More coverage of Ontario Votes 2011
CBC Ottawa

LRT cash tied to Presto deal, too

Posted by Alistair Steele

So it turns out the the $32-million in gas taxes the city collects from the province every year isn't the only money tied to the troubled Presto payment system. The province's contribution to Ottawa's LRT project -- all $600-million of it -- hinges on the city's Presto participation as well. At least on paper.

A clause within the formal contribution agreement signed between the city and the province last September stipulates the cash is conditional on Ottawa "participating in PRESTO and, as a participant, meeting all of its PRESTO related contractual obligations, including financial obligations."

According to a senior provincial government source, "the clause is a standard one in our agreements designed specifically for the GTA transit systems to promote a seamless single card system. The City of Ottawa requested Presto before we rolled that out."

The source goes on to say: "The City of Ottawa agreed to this clause as part of the negotiation...however if the city would like this clause removed from the light rail contribution agreement at the next contract update we will work with them."

Government sources point out the city asked to be enrolled in the Presto program before it signed the contribution agreement. The document hasn't been made public in its entirety, and likely won't until after the LRT contract is awarded.  

Retail report delay blamed on Conservancy case

Posted by Alistair Steele

Buried within today's memo from city manager Kent Kirkpatrick on the ongoing legal battle with John Martin's Lansdowne Park Conservancy is this:

"As a result of the pending appeal application in the Lansdowne Park Conservancy case, reports on Governance, Legal Agreements and further progress reports related to the Lansdowne Partnership Plan will be brought forward to Council this fall. Reports related to the redevelopment of the park portion of the redevelopment will come forward in the normal course."

That is to say, various LPP reports expected this spring or summer won't surface until much later. The reason, says Kirkpatrick, is that the Ontario Court of Appeal likely won't render a verdict on Martin's appeal of the lower court decision until "late July or early August."

This seems curious, since the city has all along tended to (and in its factum, continues to) dismiss the Conservancy as an inconvenient but largely benign nuisance. I think it's fair to say City Hall has treated the Friends of Lansdowne challenge as a more significant threat to the redevelopment plan. And yet even before the Friends announced they're giving up the ghost, the city's contractors went to work.

Included in the reports neither council nor the public will see until the fall is a much-anticipated retail update. Has OSEG been able to attract the "unique" businesses council demanded, and was promised? Or have the Lansdowne partnership's legal troubles, combined with competing mall expansions and a tight retail environment, conspired to stymie OSEG's best intentions? We'll have to wait to find out, thanks to one man who we've been told all along doesn't have a legal leg to stand on.

Canada Day organizer back at City Hall

Posted by Alistair Steele

The last time Angelo Filoso was in the news, it was in the context of a report from the City of Ottawa's auditor general, Alain Lalonde. In it Lalonde detailed problems with Canada Day festivals at Andrew Haydon Park in 2009 and 2010. Among the highlights: a diesel fuel spill, potentially dangerous electrical hook-ups, and unauthorized helicopter rides. Filoso organized both events.

Last year the city even sued Filoso along with his organization, the Italian-Canadian Community Centre of the National Capital Region Inc. (Filoso is well-known in Ottawa's Italian community; among other things he's publisher of the city's Italian-language newspaper.) That matter has since been settled out of court. The terms of the agreement are being kept confidential.

Apparently Filoso really likes organizing Canada Day festivals, because he's the force behind another one this summer. This time the three-day event is to be held at Queen Juliana Park, near Dow's Lake. The park sits on federal land, so it belongs to Public Works. The department says it only just found out about the dispute between the City and Filoso. Asked about whether they have any qualms about working with Filoso, the Public Works replied via e-mail:

"PWGSC requests that the organizers obtained all required permits from the municipality or other authorities having jurisdiction for the planned event to be held on PWGSC land.The proponant sic for the Canada Day Event will have to meet such obligations before a license is granted."

According to the city, Filoso has been in contact about the festival, but has not filed the necessary paperwork for said permits. Nor has he formally invited Mayor Jim Watson to attend the event, as advertized. So says the mayor's office, which adds Watson will likely be quite busy that day. 

Neither Angelo Filoso nor anyone from has returned calls or e-mails about this story.