Coun­cil wants monthly LRT up­date

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - JON WILL­ING jwill­ing@post­media.com twit­ter.com/JonathanWilling

Coun­cil­lors could phone the bosses at city hall to re­ceive more in­for­ma­tion about the Con­fed­er­a­tion Line LRT rather than writ­ing opin­ion pieces in the news­pa­per com­plain­ing about be­ing in the dark, Mayor Jim Wat­son said Wed­nes­day.

Coun. Tobi Nuss­baum called for more trans­parency on the $2.1-bil­lion project in a Post­media ar­ti­cle af­ter coun­cil learned de­tails about the nearly six­month de­lay and po­ten­tial costs.

“I know coun­cil­lor Nuss­baum has never asked to meet me or my of­fice on this is­sue. I’ve con­firmed with (city man­ager Steve Kanel­lakos) he has never asked for a brief­ing,” Wat­son said af­ter a coun­cil meet­ing.

“Every mem­ber of coun­cil has every right to ask for more in­for­ma­tion and it’s re­ally up to them to go and pick up the phone and call me or call the city man­ager. I’m not sure an op-ed ac­tu­ally is the right ap­proach. You’re en­ti­tled to write what you want but if you’re se­ri­ous about want­ing more in­for­ma­tion, you should pick up the phone and ask for a brief­ing. That’s re­ally the re­spon­si­bil­ity of all mem­bers of coun­cil to do that.”

Nuss­baum, how­ever, joined Coun. Jeff Leiper in send­ing a let­ter to the city man­ager on Dec. 19 ask­ing for clar­i­fi­ca­tion on is­sues brought up in a Dec. 15 brief­ing on LRT con­struc­tion and the tran­sit bud­get. The coun­cil­lors asked 10 ques­tions in that let­ter and re­ceived a re­sponse from the city man­ager’s of­fice.

There were more ques­tions this month when coun­cil mem­bers learned the LRT han­dover date would be pushed from May 24 to Nov. 2 be­cause of the 2016 sink­hole on Rideau Street and that the Rideau Tran­sit Group won’t have to pay a $1-mil­lion penalty for miss­ing the con­tracted dead­line.

Per­haps the big­ger ques­tion is how much more the city will have to pay to keep buses run­ning on de­tours through the core and op­er­ate an LRT con­struc­tion of­fice.

Coun­cil mem­bers re­ceived memos Wed­nes­day morn­ing with a bit more in­for­ma­tion on the fi­nan­cial im­pact of the LRT de­lay, but it could take sev­eral months, pos­si­bly more than a year, un­til tax­pay­ers learn the full ex­tent of the ex­tra costs.

JON WILL­ING

An un­fin­ished tun­nel that is part of the new Con­fed­er­a­tion Line LRT. Sev­eral city coun­cil­lors have asked for greater trans­parency and monthly up­dates on the progress of Ot­tawa’s long-de­layed project.

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