What transit cuts will mean for city stations

A deep dive into how the city plows the roads, and where cuts to the transit system will fall.

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Good morning!

Yesterday we launched Insider City Hall where we answered some of the questions members had about the goings on at city hall, and took a deeper look at the individual parts of today’s final budget vote. Thanks to all the new members for making this possible!

Given it’s once again snowing, it seemed like the perfect day to run an interview with someone at the city in charge of plowing. Hope you find it useful for understanding how the city clears the roads and sidewalks.

Why don’t we get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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Weather Report

Wednesday: +1 🌡️ -3 | 🌤

Thursday: +3 🌡️ -12 | ❄️ (chance of flurries)

Friday: 0 🌡️ -6 | ☀️


Budget week: The $4.5-billon service budget and $1.1-billion capital budget will get a final vote on Wednesday. Councillors will go through each of the sub-budgets — transit, environmental, etc. — and (most likely) pass this new council’s first budget document. Things kick off at 10 am Wednesday, and you can watch live on the city’s YouTube channel.


Transit budget cuts will hit stations, maintenance

What happened: Transit stations across the city are about to get worse with the passage of the budget. The effect will be felt most at Tunney’s Pasture and Hurdman stations, where scaffolding at the bus terminals to protect riders from wind and weather will be taken down to save costs, CBC reported.

  • The bus terminal at Tunney’s Pasture is only temporary. Once Stage 2 extends the LRT west, it’s not expected to be necessary. But Hurdman is already in the middle of the line, and acts as a hub east of the Rideau River.

UPDATE: In the final budget vote, councillors decided to keep the scaffolding up for another two months, while staff look at options to protect transit users.

Several riders told the broadcaster they use the scaffolding cover on the long walk from the LRT station to the end of the bus platform. Alta Vista Coun. Marty Carr said it was worrying the scaffolding is being taken down without a proper long-term solution for riders.

Community response: Overall the transit budget cuts $42.7 million from its capital budget. The Ottawa Coalition for a People’s Budget, which brings together a number of community groups, warned the transit cuts imperil not just the system, but the city’s climate change goals, Capital Current reported.

Everything’s fine: In a lengthy memo released last week, transit general manager Renée Amilcar tried to address some of the concerns about the cuts to the budget. “No changes to service will be made because of this fleet realignment, and we will continue to have enough buses to meet the demands of our growing city for this year and next,” she wrote.

There is a but: OC Transpo already struggles to run buses for all of its routes, and now will have to make do with less. Later this year, the transit system will go through a review of the city’s bus routes. “This will involve evaluating potential future networks and identifying potential changes to service policy,” Amilcar wrote.

  • Translation: Changes to service will be made.

The full-council budget meeting kicks off at 10 am, and you can watch live on the city’s YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, at the Police Services Board…

What happened: After passing the $401-million police budget, the Ottawa Police Services Board changed the way public delegations can make presentations. People who have not presented within three months will get priority, and presenters will be asked to provide a summary of what they’ll be talking about in advance, CTV reported.

No delegations at all? Coun. Cathy Curry, serving her first elected term, seemed hostile to the idea of delegations presenting at all.

Yeah, but: There’s a substantive difference between responding to an email in private or visiting a constituent’s house, and listening to a public delegation. Public service is about more than meeting the community for breakfast and answering emails. Public service also involves sitting on a dais and listening to public concerns one may not want to hear.


🤑 $125: The cost of a trespassing ticket Kanata teen got for skating on the Beaver Pond with his dog. [CTV]

🥉 3rd: This winter has been the third-snowiest meteorological winter since records began. And the snowiest winter since 1970. [Rolf Campbell]

🏙️ 13.7%: The projected vacancy rate in downtown office towers, up from 12.2 percent at the end of last year. [OBJ]


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👑 No one on the Prescott town council would second a motion to get rid of the oath of allegiance to the King, so there was no debate. [CBC]

🎣 In Kitigan Zibi Anishinābeg, climate change means a shorter ice fishing season and the possible loss of traditional life. [Reuters]

💻 At the Queensway Carleton Hospital in Nepean a IT outage last year directly harmed at least two patients when machines stopped working. [CBC]

💐 A Kitchissippi man who raised tens of thousands for the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre died of prostate cancer after two years with the illness. [Kitchissippi Times]

🚨 A 17-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of an 18-year-old in Riverview on Valentine’s Day. [Ottawa Citizen]

🎶 Stittsville’s Tegan Pilon released a new single ‘echoes,’ which you can find streaming all over. [Stittsville Central]


Asked and answered: How does the city decide how to plow the streets and sidewalks?

With yet more snow falling, it seemed like a good time to find out how the city goes about keeping roads and sidewalks clear. The Lookout spoke to Bryden Denyes, the area manager of road services at the City of Ottawa. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. (Insiders might be wondering what happened. City staff said he’d be available Tuesday March 28, turns out that was a typo and we spoke yesterday.)

