homecare, transportation to and from appointments when necessary.

Our senior citizens deserve respect and care. What they don’t deserve is to have their needs ignored just because they’re old.

March 6, 2024

Don’t Come Back, Comeback Kid

One of the funniest things a person who lives in a fantasy bubble can do is encourage the media to support a soft launch back into public life. This is what former mayor Jim Watson attempted to do with a softball story recently featured in the Ottawa Citizen.

Was Watson successful in swaying public opinion that he’s really just a good old boy misunderstood? Not likely.

Imagine if the interviewer had asked tough questions and Watson gave a deer-in-the headlights-stare in return. Would Citizen reporter Gord Holder have made the interview uncomfortable by pushing harder for an answer or moved on to another weak question while Watson heaved a great sigh of relief?

How about .. “If you knew how complex and complicated the LRT system was, why did you insist on being in full control of a process you knew nothing about?”

Watson’s reign as mayor of Ottawa left a sour taste in many mouths. The transit network failed; roads deteriorated; affordable housing was a merely a thought; seniors came in a distant last; hundreds of millions of dollars spent and committed to a light-rail system that tanked before it even got started; millions of dollars spent on an underground downtown tunnel that collapsed and leaks; a provincial public inquiry on LRT that realistically should have been investigated by the police. You know who you are. Watson and crew all were involved in the LRT contract process via  improper WhatsApp chats, lies by omission and they withheld vital information from council and the public.

So does Jim Watson honestly deserve a soft launch back into public life or should he really be put out to pasture. Thanks but no thanks Jim Watson.

Feb. 20, 2024

 

New Watson Just Like The Old Watson

Jim Watson rebranded.

The former has spoken in a major feature in the Ottawa Citizen and apparently all is good in the magical, mystical world of make-believe.

The man himself takes full responsibility for the LRT failures and that’s a good thing. This means Watson takes full responsibility for Justice William Hourigan’s scathing provincial public inquiry report wherein the words such as egregious malfeasance, lies, secrecy, lack of communication and persistent failure in leadership were peppered throughout. Always remember that under Watson’s leadership, LRT Phase II was awarded to a conglomerate that twice failed the technical requirements to advance in the bidding process. But good on Watson for still being a fan.

Watson is also a big supporter of Lansdowne 2.0. The second phase came to be because, at the first go-round, the city didn’t have the money and the north-side stands were not in imminent danger of collapsing. Watson remembers Lansdowne as being a dump … a barren parking lot with bad asphalt and rundown buildings like the Curl-O-Drome. Nevertheless, there is a farmer’s market and Christmas market which he thinks are just great. His opinion is that there will always be those annoying critics who love green grass but, rest assured, there will be condominium towers chock full of people who will prop up those dying businesses amid the concrete wasteland that now exists.

Lansdowne could have been a prime location for a stunning central park abutting the Rideau Canal but, alas, we, the residents and taxpayers of Ottawa, should consider ourselves blessed and forever grateful that a private developer had a vision …

Feb. 18, 2024

 

When Will Transpo’s Amilcar Call It Quits?

The little train that could .. or would .. or should .. or maybe not.

It really must pain OC Transpo general manager Renée Amilcar to, again, have to use the words “root cause” as they have come back to haunt OC Transpo and the infamous LRT. Not one but two trains were down on Feb. 14 leaving transit riders stranded.

One elderly female traveller in particular was livid after having waited for nearly an hour for a replacement bus and, in the freezing cold, ended up walking to the next station. A Carleton University student was left with no option but to call for an Uber to ensure she wasn’t late to write her mid-term exams. Apparently there were enough people left standing in the cold to fill several buses but, alas, they waited and waited and waited.

Will OC Transpo and Amilcar ever get it right or will Amilcar tire of the whole mess and exit stage left?

Feb. 17, 2024

 

What’s Wrong With Danielle Smith’s Policy?

Cue the pearl clutching, hand-wringing and flat-out hysteria.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith recently unveiled changes for transgender youth that some believe are controversial. Her new plan will require schools to notify parents and obtain consent if a student wants to change their name or pronouns. It also prohibits anyone under 18 from getting gender-affirmation surgeries. Puberty blockers and hormone therapy will not be allowed for kids aged 15 and under, unless they’ve already started treatment.

Where is the problem?

Why are so many people up in arms about this? Is the policy really that controversial that people have taken to the streets in protest? We are talking about children.

Parents are notified if their child isn’t at school or bows out early without notice or explanation. These same parents, informed about their wayward youth, were not to be notified that Jill was on her way to becoming Jack or vice versa? There is definitely something wrong with that picture.

Most parents take their job very seriously. It’s perfectly fine to know that homework is done but not to know that your child isn’t comfortable in their own skin?

Gender affirmation is delicate and requires much one-on-one counseling to ensure it is the right decision for each individual. It is life-changing so definitely not to be taken lightly.

Children are young, growing, experimenting and easily influenced as they travel the road to adulthood. Sometimes that road can be very rocky. It is a parent’s responsibility to guide their child the best they can and to know in which parts of their life they struggle and need help. Opening the lines of communications between parents and children is an excellent start to understanding and acceptance.

For a child to make the grown-up decision about gender affirmation without family support, compassion, and understanding is wrong. In situations like these, family therapy is much needed and will help with communication, understanding, compassion, and continued support for that precious child.

Feb. 15, 2024

Council Embarrassed Itself On Donationgate

There’s lots of blame to go around on Donationgate.

