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Canal closed to skaters 

OTTAWA—THE RIDEAU CANAL skateway officially closed for the season on Feb. 24 after a week of warm weather. This year’s skating season lasted 28 days, the shortest since a 26-day season in 2002.

Despite its relatively short run, 19 consecutive skating days in addition to Winterlude activities marked this year as a busy one on the canal. Ottawa’s NHL All-Star Game celebrations, as well as the junior skills competition, also took place on the canal this year.

The longest skating season was in 1971–72, with 95 skating days. The earliest the canal has been opened for skating is Dec. 18, and the latest recorded closing was March 25. The canal skateway has had an average 42-day season over the last five years.

—Spencer Van Dyk

Estimated cost for eight-kilometre O-train extension to Riverside South hits $76 million

OTTAWA—ACCORDING TO THE City of Ottawa, extending the O-Train to reach to Leitrim and Riverside South, two rapidly growing areas, would cost approximately $76 million, but could attract new transit users and offset the cost of other forms of transportation needed in the area.

“[Riverside South is] where big tracts of developable land inside the urban boundary are, and we have to be able to serve it with transit in some way,” said Diane Deans, who chairs the transit commission. “We have to serve that community somehow, whether it be bus rapid transit, light rapid transit, or diesel rapid transit in the form of the O-Train. It has to be something.”

The transit commission said the cost and benefit balance is being analyzed not only with regards to the O-Train, but other modes of transportation, as well as possible alternate routes and stops for the O-Train.

 —Spencer Van Dyk


Western election hacker confesses, faces charges

LONDON, Ont.—THE PERSON BEHIND the hacking of a University of Western Ontario’s student union voting website has come forward, and will now likely face criminal charge. Keith Horwood tweeted a YouTube video to University Students’ Council of The University of Western Ontario (USC) president Andrew Forgione Feb. 17, explaining his motivations and offering an apology.

During the video, Horwood, Western alumnus with a double major in biology and biochemistry, explained how he carried out the hacking to highlight a security flaw in the website’s design. While campus police originally handled the case, it has now been passed to London police, who are considering pressing criminal charges.

After a decision by the elections committee and the presidential candidates, votes cast for the new Western USC president Feb. 14–15 are now considered invalid and a byelection will be held.

—Lee Richardson, Ontario Bureau Chief

University of Alberta draws fire for honouring Nestlé chairman with degree

EDMONTON—THE UNIVERSITY OF Alberta has sparked controversy with its recent decision to award three individuals honourary degrees for their groundbreaking work in water research. Among the three awarded is Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman and former CEO of the Nestlé corporation, a company that has played a controversial role in global resource management.

Brabeck-Letmathe leads a worldwide project on water resources as a member of the Foundational Board of the World Economic Forum, and has co-authored a report charting the future of water. He has also used his position as chairman of Nestlé to engage government and business leaders on issues surrounding water resource scarcity and security.

“His recent advocacy and leadership calling attention to water issues worldwide is challenging industry and government to take quick action,” wrote Indira Samarasekera, University of Alberta President.

Because of his ties to Nestlé, Brabeck-Letmathe has come under fire for his company’s advocacy of water privatization, as well as its methods of marketing products to developing countries.

—April Hudson, the Gateway