The Tomato

Photo: Rame Abdulkader.
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Five years of construction revealed to be workers making fake noises

Ever since Ottawa announced the start of construction back in 2013, Ottawa’s massive Light Rail Transit (LRT) project has been a wild ride of ups and downs, twists and turns, and everything else you hope to never encounter aboard a train.

By now, in the final few months of 2018, city officials have served up enough misleading deadlines and excuse-laden setbacks to give even the University of Ottawa administration a run for its money. People are left wondering when, if ever, the new LRT line will open, and just what the heck is going on.

Fortunately, the Tomato has learned the answer.

A highly classified City of Ottawa document was made public this week by PettyLeaks, in which the full details of an elaborate LRT coverup are exposed: on the dozens of supposed construction sites around the city, workers are being paid to “look busy” and make convincing but fake “construction noises.”

Meanwhile, actual progress is nowhere to be seen. In a bold move of investigative journalism, we visited the site of the planned U of O Station, located on campus, to confirm this news.

What we saw was astounding. Tomato reporters found loads of professional-grade concert speakers set up all over the site, hooked up some guy’s laptop playing “Epic Construction Ruckus Medley—10-hour Version” on YouTube. Most workers were walking around, adjusting the speakers’ wiring, while some enthusiastically beat pots and pans with cutlery.

We even came across one worker simulating the sound of a jackhammer with his vocal tract. We attempted to interview him, but it appeared that five years of this unusual phonetic exercise had left him incapable of producing vowels. “Rtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrt,” he said.

The site manager approached us, and eventually spilled the beans. “Yeah, that’s right,” she said. “After signing the agreement, the City made it clear what we had to do: make it look good but don’t actually get anything done. To be honest, we’re hard workers and could have had this sucker done years ago, but hey, boss’s orders, right?”

When asked to speculate on the City’s line of thinking, she replied, “Oh, no-no-no. I don’t get paid nearly enough to understand those nut-heads.”

Surprisingly, as we broke the news to passers-by, many seemed quite indifferent. “Hm, I guess that makes sense,” says Ottawa native and U of O student, Katie Cynic. “I mean, maybe you guys don’t know this town like I do… but by our standards this isn’t so bad. My neighbours and I are still waiting for them to fill a pothole from 1942.”

The Tomato’s final stop was city hall, where we saw Councillors Chick Sparelli and Flathieu Meury, who quickly threw their briefcases into some shrubbery and jumped into a passing blacked-out SUV, 007-style. We sought out mayor Tim Watson, but he declined to be interviewed.

Instead a spokesperson for Watson stated, “The LRT project has always given the people of Ottawa something to look forward to, and we are committed to keeping it this way.”

We could not have said it better ourselves.