New administration is coming to OSTA — at least temporarily
New leadership is coming to OSTA at it looks to hire 71 bus driver positions that are still left to be filled.
Before I begin this newsletter, many readers wrote in to inquire more about the drop in enrolment the Ottawa Carleton District School Board has been seeing. The OCDSB was forecasted to see a 1,600 increase, but that didn’t happen. Their budgets are based on the growth they are forecasting. So, an increase from 50,507 to 50,510 is a significant drop.
I’ve asked board insiders what the cause of decreased enrollment is, and I’ve been told they aren’t entirely sure. An emergency meeting was held last week to discuss the issue.
In this today’s newsletter, we are writing about the continued drama the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority is facing over their school bus driver shortage. We are also looking at the Lansdowne 2.0 plans which are starting to draw attention again.
A quick note that there will be no newsletter Monday because of the Thanksgiving long weekend.
Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Eat lots of turkey! 🦃
— Charlie Senack, [email protected]
Friday: 20 🌡️ 14 | 🌧️
Saturday: 15 🌡️ 8 | 🌧️
Sunday: 10 🌡️ 6 | 🌧️
Monday: 10 🌡️ 7 | 🌧️
OSTA still short 71 bus drivers
The issue: The Ottawa Student Transportation Authority [OSTA] is pleading with schools to find “creative solutions” to deal with the school bus driver shortage. CTV News has reported 71 driver positions are left to be filled.
The potential solution: OSTA has asked school principals to see if more students can get on existing routes. Staggered bell times are a proposed solution, but it isn’t an easy task. Savings from cancelled trips are also being looked at to fund other transportation methods to get students to and from school.
“We're down to the last five per cent," Tom D'Amico, Ottawa Catholic School Board Director of Education, told CTV News Ottawa, noting 258 runs do not have a driver. "Ninety-five per cent of those runs are now covered and we're chipping away at the last five per cent."
By the numbers: When the school year started in September, OSTA reported they were down 130 drivers after signing contracts with nine out of 10 bus operators.
OSTA later launched a campaign to hire more drivers, and to date 332 applications have been received. So far, 12 new drivers have been hired and another 20 are currently in training. That process can take four to six weeks.
To help fill the gap, OSTA is collaborating with the Ministry of Transportation to "expedite the applications" of school bus drivers and get drivers on the road "as soon as possible."
Calls to fire leadership: Many parents and local politicians have been calling on the provincial government to fire the current OSTA leadership. According to CBC News, a petition has been started to fire the executive leadership.
“We, the undersigned, petition … That the Minister of Education mandate the immediate resignation of the general manager of the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority as well as all OSTA executives, and the Ministry of Education oversee the hiring of new, competent leadership,” part of the petition read.
Jennifer Bugden, a parent and president of the Munster Community Association, was one of the petition's main organizers. She said rural areas of Ottawa have seen the most negative impacts from the school bus driver shortage.
Political response: Carleton Progressive Conservative MPP Goldie Ghamari, who has been vocal in her discontent with OSTA’s leadership in recent weeks, presented the petition to Queen’s Park.
“We're talking parents who might not have that flexibility or leniency in their job to spend up to three hours a day dropping off and picking up their students," she said. "It's really heartbreaking."
Resignation: On Monday, it was announced that general manager and chief administrative officer Vicky Kyriaco was taking a leave of absence from OSTA. The news was sudden and given without reason.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, on Wednesday, it was announced that Cindy Owens, a former Catholic board principal and superintendent, would take over the role in the interim.
“Ms. Owens has significant education and leadership experience, previously serving her community as a superintendent of human resources and principal with the Ottawa Catholic School Board,” the OSTA board said in a statement.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
🏡 10,000: The number of homes Minto has built. [Ottawa Business Journal]
💵 $5M: The amount of money an Ottawa resident won in Lotto 6/49. [CTV]
🏠 $432,600: The average price of a condominium in Ottawa this year, down from $457,965 last year. [CTV]
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Lansdowne 2.0 is back to the drawing board
Charlie Senack/Ottawa Lookout
The issue: A media briefing on Lansdowne 2.0 will be held today, but for some reason, the City of Ottawa media relations team is staying tight-lipped on its location and purpose.
