I’m with Jim

It hasn’t been a stellar week or two in federal-municipal relations. First, we had the feds announce that they were going to waste $80M refurbing the old-moldy-bread-factory-turned-“temporary”-science-museum rather than building a proper facility in a proper location. That was unfortunate, but worse was the NCC ambushing the city on their LRT plans, deciding that their precious highway is more important than building a livable city.

Thankfully, it appears that Mayor Jim Watson and the ranking local government MP John Baird have reached a bit of a detente for now. This is an improvement, and certainly better than a bunch of appointed NCC henchmen hijacking our development plans.

Before this peace in our time, Watson made the comment that residents needed to make this an issue in the next federal election (which is supposed to occur next year), and he’s absolutely right. There can be valid debates about the LRT. Is it worth the money? What’s the best route? What should be buried? But there is no debate about the fairly useless, almost malicious, organization that is the NCC.

It’s ridiculous that NCC’s prime mission right now is to save a waterfront freeway in Kitchissippi. There is nothing, nothing, about the Parkway that has national significance. It ruins the riverfront, blocks the actual parkland from people and actively destroys the environment. And it’s not even in a particularly significant location.

The NCC needs to be reformed. It’s an outdated organziation staffed mostly with people who little connection to the city (only two of the board members have to be from Ottawa). They have no particular expertise in urban development, and their love affair with parkways demonstrates how archaic their visions actually are. The only people who rein this group in is the federal government.

So, yes, people of Ottawa, the actions and disruptions of the NCC should be a federal election issue.

One thought on “I’m with Jim

  1. As an outsider (not being from CAN) I try to understand the NCC (and as a matter of fact also the OMB) and their purpose in city life. The explanation I got was that the NCC watches over the national interest in the Nation’s Capital. Not that I want to compare cities in Europe with cities in Canada but I have never heard such silly reasoning for handing over the responsibilty of city affairs to an organization like the NCC.

    Now, I don’t even want to go into the numerous missed opportunities and failures (le Breton flats, recreational Parkdrives (in times of global warming and horrendous traffic problems), building a parking lot next to the Museum of Nature in down town Ottawa…). But just the fact that the Federal governments does not trust the local city governments in handling their own affairs points to a severe flaw in the seperation of power somewhere inbetween Municipal and Federal branches.

    I can not imagine that a Canadian mayor and especially a mayor in the Nation’s Capital will screw up a city to the extend that it becomes a national disaster. On top of that you have the people who care about what is going on in their city and in their neighbourhood.

    I could not agree more with your conclusion of the NCC: it has to be reformed.

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