Is Ottawa's LRT project delayed? City councillor wants to know

Ottawa city councillor Diane Deans has asked city staff for some answers as to whether the $2.1 billion light rail transit project is still on time and on budget, after she says recent reports of incidents at work sites raised questions about whether something is "just not quite right" with the project.

'I don't think I should have had to ask,' Coun. Diane Deans says of request for information on LRT deadlines

A mobile crane fell over beside the eastern portal of a light rail tunnel near the University of Ottawa last week in an incident that left some workers shaken. (Leonard Poole)

Ottawa city councillor Diane Deans has asked city staff for some answers as to whether the $2.1 billion light-rail transit project is still on time and on budget, after she says recent reports of incidents at work sites raised questions about whether something is "just not quite right" with the project.

In an inquiry tabled at Tuesday's finance committee, Deans asked staff about what specific Ministry of Labour stop-work orders have been reported, how they have been remediated, whether the project is behind schedule, and if so, what is behind the delay. 

She also asked what major milestones with the project are upcoming, whether Rideau Transit Group — the consortium building the system — has missed any milestones, if they are at risk of missing any and what penalties are in place should they miss them.

"I don't think I should have had to ask," Deans said by phone Tuesday evening. "I think this information should come to council without us having to ask the right questions."

'We just need some reassurance'

Coun. Diane Deans said she wants to know if Rideau Transit Group has missed any of its deadlines. (CBC)

City officials have been vague on whether the $2.1 billion light-rail transit project is on time and on budget. 

When the city's general manager of transportation services, John Manconi, was asked two weeks ago what happened to the May 2018 target date for the opening of the LRT, he responded that "the train will go into revenue service when the train is ready to go into revenue service."

But Deans said she suspected there would be delays after last summer's sinkhole at Rideau Street, but said media reports of workers complaining about safety in the tunnel as well as incidents like last week, when a crane toppled onto its side at the eastern entrance to the LRT tunnel, concern her.

"I just think we need some reassurance that the project is on track," she said. "Between the crane toppling over last week and the sinkhole and stories about worker safety and now most recently the gas leak, I think all of that leads to … a simmering sense that maybe something [is] just not quite right."

She also doesn't think she's asking for anything other than what council and the public should expect from both Rideau Transit Group and the city's representatives.

"If they are delayed the public has every right to know about it and they should want to share that information and not hide it," she said.

With files from Joanne Chianello, Ashley Burke