NCC Watch

Working to consign the NCC to oblivion

Search string: "conservation officer"

Matches found: 6

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

NCC's finest harass scouts

The NCC's pseudo police have been at it again, this time busting up some scouts having a campfire. From the Citizen:

Desjardine and his friend [...] biked from their homes in Crystal Bay to where the Grandview path meets the Ottawa River with a package of hot dogs and four cans of Dr. Pepper.

The Nepean Third Scouts Troop veterans - each spent nine years in the club - also brought with them their pocketknives and a small axe.

They stopped at a fire pit that they said had clearly been used before and started a campfire. With their hot dogs almost ready to go, the cloudy skies gave way to rain, so they decided to build a shelter with nearby trees and a makeshift tarp.

Desjardine says he cut down four poplars whose branches were already dead.

The NCC says he cut down live birch and cherry trees.

Just as the youths were about to finish the shelter, four NCC officers crashed the party. Desjardine said they tried to intimidate the teens by lecturing them about causing trouble and saying they could be criminally charged for carrying weapons.

[...]In a written statement, an NCC spokeswoman said the commission had received a complaint from a nearby resident about fireworks and a smell of smoke coming from the area around Shirleys Bay.

"When conservation officers arrived on site, they found two youths building a shelter. According to the report, one of the youths had an axe," Marilyne Guèvremont said.

Guèvremont said it was illegal to cut trees on NCC property, adding it was also illegal to cut, break, injure, deface or defile any rock, shrub, plant, flower or turf on the commission's land.

As well, campfires are prohibited except on designated campgrounds, such as Lac Philippe in Gatineau Park.

As to why campfires - if handled responsibly - were not allowed, Guèvremont said it was simply illegal according to the commission's regulations.

"Is the question about finding a responsible way to do something illegal?"

She said the NCC believed the officers exercised their judgment appropriately, adding the teens were liable to pay fines of up to $500 and could even have faced jail time.

Desjardine admits not knowing he and his friend were on NCC property, and he probably would have acted differently if he had.

The NCC's conservation officers are frequently overzealous in performing their duties.

Citizen: Teens run afoul of NCC officers over campfire and Dr. Pepper [8 July 2009]

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Leash patrol strikes again

The Ottawa Sun's Greg Weston writes about his off-leash bust in today's Sun:

The hulking lawman took a step backwards and adjusted his bullet-proof vest, evidently taking no chances this one scary golden retriever might be packing heat.

"Guess you know why I'm here," the NCC cop said.

[...]"Dogs have to be on a leash," the lawman said. "I'm going to have to charge you, and give you a $125 ticket."

[...]I'd seen it all before. About a year earlier, two other members of the federal dog squad had busted the outlaw Cinnamon on the same patch of lawn.

Both times, it was at night, the place was deserted and the mutt was walking at my heel bothering no one en route to an off-leash city park.

While murderers, muggers, looters and other politicians wander the streets, an army of federal fuzz is running up overtime on our dime, hunting down leashless Lassies.

Actually, they're not cops, but "conservation officers."

Whatever they are conserving, it certainly isn't taxpayers' money as they travel the capital in a fleet of shiny trucks doing their dogged doggie duty in pairs, decked out in enough expensive gear for the Afghanistan war, save the artillery.

The NCC bowser brigade should not be confused with the large numbers of provincial conservation officers on the public payroll, nor with the many hound hounders working for municipal canine control departments.

These are federal mutt-minders wandering the nation's capital on the payroll of taxpayers from Comox to Come By Chance.

God forbid a local dog-catcher might deal with pet problems on federal land - nosirree, clearly we need a separate bureaucracy.

If all this sounds like a waste of public money, it is at least in the grand tradition of what may well be Canada's most redundant government agency.

Once considered somewhat useful, the National Capital Commission now sucks almost $100 million a year out of Canadian taxpayers' pockets for federal pooch patrols and other essentials of life as we know it.

That would include things such as the $10,000 of our tax money the federal agency spent last Christmas sending poinsettias to MPs, senators and big shots.

[...]Talk about public money going to the dogs -- two officers of the NCC and almost 40 minutes to issue a ticket for "failing to restrain a domestic animal."

The NCC's conservation officers - still commanding the respect they deserve.

Ottawa Sun: Leash police a fine bunch [30 Mar 2008]

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The NCC's Keystone Cops

Readers will be pleased to know that the NCC's finest are still patrolling parks and pathways on the lookout for petty offences with their customary zeal. Arthur Milner describes his experience being busted by the NCC in the Citizen:

In mid-August, I received by mail a notice that I had been found guilty of an offence - "Possess Liquor" - and that the "Place of Offence" was "Rideau Ottawa." I was fairly certain that I hadn't been drinking in public on Rideau Street recently and I wondered who would have used my name and address. I had to swear, in person at the Provincial Offences Office, that I had no knowledge of the crime; and I formally requested that they reopen the case.

I went to the Ottawa Police station, where there was no record of the charge. A week later, the Provincial Offences Office agreed to reopen the case and, a week after that, I received the "Reopening" in the mail. But the charge wasn't public drinking, it was having a dog off leash on NCC property. The fine was $125 and I was to appear in court Dec. 4.

