City of Ottawa taking dispute over recent LRT derailments to court

A notice of default related to Ottawa's light-rail transit system is being taken to court, the city's legal team says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The City of Ottawa’s legal team is taking its arguments over recent light-rail disputes to court, looking for a judge to confirm a notice of default to Rideau Transit Group related to derailments on the Confederation Line in August and September.

The city filed its second notice of default to the company that built and now maintains the LRT system on Sept. 24, a few days after the second derailment on the line in as many months.

Essentially, the city told RTG that it wasn’t living up to its end of the bargain to deliver quality rail service — a claim the consortium disputed.

Ottawa’s rail construction manager Michael Morgan was directed by the city’s finance committee to resolve the conflict through a resolution process set out in the project agreement.

That failed, Morgan said in a memo to councillors on Wednesday afternoon, and, as such, the city’s lawyers filed an application Wednesday morning to take the matter to court.

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Ottawa’s legal team hopes a judge will side with them over RTG and confirm the notice of default is valid, a point in Ottawa’s favour in resolving ongoing disputes over LRT service.

The city and RTG have filed claims against one another related to maintenance payments withheld from the consortium and a series of service disruptions on the Confederation Line. The city expects RTG to foot the bill for all downtime on the LRT system and associated costs for running replacement transit service.

Ottawa has still yet to sign off on all steps taken to improve service quality after the first notice of dispute filed against RTG in March 2020.

The finance committee is also expected to get a closed-door update on the city’s legal disputes with RTG at a special meeting on Friday, where the public will also hear an update on construction progress on Stage 2 of the system.

Ottawa’s general manager of transit, Renée Amilcar, also sent a memo on Wednesday afternoon saying that the LRT system has achieved 99.1 per cent service delivery since it restarted in mid-November.

OC Transpo has had tighter oversight of transit maintenance and operations on the line since it restarted, alongside Ottawa’s independent rail safety advisors, TRA, she said in the memo.

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Amilcar said the city’s transit staff are meeting with Rideau Transit Maintenance officials on a daily basis to review the status of ongoing issues.

“While we are satisfied with the overall performance of Line 1 since it re-opened, the true test of its reliability requires months of consistent service, rather than weeks,” she said.

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