NCC Watch

Working to consign the NCC to oblivion

Search string: "leamy"

Matches found: 19

Friday, November 28, 2008

NCC Annual Meeting

The NCC is holding its "Annual General Meeting," which is basically an extended Q&A session with the Chairman and the CEO, along with the Board members, who come along to fill out the dais.

It all goes down Wednesday December 3 at the Beethoven Room of the Hilton Lac-Leamy. This year you have to register to ask a question, after which there will be a draw to see who gets the honour of an audience. Details at the NCC's website.

NCC: Annual General Meeting

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

NCC to spend $175,000 surveying its domain

From the Citizen (link):

The National Capital Commission is launching a major $175,000 study of federal land holdings in the nation's capital, including such landmarks as the Central Experimental Farm and Leamy Lake Park, to determine how they fit into the continuing development and evolution of the capital. [...] The project is expected to begin next month and take a year to complete.

In the past, much smaller studies have been engulfed in controversy because some residents saw them as an attempt to identify surplus land for sale. But Francois Lapointe, the NCC's director of planning, says this has nothing to do with land development. He says the properties in question are so fragmented that a comprehensive study is needed to establish a broader vision for them.

[...]"This study will identify what we are going to do with the lands. They are public lands and it is not our intention to develop housing or anything like that. Public access is critical and that is something we will preserve and enhance."

Mr. Lapointe says in all cases, the NCC will pay particular attention to how to "animate" these properties. As an example, he points to the Ritz on the Canal restaurant, which he says has enhanced the Rideau Canal; consideration has to be given to whether something similar is appropriate for other areas. He also cites Wesboro beach, which has added to the enjoyment of the Western Parkway, and says there may be room for further improvements. Mr. Lapointe wondered, for instance, whether the scenic drive on the parkways could be enhanced by the addition of selected services that would allow people to stop for coffee or a cold drink.

"These are the things we are looking at. The capital has been around over 100 years and things change."

Having spent the last 100 years expropriating every inch of shoreline, apparently to ensure that precisely nothing ever will change, the NCC's focus on animating its well manicured and empty waterfront properties seems rather odd. And how's that for an example of the worst thing that could possibly happen - housing. Next thing you know, condos, shops, places to go - the horror of it all. Still, Mr Lapointe's caution is warranted. Having also spent the last 100 years selling themselves as environmental stewards, safeguarding symbolically meaningful national interest land masses, they can hardly be surprised when the public objects to any plan to develop some scrap of land that's suddenly no longer symbolically meaningful or interesting. Good luck with the survey, guys.

Citizen: NCC tags $175,000 for land survey [19 Jun 2007]

Monday, July 27, 2003

NCC considers allowing canoes into Leamy Lake

Backing off from their draconian regulations after some bad press last year, the NCC is considering changing the rules. NCC employees will be interviewing visitors at Leamy Lake beach, at the Centre de plein air du Lac-Leamy (100 Lac-Leamy Road) and at the control booth at the entrance to the navigation channel on certain weekdays between July 28 and August 29, 2003, and holding an open house at the Centre de plein air du Lac-Leamy, on Saturday, August 16 and Saturday, August 23, 2003, between 10 am and 3 pm.

Friday, September 13, 2002

NCC decides to allow canoes in Leamy Lake

The Citizen reports that the NCC has decided to allow canoes in the Leamy Lake Navigation Channel, coincidentally after a canoeist contacted Le Droit after being ticketed for the crime of paddling in the channel:

Etienne Gilbert went out for a paddle one day last June and found himself up the creek.

By the time he hit shore, the National Capital Commission had chased him down in a motorboat, dressed him down for his offences, and slapped him with $235 in possible fines.

Mr. Gilbert, 28, an avid paddler who lives on shores of the Gatineau River, took his 18-footer out on June 11. Eager to try out his new racing canoe, he wanted to explore nearby Leamy Lake, which is connected to the river by a short, narrow canal.

As he approached the canal, an NCC agent in a booth told him to stop: no canoes or kayaks allowed; motorboats only.

