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Friday, June 10, 2011
It shouldn't be too complicated
NCC CEO Marie Lemay visited the Citizen, and claims to be seeking an "overarching statement with two or three points" for guidance from other levels of government. This appears to be part of a PR exercise promoting the NCC's next 50 year plan for a vision. From the Citizen:
"We have such a complex region in terms of jurisdiction," she said. "It really does influence a lot of the way we do business. It really does stress the fact that we need to collaborate on many things.
"If we were able to decide together what we are putting first then we can all make our decisions accordingly."
For example, the NCC is working with the City of Ottawa on plans for a public square at the intersection of Sussex Drive, Rideau Street and Wellington Street. When traffic studies are done "we will have to decide who is going to go first. Is it going to be pedestrians or cars?" The commission and the city are also in the middle of a debate over the proper route for a western light rail transit line.
Lemay recalls a trip to Berlin, Germany where she saw brightly coloured lawnchairs placed along the river for public use.
"I'm thinking, why can't we do this along the Rideau Canal? It shouldn't be too complicated," she said.
"In any European city, they take over the sidewalks and use them. We have our rules and regulations the minute you want to use one foot of it.
How hard indeed. Bold words from the head of possibly the most hidebound micromanagers in a city full of them. As the Citizen notes in a related editorial:
It is encouraging to see that Lemay is open-minded about what it might take to bring change to the capital. During the meeting, she mentioned over-regulation as one of the reasons there are not sidewalk cafés spilling all over the street in parts of Ottawa, for example. She mentioned street life in European cities such as Berlin and wanting to see more of that vibrancy here. Lemay should be commended for raising the issue.
In the past, however, the NCC itself has sometimes been a stumbling block in efforts to make the capital more vibrant - everything from the lack of cafés and restaurants along the city's waterfronts to banning dogs from the Ottawa River have helped create a pretty, if sometimes remote and sterile, capital, which seemed to be the NCC's vision then.
Lawnchairs on the canal by 2067? It shouldn't be too complicated.
Citizen: Nation's capital region needs a shared cross-river vision [10 June 2011]
Citizen: A living capital [9 June 2011]
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
"Misinformation and regressive management practices"
The Gatineau Park News blog has a transcript of a rock climber info session put on by the Climber's Coalition and presented by Eric Grenier. It lays out pretty clearly why user groups form and the challenges of dealing with the indifferent bureaucracy that is the NCC:
Back in 2005, the NCC attempted to ban climbing on the escarpment altogether. The Coalition was formed at that time.
Yes, step 1 in forming a group is for the NCC to ban an activity. Dog owners and mountain bikers are nodding their heads at this point.
Despite the fact that the NCC claims to be engaged in a process where community involvement is at work and where user input is valued, that hasn't been what we've noticed happen over the last couple of years.
[...] they're proposing to limit climbing access to the Twin Ribs, so Copacabana and Down Under, Eastern Block, and Home Cliff West, which is the Main Corner and the Peggy area. That's all the climbing that they are willing to allow on the Eardley Escarpment. Mostly the reasoning is that these are the areas that are already most affected.
In addition to this, they are also proposing to ban ice climbing, citing as justification some regulations regarding winter use trails being prohibited. Additionally, they've also already started to implement some of these initiatives that they have developed based on the recommendations in the park.
A lot of you are probably aware that the hang-gliding parking area has already been closed. A culvert's been dug, and there is no access to that parking lot anymore. They state that that parking lot was disused.
Obviously anyone who's actually been there knows that that parking lot and overflowing every weekend. They've done this without any consultation to anyone. It was a surprise when this happened. People just showed up and were wondering what was going on.
So that's the situation as it stands today. Essentially, the NCC seems to be just going ahead with whatever they've decided to do based on recommendations of a consultant in a process that hasn't had any meaningful input from the community.
[...]It's clear that the NCC doesn't understand what climbers are looking for in terms of recreational experience. It's clear from information in the report that they don't have any experience managing climbing activities. They don't have any expert knowledge on climbing. Some of the conclusions they've drawn are based on the impacts of climbing that they perceive seem to be related to climbing practices that are decades out of date.
So we have a lot of issues with what we don't know about the NCC's plans and what the NCC doesn't know about climbing.
