City hall protesters demand answers on OC Transpo
OTTAWA -- About 100 people gathered at Ottawa City Hall, calling for city staff to be open and transparent about issues with Ottawa's transit system.
Coun. Diane Deans and Catherine McKenney organized the rally after Transit Commission Chair Allan Hubley rejected calls for a special Transit Commission meeting to discuss "critical reliability and safety issues."
Councillors Riley Brockington, Carol Anne Meehan, Shawn Menard and Rawlson King and transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert were among the people attending the rally Wednesday morning.
Two weeks ago, Ottawa's 23-month-old light rail transit system was shutdown for a week after an axle on one train broke and derailed. OC Transpo's double-decker buses were pulled off the road for inspections after one bus drove into a ditch.
Transportation Services General Manager John Manconi has been providing updates near daily on the investigation and answering questions from councillors on the issues.
Coun. McKenney told the rally that the city should not be "governing by memo", and taxpayers deserve answers during a public meeting.
"Those billions of dollars are theirs. And they have every right to be at the table to hear the discussion and questions being asked and answers," said McKenney.
Marena Schulist was one of the few dozen people attending the rally, frustrated with Ottawa's LRT system.
"I have had to switch to one side of the track to the other because something has broken down," said Schulist. "I've gotten stuck. I've had to call into work and say I may not be on time."
Hubley is on vacation this week. In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Hubley addressed criticism from some councillors that OC Transpo is withholding information.
"It is unfortunate that some would want to suggest information is being withheld from council and the public with zero evidence to support such a claim," said Hubley.
"This tells me the reputation of council and the hard-working men and women of OC Transpo and our partners in this review is being sacrificed to political grandstand and that is frankly very sad and uncalled for."
Speaking on CTV Morning Live Wednesday morning, McKenney said they are concerned the "resistance to a public meeting will certainly erode public's trust and our trust with what's happening with our transit system."
The Transit Commission is scheduled to meet on Sept. 20.
"There's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't be sitting down in a public forum and asking the types of questions that we need to be asking," said McKenney.
"We're responsible for the oversight of this system. The buck does stop with us in the end."