Comment 114493

By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 13:12:59

Ottawa's LRT Phase 2 Program eagerness comes from the fact that many past Ottawa rapid transit programs have been pulled out from underneath us in the past. In 1990, an under ground BRT tunnel through the core was killed by the province during the Environmental Assessment Stage right out of left field (sorry unintentional pun)because the then NDP government realized it had to kill everybody else's rapid transit program (Mississauga's first Busway proposal, Ottawa's BRT Tunnel & an aggressive GO transit expansion program) to afford Totonto's (TTC Network 2011 program) and have any GO expansion at all.

When Conservative Premier Harris was elected in 1995 and cut all provincial support for transit capital projects, the old arrangement being 25% local funding and 75% provincial funding, the result nearly killed forever, the entire Transitway Program here in Ottawa. In hindsight, that wiping out of funding did have a positive spin because it made the O-Train (now the Trillium Line) politically possible due to the fact that, any rail system had been killed by the pro BRT Transitway crowd at the then Regional Government. So any new rail proposal had to be really cheap and quick to develop and there was still no money yet, for expensive Transitways.

Then in 2006, the North-South LRT Proposal which, even from a transit consultant like me had its big issues, was killed in what seemed like an orchestrated, anti rail, local Conservative policy kill just after the local elections. The new Mayor at the time, Larry O'Brien (only the 2nd Mayor of the New unified City of Ottawa) not a proponent of the North-South LRT had written to then local Federal Cabinet representative, Conservative MP John Biard to hold the federal funding for the line until after the municipal election. This gave the new council enough time to then have another vote on the line. The Line was defeated and cancelled after the previous council has a signed contract with a consortium of companies including Siemens whom had already begun design and prep construction work for the line. The new Mayor Larry O'Brien, a tech company president whom had never set foot in city hall before and seemed to have little real knowledge of how municipal government actually worked in Ontario boasted that, we could break a signed contract with one of the largest companies on Earth and there would in the end, be no real effect. He was able to convince the council to vote down the line and essentially throw away a decade of planning and start over. He was wrong, the City of Ottawa did get sued by Siemens and we lost and were forced to pay $37 Million plus damages and costs to Siemens.

What was not well known was how much damage this did in the industry to the city's reputation. Costs for engineering and planning consulting for other projects went up because, if we good kill a signed contract for political reasons with one of the largest companies on Earth, what chance did smaller companies have. These internal padded costs are still with us today!

So you see, we in Ottawa, have a history of rapid transit projects just ending because...

That is the core of the "LRT eagerness" here in Ottawa. If we don't build it fast some senior level of government may pull the funding and or a political game may fail flat causing a huge project downgrade or the sky may start raining dogs and cats who knows! We have been burned too many times before.

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