In addition, there's been a very large disconnect in terms of how they've been interacting with the community. They, like I mentioned, they claim to have a transparent and community involved process and that simply hasn't borne out to be the case.
We're getting dictated to based on misinformation and regressive management practices that really aren't defensible in terms of any modern management that they bring us.
So our position, essentially then, is that the process hasn't happened. The process that needs to happen to develop proper climbing access management in the Gatineau Park simply hasn't happened. Nothing that the NCC has shown us demonstrates that they've been willing to actually engage in a meaningful process with us despite claims to the contrary.
Plus ça change.
Gatineau Park News: Monday's rock climber info session [21 Apr 2010]
Ottawa-Gatineau Climbers' Access Coalition
Climber's Coalition News: Just heard on CBC [23 Apr 2010]
Climber's Coalition News: Update [18 May 2010]
NCC Watch: Dog archive
NCC Watch: Champlain Bridge
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Conroy Pit parking lot overflows
Been a few years now since the NCC unilaterally banned dogs from most of their property, and all off-leash dogs with the exception of a couple of fenced in areas. Now the parking lots are overflowing at Conroy Pit. From the CBC:
A lack of places where Rover can run free is forcing pet-owners to drive to one of the six dog parks in the city and creating congestion in those neighbourhoods, according to a city councillor.
Gloucester-Southgate Councillor Diane Deans wrote in an open letter Tuesday to the National Capital Commission that it should dedicate more space in the Greenbelt for off-leash dog parks as part of its Greenbelt Master Plan.
"Less than one per cent of the green space the NCC owns within the boundaries of the city of Ottawa is for dog walkers, or for dogs off leash," said Deans.
Deans said Conroy Pit, in her ward, is a great place for dog walkers, but the overflowing parking lot is beginning to cause problems with residents of the neighbourhood.
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.
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, August 2, 2007
Bureaucracies pass buck before 'scum patrol' moves in
While the NCC very specifically prohibits dogs from entering the water on its lands, if Rover dies, they don't want to know about it:
Mrs. Lajeunesse was walking her labrador, Molly, along the canal near the Arboretum early Friday morning when she [...] saw a small black and white dog, possibly a Jack Russell, floating about one metre from the shoreline.
That day, she made phone calls to the City of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission and the Ottawa Humane Society, but was told by all three that the canal wasn't their responsibility.
"Everyone was very happy to try and pass me along to someone else," Mrs. Lajeunesse said. "That's the problem, that no one was willing to take the time to help. Nobody seemed to know what to do."
The dog's body remained floating in the canal waters over the weekend. On Monday, Mrs. Lajeunesse said she was told by someone at the NCC that the situation would be taken care of.
"He assured me that they had a contract with whoever goes out there to clean these things up. He told me his name was 'Phillip' ... and said 'Don't worry, Mrs. Lajeunesse.' "
But when she returned to the canal on Tuesday morning, she was shocked to see the dog's body was still there.
"I was so angry. This thing was rotting in the canal. Imagine the smell, imagine people walking around with young children, imagine how they feel, especially dog owners who just think it's appalling," she said.
Incensed, Mrs. Lajeunesse called the NCC again. To her surprise, she was told no one named 'Phillip' worked at the NCC call centre, and she should try Parks Canada instead.
Turns out Parks Canada operates a scum patrol in the summer for just this eventuality; the NCC assumes command of the canal in the winter.
Citizen: Woman upset dog's body left to rot in canal [2 Aug 2007]
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
NCC planners not demigods
ELgiN StreEt iRReguLars visits Confederation Park and notes how, despite the NCC's fancy park redesign, people still like to walk in straight lines:
What the NCC's control freaks did next, rather than admit its planners are less than demigods, was plant a buncha unsightly shrubs across either end of this straight line, to try to passively force people back onto the sidewalk. Didn't work. Bipeds continued to wear a long, straight path through the shrubs, across the grass. Imagine that. Since that proved unsatisfactory, the NCC planted even more unsightly snow fences in the middle of the two shrub beds to make 'em harder to traverse. From my lurking lair I still see people stomp down snow fences on occasion. Imagine that.
One of the smartest park planners I ever ran across had no fancy planning degree, but a lotta horse sense. Entrusted with a big new park, he seeded it to grass, and left it that way for a summer. In fall, he looked at where walkers had worn the heaviest paths in the grass, and had all his sidewalks put right there, along the lines that people were walking anyway.
