Councillors say they never saw recommendations from Westboro bus crash report

·2 min read
Coun. Catherine McKenney says not having the interim report could have 'compromised' their role on the city's transit commission. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)
Coun. Catherine McKenney says not having the interim report could have 'compromised' their role on the city's transit commission. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)

One councillor on Ottawa's transit commission and another who represents the Westboro area are wondering why recommendations from an interim report into the fatal Westboro station bus crash weren't shared with council.

The confidential Westboro Collision Interim Review Report, dated Oct. 30, 2020, was obtained by CBC News after it was referenced in court during the trial of bus driver Aissatou Diallo.

More than 35 people were injured and three people died in the Jan. 11, 2019 collision. Diallo has pleaded not guilty to all 38 dangerous driving charges, and her judge-alone trial is expected to resume June 1.

On its final page, the interim report includes recommendations — some dating to March 2019 — about lowering speeds on the Transitway and reviewing the design of stations.

Coun. Catherine McKenney, a member of the transit commission, said those recommendations have never been discussed by councillors or the commission itself.

"We've not been privy to the recommendations coming out of the report and any actions taken by staff in relation to what was uncovered," McKenney said.

"Without being provided the information out of that safety investigation, my role as a commissioner with oversight over the transit system could be compromised."

McKenney said recommendations about Transitway speed limits and station design have implications throughout the city, while another recommendation about installing cameras that face the bus operator has never come up.

Coun. Catherine McKenney says not having the interim report could have 'compromised' their role on the city's transit commission.
Coun. Catherine McKenney says not having the interim report could have 'compromised' their role on the city's transit commission.(Jean Delisle/CBC)

'I would've appreciated knowing'

In a statement, the city said the interim report was confidential because it contained employment history protected by privacy law.

The city also said it contained draft recommendations under review by engineering experts, work that should be completed later this year, though the interim report said it was expected to be wrapped up in 2020.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, who represents the Westboro area, said while he understands privacy rules around employee history and the ongoing criminal trial may complicate matters, a modified version of the report should have been provided to keep councillors up to date.

"I also recognize that it's important to proceed in a thoughtful manner. I think I would've appreciated knowing that the city was going ahead with something rather than the silence that we've had until this point," Leiper said.

Leiper said he's asked city staff for an update on the engineering review of the recommendations.

Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley, chair of the transit commission, was not available for an interview. The city has accepted civil responsibility for the bus crash.