Short-term LRT fix could get more trains on track

The chair of the police board abruptly resigned for “personal reasons.” Plus and update on OC Transpo ridership.

Good morning!

Busy issue of the newsletter today. We’ve got the latest on where OC Transpo’s ridership and fare numbers are at, and a possible fix for the less-than-perfect light rail trains that could get more of them on track over the next year. Plus some news on the sudden resignation of the chair of the Police Services Board, Dr. Gail Beck.

And of course, event listings to keep you busy this weekend.

There’s lots to get to today, so let’s get right to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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Friday: +8 🌡️ +1 | 🌤

Saturday: 0 🌡️ -2 | ☁️

Sunday: +4 🌡️ +1 | ☁️

Monday: +2 🌡️ -12 | 🌧/❄️


Temporary LRT fix coming, revenues still below expectations

What happened: New parts will soon be tested on the LRT that could allow for more full-length trains to run in the coming year. OC Transpo, the private company that runs the trains, and the trains manufacturer, have a plan to extend the life of the fragile axle hubs by adding a pin to keep the wheel nuts in place, a presentation to council said.

The nut pins are an interim fix to get more reliability out of the troubled trains until a fully redesigned axle hub is designed, built, and tested in the coming years. 

  • The wheel nut pins, which it’s hoped will keep the nuts in place for longer, will be installed on a train in the coming weeks. If it works, it’s expected to extend the current 60,000-km life of the wheel nut hubs. OC Transpo has had to limit the number of trains on track because of supply chain issues to replace the hubs at the recommended distance to prevent new derailments.

Improvements: In a slideshow to a joint meeting of the transit and light rail committees meeting, the transit agency said other improvements could mean the trains can run at higher speeds. Lubrication to the rails and further restraining rail changes are planned, but need to be tested before any changes can be made.

  • Trains have been running slower since the summer shutdown, when it was discovered train wheel hubs were breaking down faster than once thought.

Transit performance: Overall, buses continue to struggle in the city. On-time performance was 73 percent in November, similar to the previous month. Every day an average of 204 trips are cancelled, according to OC Transpo figures, meaning service is delivered 97.4 percent of the time. The agency has a goal of 99.5 percent service delivery.

OC Transpo/Handout

Fares: Revenue is still well below budgeted levels, and only slightly above 2022 levels. In November the city expected fares to bring in $15.6 million, but the actual number was $13.7 million, slightly above last year’s $13.3 million. Ridership was also less than expected.

OC Transpo/Handout

OC Transpo/Handout

ParaTranspo: Meanwhile, ParaTranspo ridership is above levels forecast for the year. Ridership in the first 11 months of the year is 11.5 percent above expected levels.

OC Transpo/Handout

Can’t get enough transit talk? Be sure to check out our Insiders-only, two-part interview with transit commission chair Coun. Glen Gower. You can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.


📈 4.5%: The amount home prices are expected to rise next year according to Royal LePage’s forecast. The realtor expects average prices to rise to $771,942 in the fourth quarter next year from $738,700 this year. [CTV]

🍗 $104.85: The average price for a Christmas meal this year, with enough to feed four to six people. [CTV]

20: The number of hours wait times at the Montfort Hospital ER climbed to this week. [CTV]


Police board chair abruptly resigns

What happened: The chair of the Police Services Board abruptly resigned Thursday, citing “personal reasons,” after less than seven months on the job, the board said in a press release.

Arrests: Also Thursday, Ottawa police announced three arrests as part of an ongoing drug investigation. One of those arrested was Timon Beck, aged 37, who was charged with “participate in a criminal organization and conspiracy to traffic cocaine,” according to a police press release

  • The mother of a Dr. Gail Beck died in 2012. In that obituary, a Timon is listed as a grandchild.

Seeking comment: The Ottawa Lookout reached out to the police board and Beck for comment, but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

Who she is: Beck was appointed to head the board in April. Until November, she was also serving as interim chief of staff and psychiatrist-in-chief at The Royal Ottawa, until the appointment of a new permanent head last month.

The Police Board’s statement in full:

  • “Earlier today, the board received the resignation of Dr. Gail Beck from the Ottawa Police Services Board, effective immediately, citing personal reasons. Vice Chair Salim Fakirani has assumed the role of acting chair. The board wishes to convey its appreciation for the dedication and contributions of Dr. Beck over the last seven months in her role as chair. The board will not be providing any further comment on this matter.”