The NCC's bike paths are the same way - never a straight line to where you want to go. [Via OttawaStart Blog]
Elgin Street IrreguLars: If dogs run free... [24 Apr 2007]
Saturday, December 3, 2005
Dogs mean people, and people mean safer parks
Alex Munter revisits the NCC's dog rules in light of the need for greater security on pathways:
Five years ago, the commission introduced rules that prohibit unleashed dogs on almost all of its 170 kilometres of recreational pathways. Dogs can't go in the water, or even within three metres of the water. Certain activities -- like inline skating while with a dog -- are not permitted at all. As of this past Thursday, dogs -- even leashed -- were banned from almost all of Gatineau Park and the Greenbelt until spring.
With the exception of five designated areas, including Conroy and Bruce pits, NCC rules stipulate that dogs must be leashed at all times. These rules are much tighter than those applied in City of Ottawa parks. Municipal regulations tend to be more welcoming to dog owners, while still carving out plenty of dog-free areas.
As a result, says University of Ottawa law professor Nicole LaViolette, many dog owners are avoiding NCC lands.
"It's made those areas more isolated than they were before. There used to be a community of people who'd go regularly, who knew each other. The NCC never gave any thought to the fact that the high number of dog walkers made those areas safer."
[...]It is understandable that the NCC has little desire to reopen the dog wars. But it could easily strike a fair balance without imposing all manner of bureaucratic regulations on dog owners. Hundreds of volunteers patrolling the paths are great, but thousands more dog walkers also listening and watching could be even better.
Given heightened concern about community safety, it's time for the NCC to take a second look to see if its approach is actually working.
Citizen: Dogs mean people, and people mean safer parks [3 Dec 2005]
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]
Friday, June 4, 2004
Where does your candidate stand?
Wondering who to vote for in the federal election? Maybe your candidate's stance on reforming (or abolishing) the NCC will make the difference. The National Capital Coalition for People and Dogs has been asking Ottawa area candidates their position on the NCC and recording the response they get on their Lobby page. They've also provided a handy sample letter you can send to your candidate to let them know how you feel about the NCC.
Thursday, April 8, 2004
Dog-walkers win concession from NCC
Dog walkers have forced, after a constitutional challenge, the NCC to concede a small point on unleashed dogs. The NCC will now exempt people who need dogs for medical conditions from their maze of dog regulations.
Thursday, October 2, 2003
NCC pays $36 million for Scott Paper land
The NCC has followed through on its plan to buy the Scott Paper land in Gatineau. Chairman Beaudry somewhat arrogantly observed that "a lot of highrise condos could have been built on it, which would not, in our view, have served the purposes of what we want to do with that part of the capital of Canada." People living in the heart of the capital - can't have that. Not when they have "events and activities of national significance" planned.
The land will be leased back to Scott Paper for the next 25 years -- to quote the Ottawa Business Journal, "don't expect to go walking the dog yet." Who are they kidding?
CBC: NCC pays $36 million for Scott Paper land [2 Oct 2003]
OBJ: NCC buys Scott Paper [2 Oct 2003]
Radio-Canada: La CCN achete les terrains de Papiers Scott [2 Oct 2003]
NCC Press Release [2 Oct 2003]
Sun: Flush with government cash [11 Apr 2004]
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Court challenge to NCC's dog rules
The battle over the National Capital Commission's dog rules has climbed to surreal heights as a coalition of dog owners filed a constitutional challenge against the NCC. Meanwhile, the NCC has compelled recalcitrant dog owners to stop posting notices about the legal challenge on NCC property. Predictably, the media is having fun with this one, with large articles featured in both the Citizen and the Sun. From the Citizen:
The three cases are those of Mary Haydon, who was charged with walking her shelties on NCC land without a leash; Karen Landheer, who was chased by an NCC officer while jogging with her old boxer across a piece of NCC property; and of Matthew Owers, who was escorted out of the Mud Lake Conservation Area when walking his dog in a prohibited area.
If convicted of wilfully disobeying a peace officer's order to leash her dog, Mrs. Haydon could be fined as much as $500 and face a possible six months in jail.
The wife of Andy Haydon, a 25-year veteran of Ottawa politics before his retirement in 1991, Mrs. Haydon declined comment last night on grounds the matters was in lawyers' hands.
