The province is ready to withhold Ottawa LRT funding due to security concerns

The Ontario government says it will withhold $ 60 million in LRT funding and asks the city of Ottawa to prove that provincial dollars are being spent properly on making LRT safe and meeting industry standards after recent problems temporarily disrupted the service.

In a letter to the city’s railroad director Michael Morgan, the Ontario Department of Transportation raises concerns about several recent issues – specifically one derailment in August and another in September.

LRT has been out of service for a month and a half since Wednesday, since a train derailed on September 19 before entering Tremblay station.

“We want assurances that provincial funding will be used for assets and infrastructure that are secure and meet industry standards,” Vrinda Vaidyanathan, a director of the ministry’s oversight and partnership department, wrote in a letter dated Nov. 2.

The province committed $ 600 million to Step 1 and just over $ 1.2 billion to Step 2, Vaidyanathan noted.

The letter asks the city for three things:

  • Confirmation that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigation of cracked wheels in July has been completed, and proof that the city has taken any of TSB’s recommendations or has made a plan to address them. These must be submitted by 31 December 2022.
  • Confirmation that TSB’s reviews of the derailments in August and September were carried out, and proof that the city addressed any of the recommendations or has made a plan to address them. These must also be submitted by 31 December 2022.
  • Evidence from an independent engineer who confirms that the engineering and construction work – for which the city is responsible – meets industry standards.

The province said it will wait to give Ottawa $ 60 million until these documents, as well as an outstanding final audit report on compliance, are submitted to the ministry.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office confirmed that it received the letter earlier Wednesday, noting that it “appears to be standard due diligence” by the Ontario government.

“The city has already committed to addressing all of the issues raised in the letter,” the mayor’s press secretary said in an email, adding that Watson asked the mayor to review it and give the council a “more complete update” soon.

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