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City loses class-action lawsuit to taxi plate holders

The city lost a class-action lawsuit with cab drivers over the arrival of Uber.

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Good morning,

Sad news today as former councillor Diane Deans has died.

In her later years on council, she became a force to be reckoned with. Her opposition to then-mayor Jim Watson and his closed style of governance has largely been borne out by history. That unwillingness to compromise probably cost her her spot as chair of the police board — and who knows what else — but Deans pursued the goals of transparency and good governance with tenacity.

Not a lot of politicians can stick around for many years and still keep their integrity, but Deans did. 

The city is a poorer place with her loss.

There’s plenty more to get to, so let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor


Wednesday: 20 🌡️ 13 | 🌦

Thursday: 23 🌡️ 13 | ☁️

Friday: 21 🌡️ 14 | ☁️


Court rules city screwed taxi drivers by allowing Uber to operate

What happened: A judge ruled in a class-action lawsuit the City of Ottawa abandoned the city’s taxi plate holders when it allowed the entry of Uber into the city’s market, the Ottawa Citizen reported. But the judge also ruled that the city’s fees to drivers and brokers did not amount to illegal taxes.

  • The taxi industry is seeking some $215 million in damages. The judge has not ruled on damages, telling the two sides to work out a figure together before his final ruling. The city has not yet decided whether to appeal.

City’s delay: It took two years from when Uber arrived in the city to when it finally passed a bylaw regulating the service. In that time, Uber operated illegally but without consequence. This put the city’s taxi industry in dire straits as it was tied to a strict regulatory regime and Uber was not.

  • “Uber was permitted to defy the law openly for two years without suffering any consequences whatsoever. … On the other hand, because of Uber's blatant disregard of the law, the plaintiffs suffered,” Superior Court Justice Marc Smith wrote, according to CBC.

Plate values: The effect of Uber’s entrance into the market was to crater the value of taxi plates. In 2014, there were 1,288 taxi plates held by 768 owners. Drivers would buy plates for huge sums to operate cabs. But after Uber’s arrival, according to the Citizen, the value of those individual plates dropped as much as $150,000. The judge wrote that the city was aware those plates were traded on a secondary market before Uber’s entrance, and did nothing to regulate that market.

  • “Even if the city did not control the secondary market, nor was it involved in trading the assets, I believe that the city was nonetheless a willing participant in the secondary market.… In the circumstances of this case, and given the city’s conduct, I am of the view it would be unconscionable to negate the city’s duty of care,” the judge wrote according to the Citizen.

What it means: The ruling is yet another example of the poor governance of the Jim Watson era. Faced with a looming problem, the city waited too long to act, acted ineffectively when it did, and eventually just gave up. In the process, it destroyed the investment of countless taxi drivers in a system that allowed plates to be traded like commodities and treated as long-term investments. Then it allowed that system to be blown up practically overnight. 

  • Hidebound and indifferent to customer service as the city’s taxi industry might have been, the city could have done plenty more to protect those caught up in a market the city itself created. The city created a scarce market, then destroyed it. Now we may all be forced to pay for it.

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🦷 46,000: The approximate number of people who received dental treatment in the first two weeks of the new public federal dental plan. [CBC]

🏗️ 50%: The new Ādisōke library is this far through construction. It will house a new central branch of the Ottawa Public Library and the Library and Archives Canada. [CTV]


A big detour is coming to Findlay Creek. For six months, starting in June and ending in December, Bank Street will be closed between Blais and Shuttleworth while crews rebuild that section of road into four lanes. Detours will be set up along Hawthorne and Albion roads. [CTV]

🚑 A construction worker was taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after a shoring wall collapsed at a building site near the Westgate mall. The Ministry of Labour is investigating. [CBC]

💐 A three-year-old victim of the recent fire in Overbrook died of her injuries. She had been taken to hospital in life-threatening condition after the blaze two weeks ago. The man already charged with arson in the case has now been charged with first-degree murder. [CTV]

🚨 An 11-year-old boy in Rockland was killed by a bus driver while riding his bike. The child was rushed to CHEO with traumatic injuries but did not survive. [CTV]

🛩️ The OPP will be patrolling the 416, 417, and 401 by air this long weekend looking for speeders and dangerous drivers. [CTV]

⚠️ The motorcycle driver who collided with a car last week in Barrhaven has died of his injuries. [CTV]

💐 One person is dead and three people, including an infant girl, were taken to hospital after a head-on collision on the 417 near Kinburn Side Road. A driver crossed the median, striking a second car in the opposite direction. [CTV]


Diane Deans dies aged 66

Diane Deans/Twitter

What happened: Long-time Gloucester councillor Diane Deans has died. She was 66 years old. Deans had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer five years ago and entered palliative care earlier this month. She died Tuesday surrounded by loved ones.

  • “We have heard from hundreds of people who have shared their stories of the incredible impact my mom had on their lives. My mom was my role model but also a role model for so many other girls and women, demonstrating that no dream is beyond reach,” her daughter Megan McGovern said in a statement.

