LRT price tag politicized early on

It's day three and four of the LRT inquiry

Geoff Sharpe
17 Jun

Good morning!

Well, that was a close call yesterday. Maybe mother nature realized just how tough a year Ottawa had, and spared us the tornado. 

Today we’ve got the latest from the LRT inquiry, an update on the bomb hoax and some patio recommendations from our food editor Ralf.


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Friday: 24 🌡️ 8 | 🌤️

Saturday: 21 🌡️ 7 | 🌤️

Sunday: 23 🌡️ 9 | ☀️

The tornado that wasn’t

Trepidation is one way to describe how Ottawa residents would be feeling at the prospect of storm and tornado warnings, given the previous storm damage. 

What happened: A tornado watch was issued for Ottawa, through Kanata to Orleans, down to Richmond, according to Ottawa Citizen. 

The conditions were ripe for a storm. Emergency organizations were on alert. But the storm watch was over late yesterday afternoon, with no tornadoes. 

  • But a weak landspout tornado was observed in near Casselman in eastern ontario, according to the Weather Network. 

What a year: Ottawa has obviously been through much this year, especially in regards to weather. Luckily, we don’t have to add a tornado to that list.

Ottawa by the numbers

20%: The fall in the number of housing starts in May in the National Capital Region compared to last year. Fewer apartment and condo construction projects account for most of the decline. [OBJ]

LRT budget politicized early on

Ron Dennis/Lookout Reader

Day 3: June 15

Who testified Wednesday: John Traianopoulos from Infrastructure Ontario and former deputy city manager Nancy Schepers.

Background: CBC reported that the major line of questioning for Schepers focused on the $2.1-billion price tag for the project set early on as an estimate. Schepers noted it could go higher or lower by 25 percent. But Watson and other members of council took that number and ran with it. 

  • Remember: Tuesday’s testimony centred on how the price cap on the project could’ve caused companies to, as CBC says, “overpromise in order to meet the budget,” causing cost problems down the road. 

According to CBC, head of the LRT division for Infrastructure Rob Pattison, and many others, expressed concerns that very few groups would bid due to the low $2.1-billion budget.

For more details, follow CBC reporter Kate Porter who’s live-tweeting each day of testimony. 

Day 4: June 16

Who testified Thursday: Yves Declercq from Alstom Transport Canada Inc and Manuel Rivaya OLRT Constructors.

What happened: Alstom was on the defensive about the construction of the LRT vehicles, according to CTV.

  • Alstom had to create new trains to deal with Ottawa’s target number of riders per hour of 24,000 people, which caused some of the problems. 

According to CTV’s reporting, Declercq said they raised concerns to Ottawa. But the city’s lawyer pointed out Alstom claimed in 2012 they were confident they could deliver the trains even with the complex requirements. 

Our analysis: The inquiry is so far suggesting political considerations took a higher priority than budgetary due diligence. Without the inquiry, much of this information would never have been uncovered. One can only imagine how many other projects not just in Ottawa, but at all levels of government, occur like this. 

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

Patios in Old Hull

Sometimes a change of scenery, even if it is just across the river, can make you feel as if you’ve escaped the routine of your day-to-day life. Here are a few very good patio addresses that are all within walking distance of each other in Old Hull.

Pressure grows on Ottawa police

Jagmeet Singh speaking

The calls for an investigation are growing into how the police handled a bomb hoax targeting a Sikh rally at Parliament.

What’s happening: Federal politicians are demanding answers. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Conservative MP Tim Uppal are calling for police to investigate the hoax that resulted in two Sikh men being arrested, according to CBC. 

  • Manveer Singh and Parminder Singh were both arrested, questioned, then released.

According to CBC, a memo by interim Ottawa police chief Steve Bell says the officers “acted in good faith”. The police plan to meet with leaders of the Sikh community. 

  • The Ottawa police say they cannot release info while the RCMP is investigating. But according to the Ottawa Citizen, the RCMP would not confirm an investigation was happening. 

Police have not yet reached out to the men who were arrested.

Stories you might've missed

Man confirmed dead: Brett O'Grady, a Shopify executive who’s been missing since October, was pronounced dead after his remains were discovered. No foul play is suspected. [CBC]

Rallies will continue: Veterans for Freedom plan to host events throughout the summer to pressure the government to end vaccine mandates for federal workers. They plan to host a three-day conference next week, from Wednesday to Friday. [Ottawa Citizen]

Festival funded: Ottawa Bluesfest will get $9.8 million from the federal government to expand facilities and bring in more guests. The plan is for the festival to return to the same level of shows that they had before Covid. 

More firefighters: Kanata is getting a new fire station at March Road, near St. Isidore School. Station 45 will include both professional and volunteer firefighters, with 10 more needing to be hired. [CTV]

Hexo axing jobs: Cannabis company Hexo is shutting down its Belleville facility by the end of July and laying off 450 people. The goal is to cut costs, which will save an estimated $30.6 million. The company lost $147 million in its third quarter. [OBJ]

Photo of the day

Reddit user Canadastani captured this stunning cloud formation in Kanata.

Community highlights

  • Apt613 has a review of Le Poisson Blue, serving up items like seafood charcuterie, smoked trout beignets and tuna tartare.
  • Congrats to climatologist Ian Black who’s retiring after 33 years with CBC Ottawa. [CBC]
  • The Taggart family donated $10 million toward the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus fundraising campaign. [CTV]
  • Here’s some ways to celebrate Indigenous culture in Ottawa this month. [Narcity]
  • Adaawewigamig, a social enterprise store supporting the Assembly of Seven Generations, is opening a storefront this Sunday in ByWard Market.
  • The popular Golden Palace Restaurant on Carling Avenue opened back up for indoor dining after two years of being closed. [CTV]
  • Brine & Gill has opened up in Orléans and if you like BBQ, you’ll want to check it out. [Apt613]

Your guide to the weekend

Italian Week Ottawa | June 9-19 | Do we really need a description here? If you love Italian food or Italy, you need to check it out.

Ottawa Ferrari Festival | Thursday-Sunday | Multiple locations around town | It’s a car show! 

The Best of Times | Sat-Sun | 11:30 to late at night | Bank Street | Travel back in time from 50s to the 90s with decorations, dancers and an ode to Elvis Presley.

Britannia Village Arts Crawl | Sunday | 1 pm to 4 pm | Check out arts hubs throughout the community, purchase items and listen to musicians.

Dogs, Donuts and Donations | Sunday | 11 am to 2 pm | It brings people and businesses together to raise money for Ottawa Dog Rescue.

William Street Summer Fest | Saturday | 11 am to 4:45 pm | William Street Pedestrian Plaza | Music and dancing from Latin bands and dancers.

Ottawa Fringe | June 16 to 26 | Artists and entertainment through this and next week

Arts Park by the Hintonburg Community Association | Saturday | 7 am to 7pm | Performances and activities, dancing, artisan crafts, food and drink.

Summer Lovin’ Craft Market | Sunday | 7:30 am to 12 pm | 40 local artisans, free workshop onsite and silent auction.

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Daily COVID stats

All infection and vaccination data via Ottawa Public Health. You can find the status of the wastewater tracking here. And you can find vaccination stats here.

  • Active Cases: 416 (+150)
  • Deaths: 816 (+0)
  • Ottawans In Hospital: 7
  • Ottawans In ICU: 1
  • Acute Beds Occupied: 96% 
  • ICU Beds Occupied: 73% 
  • ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 16% 

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