Ottawa City Council was recently tying itself up in knots given the $300,000 gift to Capital ward for traffic-calming measures and affordable housing compliments of Groupe Katasa. This company was approved to develop a 22-storey condominium at Carling and Bronson Avenues. The area is busy and accommodations will have to be made for traffic and pedestrian safety.

Accusations flew around the horseshoe. Somerset Councillor Ariel Troster noted this type of donation was a regular occurrence at Ottawa City Hall. So if it happened before, why weren’t councillors angry about the other wards that benefited from developer gifts?

Was this a “gotcha” moment for Orleans East Councillor Matthew Luloff to crow about to raise his profile as federal Conservative candidate for Orleans? To say there were a few puffed chests about the donation at council would be mild. The entire discussion was embarrassing. Council eventually determined that the windfall should benefit communities city-wide but didn’t this then put all councillors and the mayor in the same boat as Capital Councillor Shawn Menard?

Was Menard trying to pull a fast one? Apparently, Menard did check with legal staff as well as the integrity commissioner Karen Shepherd and was given the OK to accept the donation. However, a subsequent memo from the commissioner clarified that the donation was voluntary and called it a policy matter which is outside her jurisdiction. Was this a cover-your-behind moment for the commissioner?

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe would like Shepherd to delve into the timelines for these specific negotiations but to achieve this council would have to request an investigation. It should be noted that there are no rules, procedures or policies for how these types of donations are solicited or received.

Groupe Katasa has now rescinded the donation.

It was not this council’s finest moment and its collective disorganization and lack of understanding showed. That staff is as unprepared as council is even more disturbing because staff is there to guide councillors with answers to questions, not maybe’s.

Feb. 11. 2024

Council Gets Grubby On Donation

Could Ottawa City Council embarrass itself any more than they did at Wednesday’s meeting?

A $300,000 donation from Katasa Group deemed a voluntary contribution to fund traffic calming and affordable housing in the area of development, caused a fight around the horseshoe. It was painful to listen to grown adults act like petulant, spoiled brats.

Amid the hand-wringing, whispering, and finger-pointing, Orléans East-Cumberland Councillor Matt Luloff called the donation a “slush fund” suggesting that Capital Councillor Shawn Menard had coerced the developer. Ouch.

“I have it on good authority that this developer felt pressured by this councillor to make this contribution and understood that it was simply the way that we do things in Ottawa,” Luloff claimed. Why, them’s is fightin’ words.

Menard, whose ward will benefit from the recently approved development of a 22-storey tower at the corner of Bronson and Carling avenues, emphatically stated: “The councillor insinuated something that would amount to something like extortion or bribery. Feel free to provide evidence of that, councillor, but don’t say those things unless you have some evidence to back it up.” It was time to put up them dukes.

Of course it didn’t help that Somerset Ward Councillor Ariel Troster opined: “I do not understand why we’re kicking up a fuss about this development right now. Was the previous council simply not paying attention? This was standard practice.” Really?

And then, of course, Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley felt the need to add that this was nothing more than, “a bag of money being thrown on the table.” No councillor, that’s not what it was at all. Perhaps Hubley would do well to remember the old adage: just because one can talk, doesn’t mean one must.

But wait, it gets even better when it was suggested that there must be some level of equality across the city so a compromise motion, prepared by Kanata North Councillor Cathy Curry, was approved.

The money was spread around the city despite the donation being earmarked for the ward, the majority of councillors felt that they, too, should be entitled to a piece of the pie. It is now up to Katasa Group to accept or decline the new terms.

Staff must now develop an acceptable policy on this type of donation from a developer. One wonders why a policy was not created many moons ago to prevent this type of juvenile squabbling and contentious debate.

The gloves are off and this council, through questions and requests for clarity on different points, have again displayed their complete lack of understanding of how council is supposed to work and an absolute unwillingness to work together. Why, it’s just like the old days.

Jan. 25, 2024

Get Serious About The Market, Mark Sutcliffe

Robberies and crime in the ByWard Market are out of control with some business owners expressing concern about safety.

Their issues were brought forward in a recent meeting with the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Police Services officials.

While the City of Ottawa desperately wants to increase pedestrian traffic in the market area, it seems unable to pinpoint an effective fix.

How serious is our city in making businesses and patrons feel safe when this same city believes it will take roughly two years to complete an OPS satellite office in the market area? But wait, it seems that the Rideau Centre is now the go-to location for said office. Surely there is an empty space in the market that would suffice? Too much red tape?

Perhaps this is something the “night mayor” could speed up the police office or maybe Mayor Mark Sutcliffe could flex his muscle and, oh, I don’t know, light a fuse under this issue?

One must question the sincerity of this city wanting to improve the atmosphere and pedestrian traffic in the market because of the civic road blocks stopping progress now.

Jan. 16, 2024

Bet, Bet, Bet, Bet, Bet

Pro-Line, Bet MGM, Fan Duel … the list goes on.

The NFL is an exciting sport. The play is usually guess work; crowds are entertaining; commentators interesting; graphics top drawer. What isn’t exciting though is the constant advertising for online betting.

Each commercial break is filled with promoting and encouraging those over 19 to lay a little wager on a game. The small print promotes responsible gambling.

According to Wayne Gretzky, one can even bet on the speed of a Connor McDavid slapshot. Imagine that.

It is disgusting that children who enjoy watching football, hockey, baseball, soccer or any other professional sport are bombarded with the enticement to bet. Parental control likely comes in handy when a game is in play.