As a lifelong paddler, he thought this was absurd, so just kept on going, exploring the lake, then spilling out a second exit toward the Ottawa River.

For the next few minutes, he journeyed along the Quebec side, then crossed the Ottawa to Ontario waters.

A man in a motorboat who had been following him for an estimated 15 minutes approached him and told him to come to shore.

[...]When he arrived back on the shore of the Gatineau, Mr. Gilbert was met by a pair of NCC officers and told he was being prosecuted for violating two NCC regulations: using the canal and disobeying a warning from an NCC agent.

[...]"I couldn't understand why the NCC, which promotes walking, bicycling, canoeing, would make regulations that promote motorboats and prohibits small boats like canoes."

It seems that the more trivial (or incomprehensible) the offense, the more zealous the enforcement by the NCC's rent-a-cops. The NCC now intends to use a string of buoys to create a "canoe lane" in the channel.

Citizen: Canoeist lands in hot water with NCC [13 Sep 2002]

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Loto-Quebec abandons Leamy Lake golf course

Poll resultsLoto-Quebec has kept their word and cancelled the golf course they were planning for Leamy Lake Park (owned by the NCC) when polling revealed a majority of people in Gatineau were against the idea.

Of course, the NCC, who can never admit they are wrong and are ever eager to hand amunition to their detractors, won't let go of the idea of developing the land and continue to defend the dead project. From the Citizen:

The National Capital Commission, however, owns most of the affected land and said future development of the area was possible, despite the public sentiment.

Laurie Peters, a spokeswoman for the NCC, said NCC guidelines for that land allow more intense development.

"We aren't going to go out and look at other projects, but we wouldn't close the door on future proposals as long as they respected, and were appropriate according to the land use guidelines," Ms. Peters said.

She also said she believed the public and the media had overreacted to the golf course proposal, noting that it would have consumed only 75 of the park's 274 hectares and preserved the most popular public areas, including beaches, paths and picnic areas. [very generous -- ed.]

"The golf course was not taking over the entire park, far from it," Ms. Peters said.

The 50-year lease of land for the golf course would have netted the commission about $2.65 million, Ms. Peters said.

The Leamy Lake golf course stands as yet another illustration of the NCC's knack in backing schemes certain to foster public opposition and expose them to derision. An enthusiastic backer of the plan since day one, the NCC went as far as to present the plans for the course at its first public annual meeting last fall in a misguided attempt at reassuring the public. Standing to make a tidy sum from the deal, the NCC stood on its own stage and tried to sell a golf course for gamblers on what is, at least in the public's (albeit mistaken) opinion, public land. But by shilling for the Hull Casino, they succeeded only in further undermining their own self-proclaimed role as protector of lands of "national significance" in the Capital. So, from our point of view, this has not been a useless exercise.

Our only question now is, will they fix the park sign?

Leamy Lake Park sign

The last word belongs to SOS Leamy: Victoire.

Citizen: NCC refuses to rule out Leamy Lake development [21 Jun 2002]
CBC: Leamy Lake golf course gets deep-sixed [20 Jun 2002]
Radio-Canada: Le casino abandonne son projet de golf [20 Jun 2002]

Friday, June 14, 2002

Canoes banned from Leamy Lake canal

Too much traffic as it has become a popular destination for power boats, apparently. No question of inconveniencing power boats of course, as they're likely to be paying customers at the casino.

CBC: Canoes banned from Leamy Lake canal [14 Jun 2002]

Friday, June 14, 2002

Loto Quebec polling residents

Loto Quebec has started polling Gatineau residents about the Lac Leamy golf course. Curiously, when polled, respondents are told it is a survey about the quality of life in Gatineau. There's a connection?

Radio-Canada: Sondage critiqué sur le golf du casino [14 Jun 2002]

Monday, March 25, 2002

Lake Leamy golf course poll

Pre-empting the Hull Casino, Radio-Canada and Le Droit decided to poll public opinion about the Casino golf course planned for Lake Leamy Park. Apparently 48 per cent support the golf course, 41 per cent are opposed; 82 per cent had heard of the proposal. The developer provided cautious reaction, stating they would like more support before proceeding with the project.

