LRT launched with known problems

The latest LRT hearings suggest the system wasn’t tested enough, and the different constructors weren’t having their work coordinated

Robert Hiltz
22 Jun

Good morning!

It’s good to be back from vacation. Strange, mind you. Particularly with the jet lag, I’ve got this sense that things are vaguely unreal, but there is something to be said for being back in your own bed among your own pets and your own things.

Though, not among all my things. I can confirm the trouble you’ve seen at airports is true. Unfortunately, my main piece of luggage is…somewhere. It’s hard to say exactly where, but it never got put on the plane. Hopefully it’s left London, and has been put on a plane to get here. Small price to pay for two weeks of bliss, though.

A big thanks to Geoff for holding down the fort these last couple weeks. He’s done a great job in my absence. 

One last thing: are you an Ottawa small business looking to reach more customers? We’re looking for businesses to team up with for summer giveaways. It’s a great way to grow your audience with tens of thousands of readers. Send Geoff an email and he’ll reach out to you. 


If you find this newsletter valuable, please consider forwarding it to your friends. New to the Lookout? Sign-up for free.

Weather Report

Wednesday: 25 🌡️ 16 | ⛈

Thursday: 20 🌡️ 16 | 🌧 

Sunday: 28 🌡️ 17 | ⛅️

LRT Inquiry: Not enough testing, not enough coordination

Day 6: June 20

Who testified Monday: 

  • Remo Bucci of Deloitte
  • Michael Burns of Thales Canada Inc.

No coordination: Rideau Transit Group (RTG) did a poor job of ensuring trains and the signals were working together properly. Two different companies made the trains (Alstom) and the automated signalling system (Thales Canada). 

  • RTG, who built and operated the system, were responsible for coordination. But a Thales project manager testified the two were working in separate silos, CBC reported.

Day 7: June 21

Who testified Tuesday: 

  • Lowell Goudge of Alstom Transport Canada Inc.
  • Jacques Bergeron of OLRT Construction

Not enough testing: Goudge said problems were inevitable because the trains didn’t get enough running time, according to the Ottawa Citizen. The engineer said the trains started running with known issues. 

  • He said they could have been solved before the system opened if there had been more testing.

It’s a bit ironic: We also found out Tuesday, the man in charge of maintenance was actually on the train as it derailed, according to the Ottawa Citizen

For a recap of previous inquiry days, check out our dedicated page covering daily updates on the LRT inquiry.

Other LRT news

What happened: Stage 2 LRT expansion east, west, and south needs $60 million “immediately” to cover unexpectedly high costs.

  • The money will be used to relocate more hydro and gas lines, and to top up the contingency fund, CBC reported. Of the money, $35 million will go to utilities, and $25 million will go to the contingency fund, which is down to $18 million from the $153-million budget.

West-end detours: Two sections of the Transitway are being permanently closed to buses starting Sunday morning. Buses between Tunney’s Pasture and Dominion will now be running along Scott Street. The bigger detour will be between Iris station and Navaho Drive, where buses will run along Woodroffe instead of the Transitway. 

  • These changes affect numerous bus routes, so check OC Transpo’s alert page.

Ottawa by the numbers

3.4: The number of hours children in Ottawa are waiting to be seen by a doctor in hospital, well above the 1.9-hour provincial average. [Ottawa Citizen]

EF0: The strength of a tornado confirmed by researchers outside of Carleton Place. This is the default rating when there’s no damage. [CityNews]

Summertime is ice cream time

Ice cream in a cup
Mantovani / Instagram

The solstice has come, and it’s officially summer. And that means it’s time to get some of that sweet, sweet ice cream. Here’s an excerpt from a recent edition of the Lookout Insider, where our food editor Ralf Joneikies tours some of his favourite spots for ice cream and gelato.

Located at 87 Murray St. in the ByWard Market, Mantovani is still my top destination for fine Italian gelato. And it does provide us with a little European flair. 

Paola Paul and her husband Jim opened their cafe six years ago and they’ve set a new standard for desserts and coffee in the ByWard Market. 

The Mantovani family started their business in Naples, Italy in 1946 and before opening the ByWard location, both Paola and Jim trained in Naples with the brother and sister team Marcella and Oreste Mantovani. 

They have 24 flavours of gelato in the line-up that are in rotation with a few staples always available such as their award-winning pistachio. You must try this as it is an example of pistachio gelato as it’s meant to be: an olive green rather than 80s dayglo. They also offer vegan and low-sugar options for those with dietary restrictions. 

The coffee is an exclusive, roasted for them in Napoli and then shipped to Ottawa, so do yourself a favour and enjoy a little dolce vita when you’re there. And if the mood is not right for gelato then add a pastry to your coffee courtesy of their excellent in-house pastry chef Cristina Panuccio.

