Volume 12 Week 5

Friday, Feb. 23


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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

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Tim Tierney






(Posted 8:30 a.m., Feb. 3)
Fairness watchdog to keep an eye on next phase of interprovincial bridge study

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The National Capital Commission plans to appoint an independent auditor to look out for the public's interest during the next phase of the interprovincial bridge study.

The decision was announced at the Jan. 23 meeting of the NCC's board of directors.

According to the NCC CEO Marie Lemay, the auditor will monitor the public consultation process during Phase 2B and ensure that the public is kept informed in a timely and thorough manner.

The auditor will work with an as-yet-to-be-named evaluation committee.

"This is the last stretch and we are doing everything we can. And honestly, I think we are going overboard with this thing, but this way when it's done, (the public) can not say they didn't get a chance to participate, or the process was not followed," said Lemay.

The decision to appoint a fairness auditor was made to address a number of concerns that came out of the most recent round of public consultations. A number of community association observers felt the public wasn't given sufficient notice of the public meetings and that the final report coming out of those meetings didn't reflect many of the comments that were made. In essence, they felt that the outcome has already been determined.

Lemay has vehemently denied the fix is in and is hoping the decision to appoint a public watchdog will address the public's concerns as the Environmental Assessment study moves forward.

"The fairness auditor should bring them comfort," said Lemay.

Convent Glen North resident Hugh Carter has been following the process from the beginning as a member of Common Sense Crossings and Sustainable Solutions.

He thinks the appointment of a fairness auditor is a step in the right direction in trying to address some of the concerns brought up by a number of community groups coming out of the last phase. However, he is much more concerned about the study's guidelines and the lack of clearly defined deliverables.

More specifically, he says the study lacks several key Critical Success Factors (CSF), or a proper Risk Management Plan.

Among the CSFs Carter feels need to be defined before the next phase can begin are:

- the number of trucks which would be diverted from the King Edward corridor;

- the acceptable minimum level of disruption to wildlife;

- the maximum acceptable noise level permitted in surrounding residences, businesses and public institutions;

- the acceptable maximum level of traffic density on the trunk roads leading to the bridge.

Without a list of clearly defined CSFs, it is impossible to establish a proper Risk Management Plan that could address whatever mitigation would have to be implemented should the CSFs not be met.

For instance, if you put a number on the minimum percentage of trucks you want to divert from the King Edward corridor and the final recommened site fails to hit that target, what can be done to narrow that gap? Are the residents in Lowertown and Sandy Hill willing to live with that number? Does another crossing need to be built?

"What's Plan B," asks Carter, who sent a letter outlining his concerns to Lemay last month and is expecting a response soon.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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