Twitter changes course on transit accounts, OC Transpo stays the course
Twitter is no longer charging tons of money for transit alerts, but OC Transpo will abandon it anyway. Plus more giant layoffs at Shopify.
We’ve got a packed issue today, so I won’t dawdle too much up here. Just wanted to say thanks for the kind wishes for Lady Bird, she’s started her chemo treatments and is doing really well.
But we’ve got a lot to get to, so let’s get to the newsletter.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
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Friday: 16 🌡️ 2 | 🌤
Saturday: 19 🌡️ 8 | ☀️
Sunday: 17 🌡️ 7 | 🌤
Monday: 17 🌡️ 7 | ☀️
Twitter reverses cash grab, OC Transpo stays the course
What happened: Earlier this week, OC Transpo decided it would kill its OCTranspoLive account that looked at what bus trips were cancelled across the city in real time. The city cited a new Twitter policy that would cost $675,600 per year to keep the automated account running.
The company announced the charges would not apply to certain public agencies, including transit agencies:
One of the most important use cases for the Twitter API has always been public utility. Verified gov or publicly owned services who tweet weather alerts, transport updates and emergency notifications may use the API, for these critical purposes, for free.
— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev)
May 2, 2023
Still dead: Despite the reversal by Twitter, the city is going to stay the course. In an emailed statement to the Lookout, an OC Transpo spokesperson Lisa Bishop-Spencer said, “Trip information previously shared on Twitter continues to be available for customers.… Given this most recent announcement by Twitter, we will assess if further adjustments are necessary to the options for providing trip information to customers.”
Other options: Bishop-Spencer pointed to four alternatives for transit users to get live information from OC Transpo:
The problem: None of these options provide an overview of the system itself. They only give a snapshot of a particular stop or line, and don’t give the public any overall sense of how the system is performing — or in many cases, not performing.
The replacement: In place of the real-time information, the agency launched @OC_TranspoHelps, an account to answer users’ questions, and provide board updates.
Next steps: Next Thursday, the transit agency will detail the upgrades to the live GPS tracking system installed on city buses, which should make its predictions system more accurate.
A report to the transit commission said in the next two years, it will be updating its alert system to make it easier for users to get the information they need and with higher accuracy. They’ll also be adding information screens at “high-volume stops” which will have real-time info on when buses will arrive.
In this week’s Insider, here’s what I wrote wondering if Twitter's attempted cash grab was just a way to avoid public scrutiny. It seems we may now have an answer:
What it means: It would be more than a bit cynical to say Twitter’s cash grab is a convenient way to get rid of a daily reminder of the shambles of the city’s bus system. Transit users will no longer be able to see in real time the dozens of bus trips cancelled every day. We can only hope the next steps by OC Transpo will keep that same level of transparency.
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OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
🏥 60%: The percentage of registered practical nurses who are considering leaving their jobs, according to a survey. That would be about 1,200 of the nurses leaving the system. [Ottawa Citizen]
⛽️ 147.9: The price, in cents per litre, gas is expected to drop to today. That’s down about nine cents from Wednesday. [CTV]
Tech giant Shopify will lay off another 20 percent of its workforce
What happened: The city’s tech darling Shopify is going through another round of massive layoffs, cutting 20 percent of its workforce, CBC reported. It’s the second major cut to its workforce in less than a year.
The company is focusing on cutting management positions. It also unloaded its entire logistics division — much of which it acquired for $2 billion last year — to a Silicon Valley company, Flexport.
The workers: The layoffs amount to about 2,320 people, out of the company’s total of 11,600 employees, CBC reported. Workers will receive at least 16 weeks of severance pay. They were notified by email on Thursday if they still had a job.
Wait, what: While it announced another round of major layoffs, the company beat its quarterly revenue expectations by 25 percent, pulling in $1.51 billion, CNBC reported. The company’s shares were up about 26 percent in early trading on the announcement of the layoffs and revenues.
