LRT finally back on track
After days of shutdown after a freezing rain storm, the LRT finally got back on track last night.
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Here at the Lookout we’re starting the year with some big things. Today we officially launched a Vancouver edition of the Lookout. It’ll bring readers in that city all the same great local coverage you all have come to expect.
So, a quick favour to ask: can you tell any friends or family you might have on the West Coast about the new Vancity Lookout? If you like what we do here, they might like what we’re doing out there.
A big thank you to everyone who’s been with us on this journey. It’s the next chapter in the Lookout and we can’t wait to grow our community with you.
Let’s get to the newsletter.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
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Wednesday: -7 🌡️ -7 | 🌤
Thursday: +1 🌡️ 0 | ❄️
Friday: 0 🌡️ -8 | ❄️
LRT woes end (for now) as system goes back online
What happened: The LRT is back in service. Yesterday evening trains got running at about 8:30 pm after almost a week of a shutdown of much of the eastern leg of the system. Rideau Transit Management (RTM), the private operator of the system, was finally able to remove two trains disabled by freezing rain and repair attempts, and clear the way for service to resume.
What’s next: The city and RTM have started a working group to pinpoint exactly what happened and how to prevent it in the future. Potential changes include de-icing liquids (like on airplanes), heating the lines, or putting ice scrapers on unpowered trains to prevent icing.
- RTM CEO Mario Guerra said they didn’t know the exact cause of the stoppages, but ice build up happened much faster between Hurdman and Lees stations where two trains stalled than on the rest of the line.
If an ice storm happens before they finish their investigation, Guerra said they would launch more trains with de-icing sliders to better clear the line of ice.
- Dig deeper: OC Transpo's director of operations on what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again [Ottawa Citizen]
Long commute: Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, who is a member of the LRT subcommittee, headed to a neighbourhood he grew up in Orléans on Monday morning to get a feel for the commute from the east end. He tweeted about his trip and started at 7:14 from near Tenth Line and Blair, and he made it to city hall for 9:10. Two hours, for a drive that would take about 30 to 40 minutes by car.
- (Note: Leiper said Tuesday he would deactivate his account once the train went online, it’s possible the above link won’t work correctly this morning. Apologies in advance.)
Leiper was in some ways lucky to start in the east end. Passengers at Hurdman Station often had difficulty getting on already full buses, CTV reported. Extra replacement buses were sent to the station to help relieve the pressure, but the extra buses there led to dozens of cancellations for routes across the rest of the bus network.
- Transit general manager Renée Almicar said the goal of OC Transpo was to focus on reliable train service, rather than have increased bus service during issues when R1 service is needed. "That would mean that at all times we'd have additional buses and drivers and that they would be in waiting just in case," she said.
A familiar face: The city hired the consulting firm of former transit head John Manconi, STV Inc. to “provide independent advice” to OC Transpo, CTV reported.
Manconi was one of several city officials called out for misleading the public in the LRT inquiry report. Mayor Mark Sutcliffe defended the decision, and told CFRA he didn’t think Manconi was personally involved in the oversight of the current issues.
Reliability: In his interview with CFRA, Sutcliffe said the service had been very reliable since March of last year, something OC Transpo has also repeated. According to a lengthy list of LRT issues compiled by CTV, in that time there were:
- Multiple derailments and collisions at maintenance facilities;
- Multiple trains had to be pulled from service for inspections of possible serious issues;
- A lightning strike took out the line for five days;
- And several smaller failures of the overhead wiring system, leading to partial shutdowns.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
💰 $4,200: The cost of a speed radar sign in Renfrew County stolen sometime before New Year’s Day. [Ottawa Citizen]
🍽️ $10,000: Metropolitain Brasserie co-owner Sarah Chown gave this much to fund a hospitality and tourism bursary at Algonquin College. [OBJ]
🩺 Three family doctors at the same Orléans clinic have all ended their practices, leaving numerous patients in the lurch. [CBC]
🧀 The Barrhaven location of House of Cheese has closed, following the sudden death of owner Brad Joyal in February of last year. [Barrhaven Independent]
🥼 A Gatineau man without a family doctor suffered a very rare side effect of the COVID vaccine and looked for adequate care for more than a year. [CBC]
🚨 An individual from Petawawa was charged with domestic-violence related offences after a two-vehicle crash. [CTV]
🚒 Dunrobin’s Alex Carlson was named firefighter of the year by his peers. [West Carleton Online]
🚔 Two students have been charged with harassment and incitement of hatred at a high school. Police did not name the school, but it is likely Nepean’s Sir Robert Borden, where parents said their children had been victims of antisemitism. [CBC]
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When was the last time you were invited to watch your pet’s grooming?
