The high cost of a new police station
The price of a proposed south end police station has jumped $50 million.
Believe it or not, but a year ago this week the convoy first rolled into town. A lot has happened since, and I think most of our municipal institutions have tried to move on with as little change as possible.
But it was an eye-opening event. For several weeks the city was taken over, and no one in power seemed willing, or able, to do anything about it.
So here we are a year later. Hopefully the folks in charge have learned a few lessons. But have they fixed what failed, or simply moved on? Hard to say.
Let’s get to the newsletter.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
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Monday: -1 🌡️ -6 | ❄️
Tuesday: -2 🌡️ -16| ❄️
Wednesday: -8 🌡️ -9 | ❄️
City council: This week, the full council returns from its winter break. The transportation committee will vote on whether to reopen Wellington to traffic. Wednesday, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe will give a state of the city address to the full council. Council will also get a private update on the progress of the city’s lawsuit against the private LRT operators.
Snow: Wednesday a Texas low is going to bring snow to the city. Expect 10 cm to 15 cm, at times heavy enough to make travel difficult, according to Environment Canada.
Price tag for new police station jumps more than 50%
What happened: The price for a new police station in the South end has jumped 51 percent to $178 million dollars, the force said in a budget document. The estimated cost of the new station as approved in 2021 by the Police Services Board was just $118 million, an increase of $54 million.
While the cost of the individual building has dramatically increased, the Ottawa Police service said it had kept its total budget spending within the $219 million approved previously by the board for its "facilities strategic plan refresh."
The new 218,000 square-foot station is planned for Prince of Wales Drive, on a waterfront piece of property owned by the city south of the Vimy Memorial Bridge, CTV reported. It will replace the Greenbank and Leitrim stations in the south end. Those stations, the force said, are more than 50 years old, are at the end of their lives and are in need of serious upgrades.
The force said the Letrim location will become almost useless because of planned construction in the coming years. The Greenbank location would need $9 million in basic maintenance and operating costs over 13 years.
Most of the rest of the money will be spent on upgrades to the Elgin Street headquarters, Queensview station and the courts, the document said.
Big error: As part of its justification for needing the new facility, the force said the city’s population will “grow by more than 1.4 million residents” by 2046. That would place the population at about 2.3 million from its current 940,000. In fact, the population of the city is expected to grow to more than 1.4 million, according to the city’s official plan. That’s an error of nearly 1 million people.
Other budget items on the agenda:
The board will vote on the direction to police staff to put together a budget for a 2.5 percent tax increase.
The force is also looking for $1.4 million to buy new Tasers, CTV reported.
Limiting participation: The board is looking to severely curtail the ability of the public to participate in meetings by limiting the length and number of delegations.
The new rules would make public delegations present their concerns outside of regular board meetings, cap the time delegations could present to one hour for all participants, and give preferential access to delegates presenting for the first time.
Coun. Sean Devine, who represents the Knoxdale-Merivale Ward, urged the three elected members of the police board — Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, Coun. Marty Carr, and Coun. Cathy Curry — to vote against the limits on participation.
“In light of unresolved questions over [Ottawa] police conduct during last year's Convoy, and in consideration of the ongoing challenges to building civic trust in police forces, now is not the time to curtail public engagement,” Devine said.
The Lookout’s view: The police service has lost a great deal of public trust in the last year. It failed to prevent the convoy from spiralling out of control, had to investigate its own members for supporting the protests, the board was purged midway through the convoy, and had a new chief hired just days before election day. Limiting public input is no way to rebuild trust.
SPONSORED BY PARTICIPACTION
Doing nothing is costing Canada
At $3.9 billion, inactivity is more than just a price tag – it’s a health crisis. And unlike other health issues, it doesn’t get the attention it needs.
Less than half of adults (49%), and only 28% of children and youth meeting recommended physical activity guidelines.
ParticipACTION is leading the charge to help Canadians stay active and deal with this ongoing health crisis.
For over 50 years they’ve helped people move more where they live, learn, work and play.
But now this critical work could be in jeopardy if ParticipACTION doesn’t receive critical sustained investment from the federal government.
Doing nothing is costing our healthcare system. ParticipACTION is ready to get Canadians moving. But they need resources to make it happen. See why they’re calling for sustained investment from Ottawa to combat inactivity.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
❄️ 10 to 15 cm: The amount of snow expected to fall on Wednesday. [CityNews]
💰 $500,832: The amount Judy Bond won in the CityNews Snowsuit Fund 50/50 draw. The other $500,832 will go to buy snowsuits for local kids in need. [CityNews]
Unreliable transit, full parking garages
Robert Hiltz/Ottawa Lookout
What happened: OC Transpo’s unreliable service has many federal workers driving to the office rather than hopping on transit, CBC reported. Parking garages are filling up downtown, only a week into the federal government’s return to office plan.
