New EV buses an electrifying success

The city’s electric buses are working well, nearly as well as the diesel fleet.

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Good morning!

Well, it’s nice to start of a newsletter with a bit of good transit news. The city’s pilot project with four electric buses running on normal service has been working out well. Plenty of details on that in this issue.

We’ve also got news from around the city and the region, an update on the police response to the horrible killings in Barrhaven, and plenty more.

Let’s get to it.

Editor’s note: Unfortunately we have to issue a correction. The names of several of the victims’ names of last week’s horrific killing were misspelled. The Lookout relied on information from the Ottawa Police Service that was incorrect (more on that below). We regret the error.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor.


Wednesday: +11 🌡️ -3 | 🌦

Thursday: +13 🌡️ +2 | ☀️

Friday: +7 🌡️ -1 | 🌧


Electric bus program performing well enough to replace more diesel buses

What happened: The four electric buses OC Transpo has been testing in their fleet have performed at levels about equal to their diesel counterparts, according to a city report

Reliability: One of the measurements OC Transpo uses to measure reliability is “mean distance between failure,” essentially how far the bus can travel before something pulls it off the road. That can include mechanical failures, or even needing to be deep cleaned. For the four electric buses, it averaged out to 6,100 km, while the conventional diesel fleet averaged 7,300 km.

  • Mileage wise, the electric buses are able to travel about the same distance as a double-length 60 foot bus. And for each bus, they’re saving 25,000 litres of fuel per year.

OC Transpo/Handout

The problems: Drivers are the most persistent problem with the buses. Many suffer from “range anxiety” when they believe the bus needs to be returned for charging where there’s still plenty of power left to operate the vehicle. OC Transpo said they expect this to continue as more buses are brought into the fleet, but time and training should take care of it.

  • There was also a problem with redundant brake-wear sensors that were removed because they were unreliable (the manufacturer has also stopped installing them), and a programming issue that would shut off the heater above 7 C, an issue that’s since been fixed.

More coming: The city has already signed contracts to get 22 more electric buses by the end of this year, and another 29 by the end of 2025. They’re looking at signing another contract to buy four more buses this year, and 47 by the end of next year. The hope is to start bringing in 60-foot buses in 2026, as well as another almost 200 regular-length buses.

OC Transpo/Handout

How United Way helped Jessica on her journey of healing from suicide loss

The sudden loss of her girlfriend left Jessica seeking help in managing her own grief, while also being the best parent she could be for her young daughter.

United Way East Ontario powers services that connected Jessica with low-cost mental health counselling virtually and in-person, to strengthen her wellbeing. Now, with the tools she learned in therapy and with ongoing community-based mental health resources, Jessica is exploring her life in new ways as a writer.

Learn more about Jessica’s story and how United Way works with frontline mental health organizations across Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark County, and Renfrew County to ensure people have access to affordable mental health care.


🔺 $11 billion: The size of the deficit in the Quebec provincial budget. The finance minister said it was the largest in the province’s history in real dollar terms. [CBC]


⚠️ It seems that syphilis is on the rise in Leeds, Greenville, and Lanark. The regional public health unit said infections have been trending upward and warned residents to get tested, as the infection may not present with symptoms right away but can be treated with antibiotics. [CTV]

🐝 In Barrhaven, the local councillor wanted to see if pollinator gardens could be added to bus stops. But city staff said new shelters being installed have slanted roofs and aren’t suited to gardens. Plus, there’s no money in the budget for such customization. [CBC]

🏧 A man in Kanata helped disrupt a banking scam at a local supermarket. He noticed an elderly woman being guided by phone to a Bitcoin ATM, and it turned out scammers were about to get her to send them several thousand dollars. He got the woman to hang up, and took her to a nearby bank branch to lock her accounts and get a fraud investigation started. [CTV]

🚨 A driver near Kemptville was charged with careless driving and released after purposefully driving the wrong way on Highway 416. The driver told police they were lost and didn’t know another way to get assistance than to go the wrong way on the divided highway and have someone call police. [CTV]


Police errors mar public statements after Barrhaven killings

What happened: In the hours after the deadly attack, Ottawa police fumbled several key pieces of information in their public statements, CBC reported. Chief Eric Stubbs gave the incorrect name of the suspect as “Frank D'Souza” (the suspect’s name is Febrio De-Zoysa), and called the killings a mass shooting (no guns were involved).

