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Ottawa mayor caught off guard by LRT public inquiry announcement, calls for better communication

Though not pleased with communication from the province, Mayor Jim Watson says the city will cooperate with the inquiry.
2021-11-18 ottawa mayor Jim Watson PG1
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson at a press conference, Nov. 18, 2021. Perushka Gopalkista/ CityNews

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he was surprised by the provincial government's announcement to launch a public inquiry into the city's light rail transit (LRT) system, and he's hoping it's the last time he's caught off guard.

“In the future, we hope that they give us a heads up if they’re going to make a decision that affects our system and our citizens,” Mayor Watson said at a news conference on Thursday, November 18.

He didn't think the province had expressed any interest or concern toward the city's transit system until very recently.

The mayor adds, at least the public inquiry is more cost-effective than a judicial inquiry, which many city councillors had been calling for. He also calls it a more efficient method.

While the inquiry will be taking place in the coming weeks, the mayor remains hopeful Ottawa's light rail system can return to full service soon. 

“I think we’re in a much better space today, but I won’t rest until I feel comfortable that the system is what we paid for and that’s it’s the efficient world-class system that we all hoped for,” said the mayor. “We’ve turned the corner but we have to keep pressure on the private sectors.”

He also said that his involvement in the inquiry, won’t affect his decision to run again for the mayor seat in next year's municipal election, as his main focus is ensuring the city can have a fully-functioning train system, which he feels confident will happen. 

"We’re going to have a good system that people will be proud of. We’re not there yet -- we’re far from it -- but I think we’re getting there."

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