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Ottawa city manager quits on eve of release of negative report into troubled LRT project

With the report into Ottawa’s troubled LRT project expected to be handed down tomorrow, the City Manager of the city of Ottawa has handed in his resignation. Steve Kanellakos had served the city for 38 years. In a resignation note Monday, he made no bones about the fact that his departure was linked to the LRT project which has been plagued by technical problems.

Steve Kannelakos

Kanellakos hasn’t seen the report which was ordered by Ontario Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney a year ago, but told colleagues  based on the line of questioning from commission lawyers, he believes “the report will be critical of the city of Ottawa and city staff”

“This decision is mine and mine alone,” he wrote in a staff memo. “No one asked me to leave. I’ve always deeply believed in leadership accountability. As city manager, I am ultimately accountable for the performance of the organization. I have always deeply believed that my role is to have your backs and that it is my duty to accept ultimate responsibility for our performance.” The report is being prepared by Mr. Justice William Hourigan is expected to cost $14.5 Million after hearing 100 hours of testimony from 40 witnesses.

Testimony revealed that the city, particularly Mayor Jim Watson was in a rush to get the line opened and were warned that there could be reliability issues if there was insufficient time to test the system. CBC Ottawa reported rail manager Richard Holder testified the city willingly accepted a light rail system it knew was likely unreliable, and changed criteria to make it easier for RTG to pass the final testing of the Confederation Line.

With Kanellankos’ resignation, none of the key staff involved in the project, nor former Mayor Watson will be around to answer to the report.

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