What happened at this week's council meeting

From approving the Château Laurier expansion to approving the EA for a Barrhaven LRT, it was a newsy four hours at City Hall Wednesday, as council scrolled through a laundry list of items in its second-last meeting before the summer break.

From Château Laurier expansion to the naming of a bridge, council passed a laundry list of files

Members of Ottawa city council had a busy agenda to get through on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (CBC News)

It was a newsy four hours at City Hall Wednesday, as council scrolled through a laundry list of items in its second-last meeting before the summer break.

In addition to hearing reports from Hydro Ottawa and the Markets Ottawa Corp., councillors approved a whack of items, including hiring additional police officers to be paid for by a new federal program.

And after the meeting, when asked if he was planning to attend the U.S. ambassador's Fourth of July party, Mayor Jim Watson told reporters he declined his invite this year because he was "not happy with the direction of the American government and their constant attacks on our country."

Here are some of the other issues council dealt with Wednesday:

Council approved the fourth version of the Chateau Laurier hotel, but with caveats. (architectsAlliance)
Château Laurier expansion approved — sort of

Fourth time appeared to be the charm for the controversial addition to the iconic Château Laurier hotel in downtown Ottawa. City staff recommended the latest rendition, and council also voted in favour of it Wednesday.

But there were caveats on the approval, first applied by the built-heritage subcommittee and then endorsed by the planning committee and then full council. Those caveats? To change the design.

Specifically, the architect was asked to add more limestone and copper to the modernist design that is unpopular with many heritage experts and regular folk alike. In a very unusual decision, the design changes are to be worked out with city staff, and then the site plan must come back to committee and council — something that almost never happens.

When asked if he would have voted for the design on Wednesday as is, Watson said no. When asked why council didn't just reject the latest version of the expansion, the mayor said councillors could send back the application 10 times, and it would still be impossible to please everyone.

It's likely not a coincidence that the final drawings won't be public until after the fall election. Asked if council was just putting off an unpopular issue, the mayor said: "No, because we took a vote on it today."

The Springhill landfill was opened in 1996 in the former Osgoode Township and has been operated by Tomlinson. (CBC)
Tomlinson to pay for Springhill clean-up

Tomlinson — the company that is the subject of a damning city auditor's report — said in a letter to city manager Steve Kanellakos that it will pay to clean up the site contamination, including contamination of the groundwater, at the Springhill Landfill in the former Osgoode township. 

"Tomlinson acknowledges that it is obligated under our partnership agreement to pay costs for this solution," said the letter, signed by Tomlinson president Kevin Cinq-Mars. "The issue of cost is not in dispute and will be paid by Tomlinson."

A copy of the letter was distributed to reporters during Wednesday's council meeting.

In the letter, Tomlinson repeated its objections to the auditor's claim that the company withheld financial information. However, the company also wrote that it had "no interest in re-opening debate on the report."

The company has been operating the landfill on behalf of the city for years. In addition to the contamination issue, the auditor's report said Tomlinson hadn't paid the city all the royalties owed.​

Council approved spending $600,000 for an environmental assessment for an LRT extension to Barrhaven. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
Barrhaven LRT in Phase 3

Council voted unanimously in favour of spending $600,000 on an environmental assessment for an LRT extension to Barrhaven, which would largely replace the bus-rapid transit system there and connect to the future Baseline station planned in the second phase of the city's LRT plan. The pre-election proposal was floated a few weeks ago by the mayor and Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder.

A western extension to Kanata has already been priced at $1.85 billion. Neither the Kanata nor the Barrhaven extension are officially part of the city's transportation master plan yet, but will likely be added in the next term of council.

Watson made it clear Wednesday that he's interested in seeing both the Kanata and Barrhaven extensions built in the third phase of LRT, which isn't expected to built until after 2030.

Council may force festivals to recycle - in 2020. (Recycle BC)
Festival recycling pushed off to 2020

Festivals that don't provide recycling services got a one-year reprieve after council voted to push off the implementation of Coun. Riley Brockington's proposal by one year.

Brockington moved a motion at the environment and climate protection committee last week that called for the city to consult with festivals and bring in new rules by next spring. But Coun. Scott Moffatt, who thought that timeline was too fast — and pointed out that the city itself isn't that great at recycling — moved at council to delay the implementation of the forced recycling to 2020. It passed unanimously.

The bridge being built to connect Fifth and Clegg streets over the canal could be named after Flora MacDonald. (Support Fifth-Clegg Canal Footbridge Facebook group)
Flora Footbridge

The Glebe-area bridge being constructed over the Rideau Canal could be named after Flora MacDonald, Canada's first female foreign minister.

Coun. David Chernushenko announced Wednesday that the Flora Footbridge was the preference of the committee charged with finding a name, which had more than 180 names to choose from.

Considered a trailblazer for women in politics, MacDonald was a Conservative MP for 16 years, and held a number of cabinet positions. She followed her political career with years of humanitarian work.

"She accomplished remarkable things," said Chernushenko. And she lived for many years near where the bridge is being built, and was a regular skater on the canal.

Although a plaque will include her full name, the bridge will be known simply as the "Flora Footbridge" to commemorate the fact that everyone knew her by her first name.

Council will vote on the proposed name at its next meeting on July 11.