Sparks Street Mall Authority governance review: bumpy

Kevin O'Donnell
2016-04-18 10:18

Four years after starting a six-month project to revamp its taxi regime, the City of Ottawa has legalized Uber. A year and a half after being told to review the governance structure of Sparks St, the City of Ottawa has bumped its delivery timeline twice.

November 2014: new council boots up

At their first meeting in Novermber 2014 for the 2014-2018 term, Council told staff (as part of the overall governance review) to "conduct a detailed governance review of the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area Board and the Sparks Street Mall Authority Board of Management and report to the Finance and Economic Development Committee and Council no later than Q2 2015."

Q2 2015 deadline passes

In November of 2015 (Q4!) staff included this note about the review in the Background section of an unrelated report on regular appointments to the Sparks St BIA:

"... staff have been conducting a specific governance review of the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area Board and the Sparks Street Mall Authority Board of Management which will be considered by Committee and Council by Q4 of 2015."

What a difference two weeks makes

In December of 2015, just two weeks after the previous report, staff reported that the Sparks Street governance review "is anticipated to be completed in early 2016".

I find the looser choice of wording interesting. Council originally gave a three-month delivery window (Q2 2015). By placing a notice that a new deadline is anticipated in a report to Council (and having that report adopted), staff received permission to target a new three-month delivery window (Q4 2015).

The latest update targets a delivery window of "early 2016" which, since we're already in April, should really be taken as "in the first half of" 2016.

Will the report be further delayed?

We're four months into the six-month delivery window.

There could be very good reasons why the report isn't ready yet. Perhaps as staff got started on the report they realized their first workplan was not broad enough, and a wider consultation was needed? That takes time, and it's good to do things right the first time. But we don't know the cause of the delays.

I hope we don't repeat the 2012-2016 Uber report saga and drag things on endlessly, just to rip a bandaid at the end of it anyway.



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