COMMENT: A million dollars matters


It’s not just Councillor Nussbaum who’s puzzled. Light rail is Ottawa’s biggest-ever municipal infrastructure project. It’s not so much the 6-month delay that’s a problem (delays seem to be the norm with massive civic projects). It’s the confusion over the contract that is really troubling.

  • Did councillors fully understand the contract they approved between the City of Ottawa and Rideau Transit Group (RTG)?  Were they fully advised by city staff about penalties and deadlines?  This reminds me a lot of the Orgaworld debacle from a few years ago.
  • How long have staff and councillors  known about the six-month delay?  If staff knew about the delay back in the fall, how come this information wasn’t brought forward during budget deliberations?  (More about that here.)
  • Will RTG have to reimburse the city for costs incurred due to the delay, like extra bus service in the interim?  (Nobody seems to know.)

And why the collective “shrug” from many top officials at City Hall over dropping the million dollar penalty?  One million dollars may seem like small potatoes in the context of a $2.1-billion project, but a million bucks still goes a long way:

  • $1-million could hire a few new police officers to help tackle Ottawa’s gun problem.
  • $1-million could instantly double each ward’s yearly traffic calming budget (currently at $40,000 per ward).
  • $1-million could cover two thirds of the City’s recent purchase for Shea Woods.
  • $1-million could build a couple of new skateboard parks.
  • $1-million could fill a lot of potholes.


David Reevely at the Citizen nailed it yesterday:

“We’re getting six more months of bus-clogged streets, six more months of construction-related traffic jams, six more months of not having the thing we’re paying all this money for. The million dollars wouldn’t be much compensation for all that but it would have been nice.”

What do you think? Add your comments below or email



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