NCC Watch

Working to consign the NCC to oblivion

Search string: "moffatt"

Matches found: 18

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

NCC selling the rest of Moffatt Farm

The NCC is selling its final 10 acres at Moffatt Farm, to be developed for 133 homes.

OBJ: NCC seeks proposals for Sparks Street development [22 Oct 2004]

Friday, November 14, 2003

NCC must commit to protect Gatineau Park

Aylmer writer Ian Huggett argues in the Citizen that the money the NCC is throwing away on monoliths on Island Park Drive would be better spent acquiring new land for Gatineau Park:

Projects that are high-profile and conspicuous, yet superfluous, are gobbling limited funds at the cost of purchasing woodlands west of Gatineau Park. Recent expenditures on capital projects such as the million-dollar replacement of the facade at the Daly site on Sussex Drive or the $250,000 monoliths marking the entrance to Island Park Drive could be better spent purchasing woodlands to complete the park's western boundary.

Twenty to 30 square kilometres of forest could be acquired, extending the park to Wolf Lake Road between the hamlets of Ruthledge to the north and North Onslow to the south. Woodlots in the Pontiac run between $280 an acre and $500. The million-dollar price tag of the recently completed Mackenzie King Estate access road could have purchased an additional 5,000 acres to help absorb the exponential increase in park visitors. Every year 500 new homes are built abutting the park in the Gateway sector, in the southerly confines of the park in Hull.

Ottawa and Gatineau residents drive to the park in increasing numbers merely to get outdoors, as their green spaces such as Moffatt Farm in Ottawa and Fraser's Field in Aylmer are sacrificed to development.

The NCC is managing our assets by a law of diminishing returns. Chairman Marcel Beaudry is wrong in asserting that the NCC owns land in the capital on behalf of all Canadians. The commission merely acts as a steward -- and our steward is acting like a peacock. The majority of Canadians have voiced their opposition on the hungry consumption of every last piece of open space.

[...]It's a matter of values and priorities. To curry favor with a cynical public, resources are injected into frivolous visible icons such as the pretentious cairns along Island Park Drive, where several thousand commuters a day can goggle at their architectural incongruity while lining up to cross Champlain Bridge. Conversely, spectators are sparse in the remote sectors of Gatineau Park, where 30 square kilometres of forest could easily be added to the park.

[...]Gatineau Park continues to be eroded by new roads that dissect sections of the park. Dismembered sections fall into hands of the private sector, such as the Vorlage ski hill in Wakefield, land behind Wakefield School, the field beneath Champlain Lookout, and property south of the McConnell-Laramee highway. Despite a hypothetical priority list of properties that the commission targets for acquisition, there are no funds allocated to purchase private land in or around the park when it is placed on the open market. A private log cottage on Lac Lapeche, inside the park's high-conservation zone, was sold a few years ago to a private buyer after the park was given first dibs to buy. A hobby farm including 50 acres bordering the park at Lac Philippe is on the open market, with no attempt by the NCC to purchase the $160,000 property.

Citizen: NCC must commit to protect Gatineau Park [14 Nov 2003]
Citizen: Let's enhance this NCC gem [17 Nov 2003]

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Arrogant NCC now targets key islands

Researcher Ken Rubin critiques the NCC's development projects in the Citizen:

As the luxury condo slab on the Daly Building site rises and the start of the LeBreton Freeway sends cars speeding on their way, we are being saddled with expensive developments that are neither balanced nor attractive.

They benefit a few, ignore the environment and cater to the well off.

Even the crazy car drive down Island Park Drive isn't good enough for the NCC, so it's putting roadway markers and a new traffic divider along the way to remind taxpayers that it can do as it pleases. Their power is evident too in their cutting several new roads in or through the Gatineau Park that will further carve up the capital's only wilderness park.

The recent NCC announcement that it is spending millions of dollars to acquire the Scott Paper land on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River (with the actual transfer date being 25 years from now), may, on the surface, seem out of character. But don't expect that riverside land to be developed as one big green space beyond 2028, or to be without significant development projects. They could include more of the same type of tacky sightseeing pavilions as the Canada and the World one spoiling the Ontario side of the river next to Rideau Falls.

Let's also not forget that it was the NCC that adamantly resolved to sell off a large chunk of riverside green space, the Moffatt Farm, along the Rideau River, so that now, despite opposition, a mundane housing development is proceeding.

Indeed, it's the NCC's penchant to plan intensive development for the capital's three tiny islands in the Ottawa River that symbolizes just how out of control the NCC now is. Declassified NCC documents that I've obtained under the Access to Information Act show how the natural environmental settings of these islands takes second place to seeing how many structures with commercial payoffs can be stuffed in.

Take the four-hectare Bates Island, located off the Champlain Bridge. The NCC is not content to enhance the island's focus point for strolling, kayaking and fishing. Instead, it has pre- development infrastructure plans that call for spending millions of dollars for building, with a private developer, a hotel of up to 60 rooms that will occupy both sides of the bridge roadway.