Worst of all, police published incorrect spellings of the names of the victims, and needed to send out five corrections to reporters until they finally got the spellings correct.

The correct spelling of the names of the victims:

  • Inuka Wickramasinghe, seven years old

  • Ashwini Wickramasinghe, four years old

  • Ranaya Wickramasinghe, three years old

  • Kelly Wickramasinghe, two months old

  • Banbaranayake Gama Walwwe Darshani Dilanthika Ekanayake, 35 years old

  • Gamini Amarakoon Amarakoon Mudiyanselage, 40

Response: Ottawa police told CBC that “multiple credible sources consulted in the collating of names, and some information we received was wrong.… We also made mistakes when we communicated key information about the tragic deaths. That is an inherent risk of the fast paced and timely communications we strive to deliver to Ottawa residents."

What’s next: De-Zoysa is due back in court Thursday. A funeral for all six victims is in the works, once autopsies are completed, CTV reported.

  • Money is being raised through GoFundMe by the Buddhist Congress of Canada. Funds will go to the survivors, and help cover the significant funeral costs. You can donate here.

The Lookout’s view: In the face of a horrifying crime, events were indeed moving quickly. But getting the details right is of critical importance. Affording the victims the dignity of spelling their names correctly is no small thing. Mistakes of this sort should not be brushed aside. Taking the time to get these details right should be paramount, particularly after so many errors had already been made earlier in the day.

  • The police owe the victims and their families justice in court, but they also owe their memory care. That starts with getting their names right in public.

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🎓 The Ottawa Carleton District School Board has proposed changing its end-of-year ceremonies to allow students who are not graduating to still participate. The board is also considering phasing out the presentation of academic awards at the ceremonies. [CTV]

🤕 Senators forward Josh Norris is done for the season. The 24-year-old underwent a third shoulder surgery after being injured last month in a game against Nashville. Norris is expected to return to the team next year for training camp. [CTV]

📉 Many people discovered the city had sent old tickets — some dating back decades — to a collection agency. The people said that instead of getting a notice from the city, they discovered the tickets because of sudden drops to their credit scores. [CTV]

🍽️ To adequately fund the services they provide, and to keep up with inflation, student nutrition programs across Ontario need their funding doubled by the provincial government. In the upcoming budget, they’re asking for funding to be increased to $64 million, from its current $32 million. [The Canadian Press]


Lunch, dinner and dessert all in one strip mall

As, on a bitterly cold day, I made my way into Di Noodle for a warming bowl of soup, it dawned on me that this strip mall at Bank and Hunt Club has some decent little eateries. Out of this realization a new idea was born: Destination Dining. 

The goal is to find the best of where to eat within a narrow geographical area. This year will reveal a few such terrific finds I hope and we begin today with places for lunch, dinner, and dessert.

To read this story and to immediately subscribe to our food newsletter Capital Eats, click this link.

  • Downtown may not quite be what it once was, but several local businesses are confident Bank Street is worth sticking with. [CBC]

  • Uncover insider travel secrets with Daily Drop. Their 5-min newsletter helps you maximize miles, find affordable fares, and stay ahead with top loyalty programs. Join 1M+ adventurers who get their daily insights - sign up for free! [Sponsored]

  • So there’s still some ice left on the Ottawa River, but it’s not much. [Reddit]

  • To honour his late wife Wendy Brandts, one man and a group of her friends worked to self-publish a novel she had worked on for many years. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • Sweet eight-year-old Daisy is looking for her forever home. [Reddit]

  • It’s not a sunset, it’s a crescent moon. [Reddit]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


End of an era (of sorts) for the LRT

What happened: City council voted to close a chapter in the long saga of the LRT, by formally accepting that the recommendations put forward by the LRT inquiry were substantially complete. 

The but: There is a but to all this. While most of the actions are done, they’re not all done-done in the sense that they’re fully complete. But, staff recommended that it’s no longer necessary to issue specific reports on progress through the nearly 100 recommendations of the inquiry because they’re essentially done.


Google Maps

This week’s quiz was a breeze for you readers, as 83 percent of you knew the local conservation authority is the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. Congrats!

Do you know where today’s Ottawa Guesser is? The first five people to respond get their names mentioned in the newsletter.

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