Councillor, Capital Ward
There are a lot of changes at City Hall this fall. Kanata North Councillor Jenna Sudds was elected MP for the riding of Kanata-Carleton in the recent federal election and stepped down as councillor. This means there will either be a byelection or someone will be appointed to replace her for the remainder of the term. As of writing this, no decision has been made, and I’m still weighing which option I will support with a year remaining in this term of council. There are valid reasons for both options, and I want to make the decision that will best support the needs and desires of the people of Kanata North.
Two general managers are retiring. General managers are the second highest tier of the bureaucracy, serving under the city manager.
Anthony Di Monte, currently the general manager of Emergency Services, is retiring October 29. He has been with the city for two decades and has helped us through a number of emergencies, including the pandemic. We wish him good health and happiness in his retirement.
The general manager of Transportation Services, John Manconi, retired at the beginning of October. His role will be split in two, with one person handling transportation matters and the other specifically transit. In September, the city announced that Renée Amilcar will be the new general manager of Transit Services. She comes from Montreal, where she served as the executive director of bus services for Société de Transports Montréal, Montreal’s version of OC Transpo.
Last month, an LRT train derailed through Tremblay Station and into Capital Ward. This was after another train had derailed just six weeks prior because of a broken axle, and nine other trains were removed for inspections. The train that derailed in Capital Ward was one of the nine that had just been inspected. This continues a long history of problems with our new rail system, procured as a public-private-partnership – from door problems to wheels to systems that had trouble working during winter cold, summer heat and dirt and debris.
It’s been a significant problem for transit riders and the public, especially given that LRT Stage 1 and Stage 2 represent the top debts in the city.
After initial guesses at the problem by city officials, the Transportation Safety Board took over the investigation and found that the train actually travelled quite a distance – including through a station – while partially derailed. We’re incredibly lucky no one was hurt.
Investigations and revelations continue. We now know that, as a cost-saving measure, heat sensors were not implemented on our train cars. This led to wheels overheating and partially melting, without a warning to the driver about the degree of the problem.
The city now plans to bring in an independent expert to conduct a safety review, after the original company chosen was removed because it had participated in the LRT Stage 1 project.
In my view, quality has taken a backseat to penny-pinching in a 30-year deal that pays the private-sector operator four to five million dollars a month. Favoured vendors have been awarded contracts even though they didn’t meet the minimum technical standards. Consecutive-day testing mandates were altered, which meant the train did not have to run all days consecutively.
As of the end of September, the LRT was offline for a number of weeks (or months); because of this, we have to run replacement buses, which means reducing service from other routes to free up buses and drivers for the Replacement R1 service. I voted against Stage 2 because of a lack of transparency and initial delays to Stage 1. At this point, we need to seriously look at a public inquiry, which has been proposed by Councillor Catherine McKenney. We need to take the time to fix the system to make it safe and determine what it might mean to exit the contract completely with SNC-Lavalin.
New road redesign for Pretoria
We’ve been working with city staff to ensure more work is done on streets in the ward. Crews are out filling potholes, patching cracks in some sidewalks and replacing others where necessary.
Pretoria Avenue will soon be redesigned. The sewer system needs to be replaced, so this is our opportunity to make an improved street that will calm traffic and be safer for everyone. With better sidewalks, protected intersections and some speed humps, we should see reduced speeds and a more comfortable street for all. You can view the proposed designs on our website, ShawnMenard.ca. Staff are still collecting feedback, so let us know what you think.
Thanks for reading this,