Remembered fondly: Deans served on council for 28 years both before and after amalgamation. She fought hard for transparency and accountability at city hall, and was well respected among her colleagues. 

  • "She was just so smart and so strong that I often say that she made me braver than I may have been otherwise to take chances and to push issues forward,” former colleague Catherine McKenney told CBC

Ceremony: A celebration of life will be held May 25 at Infinity Convention Centre, at 2901 Gifford Dr., followed by a reception. The ceremony will be open to the public. There will be books of condolence at city hall and the Greenboro Community Centre from May 21-23 for those looking to offer their thoughts to the family. The family is also inviting the public to share their memories by sending an email to [email protected].



This week’s house is a bit on the extravagant side. It’s very, very modern in its design. It has plenty of up-to-date touches, but the kitchen is where it really stands out. The restaurant-quality stove and oven really set this one apart. Located in Centretown, this one doesn’t come cheap. And yet…

Editor’s note: One word of warning, the realtor has digitally added furniture to some of the listing’s photos.

House of The Week is a home selected by the Lookout team and is not a paid advertisement. All ads are labelled as such. If you’re a realtor who wishes to feature your home in our newsletter, please contact our sales team.


Listings are provided by OttawaGigs.ca, the best place to discover live music in Ottawa. Check out Ottawagigs.ca for full listings across the city.

The New Hires, Thursday 8 pm: Ottawa-based indie rock band promising catchy hooks and energetic performances. At Rainbow Bistro, 76 Murray St. Tickets $17.

Richard Page, Friday 7:30 pm: In-demand jazz artist with a unique sound and approach to the baritone saxophone. At Montgomery Scotch Lounge, 750 Gladstone Ave. Tickets $15. 

Booster Fawn, Friday 8 pm: ‘Heart rock’ sound blending folk and rock inspirations like Neutral Milk Hotel and Modest Mouse. At Live! on Elgin, 220 Elgin St. Tickets $10 adv, $15 on door.

Adeoluwa, Friday 9 pm: Richly layered experimental pop from the charismatic Nigerian-born Afro-fusion artist. At Art House Cafe, 555 Somerset St. W. Tickets $20. 

Laura Jane Grace, Saturday 7 pm: Founder and lead singer of Against Me! brings their solo project to Ottawa.At Brass Monkey, 250 Greenbank Rd. Tickets $29.50.


🏥 The head of CHEO said it is having difficulty keeping doctors from leaving, as the provincial funding model falls well short of the needs of the hospital’s doctors. Kids are facing longer wait times and even being sent out of the region and province to get much-needed care. [Ottawa Citizen]

🇮🇱 A closed ceremony for the raising of the Israeli flag for the country’s independence day was held outside city hall. There was a hefty police presence, but no violence. Pro-Israel attendees called for the release of the approximately 250 Hamas-held hostages, while pro-Palestine protestors called for an end to the war after months of bloodshed. Since Hamas attacked Israel in October, killing some 1,200 people, at least 35,000 people in Gaza have been killed in the ongoing conflict. [CTV]

⚠️ Frito Lay is recalling Sun Chips Harvest Cheddar and Munchies Original Snack Mix for possible salmonella contamination. The company said a third-party supplier may have added an ingredient to the seasoning contaminated with the bacteria. [CBC]

⚖️ The provincial government is proposing harsh licence suspensions for convicted car thieves. On a first offence, it comes with a 10-year suspension, a 15-year suspension for a second and an indefinite suspension for a third. That’s much harsher than the consequences of a vehicular manslaughter conviction, a first conviction is worth a one-year suspension, and a second conviction only nets an offender a three-year suspension, with a third conviction worth an indefinite suspension. [CTV/JM_McGrath]

🗑️ Green bins will be in use across all multi-unit buildings in the city by the end of 2028. There are about 1,000 buildings in the city that don’t yet use the bins. [CTV]

  • The Alta Vista branch of the Ottawa Public Library will be closed for at least six weeks, starting June 3, for roof repairs. Some services, including book return, will be available at the Jim Durrell Rec Centre during the closure. [Ottawa Public Library]

  • How does Canada fix the housing crisis? Special panel discussion May 21 at Ottawa's Impact Hub. Lunch provided. Register now for free! [Sponsored]

  • Local author Don Butler’s latest novel Norman’s Conquest has hit bookstores around the city. The offical book launch will be June 3 at Perfect Books. [Twitter]

  • Six Ottawa restaurants, led by Riviera, made the list as one of Canada’s Best 100 Restaurants. [CTV]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


Nicholas Hein’s aunt, Bill McBurney, and Tom Berry/Ottawa Lookout Readers

Thanks to Nicholas Hein’s aunt, Bill McBurney, and Tom Berry who all sent in these great photos of last weekend’s aurora over the city!


Just like newspapers, we’ve got our own classified ads that help fund our journalism. See what organizations and businesses are up to around the city:

  • How does Canada fix the housing crisis? Special panel discussion May 21 at Ottawa's Impact Hub. Lunch provided. Register now for free!

  • List your own ad here. Purchase one directly from our self-service tool.


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