City Council of 2018 to 2022

18L-450-01_Web.jpg

In recent columns, I have focused on some of our recent decisions at City Hall and, in some instances, the controversy behind them. In two weeks, I will delve into the LRT Stage 2 contract. In that case, all of the focus is on the extension of the existing O-Train line into Riverside South and not the overall LRT east-west project. As background before I do that, though, I think it is important to spend a bit of time discussing Council themselves. This is not the same Council from the previous eight years and it is not even a Council similar to that during the Larry O’Brien years. This one is different and it is influencing much of the discussion that has been occurring outside of City Hall and on some of our biggest files.

For those of you who may not remember, one of my key commitments when I ran for Council in 2010 was teamwork and cooperation at City Hall. To be clear, that does not just mean we should agree on everything and ignore debate. What it means to me is that we work together. This is not Provincial or Federal politics. There is no “Official Opposition”. We are all in power and we all have the ability to contribute, if we choose to do so. When I look at examples of cooperation and collaboration, I think of where we ended up on the Rideau-Carleton Raceway file. On Stonebridge, I work with Jan Harder. On the climate emergency, I worked with Shawn Menard. On plastics, I worked with Catherine McKenney. On rural internet access, I worked with Jeff Leiper. On an initiative in Blackburn Hamlet, I worked with Jody Mitic and now Laura Dudas. When I hold budget consultations, I do so with George Darouze. This is how we get things done. We do not draw lines and pick sides. We work together, regardless of the issue and whom you are working with because we all represent the same people: the citizens of Ottawa.

When we look at the last few months, and the issues I have been highlighting of late, that commitment to cooperation is clearly not shared by all. Not every member of Council arrives at City Hall with the same motivations. Not every member of Council maintains the same beliefs throughout their time on Council. Factions form and divisions rise. One thing I remember Tobi Nussbaum saying to me early in the 2014-18 term of Council is that he was impressed at how we can all disagree on an item but then just move on and work together on the next item. Again, this is not that Council. How did we get here?

During every election, there is an overarching sentiment. In 2010, it was the previous Council’s dysfunction. In 2018, it was the apparent lack of debate. As a reversal of why I was elected in 2010, some campaigned in 2018 on a notion of disruption. I would call this debate for the sake of debate. Instead of reports coming through Committee for proper consultation, debate and discussion, those items are coming directly to Council. There is no opportunity for community input through the Committee structure so it turns into a free for all at Council. Some members have decided there are two distinct sides and they stick to it. That reality adds toxicity to our debates. One new member of Council was recently quoted as saying they are happy they are not on the Mayor’s “side.” Consider that the Mayor received more votes in their ward than they did. How does that desire to be an opponent make you representative of your constituents? Are we elected to represent or are we elected to pick sides? You may have different answers but mine have always been the same. We are here to represent regardless of who else is elected.

The only real result of this entire situation is that every member of Council looks bad. There are times when what happens at Council is somewhat scripted. I will not pretend one side is worse than the other is. The current climate can only be fixed by a desire to move forward and work together. On issues like the Chateau Laurier and LRT Stage 2, some Councillors have knowingly stated misleading information. I will explain that in more detail when I get into the contract situation of Stage 2 LRT.

At the end of this term of Council, those of us elected in 2010 will have been here for twelve years. That includes the Mayor. What you are seeing at Council right now is more about 2022 than it is about anything. People are jockeying for position. They are looking to the Mayoralty in 2022. They are looking to win. Unfortunately, the result is that their constituents lose. We are not elected just to get re-elected. We are not elected to simply govern in four year increments. We are not elected to put ourselves above our jobs. We are elected to represent. We are elected to see beyond four year terms. We are elected to lead, not mislead. Thankfully, we still have time to make this term more effective. We just need to have enough members of Council, the Mayor included, willing to make the effort. I know I am.

1966 Roger Stevens Drive

Broccolini has submitted an official plan amendment and zoning by-law amendment for 1966 Roger Stevens Drive. The application can be reviewed on City’s Development Application Search Tool where you will find information about the application and all of the submitted plans, reports, surveys and accompanying documents you will need to review the application. You can find this at Ottawa.ca/devapps.

This is the property on the southwest corner of Highway 416 and Roger Stevens Drive. It was previously designated for industrial and commercial uses. This application is to alter the plan from multiple buildings totaling 1.4M square feet to instead build one building totaling 700,000 square feet. The proposal involves road modifications to Roger Stevens Drive including signalization and new turning lanes at the off and on ramps. The plan also includes the retention of the trees on the west side of the property forming a buffer between the building and the homes along Third Line Road that were created as part of this property’s original application approximately twenty years ago.

