City runs teensy surplus in 2023

The city posted a $33,000 surplus for 2023, and the transit deficit was only about half of what was expected.

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Good morning!

Yesterday I spent a bit of at the Canadian War Museum checking out a new digital exhibition of the plaster casts used to carve the marble figures on the Vimy memorial in France. You can get up close to the life-size sculptures to see the minute details of how they were made.

It’s a fascinating exhibit that I’ll have more to say about later — likely as part of next week’s Insider — but it’s a very cool project with all sorts of future possibilities. In the meantime, you should check out the online exhibit for yourself. It’s really something!

Now, there’s plenty to get to today, so let’s get right to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor.


Friday: -4 🌡️ -8 | 🌤

Saturday: +4 🌡️ -9 | 🌤/❄️

Sunday: +5 🌡️ -6 | ☀️

Monday: +9 🌡️ -2 | ☀️


City runs teensy surplus as transit deficit is about half of what was expected

What happened: The city ran an overall operating surplus of $33,000 last year, according to a new city report. At $22.5 million, the transit deficit was only 55 percent of the expected $40.8-million deficit.

Transit savings: The transit budget came in at a lower loss than expected in large part because the city withheld $15.1 million from Rideau Transit Group, the private company that operates the LRT. With the weeks-long outage during the summer, the city didn’t have to pay for service. This was slightly offset by the extra $3.1 million in replacement bus service.

  • The city said the “surplus was mainly attributable to reduced compensation expenditures from vacancies, … lower fuel costs and the delay of the opening of O-Train Lines 2 and 4 which were partially offset by higher Para Transpo service and fleet maintenance costs.”

Upside down forecasting? City services excluding transit, libraries, and policing, had a $14.9-million surplus on the year, while rate-supported services had a deficit of $459,000. This was the opposite of what the city had expected, as their forecasts said city services would have a year-end deficit of $6.6 million, and rate-supported service would have a surplus of $710,000.

  • The city said much of the savings were through “capital spending deferrals, discretionary spending, and hiring pauses.”

Police surplus: The Ottawa Police Service ended the year in the black, with a surplus of $6.28 million. Despite large-scale protests throughout the year, which the city said incurs plenty of overtime, the force was able to get much of that covered. The city said the force was able to run a surplus thanks mostly to “revenue from the federal government and the continued vacancies [in the ranks].”

You can see how the city budget finished overall here:

City of Ottawa/Handout

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Find out how Quilt can help you provide personalized and cost-effective care at or email [email protected].


🏘️ $1.8 billion: The amount of new money the provincial government has earmarked for cities to build new homes. [CBC]

🧩 40,320: The number of pieces in a Disney puzzle a local woman completed. Completed, it’s 22 feet long and six feet wide. One piece was missing, so the company sent a replacement from Germany. [CTV]

⛴️ $94 million: The price the Ontario government paid for two new ferries for the Kingston area. The ferries have only made a handful of trips, despite arriving in the city several years ago. [CBC]

💰 $1 million: An Arnprior man won this much playing Encore, after he scanned a ticket he’d put in a drawer last July. [CTV]


Carleton-Massey Bridge still closed, William Commanda to open soon

William Commanda bridge over the Ottawa River

P.A. Richer/Ottawa Lookout Reader

What happened: The city said contractors “mistakenly” removed barriers across a new pedestrian bridge connecting Carleton University to Vincent Massey Park earlier this week. The opening was short-lived, as workers quickly replaced the barriers across the seemingly functional bridge.

Still to do: In an email to the Lookout, a spokesperson said, “Remaining work includes treating the surface of the bridge deck and undertaking final construction activities to ensure the future asset can be deemed complete.” The city told CBC the bridge was “unsafe” in its current state. 

  • “Staff are working with the contractor to secure the deck treatment materials, close out the remaining construction activities and finalize an opening timeline,” the city told the Lookout.

Commanda: Meanwhile, the Chief William Commanda Bridge could open as soon as next week, if the weather improves. In a memo, city staff said they were aiming to get the active-use crossing that connects Ottawa to Gatineau open early next week. In the meantime, they’re asking people to stay off the bridge until barriers are removed.

  • “Even when the bridge is reopened early next week, in the event of a weather event or drop in temperature causing snow and/or ice accumulation on the bridge deck, staff may be required to temporarily close the bridge until conditions allow for safe pedestrian and cycling access,” the memo said.

Winter use? The city had hoped to study whether it would be possible to have a groomed trail for skiing and other use across the bridge during the winter, but the weather didn’t allow for it. Because the winter was so unseasonably warm, there wasn’t enough snow build-up to test whether a trail would work. 

  • Staff said they hope to get a better gauge of its feasibility next year, and will report back to council.