Do these ads bring in more gamblers? Does this mean more millions for casinos and governments?

Gambling is an addiction just like alcohol, nicotine and marijuana. Why is this being promoted? Are our governments now corrupted by the lure of big money from those who have no control over their impulses? This type of advertising is ruining viewer’s enjoyment of watching a tight game.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink what we, the fans, would prefer to be enticed with during those commercial breaks.

Jan. 9, 2024

 

Climate Agreement The Smallest Of Gains

Taking stock of COP28. Paint me a skeptic.

Talks went into overtime during lengthy negotiations between countries divided over the future of fossil fuels and the role they will play as the world moves towards a healthy future.

This agreement doesn’t necessarily end  the fossil fuel era and it is still far from sufficient to reflect the world’s climate crisis. The deal contains massive loopholes that threaten to undermine the agreement.

It calls on countries to “contribute” to global efforts to reduce carbon pollution as they see fit, offering many options such as “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems … accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050.”

Now might not exactly be the time to pop that champagne cork given those countries involved using oil production as their means of wealth and negotiation. LIV Golf come to mind?

Dec. 19, 2023

 

Homes Or Lansdowne? City Picks Lansdowne

Homelessness has reached Kanata.

Recently on a cold, rainy day, a homeless man, bundled in a thin blanket was found sleeping under an umbrella in Kanata South. His meager belongings were tucked into a paper bag. A brief conversation revealed he wasn’t a drinker or drug user but was definitely down on his luck and without a roof over his head.

The city estimates that there are currently 260 people sleeping outside in Ottawa but that number might actually be much higher and, while the city is working towards ensuring that no one freezes to death, the goal is to make sure there are enough spaces in the shelter system so no one is left outside. This winter, bunk beds will be moved into recreation centres in the city to provide shelter and, if necessary, military style tents will be set up for the homeless.

Ottawa City council may not be allocating sufficient resources to accommodate and care for homeless individuals. Pop-up tents and recreation centres will be used in the cold winter months but what happens for the rest of the year? This city is now in crisis mode given the number of individuals sleeping outside so are we really doing enough to help those without a place to call home?

Imagine how much more advanced our city would be in rectifying homelessness if $419 million to be spent at Lansdowne was made available to kick-start Operation Homes for the Homeless.

Oct. 10, 2023

Failure To Audit Rail Procurement Stinks

An audit, an audit, my kingdom for an audit.

It seems the Trillium Line procurement didn’t quite make it to the auditor general’s work plan this year. This means an audit isn’t likely to occur before 2025 if at all.

An SNC-Lavalin subsidiary was awarded the lucrative contract despite two failed technical specs and a recommendation against hiring the firm. Interesting. And yet, Ottawa’s auditor general doesn’t think this is important enough to warrant an audit of the file.

Does anyone else think this stinks to high heaven?

Dec. 19, 2023

 

Fire The Planner In Jock River Issue

So … who actually runs the City of Ottawa? Not such an easy question.

In November 2019, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority was preparing to assess a housing developer’s proposal for major floodplain alterations, however, a senior city planning official advised the RVCA that “we want to reinforce the support (Ottawa) council has expressed for this file” or a clear sign that the city’s elected officials were backing the developer’s major plans along the Jock River waterfront and that the RVCA should approve the project.

In other words, the RVCA was pressured by city staff to give the green light to altering the Jock River flood plain. The city auditor general has since reported that councillors were remarkably unaware of the new “cut-and-fill” proposal at that time and were still under the impression that a rework of the floodplain was in progress. But, alas, it was a done deal.

According to the auditor general, the city letter highlighting council’s “endorsement” was not only inaccurate but expressing said endorsement was a public-policy no-no. The auditor general advised that the planning department needs to “establish a formal policy outlining that the city does not take an advocacy or endorsement position for any developer or development as input into a third-party’s decision-making.”

It should go without saying that the senior city planning official should no longer be employed. Period.

Council needs to be more aware with what city staff might be passing off as a fait accompli when, in actual fact, it may only be a pipe dream.

Nov. 25, 2023

Suburbanites Are People, Too

Referring to the recent and very painful Lansdowne 2.0 decision by our council to allocate $419 million towards a developer’s dream, for whom exactly is Ottawa meant?

Nearly everything written or read concerns the core of this city and how discussions, decisions, debates are so centrally focused. There are those who will argue differently but suburban voters are often left out in the cold when it comes to how to spend our money to build a better Ottawa.

We contact our respective councillor about issues that matter to us but does anyone actually get a satisfactory answer in return? Does anyone get an answer?

Does it square with you, the suburban taxpayer, that hundreds of millions of dollars are dedicated to core issues with little to no regard for your wants and needs?

Living in Kanata South since 1980 and witnessing the phenomenal growth of this area and having pleaded with every councillor elected, this ward is still without an outdoor pool or reasonable recreation centre. We do have the tiny Eva James Community Centre but it is woefully lacking in amenities this community desperately needs. It has a gym and a meeting room. That’s it. But, as we’ve been told ad nauseum, we should be happy that we have something. Really?

As a taxpayer, should I be thrilled that this council is propping up a private developer before providing much needed services to a community that is nearly 50 years old? I’m not happy about that and pretty sure many of my neighbours aren’t either.

So what’s the answer? Is this the way amalgamation was supposed to work? Suburbs be damned; full steam ahead using your tax dollars for core development. How many suburbanites regularly use or visit Lansdowne? Is giving $419 million to Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group okay with you? Did you expect your councillor to take your opinion into account? Why isn’t our councillor more receptive and responsive to our concerns?

