City AG determining way forward after provincial requirement of LRT investigation

Most importantly for Ottawa City Council, Mulroney said it was “possible” that provincial funding for Stage 2 could be affected.

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The city’s auditor general is expected to hear about the scope of a provincial public inquiry into Ottawa’s LRT program before deciding how to proceed with his own inquiry.

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“With the recent news of the province’s decision to launch a Public Survey, my Office is reviewing the best way we can continue to add value by being prudent with taxpayers,” Nathalie Gougeon said in an email response Thursday.

“It is too early for my Office to make a decision on its next action until we have further information from the province on the possible scope of the work they will undertake.”

Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney told reporters in Toronto that the government is setting the terms of the investigation and is working to appoint a commissioner. Budget will not be determined until scope is determined, she said.

Mulroney said she cares about safety and makes sure the LRT system works as it should.

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“I also care about value for money and getting answers and accountability,” Mulroney said, adding that the government has heard about LRT issues from items in the nation’s capital since opening in September 2019.

“The people of Ottawa deserve a transit system that works.”

Mulroney said she hopes to have recommendations generated from the survey next year.

Most importantly for Ottawa City Council, Mulroney said it was “possible” that provincial funding for Stage 2 could be affected.

Council voted in favor of asking Gougeon to review the LRT program, rather than requesting a judicial inquiry under the Ontario Municipal Act.

Gougeon indicated to council that her office was planning an LRT review. Her audit work plan is scheduled to be approved by the review committee on December 3.

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On Wednesday, the Ontario Progressive Conservative government announced it was calling for a public inquiry into Ottawa’s stone LRT program, whose Stage 1 received $ 600 million from provincial taxpayers at part of the $ 2.1 billion construction contract.

Meanwhile, Mayor Jim Watson spoke with Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy and local cabinet ministers Lisa MacLeod and Merrilee Fullerton Thursday morning ahead of a breakfast meeting of the Ottawa Board of Trade. The mayor informed them that he was not happy to go blind when he heard about the provincial media investigation.

“I think they should do a better job of informing us when they do something that directly affects us, and the City of Ottawa and the people of Ottawa. I don’t think that’s an irrational request for such common courtesy,” Watson said. told reporters later.

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“We are constantly seeing news of what Queen’s Park will do to and for Ottawa in the media. And I, to this day, have never received any formal notification through the minister’s office of what the scope of the examination will be.”

The city’s own review of the LRT by the auditor general will continue, Watson said, but he also said the city will support the provincial survey – it has no choice – adding that it is better, cheaper, more efficient choice than a judicial inquiry as was driven by some councilors.

“I still think the auditor general was the best way, but the province said they want a public inquiry. They pay for it. They’ll set the time limits. They’ll act on the parameters and I’m fine with that,” Watson said.

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“I feel very confident that at the end of the day, what they will discover is a series of incompetent managers who have not properly supervised the maintenance of the facility. And we saw what happened when one guy didn’t screw in 12 bolts and it shut down the whole system for over 50 days.

The province has already said it will retain $ 60 million of its $ 600 million commitment to the Stage 1 construction of the LRT until it receives assurances and documentation from the city, but Watson said he is confident the city will easily reach the objectives of the province to release that. mono.

Is he worried that the review risks future provincial funding?

“Something can happen, but I’m very confident in the progress we’re making in Stage 2,” Watson said.

The $ 4.6 billion Stage 2 expansion, which extends the LRT line west and east and extends the Trillium Line south, is expected to receive up to $ 1.2 billion from the provincial government. The federal government contributes a similar amount.

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

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