🗑️ In an attempt to extend the life of the Trail Road dump, council will vote on introducing garbage bag tags. Each household will get 55 tags per year, additional tags will cost $3 each. Recycling and green bins will have no limit. [CTV]
🌊 Flooding along the Ottawa River is expected to peak today, with the water likely receding next week. In the Ottawa Valley, levels have reached higher than 2017’s flooding. [CTV]
🥅 How serious is Snoop Dogg about buying the Senators? He explains in this interview his love for the city. [The Athletic]
🕺 A council committee approved a plan to eventually see a night commissioner/mayor appointed to oversee Ottawa’s overnight economy. The ambassador of the night will be hired at a later date. [CBC]
💨 A report on the city’s response to last year’s derecho wind storm said overall the city responded well, but needs to improve its coordination with community groups and social services. The city also relied on too few staff with emergency training, and because of the long duration, many were overworked. You can read the full report here. [CTV]
🐕 Diesel, a dog who disappeared after a man’s truck was stolen with the dog inside, has been reunited with his owner. Other than an allergic reaction, the dog was in good health. Diesel was dropped off at an SPCA more than 100 km from where the truck was stolen. [CTV]
🚑 The county of Leeds and Grenville want Ottawa to reimburse about $1 million in expenses for providing ambulance service to the city when Ottawa was out of available paramedics. [CBC]
🏗️ The city should use public lands to build public and non-profit housing, a report to council recommends. The report is non-binding, but hopes to spur the discussion further to solve the housing crisis. [CBC]
💥 The 16-year-old driver of a stolen car drove into a Stittsville home at high speed Wednesday night. The girl was arrested and taken to hospital in stable condition. The residents of the home were unharmed. [CTV]
⚖️ Ottawa police Const. Goran Beric’s trial for assault with a weapon started this week with a video of the officer stepping on a man’s head for two minutes before the man passed out, surrounded by his own blood. [Ottawa Citizen]
🎤 The Ottawa Carleton District School Board has new rules for speakers at its public meetings. To make a presentation you must be a student at the board, a parent or guardian of a student, or an Ottawa resident. [Ottawa Citizen]
🚨 Lisgar Collegiate Institute and City Hall were briefly locked down Wednesday after a report that someone at the school may have a weapon. Police arrested one person. [CTV]
💐 A man died of a heart attack Thursday morning on a downtown street. First responders attempted to revive him without success. [CTV]
🪧 The union representing Canada Revenue Agency workers has reached a tentative deal similar to one reached by PSAC workers with the federal government earlier this week. The 35,000 workers still on strike went back to work Thursday. [CBC]
🗳️ A component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada wants workers to reject the tentative deal with the government reached this week because the length of the deal was longer than promised and provides lower wage increases. [CBC]
What to do this weekend
🎨 The Warehouse Art Party, Friday 6 pm: A social event to raise money to build studios for local artists. Including live drawings, pottery wheel throwing, printmaking, a silent auction and art sale, and so much more. Tickets $25.
🎼 Spring Serenade, Saturday 8 pm: The final concert of the season for the Ottawa Bach Choir, with a performance of plenty of seasonal music, including Haydn’s Mehrstimmige Gesänge (13 Partsongs). At Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Lisgar St. Tickets start at $20.
🎻 Young String Performers in Concert, Sunday 7:30 pm: A classical concert by musicians under 18, playing Bach, Bruch, Sarasate, Schubert, Vieuxtemp and more. At the First Unitarian Church of Ottawa, 30 Cleary Ave. Tickets $17.
🍟 Orleans PoutineFest and Street Food Frenzy, Friday to Sunday: An expanded poutine fest with even more potato (no, really). A three-day event, at 255 Centrum Blvd. Attendance is free.
💥 Capital Comic Book Convention, Sunday 11 am: Five thousand square feet of comics, at a show aimed at collectors and readers. A twice-a-year event with comics from the Golden Age to the Modern Age. At the Rideau Curling Club, 715 Cooper St. Tickets start at $2 for kids.
🚶♀️ Jane’s Walk Launch Event, Friday 6 pm: A kick off of all the Jane’s Walks for the season, with information on the festival's theme “Building bridges,” with walks focusing on how communities and neighbourhoods are connected. With music, games, discussion, and activities for all ages. At the Booth Street underpass at Lebreton Flats. Free.
🚴♂️ CN Cycle for CHEO, Sunday 8 am: The annual road bike and walking event for all skill levels is this weekend. The event raises money for CHEO’s oncology patients. Various locations. More info here.
📚 Kanata United Church Annual Book Fair, until Saturday: All sorts of books available for you to add to your collection. At Kanata United Church, 33 Leacock Dr. Attendance is free.
🛠️ Ottawa Tool Library Garage Sale, Saturday 10 am: The Tool Library is selling off some of its inventory. All of them have been tested and are functional. Free admittance.
♠️ Euchre Tournament of Champions, Sunday 1 pm: A tournament for all skill levels, with cumulative scores over 10 games to crown the champion. At Kichesippi Beer Co., 2265 Robertson Rd. Free entry.
This week in food
Pasta making with Cristian Lepore. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout
Every week our team at Capital Eats scours Ottawa for the best places to eat, drinks to try and events to attend. Here’s a breakdown of all the biggest stories.
🦀 (Insiders) The food, the service, the community: it’s all great at this local seafood restaurant.
🍝 The only thing better than eating pasta, is learning how to make it yourself.
🇮🇹 This Italian restaurant has great pizza, but you won’t want to miss the four-cheese gnocchi.
🍷 Having South Asian food this weekend? Try this German wine for a great pairing.
The NCC is deciding whether to expand the closure to vehicles of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway next year. [CBC]
It looks like a new mural is going up on the side of the Château Lafayette. [Reddit]
The CN ride for CHEO will mean road closures and lane reductions along the route that stretches through much of the city. [City of Ottawa]
A few good samaritans chased down a runaway beagle puppy named Toby, who has since been reunited with his owners. [Reddit]
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Joanne Reyes/Ottawa Lookout Reader
Today’s photo comes courtesy of Joanne Reyes, who sent in this great photo (particularly after such a grey week). “Nice to sit outside on a sunny spring day watching the bee keeping busy,” she said.
Do you have a photo you’d like to share with the Lookout community? Send it in!
Congrats to Gord, Adam, Amy, Murray, and Jean who all knew this week’s Ottawa Guesser was of the Aviation Parkway heading to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.
Do you think you can get this week’s Ottawa Wordle? Play now.
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