- They even help groom rescue dogs, just in case a little pampering can help them find a new home
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
🚔 216 km/h: The speed a driver was caught driving on the 401 near Kingston. [CTV]
⛺️ 70: The number of people without housing will be evicted from an encampment in Kingston. [CBC]
CHEO welcomes nursing externs, province knows its wage laws are making staffing worse
What happened: CHEO has accepted its first-ever crop of nursing externs — paid fourth-year students who shadow nurses to get on-the-job training. The hospital hopes this provincial program will attract the students to work at CHEO when they graduate, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
Shortage: Like many hospitals across the country, CHEO is dealing with a shortage of nurses. There are enough jobs open, equivalent to 120 full-time positions. The shortages have only gotten worse after nearly three years of COVID and a brutal virus season.
Only 24 extern positions were available, but 170 students applied for the positions, suggesting there’s big demand for this sort of training.
- Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital said it had hired 100 percent of the students in its extern program once they had graduated.
Wage problems: The provincial government is well aware its legislation capping wage growth for healthcares has caused the system to deteriorate since the start of the pandemic, Global News reported.
A briefing binder prepared for Health Minister Sylvia Jones when she took the job said, “Health human resources (HHR) shortages predate the pandemic; however, shortages of nurses and personal support workers have become worse.”
- “Wages and working conditions continue as key drivers of attrition. … Wage disparities are also causing shortages in home care,” the documents said, according to Global.
Response: When asked at press conference, Jones didn’t address the government’s role in making the crisis worse, but did say “There is no doubt that we have seen incredible work done by our health-care professionals, nurses, physicians working in emergency departments in a, frankly, challenging time as we still deal with the remnants of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses,” according to Global.
Here’s a real gem in Sandy Hill. It’s a three-storey row house with plenty of bedrooms, a gorgeous solarium, sauna, and tons more. A classic exterior with a modern, but tasteful interior.
🧊 The weather has been cold enough for the NCC to flood the ice on the Rideau Canal, but it’s not yet safe for skaters. [Ottawa Citizen]
🚫 Downtown residents are hoping to use human rights law to prevent transport trucks from using downtown as their main corridor to Quebec because of the noise and toxic fumes. [CTV]
🚨 Over the next few weeks Ottawa police will be using automated technology to scan licence plates for expired registration and other offences. [Ottawa Citizen]
📉 Tough competition in several neighbourhoods is forcing some pot shops to move or close. [Ottawa Citizen]
🚔 Three drivers on Highway 174 were caught speeding in a construction zone. Two of them with G2 licences were caught going well over the limit, one going 136 km/h in an 80 zone, and another doing 166 km/h in a 100 zone. [CTV]
- Meet the couple from Almonte won the $3.4-million CHEO Dream home in Kanata. [CTV]
- Great news for African BBQ fans, YKO has opened up a new location in the ByWard Market.
- Here’s a great repository of photos of 19th and early 20th century Ottawa. One word of warning, not all the captions are accurate on the date and exact location. [Bygonely]
- Looking for something tropical in the dead of winter? Pōā Tiki Bar might be for you. [Apt613]
- It’s always great to see photos of Ottawa from the air, especially at night. [Reddit]
- Want to have your announcement featured? Contact our partnership team for more info.
Want to hear some interesting music? Head out on a Monday
No, really: When most bars and restaurants are closed Monday nights, head to the Chateau Lafayette to check out the Five Star Monday Band, a collection of local scene musicians, the Ottawa Citizen recommends.
But it’s not the only spot. The paper said Mondays are becoming a great time to catch live music at Irene’s Pub and Red Bird Live — both on Bank Street — and Minotaure on the Gatineau side of the river.
🏒 If the Senators have any hope of making the playoffs, they’re going to need to be consistent. [Ottawa Sun]
🚨 What’s holding the team back? Even strength play has frequently let the Sens down, despite a strong penalty kill and power play. [Ottawa Sun]
🥅 The 67’s traded for star defenceman Pavel Mintyukov from the Saginaw Spirit — third in OHL scoring — and forward Logan Morrison from the Hamilton Bulldogs, who’s second in scoring. [Ottawa Sun]
It’s a new year and that means there’s new restaurants to try.
Our food editor Ralf is hard at work, driving around town finding the best hidden food gems throughout the city.
If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe so you can check out the food spots before anyone else. Subscribe instantly by clicking this link.
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Congrats to Adam on this week’s quiz, he knew that the city last had to use R1 bus service because of broken trains was in mid-December (the 18th, to be precise). Thanks to everyone else for giving it a go, better luck next time!
Today’s OttawaGuesser is a bit of a tough one, so we’ll give you a couple hints. First, it’s in the south end. Second, this road has changed dramatically since the Google car last drove through it, here in 2019. It doesn’t look like this anymore! The first five people to respond get their names mentioned in the newsletter.
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