Not Enough Spending On Transit? Yikes: WHOPPER WATCH .12.26


“If we truly want a low-carbon, affordable, accessible city with less traffic and safer roads, we need good public transit for all. It’s not a lack of ideas or resources holding us back, but an absence of political ambition.”

Nick Grover, executive member, Free Transit Ottawa


An absence of political ambition? Sorry, there are lots of things where ambition might be lacking (such as kindness and generosity) but not politics.

Some councillors just get elected then they are off to Queen’s Park or the federal cabinet or chairman of the National Capital Commission. Political ambition? It’s common as dirt.

And with public transit in this city, ambition, thy name is Ottawa City Hall.

We couldn’t have a light-rail system, we had to have a “world-class” transit system (ed. note: “world-class” are the words of people with a giant inferiority complex). We couldn’t just use the red bus stations designed to be converted to light rail or the Transitway itself … it too designed to be quickly converted to light rail when the time came.

But oh no. We had to spend billions on an “award-winning” light-rail system. And we have such a system. The Tunnelling Association of Canada named to Confederation Line tunnel as the best of the year. One shudders to think what the tunnel that finished second looked like. Five sinkholes to our two, perchance?

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We’re investing $6.4 billion in transit in this city. Probably much more before it is through. So we’re investing in transit. Maybe a bit too much. Maybe a lot too much.

That said, it’s easy to understand Grover’s sentiment. Transit is good for the city in a multitude of ways you already know.

But here’s one more. It’s good for business. It gets labour to the Glebe for people who can’t afford to live there. That was one of the original reasons for public transit. And if you want Mayor Mark Sutcliffe on-side, just say transit is good for business. Given his natural inclinations, he’ll buy that.

So it appears Ottawans believe much money should be directed into transit. A lot of money. That transit doesn’t work is a bit of a bother, however.

Our sentiments are with Grover but perhaps his energies would be best used lobbying for better follow-through on the billions we’re spending.

The old Transitway is starting to look pretty good. Yes, $6.4 billion for something that’s worse than the system it replaced.

That’s ambition out of control. “World-class” incompetence.

To read Grover’s full opinion piece, click here.

Ken Gray



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2 Responses

  1. Miranda Gray says:

    I wish you’d keep your whooper watch series / tag reserved for city hall staff and elected officials.

  2. Ken Gray says:


    I think I’ll choose what I write about but thank you for your input.



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