Do we want to be Ottawa or would we prefer to be Kanata? Or Nepean? Or Gloucester? Or Carp? Or Stittsville? The list goes on.  Do we start a petition to de-amalgamate?

These are serious questions that need serious discussion because since amalgamation, we suburbanites have always been the bridesmaid and never the bride.

Nov. 20, 2023

 

City Isn’t Serious About Saving Money

The City of Ottawa asked residents recently for suggestions about saving money. Seriously.

We just went through a very painful process called Lansdowne 2.0 with council voting approval for $419 million to prop up a private developer’s dream. That’s $419-million And now this city is looking to residents and taxpayers for ideas to save a few bucks.

No one could possibly make this stuff up.

Nov. 18, 2023

 

Don’t Be Petty, Councillors

Are city councillors comedians?

Some councillors will reportedly vote in favour of Lansdowne 2.0 because they don’t like one particular councillor. That’s exceptionally disappointing if not laughable. These people are elected officials and were elected to represent the best interests of residents … taxpayers. They were not elected to play favourites using tax dollars to jockey themselves into good standing with some of their peers.

Lansdowne 2.0 is not a good business proposal for this city. The financial details with a waterfall repayment that will never see the light of day do not make sense regardless of what the new city manager Wendy Stephenson says. But, then again, she believes Steve Kanellakos was a great leader despite his early retirement after his LRT Phase 1 debacle.

Perhaps common sense will prevail when the time comes for the final vote but who knows? Once the final promises are made and those sitting on that invisible fence make their jump in support or not, the tally will be produced and a decision made that could affect everyone for years to come.

Let’s hope those childish councillors playing childish games grow up and realize they are the gatekeepers of the public purse and act accordingly.

Nov. 8, 2023

 

Just Say No To Lansdowne: MULVIHILL

How much is too much for you?

The new-and-improved central library is a $500-million borrow. Lansdowne 2.0 is a $419 million ask for a project that didn’t work the first go around. LRT Trillium Line is in need of an additional $152 million in contingency funding. LRT Confederation Line is in dire need of work that has yet to be agreed upon and it’s impossible to find out how much this first phase has cost taxpayers thus far (and it makes no difference the level of government funding involved; there is only one taxpayer).

Our transit system has tanked often leaving riders twiddling their fingers waiting for a bus that just isn’t going to show or biting the bullet and driving into the office. Some transit riders spend upwards of three hours commuting to and from work each day. How encouraging is that?

Infrastructure is failing. Roads are abysmal. The transit system is on life support.

Ottawa consists of more than the central core. Is anyone on council remotely aware that this city has multi-million dollar issues that are more important than subsidizing a private developer in their quest to conquer Lansdowne Park?

This was a failed project from the beginning. Let’s not delay the inevitable. Just say no.

Oct. 31, 2023

 

Where’s The Trillium Line Procurement Audit?

Now, who would have thought there would be yet another delay?

A report heading to the light-rail subcommittee speaks to the Trillium Line being delayed potentially to 2025. Initial launch was slated for 2022, then 2023, onward to 2024, and now 2025 is a possibility. One could then safely assume that identifying a definite launch date is somewhat like nailing Jell-O to the wall.

Remember the company that was awarded this contract, a subsidiary of SNC Lavalin, twice failed the technical requirements necessary to move to the next round of the selection process. This might come into play as the report clearly states …“The final date selected will be heavily influenced by the safety, reliability, and general performance of the system …”

Perhaps council could find it useful to ask the city’s auditor general why she doesn’t think a forensic audit of the Trillium Line should be at the top of her to-do list.

Oct. 23, 2023

 

Editor’s Note: A date ticker runs at the bottom of this page showing the time that has passed since the city auditor general could have begun an audit of the Trillium Line procurement. The Bulldog takes this extraordinary step so that the promised procurement does not escape the attention of the public, the mayor, the auditor general or the city audit committee.

Lansdowne: Tear Down The Northside Stands

“I love sports. I love them all. And I think an arena is needed. But I don’t think the city should be subsidizing commercial sport …”

“It seems like some things work (market stalls), but then there are some things that just don’t work at all. It’s dead here, if there’s not a game going on or it’s not market day …”

“Looking around here, everything is kind of concrete and industrial, it doesn’t give a warm feeling …”

These are but a few comments about the revised Lansdowne 2.0 proposal that will be presented to council in November.

The revised plan doesn’t include the 10 per cent of affordable housing units that were in the original plan but instead provides $3.9 million that the city can spend immediately on affordable housing elsewhere. The city and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group believe that does provide housing help immediately rather than the decade long wait for the Lansdowne towers to be built but $3.9 million doesn’t go very far to build, renovate, retrofit affordable housing.

There must be financial oversight. Does that much needed oversight exist or is this just a waterfall of wishful thinking and sleight of hand? This city cannot afford another LRT debacle and Ottawans are fed up with the ongoing issues.

By all means build the three condominium towers at Lansdowne for much needed housing so residents can support the outdoor market, businesses, theatres and dining establishments. Instead of rebuilding the arena and north-side stands, tear them down. Keep the south-side stands for an amazing small, intimate amphitheatre. Create a wonderful park full of trees, benches, seasonal bistros. Make it amazing. Make it a go-to happening place that people actually want to visit in any season.

