Archive for June 7th, 2012

Media Takes Round 2

- June 7th, 2012

The second annual media vs. City Hall hockey game happened at the Nepean Sportsplex last night and there’s a huge upset to report.

The media rode a wave of hot goaltending and solid defence and won 5-1. Of note was CTV Ottawa’s John Hua with two goals. Councillors who laced up included Tim Tierney, Mathieu Fleury, David Chernushenko, Scott Moffatt and Steve Desroches.

So, the series is knotted at one game each, since the City Hall team won last year.

The best part of the event? We raised $425 for Canadian Tire Jumpstart, which helps kids afford to play organized sports.

And, no one was injured.

City Fends Off mOOse

- June 7th, 2012

An update to a blog post from last October.

Mobility Ottawa-Outaouais: Systems & Enterprises Inc., or mOOSe, filed a complaint with the Canada Transportation Agency, blaming the city for allegedly letting the Prince of Wales Bridge fall into a state of disrepair. That’s the bridge that spans the Ottawa River north of Bayview station.

The agency has ruled in the city’s favour, according to this memo to council today from city solicitor and clerk Rick O’Connor:

Mayor and Members of Council,
 
Further to my previous e-mail of October 7th, 2011, the Canadian Transportation Agency (“CTA”) yesterday released its decision with respect to the complaint filed by Mobility Ottawa-Outaouais Systems & Enterprises Inc. (“MOOSE”).  The CTA has dismissed the complaint and rejected MOOSE’s argument that the City of Ottawa had constructively discontinued the use of the Prince of Wales Bridge railway line by allowing it to fall into a state of disrepair. 
 
The CTA did note that the City has not included the Prince of Wales Bridge within the three-year plan that it is required to file outlining all of its railway assets.  Therefore, it has directed the City to include the bridge and staff will make the necessary revisions and will be re-filing the plan, as required.  The decision requires the City to take no further steps with respect to the Prince of Wales Bridge. 
 
I trust that this update is satisfactory.

Watson Wouldn’t Support Bag Ban

- June 7th, 2012

A few reporters spoke with Mayor Jim Watson today after he proclaimed Italian Week at City Hall. I was interested in the Presto developments but another reporter asked about his thoughts on Toronto council banning plastic bags yesterday.

“I don’t understand where the legal authority is from the City of Toronto to actually ban a product that is legal,” Watson said.

“I wouldn’t support it. I think people’s attitudes and habits are changing by some companies charging five cents a bag. I know in my case when I go grocery shopping I bring cloth bags. It’s my own choice and it works well and it lowers the number of plastic bags going into the landfill. That kind of a program seems to be much more effective and it’s driven by the private sector.”

Watson said there’s still a need for plastic bags and he used the example of dog owners who need to clean up after their pets.

And on the subject of stores charging for plastic bags, he said: “Some stores charge for bags, some don’t, but that’s called capitalism and it’s a free market and they’ll decide what their customers will tolerate.”

Harder Wonders If Highway LRT Would Work

- June 7th, 2012

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder offered this suggestion during the western LRT meeting yesterday: Why not run LRT down the Queensway?

I wasn’t sure if she was serious, so naturally I had to ask over Twitter:

We chatted again after committee adjourned.

“Let’s see what traction it gets,” Harder said after the meeting. “Should it be on the table?”

It would be a rapid route for rail, she said.

I had to pop into Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Peter Clark’s office to find out if this idea has ever come up. As a former regional chairman, he knows a bit of the history about transportation infrastructure in Ottawa. Clark said, in fact, the Queensway/LRT idea did surface several years ago. In his opinion, it wouldn’t work today because the highway has been widened to the point where there is little land available. A large land acquisition of private properties would likely be needed and that could be very messy. Then there are whatever hoops you would need to jump through with the province, which owns the highway.

But, as Harder asks, should it be on the table? Should the city see if the Queensway is technically feasible for LRT?

Smoking Out The Presto Bugs

- June 7th, 2012

The city will have a better idea today if the Presto system will launch by July 1, as has been planned.

There have been bugs, but that in itself isn’t the big problem. This is why you have a beta program with any new technology. The good news is the bugs have been identified. Hopefully all of them are before this thing launches.

Here’s what this boils down to: Should OC Transpo have allowed more time for a test period?

The friends and family program started in May. That’s two months before the anticipated launch of a game-changing piece of technology for the city.

If that’s viewed as enough time for a trial period, why has it taken so long to work on the fixes?

If there’s a delay, we’ll want to know if there is any extra cost to the city, whether it be more money to tweak the system or potential lost revenue from customers. I wonder how much revenue was lost during the test period, considering many customers’ Presto cards have apparently not been working.

One thing is certain: The city should not launch Presto if it’s not totally bug-free on July 1. Nothing could be more damaging from a marketing perspective than thousands of people using a broken pay system.