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What we still don’t know about the fatal Ottawa bus crash





Collision investigators have finished documenting the scene of Friday’s fatal bus crash at an Ottawa transit station, but it could still be awhile before the public gets firm answers about what happened.

Three people died and 23 people were injured when a double-decker OC Transpo bus collided with the Westboro station at the start of rush hour. 

Here are a just a few of the areas where significant questions remain, more than 36 hours after the deadly collision.

The cause of the crash

It’s unlikely investigators will be making any declarative statements about the cause of the crash for some time.

At a Saturday press conference, Sgt. Cameron Graham with the Ottawa Police Service’s collision investigation unit told reporters investigators were looking at a number of elements — including weather conditions, the bus itself, and “human factors.”

Later in the day, investigators drove a similar double-decker bus down the same stretch of the Transitway, the city’s bus rapid transit network, hoping to get a sense for what conditions were like at the time of the crash.

Both Graham and police Chief Charles Bordeleau, however, have said the investigation will be complex. Transport Canada and Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation are also investigating.

An aerial view of the fatal Jan. 11, 2019, collision involving an OC Transpo bus at Ottawa’s Westboro station. (Guillaume Lafrenière/Radio-Canada)

Who the victims are

Three people have been confirmed dead, but Ottawa police have not released their names or any other information.

In fact, one of the only details to have come out is that some members of the Canadian Armed Forces were among those injured.

Angela Banville, commandant of the Canadian Forces Support Unit, told CBC News Saturday that an unspecified number of “defence team” members were hurt and that they would be “made aware of all the support available to them.”

And while it’s possible the number of fatalities could rise, it won’t likely rise by much.

While the Ottawa Hospital was reporting Friday night they had as many as nine people in critical condition, less than 24 hours later they said only one patient still required critical care.

The Queensway Carleton Hospital also handled a number of patients, but in the end, only one person was admitted — and that person’s condition was serious but stable.

Whether riders will feel safe

For some people, Friday’s crash no doubt brought to mind another Ottawa mass transit tragedy: the 2013 crash between a double-decker bus and a Via Rail train that killed six people.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada found the design of the double-decker provided riders little protection in that crash. 

After Friday’s collision, some people were wondering if both the buses and Westboro station itself — which predates the addition of double-deckers to the city’s fleet — may have contributed to the collision’s severity.

So will that lead OC Transpo riders to hesitate before stepping on board a city bus? Or a light rail train, when Ottawa’s Confederation line eventually opens?

It’s hard to say. While city officials maintain the mass transit network is safe, others are calling for double-decker buses to be taken off the Transitway for the time being.

The emotional toll

Mayor Jim Watson’s declaration Friday night that flags at Ottawa City Hall would be lowered to half-mast was an immediate recognition of the crash’s impact on the city’s collective psyche.

In fact, a number of residents felt compelled to stop by the crash site Saturday morning. Two men even set up a tree as a memorial, noting they wanted to affix the names of the crash victims to its branches. 

The Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region also brought in additional volunteers to help people cope with their anxiety and grief.

“It’s just an awful thing for us as a whole community, as a city, to go through,” said Inge Roosendaal, a regular OC Transpo rider.

As of Monday, people will be able to sign a book of condolences for the crash victims at Ottawa City Hall. The book will be available until Sunday, Jan. 20.


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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa





With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV





A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence





Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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