When Lansdowne Park was redeveloped about a decade ago, there were high hopes for its success. That hasn’t played out as entirely as planned and extensive repairs are needed to older parts of the site. The community remains divided over what should be built there and what its purpose should be.
The plan: The City of Ottawa is proposing a $332-million plan to add a new arena and towers to the site. The new arena would be able to host bigger concerts and events and would be a new location for the Ottawa 67’s OHL hockey team.
In an interview with CBC, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said he strongly supported the plans.
"I think it's been an enormous success," he said. "Millions and millions of people from all over the city are using Lansdowne Park. Tourists are coming to Lansdowne Park. It's a great gathering point for our community."
Profits: It was revealed in April that the current version of the Lansdowne redevelopment is expected to generate $326 million over the 40-year agreement, a nearly $220 million drop from previous projections. In order to be sustained, at least $500 million is needed, the CBC previously reported.
Public input: Several Ottawa community groups are asking the city for more thorough consultations on its public-private proposal for the stage-two revitalization of Lansdowne Park, according to Capital Current.
Carolyn Mackenzie, who chairs the Glebe Community Association’s planning and development committee, has concerns over the lack of information and where funding for the project will come from.
“I think that’s highly problematic because, to date, I don’t believe retail has been successful,” Mackenzie said to Capital Current. She added that she can’t be sure of retail’s success, because the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group isn’t obligated to share its financial information. “Without sharing that information, OSEG is basically saying ‘trust us.”
🐶 The Ottawa Humane Society is appealing for donations to cover the cost of replacing a sensor used to X-ray an animal's mouth, after the equipment was damaged by a dog during a routine dental procedure. [CTV]
🛻 Ottawa police arrested three people for obstruction and Bylaw Services officers issued four tickets during a protest outside of Parliament Hill on Wednesday. Dozens of people gathered on Wellington Street to demonstrate their grievances against the federal government. [CTV]
🏨 A hotel project at the Ottawa International Airport that became embroiled in controversy earlier this year when the developer’s bid for a municipal tax break was rejected is going ahead. Group Germain plans to start laying the groundwork next week for the construction of a 178-room Alt Hotel attached to the airport terminal. [Ottawa Business Journal]
👨⚕️ The Ontario government is now investigating a walk-in clinic in Ottawa that is charging patients $400 a year for access. While the clinic says the fee is legal, the government believes otherwise. Their opening date was scheduled for this week, but has now been pushed back a few weeks. [Ottawa Citizen]
🗑️ On Thursday afternoon, emergency crews responded to the reported collision in the area of Anna Avenue and Crown Crescent near Carling Avenue. A garbage truck crashed into the side of a home in Ottawa's Carlington neighbourhood, damaging windows and the siding of the two-storey home. [CTV]
🚗 A 39-year-old man has died from his injuries after being struck by the driver of a vehicle in Little Italy on Monday. Ottawa police officers responded to a call in the area of Preston Street at St. Anthony Street at approximately 10:30 a.m. [CTV]
🛻 Convoy protest organizer Pat King's unlikely bid to move his criminal trial out of Ottawa because of his notoriety failed on Thursday, and he will face a jury in the city he encouraged protesters to come to. [CBC]
🎭 The best of Broadway, Friday: Jack Everly and the NAC Orchestra bring up the lights on Broadway’s best music — all the “hot-cha” and jazz-hands hits you love from the greatest Broadway musicals ever to spring from the stage. Don’t miss this chance to give your regards to Broadway! At National Arts Centre, 1 Elgin St. Tickets $15-$110.
