Grocery profits soar
Loblaw posted an eye-watering 31 percent profit boost, plus the latest on Monday’s LRT restart
Going to start off with a quick update. Yesterday, Insiders got a deep dive into the controversy over whether Queen Elizabeth Driveway, which Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said should be reopened to vehicles south of the Pretoria Bridge. One of the big reasons behind this push is that he’s said it has caused delays for emergency vehicles.
So, naturally, last week I asked the police, paramedics, and fire service if they had any examples or data to back it up. Despite giving them more than a week, none replied in time. But yesterday afternoon, after the Insider went out, I heard from the police.
The short version is: nope. The long version is: “We have no data on hand about any delays experienced by responding officers. We can advise that Ottawa police and city and other partners work closely to plan and prepare for any impacts with key road closures.”
Anyway, if we hear from the other services, we’ll keep you updated.
One last thing, a bit of an apology. Last issue went out with a few typos and some truncated sentences. We’re a pretty small, part-time team and sometimes things sneak past us when they maybe shouldn’t. Sorry about that! Some day we’d like to hire a copy editor, but we haven’t quite grown enough.
Non-members - One last thing, a bit of an apology. Last issue went out with a few typos and some truncated sentences. We’re a pretty small, part-time team and sometimes things sneak past us when they maybe shouldn’t. Sorry about that! Some day we’d like to hire a copy editor, but we haven’t quite grown enough. (Though if you want to help on that front, consider becoming a member today!)
Let’s get to it.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
Friday: 28 🌡️ 16 | 🌦/⛈️
Saturday: 24 🌡️ 13 | 🌦
Sunday: 23 🌡️ 12 | 🌦
Monday: 23 🌡️ 11 | ☀️
COST OF LIVING
Loblaw profits soar, squeezing customers further
What happened: The country’s biggest supermarket chain posted a 31 percent boost to profits as food inflation continues to squeeze the country, the Toronto Star reported. Profits went to $508 million for the second quarter this year, up from $387 million a year ago. Revenues were up 6.9 percent to $13.7 billion from $12.8 billion a year earlier.
The company said a one-time payment of $111 million for a “commodity tax matter” at PC Bank contributed to the sky-high profit increases.
Inflation slows: The headline inflation rate dropped to 2.8 percent last month, but grocery prices were up 9.1 percent year-over-year, Reuters reported.
Discounts: Loblaw said its discount No Frills stores were leading the way to the company’s growth. The company plans to build 25 new stores across the country to meet the increased demand for cheaper food.
More security: While their profits increase, grocers are adding more anti-theft measures to their stores. New gates, more security staff, and receipt checks are spreading, CTV reported. The broadcaster went to Ottawa big box stores where customers reported an increase in the amount of security they were seeing. Loblaws told the broadcaster they were largely focused on catching organized thieves who they said are stealing cosmetics in bulk to resell.
“We've had to make some changes in how our stores operate to stop this crime – adding locked cabinets, time-delay safes and security gates – while at the same time maintaining a welcoming and convenient customer experience,” the company said.
Some good news
New T&T: On the plus side, a new T&T Supermarket will open in Kanata at the Hazeldean Mall, CTV reported. It will be the popular Asian grocer’s second location in the city, and will become the anchor for the mall.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
🥵 17 C: The global average temperature rose above this level in July, the hottest the planet as a whole has ever been on record as climate change truly sets in. [Bloomberg]
🏢 3: The number of boards of directors fighting for control of one Sandy Hill co-op building. [Ottawa Citizen]
💧 416: The litres of bottled water residents of Casselman were able to collect for the local food bank, as the town continues to deal with yellow, contaminated water. [CBC]
Mayor doesn’t expect public to have confidence in LRT
What happened: More than a week into yet another LRT shutdown, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe doesn’t expect anyone to trust the transit system he oversees.
“I want to emphasize that I don't expect residents to have confidence in the system until service is restored, and the chronic and persistent issues we've experienced have been permanently addressed,” Sutcliffe tweeted.
Restart plan: The city is planning on restarting half-length trains on Monday between Blair and Tunney’s Pasture, every six to eight minutes. Transit general manager Renée Amilcar insisted that ridership is low enough that running single trains and R1 will result in “very, very good” service. Instead of running the normal 11 two-car trains, the LRT will only run eight single-car trains.
Until all trains are back on track, the city will keep R1 service at its current level of 36 buses during peak hours.
Downtown parking: With people unable to rely on transit, downtown parking is filling up quickly. Some lots are full within an hour of opening, CBC reported. It’s more evidence downtown commuters are choosing to drive instead of take replacement transit.
Watson speaks: The mayor who got the city in the mess, pushing through the train and helping to hide from the public its poor early performance, Jim Watson is frustrated by the train system’s performance, too. In an interview with the Kitchissippi Times, the former mayor wasn’t too downbeat about the LRT.
“It’s a frustrating experience for everyone. When it’s working, it’s a really great system. But when you have these big issues it’s completely frustrating. … I have confidence in Mark [Sutcliffe] and his team to get those last five or 10 items finally resolved once and for all,” Watson told the paper.
How long? The city couldn’t give an exact timeline for when the full complement of trains would be running again. It will depend on how quickly the train maker, Alstom, could replace axles and how much they have to manage the mileage of the vehicles.
Once they are able to run the trains and see how they perform with the adjustments made to the track during the shutdown, they will know if they’ll be able to expand train service. But she could not commit to getting the LRT back to normal by September, in time for the return of school.