"It's the common person trying to fight back," said Candice O'Connell, chairperson of the 284-member National Capital Coalition for People and Dogs which has raised more than $2,500 for court expenses. "Dog walking is a legitimate, recreational activity and the allocation of NCC land is woefully inadequate."
She said the three cases are probably just the tip of the iceberg since the NCC bans dogs at all NCC organized events and bans the use of dogs in sporting activities on NCC land. Many handicapped people use dogs, as do some people with severe depression, she said in a written statement. "The people would be barred from events like Winterlude and the Tulip Festival."
The legal team is arguing that NCC regulations are inconsistent with sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on grounds they discriminate against the physically and mentally disabled, the elderly and women.
Their claim also alleged the regulations are unconstitutional because they impose fines or imprisonment on parents if their children violate the NCC's restrictions against animals. And it faults the NCC for establishing regulations in areas under exclusive provincial jurisdiction.
Citizen: Dog lovers take on the NCC [12 March 2003]
Globe and Mail: Restrictions on pets discriminate [13 March 2003]
CBC: Group challenges NCC's dog rules [13 March 2003]
Globe and Mail: Restrictions on pets discriminate [13 March 2003]
Legal challenge and defence fund update [27 Feb 2003]
NCC forces NCCPD to stop posting notices on NCC property [1 Mar 2003]
NCC Watch Feature: Give the Dog a Bone
Feature: Release the Hounds
When the NCC arbitrarily re-wrote its animal regulations to suit itself, it predictably caused a lot of controversy. However, along with failing to provide any evidence that dogs were causing significant problems, it now appears the NCC has exceeded its regulatory authority. Why is the Federal Government concerning itself with matters that are clearly in municipal jurisdiction? It's just one more reminder of how Ottawa has one level of government too many.
NCCPD announcement of legal challenge and Legal Defence Fund [24 Jan 2003]
NCCPD notice; post one on a poster collar near you today!
Thursday, November 7, 2002
NCC Annual Meeting the second
Well, the second annual meeting has come and gone, and once again it was an exemplary exercise in petulant self-justification on the part of our favorite Crown corporation. The NCC chose to describe their new animal regulations, their plans for the LeBreton Flats, and those events in the capital that they don't believe they get enough credit for. Kudos to area dog owners, who take the award for exasperating Chairman Beaudry the most during the question and answer session.
Saturday, September 28, 2002
Public figure, private man
The final installment of the Citizen's extensive look at the NCC looks at the grand poohbah himself, Chairman Beaudry. Some excerpts:
As a former mayor, there was great hope that Mr. Beaudry would champion a more open NCC. That hasn't happened.
In a 1993 interview with the Citizen, Mr. Beaudry said that, as a general principle, "I'm all in favour" of greater accessibility at the NCC. As for opening NCC meetings to the public like any city council, he said: "Maybe we'll come to that."
But on Sept. 6, his most recent interview with the Citizen, Mr. Beaudry made it clear he has no intention of changing the way the NCC conducts its business.
"The NCC is a Crown corporation. We are not a municipal council. If we were a municipal council, accountable to only the people of the municipality, we would be opening up those meetings," he says.
Mr. Beaudry says Ottawa residents simply don't understand the NCC's mission, and particularly that he is not answerable solely to area residents.
He says the controversy over Moffatt Farm illustrates public misconception.
"This is a field, a 90-acre field. It is not a park, it is nothing particularly special," he says of the Prince of Wales Drive property, across from Mooney's Bay.
"It is a field used by people who want to walk their dogs and kids who want to play in the trees," he adds, stressing the NCC has every right to develop it if it wants.
He says Ottawa residents are privileged enough because they use, almost free, a lot of federal services, paid for by the rest of Canada.
[...]Irving Schwartz, the NCC board member from Nova Scotia, says Mr. Beaudry "has been abused, attacked, hurt. We have senators coming after him. We have the press coming after him. The heat he takes is unbelievable."
Mr. Beaudry and other NCC officials believe the media, and the Citizen in particular, are to blame for much of this.
"The biggest problem we have at the NCC is the goddam press, especially your newspaper," Mr. Schwartz told a reporter.
