With several tornadoes hitting the Ottawa area in June, the off-ice drama with the Ottawa Senators, the death of RendezVous LeBreton, and wildlife making their way into the city, its been a busy year for news in the nation’s capital.
In no particular order, here’s a list combining some of the capital’s biggest local stories of the year and some of the stories that had our readers clicking in droves.
They hit swiftly, upending the lives of hundreds of residents in the National Capital Region. Two powerful twisters on Friday, Sept. 21, devastated the rural west Ottawa community of Dunrobin (before moving on to Gatineau’s Mont-Bleu area) and the Nepean neighbourhoods of Arlington Woods and Craig Henry. The tornadoes ripped through residents’ homes, felled trees and tore down power lines, leaving thousands without power for days.
In the week following the tornadoes, Global News talked to affected residents and businesses, and spoke to an expert about why it took days to confirm that six twisters in total hit areas in Ontario and Quebec that Friday. Many residents were still struggling a month later and into the colder months.
Long-awaited plans to move ahead with the revitalization of LeBreton Flats came to screeching halt this fall after Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk launched a bombshell lawsuit against his business partner in the massive project – Trinity Development and the company’s founder John Ruddy. Melnyk and his sports company, Capital Sports Management Inc. (CSMI), sued Trinity and Ruddy for $700 million over the “failed joint venture.” Ruddy and Trinity filed their defence three weeks later and simultaneously fired back with a $1-billion counterclaim.
The National Capital Commission (NCC) late on Dec. 19 announced it was moving to terminate its agreement with RendezVous LeBreton, ahead of the board of directors’ next meeting in January, when they are expected to decide how to move forward. The NCC’s new CEO — an Ottawa city councillor — is set to take the helm of the Crown corporation shortly after, in early February.
Small, but mighty: an unfortunately-located bird’s nest and four killdeer eggs held up construction of the main stage for Ottawa’s biggest outdoor music festival for a couple of days in June. The unique predicament required intervention by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and Environment Canada, and drew lots of media attention in the process, arguably becoming the local story of the summer.
In the end, Environment Canada issued a permit so the killdeer nest could be moved and the NCC located an expert to help out with the relocation. Documents which Global News later obtained through an access-to-information request revealed what went on behind the scenes as the NCC figured out how to deal with the Bluesfest Killdeer (which of course, had its own parody Twitter account.)
Bears and boas and moose, oh my!
In other wildlife news, animals on the loose were a huge hit with our readers this year, particularly our reports on a black bear that roamed Ottawa’s ByWard Market one September morning and a moose who limped onto the Queensway back in July. It was a happy ending for #ByWardBear but not so much for #HighwayMoose.
Special mention goes to ‘Westboa’– a pet boa constrictor many thought to have slithered onto the streets of Westboro. In the end, the snake had been hanging out in its owner’s basement the whole time.
News that well-respected former NDP Member of Parliament Paul Dewar had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer came as a shock to many in the Ottawa community. But in the months since, Dewar has changed the channel from cancer to community, in June launching a new grassroots initiative to foster greater youth civic engagement and help young people change their communities for the better.
Dewar was presented with the key to the City of Ottawa – the city’s highest honour – at a ceremony at city hall in early November for his “his service and dedication to his community and country, and his significant contributions to education and youth empowerment.”
Residents across the province made their way to the polls in October to vote in their new council members. In Ottawa, Jim Watson secured a third consecutive term as mayor and seven new councillors were sworn in.
The campaign was not without its controversy as Coun. Tim Tierney was charged with corrupt practices under the Municipal Elections Act after allegedly offering to make a donation to the food bank if his opponent backs out of the race. Tierney was initially the only person running until the final day of eligibility.
Mayoral candidate Clive Doucet made headlines as well when he released a bizarre video in which he can be seen among wreckage from the tornadoes calling out opponent Jim Watson for not attending environmental debates.
Leaked Senators’ Uber video
One of the biggest stories of the year for Ottawa was about a video from the inside of an Uber that was leaked. In the video, several Ottawa Senators players were heard criticizing coaching staff.
The story was initially broke by the Ottawa Citizen and after the video was deleted online, the newspaper was the only one with a copy. As a result, lawyers from the Senators organization sent a letter to the newspaper demanding that they take the video down. The Citizen denied the request.
As a result, the organization denied the Senators beat reporter for the Citizen access to their charter flight, after the reporter had arrived at the airport for the flight.
Uber takes off with child in back seat
One of the more popular stories in Ottawa was the story of Erika and Mason Godin.
Erika and her three-year-old son Mason were heading to a holiday party at Mason’s daycare and were planning to take an Uber. Once Mason was packed into the Uber, Erika closed the door and the Uber drove off with her son.
The child was recovered safely but Erika was left with several questions after she says Uber customer service wasn’t helpful at all.
WATCH: Mother angry with Uber after 3-year-old son taken after ‘misunderstanding’
Riverside South hockey rink
A viral story out of Ottawa made ripples not only across Canada but around the world as well.
An Ottawa father built a small hockey rink in his side yard for his and the neighbourhood children to enjoy. A neighbour called Ottawa bylaw as they believed the boards were “ugly” and as a result, the man had to remove the boards. Initially, reports said the rink would need to be taken down entirely which led to the emotional and viral response.
The city allowed the rink to remain, as long as the boards were removed.
WATCH: Ottawa dad describes support family has received over homemade rink uproar
Ottawa Senators drama
One of the biggest newsmakers of the year was the off-ice drama that plagued the Ottawa Senators during the offseason.
Most notorious of those episodes were the allegations of online bullying that Melinda Karlsson, wife of former Sens captain Erik Karlsson, made against Monika Caryk, the girlfriend of former Senator Matt Hoffman.
WATCH: Senators captain’s wife says teammate’s girlfriend harassed, threatened her