Radio-Canada: Lake Leamy Golf dossier
Radio-Canada: Le golf sera aménagé si plus de gens l'approuvent [25 Mar 2002]

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Loto Quebec starts "misinformation campaign"

What could be more natural than a golf course seems to be the question Loto Quebec is asking with a lavish four-page spread in area newspapers, the first step in what looks to be an expensive and cynical campaign to persuade us of the merits of its plans for the NCC-owned Lac Leamy park. Apparently it will be months before it polls residents to see whether they support the idea of a golf course at Leamy Lake.

CBC: Leamy golf course fight escalates [20 Mar 2002]
Radio-Canada: Les opposants au golf du casino font appel au Fédéral [20 Mar 2002]
Radio-Canada: Pétition contre le golf du Casino déposée au Parlement [23 Mar 2002]

Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Hull Casino unveils golf course plans

The Hull Casino likes its plans for a golf course in Lac Leamy Park, and thinks the man on the street will too, boldly claiming that if the general population rejects their plans, they will be abandoned. No details on how they will determine whether the general population has rejected their plan, but there will be an expensive marketing campaign ("so that citizens of the Greater Outaouais region can make an educated decision about the project"), "public consultation" and a survey of some sort. The press release (linked below) has the usual bumph about local support (quoting new mayor Yves Ducharme and some tourism flunky), and you will no doubt be relieved to learn that "Loto-Québec firmly believes that the proposed development project has been designed in total harmony with nature and the environment." No word from the NCC (who own the park); they're just waiting for the cheque to clear. Le Conseil régional de l'environnement durable remain suspicious, however, preferring proper public hearings to a survey. They figure the Casino wants a survey because it will be quicker.

CBC: Park enthusiasts steamed at development plans [6 Mar 2002]
Radio-Canada: Le golf du casino: la population sera consulté [5 Mar 2002]
Radio-Canada: Les écologistes s'opposent toujours au golf du casino [5 Mar 2002]
Loto Quebec press release [5 Mar 2002]

Friday, November 9, 2001

NCC erasing the past

Leamy Lake Park signAs the National Capital Commission works toward turning Leamy Lake Park into a golf course, they're naturally eager to minimize the park's ecological value, to the extent of literally erasing its ecological status from the park sign. This photographic gem is provided courtesy SOS Leamy Coalition for the Preservation of Leamy Lake Park.

SOS Leamy

Friday, November 9, 2001

Quebec Government taken to court over McConnell-Laramee highway

Meanwhile, the Committee for the Environmental Assessment of the McConnell-Laramee Highway is taking the Quebec Government to court to force a proper environmental assessment of the NCC's favorite road building scheme, the McConnell-Laramee highway. At stake is the health of Gatineau Park, which the highway will bisect, and downtown Hull, already the victim of huge expropriations in the 1970's.

Info-Laramee (in French) - includes a history of this misguided project
NCC Watch: McConnell-Laramee news items
BAPE: 1989 CritiqueOn The Proposed McConnell-Laramee Extension [Acrobat format]
BAPE: 2001 Report on the project [Acrobat format]
Canadian Heritage: Minister's Response to petition regarding Leamy Lake golf course [30 Oct 2001]

Friday, October 26, 2001

Union opposes casino golf course

The public service union of Quebec says the province's Environment Department should never have approved a golf course at Leamy Lake without consulting staff and the public.

For information on the Coalition to Protect Leamy Lake Park, contact CREDDO (Conseil regional de l'environnement et du developpement durable de l'Outaouais) at Website (French) at (note: incompatible with some browsers). The website also includes information on the McConnell-Laramee freeway project.

CBC: Union opposes casino golf course [26 Oct 2001]

Thursday, September 27, 2001

NCC General Meeting predictably irrelevant

The National Capital Commission's first annual general meeting went pretty much as anyone with a passing familiarity with the NCC might expect. The meeting, one of the superficial recommendations made by Glen Shortliffe in a report released late last year, lived up to its billing in every respect. For roughly an hour and a half, the NCC presented some slideshows and an amateurish video extolling their own virtues. And then the crowd got to hector Marcel for another hour and a half during a meaningless question and answer session.

