Ranked-ballot voting's time may have come

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Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen

This is not the first time it's been noted that Ottawa's mayoral race is a little lacklustre, with just a few candidates in the running and only one who is even remotely able to challenge incumbent Mayor Jim Watson. But even second-place, fiscally conservative Mike Maguire is a longshot for the top job at this point.

One of the reasons for the absence of challengers could be that Watson is doing a good enough job. Or perhaps running against Watson's storied political machine is too daunting for some.

Either way, we're moving into an election with few nuanced choices for mayor. Right now the election can be boiled down to LRT/no LRT, and biweekly garbage pickup/weekly garbage pickup.

But a local activist group believes we can improve both the range of electoral choices as well as democratic participation by changing the way we vote.

Ottawa123 is advocating for our next city council to implement the ranked-choice ballot in time for the 2018 election, and is trying to make changing our current first-past-the-post system an election issue this time around.

The ranked-choice ballot is a fairly simple concept. Voters indicate their first, second and third choices for mayor (or other elected official). Whoever gets the least number of votes is eliminated. If your candidate is dropped off the list, then your vote goes to your second choice. This process continues until someone has more than 50 per cent of the vote. The counting is usually done automatically by computers — there aren't separate rounds of voting. (For a demonstration, go to Ottawa123.ca.)

Lansdowne attractions now closed for repairs

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David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen

Two days after the grand opening of the new “urban park” at Lansdowne, two of its key features have been closed — the playground because it isn’t finished and the skate park because it’s crumbling.

Monday afternoon, skateboarders had taken over the basketball courts when they found the nearby ramps and rails of the skate park fenced off, along with the nearby playground. The “great lawn” is open, but mostly what Lansdowne offers this week is empty plazas and views of the ongoing construction work. A promised water plaza isn’t ready yet and neither is a grassy berm with a lighted sculpture.

During the opening festivities on Saturday and then again on Sunday, dozens of children at a time swarmed Lansdowne’s playground, whose main feature is an undulating piece of metalwork covered in nets and climbing ropes. On Monday, the wood chips under the structure had been cleared away and ribbed plastic tubing was strewn around. No signs explained the closure.

“Last week’s weather prevented completion of the finishing touches on the play structure area, which needed dry conditions,” said the city’s general manager of infrastructure, Wayne Newell, in written answers to questions from the Citizen. “However, the City made certain the structure was available for the public over the weekend. The final elements in the play structure are now being completed.”

The work should take about a week, he wrote.

Lansdowne shuttle route changed for next Redblacks game

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Bus load on Lakeside Avenue cut by at least half for Friday game

Carys Mills, Ottawa Citizen

There will be fewer shuttle buses taking Lakeside Avenue for Friday's Redblacks game, following concerns from some residents of the quiet street.

Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko said Monday that changes to the shuttle route for this week's game will result in at least a 50-per-cent reduction in the number of shuttle buses taking Lakeside Avenue, which is close to Dow's Lake.

"Nothing is permanent, in that this going to be tested. We'll be crunching the numbers," Chernushenko said, adding assessment of the "pilot project" will include how long new routes take and whether they cause changes to shuttle usage.

Instead of taking Lakeside Avenue, buses picking people up at the Canada Post and Vincent Massey Park parking lots will use Heron Road and Prince of Wales Drive to get to Queen Elizabeth Driveway and ultimately TD Place.

Also being assessed in the pilot project will be the diversion of out-of-service buses to and from Carleton University and the R.A. Centre.

Some deadheaded pre-game buses on those routes will be diverted on to Preston Street and Carling Avenue and timed to judge the effectiveness of the trial route.

That diversion could reduce bus volumes on Lakeside Avenue by an extra 15 per cent.

City to divert majority of Lansdowne shuttle buses off of Lakeside

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Alison Sandor, CFRA

The City will divert the majority of game day shuttle buses to TD Place off of a small residential road in Old Ottawa South.

Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko told CFRA's Madely in the Morning, they will be diverting most buses off of Lakeside Avenue.

"We found a way to reduce the number of shuttle buses that will use Lakeside by more than 65 per cent," said Chernushenko.

He said they've determined it is better for the majority of buses to use another route.

"We found that people who are taking shuttles from Canada Post and Vincent Massey Park - the shuttle parking lots there - that running the buses down Heron, then the Prince of Wales Driveway onto QED [Queen Elizabeth Driveway] to Lansdowne, that's just as fast, maybe even faster than using the route that was Bronson and Lakeside," said Chernushenko.

He said they've also decided that empty buses will also be re-routed off of residential streets. Post-game buses will also use a longer route to get back to the parking lots.

"By that time in the evening, the traffic is so light on the streets, we feel that they can still be an effective, efficient route," Chernushenko said of the main routes.

Lakeside residents have been protesting the use of their street - saying it was dangerous to run 500 shuttle buses up their small road every REDBLACKS and Fury game.

Thirty-five per cent of shuttles will still be running along Lakeside, but Chernushenko said they will still be looking at improvements that they can make.