As for the arena and stadium venue, build it at Bayview Yard where transit and accessibility are so much better and LRT will hopefully be available by then. To do otherwise is simply creating the same noisy, clogged mess that now exists at Lansdowne Park on event days.

Oct. 19, 2023

Due to an editing error, incorrect information appeared earlier in this post.

Light Rail: The Mystery Of The Unrestrained Nut

Yes, no, maybe so but the question is: Why?

According to Ottawa LRT train-building Alstom, the issues with the axle-hub assembly on Ottawa’s light-rail transit vehicles are because of the higher-than-thought lateral loads on the vehicle’s axles during operation. Rideau Transit Maintenance, in charge of operating the line, doesn’t agree.

RTM and Alstom are not yet lock-and-step about the root cause of the axle issues, but do agree on several steps for a ‘sustainable solution’ including top-of-rail lubrication of the rail line. Sustainable doesn’t necessarily mean permanent.

As explained in a report to the transit commission, the restraining nut that provides preload to the stack of bearings and spaces within the axle cartridge can unlock. Alstom has submitted a proposal to the city to modify the nut by inserting restraining pins.

As per David Van de Wee, vice-president of Alstom: “This failure mode that we see here in Ottawa we have not observed in our other fleets around the world.” 

So … why would the nut unlock on this particular light-rail system? 

Oct. 13, 2023

 

LRT: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Light-rail speed restrictions won’t be ending any time soon.

Recently the transit commission provided a summary of work done by the city, Rideau Transit Group and Alstom since the first of numerous breakdowns and derailments that were blamed on problems with the train wheels, axles and bogeys.

The report, issued for information purposes only, stated that “RTG has committed to the city that Alstom has commenced a redesign of the axle bearing assembly and expects that an approved design will be in place by the end of 2024. … The axle bearing assembly redesign will focus on strengthening the assembly to better withstand the lateral forces experienced on the Confederation Line and ultimately deliver an axle bearing assembly that meets expectations from a safety, service and maintenance perspective.” Clear as mud, right?

So, the number of transit users who put their trust in the powers-that-be at Ottawa City Hall must now realize they have been severely led astray. There is no quick fix nor is there an end date identifying when all trains will be fixed and operational. This is not good news. This is not a confidence booster. This report is merely a finely tuned “maybe-someday-we’ll-get-this-right” kind of a mea culpa.

Meanwhile, many transit users have given up, scraped together enough money to buy a used car to get themselves to work or shopping or anywhere, hence the increased traffic on all roads everywhere.

Clearly, there is little faith left in those responsible for the magnificent failure that LRT was, is, and will always be. And yet, no heads have rolled. There is just excuse, after excuse, after excuse.

Oct. 10, 2023

 

Listen To Public On Lansdowne

Can taxpayers afford another Lansdowne failure?

According to Mark Goudie, president of Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the work that was started with Lansdowne needs to be finished. Pardon? There was never any talk of the initial Lansdowne development being Phase I so how was Lansdowne 2.0 conceived?

Goudie’s attempt to change the narrative to reflect Lansdowne being developed in phases is a bit rich. Realistically, Lansdowne is an epic failure and it has cost taxpayers millions to realize this. That Mayor Mark Sutcliffe is attempting to second Goudie’s reinvention of the wheel is dismaying and deceptive at best.

The recent unveiling of Lansdowne 2.0 had media having to register ahead of time and, only when registration was confirmed, the secret location would be revealed. How crazy is this? The money comes from tax dollars which, in turn, comes from taxpayers who have every right to know that council and the mayor are using those funds wisely. Sinking hundreds of millions more into a failed operation is not guarding the treasury wisely.

Haven’t residents had enough of the secrecy that came with LRT? Remember Justice William Hourigan’s scathing final report on the provincial inquiry into Ottawa’s LRT? Deliberate malfeasance, lies, secret chats .. the list goes on and this epic disaster was compliments of the previous council headed by disgraced former mayor Jim Watson.

Does current mayor Mark Sutcliffe think residents have short memories? He might want to give his head a good, hard shake. Sutcliffe might be on target to being a one-term mayor if he continues to dismiss public participation and, in turn, public feedback.

Oct. 9, 2023

 

You Don’t Matter At Lansdowne

Reconsideration or just a delay?

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and council have given a slight reprieve of four weeks on a final decision about Lansdowne 2.0. Is that enough time for residents to weigh in on what can only be considered a significant investment (again) supporting a developer’s dream?

If Lansdowne 1.0 was an epic failure, what is so different in this proposal that would make 2.0 a raging success? Air rights? Advertising? Residential taxes? What?

It is still hard to believe that such a prominent location that could have evolved into our own Central Park is really nothing more than concrete, pavement, bricks and mortar. Let’s not forget ugly. 

That council could so easily have disregarded residents’ thoughts, opinions and input in favour of what now exists simply shows that, once elected, you, the voter, can be so easily dismissed. 

Oct. 1, 2023

 

Is That Hubley On Audit Committee?

The buck stops with council …

When Ottawa City Council was sworn in after the last municipal election, committees of council were established. Former chairman of the transit commission, Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley is a member of the audit committee.

City auditor general Nathalie Gougeon was given the opportunity to prove to residents that she has their best interests and tax dollars at heart by auditing of light-rail Phase 2 a top priority. Unfortunately, the auditor general through council, has determined that her work plan might or might not have time to include an audit. Realistically likely not. Keep in mind that the company awarded the LRT Phase 2 contract twice failed the technical requirements but this council and this Mayor Mark Sutcliffe don’t believe an audit is really warranted.

