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

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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.

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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.

Merry Christmas and Final News of 2018

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On December 3rd, I had the great privilege of being sworn in as the Councillor for Rideau-Goulbourn for the third time. In the weeks since, we have gotten to work on the business of setting out the governance for this term of Council. This week, we confirmed Committee memberships and appointed Chairs of the Committees. I am excited to be appointed to the Chair of the Environment Committee, to sit on the Planning Committee and Ottawa Community Housing Corporation and to continue my work on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Built Heritage Sub-Committee, Committee of Revision and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.

This week we also debated the matter of retail cannabis sales at a special Council meeting held on Thursday, December 13th. It was decided that Ottawa will permit retail cannabis stores beginning April 1, 2019. Permitting retail cannabis stores will help reduce the black market and provide consumers access to safer products in a highly regulated environment. The City will spend less resources shutting down illegal sellers, and receive additional funding from the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund to offset the costs related to the legalization of recreational cannabis. Cannabis retailers will also create economic and employment opportunities in the city, including spinoff benefits for other sectors.

The direction followed Council’s consideration of the Report on Ontario Cannabis Legislation, Cannabis Retail Stores and Response to Council Direction of August 29, 2018 and feedback from public delegations.

Council heard presentations from nine members of the public. This is in addition to 23,000 responses to an online survey conducted earlier this fall. The responses to the online survey and a random sample telephone survey generally supported permitted retail cannabis stores in Ottawa. Public input indicates that residents want stores with appropriate controls and protections to minimize the impacts on the community.

Staff will report on the impact of the legalization of recreational cannabis on City services in late 2019.

Furthermore, this report focused on cannabis retail stores, however, as new issues emerge, the City will consult with residents and provide additional reports and recommendations to Council as required.

Following the three Council meetings in early December, the Christmas break will be upon us. In the new year, the new Committees will begin their work with focus on developing the term of Council priorities and preparing the 2019 Budget.

2019 Town Hall Series

In my last e-newsletter, I announced that our office will be hosting a series of town hall meetings to help kick off the term of Council. We will host these meetings in Burritt’s Rapids, Pierce’s Corners, Kars, North Gower, Stittsville, Richmond, Munster, Ashton, Manotick, Country Club Village, Fallowfield Village and in the Quinn’s Pointe community in Barrhaven. These meetings will take place between January 9th and March 5th.

The intent of these meetings will be to look at what issues are present currently in our communities, what priorities we want to focus on and any other matters that residents feel requires our attention. It is also an opportunity to discuss how best we can improve communication. We have a number of new initiatives we are going to bring forward in order to better serve our residents. Included in that will be drop in meetings where residents can stop by and visit with our team. We will rotate these meetings around the ward every two weeks.

For the Town Hall meetings, we have the following meetings scheduled:

  •  January 9th: Canadian Golf & Country Club, 7:00pm

  • January 12th: St. Patrick’s Church, 10:00am

  • January 15th: Manotick Arena, 7:00pm

  • January 19th: Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall, 10:00am

  • January 23rd: Munster Community Centre, 7:00pm

  • January 28th: North Gower Client Service Centre, 7:00pm

  • February 4th: St. Benedict Elementary School, 7:00pm

  • February 6th: Ashton Christ Church, 7:00pm

  • February 13th: Kars Recreation Centre, 7:00pm

  • February 19th: St. Philip’s Parish Hall, 7:00pm

  • February 26th: Marlborough Community Hall, 7:00pm

  • March 5th: Goulbourn Town Hall, 7:00pm

I very much look forward to these meetings, as does our team. I hope you will be able to attend.

Mayor’s City Builder Award

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour that recognizes an individual, group or organization that have - through their outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action - demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. Past recipients have been honoured for their life-long service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building and other exemplary achievements.  This award is presented at the beginning of each Ottawa City Council meeting.

As a member of Council, I would like to invite you to nominate individuals, groups or organizations that have had a positive impact in our ward and in our community.  Our aim is to ensure a diverse representation of outstanding residents from all corners of our city.

Please contact my office for nomination forms.

North Gower Client Service Centre Holiday Hours

Recognizing the lower volumes of transactions that typically occur, the City of Ottawa is reducing hours or closing the North Gower Client Service Centre (CSC) on the following dates:

  • Thursday, December 20th: 8:30am to 12:00pm

  • Thursday, December 27th: Closed

  • Thursday, January 3rd: Closed

Regular business hours will resume on Thursday, January 10th. The North Gower CSC is located at 2155 Roger Stevens Drive and is open on Thursdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm. 

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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.