LRT inquiry to examine safety, tech, value and accountability: Mulroney

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TORONTO — Ontario's transportation minister says a public inquiry examining Ottawa's light rail transit system will look into issues regarding safety, technical elements, value for money and accountability.

Caroline Mulroney says the government is still working to define the scope of the inquiry, including appointing a commissioner.

She says a budget has not yet been set for the probe, but that it will proceed in a "fiscally responsible way."

The minister says she hopes the inquiry will deliver recommendations sometime next year, but couldn't give a more precise timeline.

In announcing the inquiry on Wednesday, the minister said the problems plaguing Stage 1 of the project are unacceptable and disappointing.

She added that the province, which is a funding partner in the project, needs certainty that the city will be able to successfully carry out the remaining work.

"That system has been up and running for two years... and there have been a number of incidents, including the trains not working for almost 54 days. So we've got to get answers," Mulroney said in a news conference Thursday.

"We're trying to understand what went wrong. This has been a municipally run project since the beginning with a number of players involved on the procurement side, on the technical side, on the safety side, so we are going to be looking at the actions of a number of players."

Ottawa's mayor, Jim Watson, said in a statement that he welcomes the province's decision and will respond more fully when the scope of the inquiry is laid out.

"As I have said over the last year, my number one goal is to get RTG and Alstom to fix LRT and start delivering the world class transit service Ottawa paid for and transit passengers deserve," he said.

The $2-billion line opened two years ago, and there have been five derailments in that time, according to the federal Transportation Safety Board.

Other issues included a large sinkhole that emerged on a major downtown street during construction, door jams that caused significant delays, and salt spray from roads affecting electrical works.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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