🚑 Twenty years after an emergency call triage system was recommended by a coroner’s inquest, the city is finally upgrading its paramedic dispatch system. The new medical priority dispatch system will more accurately sort calls to make sure the most critical ones get the fastest response. [CBC] 

🌷 Early blooms might seem like a welcome sight, but they’re sprouting proof of the effects of climate change. [CBC]

⚖️ The former commander of CFB Trenton pleaded guilty to mischief and improperly storing a firearm in exchange for a conditional discharge and 12 months of probation after a bird — possibly a loon, possibly a cormorant — was shot at from a boat he was piloting. Col. Leif Dahl was spotted dropping a pistol into the water, and handing the rifle used to shoot at the bird to the teen who threw it in the water. Several weapons were also discovered in his home in an unlocked closet. [CBC]

🥬 Metro’s produce distribution centre on Old Innes Road will close in May, with 41 employees losing their jobs. [CTV]

🩺 A local doctor warned that because of a lack of workplace rights, many cancer patients are finding themselves forced to choose between getting treatment or staying at work to keep earning a living. [CBC] 

🚨 A notorious murderer has appealed for a new trial in the killing of three elderly people, and trying to kill a fourth. In court filings, lawyers for Ian Bush said the judges in the murder and attempted murder trials made errors, which the Crown strenuously disagreed with. The appeals court will take several months to issue a ruling. [CBC]

🚮 A private landfill on the city’s far eastern edge, wants to take in some of Ottawa’s trash once it opens. The landfill is already approved to take in other waste, and said only minor amendments would be required to accept the city’s trash. [CTV]


What to do this weekend


📸 Fundamentals of Lighting, Saturday 10 am: Led by Jen Bernard, this session on how to light your photos will help you elevate your shots. At Midnight Hour Studios, 174 Colonnade Rd. Tickets $161.


🎻 Expect the Unexpected - A Musical Surprise, Saturday 7:30 pm: The Ottawa Pops Orchestra is putting on a surprise season finale. What is it? They won’t say, you’ll just have to go to find out. At Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, 355 Cooper St. Tickets start at $17.


🤼‍♂️ C*4 Wrestling presents TREMORS, Friday 7:30 pm: A night of high drama and athleticism, featuring the debut of lucha sensation Aero Boy. At Preston Event Centre, 523 St. Anthony’s Street. Tickets start at $33.


☕️ Advanced - Latte Art & Milk Based Coffee, Saturday 11:30 am: A hands-on learning experience on how to make your best coffee. This is the advanced cause, and recommended those with some coffee making experience. At C.A. Paradis, 1314 Bank St. Tickets $102.

🥣 Great Bowls of Fire, Saturday 4 pm: Raising money for the Ottawa Food Bank, the Ottawa Guild of Potters is hosting their annual fundraiser. Pick a handmade bowl and have it filled by one of the local restaurants and bakeries with soup and bread. At Glebe Community Centre, 175 Third Ave. Tickets $55.


🥚 Pysanka Workshop, Saturday 1 pm: Learn how to paint traditional Pysanka. Materials provided, and you can take home your painted egg. In support of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. At 1000 Byron Ave. Tickets $44.

🎪 Carnival for a Cause, Sunday 11 am: A whole host of fun activities for the whole family, with painting activities for the kids and a silent auction and more for the adults. Part of the Audrey’s Star campaign to raise money for Roger Neilson House. At Walter Baker Sports Centre, 100 Malvern Dr. Tickets start at $12.


This week in food

🍖 Korean BBQ doesn’t get much better than this at Kitchen Maroo with its freshly updated menu.

🍜 The menu may be modest, but the skill on display is anything but at AAA Noodles

🇮🇹 On the road in the city’s south? You can't go wrong stopping into the Italian restaurant for a delightful lunch. (Insiders)

🇪🇸 In Prescott, this Spanish importer has now opened his own restaurant. Trust us, it’s worth the trip. (Insiders)

🦐 Next time you’re cooking shellfish, pick up a bottle of this affordable Portuguese wine to go with it. (Insiders)

  • Looking to photograph the upcoming eclipse? These photographers have some tips so you don’t burn out your camera or phone. [CBC]

  • Searching for a small, bilingual school for your child(ren)? Learn more about and register for Académie Westboro Academy's upcoming Open House on Monday, April 8th here. [Sponsored]

  • If you’ve ever wondered what commercial rent is like in the ByWard Market, now you know. [Reddit]

  • A two year old who got his hand stuck in a bathtub drain, got a special surprise from the firefighting crew that freed him, as they returned to let him explore a firetruck and gave him a firefighting challenge coin for his bravery. [CTV]

  • We love to see running trains, don’t we folks? [Reddit]

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


Congrats to Jacqueline, ER, Jeff, Dimitrios, and Amy, who all knew that this week’s Ottawa Guesser was of downtown Kemptville.

Think you can solve this week’s Ottawa Wordle? Play now.

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