Ottawa Has A Crisis In Municipal Gov’t: QUOTABLE

 

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“It’s premature to commit almost a half a billion dollars (at Lansdowne) when the city is already looking at some very serious issues because of the huge deficit in OC Transpo and public transit.”

Ian Lee, an associate professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University

 

What’s more important? A working transit system or rebuilding the north-side stands at the stadium at Lansdowne?


Sorry, but this is obvious.

Municipal governments’ first priority is basic services. Transit is a basic service. Period.

Mayor Mark Sutcliffe spent days crying poor because of the enormous costs of our troubled light-rail system. City staff did its best to make us look poorer than we really are … which is quite an accomplishment given our gruesome transit poverty. Expect an increase in the transit levy. The sky-is-falling scenario is a softening-up process for that new burden on taxpayers.

Ottawa needs untold hundreds of millions of dollars to complete and fix our disastrous light-rail system. It has been so incompetently put together that four years after opening, the city is still not sure (or is not telling) what the root problem is. But it’s putting together a fix anyway. Fixing what exactly? Officially, OC Transpo is not sure. This has boondoggle written all over it.

Give Public Clear Lansdowne Fiscal Picture: OPEN LETTER

All this gets markedly worse, amazingly, if the train’s builder Alstom gets in financial trouble. Recently, its stock dropped 35 per cent in one day. Not a good sign.

So a week or two after crying poor on a basic service, Sutcliffe is saying that building stands at Lansdowne is necessary. And if taxpayers don’t foot the bill, the project will get more expensive. It already has become more expensive. The price tag has gone from $300 million a couple of weeks ago to $400 million now. That’s curious budgeting. To be off by one-third of the original cost? This has boondoggle written all over it.

And let’s not forget that some day in the far-off future, Ottawa will need to extend light-rail (or something) to Kanata and Barrhaven. Horrible and costly bad planning has cost us building a line to the future of Ottawa in Kanata. That is a horrible condemnation of former mayor Jim Watson, former city manager Steve Kanellakos, former transit commission chairman Allan Hubley (who represents Kanata South)  and former OC Transpo general manager John Manconi. Thank goodness for the word ‘former’.

And one other thing, and this should resonate with former small businessman Sutcliffe, a bad transit system hurts the private sector significantly. Labour can’t get to jobs and shoppers can’t get downtown. That’s why transit is a basic service as much as a sewer system … and god knows a sewer system is a more-than-basic service with all these politicians in town.

Lansdowne is typical Ottawa. Screw up the basic services, then go for a major frill like a football stadium and arena and no doubt screw that up as well if the city is playing to form. Meanwhile, politicians kicked the problem of a new $150-million landfill down the road. That’s a basic service. But we’ve got Lansdowne.

The roads aren’t flat, there’s a transportation crisis, a budding garbage crisis and our $200-million sewage tunnel, built to stop overflows into the Ottawa River, overflowed.

LRT Report Infers Trains Have Safety Woes (1)

But we’re building a bricks-and-mortar palace of a library in the internet age. No word if the fire department will revert to horse-drawn pumper trucks. And we have an absolutely abysmal police service that has failed for many years to handle the gun crisis in this town, but wants 400 new officers as a reward for botching the Freedom Convoy, causing a national emergency act to be invoked, and embarrassing this city around the world. They’ll be wasted officers when poured into that racist, ineffective, corrupt and misogynic pit. Educators don’t even want uniformed police officers in their schools. That’s quite the reputation. The Ottawa Police Service, if it really wants more officers, could get some if it could keep them from being paid for forced leave for a wide variety of extracurricular activities.

So what Lee is essentially saying is that the municipality should get its priorities straight. Very good advice.

Ken Gray

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