There are those who feel differently. Think no further than Justice William Hourigan’s eye-popping provincial inquiry report where the words deliberate malfeasance, misleading council, and lies were peppered throughout.

We all remember Hubley as former mayor Jim Watson’s lapdog during Phase 1 and 2 LRT deliberations. Hubley testified under oath at the inquiry as did Watson, former city manager Steve Kanellakos, and former transit general manager John Manconi. Watson, Kanellakos, and Manconi all jumped ship before the release of Justice Hourigan’s damning findings. Hubley stuck it out and was actually re-elected by dim-witted bulbs who chose to keep their heads deeply buried in the sand.

The irony cannot be lost that Hubley is a member of the audit committee.

Sept. 25, 2022

Why Did NCC Let 24 Sussex Rot?

If the Rockcliffe’s River House was worth a $20-million renovation, why isn’t 24 Sussex Drive worthy of the same?

Wouldn’t demolishing this grand heritage building located on a prestigious plot of land overlooking the Ottawa River set a very dangerous precedent?

If Harrington Lake was worthy of a $8- $12-million renovation, why can’t the same be said of the official residence of the Prime Minister of Canada?

In 2015, the National Capital Commission would have been wise to do a complete restoration to 24 Sussex by gutting the interior, updating plumbing, wiring, etc., restoring the exterior and renovating the interior.

It has been eight years since the federal government changed hands. In all that time, why did the NCC allow this historic 155 year-old heritage-property to rot?

Sept. 5, 2023

We’re Paying For City Hall’s Mistakes

Now who didn’t see this coming?

OC Transpo, in all of its infinite wisdom, is considering cutting bus routes to cut costs. It is also staring at a $35-million shortfall in transit fare revenue for 2024.

Of course, placing the blame on federal workers who either work from home or work a hybrid week, is the forever go-to. Remember when Mayor Mark Sutcliffe met with Treasury Board boss Mona Fortier, and pleaded with her to force employers back to work? Neither thought anything of the failed LRT system that resulted in two- to three-hour commute times or loss of family or personal time. It was all about the bottom line, the almighty dollar.

Perhaps Sutcliffe should have stayed home and waited until transit service improved but look at the mess he continues to create. Bravo Mark.

The city will likely increase transit fares by a minimum of 2.5 per cent as well as the transit portion of the property tax bill. So those lucky stiffs who take public transit and own a home are looking at a five-per-cent increase for transit purposes. Nice.

As it stands, the number of buses is inadequate; the LRT Confederation Line operates on single car service; and, the Trillium Line is way behind schedule but, by all means, cut routes and hike fares. That should bring transit users running … for their cars.

The mayor and councillors can be set free next election but how is it that residents continue to be made to pay for the multitude of mistakes made by City of Ottawa staff?

Aug. 28, 2023

 

Are These Light-Rail Trains Really Safe?

Something’s burning …

The root cause for the bearing failure on the Confederation Line LRT still has not been released but, apparently a burning smell was initially noticed.

That can’t be a good sign.

According to reports, two years ago a technician identified burn marks on a brake disc. The big mistake made was not checking the other cars before the all clear was given. The train travelled only 90 metres before the wheel was severed and derailment resulted. The Transportation Safety Board described this as a “previously undetected catastrophic roller bearing failure.” To any layman, that doesn’t sound encouraging.

That was the beginning of the longest root cause identification imaginable.

The latest opinion is progressive wear causing fatigue in the axle shaft, bearing and hub assembly and will be rectified by a more resilient and durable hub. That’s all well and good but what is the root cause of all of this? Perhaps more diligent maintenance is needed given that on September 19, 2021 the operator failed to notice that the train had derailed and travelled another 400 metres with passengers on board. Those in the know identified the root cause as being maintenance staff not tightening the bolts on a gearbox or to let incoming staff know that this work still needed to be done. Communication 101.

After the last debacle a month or so ago, five single trains were put into service Tuesday and apparently functioning as per the norm but ridership was almost non-existent. Safety obviously remains an issue as does the inconvenience of transit users having to hop a bus to hop a train to hop back onto a bus for the final leg of the journey. So, instead of Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, transit GM Renee Amilcar, and transit commissioner Glen Gower gathering for a photo-op to celebrate this joyous occasion, perhaps more concern could be shown in releasing the root cause of these disasters and, maybe, having a little chat about how to make it up to riders to encourage them to trust the system once more.

The real question, though, is whether the LRT system is safe enough to trust.

Aug. 8, 2023

Stop The Trains Before Someone Is Killed

New and improved redesigned axles and hubs … yeah that’s it.

The powers-that-be have hitched their collective stars to this fantasy wagon in the belief that new and improved axles and hubs, apparently under cover of secret development with special steel that not even Superman knows about, will be ready for testing in the next 12-18 months. The Transportation Safety Board declared the existing axles and hubs to not be the issue so maybe look at weight and pressure. Nah. Really, what does the TSB know?

LRT REPAIR: Sutcliffe’s Mayoralty In Jeopardy

In the meantime, transit riders will have to make due and travel on a hope and a prayer when service resumes later this month. In all seriousness, how can the City of Ottawa, OC Transpo and Rideau Transit Group return trains to service when they haven’t been fixed?

Perhaps the thought should be to remove all trains from service and fix the system once and for all before someone is killed. Has no one learned a lesson from anything that has happened? Is it all about saving face?

