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Businesses along Bank Street in Ottawa’s Centretown district are seeing red after hooking up Christmas lights along the strip earlier this month, only to find out the city had not installed electricity.

The Bank Street Business Improvement Area paid $100,000 to get outdoor electrical outlets installed along Bank Street, between Laurier Avenue and Gladstone Avenue, while the city was doing infrastructure work in the area last year.

The work was done from June to November 2009, but it wasn’t until a year later when contractors working to set up the lights flicked the switch and watched as nothing happened.

Further investigation revealed that while the electrical receptacles along the tree guards were installed and the wiring work done, the hydro meters had not been installed in the nearby power cabinets.

NCC to test Parliament lights

The discovery comes at an awkward time, as many Ottawa streets are expected to be lined with Christmas lights for the holiday season. On Monday, the National Capital Commission is scheduled to test thousands of lights on Parliament Hill and government buildings, in preparation for the official lighting on Thursday.

“We were extremely surprised and concerned,” said Bank Street Business Improvement Area executive director Gerry Lepage. “We paid for this in its entirety. It’s an old used car adage — you take the car out of the lot and all the sudden it doesn’t work and all the sudden they’re not responsible.”

Diane Holmes, the councillor for Somerset Ward, said she spoke with municipal staff and said the city should shoulder the blame. She said city staff should have walked the street with the BIA to make sure the electric outlets worked.

“It looks to me like it’s our screw up,” said Holmes. “I don’t think we did that testing. It’s the city’s fault here.”

The city says it’s working with Hydro Ottawa to install the six missing hydro meters as soon as possible.

But Lepage said the mix-up has him concerned about quality control for other infrastructure projects the city has been involved with.

“It’s a serious concern that when you’re doing an infrastructure — it’s not even tested prior to being released,” he said.