The trial and tribulations of Mayor Larry O’Brien; a killer flu; transit and cycling chaos; a plan for the park; and a disgruntled Senator fed to the Sharks were the big stories for Ottawa in 2009.
The year began with Ottawa residents trudging through the snow and carpooling to work while a transit strike that started on Dec. 11 extended through January.
The threat of action from the federal government eventually forced the city and the Amalgamated Transit Union to accept binding arbitration on Jan. 29, with service taking until April to return to normal.
After a dreadful start to the season, the Ottawa Senators fired head coach Craig Hartsburg on Feb. 2 and replaced him with Cory Clouston, head coach of the AHL affiliate team in Binghamton. The Senators missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1995-96 season, but Clouston had the team playing well enough that he was brought back for another season.
On May 1, Mayor Larry O’Brien took a leave of absence to stand trial on two criminal code charges stemming from allegations that he attempted to secure a position on the National Parole Board for Terry Kilrea, in exchange for Kilrea dropping out of the 2006 mayoral campaign. Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Douglas Cunningham dismissed the charges against him on Aug. 5.
On June 10, citing a diminishing role within the team, Senators forward Dany Heatley handed general manager Bryan Murray a list of cities where he would like to be traded. He was sent to the San Jose Sharks on Sept. 13 for Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo.
It was also a bad year for cyclists. On July 19, Hilary McNamee, Rob Harland, Mark White, Cathy Anderson and Robert Wein were struck by a minivan while cycling on March Road in Kanata. Sommit Luangpakham was charged with five counts of failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing bodily harm.
One of the biggest issues in the city was Lansdowne Park. On April 22, city council voted to enter into a sole-source negotiation with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to redevelop Lansdowne Park, which put an end to a bid from Senators Sports and Entertainment to build a stadium beside Scotiabank Place that would house a Major League Soccer team.
On Sept. 2, the city unveiled a $250-million Lansdowne Partnership plan to reshape Lansdowne Park.
On Sept. 10, Mayor Larry O’Brien announced Jasmine MacDonnell, former aide to Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt, was hired as his communications director.
The H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, also made big news. The first case of was confirmed in Ottawa on May 5, and on Oct. 26 the city rolled out its first vaccines. Six people died during the second wave of the flu.