July 27, 2023

Night Mayor Should Probe Traffic Nightmare

Last week, travelling to Aylmer on a quest to pick up the grandchildren seemed to be an effort in futility. Clearly, the gods were not on our side given that it took the round trip more than two hours to complete.

The Champlain Bridge was at a standstill, the result of an accident at the halfway point. Were it not for a smart-thinking pedestrian who took the initiative and jumped into the fray to direct traffic, we may very well still be parked on the bridge. Let’s remember the Champlain Bridge is under construction and is reduced to two lanes. Kudos to the young man for moving traffic along albeit at a snail’s pace.

Speaking of the Champlain Bridge, who in their right mind builds a three lane bridge having known full well the sheer volume of traffic that would use it on a daily basis?

LANSDOWNE: So Much Bull. So Little Time

Deciding to forgo this route on the way home, the executive decision was made to travel along Allumettieres Boulevard to Maisonneuve Boulevard which would normally allow access to the western parkway. Foiled again. Allumettieres and Maissoneuve were also under construction and reduced to one lane each way. After what seemed like forever, we found ourselves entering the western parkway. Alas, Bluesfest was in town, streets were blocked and the parkway was closed to all traffic save for cyclists. Of course, there weren’t any directional signs so one is left to one’s own devices and this resulted in an anxious navigation through side streets that finally ended at the on-ramp to the Queensway westbound. Home never looked so good.

Only in Ottawa, in the summer, could the powers-that-be schedule multiple road works and construction projects; barricaded streets and sidewalks; roads closed to vehicular traffic; bicycles zipping about having been given free rein, pedestrians milling about on streets … chaos and confusion everywhere.

And Mayor Mark Sutcliffe wonders why the downtown core isn’t the go-to happening spot he envisions? It’s kinda like the Hotel California … you can check out any time you like but you can never leave.

July 17, 2023

Let The Kids Play Basketball

How does one rotten apple spoil the barrel?

Kids, summer, fun and sports kind of go together or so they should. The great outdoors, fresh air and exercise go hand-in-hand for youngsters to be outside enjoying their school break.

In the civic hospital area of Ottawa, it seems that one disgruntled neighbour is determined to put the kibosh on kids’ fun. Multiple complaints to bylaw have resulted in numerous visits to one particular household because kids are shooting hoops .. imagine kids outside having fun. The horror.

One would think that there are more than enough issues for bylaw to enforce instead of reading the riot act to parents desperately trying to keep their kids outside and away from video games. How about cutting them some slack?

To the neighbour complaining about kids having fun, remember you were young once too.

July 16, 2023

Light-Rail Isn’t Senators Arena Ready

Interesting that on Canada Day the Pimisi light-rail station was limited to those passengers with accessibility issues and off-limits to regular folk.

Those with the ability to freely get around were made to walk a fair distance or rely on Line 1 bus service. Some had no issue with this. Some did and it’s quite understandable for those who expected to use LRT but were denied.

Is this the way of the LRT future for the downtown core for special-occasion use?

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe recently let it be known that his preference for an arena location is the existing Department of National Defence building smack-dab downtown. This building is slated to be occupied until 2037. Hopefully by then LRT will be fully operational for all patrons destined for the downtown core.

Imagine if it isn’t. As it stands, the LRT isn’t equipped to handle the number of riders who would attend an Ottawa Senators hockey game or concert. What’s the plan? More trains? More buses? More confusion? More money?

It seems that there is a lot of secrecy between the doors at Ottawa City Hall. How much are residents not being told? How much information is under lock-and-key?

Taxpayers and residents would be wise to start paying attention to what their municipal politicians are up to.

July 10, 2023

 

Watson’s Back … Watch Your Local Pol

Disgraced former mayor Jim Watson has popped his head up as an appointed volunteer member of the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation.

This would be his first foray into public life following his horrendous, embarrassing and eye-popping appearance before the provincial public inquiry into LRT. That saw Justice William Hourigan in his final report decimate Watson and company following their less-than-truthful testimony.

Jim Watson’s On The Comeback Trail

Is this what happens when politicians go bad? Do they wait a few months and then lean on a friendly acquaintance for a favour to test the waters as they ease themselves back into public life? Word on the street has it that Watson will soon be seeking a provincial appointment … if true, even the most shameful of circumstances won’t keep him home.

Let’s not forget that humiliated Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley didn’t even bother to hide in the shadows following the last municipal election after his role in the LRT disaster was revealed in the same report. Hubley has bullied his way back into council’s good graces, if those graces even exist. Perhaps Watson took his cue from Hubley.

Residents and taxpayers might want to pay a bit more attention to what their civic politicians are up to.

July 6, 2023

 

LRT For NHL Arena Looks Unworkable

The Ottawa Police Service says “the reason Pimisi Station was restricted on Canada Day is because of the station’s design and its inability to handle crowds.” Isn’t that just amazing? LRT is not able to handle crowds.

So was OC Transpo playing fast and loose with the truth when a bulletin was released advising that access to LRT on Canada Day was restricted to those with accessibility issues? Did the powers-that-be think the truth would forever be hidden amid the endless stream of garbage spouted? They lied? That seems to be a constant with our city. Why tell the truth when a lie will suffice … for a while?

CIP GRANT: Gutter Politics At Its Worst (1)

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe thinks the downtown core is an excellent location for an NHL arena. It’s laughable, really.