Compensation? Both Sutcliffe and transit boss Renée Amilcar said they are focused on getting trains running again, and haven't yet considered something like a fare holiday for the riders who have been inconvenienced by the latest shutdown.
“The mayor along with OC Transpo, the consortium and engineering staff continue to focus on fixing the trains and that’s the best result for passengers and residents at this time,” a statement from the mayor’s office said.
The Lookout’s thoughts: With service going to run at partial capacity, and R1 service continuing to draw buses from elsewhere in the city, why should people be paying for full freight they — rightly even in the mayor’s eyes — can’t have confidence in?
🚧 This weekend the Queensway is closing again, this time between Woodroffe and Greenbank. Crews are installing a pedestrian walkway across the highway for the Stage 2 LRT station on the north side of the 417. [CBC]
🐀 Striking hydro workers said the developer Tomlinson is assisting scabs by allowing Hydro Ottawa equipment to be parked on the developer’s property to avoid picketing workers. [Twitter]
🗳️ Liberal Karen McCrimmon won a surprise victory to take the Kanata-Carleton for the provincial Liberals. McCrimmon, who formerly represented the riding as a federal Liberal, won the race to replace former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Merrilee Fullerton, who resigned in March. [CTV]
🎒 Walking school bus programs are being shuttered because of a lack of funding. The program let students closer to schools walk under adult supervision. [CBC]
🌪️ Homeowners affected by the recent tornados could be eligible for full or partial property-tax relief. Those with damaged homes can reach out to the city’s revenue services office to apply. [City of Ottawa]
🚨 A pilot was killed and a passenger suffered life-threatening injuries when a single-engine Cessna crashed just outside the Alexandria Aerodrome. [CTV]
✈️ It took two months of fighting for an Arnprior man to get a refund from Flair Airlines for two tickets the airline sold him for a flight that did not exist. [CBC]
🗞️ Ewart Walters, the founder and publisher of Ottawa’s Black community newspaper The Spectrum, died Thursday. Walters was the first Black editor of Carleton University’s student paper in 1965. [Twitter]
🚓 US police arrested the man wanted for the death of Jewell Parchman Langford, once known as the Nation River Lady. Eighty-one-year-old Rodney Nichols appeared in a Florida courtroom Tuesday. [CBC]
Your weekend guide
📜 Hamlet - by A Company of Fools, Friday and Saturday 7 pm: Come on out for Shakespeare in the park, with puppets, swordfights, and a scary ghost. Tonight at Centrepointe Park in Nepean, and tomorrow at Fairmont Park near the Civic. Pay what you can, suggested $20 donation.
🎭 St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, until Aug. 5: Featuring A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest, and Alice in Wonderland on different dates. At the Kinsmen Amphitheatre, 101 Water St W, Prescott. Tickets $38 for adults.
🎸Side By Side Weekend, Friday to Sunday: An independent music festival featuring Status/Non-Status, Mother Tongues, Puffer, Bad Egg, Megan Francoeur, and many, many more. At Club Saw, 67 Nicholas St. Tickets start at $35.
🇹🇭 Thai Street Food Festival, Sunday 11 am: Hosted by the Thai embassy, this celebration of street food from Thailand and other vendors. At the Horticulture Building, Lansdowne Park. Free admission.
🚂 All Aboard! with the Ottawa Valley Live Steamers and Model Engineers Sunday 11 am: Come see a live demonstration of large-scale steam locomotives. At the Cumberland Museum, 2940 Old Montreal Rd. Free for kids, $9 for parents.
👰♀️ Opportunity Bridal Wedding Dress Sale, Saturday 9 am: A huge pop-up wedding dress sale with tons of designer dresses. At Holiday Inn & Suites Kanata, 101 Kanata Ave. Free, with $45 tickets for early bird access.
🌙 ByWard Night Market, Saturday 5 pm: Local vendors, street food, live music, and a mobile bar. At the ByWard Market. Free to attend!
⛏️ Public Archaeological Dig, Monday 8 am: All next week the NCC is hosting a public archaeological dig at the region's largest pre-contact site. Drop in at any time between 8 am and 5 pm. At Parc du Lac-Leamy, Parking at 80 Boul. Fournier. Free.
What happened this week in food
Every week our team at Capital Eats scours Ottawa for the best places to eat, drinks to try and events to attend. Here’s a breakdown of all the biggest stories.
🍻 Our neighbours to the north of the river sure know how to throw a beer festival — on until July 29!
🍸 Your perfect gin and tonic this weekend starts with this Quebec spirit.
🥟 Perfect steaming, a sauce of endless complexity and layers of flavour, the Manchurian dumplings at this restaurant will have you coming back again and again.
🧇 Shoved out of their previous location, a west-end favourite Sharpfle Waffle has moved to a new location in Hintonburg.
🇲🇾 This Malaysian restaurant has been in operation for nearly 50 years, there’s good reason they’ve got such a loyal following.
The reopened NCC River House has a great outdoor swimming area on the river. [CTV]
On Monday, the schedules for fall recreational activities will be posted to the city’s website, registration will start Aug. 14 and 16. [City of Ottawa]
The Jonas Brothers will be extending their North American tour into Ottawa this November, stopping at the Canadian Tire Centre. [CTV]
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Jen/Ottawa Lookout Reader
Today’s photo comes from Jen, who said she took it while on the arboretum side of Dow’s Lake on a bike ride.
Do you have a photo you’d like to share with the Lookout community? Send it in!
Congrats to Francesca, the only one who knew this week’s Ottawa Guesser was of the Madonna Della Risurrezione Church on Fisher Avenue.
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