John Mlacak, former reeve of the former March Township and NCC board member, says when he arrived at the agency in the late 1990s, he advised everyone not to depend on the Citizen because of its anti- NCC bias. "I told the NCC: 'Don't work with the Citizen, work around them."
A persecution complex has gripped the soul of 40 Elgin St. and deep resentment of the media permeates the air. Mr. Beaudry is consumed by it. He says the Citizen doesn't give him a fair shake and was never more agitated than when cataloguing what he views as the newspaper's sins. During the interview, he waved a copy of a Citizen article, which he thought unfair. The offending article was on the strong economic revival of Sussex Drive, and Mr. Beaudry was unhappy the report failed to mention the agency, which he says is behind the revival.
Of course, the NCC's paranoia about the media is understandable - media reporting on the NCC's bungling is virtually the only check on the NCC's activities.
Citizen: Public figure, private man [28 Sep 2002]
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]
Monday, August 5, 2002
NCC reneges on dog agreement
Since the NCC announced its new restrictive dog walking rules a few years back, the National Capital Coalition of People and Dogs has worked diligently with the NCC to work out a reasonable dog policy. To little avail, apparently, as the NCC has now reneged on part of the agreement. Check the NCCPD web site for details.
National Capital Coalition of People and Dogs campaign
CBC: Dog owners won't be penned in [3 Sep 2002]
The NCC's latest rules (refer back often)
Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Again with the dogs, redux
Another couple of months, and more regulations for dogs courtesy the NCC. Now they want owners to "remove their pets' feces from NCC property", apparently to "preserve the environment for future generations." So do your part to delay the inevitable global environmental catastrophe and carry that package home, eh?
CBC: NCC regulates curbing your dog [30 Jul 2002]
National Capital Coalition of People and Dogs campaign
The NCC's latest rules (refer back often)
Thursday, June 13, 2002
Again with the dogs
The NCC has once again changed its rules for walking dogs on NCC land. They do this every year -- no doubt to boost their revenues from fines. In all, there are 300 regulations to contend with. See here for bit of back plot.
CBC: Dog rules change on NCC land [13 Jun 2002]
Citizen: NCC bans dogs from picnic areas, campgrounds [14 Jun 2002]
National Capital Coalition of People and Dogs campaign
The NCC's latest rules
NCC to spend $100,000 on fences
The NCC plans to erect fences in the Greenbelt to separate dogs and people. This is actually just the latest development in a soap opera started in 1999, when the NCC arbitrarily announced new rules for dogs on all NCC land. At the time, dog owners complained bitterly about the lack of consultation, something we've come to expect from the NCC.
Citizen: NCC to spend $100,000 on fences to separate dogs and people [23 Feb 2001]
NCC Watch: Release the Hounds - the NCC's Animal Regulations
National Capital Coalition of People and Dogs campaign
Citizen: NCC has vendetta against dogs [23 Aug 2001]
Citizen: To whom is NCC pandering? [28 Feb 2001]
Citizen: Rockliffe objects to NCC leash rules [15 Dec 1999]
Citizen: Vet: Dogs need to run free [4 Nov 1999]
Citizen: Quiet dog meeting in Hull [4 Nov 1999]
Citizen: Dog owners hijack meeting [3 Nov 1999]
Citizen: NCC tells dogs where to go [3 Nov 1999]
Citizen: NCC ignites dogfight [2 Nov 1999]
Citizen: NCC parks: New rules for dogs [23 Oct 1999]
NCC Response: It's a win, win, win! [7 Mar 2001]
Tuesday, January 30, 2001
Sneaking a peek into the NCC
An article in today's Citizen looks at the possible repercussions of the changes implemented as a result of Glen Shortliffe's tepid recommendations for reform at the NCC:
In recent years, the NCC's culture of secrecy has exploded in its face, as leaked plans for projects such as a grandiose boulevard on Metcalfe Street and secret decisions on matters of broad public interest, such as widening the Champlain Bridge and banning unleashed dogs from NCC land, provoked widespread public anger.
The communications nightmare, as well as Ottawa's amalgamation and a pending merger in the Outaouais next year, prompted Mr. Beaudry to commission Mr. Shortliffe's report, which proposed 11 changes. All were immediately adopted by the NCC board. But it will cost $1.2 million to implement them, Mr. Beaudry said, adding that a request has been made to Treasury Board for the funds. If that money isn't forthcoming, some reforms might have to be scaled back, he said.