Flex plans: At least one chain of garages offers a three-day flex pack for $13.65, less than the $15 two daily fares for two people. OC Transpo only offers per-use fares or monthly passes.
The transit plan: The transit agency recommends sharing a monthly pass between multiple people. It’s a solution with narrow utility, because people must share a single physical card, and only one person can use it at a time. Any overlap in scheduling and poof, there goes that idea. CBC said OC Transpo has no plans to offer any special hybrid passes.
Unreliability: When the LRT was first conceived, the city decided to cut back on the number of buses and drivers. So not only is it a system plagued by periodic LRT shutdowns, OC Transpo frequently doesn’t have the drivers to meet its needs. During the summer, when demand is at its lowest, dozens of trips per day were cancelled because of a lack of staff, CBC reported at the time.
During the most recent LRT failure, buses had to be diverted to run along the LRT line, instead of running their usual routes. OC Transpo said it plans to focus on making trains more reliable, rather than increasing capacity to backfill service for replacement bus routes.
NEW LOCAL JOBS
Check out the new open positions in Ottawa.
🏈 This year’s Panda Game will move to Sunday, Oct. 1 from its traditional Saturday. The area’s councillor is disappointed the city wasn’t consulted before the game was scheduled. [CTV]
🚨 At least two trucks were stolen from the parking lot of the Canadian Tire Centre during a recent Sens game. [CTV]
🏛️ Pembroke city council may have abandoned its diversity committee, other Ottawa Valley towns are embracing theirs. [CBC]
🏥 At the province’s four major children’s hospitals, including CHEO, there are almost 12,000 kids on a waiting list for surgeries — a backlog caused by the recent viral surge. [The Canadian Press]
At its General campus, the Ottawa Hospital will build overflow emergency room capacity into its ambulance garage. [Ottawa Citizen]
👮♂️ An Ottawa police officer pleaded guilty to insubordination for using a national police database for personal reasons. [CBC]
🩺 At CHEO, mental health services have been at their limit for years, and COVID has only made it worse. [CBC]
Always on the lookout for dim sum, our food editor has found a great spot.
The Rideau Hall skating rink opened for its 150th season! [CBC]
The Brookfield Restaurant in Riverside Park will close later this month after 55 years in business. [CBC]
In the mood to browse some sumptuous real estate? Check out this list of eight luxury homes for sale in town. [CTV]
Plenty of folks were eager to see the (brief) return of Meatpress who opened a pop-up at their old location. [Reddit]
Brooke Henderson won her 13th title in the opening round of the LPGA Tour. [Sportsnet]
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Your weekend guide
Fringe — Photography Exhibit opening reception, Thursday 5 pm: A collection of photographs by Paul Ozzello from last year’s convoy occupation that offer a unique and thought provoking perspective. At Art + Galerie on 531 Sussex Dr. Tickets are free.
Graphic Novels, Holocaust, Survival: A Conversation with Charlotte Schallié, Tuesday 6 pm: A discussion with professor Charlotte Schallié, who edited a collection of graphic novellas dealing with the Holocaust. At SAW, 67 Nicholas St. Tickets are free.
Riedel Veloce Glass Varietal Specific Tasting, Wednesday 6:30 pm: A wine-tasting guided workshop by fine glass makers Riedel. See how different glass shapes influence the nose and palate when tasting wine. Takes place at 50 Sussex Dr., participants each get a set of the Riedel glasses used in the class. Tickets $203.
Courageous Conversations, Mental Health Matters, Wednesday 9 am: A panel of mental health experts, practitioners and researchers cover a broad range of issues. Plus, personal stories of mental health challenges. At uOttawa Kanata North, 350 Legget Dr. Free tickets.
Wendy Sexsmith/Ottawa Lookout Reader
Today’s photo comes from Wendy Sexsmith, who sends in this great photo of two dogs on "a frosty paw morning."
Do you have a photo you want to share with Lookout readers? Send it our way!
Congrats to Adam, Michele, Robin, Ross, Ingrid, and everyone else who knew last week’s Ottawa Guesser was of the Cummings Bridge over the Rideau River.
For this week’s quiz, we want to know: What two neighbourhoods does the Cummings Bridge connect? The first five people to write in with the correct answer will get their names mentioned in the next issue.
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