With the members of the NCC Board of Directors flanking him on either side, serving much the same purpose as the stage backdrop and the potted plants, Chairman Beaudry got things rolling with a 15 minute speech that was as bland and uninformative as it was patronizing. Four slide show presentations, on Sparks Street, Leamy Lake Park, the Daly site, and the LeBreton Flats, followed in quick succession. The NCC finished its presentation with a branding exercise, in the form of a short amateur video entitled "Our passion, our mission, your capital." Whatever.

The question and answer session was enjoyable if only for the pleasure of watching Chairman Beaudry and his 14 apparatchiks maintain their plastic smiles throughout the entire charade. Members of the Moffatt Farm Citizen's Coalition and the coalition opposing the Lac Leamy golf course were best represented. Chairman Beaudry fielded virtually all the questions, responding with some breathtakingly patronizing bromides, at one point even going so far as to credit the NCC and its forbears for whatever quality of life the region has.

NCC: Summary of the question and answer session
Citizen: NCC's meeting frustrates opponents of casino golf course [27 Sep 2001]
Centretown News: Open doors, now open ears [12 Oct 2001]

Thursday, August 2, 2001

Activists gird for Leamy Lake fight

Hull writer Michel Lapalme writes about the NCC's stewardship of Leamy Lake Park:

The arrogance of the devilish alliance of the golf course -- the casino, the Quebec government (ignoring the views of its public servants), the mayor of Hull and the chairman of the National Capital Commission -- contributed to the revolt. Earlier in the summer, a portion of the park was closed so that dozens of mature trees could be cut, an operation that made room for new grandstands.

Apparently, the natural environment that had been used for years to present the casino fireworks would not be comfortable enough for the Francophonie Games.

Who had planned that change? Who had given authority to proceed? Who was to blame for that massive destruction? It was almost impossible to divide responsibilities among the city, the NCC and the Games' organizers. All we could see was the big impact on the ground.

But later, everybody could recognize how every member of the alliance was involved in some manner in those machinations when the closing of the Games, taking place in front of the new grandstands, received a new international name: The Casino de Hull Closing Ceremony.

The friends of Leamy Lake might have wished that this title was literally true, but all they were left with was the huge imprint left for the future benefit of the would-be owner of the whole place.

More and more people feel the fight for the park is going to last a long, long time. There is still confidence that the battle against the golf course will be won. After all, the first players were supposed to be playing on the course in 1999.

In the last three years, the environmental case has been developed convincingly. Furthermore, the public now knows that the $250-million hotel investment did not require the destruction of the park, as was originally claimed.

Citizen: Activists gird for Leamy Lake fight [2 Aug 2001]

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Hull Casino Leamy Lake Park expansion nearing completion

The Hull Casino is close to completing its expansion, including a new hotel and convention space. The planned golf course has, however, so far been thwarted by Federal environmental reviews, but the NCC, who are making $3 million from the deal, says it's only a matter of time:

By this fall, the casino complex will include a 350-room Hilton Hotel, a convention hall for as many as 1,800 delegates, and a 1,000- seat theatre featuring Las Vegas-style variety shows. Construction of all three is almost complete, but the casino has so far been thwarted in its plans to build a golf course in Leamy Lake Park, beside the casino, because of public opposition and environmental objections from the federal government, which owns the parkland.

The National Capital Commission, which favours using the land for a golf course for rich gamblers, says it believes the environmental objections have been met. But it is likely to be several months before the casino gets approval to begin building the course, NCC officials say.

Meanwhile, the NCC plans to reopen an archeological dig in the same park. Presumably, this will be happening in the part of the park that isn't being turned into the golf course. Then again, it could make for some interesting hazards. Fore!

Leamy Lake Park Primer
Leamy Lake Park is owned by the NCC, a Federal Government Crown Corporation. The Quebec Government wants to build a golf course in the park for its Hull Casino, and has paid the NCC 3$ million for the privilege. Officials at Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have ordered an indefinite delay of the proposed course, saying it threatens the environment. Who says we have too much government in this town?