💐 Longtime CFRA and Oldies 1310 morning show host Ken “The General” Grant died this week at the age of 88. Grant was on the air for more than 30 years, and did hundreds of charity events a year. In lieu of flowers, he asked that donations be made to the Dementia Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County. [Ottawa Citizen]

⚖️ An Ottawa Police Service program to divert adults charged with minor crimes out of the judicial system and into community services was made permanent. Those who go through the program typically end up doing community service and apologizing to their victims. [CBC]

🏚️ Vacant Unit Tax declarations opened early for 2024. Residents can go to the city’s website to declare their homes are occupied. It will also be possible to make declarations in person. The deadline is March 21, 2024, after which a late fee of $250 will be applied. [CTV/City of Ottawa]

🍻 Convenience stores will officially be able to sell beer, wine, and pre-mixed drinks in January 2026, when the current agreement with the Beer Store runs out. Retailers will be able to sell sizes up to 30 packs in their stores, while the Beer Store will retain control of distribution and can/bottle returns until at least 2031. The LCBO will retain its monopoly on selling hard spirits. [CTV]

🚓 Ottawa police hope to open their Rideau Centre outpost next spring. The new operations base will serve as a hub for cops in the mall and the nearby ByWard Market. [CTV]

✈️ The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum acquired the RCAF’s last CC-115 de Havilland Buffalo search and rescue aircraft, which retired from service last year after more than 50 years in service. [CBC]

🏪 A new 24-hour convenience store has opened up on Rideau Street that operates entirely without employees. [CTV]


What to do this weekend


🎄 A Holiday Double Bill, Friday 7 pm: The youth troupe of SOPAC Ottawa present a double bill of A Charlie Brown Christmas and Candles! The Musical. At the Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1817 Richardson Side Rd. Tickets start at $12.


🐑 Musica Viva Singers concert 'Dreams of Sheep,' Friday: An evening of sheep-themed music from Handel to Kate Bush. At Orléans United Church, 1111 Orléans Blvd. Tickets $28.

🎶 Ottawa Carleton Male Choir concert, Friday 7:30 pm: Featuring Soprano Cara Gilbertson, the choir will be hosting a concert with a reception to follow. At St. Mary’s Church, 3480 Trim Rd. Tickets $20 at 613-841-6248 or at the door.  

🎷 The Free Associations Jazzin' Up Christmas, Saturday 7 pm: Part Christmas party, part album launch party, The Free Associations latest album “Finally” launches at this evening of jazzy Xmas tunes. At the Nepean Sailing Club, 3259 Carling Ave. Tickets $20.


🌌 Zero to Hero Stargazing Workshop, Sunday 2 pm: An introductory lesson for kids eight and up on what to look for in the night sky. At Soloway Jewish Community Centre, 21 Nadolny Sachs Pvt. Tickets start at $35.


🕯️ Custom Candle Making and Sip Party, Sunday 7 pm: Learn how to make your very own candles, with all the materials provided for you. At the Final Score Sports Bar, 384 Flora St. Carleton Place. Tickets $63.


This week in food

Bbq chicken. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

🇮🇹 Olives, oils, and fine vinegars are some of the giftable treats you’ll find at this Italian importer.

🇪🇸 Tinned fish, specialty chips, and delightful cheeses are all available at this Spanish storefront off Walkley Road. 

🇵🇭 (Insiders) A wonderful new Filipino restaurant has opened in the city, bringing traditional flavours and more than a few surprises to Westboro.

🍷 (Insiders) Great as a gift, or as a bottle to serve to your guests, this port is a great choice this holiday season. 

  • The Disney musical The Lion King will be hitting the capital next fall (final dates, TBD). [Ottawa Citizen]

  • The Sens’ slide continued as they dropped another game, losing 4-2 to St. Louis. The team remains at the bottom of the division with an 11-13-0 record. [Twitter]

  • Last minute preparations are well underway for the Jan. 1 launch of the Professional Women’s Hockey League. [CBC]

  • One of the city’s oldest Chinese restaurants, Won Ton House, is closing on Saturday. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • Winterlude will officially return next year from Feb. 2-19. [CTV]

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


Congrats to Bam, Michele, Peter, and James, who all knew this week’s Ottawa Guesser was of Alta Vista Drive at Billings Avenue!

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