The LRT at the University of Ottawa station. Photo: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum
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UOSU president wants to see accountability and student voices being heard at city council

In November, the City of Ottawa outlined new details for its plan to make OC Transpo free for users during December, to compensate city residents for the inconveniences caused by the LRT shut-down

However, many U of O students would not have benefited from this initial plan, since the U-Pass is acquired by students at the start of the semester. The $436.06 U-pass charge did not allow for students to opt-out for the fall 2021 without cause for exemption.

President of the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) Tim Gulliver is stating that it may be now possible for students to get a refund.

“The mayor’s office has reached out to say that they are planning to reimburse Carleton students and uOttawa students the cost of the December portion of the U-Pass cost. I think a motion has to go through on our end with different stakeholders for the U-Pass past later this month. So that decision will be finalized later this month,” said Gulliver in an interview.

Gulliver is not sure whether the decision comes as a result of public pressure reaching the mayor’s office or not. Either way, Gulliver said he is happy that students are getting the reimbursement that they deserve.

That said, Gulliver believes the reimbursement is no substitute for a functioning train system. 

“The UOSU executive committee has supported the call of a lot of city councilors including our own here in Rideau-Vanier, Mathieu Fleury, to call for an additional inquiry to ensure that Ottawa residents get answers to what happened with the LRT,” said Gulliver.

“First things first, we want the LRT to work. And we need accountability to understand what happened and to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The LRT is a key part of our transportation network here at uOttawa. There’s a station on campus that we’re very lucky to have. I think because of the COVID-19 pandemic there haven’t been as many complaints as there would have been in a normal year about LRT issues, but it needs to be reliable, it needs to be efficient, and it needs to meet the transit needs of our population.”

Gulliver also wants better communication from the City of Ottawa to student unions about how the U-Pass is being administered and handled. 

“I think there’s an absence of communication and it’s forgotten that it was students who voted to create the U-Pass so students should have a say in how the U-Pass is administered. And I think as a long term solution, we need real change at city council. We need student voices to be heard at city council and they’re not currently being heard on city council,” said Gulliver.

“We want this thing to work as much as anybody. And we’re determined to raise their voices to the city council, to municipal partners, and make their voices heard. We’ll never hesitate to take up opportunities to do that,” said Gulliver. “In principle, the advocacy committee actually a couple weeks ago voted to support free transit in principle. It’s something which we strongly believe in, that transit should be free.”