—Ralf Joneikies

Hungry for more? You can read the whole story here.

Ottawa trees vulnerable to storm damage

Storm damage could affect canopy plans: The city’s plan to cover 40 percent of land with trees may be affected by the storm.  

  • A survey of the city’s tree canopy is set for this year, and will show the full extent of the damage, CBC reported. The last survey in 2017 showed 31 percent of the city covered in trees. 

Planning ahead: Replanting the damaged trees may require planting, with new trees that are more resilient to storm damage. Storms of this power could become more frequent due to climate change, so changes to amount and types of trees may be needed.

Pickup deadline: Automatic pickup for storm-damaged trees ends on Friday. If you’ve still got downed trees after Friday, CTV reported you can call the city at 311 and schedule a later pickup date.

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Ottawa MP encourages convoy protests

Poilievre encourages convoyers: Carleton MP and Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre said he supports “all Canadians who peacefully stand up for their rights in protesting the Liberal Government’s vaccine vendetta,” and encouraged “everyone to keep protesting government attacks on our freedoms,” according to Global News

  • Plans have been made public for a new convoy protest to descend on the city for Canada Day. 

What the convoyers said: The organizers said they had spoken to the Poilievre campaign and he would be greeting the protesters on their arrival.

What the Pollievre campaign said: The campaign flatly denied they said this, or had any contact with the coming protest, while expressing its support generally, Global said.

Background: For more details on the upcoming protests, check out our latest story on it. 

Stories you might've missed

COVID wastewater signal up: The city is seeing a slight uptick in the COVID signal in municipal wastewater. Ottawa Public Health also said test positivity rates and the number of confirmed outbreaks are also growing. [CTV]

Monkeypox vaccine clinics coming: Ottawa Public Health is offering vaccines to people at the highest risk of monkeypox, but expects demand may rise and require full clinics. The first case of the virus was reported in Ottawa on June 10. [CBC] 

Money to clean CJOH site: Next week the city's finance committee will vote on whether to give the developer Claridge Homes a $665,000 grant to clea polluted land and groundwater at the  former CJOH studio, which burned down a dozen years ago. Once cleaned, the developer has plans to build towers with some 2,000 residential units. [CTV]

Cornwall loses walk-in clinic: The eastern Ontario town has lost its oldest medical clinic because of a shortage of doctors and other medical staff. The McConnell Medical Clinic closed permanently last week. The closure is part of a province-wide shortage of medical personnel. [CBC]

Officers cleared in convoy response: Two Vancouver police were cleared of wrongdoing after firing non-lethal rounds at convoy protesters this winter. The officers were part of the phalanx clearing the convoy. The Special Investigations Unit said the officers did not commit a criminal offence. [CTV]

Bye bye plastic bags: A ban on single-use plastics is coming by the end of the year. Plastic bags, takeout containers, straws, stir sticks, cutlery, and six-pack rings won’t be banned, and won’t be allowed to be exported by the end of 2025. [The Canadian Press]

Photo of the day

Field with grass and animals
Robert Hiltz

Geoff mentioned while I was gone I’d sent him photos from where I was staying, so I figured it would be rude not to share at least one with all of you. (Don’t worry, I don’t have an hours-long slideshow planned.) Here’s the view from one evening in a farmer’s field near where I was staying in the English countryside. It was not bad, folks. Not bad at all.

Have photos you’d like to share? Don’t worry, we’ll start sharing reader photos again in the next issue. So send them in!

Some good news

Temporary fix to 7 bump: The huge bump on Highway 7 near Carleton Place is getting a temporary fix after the Ottawa Citizen highlighted the spot’s danger. Now the road is being dug up to flatten it out, and add insulation to protect it from frost heave.

  • A more permanent fix is being worked on. As Citizen reporter Blair Crawford shows in this video, it’s not the kind of bump you want to hit at speed.

Community highlights

  • Jazzfest is returning after nearly three years away, and Apt613 has a breakdown of five acts you need to see.
  • It’s festival season for sure, because the lineup for CityFolk in September has been announced, with acts like John Fogerty and Kathleen Edwards. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Last week the OBJ’s 40 under 40 awards gala took place for the 25th anniversary. Congrats to all the winners!
  • Thursday could be the big day, maybe, that a downtown Sens arena could perhaps be announced (maybe) as the centrepiece of the NCC’s LeBreton revitalization project. [Ottawa Citizen] 
  • If you’ve bought Similac brand infant formula powder recently, be sure to check if it's part of a recent recall. [CBC]

Daily COVID stats

All infection and vaccination data via Ottawa Public Health

  • Active Cases: 451
  • Deaths: 817
  • Ottawans In Hospital: 7
  • Ottawans In ICU: 1
  • Acute Beds Occupied: 97% 
  • ICU Beds Occupied: 71% 
  • ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 19% 

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