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RTG ‘confident’ it will complete LRT by March 31; Manconi not convinced

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Ted Raymond, 580 CFRA


Published Tuesday, February 12, 2019 11:53AM EST


Last Updated Tuesday, February 12, 2019 11:55AM EST

The CEO of the Rideau Transit Group says he is confident the $2.1 billion light rail transit system will be ready to hand over to the City of Ottawa by March 31.

Peter Lauch told the City’s Finance and Economic Development Committee Tuesday he does not foresee any other scenario.

“We don’t contemplate any other scenario than handover the 31st of March,” he said. “We have a very committed contractor; we have a very committed vehicle supplier, so I am still confident we will meet our obligation and hand over on the 31st of March.”

But Transportation General Manager John Manconi says he’s far from convinced.

“I am concerned about March 31st,” he said. “There’s only days to get to March 31st. I’m happy to be wrong, but I’m highly skeptical that they’re going to achieve March 31st.”

Manconi points to eight items that he says are critical to the LRT system being ready that must still be completed.

“We’re down to eight things to complete this $2.1 billion, state-of-the-art LRT project,” he told FEDCO near the start of the meeting.

“The first: you need your fleet. We need 15 double-vehicles running from end-to-end to provide peak-hour service and then there are 4 single vehicles that are needed for spares. RTG and Alstom have some work to do in that regard to get that fleet availability count to where it needs to be.

“Station occupancy: I think that’s imminent. Mr. Lauch and his team have been working with building services and we think that we’ll have station occupancy very soon, certainly in the east and then head in a westerly direction.

“The tunnel ventilation system: these are very critical, life-saving systems in the event of smoke or fire in the tunnel … There’s rigorous testing; there are three critical elements we’ve asked RTG to complete and they’re working on that to provide us that information.

“The testing of the train control system: It’s progressing very, very well. There are some final tests and protocols that need to be signed off on by Thales [Rail Solutions] and by RTG and then that completes that part of the regime, so there’s progress on that front.

“The operations and monitoring control system: that’s fed into our control room. That’s so our operators can see the trains, the fans, the customer-facing elements and can make adjustments on the fly as they need to, to provide that integrated mobility to bus, ParaTranspo and the diesel train system.

“The final tests of the power system: there are some final checks and balances RTG is doing there.

“Number seven is very, very important. This is the one that will make us all sleep well at night and that’s the independent safety auditor signing off on a very rigorous system assurance plan. That’s thousands of pages of documents signed off by engineers, mechanical engineers, system engineers, track specialists, where that information is provided to us and is signed off to ensure the system is safe. That’s another check that’s been built into the contractual requirements.

“And number eight: This is the practice plan. RTG has offered to do practice planning; they’re not contractually obligated to do it, but running end-to-end 15 double-trains so they can get ready for some critical tests that lead to revenue service availability. We think that’s an important element that needs to occur. Unfortunately, that has not occurred because of the fleet count but we’re looking forward to them achieving that one.”

RTG says it plans to do a 12-consecutive day test run starting on the second week of March.

Manconi says if RTG is able to meet all of these requirements and hand over a robust system by March 31, he expects riders will be on board by the end of April.

“If they achieve March 31st, we need about two weeks of prep work, and then we can get into launch mode, so by the end of April, we’re launching.”

But Manconi says he will not accept a system that does not meet the standards the City demands.

“I’m not suggesting RTG is proposing this but there’s no way – unless I’m directed by Council – to accept a subpar system,” he said. “To RTG’s credit, everything they’re building and once it gets done and tested and commissioned, it’s state-of-the-art, it’s top notch, it’s right up there, but they have to understand that this system has to be very, very robust for those 325,000 customers that we move around every single day.

“We’ll not have a second chance to launch,” Manconi said.

Follow CTV’s Joanne Schnurr for the latest updates:

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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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