LRT legal spat goes another round

The city is trying to declare Rideau Transit Group in default of the contract following two derailments over the summer

Robert Hiltz
16 Mar

Good morning!

Good news everyone, this is once again an LRT newsletter. Not entirely, but our old friend the oft-broken train downtown is back in the news. I could talk your ear off on what a nice day it was yesterday, but you already know it was nice.

And, hey, I’ve got some good news for all you survey heads out there. Everyone who fills out our survey to help us set the direction for the upcoming Lookout Insider is entered into a draw for a $50 gift card to the Batter Up Bakery. Help us get an idea of what you want to see from our next newsletter—and just maybe you’ll be helping yourself to some delicious sweets.

Anyway, enough pastry, here’s news.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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LRT Legal Spat Goes Another Round

Salvo from the city: The City of Ottawa said in court it never pressured Rideau Transit Group (RTG) to launch the LRT ahead of schedule, and that’s irrelevant to the case at hand, CTV reports. The city is trying to get RTG, the private company that operates the trains, declared in default following two summer derailments which had the system offline for weeks.

  • In a previous filing, RTG accused the city of rushing the project to launch in 2019, two years before the derailments.

RTG’s counter barrage: The LRT consortium said in a new filing this week the city is trying to use the derailments as leverage to get a series of changes to the two sides’ relationship. They go further, saying these “concessions” made the restart of the LRT longer.

The bottom line: RTG is correct when it says public-private partnerships are partnerships, where both sides need to work together. It’s hard to see the two sides coming back from this. As with everything else about the LRT, the real losers are the public.

Great Mexican Food And Better People

Beef tacos with salsa at Si Senor.
Courtesy: Hugo Crespo/Si Senor

The man in the video was almost tearful in his gratitude for the City of Ottawa plow driver who helped him clear his Rideau business driveway. By the tail end of the occupation emotions had been scraped raw and gestures of kindness were the currency in which many Ottawans traded. This was my introduction to Hugo Crespo and his shop Si Senor, located at 506 Rideau St.

It was a bitter wet-cold day when I popped by the colourful shop to enjoy some Mexican flavours and behind the counter, the team was busily working away. I placed my order for a three-taco combo ($20.50) and sat down at one of the three tables. In short order my food arrived, warming the air around me and stimulating the appetite.

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Aid Coming For Businesses Affected By Convoy

Help on the way: Businesses in downtown Ottawa can begin applying for aid from the provincial and federal government this Tuesday. Businesses who were affected by the occupation can apply for up to $15,000, the Ottawa Citizen reports. The Downtown Ottawa Business Relief Fund includes a total of $20 million in federal funding and another $10 million from the province.

Who’s eligible: Businesses with fewer than 100 employees affected by the convoy —whether because they had to close, damage, or other costs—can apply for non-repayable funds. Invest Ottawa is coordinating the fund. Businesses looking for more information can sign up for updates at their site here.

Digital Exhibition Of The Plants Of The Experimental Farm

©Kristin Rothschild, Magnolia, Magnolia kobus, watercolour/Courtesy the Ottawa Society of Botanical Artists

Ending soon: An online exhibition of the work of the Ottawa Society of Botanical Artists is in its final days. The artists spent the summer studying the various flora at the Ornamental Gardens at the Experimental Farm, the Arboretum, and Fletcher Wildlife Gardens, before turning them into a series of quite lovely paintings. The exhibition is the society’s first all-online one.

You can view all 17 works of art in the OSBA exhibition here until March 20.

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Stories You Might've Missed

Remember the chicken cannon? Once lampooned on Royal Canadian Air Farce, the chicken cannon was a real-life, important aviation testing equipment. Operated in Ottawa, the 60-foot compressed-air cannon fired chickens (thawed) slightly above the speed of sound at aircraft and aircraft parts to test their resilience to bird strikes. It operated from the late 1960s until 2009 at a federal research facility at the Ottawa Airport. [CityNews]

OCDSB drops mask mandate: A motion to extend the mask mandate past next Monday at Ottawa’s biggest public school board ended in a tie, which by the rules meant the motion failed. The 6-6 tally ended a contentious meeting where school trustees and parents were split. The board did agree to send a letter to the provincial education ministry asking for a gradual removal of restrictions over several weeks The board also voted to drop vaccine mandates for staff and visitors. [CBC]

Eastway, two months later: The investigation into the explosion that killed six people is still underway, but two months later the site was released to its owner by investigators. The cause of the city’s worst industrial accident in decades hasn’t been publicly released while the investigation continues, but photos taken by CBC of a damaged fuel truck with a hole in it were confirmed to be collateral damage by the city’s fire inspector. [CBC]

Valentine’s in March a sort-of help: Their hearts were in the right place. But a redo of Valentine’s Day—which was thoroughly disrupted by the convoy—a month later, on a Monday, wasn’t quite the boost which many had hoped. Several downtown restaurants said their reservations were below the actual V Day, when the convoy was in town. [CTV]

College strike looms: Faculty at public colleges across the province could walk out Friday if the colleges don’t agree to arbitration. In an open letter to college administrators, the union says they are happy to call off the strike if the colleges agree to binding-interest arbitration. Two Ottawa colleges, Algonquin and La Cité collégiale, would be among the 24 across Ontario where staff would strike. [CTV]

Community Highlights

  • A couple of mistakes cost the Senators in their 5-3 loss to the Coyotes on Monday. Never a good sign when Arizona is dunking on you. [CBC]
  • Ottawa firefights saved “Big Momma,” a turtle trapped in an aquarium log, over the weekend. [CTV News]
  • Tackling clutter can feel overwhelming. But there is a solution. Declutter4Good (formerly Room2Breathe) is Ottawa's top-rated local decluttering company. Book a free consultation today.*
  • Proceeds from the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada workshops, like this pysanka-making one, will go toward humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. [CBC]
  • Ottawa City Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services is hiring for many different positions in locations across the city.
  • Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Jeremy Roberts says he’s found “peace and support” after coming out as gay in an op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen.
  • Meet Steven Paradine, the man who skied all the groomed trails in Gatineau park in less than 24 hours. [CTV News]

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Today's Top Photo

Icicles in the sun
Eunice O'Mahony

Today’s photo comes courtesy of reader Eunice O'Mahony. It's a pretty good reminder that spring is just around the corner. We've just got to wait for the melt.

Have a photo you want to share with Lookout readers? Send it over and it could be featured in our newsletter and on social media.

Daily COVID Stats

All infection and vaccination data via Ottawa Public Health. You can find the status of the wastewater tracking here. And you can find vaccination stats here.

  • Active Cases: 832 (+134)
  • Deaths: 752 (+1)
  • Ottawans In Hospital: 8
  • Ottawans In ICU: 2
  • Acute Beds Occupied: 100% 
  • ICU Beds Occupied: 74% 
  • ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 33% 

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