Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Doucet black sheep in Council

A number of other councillors have been criticizing Capital Councillor Clive Doucet for his outspoken denunciation of Ottawa's approved transit plan, according to an article in the Ottawa Sun.

Doucet has been saying the plan does not include enough light-rail, will take too long for the light-rail included to be finalized, and will be prohibitively expensive--to the point of requiring a special transit tax.

Other councillors, including Alex Cullen and Rainer Bloess, have suggested that Doucet is still upset that the old North-South transit line was cancelled by council. Bloess, in the above-linked Sun article, said Doucet's criticisms were simply "sour grapes" and that Doucet is too quick to insult the new plan--which includes 70 km more light rail than the North-South line had.

On Wednesday, Doucet criticized the recent $4-billion, 25-year transit plan council voted 19-4 to adopt.

Doucet said the plan is nothing more than a "1970s bus plan," with some light rail planned for the future.

Bloess said he's tired of Doucet's "sour grapes" over the plan and criticized his colleague's statements that a downtown tunnel won't be built for 11 years and that taxpayers will be hit with a special tax to pay for it.

In another Sun article, Ottawa's deputy city manager for planning Nancy Schepers suggested that Doucet's claims of timelines for the plan--which he states will not be complete for 7 to 11 years--are speculative, and his suggestion of a tax is premature.

"We started planning this 10 years ago and we won't see light rail in the city for another 10 years," said Doucet.

Schepers said Doucet is speculating on both the tunnel time frame and the need for a special tax to pay for it, because council has yet to make important decisions concerning the project.

The Ottawa Citizen also printed an article about infighting in Council, noting duelling press conferences that Doucet held against a joint conference Cullen, Peggy Feltmate, and Peter Hume.

"This town wants us to move. This town is broken. This town is choking," said Mr. Cullen, who chairs council's transit committee. He said that while the total transit plan looks huge and expensive, so did the bus transitway plan, which was funded by the Ontario government more than 20 years and has served the city well.


At city hall, Mr. Doucet told reporters he's convinced the city's transit plan will be focused on buses at the expense of building rail.

"This plan is for buses and for buses only," he said.

In a later interview, Mr. Doucet rebutted an assertion by the deputy city manager responsible for transit that he was merely speculating about what the plan would entail.

"It will be set up so we don't have any choice," he said, predicting that the city will ultimately spend far more on buses than on rail in the new plan, and even have to impose a special transit levy to do it.

Doucet is certainly not pulling any punches about the new light-rail plan. His website, CliveDoucet.com, includes links to a press release he sent out stating, in his opinion, how misguided Option 4 is. He's also got a link to a story about speculation that Jon Baird killed the North-South line. No end to the drama in Ottawa's city council.


Ben said...

I honestly do not expect light rail to be completed for 10 years. This is a long-term project with billions of dollars at stake. Why shouldn't it take 10 years?

I like that Doucet is saying what's on his mind rather than sitting aside admiring the achivements of council. As the Larry O'Brien era has taught us, it's never too late (or too costly) to cancel LRT.

Anonymous said...

At the meeting at which Ottawa city council approved their current transit plan (if you can call it that) Nancy Schepers was asked for an estimate of how long it might be before someone was able to ride-the-rails on this new transit system. At that time, SHE gave an estimate of 7 to eleven years. What's with the amnesia?

Yours truly,
Someone who was there

Peter Raaymakers said...

Thank you for the clarification, Someone who was there. Perhaps Schepers does have amnesia, but your comments would be even more interesting if they weren't shrouded in anonymity.