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Swearing-In Ceremony Estimate Is $15K

- November 26th, 2014

Mayor Jim Watson doesn’t want to spoil council’s swearing-in ceremony Monday, so he didn’t have much to say today about what’s being served.

“I don’t know what the particulars are,” Watson told reporters after the council meeting. “I want you to come and I want to leave at least one surprise for you on Monday.”

He predicts “a great celebration” with council members and their families.

What I can tell you is the budget for the night is about $15,000, same as the 2010 “Timbit” ceremony, and it’s likely to follow a similar blueprint. (Although, the original cost estimate in 2010 was initially much, much lower).

Council members were actually being officially sworn in, one by one, this afternoon by the clerk’s office. When they walk across the stage at Centrepointe Theatre Monday night, they’ll already be legally able to serve residents.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

The Best Gift To Council In Q3

- November 25th, 2014

The winner of the best gift received by a council member in Q3 2014 goes to Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Steve Desroches, who probably pulled a lot of deputy mayor shifts over the summer.

It’s not unusual for Mayor Jim Watson to receive gifts from VIPs during meetings or events. Everything must be recorded on the gift registry. Watson is running out of room for everything. Almost every square inch of shelving or ledge space in his office has a keepsake, picture or knickknack.

When Watson can’t make an event, the deputy mayors fill in and they get the gifts.

Between July and September, Desroches received a photo book, salt and pepper grinder set and a letter opener from groups and dignitaries.

But the best gift was the pinata from the Mexican ambassador in September. It was a thank you gift for attending Fiesta Mexicana on Sparks St. As he cleans out his City Hall office, Desroches says he’s saving the pinata for a birthday party.

Council members didn’t receive many gifts in Q3.

Kitchissippi Coun. Katherine Hobbs received six books and she donated them to a downtown condo’s library.

Watson had no gifts to declare. Good thing, too. He has no room.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Meetings Scheduled Between City And NCC

- November 24th, 2014

Dr. Mark Kristmanson, National Capital Commission CEO, John Baird, minister of foreign affairs, and Russell Mills, NCC board chair, arrive at a press conference at the Lester B. Pearson building in Ottawa, Ont. on Feb. 3, 2014. Darren Brown/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency

No one knows how this spat between the city and National Capital Commission will play out but it’s the first time during the western LRT work that there is some serious doubt about the future of extending rail past Tunney’s Pasture.

Even Mayor Jim Watson said the entire second phase — which formed the cornerstone of his re-election campaign — is in jeopardy if the western LRT can’t cut across federal land the way the city wants it to.

That would effectively stymie two western lines: One to Algonquin College and another to Bayshore Shopping Centre.

Watson pulled no punches in a scrum with reporters today. He (again) criticized the unelected makeup of the NCC board and slammed it for making a decision in secret. He wonders why the federal Conservatives don’t like the city’s transit plans and he suggests LRT should be a ballot question for Ottawa voters in the 2015 federal election.

The discussions between the city and the NCC will continue.

I had a chat tonight with Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the NCC. He has two meetings scheduled with the city next week, including a meeting with city manager Kent Kirkpatrick.

The analysis the NCC did on the city’s LRT info will likely be part of those discussions.

“We obviously have very different understandings about the data and western light rail,” Kristmanson said.

As for Watson’s allegations the NCC is operating in secret, Kristmanson said the board had to meet in-camera on LRT because it involved land issues and proprietary information.

“I’m reluctant to get into a process struggle over this,” Kristmanson said.

Kristmanson likes that Watson brought up the need for discussions with local stakeholders and board members. It sounds like it’s something Kristmanson been wanting to pursue even outside the western LRT issue.

But the relationship between the NCC and city is now called back into question after what seemed like some very good months of co-operation and softened rhetoric.

For example, the two sides worked well together on the bus shuttle route to Lansdowne Park. And Kristmanson, who has only been on the job since February, has seemed to impress folks at City Hall.

So, now we wait to see who will budge on western LRT. The NCC seems to have a lot of the leverage. As always.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

What’s Going On At City Hall Post-Hack

- November 22nd, 2014

The city’s website was hacked last night. Here’s what’s happening behind the scenes at City Hall:

- The city’s office of emergency management is on the case.

- The city’s IT department hasn’t seen any breach to the personal data of residents or the city itself.

- IT has figured out that the city’s third-party domain registrar was interfered with. So ottawa.ca was being diverted to another site. (Some tech-savvy residents have noticed this, too).

- Some email might be impacted, so it’s possible there’s a delay delivering messages to/from ottawa.ca addresses.

- 311 is the main method for residents to contact city services. Twitter has become the main communications tool online with regards to website updates.

- At last check Saturday morning, it was taking longer than anticipated to get everything back to normal but the city’s working on it.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

The City’s Letter To Transport Canada

- November 21st, 2014

The city doesn’t agree with the federal authority there was a “threat” to safety based on the incident on Nov. 6 that saw a rail signal arm come down on a double decker bus.

City Response Transport Cda Nov21 2014

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.