Citizen: Hull Casino offers preview of hotel, theatre, meeting centre [13 Jun 2001]
Citizen: Casino golf course on hold [21 Mar 2001]
Citizen: Matthews forges ahead with golf course [5 May 2001]

Thursday, December 7, 2000

In casino golf, politics trumps the environment

In today's Citizen, Hull writer Michel Lapalme reveals how the fix is in for the Casino de Hull's plans for turning Lac Leamy park into a golf course:

What we find now, and this information has been uncovered despite the fact that the casino studies are always coming very short of what Environment Canada requires, is that this ecosystem contains a much more varied biodiversity than even the most enthusiast ecologists imagined.When considering all the consequences of building a golf course on this site - cutting trees, bulldozing, draining, fertilizing and using pesticides and herbicides - one wonders how the casino owner remains so blind that it keeps this project alive.

This brings us to the second observation resulting from those months of active environmental fighting. The casino's blind owner is the government of Quebec. Such an enlightened government, one might think, has its own impartial department of Environment. Well, that's not so clear any more.

Earlier this year, when the Quebec Ministry of Environment gave its approval to the project, it was rumoured that this was done against the advice of the department's specialists. The minister of environment would have been outweighed by the minister of finance.

Internal documents have now been leaked to the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir that show the department effectively ignored all the concerns expressed by the public servants in its drive to endorse the casino's claims and responses.

We know (through federal files) that these casino responses sometimes can be very cavalier. For example, when asked to compensate for the loss of 30 hectares of forest in this hypersensitive area, the Casino de Hull showed plans for 19 hectares of so-called reforestation. When the 19 hectares were analyzed, however, the federal department reviewing the project discovered that more than 10 of those hectares were in fact to be planted with small perennials.

In its eagerness to please the cash providers of the casino, the Quebec government could not even detect something that big.

In the beginning, the Casino de Hull claimed that any opposition to this golf project would cost the local municipality millions of dollars in tax revenues. The argument was based on the claim that the casino would never build a hotel if it were not allowed to include the golf course. We saw the bluff slowly bend the backbone of Hull councillors.

But now, the hotel is almost completed and there is no sign that the golf course will come any time soon. Considering that the environmental reasons to obstruct the project are bigger than ever, it could be time for Hull councillors to review their support: The golf alone would not bring the city of Hull more than about $50,000 in annual revenue.

Leamy Lake park is one of the national environmental treasures the NCC is supposed to safeguard. The NCC supports the golf project.

Citizen: In casino golf, politics trumps the environment [7 Dec 2000]

Thursday, August 24, 2000

Yet Another NCC Crap shoot

As far as the NCC is concerned, what the Hull Casino wants, the Hull Casino gets, heritage and parklands be damned. The NCC will get 3$ million for allowing the casino to turn part of Lac Leamy wilderness park into a golf course for gamblers. The casino has made the laughable contention that they must be able to build the golf course if they are to go ahead with a $200-million development.

When the son of Marcel Beaudry, chairman of the National Capital Commission, married a few weeks ago, Hull's restaurant owners discovered with amazement that the local casino, with taxpayers' money, had entered the catering business. The casino restaurant, Le Baccarat, served a wedding meal to the guests at Mr. Beaudry's home. The casino said that this was a legitimate undertaking for its restaurant.

With his shabby pretense of dignity, the NCC chairman claimed that there was no scandal, since he had paid the bill.

A further study of the casino catering activities, however, revealed that Mr. Beaudry had already used these services on two other occasions, the only client in the whole country awarded such a privilege.

This brings us very far from the days when Mr. Beaudry, as mayor of Hull, was opposing the construction of the same casino because, in his own words, he considered gambling an immoral activity.

This is also very far from the small organizations still trying to prevent those power brokers (Mr. Beaudry and the casino insiders) from transforming one of the most pristine pieces of flood plain in the region into an expensive, five-star golf course.

