The city argues that the contractors should take the blame for the LRT problems in its closing statement of the public investigation.


The city of Ottawa rejected claims that the conduct of its staff or Mayor Jim Watson played any role in the problems with the LRT system in a lengthy closing statement delivered to the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Public Inquiry.

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“(Rideau Transit Group) let the city down and it is RTG that needs to be held accountable for issues affecting system reliability so transit riders in the city can trust this new system they bought and paid for. Taxpayers should not bear the burden of private sector failures,” the city’s legal counsel wrote in the document.

The ongoing problems, from delays to derailments, wheel cracks and other issues, have frustrated members of the public, as well as transit advocates and city council members.

The city attorney for the investigation argued that the private contractors involved in the project should be held liable.”for historical and continuing failures in the design, construction, and maintenance of the LRT.”

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In a press release about the 105-page closing statement on Monday, the city said its “strong desire (is) to ensure that RTG and its subcontractors are held accountable.”

“Ottawa residents are rightfully frustrated that the LRT has not always lived up to expectations,” the city statement said.

“Although the project was completed within budget, unlike most similar projects, taxpayers have continued to bear the burden of private sector failures in Confederation Line operations.”

The city and RTG have been battling each other on several fronts, including a city default notice related to the two train derailments in 2021 and the delayed opening of the 12.5-kilometer LRT line.

Earlier this year, RTG claimed $189.7 million in damages allegedly caused by the city of Ottawa in a countersuit related to the delayed construction of the Confederation Line.

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The counterclaim and defense statement were filed in April as part of a case brought by the city over the delay in opening the LRT system, which received customers on September 14, 2019.

The city’s closing statement to the public inquiry rejects suggestions made during the investigation that decisions by its staff, political pressure from Mayor Watson to ensure the project was completed on time and on budget, and communications Limited communications with advice on preparing the system for launch were among the factors that influenced the problems with the LRT.

It echoes the city’s initial concerns that the investigation had been called by the provincial government “both for political reasons and to help the public understand the problems in the system.”

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The city argues that those concerns were heightened by the approach taken by the commission’s attorney in his investigation and cross-examination of city representatives and consultants during public hearings, which took place between mid-June and early July, compared with other witnesses.

“Sometimes it seemed that the public sector was on trial. The city was criticized for being too hard on RTG and too soft,” the closing statement said.

“A significant amount of time was spent examining the City’s conduct regarding the test run, while almost no time was spent examining technical issues…”

The pre-launch test of the Ottawa LRT Stage 1 was an area of ​​discussion during the investigation. Test run criteria were lowered from a 98 percent performance requirement to 96 percent. Multiple councilmembers complained to the commission that information about the trial runs was withheld from most council members, something the city’s final statement upheld as part of the routine delegation of authority to staff.

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“More importantly, having councilors debate technical issues, when they lack the technical knowledge possessed by City staff and their advisers, would not only have been unproductive, but could have risked incorrect and poor decisions being made. informed”.

The final statement specifically argued that Watson behaved properly, saying he did not interfere with staff decision-making or intentionally mislead the council.

Among his more than 20 recommendations to the inquiry are that the city should “clearly communicate with the council” about when it plans to report and what information at the start of a project.

It also recommended that an independent review of the performance, deductions, and administration of the pay mechanism be conducted for the first year of service.

The investigating commissioner, Judge William Hourigan, has until the end of November to present a final report with conclusions and recommendations.

The city’s full closure statement is available at

With files from Jon Willing, Postmedia staff

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