Ryan Reynolds visits, the latest on the Sens sale, and Stage 2 LRT is delayed: Top 5 stories in Ottawa this week

A visit from a Hollywood star, the LRT is delayed, and tense confrontations at a local school board meeting.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca takes a look at the top 5 stories on our website this week

Ryan Reynolds spent the day in Ottawa Thursday as he continues his efforts to buy the Senators, meeting with officials from the city of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission and attending the Senators game.

The Canadian actor, who played Michael ‘Berg’ Bergen in the 1998-2001 ABC sitcom Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place (later named Two Guys and a Girl), posted a photo on Instagram with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe on Thursday morning, taken at the mayor’s office.

Also in the photo: Chris Bratty, the president of Remington Group. Reynolds has aligned himself with the Toronto-based real estate developers in their bid for the team.

Reynolds and Bratty also met with National Capital Commission CEO Tobi Nussbaum while in Ottawa.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed earlier this week during his visit to Ottawa that there are about a half-dozen groups still in the running to buy the club.

Ryan Reynolds, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and Remington Group president Chris Bratty at Ottawa City Hall on Thursday, Mar. 30, 2023. (Instagram/vancityreynolds)

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says it will be up to the new owners of the Senators to decide whether to build a new arena at LeBreton Flats or at another location in Ottawa.

And the commissioner says he did not ask for any public dollars to help build a new arena during a meeting with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.

The NHL commissioner told CTV News Ottawa he didn’t “make any demands” during the meeting, and the NHL isn’t asking for “any public dollars” for a new arena.

Bettman held meetings with Sutcliffe, officials with the National Capital Commission and Senators staff during his visit to Ottawa on Monday, and attended the Senators game against Florida at Canadian Tire Centre. The visit came as the process to sell the Senators enters the next phase, winnowing down the prospective buyers in the running for the club to approximately six.

During his daylong visit to Ottawa, the commissioner said it could be early to mid summer before a new owner is in place for the Senators.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, left, meets with Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe at Ottawa City Hall in Ottawa, on Monday, March 27, 2023. (Spencer Colby/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The 2023 federal budget included a major win for the beer, wine and spirits industries.

The increase in excise duties on all alcoholic products is being temporarily capped at two per cent starting April 1 instead of a planned 6.3 per cent increase.

It was a government concession after microbrewers and distillers said the higher excise tax would affect their bottom lines, already hurt by the higher cost of ingredients, manufacturing and other expenses.

Alcohol excise duties are automatically indexed to inflation at the start of each fiscal year, hence the planned 6.3 per cent rise this year.

The two per cent cap is just for the 2023-24 fiscal year, the government says. After that, it’s possible that inflation will have fallen, meaning the excise tax won’t be as punishing.

The long-awaited southern extension to Ottawa’s light rail network is facing a further delay, a city committee heard Wednesday.

The Trillium Line, which had been scheduled to open by this September, now won’t open for the start of the school year.

City staff told the light rail subcommittee on Tuesday that they are hoping that contractor SNC-Lavalin will hand over the project to the city in October.

Staff did not provide an exact timeline for when passengers will be able to use the Trillium Line, saying it depends on how the system performs in city-run testing.

The eastern extension to the Confederation Line is also further delayed, committee heard Tuesday.

The line to Trim Road is 51 days behind schedule compared to the last update. Handover to the city is now scheduled for January 2025, with trial running scheduled for January and February of that year.

The Confederation Line west extension is still 17 months late, unchanged from the previous update. It’s now scheduled to open in late 2026.

Crews installing tracks on O-Train Line 2, part of LRT Stage 2, Oct. 12, 2022. Line 2, a.k.a. the Trillium Line, is up to a year behind schedule. (Chris Black/CTV News Ottawa)

Tensions flared Tuesday night outside an Ottawa school board meeting as trustees heard delegations about gender and washrooms in schools.

More than 200 people were turned away from the meeting after several speakers signed up to discuss transgender students’ use of washrooms. The board’s policy is already in place and there was no vote on any changes, but an earlier controversy was used to direct anger at the board and one of its trustees.

The controversy began when parent Nick Morabito signed up earlier this month to speak at the board. In his remarks, he began raising the issue of transgender students using girls’ washrooms. An OCDSB policy gives students the right to use the washroom they feel the most comfortable with.

Trustee Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth cut Morabito off and called his remarks transphobic. She was then the target of online petitions calling for her removal and posted to social media to say she received several antisemitic death threats.

Many of those people rallied outside the board office during the meeting, with police forced to separate the two sides. Many brought signs reading ‘Trans rights are human rights,’ and other messages in support of transgender students.

Despite the clashes outside, the meeting itself was calm. The board put measures in place for safety, including limiting space to 75 members of the public, banning signs and erecting dividers separating the public from the trustees.

About 200 parents were turned away from an Ottawa-Carleton District School Board meeting on Tuesday. (Jackie Perez/CTV News Ottawa)

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