In the past week, I have been communicating to the west end. This meant, many times, traveling by bus along the Transitway and onto the Parkway, roughly charting the route of the proposed light rail.
In my last post, I wrote a measured defense of the NCC’s stance. If we accept that the area along the western Parkway is of national significance, it is well within the NCC’s purview to make certain demands (though that means they should also foot the bill). However, after a week of travels, I am skeptical of the NCC’s claims.
The point of the NCC is to create/preserve a capital city that the nation can be proud of… or something. Naturally, this places a number of locations and buildings in the downtown core under the dominion of the NCC. It’s understandable that within metres of Parliament Hill, these locations will have such significance. Similarly, much of the canal is of sufficient significance that a case can be made for NCC control.
Eventually, though, the NCC’s claims on Ottawa will become absurd. The NCC would have no legitimate claim over the lands of Barrhaven, or Orleans, or Kanata. Even newly trendy areas like Westboro and Hintonburg – though they may attract attention from tourists – don’t fall under the letter or spirit of the NCC’s mandate.
The riverfront land along the western Parkway is woefully underused. There is a lovely bike path, some grassy areas and, eventually, a beach. But that’s about it. The land is cut off from the city by what becomes a four lane freeway (speed limits are more of a suggestion, you see). Yes, it provides a lovely view for people living in condos, but that hardly serves the interests of city residents or the nation.
Further, the land is all overgrown. It was rather sad, as I traveled, to see what was once a lovely drive turn into a bushy mess. As a national treasure (or whatever the NCC thinks of it) it is a national embarrassment. If the NCC is so concerned about this land, they should begin maintaining it, developing it and making it more accessible to the public.
Light rail – in a ditch, obscured by greenery – isn’t going to ruin the area along the western Parkway. It appears the NCC has already done that.