A couple of weeks before the trial, I was sent a package of information by the National Capital Commission. It contained the officer's notes. There were a few omissions and discrepancies. He never describes George, for example, and I am quite certain that I gave him my name before we entered the garage; nor did he mention my reason for refusing to show ID. He did note that he had written the incorrect offence number on the ticket (which had led to my conviction for "Possess Liquor"). But what was most interesting was his description of what had happened after we entered the NAC garage:

"I called the RCMP for assistance. I followed him to his vehicle (and he) put his dog in it. I recorded the plate number and told him he would be charged for the off leash offence. I left as he got in the car and started the engine. I met four RCMP officers outside the lot and we waited for him to come out. Two bike officers went in to look for him. ... The RCMP constable and myself went back to the car. Mr. Milner was not in it, but the dog was. We then drove around the area for 15 minutes, looking for him without success. I informed my supervisor who came on scene ..."

Four RCMP and two NCC officers, all for George and me! It doesn't seem quite so funny now - after Robert Dziekanski. Good thing I managed to elude them.

The NCC's conservation officers - still commanding the respect they deserve.

Ottawa Citizen: On a tight leash [24 Jan 2008]

Thursday, March 29, 2007

NCC needs another $2.5 million, or the park gets it

Meanwhile, the NCC has come out in favour of a bill before the Senate that would define Gatineau Park's boundaries. They also want another $2.5 million. From the Citizen:

The independent senator [Mira Spivak] wants Parliament to have control over the park's boundaries to protect it for future generations. Records show that between 1960 and 1997, the park lost 48 properties, covering 610 hectares, through sale or transfer. The park covers about 36,000 hectares.

The NCC owns or controls 98 per cent of the park, while 855 hectares, or two per cent, is privately owned.

Mrs. Spivak's private member's bill would give the NCC the right of first refusal when private land in the park is for sale.

[NCC COO] Ms. Dubé told the Senate committee the commission's policy is to offer fair market value for private land, but the commission can expropriate property if there is a risk that it could be subdivided for development.

Ms. Dubé said the NCC knows about people on ATVs damaging the western part of the park and has asked neighbouring property owners to report any violations.

"We need more conservation officers to ensure that people respect the park regulations," Ms. Dubé said. "More money would allow us be more vigilant and have more conservation officers.

"We would be able to better mark the park boundaries. We hope to be able to have signage around the entire perimeter by the end of the summer so people know when they are entering the park."

The NCC plans to nail more signs to trees by this summer to mark the park boundaries.

Ms. Dubé said the NCC should have clearly communicated the 1997 boundaries to the public to avoid the misconception that it was selling off land in the park to pay its bills. She said the commission has disposed of some of its properties to buy other land or finance capital projects, but it has increased the overall size of Gatineau Park by 700 hectares since the 1990s.

Citizen: NCC wants more money to protect its space [29 Mar 2007]

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The NCC swims against the tide

The Citizen tackles the NCC's ban on swimming in Gatineau Park:

The National Capital Commission never seems to miss an opportunity to raise the ire of the people it is supposed to be serving. This time, it's the NCC's continuing attempt to turn our region into a model capital, with visitors to Gatineau Park being told they can't swim in the park because there are no lifeguards on duty.

Model, in this case, doesn't mean an example for other cities to follow, but a carefully constructed replica of a real city intended for display, not for real people to actually occupy and use. The commission is in love with parks in the abstract, which explains why, if any particular Canadian is keen to have fun in any particular NCC park, the conservation officers come out.

The NCC's difficulty with seeing Ottawa and Gatineau as functioning cities and Canadians as real people takes many forms. There are its Canada Day concerts, designed around the government's idea of a good time. But the problem is most visible in the commission's fetish for pristine parkland.

The land it controls by local waterways are virtually free of the taint of commerce, so you can scarcely buy a bite to eat or a drink by the Rideau Canal or along the Ottawa River. Dogs aren't allowed anywhere near the water, either. The commission closes its "recreational" pathways at will and often without warning, operating under the fiction that nobody ever uses them to get to a destination.

The message is clear at the Gatineau Park beaches. The NCC stopped posting lifeguards on Labour Day, and never mind the nice weather, the water is now officially off-limits. You're not even allowed to swim at your own risk, according to the signs.

The NCC cites an unclear Quebec provincial rule as justification, but it's more likely that the commission just can't abide the thought of unsupervised, unregulated fun. If only it could relax and let its hair down once in a while, or at least abide such behaviour in others, the NCC would go a long way toward solving its public- image problem.

Citizen: The NCC swims against the tide [18 Oct 2004]

Saturday, August 30, 2002

Pet owners set to unleash campaign against NCC

Meanwhile, according to the Citizen, dog owners who are no longer welcome at most of the NCC's properties, are planning to ignore the new edict:

As part of the ongoing dispute between the National Capital Commission and the people who walk their dogs on the Crown corporation's land, the NCC put up signs last week in several parks across the city forbidding owners from letting their dogs run off the leash.

The new rules restricting the number of parks where such roaming is allowed are accompanied by regulations prohibiting people from using in-line skates or biking with dogs on leash, or from disposing of dog excrement, even in plastic bags, in NCC garbage cans. But some dog owners have come up with a form of civil disobedience they expect will ward off the law. They plan not to give their names to the officers.

They plan not to give their names to the officers.

Lisa Kelly, a member of the Hampton Park Dog Owners Group, said she does not believe the NCC's conservation officers have the authority to compel dog owners to produce identification. If they don't know the name of the offender, she argues, they can't very well write a ticket.

"That is my plan and it's the plan of a number of people," Ms. Kelly said. "I won't give I.D. and I'll see what happens."

Ms. Kelly said yesterday that in discussions she's had with the NCC, the commission has acknowledged that there could be a legal issue there. However, Ms. Kelly said the NCC also said the possibility exists that non-compliant offenders could be arrested.

Just be prepared to be harassed, and even followed home, as happened to one dog walker.

Citizen: Pet owners set to unleash campaign against NCC [30 Aug]