Mid-August LRT reopening if everything goes well (maybe)
The city maybe has an LRT reopening date, but it requires everything goes well (uh oh).
A bit of grim news about the news to start off the day. The parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Meta, announced yesterday it will officially begin blocking news content on all its platforms. The company is trying to fight (probably flawed) federal legislation that would force it and other digital giants like Google to pay news producers for linking to their content.
It’s not clear to us yet what effect this will have on the Lookout. Our focus has never been about producing viral, high-traffic content. When it comes to journalism, quantity does not have much in the way of quality. Instead, we’ve focused on bringing news direct to locals like you, to build a community around understanding our city, and discovering what makes it great to live here.
But one thing you can do to help us is to forward this newsletter to a friend or family member and tell them why you value it. The best way we can survive battles like this between big tech focused on controlling as much of the internet as they can and a federal government focused on keeping old media alive is for you to spread the word.
Thank you for all the support you’ve given us the past almost-two-years. It’s because of you, the reader, that this newsletter can keep going.
A quick bit of housekeeping: Apologies to Michele Lanoue, whose name I misspelled in Monday’s Top Photo section. Sorry, Michele!
We’ve got plenty of news today, so let’s get to it.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
Wednesday: 24 🌡️ 15 | 🌤️
Thursday: 23 🌡️ 17 | ⛈️
Friday: 23 🌡️ 14 | ⛈️
Very tentative re-opening date set (again)
What happened: The city is tentatively hoping to maybe reopen the LRT by Aug. 14. But it’s contingent on several things going right, transit boss Renée Amilcar said in a memo.
“OC Transpo estimates that Line 1 service may be able to safely resume as early as August 14. This is an early estimate, based on projected timelines for these action items. As work progresses, we will provide an update on the potential timing to gradually restart service,” Amilcar said in the memo (emphasis hers).
For the service to reopen, a few things need to happen first:
Rideau Transit Group needs to bring on board Atkins Global, a UK engineering firm, to oversee the repositioning of the tracks’ troublesome restraining rails. Atkins is owned by SNC Lavalin, one of the corporate owners of Rideau Transit Group, which operates the LRT. (Essentially, the consortium is hiring its own in-house experts to fix what they built.)
Continue working on the risk assessment to get the trains running again.
Reposition the restraining rails, which prevent the train from derailing, but cannot touch the train wheels during normal operation.
Test drive the train to make sure the changes have worked.
Timeline: If all goes well, they expect to have the risk assessment done Thursday, after which they can start fixing the rails, which they think will take 10 days. After which they can do trial running, which they expect will take another day, bringing us to Aug. 14. Some of the testing could be done on one part of the line, while adjustments to the rails are being done elsewhere, CTV reported.
The city will continue to update the public on their progress, and tell us if the timeline changes. If service does relaunch, the train will have been down 27 days, the second-longest derailment since the 2021 derailment, which lasted 57 days.
Secret plan: If trains are not up and running by the time school returns in September, OC Transpo does have a backup plan, Amilcar told reporters. But she would not elaborate on what the plan is.
Return volume: OC Transpo is planning to only run eight single-car trains along Line 1, instead of the typical 13 double-car trains. Previously, Amilcar said her staff had assured her this was enough capacity to move transit riders alongside R1 service. She has said LRT ridership is only about 43 percent of what it was pre-pandemic.
Compensation: Chair of the transit commission Coun. Glen Gower told CBC he’s been in contact with the mayor’s office on possibly compensating transit users for yet another shutdown. The sticking point now is where the money would come from. With a projected $39-million deficit, and ridership well below levels where fares can provide the expected 60 percent of OC Transpo’s budget, the city must pull the money from somewhere else.
Tuesday, Amilcar said that while the LRT was down, OC Transpo was still providing transit service to residents. “We continue to deliver the service with buses; however, I recognize the LRT does not work and that's why we are working very hard, around the clock, to be able to resume the service as soon as possible when it's safe,” she said according to CTV.
Last issue we asked, “How much faith do you have the train will be fixed in the next week?” The majority of you were right…
Yes, I believe it will - 2%
I’m hopeful, but it seems unlikely - 16%
You’re kidding right? None! - 65%
What LRT? - 17%
What you said:
“I so feel for those who rely on the LRT on a daily basis, be it to get to/from work or appointments or to/from school. Ottawa public transit is certainly not meeting the needs of the people…very disheartening.”
“Very frustrated that the clowns that kept the delays and shortened the original testing haven't been held accountable. Ottawa citizens will be paying for this disaster for a long time.”
“It might be fixed within the week but I have zero faith that this breakdown of services was an anomaly but is now a norm.”
“Thank god I don't have to rely on it. I would LIKE to rely on it. But I'm one of the lucky ones. With all the shutdowns since it ‘opened,’ OCTranspo needs to be looking at a year of free service.”
