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Transport Canada struggling to buy a bus shell to crash

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Crash tests that could make transit buses safer and more resilient in a collision have been stalled because Transport Canada has been unable to purchase a bus shell for testing.

After the crash involving a Via Rail train and an Ottawa city bus in 2013, the Transportation Safety Board’s investigation highlighted a lack of crash standards for transit buses and recommended Transport Canada put standards in place. The bus in the 2013 crash was the same model, from the same manufacturer as the one involved in last Friday’s crash at Westboro station

Transport Canada sets standards for cars, vans and SUVs, dictating how they must perform in front-impact, side-impact and rollover crashes. There are also rules for school buses, but larger vehicles like transit buses are exempt.

A bus shell or “test buck” is a life-size replica that “reproduces the structural elements of a bus and is intended for use in research, testing and evaluation of occupant protection,” according to Transport Canada.  

The department has filed regular updates on its progress in response to the TSB’s recommendation and has said it can’t acquire the shell it would need to start testing buses. 

“The crashworthiness test program is contingent on acquiring a bus shell, either in part or in whole. TC has searched extensively to acquire such a shell, but has not yet been successful,” they wrote online in February 2017, 14 months after the TSB’s recommendation. 

Harder than it seems 

Transport Canada had a three-year plan to acquire the shell, run tests and write recommendations, but could not start that process until it acquired the shell, a problem that still persists.

In January 2018, the department said it was considering working with industry on the problem because it still could not find a shell.

Sau Sau Liu, a spokesperson for Transport Canada, said buying the equipment is more complex than it might seem.

“This is a highly complex, custom-made device, whose design requires significant input from vehicle manufacturers.

“Acquiring this device requires in-depth analysis, given the complex design considerations, and the need to seek out qualified and available bidders through a competitive process,” she said in an email to CBC News.

She said they were working with Public Services and Procurement Canada to launch a tender soon, but did not provide a specific date. 

The Transportation Safety Board investigated the 2013 crash and determined that buses should have higher safety standards. (CBC)

Buses generally safer 

Jamie Catania is president of 30 Forensic Engineering, a firm which does crash reconstruction.  

He said buses are generally safer as a method of travel. He said a shell like the department is looking for allows for tests while minimizing costs.

“You want to set up a very rigid and crashworthy structure that you can mount say the front of a bus to and then you would subject the front of that bus to a crash with a barrier,” he said.

“You can do the same study without having to write-off an entire bus every single time you did it.”

He said Transport Canada’s delay could be because buses are generally safer and it may not be a priority.  

“Up to a couple years ago bus incidents were not that common and so there may be minds being changed now.”

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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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

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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

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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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