- Ottawa Lookout
- OC Transpo announces layoffs of admin staff
OC Transpo announces layoffs of admin staff
Unable to bring ridership up, OC Transpo is laying people off.
One of the things you always hear from new parents is how tired they are. Sure, you think, I’ve been tired, I know what tired is. Well, turns out I didn’t. Now I know what tired really is.
When I get to the end of my working day, and I apply myself to writing these fun little intros, I’m typically also at the peak of that tired feeling. Usually, I can push through and think of something to write about up here. But today…today I’m forced to get a bit meta, and just really lean into it.
In any case, we’ve got stories about layoffs at OC Transpo, some good news for community associations, and plenty more.
Let’s get to it.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
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Wednesday: -1 🌡️ -10 | 🌤
Thursday: +2 🌡️ -2 | ☁️
Friday: +4 🌡️ +2 | 🌧
OC Transpo to cut staff
What happened: OC Transpo will cut 35 positions on the administrative side, transit general manager Renée Amilcar said in a memo. Twenty-five unionized workers and 10 people from management were told Tuesday they were being laid off.
Budget woes continue: Since the pandemic, the transit agency has struggled to rebuild its ridership. In Tuesday’s memo, Amilcar said it could take a decade for OC Transpo to see ridership recover to pre-pandemic levels. The best they are hoping for is a return to 75 percent of 2019’s ridership. (An update on ridership figures is expected at Thursday’s transit commission meeting.)
The drop in ridership has meant that fare revenues have been well below what the service needs to keep operating. For this year’s budget, they turned to its financial reserves to cover an operating deficit.
“OC Transpo has taken a number of actions to reduce costs and find efficiencies, for example, by retiring older buses, freezing discretionary spending and deferring capital costs. These measures are not sufficient by themselves to address the current budget realities,” Amilcar wrote.
Cost cutting: As part of its cost savings, OC Transpo is cutting the amount its buses will run by 75,000 hours, 3.5 percent, overall. Some of this slack will be picked up by the (hopeful) opening of the new north-south rail line in the spring. It’s part of a broader route review the agency said will offer better service along well-used routes, while cutting emptier bus runs.
You can read more of our coverage on the OC Transpo route review here.
Drivers: For the moment, frontline staff are safe. The memo said they are still looking to fill positions for drivers, mechanics, and apprentices to fill positions left by people moving on or retiring.
Pilot project: This weekend a new pilot project will launch in Blackburn Hamlet offering on-demand buses. Sundays from 9 am to 6:30 pm, riders can get on-demand service from certain bus stops in the community to Blair Station, a memo earlier this week said. Eventually they hope to expand the project to Saturday as well.
The project will use off duty ParaTranspo buses to shuttle riders who request trips using their new On-Demand Transit App or by calling OC Transpo customer service at 613-560-5000. Riders can book trips the day before or the same day for service. Route 28 will still run Feb. 11, but will only run weekdays and Saturdays as the project progresses.
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OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
📈 1.8: The number of percentage points shelter costs — rent and mortgages — are expected to contribute to inflation over the year. It’s about four times above the average from the last five years. [Financial Post]
🚦 8,232: The number of tickets two red light cameras on King Edward, the city’s most prolific, issued last year. Overall, cameras in the city issued 56,475 tickets, worth about $18.4 million in fines. [CTV]
🧂 90%: The percentage of waterways in the city with toxic levels of salt contamination. Some streams and creeks have salt 200 times the acceptable level, putting freshwater wildlife at risk. [CTV]
🏥 The Winchester District Memorial Hospital said a recruitment drive appears to be working. They have only two full-time vacancies, and a number of temporary positions open. [Ottawa Citizen]
🍎 Operators of the Parkdale Food Centre said that while their community fridge has been closed because of excessive demand, they are not ending their other programs to assist those in need. [CTV]
🚧 For the next three months, the street in front of école élémentaire publique Trille des Bois in Vanier will close to traffic every Tuesday morning as part of a pilot program to protect students from speeding drivers and heavy traffic. [CBC]
🧀 All this month, restaurants in downtown Brockville are taking part in Mac N’ Cheese Fest, with each location putting its own spin on the dish. [CTV]
🪵 Highway 17 in Laurentian Valley was closed for three hours after the driver of a truck struck another vehicle and dumped its lumber load all over the highway. [CTV]
🏦 A CIBC branch in Trainyards wouldn’t return pension money of a recently widowed woman until contacted by CBC. The widow had given a void cheque for her pension that she believed to be current, but the bank had “recycled” the account number and given it to another customer. [CBC]
🚨 Three people are facing drugs and weapons charges after an OPP drug raid in Mississippi Mills. [CTV]
City proposes new insurance plan for community groups
What happened: Rather than give up entirely, as staff previously proposed, the finance committee voted to approve a new insurance program for community associations for next year, CBC reported.
The current system has two tiers, one for associations and organizations that existed before amalgamation, and an ad hoc system for those that have formed since. Previously staff had proposed shutting down the system entirely because of the separate tiers.
The old problem: The program provides insurance so community associations can host events. The current program gives that to some associations, while others are forced to negotiate insurance rates with providers directly.
Also at city hall
New housing: What once was a retirement home is now a transitional housing project with about 170 units, CTV reported. The facility will get families off the street and on their way to permanent homes.
In addition to housing, the facility, across from Andrew Haydon Park, offers services to connect residents with training, education, and helps them find homes.
HOUSE OF THE WEEK
Have you ever wanted a dock, but also wanted to live in the city? Well, here’s your chance. This house on Prince of Wales backs onto the Rideau River. It does come with some, uh, caveats. It’s being sold as-is and “needs updating/repair,” and there are no photos of the inside…but there’s a dock!
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.
🩺 An informal union of family doctors met to discuss alternate career paths. They say practicing family medicine is increasingly unsustainable, as the provincial healthcare system struggles to provide care for all its citizens. [CBC]
🏳️⚧️ A group of protesters gathered Monday in support of trans kids. They are protesting the arrival of Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, who recently proposed a law focused on curbing what treatment trans kids can receive, and requiring parental consent for name or pronoun changes. [CTV]
🌊 The Ice Dragon Boat Festival may not continue after the fourth edition in a row has been cancelled. In the last two years, warm weather has forced it to be called off, while in the previous two years, it was the pandemic keeping racers off the ice. [CBC]
🦷 It’s not clear whether seniors who drop their private dental plans will be eligible for the federal public plan, which launches later this year. [CBC]
🙅♂️ After strong public backlash, insurance giant Manulife backed off a plan to only fill prescriptions for specialty medicine as Loblaw-owned pharmacies. The company said it would fill prescriptions for cancer and other drugs at any pharmacy. [CBC]
Former Sens coach DJ Smith has a new job in the league, where he’ll start as an assistant coach for the LA Kings. [Ottawa Citizen]
The warm weather has some of the ice breaking up at Petrie Island already. [Reddit]
United, Air France, and Porter are all increasing the number of flights they run direct to Ottawa. [OBJ]
Commuting is no fun, but at least there’s a sunset to keep you company. [Reddit]
Ottawa’s own Talk has five Juno nominations, the second most behind only Montreal’s Charlotte Cardin. The awards ceremony will be held in March. [CBC]
The new library at LeBreton Flats seems to be coming along nicely. [Reddit]
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