[...]Most people in the Outaouais thought that this remarkable territory [Leamy Lake Park] was protected as part of the NCC park system. Indeed, the NCC itself had given it the full title of "Leamy Lake Ecological Park."

That was the case until its neighbour, the Hull Casino, decided that this land should be the site of its expensive golf course. When casino officials called Mr. Beaudry, a developer to his core, to negotiate a $2.65-million, 50-year rental deal, it was settled quickly, despite a display of opposition of a kind rarely seen in the Outaouais.

Hull Casino: The lynchpin of the west Quebec economy.So much for the NCC's mission to "safeguard the Capital's national treasures, the numerous sites of great prestige and public interest that are held in trust for future generations of Canadians." All future generations have to look forward to are theme parks and Las Vegas style entertainment.

Meanwhile, councillor Clive Doucet claimed in February that NCC chairman Marcel Beaudry has been quietly pushing a plan to extend light rail to the casino to efficiently deliver carloads of future slot jockeys; we expect the high rollers will stick to limousines.

Citizen: Golf course protests falter before casino, NCC muscle [24 Aug 2000]
Citizen: Casino golf course worth $3M to NCC [19 Jun 1999]
The Next City: A Capital Offense

Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Freeway through Gatineau Park delayed

The McConnell-Laramee highway extension has been delayed:

A planned new "urban boulevard" from Ottawa to Gatineau Park is delayed indefinitely by environmental concerns and feuding among communities in or near its path.

The federal and Quebec governments have agreed to evenly split the $32-million cost of the boulevard. It would run from the Alexandra Bridge through commercial and residential sections of Hull to a point near the park's southern boundary.

Quebec Transport Minister Guy Chevrette had hoped work on the boulevard would begin last year and be completed by late 2001. But the start is delayed at least until this fall to permit further study of its environmental impact, according to federal officials.

Pierre Dube, chief urban planner for the National Capital Commission, which strongly favours construction of the boulevard, does not expect the road to be completed until 2004. And he bases that estimate on the hope environmental approval will come in time for work to begin this fall.

"First we have to deal with the environmental issues, he says. "Then we have to carry out major engineering projects, including a viaduct over marshland in Gatineau Park." The viaduct will cost $12 million, or more than one-third the total cost of the new road.

[...]Plans for the new boulevard have existed for almost 30 years. In the early 1970s, dozens of modest houses in central Hull were expropriated and demolished to clear a path for the road.

The demolitions created a wasteland the width of a city block, stretching eight blocks from St. Joseph Boulevard in the heart of downtown Hull to Promenade du Lac des Fees on the edge of Gatineau Park.

Proponents of the planned boulevard say anyone who bought property in the area in the last 25 years knew a busy road would eventually be built through their neighbourhood.

The planned boulevard is a key element in the National Capital Commission's proposals for creating a more beautiful and inviting capital region. NCC chairman Marcel Beaudry says he wants it to be part of his legacy.

Some critics of the plan have suggested a connection between construction of the boulevard and the NCC's decision last year to turn over part of Leamy Lake Park in Hull for a commercial golf course.

The Quebec government will create the golf course next to the Hull Casino to encourage tourists to combine a golfing vacation with gambling in the casino, also owned by the province.

Mr. Beaudry says there is no connection between the NCC's decision to hand over land for the golf course and Quebec's agreement to go ahead with the new boulevard.

A stretch of the planned urban boulevard already exists. It is St. Laurent Boulevard, running from the Alexandra Bridge west to Highway 50 in central Hull.

Mr. Dube said plans call for a new three-kilometre stretch to be built, extending the boulevard west through Hull and across the southern part of Gatineau Park to Mountain Road.

The new road would link up with the highway that runs from Aylmer to Mountain Road. The new boulevard would connect the highway from Aylmer with Highway 50, leading to Montreal, and provide a shortcut through Hull.

The NCC says the planned road is an urban boulevard, not a parkway. As such, it says it has no objection to trucks using the boulevard.

Citizen: Boulevard plan divides Quebec neighbours [1 Mar 2000]