But implementation is already proceeding in some areas: Work is under way on the Web site, Mr. Beaudry said, and a new vice- president of communications, the Hull Casino's Guy Laflamme, has been hired.
Largely ignored in December when they were adopted, the changes fall far short of what 90 per cent of area residents, polled by Decima for the Shortliffe report, said they desire. They wanted open board meetings, and 76 per cent called for seats on the board for the mayor of Ottawa and the chairman of the Outaouais Urban Community. But Mr. Shortliffe opted instead for a compromise involving an advisory committee.
Mr. Beaudry and area MPs Mac Harb, Mark Assad, Mauril Belanger and David Pratt believe the NCC should not hold fully open meetings because of the many issues it deals with that could affect land values, for example, and hinder the complex negotiations required to pull together many NCC projects.
Mr. Chiarelli argued that it would be appropriate to have meetings with a "divided agenda": an open portion for regular issues and a closed portion for confidential matters such as contracts, real estate, legal and personnel matters. Several others pointed out that land transactions, legal and personnel matters are the bulk of the NCC's work.
Mr. Beaudry and Mr. Harb argued that the mayors would be in a conflict of interest if they sat on the board, torn between their duties to area residents and the NCC's mandate to provide a capital for all Canadians.
That argument drew agreement from Mr. Croteau, who said mayors are "political animals" whose loyalties lie with the voters who elect them. But Mr. Chiarelli disagreed.
"I don't believe it would be a conflict of interest any more than it would be a conflict of interest for us to sit on a committee, as has been recommended. I think it would be extremely helpful," the Ottawa mayor said. "The mayors used to be on the board a number of years ago." The NCC board also includes, by law, several members from the capital area, he noted.
"They're no more or less in conflict of interest than a mayor would be, because they're designated to be from a geographical area," said Mr. Chiarelli.
Indeed, when asked to whom she feels accountable in her role as a board member, Ottawa resident Norma Lamont said it was primarily area residents.
Despite falling short of the general public's expectations, the Shortliffe changes are not to be shrugged off, observers say. They have a subtle prevalence that some believe will, in fact, change the way the NCC does business.
"This is an extremely important step forward," said NCC board member Marc Denhez, an Ottawa lawyer, urban planning expert and longtime NCC watcher, particularly during his time as president of Heritage Ottawa. "This is the most significant change in the way the NCC does business since it was set up in 1958."
"I certainly think it's making the board more accessible," said Ms. Lamont, a five-year board member, who is director of special projects for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Foundation.
That Shortliffe's tepid and widely criticized reforms are "the most significant change in the way the NCC does business since it was set up in 1958" says pretty much everything that needs saying about the NCC's dinosaur mentality.
Citizen: Sneaking a peek into the NCC [30 Jan 2001]
Wednesday, July 5, 2000
NCC blunders endangered bikers
The NCC isn't just incapable of town planning, they're also incapable of managing the assets they already have, as this letter to the editor of The Citizen makes clear:
Though Colonel By Drive has been closed to traffic every summer Sunday for the last 30 years, the NCC astutely decided to leave this road, south of the Pretoria Bridge, open to traffic this past Sunday in light of its decision to close other routes for the "millennium drive."
The problem is, the NCC failed to tell all the thousands of people who habitually turned up to exercise on their regular Sunday morning route. It even failed to inform many of its own organizers, who proceeded as usual to barricade neighbourhood access routes such as Clegg Street, giving the appearance that the road was closed.
However, other accesses, such as the Bronson Avenue ramp, were left wide open to traffic. Skaters had no way of knowing that the road was open to traffic, and cars had no reason to expect bikes and bladers in the middle of the road.
[...]NCC personnel "controlling" the situation were absolutely useless. Those at the Pretoria Bridge made no effort to inform skaters/bikers who carried on along Colonel By that the remaining section was open to traffic. There were no signs.
When irate citizens approached them to do something, they babbled uselessly into walkie-talkies, to no avail.
[...]What is wrong with the NCC? Last summer, its only accomplishment was to provoke dog owners by proposing a ban on unleashed dogs; the year before, it proposed a harebrained widening of Metcalfe Street, and this spring it paid too much for Sparks Street real estate.
Citizen: NCC blunders endangered bikers [5 Jul 2000]