Absent councillor's vote could have stopped light rail approval
An Ottawa councillor opposed to the city's proposed light rail transit project was cruising in the Caribbean when council narrowly voted to go ahead with the transit line.
Thanks to his vacation on a cruise ship, Coun. Rainer Bloess missed the vote.
Inhis absence, council voted12-11 in favourof building the north-south rail line.
Bloess, who returned home Thursday, said the majorityneeded to approve the project would not havebeen achievedif he had been there.
"One vote in this case would have made the difference between whether it went ahead or not," he said. Council motions are defeated on a tie vote.
The version of the north-south rail line that passed Wednesday did not include the downtown section of the original plan. Instead, the tracksrun from Barrhaven Centre to Bayview transit station, just west of downtown.About $70 millionsavedby shortening the line will go toward improving east-west transit and looking into a downtown transit tunnel.
In July, Bloess voted against the original plan, which was worth almost $800 million. Hesaid he would have voted against the new version also.
Headded that,this week, his previously "wonderful" cruisetook a sudden turn when he realized that he should have been back home at a "fairly significant, fairly historic vote for Ottawa."
"My heart sank into my stomach," he recalled.
Bloess said he had received no hint the final vote would come so soon, but added that there was no conspiracy to hold the vote in his absence.
Coun. Gord Hunter made a motion Thursday to reopen the vote next week, but it was defeated.