Ottawa mayor, ex-head of OC Transpo among those set to testify at LRT public inquiry

·2 min read
From left to right: former OC Transpo general manager John Manconi, transit directors Troy Charter and Pat Scrimgeour, as well as former Rideau Transit Group CEO Peter Lauch appear at a February 2020 news conference about problems on the light rail system. All but Scrimgeour have been called as witnesses for the upcoming public inquiry. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)
From left to right: former OC Transpo general manager John Manconi, transit directors Troy Charter and Pat Scrimgeour, as well as former Rideau Transit Group CEO Peter Lauch appear at a February 2020 news conference about problems on the light rail system. All but Scrimgeour have been called as witnesses for the upcoming public inquiry. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)

The commission investigating the many breakdowns on Ottawa's Confederation Line has called 40 witnesses to testify at the public inquiry hearings next month, including a who's who of city hall players past and present.

Lawyers with the Ottawa Light Rail Commission, which was established last fall by the Progressive Conservative government, have been interviewing many people involved in the LRT over recent weeks.

Late Wednesday, just before a pair of public meetings were to begin, the commission released the draft list of those being asked to give testimony from June 13 to July 8 when hearings are held at a courtroom at the University of Ottawa.

Mayor Jim Watson and other sitting council members, including transit commission chair Allan Hubley, Somerset ward Coun. Catherine McKenney, and Capital ward's Shawn Menard are on that list.

Others set to testify include many of the city staff members and Rideau Transit Group (RTG) executives who have been grilled about the train's many problems since opening day in September 2019 — including two derailments, flat wheels, cracked wheels, arcing flashes on its overhead electrical system, jammed doors and more.

That list includes former transportation general manager John Manconi, city manager Steve Kanellakos, former RTG CEO Peter Lauch, and current consortium executives Mario Guerra and Nicolas Truchon.

The provincial government gave the commission a broad mandate, which includes looking at the decisions that led to the procurement for the first stage of light rail more than a decade ago.

Past city staff also asked to speak 

That contract was approved by city council in December 2012, so the witness list also includes a number of former high-ranking city employees, including former rail director John Jensen, former treasurer Marian Simulik, and former deputy city manager Nancy Schepers.

Members of the public will also hear the perspectives of employees of Infrastructure Ontario, which oversaw the procurement of Stage 1 LRT, as well as train builder Alstom and consultant STV, among others.

In addition to the testimony, the commission has been provided with more than half a million documents from the City of Ottawa alone, not to mention documents from other parties.

Justice William Hourigan, commissioner of this investigation into the technical and commercial issues that led to the Confederation Line's breakdowns, is to deliver his findings and recommendations by Aug. 31, or by Nov. 30 if given an extension by Ontario's Minister of Transportation.

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