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
🌲 110: Tough day to be a tree. That’s how many tree-related service requests the city received during Friday’s storm cleanup. [CBC]
🪦 150: The number of years the Beechwood Cemetery has existed. To celebrate, they've curated 150 images telling the history of the cemetery. [Ottawa Citizen]
🦠 Beware of Mooney’s Bay Beach. It was closed Monday as Ottawa Public Health inspected an algae bloom. It’s recommended you don’t swim in it. [CTV]
⚠️ A man suffered serious injuries at a workplace in Barrhaven. An Ontario Ministry of Labour investigator has been assigned to review the case. [CTV]
💰 Rockcliffe tops the city in most expensive real estate property areas with an average home price of $2.5 million. The least expensive? Hawkesbury at $362,445. [CTV]
🎽 Cornwall residents are at odds over turning the Cornwall Athletic Grounds into 100 affordable housing units. It currently serves as a community and sport hub for the area, and would reduce greenspace. [CBC]
Police are investigating a death at Toledo, after a person was found dead on Monday. [Ottawa Citizen]
🚔 A 13-year-old was caught brandishing a knife on Monday in Carleton Place and will face multiple serious charges, including four counts of assault with a weapon. [CTV]
🌊 Richelieu Valley is on water watch for the next 72 hours, which could see water levels rise by 10 to 15 centimetres on Saturday. Luckily it won’t surpass levels seen back in May. Expect big waves on the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain due to wind. [CTV]
🚨 Charges have been levied against a 46-old woman for manslaughter, in the second homicide of the year in Gatineau. [CTV]
Walmart closes self-checkout at Ottawa location
What happened: Retail giant Walmart decided to close its self-checkout at its Billings Bridge location and bring back more cashiers over the weekend, CTV reported.
It may have been a test over one weekend. When CTV visited the location, signs were up advertising the “full-serve experience,” but when corporate communications finally replied to the broadcaster days later, it said staffing levels had returned to normal at the store.
Struggling: With inflation still high for grocery products — last month it was at 9.1 percent, well above overall inflation of 2.8 percent — food banks are reporting record levels of use. The Ottawa Food Bank recently moved into a new, much bigger warehouse to accommodate the explosion in demand.
Meanwhile, profits are expanding. A recent Competition Bureau study found the big three grocers (Loblaws, Metro, and Sobeys) made about $3.6 billion in profit last year, off more than $100 billion in sales, the Canadian Press reported.
More security: Across the city, increased security is becoming common. Security gates, guards, and receipt checks are being tried by different retailers, CTV reported. Meanwhile, shoplifting charges nationally were up from 2021, but still lower than pre-pandemic levels.
HOUSE OF THE WEEK
Today we journey to Hintonburg to share this cute three-bedroom brick home, plus an adjacent two-bedroom detached building. The red brick really makes it stand out, with wonder laid out downstairs. Also, the backyard patio has a really unique pink colour.
House of The Week is a home selected by the Lookout team and is not a paid advertisement. All ads are labelled as such. If you’re a realtor who wishes to feature your home in our newsletter, please contact our sales team.
🗳️ Auditors have been tasked by Ottawa’s election committee to look into campaign spending for Ward 20 candidate Doug Thompson, who is alleged to have misrepresented the cost of campaign signs, and third-party group Horizon Ottawa, which is alleged to have not properly accounted for possible campaign spending before registration. [CTV]
🎗️Local journalist and public servant Ewart Walters has died. He struggled to find work in journalism as a Black man entering the industry in the 1960s, but became a public servant, eventually becoming an advocate for Ottawa’s Caribbean community, as well as founding the monthly community newspaper The Spectrum. He was 83 years old. [Ottawa Citizen]
🍺 Drink up and pay up? The Ontario brewers association is hoping to prevent the second one. They’re asking for the province to fix the beer tax system which charges Ontario craft brewers more than anywhere else in the country. [CBC]
🚓 Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit is looking into a cop’s use of an Anti Riot Weapon ENfield — which can fire rubber bullets and other projectiles — against a suspect, who was then taken to the hospital. No other details were provided. [CBC]
🛥️ It’s been a deadly few days when it comes to people and water in the Ottawa Valley, with four people dying in under four days, including in a capsized boat. Police do not suspect foul play in any of the incidents. [CBC]
Have a dog who can’t be around other dogs? Check out a private dog park around Ottawa which has grown in popularity. [CBC]
Check out our free guide for Ottawa’s best farmer’s markets.
Great tea at Hi T, so be sure to stop by their shop for some great bubble tea.
Recreation and cultural program registration has opened, so be sure to register for Fall recreation programs because they fill up fast. [CityNews]
There’s a lively discussion on Reddit about Ottawa’s favourite musicians. Who’s yours?
Want to have your announcement featured? Contact our partnership team for more info.
Capital Eats is written by our food editor Ralf Joneikies. Here are some highlights from recent issues.
🍸 Here’s an award-winning Quebec gin that’s worth adding to your drink cabinet. (Insiders)
☕ One of our favourite coffee shops in the city is back with a new location at 173 Hichney Ave in Hintonburg. Read why our food editor loves their coffee (and waffles).
🥟 Here’s a hidden food gem on Merivale Road serving up Tibetan food. And you bet they have momos.
🇲🇾 It’s an old Ottawa favourite, but this Malaysian restaurant really is worth coming back to. (Insiders)
🏈 The Redblacks lost on Friday to the Tiger-Cats 12-16. The team is now 3-4 and sits in last place in the east division. But at least they aren’t as bad as Edmonton, who are 0-8 this season…
⚾ The Killaloe Brewers defeated the Petawawa 36ers in the Ottawa Valley Baseball League on Sunday. [Community Press]
Congrats to Rohit, Pat, Adam, Gord, Jill, and all the rest of you who knew that the man in Gatineau was fined more than $1,100 for going 90 km/h in a 40 zone.
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