Where The English Language Goes To Die

The idea of memos is to communicate information. This might come as a surprise to some people at Ottawa City Hall.

In my 46 years of editing, reporting and managing at five major Canadian newspapers, the memo below is one of the worst examples of writing I have ever seen.

This memo, if that is what this is, conveys next to nothing because it is written in such technical garbage, acronyms left and right, insufficient background, ledes with an acronym that bright human beings have no idea what it constitutes and fails to answer many of the basic questions of writing of all sorts … those being who, what, when, where, why, how and how much.

As you read through, this piece of woe is chock-a-block with the mysterious LT1 RFP procurement, ACS2023-PRE EDP-0051, IESO, BESS, Fitzroy BESS, Trail BESS, a Municipal Support Resolution (MSR) to the Trail BESS facility, MSR, “The MSR is a mandatory requirement set out by the IESO which was used to grant rated criteria points as part of the LT1 process in order to evaluate proposals,” “As per IESO’s LT1 contract documents, the Fitzroy BESS has up to 18 months to obtain a MSR otherwise the project will be considered in default of its contract,” … to name a few.

Were this memo on a city landfill, we would know immediately where to put it.

Now the folks newly initiated to the English language at city hall (and god help the person who must translate this effluent into French) might argue that this topic is too complicated for mere mortals to understand because it requires special expertise. However, the scribbler in question must realize that it is the writer’s job to translate this jibber-jabber into something the public will understand or it is useless … and this is useless.

I once had a Federal Court decision as thick as my arm concerning widening the Champlain Bridge thrown on my desk like a brick in the late afternoon to be ready for a story by deadline that day. I translated that into journalism with much more aplomb than this piece of garbage in which the writer had no end of time to get it right.

Were I a city manager or mayor or a city councillor or even a civilian member of the public, I wouldn’t even accept this alphabet soup of a memo until it was written in a way that was intelligent, accessible and actually conveyed information that people could easily understand. If not, why write it? How does the author expect council to make an informed decision on this refuse.

Perhaps that answers it. The writer just wants it unread and rubber-stamped.

This memo is utterly and completely unacceptable. If the idea is to keep city hall and the public from understanding the issue, this memo has succeeded admirably.

Ken Gray 

This is a release from the City of Ottawa:

Subject / Objet IESO LT1 RFP Results and Next Steps Date: May 21, 2024

On December 6, 2023, City Council directed staff to provide a Memorandum to Council with an  update on the LT1 RFP procurement results as soon as they become available (ACS2023-PRE EDP-0051). This memo serves as the update that was requested.

On May 9, 2024, the Independent Electricity Systems Operator (IESO) announced that the  evaluation of proposals under the “Long-Term 1 Request for Proposals” (LT1 RFP) had yielded  10 Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) projects, two of which are proposed to be located in  the rural area of Ottawa.

The LT1 RFP has been labeled the largest battery storage procurement in Canada’s history. In  response to the increasing demand for electricity associated with economic growth, BESS is an  emerging technology that is seen as important to fulfill the reliability needs of the electricity  system. BESS are charged during off-peak hours and used to inject electricity back into the  system at times of peak demand, helping to build grid resiliency and lower costs to the end user.

Brookfield Renewable Power Inc., branded under the name Evolugen, was the successful  proponent for both projects. The projects are described as follows:

1. “Fitzroy BESS” is to be located at the intersection of Homesteaders Road and Galetta Side  Road (West-Carleton-March – Ward 5); and

2. “Trail BESS” is to be located at 4186 William McEwen Drive (Rideau-Jock – Ward 21).

On December 6, 2023, City Council granted a Municipal Support Resolution (MSR) to the Trail  BESS facility. The request for an MSR for the Fitzroy BESS project was refused in response to  concerns raised by the community during the public engagement.

The MSR is a mandatory requirement set out by the IESO which was used to grant rated criteria  points as part of the LT1 process in order to evaluate proposals. The MSR requirement is general  in nature and does not preclude projects from having to meet municipal regulatory requirements  or obtain any municipal development approvals or permits before they can be built.

Next Steps:

As per IESO’s LT1 contract documents, the Fitzroy BESS has up to 18 months to obtain a MSR  otherwise the project will be considered in default of its contract. As per Council direction, all  future requests for MSRs will continue to rise through Committee and Council, and staff will lead  and report back on public engagement and consultation. Staff intend to bring recommendations  for managing the MSR process as part of an upcoming report later this year.

In addition to the MSR requirement, both BESS projects will be required to meet all municipal  planning approvals and by-laws (zoning, noise, fire, building code, etc.) that are currently in place and which may be approved as part of the report, which intends to outline specific requirements  for BESS in the development approvals process.

Strategic Initiatives (SI) staff will continue to engage with Councillor Kelly and Councillor Brown’s  office on any updates related to these LT1 RFP projects.

If you have any questions, please contact Melissa Jort-Conway, Planner III, at melissa.jort conway@ottawa.ca.

Ryan Perrault

Interim General Manager

Strategic Initiatives Department


CC: Senior Leadership Team

Andrea Lanthier-Seymour, Public Information and Media Relations


Long-Term 1 RFP Updates

Long-Term 1 RFP and Expedited Process (ieso.ca)

LT1 RFP Results Table

https://www.ieso.ca/-/media/Files/IESO/Document-Library/long-term-rfp/LT1-RFP-results-table 20240509.pdf


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2 Responses

  1. MM says:

    I see what they did here. Council had the gall to ask for an update and what they got was malicious compliance for an answer.

  2. Paul Pothier says:

    Perhaps the city is looking for someone with better writing skills? Would that be why Mr. Perrault is only the “interim” manager?

    Oh … yeah … who are they going to get; who would want to have “________ for the City of Ottawa” on their résumé?

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