📚 The Book of Will, Friday and Saturday: Presented by the Ottawa Little Theatre. Without Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have Hamlet. But without Condell and Heminges, half the Bard’s plays would be lost forever! After the death of their friend, the two actors are determined – whatever it takes – to compile the First Folio. Set in the rollicking tap houses, stages and living quarters of Elizabethan London, this witty and true story shines a sparkling light on history. At Ottawa Little Theatre, 400 King Edward Dr. Tickets are $30.
🖼️ Joke-a-Oke, until Oct. 9: Join the FREE Fun at Joke-a-oke! Prepare for an unforgettable evening filled with laughter, good vibes, and a dash of silliness! ? Introducing Joke-a-oke, the ultimate twist on Karaoke. At Art House, 555 Somerset Street W. Free.
🥕 Carrot Fest, Saturday: There is no better place to be on October 7th! There will be carrot picking, live music, food, a mobile book store, and u-pick pumpkins. At Ottawa Farm Fresh Inc, 2811 Ramsayville Rd. Free.
🐶 Dogs do Magic, Friday: Bark by popular demand, it’s “Dogs do Magic”, an unforgettable evening of magic, comedy, & canine hijinks featuring some of Canada’s top variety entertainers! At Shenkman Art Centre, 245 Centrum Blvd. Tickets are $30 to $50.
🍺 Ottawa on Tap Beer Fest, Saturday: Get ready for a hoppy extravaganza at Ottawa On Tap Beerfest on October 7, 2023, where we'll be serving up the best brews in town! At Hintonburg Park, 49 Fairmont Ave. Tickets are $12 to $20.
🎭 Legendary Comedy Show, Saturday: At St. Anthony’s Banquet Hall, 523, Saint Anthony Street. Tickets start at $100.
🏈 Let’s Talk Lansdowne, Wednesday: This is a community-led forum to share info and seek public input on the proposed massive and costly Lansdowne 2.0 redevelopment. The event is organised by a city-wide coalition of community partners — Federation of Citizens Association, Synapcity Reimagine Ottawa, Ecology Ottawa, Heritage Ottawa and 613Flea. At Lansdowne Park Horticulture Building from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
🎞️ The challenge: Planning without tomorrow documentary, Thursday: A free community screening of the short documentary The Challenge: Planning Without Tomorrow with panel discussion, 7.00 p.m. Doors open 6:15 p.m. In the film peer support workers, health care providers and their clients explore what advance care planning means for people who face poverty, substance use, and mental health issues. at the Ottawa Marriott Hotel, 100 Kent Street.
🎥 horror independent film showcase, next Friday: Three Fires International Film Festival presents Friday October 13th at 7:00 p.m. At Snider Plaza, 140 Bank St. Tickets are $5-$10.
What happened this week in food
Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
🍁 As one season unwinds and folds into another, there is always something exciting and comforting about fall. Until the end of October, you have the chance to visit the excellent Carp Farmers Market. There are good eateries to explore and one of those is close by, including Ridge Rock Brewing Co.
👩🍳 Want a sweet butter tart? Check out those made by Kathy Cassanto at the Carp Farmers Market.
🥃 Need a good drink to wash those baked goods down? Here is a German herbal liqueur found at a resonance price.
The Ottawa Jail Hostel is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a birthday party. [CityNews]
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It's Thanksgiving long weekend and many businesses are either closed or operating on reduced hours. [CityNews]
✅ Want news without the BS? Check out 1440's daily email curated by PhDs and experts. They scour 100+ sources, so you don't have to. [Sponsored]
It’s a busy time for The Ottawa Mission, serving thousands of Thanksgiving meals throughout this week, and getting ready for the holiday dinner on Monday. [CTV]
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Patterson Creek near the Rideau Canal. Photo by Karen Vallevand.
Thanks to Karen Vallevand for sharing this photo of Patterson Creek near Rideau Canal.
Think you can guess this week’s Ottawa Wordle? Play now.
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