Council Watch February Report

This article is part of the Council Watch series, a volunteer-driven program designed to inform Ottawa residents of environmentally significant decisions at City Hall. Council Watch consists in a systematic and strategic attendance of city council and committee meetings. Our goal is to keep you informed and, together, to hold municipal representatives accountable. The views expressed below belong to the author and are not necessarily those of Ecology Ottawa.

In February, we attended two meetings: the Planning Committee and City Council.  The highlights of these meetings were motions regarding a new subdivision, traffic control, and public transportation, as well as an inquiry by Councillor McKenney.

It was proposed in the Planning Committee that the area adjacent to Drummond Pit, in the north end of the city, be developed into a residential area. The Official Plan for this area proposes a new subdivision with a park and complete streets, which will provide safety, comfort and convenience to pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and drivers of all ages and abilities.

City Council carried a motion that the posted speed limit along Maple Grove Road be reduced from 50 km/h to 40 km/h from Huntmar Drive to Alon Street. Council also approved the installation of an all-way stop control at the intersection of Borland Drive/Vinette Crescent and Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard.

Regarding transit, motions were heard about the proposed appointment of a new Chair of the Transportation Committee and issues surrounding the LRT.

A motion to replace Councillor Tim Tierney with Councillor Jeff Leiper was lost, with 7 yeas and 15 nays.

The LRT has been a sore spot for many Ottawans, who feel they were let down by the project. On March 6th, 2019, City Council approved TRANSITNEXT to construct and maintain the second stage of the city’s light rail project. Since then, concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the procurement and decision-making process.

It was decided that the fare freeze would continue until service has further improved.

The City of Ottawa’s Auditor General reported in November, 2019 that the procurement process for Stage 2 was compliant with the relevant Request for Proposals, although improvements could be made. Given the concerns regarding the procurement process for Stage 2, and the continuing issues with the performance of the Stage 1 line, it was decided that Council will orderthe release of all documentation from the procurement process, including waiving the right to client-solicitor privilege in order to allow access to the legal opinion received regarding the bid. In addition, Council will engage an independent consultant to prepare a report about “Lessons Learned” regarding the Stage 2 procurement process.

A motion was made regarding whether to continue the freeze on OC Transpo fares. The fares were originally frozen because Stage 1 LRT was not functioning to the City’s satisfaction. It was determined that, despite improvements, LRT service does not yet meet the City’s satisfaction; commuters continue to experience delays and service disruptions, which affect their confidence in, and ability to rely on, public transit in Ottawa. Therefore, it was decided that the fare freeze would continue until service has further improved.

Councillor Catherine McKenney made an inquiry to the City Staff regarding how the City plans on maintaining public recreational, cultural, and community centres amidst the intensification in downtown Ottawa, which is in line with the directions of the Official Plan. It is the responsibility of the City Council staff to respond to this inquiry at a later date.

Written by: Veronica Kunkel

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