The Ontario authorities has introduced it can launch a public inquiry into Ottawa’s problem-plagued gentle rail community.
Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney issued a press release Wednesday night saying the problems plaguing Stage 1 of the LRT community have been “unacceptable and disappointing.”
“As a funding companion for the challenge, we want certainty that the Metropolis of Ottawa will be capable to efficiently ship the remaining phases of labor for this challenge. Ottawa transit riders deserve and anticipate this certainty as properly,” Mulroney’s assertion mentioned.
“To unravel these points dealing with the Ottawa LRT, our authorities shall be launching a public inquiry. Our aim is to get this up and working as quickly as attainable.”
The Confederation Line solely not too long ago returned to partial service after being shut down for practically two months as a result of a practice derailed Sept. 19 close to Tremblay station.
Ottawa metropolis council had beforehand voted 13-10 in opposition to a movement by Coun. Catherine McKenney for a judicial inquiry, settling as a substitute on an investigation by the town’s auditor common.
Mayor Jim Watson was amongst those that opposed McKenney’s movement.
Talking shortly after Wednesday’s announcement, McKenney mentioned the Progressive Conservative authorities’s choice speaks to the “lack of transparency” at metropolis corridor.
McKenney cited a CBC investigation revealed right now that discovered officers knew there have been reliability and upkeep points with the $2.1-billion community within the weeks earlier than taking possession.
“We have to perceive what went incorrect. So that features the procurement course of. That features the contract. That features the launch. That features all the pieces up till right now, actually,” McKenney mentioned.
Watson’s workplace initially mentioned he wouldn’t remark as he hadn’t “acquired any communication from the province” in regards to the inquiry.
However later Wednesday night, the mayor issued a press release saying he supported the federal government’s choice and that each he and Premier Doug Ford “share the aim of higher public transit for the residents of Ottawa.”
Watson mentioned his “primary aim” over the previous yr has been to have Rideau Transit Group (RTG), the consortium that constructed the $2.1-billion line, and practice producer Alstom get the road in working order.
“I assist the province’s choice to unravel why RTG and Alstom have did not ship on their obligations to our metropolis,” his assertion mentioned.
‘Get the LRT we deserve’
Whereas the current derailment brought on essentially the most vital shutdown of the LRT community since its September 2019 launch, there have been a myriad of different issues, from jammed practice doorways and defective energy traces to damaged axles and cracked practice wheels.
“I believe this exhibits folks in our metropolis that elevating your voice and making a sound case for a change makes a distinction,” mentioned Ottawa Centre NDP MPP Joel Harden, who has been elevating points about LRT with Mulroney at Queen’s Park.
“We nonetheless do not know the phrases about this inquiry. However it’s an inquiry. It isn’t going to be filtered by the mayor’s workplace. That is hopefully going to be one thing the place we will actually unravel this in order that we get the LRT we deserve.”
The scope of the provincial inquiry can be established within the coming weeks, Mulroney mentioned in her assertion.
It will culminate in a “report on what has transpired and suggestions to forestall this from occurring once more,” she mentioned.
Coun. Diane Deans, a staunch supporter of an inquiry who had her microphone lower off final month throughout a heated LRT debate, lauded the province for doing what metropolis council would not.
“Council had the chance to do the suitable factor, to unravel what went incorrect right here, to take the veil of secrecy off this challenge and to supply clear and unequivocal solutions to the challenge,” she mentioned.
“I do know [the mayor] didn’t wish to do a judicial inquiry. However the public wished that. And I am actually comfortable that the province has taken that call away from the mayor and his supporters.”
Coun. Allan Hubley, chair of the town’s transit fee, mentioned in a press release he was “grateful” the province had supplied to “evaluate the system and assist discover options so we will ship the protected dependable transit our ridership deserves.”
Like Watson, Hubley had voted in opposition to McKenney’s movement for a judicial inquiry.
The earlier Liberal authorities dedicated $600 million for Stage 1 of Ottawa’s LRT, whereas the Progressive Conservatives have earmarked simply over $1.2 billion for the under-construction Stage 2.
Following September’s derailment, officers mentioned they may withhold $60 million in funding if the town didn’t provide assurances that provincial cash was being spent on making the community protected and guaranteeing it met trade requirements.
Wednesday’s announcement was not a whole shock: simply hours after council voted down the inquiry final week, the province signalled it might be prepared to name one itself.