City of Ottawa, transit group reach settlement over LRT contract dispute
By Cindy TranMachinery and Equipment Maintenance Transportation
OTTAWA – The City of Ottawa and Rideau Transit Group have reached an out-of-court settlement to end their dispute over the light rail transit system.
In a joint statement, the two parties say the settlement will resolve the issues between them and they will now turn to resetting their relationship to focus on the “delivery of safe and reliable transit service for the people of Ottawa.”
Rideau Transit Group is a consortium of companies contracted to design, build and maintain the city’s light rail transit system through a public-private partnership agreement.
The relationship between the two groups was fractured when a sinkhole opened up on Rideau Street where tunnelling work was underway in June 2016.
According to the final report of a public inquiry into issues with the system, released in November 2022, the two parties disagreed over who was responsible for the sinkhole.
The city argued that it was caused by the tunnelling activities, but the consortium said the city had improperly installed a joint on a relocated fire hydrant.
The report said that had a significant impact on the project’s overall timelines, and led to issues with sharing information between the transit group and the city.
The public inquiry found the construction firm faced significant pressure from the city because each missed deadline resulted in a $1 million fine, according to the contract.
It also said the city lost confidence in the reliability of the transit group’s schedules, and as delays happened, pressure mounted from both the public and city council.
The city filed two notices of default against Rideau Transit Group _ one in March 2020 over issues with the rail line, and then a second on Sept. 24, 2021, after two trains derailed.
In their statement Friday, the city and Rideau Transit Group said they’ve been working on mending their relationship.
“The city and RTG have been working collaboratively and co-operatively together for many months on the development of a rigorous implementation plan and resolution of both the default and maintenance disputes,” the statement said.
The statement said the transit group is committed to resolving the issues for all light rail vehicles before opening the next extension of the system, which is set to be completed in 2025.
On Wednesday, city council heard an update from the city’s legal team about proceedings on this and other disputes.
The groups have also settled several disputes about the maintenance of the light rail system.