Ottawa’s civic leaders must move quickly to restore the public’s trust in the city’s new light rail transit system. The latest setbacks to Phase 1 of the mega project must be addressed with transparency, accountability and timely communications.
There’s been a breakdown in the delivery of this $2.1 billion initiative - we’re off the rails now. I have three ideas for getting back on track. As a lawyer running for Council in College Ward, I have experience in negotiations in addition to my experience managing large budgets & serving the public interest. Here are three key questions and my advice:
First, what can citizens be told about this project? The Mayor and City staff should be more upfront, clear and public about what they can tell us. It’s remarkable that the Rideau Transit Group has a veto over some communications. This is the largest publicly funded infrastructure project in Ottawa ever. Residents need to hear why they cannot be told the schedule and other key details about LRT Phase 1.
Second, what extra costs are the taxpayers of Ottawa potentially facing? The Mayor and City staff need to tell all Councillors and the public who is responsible for the costs that come with the delays. And then, how much those costs will be.
Third, will the Mayor and City staff commit to much better communications? If only the City speaks about the LRT, then the City needs to communicate to the public in a timely way and say as much as possible. Council should not be kept in the dark. The public will not be understanding or forgiving if information is not shared in a full and timely way.
Too much is at stake for Ottawa residents – from changed bus routes that do not meet current needs, to potential growing costs to taxpayers for Phase 1, to the future of Phase 2 LRT and beyond.
Before the City signs a contract for Stage 2, the lessons of the Stage 1 agreement have to be learned and applied. Let’s avoid the missteps of this first phase and get a better contract on track.
As councillor for College Ward, I will bring my legal expertise and business experience to City Hall. We need transparency, accountability and timely communications – if Ottawa is to rebuild the public’s trust in the LRT project and in City Hall.
For more information, please contact:
Emilie Coyle, 613.316.6785 or firstname.lastname@example.org