A huge shout-out and great big thank you to former mayor Jim Watson, former transit general manager John Manconi, former city manager Steve Kanellakos, and current Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley for the poor $2.2-billion pathetic excuse for LRT Ottawa now has. Slow clap for all of you.

July 5, 2023

 

Call HGTV To Fix 24 Sussex Drive

Stately statuesque and perched atop a stunning chunk of desirable land overlooking the Ottawa River sits 24 Sussex Drive just screaming for a renovation.

Riddled with obsolete plumbing, asbestos, outdated wiring and cavernous hallowed rooms resplendent with bats, rats and a whole host of critters, the grand dame echoes a plea for help but is anyone listening?

It’s sadly funny how the NCC could find the necessary $12 million or so needed to either renovate or build new the Harrington Lake retreat but struggles to allocate $34 million to restore 24 Sussex Drive to its former glory.

Avid viewers of the plethora of televised renovation shows would be quick to point out which host or hostess could be called to action to oversee the renovation necessary to turn this dilapidated disaster into an updated beauty worthy of Canada’s next prime minister. 

The residence at 24 Sussex Drive is an important part of Canada’s history and must not be left to the modernist architects who believe that square concrete structures with massive square windows is the way of the future but rather someone who recognizes the history and has a distinct vision to return the grandeur to a once graceful home to future prime ministers.

June 1, 2023

What’s The Justice For The Light-Rail Liars?

… 47 recommendations …

As requested by council in January 2022 and delivered to the city’s light rail subcommittee, prepared by SYSTRA Canada Inc., was a report that contained 47, yes, 47 recommendations from the Trillium Line review.

Among its recommendations are that the new Stadler FLIRT diesel trains purchased to run on the north-south Trillium line have additional cold weather testing to make sure that doors will actually work in freezing rain and, get this … that trains can be started after sitting idle overnight in freezing temperatures.

Shut the front door.

It also recommends the city buy an eighth or spare Stadler train to ensure its planned 12-minute service is uninterrupted in case one of the seven other trains breaks down. The city rejected that as unaffordable due to the $18.5-million cost of the train. According to a city official, if one of the trains is out of service, the schedule will be kept by shortening the time the trains spend stopped at stations. What happens if two trains break down?

Let’s remember that the conglomerate heading the Trillium Line is part and parcel of SNC Lavalin and twice failed the technical requirements of the formal bidding process.

Testing of the Confederation Line was deceptively secretive as councillors were kept out of the loop and never told of failures or even that the city had decided, mid-testing, to lower the passing grade. Let’s think back to Justice William Hourigan’s scathing provincial public inquiry report that spoke of:

  • deliberate malfeasance
  • former mayor Jim Watson knowingly provided inaccurate information;
  • city manager deliberately misled council;
  • unproven technology;
  • number of trains needed was reduced;
  • inadequate maintenance resources;
  • rushed into service;
  • persistent failures in leadership and communication;
  • willful and deliberate misconduct;
  • evidence from senior management did not withstand scrutiny … they lied.

Former transit commission chairman Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley can attest to this as he was part of the ‘secret society’ that deliberately withheld vital information from council. Had Justice Hourigan’s report been released prior to the municipal election there is not a snowball’s chance in hell Hubley would have been elected.

Current transit commission chairman Glen Gower said the amount of information councillors are receiving this time is “like night and day.”

Perhaps Mayor Mark Sutcliffe could explain to residents exactly why he has yet to call for real consequences for some of the principals due to malfeasance in the construction and operation of the Confederation Line.

May 27, 2023

Is Lansdowne Value For Money?

Lansdowne Park reimagined …

Any building inspector would have told Ottawa Sports And Entertainment Group that the existing north-side stands and the arena below needed to be replaced. The thought that either could last the 40 years of the partnership was wishful thinking. Perhaps the OSEG principals had never been to a 67s game or, if they had, they didn’t take a peek up at the rafters.

To now say that the north-side stands and arena below will need to be rebuilt and the “existing infrastructure is functionally obsolete” and “that the picture going forward as the status quo is even worse than we projected a year ago, actually makes the case for Lansdowne 2.0” is alarming at best. How could anyone not think that the arena and stands needed replacing never mind an operation so closely aligned with development?

Kanata Bear Was Terrified Of People: READER

According to OSEG President and CEO Mark Goudie having world-class facilities to accommodate attractions is what’s needed. Except that’s what Lansdowne 1.0 was supposed to accomplish but it failed miserably. Lansdowne 2.0 would be built in three phases, including a new arena and entertainment venue, retail and 1,200 residential units with completion date expected to be 2029. Previous cost estimates were $330 million.

Thus far, taxpayers have provided $210 million in funding; all the land for $1 a year; the stadium; the arena; and as an added bonus, the city will see zero return over the 40 year span of the agreement. Zero return. Let that sink in.

Increasing retail by 60,000 square feet at a time when retail is suffering everywhere might be a bit optimistic. Is there really a need for more retail?

Given the disaster Lansdowne 1.0 has turned out to be, it is obvious that public consultation is desperately needed. Council must take seriously residents’ opinions and concerns. It is, after all, taxpayers’ money they will be using.

Time To Get The OPS Under Control

Questions that should be asked and honestly answered:

  • On a cost-benefit analysis, will Lansdowne 2.0 provide value for money?
  • Can this city afford to throw good money after bad?
  • For ease of access and transportation, does it not make more sense to build a smaller arena and football stadium near the LRT say at Bayview or LeBreton?

May 10, 2023


 

Paid Content

Home   Full Bulldog Index