Openness and closer co-operation
NCC reform became a mildly hot topic during the 2000 elections. Mayoral candidate Claudette Cain presented the following plan for NCC reform during the campaign. Open board meetings were finally forced on the NCC in 2006, but most of the friction between the city and the NCC remains.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JULY 13, 2000
CAIN OFFERS NCC REFORM PLAN
Seeks openness, strong city role and closer co-operation.
OTTAWA -- Claudette Cain, candidate for mayor of the new City of Ottawa, today released a National Capital Commission (NCC) reform proposal.
"The NCC is doing a good job in many areas, from preserving the greenbelt to helping to make our area a leading tourist destination year-round," said Cain. "But relations between the NCC and those affected by its decisions have been rocky due to lack of consultation and openness."
"It is time to look seriously at the reforms needed to build a new, more productive relationship between local government and the NCC. A relationship that acknowledges the municipality's legitimate role in planning our community," said Cain.
"I propose three common sense and easy to understand reforms to achieve this goal:"
1. NCC meetings should be open to the public. Except when labour relations issues or matters affecting property values are under discussion, it is essential that the workings of the NCC be open for all to see. Such openness is crucial to building public confidence.
2. More representatives from the National Capital area -- including the Mayor of Ottawa and the Chair of the Communauté Urbain de l'Outouais (CUO) -- should sit on the board of the NCC as voting members.
3. A working-level joint planning subcommittee should be established in order to allow city and NCC planners to share information and develop a greater rapport.
"In building this new relationship, we must be certain to include the public, ensure that the new city plays a significant role in planning, and develop open, two-way communications between the NCC and the municipality," said Cain. "Only in this way will we be able to guarantee that our National Capital is a community of which we can all be proud, and where we all continue to feel at home."
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NCC REFORM PLAN
13 July 2000
Ensuring that government works in the best interests of its citizens starts with effective communications. People have a right to expect that they will be informed and consulted on decisions that will have a major impact on their lives and their community.
So let's consider the National Capital Commission. Established in 1958 by act of Parliament, the NCC has a pivotal role in planning the guiding and development of Canada's National Capital.
The NCC is doing a good job in many areas, from preserving the greenbelt to helping to make our area a leading tourist destination year-round. But relations between the NCC and those affected by its decisions have been rocky over the years due to lack of consultation and openness.
As we move closer to the creation of a new, amalgamated City of Ottawa on January 1, 2001 it is time to look seriously at the reforms needed to build a new, more productive relationship between local government and the NCC.
The bedrock principle in forging this relationship is that the municipality has a legitimate and significant role to play in planning our community. Unfortunately, this is a view, which at one point, was not shared by my opponent in the campaign for mayor. He is on the record as having asked: "How do you plan a national capital if you leave it to municipal government?" ("In defense of the NCC," by Mohammed Adam, The Ottawa Citizen, October 2nd, 1998).
1. Like local government, the workings of the NCC should be as open as possible. In fact, all NCC meetings should be open to the public except when labour relations issues or matters affecting property values are under discussion. Such openness is crucial to building public confidence in the NCC. I do not recall my opponent ever advocating open board meetings when he served as a member of the NCC.
2. A second principle involves establishing a stronger working relationship between local government and the NCC. This can be achieved, in part, by having more representatives from the National Capital area on the board of the NCC, including the Mayor of Ottawa and the Chair of the Communauté Urbain de l'Outouais (CUO) as voting members.
3. In creating a stronger link between the new municipality and the NCC, a working-level forum such as a joint planning subcommittee would allow city and NCC planners to share information and develop a greater rapport. The net result would be better, more cost-effective planning to meet the interests of residents and taxpayers as well as the tourists who come to enjoy the many attractions of Canada's National Capital.
As Mayor of Gloucester, I have enjoyed excellent relations with the NCC and its current chair, Mr. Beaudry. While we have not always agreed with one another, we respect each other's views. This positive relationship has resulted in successful land transfer agreements between the NCC and the City of Gloucester that have enhanced the greenbelt and provided additional recreational facilities for residents.
Soon after the NCC hired Glen Shortliffe last April to look at governance and the NCC, I met with him to discuss his important project. Subsequently, I have been pleased to see that he has been taking the time to meet not only with municipal officials, but also with average citizens and community groups. This effort to encourage public input is a healthy and encouraging sign. I hope it is an indication of the NCC's future direction.
One thing that I, my opponent, and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson all agree on is that land development is best left to the private sector. Now that the greenbelt is completed, it is clear that the role of the NCC is changing. Today, other areas beyond land development are important parts of the planning agenda: leisure services, tourism, and community events to name just a few. These and other areas provide opportunities for partnership between the NCC and the new City of Ottawa, resulting in less duplication and waste and a more coordinated planning process.
In building this new, more productive partnership, we must make certain that the public is fully included. We must ensure that decisions are not made behind closed doors; that open, two-way communications are the rule, not the exception. Only in this way will we be able to guarantee that our National Capital is a community of which we can all be proud, and where we all continue to feel at home.