LRT Commission of Inquiry hears more criticism of $2.2 billion system

“We wanted a well-functioning system, that’s all, and if it wasn’t ready, why was it deployed?”

Article content

The LRT Commission of Inquiry received another deafening hearing at the Shaw Center Thursday night as more citizens highlighted the frustrating issues that have haunted the $2.2 billion Confederation Line.

Advertisement 2

Article content

It was the second and final night of public meetings inviting presentations from the public ahead of the hearings beginning next month.

The provincial investigation is investigating the circumstances that led to the derailments and other disruptions of the Confederation Line. The study is focused on Phase 1 of the Ottawa LRT project.

The investigating commissioner is Judge William Hourigan, who encouraged citizens to tell the investigative team what to focus on during the investigation.

The investigating commissioner is Judge William Hourigan.
The investigating commissioner is Judge William Hourigan. Photo by Tony Caldwellpost media

The first was Victor Mitev, who told the committee of his “unpleasant LRT experience” on October 31, 2019, which forced him to wait 40 minutes in the rain for the bus at Hurdman Station after catching a train from Kent Station.

“At one point that was a regular occurrence, not just a one-off,” Mitev said, adding that he felt “cheated” from the new transit system.

Advertisement 3

Article content

Dominik Janelle, who is running for a city council seat in the October municipal elections, led the committee through all the troubles since its 2019 launch, expressing disappointment at the LRT system’s spectacular failure to create a “gleaming beacon of Ottawa.” ” to be.

“We wanted a well-functioning system, that’s all, and if it wasn’t ready, why was it deployed?” said Janelle.

George Lafreniere, who told the committee he used public transportation to get everywhere, expressed his dismay at the “toxic environment” in the city council during LRT debates, swept up by “hostility” and “disgust” between councilors.

Transport Action Canada’s David Jeanes, who has full status during the investigation meaning he can question witnesses, gave a preview of the issues he plans to raise during the hearings.

Advertisement 4

Article content

There are “serious issues with the city’s original specification,” Jeanes said.

Jeanes made a few suggestions for fixing the system: tackling tight corners; allow for more track crossovers; add more trains; and increase public scrutiny.

Other citizens question the design of the stations and the winter operations of the LRT system. Some people have been talking about procurement issues for the Phase 2 O-Train expansion, but the committee’s mandate is limited to Phase 1.

The committee heard a total of 16 citizen presentations on Thursday evening.

Co-lead committee adviser Kate McGrann — the other co-lead counsels are Christine Mainville and John Adair — opened Thursday’s meeting with a presentation on how the public inquiry would work and what observers could expect in the coming months.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Hearings begin June 13 at the University of Ottawa and run through July 8. A report with recommendations is due by August 31, but the provincial transport minister could extend the deadline to November 30.

During the hearing, 40-50 key witnesses will be called.

The commission has released a draft list of 40 witnesses expected to be called during the hearings, with several current and former City of Ottawa officials providing information under oath.

City Council witnesses include Mayor Jim Watson, County. Allan Hubley, Earl. Catherine McKenney and Coun. Shawn Menard. Citizen Transit Commissioner Sarah Gilbert Wright is also on the tentative list.

The city’s top employees on the list include city manager Steve Kanellakos, former general manager of transportation John Manconi, former treasurer Marian Simulik, former deputy city manager Nancy Schepers and former director of railroad implementation John Jensen. Current director of railway construction, Michael Morgan, and director of railway operations, Troy Charter, are also on the list.

Advertisement 6

Article content

Other witnesses expected include officials from the Rideau Transit Group, Alstom, Thales and several consultants who worked on the Ottawa LRT project, including those from STV, Parsons, Deloitte, Altus Group, SEMP and TUV Rheinland. Infrastructure Ontario officials, who provided procurement advice for Stage 1 LRT, are also on the list.

The commission will enable witnesses to testify in person or at a distance.

So far, the commission has interviewed more than 90 witnesses under oath and the transcribed interviews will be made public. The committee has also written several informative reports on parts of the LRT project that will be made public.

The hearings include expert panel discussions on public-private partnerships and best practices for major projects.

The website for the survey is ottawalrtpublicinquiry.ca.

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

Advertisement 1

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civilized discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their thoughts on our articles. It can take up to an hour for comments to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We’ve enabled email notifications – you’ll now receive an email when you get a reply to your comment, there’s an update to a comment thread you’re following, or a user follows comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Leave a Comment