Council repeals judicial inquiry in favor of urban audit on LRT debacle

An effort led by Coun. Catherine McKenney to initiate a judicial inquiry into Ottawa’s troubled LRT was thrown over Wednesday as the council voted to ask the city’s auditor general to investigate instead.

It’s three weeks ago that McKenney announced their proposal to convene an inquiry that would have been a long and public affair that cost millions of dollars and would have investigated not only LRT procurement and contracting, but about city staff. or advice violated public confidence.

But just as McKenney was preparing to discuss the proposal at Wednesday’s council meeting, Coun. Glen Gower moved a replacement proposal calling on the council to ask the auditor general to investigate the process that led to the city’s contract with the Rideau Transit Group to design, build and maintain the Confederation Line.

This procedural change led to a heated debate in the Council, which ended with Gower’s proposal first being voted on, which was adopted by a vote of 14 to 9. McKenney’s proposal for a study was never voted on.

But before the vote, councilors spent a few hours discussing the best process to immerse themselves in LRT.

The City of Ottawa’s Auditor General, Nathalie Gougeon, is addressing reporters via video conference following her first appearance on the Audit Committee. (CBC)

City auditor Nathalie Gougeon was ready to answer questions about what she can and cannot do in a survey. Although the board may not instruct the auditor general to study a particular file, it is unusual for an auditor to ignore a request from the board. And Gougeon said LRT would get on her work schedule for next year anyway – but it’s not clear what the scope of the review will be.

An audit will certainly take less time than an investigation, and Gougeon may call witnesses under oath.

However, the audit process is not public, such as hearings on a query. And Gougeon cannot investigate the behavior of councilors or the mayor.

“This audit will ensure that what you have to hide never comes out in public because the auditor cannot examine you,” Coun said. Said Diane Deans to the mayor. “That is why we need an independent process. That is why we need a judicial inquiry. That is why it is not in the public interest to shut down today.”

But Watson said the city should have a goal: get the trains running safely. And he said a public inquiry only guarantees that “many lawyers will get very, very rich.”

The Council requests information on breach of contract

The council also considered Deans’ proposal to ask the mayor to report back to the council on what it would take legally for the city to terminate its 30-year contract with Rideau Transit Maintenance and how to build capacity in the city to take over the LRT system. and train.

There was some debate on this issue – the Council unanimously approved the proposal.

Late last month, the city issued builders of the Confederate line with another notice of default and gave older city staff the authority to have the standard validated by a court, necessary steps to open up other options in the contract – including one that could allow the city to end its relationship to RTM.

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