Robert Hiltz: How do you decide what to plow first?

Bryden Denyes: At the City of Ottawa, we have a document called our maintenance quality standards. Those are council approved standards that prescribe how we do all of our maintenance.

RH: When were those standards set?

BD: Those standards were approved by council in 2003. We're getting close to having finalized a winter maintenance quality standards review, where we will be going back to council with some upgrades that council can approve or not approve, likely near the end of Q3 this year.

RH: We’ve had a lot of snow this year, is this something you expect as a long-term trend?

BD: As of morning, we were at about 265 cm, already over the 10-year average of 226 cm. So, we're really into a more snowy season than normal. It doesn't really affect us, it just means we're responding to more events, or larger events.

RH: All of the snowfall has been grouped together. Especially in January, it was bang, bang, bang.

BD: January definitely was, I'll use the word ‘unique.’ We had over 100 cm of snow in January alone. Having the snow back to back to back, it does pose some challenges, especially when we have that much snow, because what we had to do was we were treating those storm conditions, but we're also trying to do our snow removal operations.

RH: Is there any equipment that would allow the city to get a better handle on snowfall like this?

BD: I don't think it's a fundamental operational issue. It's more of just the timing and the amount of snow. The staff that are doing the plowing and salting sidewalks are the same staff that have to do those snow removal operations. As far as equipment, I think we're very, very well situated, a lot of our equipment is multi-use.

RH: You're undergoing this review, do you think the city's found a good balance between clearing roads and clearing sidewalks?

BD: As part of our winter maintenance quality standards review, we are looking at increasing our sidewalk maintenance, we do recognize that more people are utilizing that active transportation component versus driving vehicles everywhere. That includes walking, cycling, and public transit.

RH: Broadly speaking, those seem to be some of the areas where people have the biggest problems.

BD: It's not only just the sidewalk maintenance, but it's clearing when we plow a residential street or road, and we go by a sidewalk, there's a windrow of snow blocking that sidewalk now. So how do we get that cleared faster? We definitely heard that loud and clear from residents through this whole review.

RH: When residents do have a plowing issue, what’s the best way to tell the city?

BD: Anytime the public identifies something they have a concern about — it could be a windrow or a pothole — the most effective way to let us know about that is to utilize our 311 system. Either by calling 311, or visiting ottawa.ca and putting in an online service request.


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🏢 To keep some pressure off the shelter system, several pandemic-era temporary shelters will stay open until the end of the summer. [CBC]

💥 Police Chief Eric Stubbs didn’t reveal many details, but said the investigation into the Orléans housing explosion is “developing very quickly.” [CTV]

📸 Rather than a cash grab, several councillors said new speed cameras in notorious speeding areas are an important safety measure. [CBC]

🏗️ Calgary might be the perfect model for converting empty office space into housing. [Ottawa Citizen]

🏘️ The province has enough land to build two million homes — well above the government’s 1.5-million home target — without opening new lands on the provincial Greenbelt. [Globe and Mail]

📵 As of yesterday, the federal government blocked and removed the social media app TikTok from all government-issued devices over security concerns. [CTV]

😷 With a month to go before the back-to-office order is in full effect in the federal public service, departments are still finalizing their COVID protocols. [Ottawa Citizen]

🚨 A 58-year-old man was killed in a two-vehicle crash on Fallowfield Road at Conley. Police are asking any witnesses to the collision to come forward. [CTV]

☘️ This year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been cancelled because of rising costs and a lack of volunteers. [CTV]

  • Thanks to the generosity of the community, the Overbrook Community Association has passed its first goal raising money for victims of the recent devastating apartment fire. You can help by donating to their GoFundMe.

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  • Lookout favourite BánhMìYes is hiring a baker, cook, and bánhmì maker.

  • Nicole Feriancek was named the editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • Sad news as Wellington Wests’ Feline Café will be closing its doors, but the rescue foundation will live on.

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Korean tradition in Old Ottawa South

Korean chicken. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

Two years of on-again off-again closures took the fun out of going out for meals and for restaurants, well we can all imagine what it meant for many owners.

So it was a pleasure to once again sit inside at one of the city’s great Korean restaurants and enjoy what they have to offer.

I was once told by the owner that their name means a table of “a variety of small dishes” and in my mind I translated that to “a table of plenty.” That’s certainly not an overstatement because here, you’re well fed.


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🏒 The Sens are sniffing a playoff spot as the Friday trade deadline approaches. Here’s what they need to make a final push (scroll down). [Sportsnet]

🥅 All options are on the table for the deadline, with the Sens’ performance this week setting their course: buy or sell? [Ottawa Sun]

🏈 Former Redblacks linebacker Avery Williams has no hard feelings toward the team that let him go into free agency. [Ottawa Sun]


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Congrats to Julia, Michelle, Chantal, and Adam, who all knew the answer to this week’s Ottawa Quiz was the Macdonald Cartier Bridge.

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