At this point, the tenant is not confirmed. Broccolini has built distribution centres previously for Amazon, Target, Canadian Tire, Sobey’s and IKEA, among others. As they get further in the process, they will likely be in a position to secure a tenant and disclose that. There will be a public meeting about this application and I will be sure to provide notification when it is scheduled.

Comments can be sent to Jeffrey Ostafichuk, Planner, at: Jeffrey.Ostafichuk@ottawa.ca or (613) 580-2424 X31329

*****

If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491. For information on Rideau-Goulbourn issues, please visit RideauGoulbourn.ca.

LRT Stage 2, Potholes, Drop in to Chat with Us and More

North Gower Library.png

At Ottawa City Hall on March 6th, City Council approved the next phase of the long term light rail plans, known as LRT Stage 2. In recent weeks, there has been much press on this project and not all of it has been accurate. Seeing as I supported moving forward with Stage 2, I just wanted to use this opportunity to speak to the project and address some recent misconceptions.

To begin, I think it is important to highlight the timeline for Stage 2. This is not something that has been rushed into. During my first six years on Council, we have approved various milestones leading toward extending the initial phase of LRT, which itself began during the 2006-2010 term of Council. In March 2017, Council approved the procurement process for awarding Stage 2 of LRT. At that time, we set the March 29th, 2019 date for signing the contract. Therefore, this current contract award process has been going on for the last two years. All bids had to meet certain criteria to get shortlisted and then the successful bidder was chosen from the short list. You have likely heard accusations of rushing the process. As you can see, that is not the case. Staff have just been following the Council approved schedule.

In terms of the timing of approving Stage 2 before Stage 1 is open and running. Based on the timeline above, it was never suggested by staff or committed to by Council that one was contingent on the other. The reality is that Stage 1 is close to the finish line and the Rideau Transit Group is under contract to deliver the project. Failure is not an option. Handing over an incomplete project is not an option. It is essential they get this right and we have made that clear to them. In fact, we haven’t even paid them since February 2018. They are only paid when they reach certain milestones. Rideau Transit Group also has the 30-year maintenance contract for LRT so this isn’t a group that is going to wrap it up and walk away. It is in their best interest to complete the contract as approved and ensure it operates how we expect it to.

Since Council agreed to a contract date of March 29, 2019, it is not just a simple task to delay a decision to wait for Stage 1 to be operational. We know the system will open. Stage 1 makes no sense without Stage 2. If we delayed beyond this month, we run the risk of contravening Council’s own procurement process. Even a six month delay would equate to an inflated construction cost of $100M. Starting over on the procurement process would result in a 1-2 year delay.

Finally, media reports have suggested that LRT does not work in the winter. This is simply not true. RTG has been running trains along the entire 12km track all winter. There were certain times where weather has impacted the testing but this has been during times that would not be replicated during normal operations. Normal operations on the track will help keep snow clear from the line. Additionally, RTG is sourcing snow melting equipment for the line that could be used overnight while the trains are not running. The one benefit of the delayed open date is that it has afforded RTG more time for winter testing during the worst winter in recent memory.

With the new contract, we also integrate lessons learned from the previous contract. One such change will be the Liquidated Damages aspect. In Stage 1, when RTG missed their in service deadline, they were had to pay $1M in liquidated damages. On a $2.1B project, I am not certain that $1M is a significant amount. As a result, the Stage 2 contract will feature a $10M cost assessed should the contractor not meet the handover date as set out in the contract.

In the end, I believe that moving forward with Stage 2 is the right thing to do. During the 2006 election, the sentiment was clear that the public wanted something different from the North-South O-Train proposal. Larry O’Brien was elected and the current plan was born. Over the last eight years, it has been our job to deliver and we have done that so far. The longer we defer the more money this project will cost. LRT Stage 2 will bring rail closer to Manotick in Riverside South and will drastically improve the commute for those on the 283 with a transfer at Bayshore. The main issues with the 283 in recent years have all taken place along the transitway in the urban core.

If anyone has any questions on this project, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

2019 Town Hall Series

Over the last two months, our Rideau-Goulbourn team has hosted a number of town hall meetings throughout the ward. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, this has not been an ideal winter. As a result, we had to cancel a few meetings. While we are still working on rescheduling all of those meetings, we have rescheduled our Richmond Town Hall, which was postponed due to the Richmond Village Association Annual General Meeting. Our town hall meeting in Richmond will be held on Tuesday, April 23rd at 7:00pm at St. Philip’s Parish Hall. Tentatively, we are looking at Monday, April 15th for our Kars Town Hall. Stay tuned for dates for our town halls in Goulbourn, Ashton and Munster.

 *****

If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491. For information on Rideau-Goulbourn issues, please visit RideauGoulbourn.ca.