Skip to main content

Ontario calling a full public inquiry into Ottawa's beleaguered LRT system


The Ontario government is calling a public inquiry into Ottawa's light rail transit system.

Sources told CTV News Ottawa that Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet approved calling a full public inquiry into the LRT debacle during a meeting on Wednesday.

Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney confirmed early Wednesday evening that Ontario is launching a public inquiry "to get to the bottom" of these issues facing the LRT system.

“The issues plaguing Stage 1 of the Ottawa LRT have been unacceptable and disappointing," Mulroney said in a statement.

"As a funding partner for the project, we need certainty that the City of Ottawa will be able to successfully deliver the remaining phases of work for this project. Ottawa transit riders deserve and expect this certainty as well."

Mulroney adds the Ontario government plans to launch the public inquiry "as soon as possible."

"In the coming weeks, we will establish the scope of the inquiry and its terms of reference, with the intention of receiving a report on what has transpired and recommendations to prevent this from happening again," said the transportation minister.

Mayor Jim Watson's office said at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday that Mayor Jim Watson had not received any communication from the Ontario government about a public inquiry.

Watson later issued a statement saying he supports the province's decision to call a public inquiry.

"Both Premier Ford and I share the goal of better public transit for the residents of Ottawa. As I have said over the last year, my number one goal is to get RTG and Alstom to fix LRT and start delivering the world class transit service Ottawa paid for and transit passengers deserve," said Watson in a statement issued by his office.

"I support the Province’s decision to get to the bottom of why RTG and Alstom have failed to deliver on their obligations to our City, and I support the shorter process proposed by the Province. I will look forward to responding more fully when we are informed of the scope of the Province’s effort.”

Coun. Diane Deans said on Twitter that a public inquiry will "restore trust" in public transit.

"We will finally get to the bottom of this debacle and get the answers the public have demanded and deserve," said Deans.

Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden pressed the Ontario government to call a public inquiry and ask Ontario's auditor general to investigate the LRT contract.

Harden calls the public inquiry a "win for accountability, for transparency and for our city."

"Speaking out makes a difference, and it forced this government to do the right thing."

Coun. Mathieu Fleury said the city "deserves" a public inquiry.

"We must bring trust and transparency back into our capital city LRT system," said Fleury on Twitter.

The LRT resumed partial service on Friday after a 54-day shutdown in the wake of a Sept. 19 derailment.

The cabinet met after a CBC story Wednesday that revealed emails that showed the city knew the LRT had reliability issues before it launched.

Last week, a spokesperson for Mulroney said “all options are on the table” regarding provincial action on the city’s LRT system, including a judicial inquiry or withholding funds.

The Ontario government has already threatened to withhold $60 million from Stage 1 of the project, which opened in 2019.

The province is contributing $1.2 billion to Stage 2 of the light rail project, and contributed $600 million to Stage 1.

Last week, Ottawa city council rejected Coun. Catherine McKenney's motion to call a judicial inquiry into the LRT system. Councillors had voted last month to ask municipal Auditor General Nathalie Gougeon to investigate the LRT contract.

Gougeon said the audit would focus on two main areas. The first is activities relating to the award, construction and "go live" of Stage 1 of LRT to ensure they were undertaken with the appropriate transparency, due diligence and oversight. The second audit is looking at the effectiveness of operation and maintenance.

The Confederation Line is currently operating partial service, with seven trains in operation along the 12.5 km track. An eighth train is scheduled to enter service on Thursday. Top Stories

Stay Connected