Filling in the island space would also cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring in cable and natural-gas lines. In addition, there would be increased traffic and up to 53 new parking spaces.

Similarly, Victoria and Chaudiere Islands, off the Chaudiere Bridge near Parliament Hill, would be overdeveloped.

The recent NCC studies there envisage not just a long-promised aboriginal centre, but possibly a hotel, government office space, recreation complex, and even a junior college. Again, there would be increased traffic flows and costly infrastructure installed, such as new water mains and sewage pipes. Even the proposed aboriginal centre would be a large structure and is slated to be more of an institutional social-service building than a meeting place.

Citizen: Arrogant NCC now targets key islands [8 Oct 2003]

Friday, September 5, 2003

Moffatt farm study gives go ahead

A study (ordered by the OMB in its decision awhile back) recommends protecting half of Ottawa's Moffatt Farm from development, including the part bordering the river. The remainder will likely be developed for 200 single-family homes.

The NCC has become a commercial private developer. I have been struck by the banality and mediocrity of the proposal for developing that land. - Senator Anne Cools, Ottawa Citizen

One thing about the Moffatt Farm controversy, it has raised questions about the NCC's role as land speculator in the region. Regardless of the merits of any particular development proposal, what public purpose was served by having a federal agency acquire the land in the first place? And what public purpose does that agency serve today?

Banal and mediocre development is the NCC's signature - just take a stroll around Confederation Heights or Tunney's Pasture (in winter for best effect). And they're still at it - in January 2002 they proposed building a business park on Greenbelt land between Uplands Drive and the Airport Parkway. Well any developer with a sackful of cash and a city councillor in his back pocket can build one of those, why does Ottawa need a federal agency?

CBC: Moffatt farm study gives go ahead [5 Sep 2003]
Citizen: 'No NCC greenspace is safe,' councillor warns [5 Sep 2003]
NCC Watch: Uplands development
NCC: Uplands development information page

Saturday, September 28, 2002

OMB rules against Moffatt Farm plan

The Ontario Municipal Board has ruled that the NCC's development plans for Moffatt Farm are "inadequate" and "premature," and have ordered a new study of the property: "The board allows six months from the date of this decision to enable the parties to complete both the broader secondary planning study and any revised subdivision design."

CBC: OMB orders study into Moffatt Farm development [29 Sep 2002]
Citizen: NCC foes celebrate Moffatt Farm 'win' [28 Sep 2002]
Ontario Municipal Board

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]

Friday, July 5, 2002

Scouts not prepared for NCC

Sources tell us a troop of Scouts that had been leasing land from the NCC for camping at Moffatt Farm were forced to vacate about a month ago due to a significant increase in the lease charges. The Scouts had built, at their own expense, two small buildings to store their equipment, but they've been instructed by the NCC to remove the contents of the buildings, which will then be demolished. The NCC hopes to sell the land for development, although the City has refused to re-zone the land and the case is still before the Ontario Municipal Board. This should impart a valuable lesson to the lads: don't trust the government. Time to sew a new badge on boys!

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Chairman Beaudry testifies

Chairman Beaudry's testimony before the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance touched on a wide variety of topics, including Moffatt Farm, Sparks Street, grand boulevards, Treasury Board's directive for selling surplus lands, and Chairman beaudry's own salary. After a set statement featuring the usual bumph about the NCC's plans and awards, Beaudry faced a variety of questions from the Senators. Chairman Beaudry's answers were occasionally revealing:

  • Capital appropriations. According to Mr Beaudry, $20 million is given to the NCC every year by Treasury Board, but they need $25 million to $26 million to meet their capital expenditures. Hence the need to sell land that they themselves declare surplus. Curiously, throughout the testimony, there was never any question of the NCC actually reducing its capital expenditures. Indeed, when asked what the NCC would do once it had run out of surplus land, Beaudry replied that "perhaps Treasury Board will change their policy at that point in time."
  • Surplus land. The NCC decides in its infinite wisdom. To quote Chairman Beaudry: "Surplus land is determined after a long analysis by the people at the NCC. They take into account the circumstances that have taken place, and look into whether this land is needed for the NCC's operations, programs or symbolism. We decide afterwards what land should be declared surplus." No surprise there, then.
  • The Metcalfe grand boulevard. The NCC never throws any idea away, no matter how bad. To quote Chairman beaudry: "The grand alley boulevard is not in the cards at this point in time. Years from now it may become an idea to be pursued."
  • Sparks Street. The NCC still wants its square and underground parking lot for tour busses. Specifically, it wants to demolish the Hong Kong Bank and Montreal Trust buildings. They are also talking with Public Works about converting a building for residential use.
  • The City of Ottawa's zoning policies and the OMB. Unfair. To quote Chairman Beaudry: "Generally speaking, the city of Ottawa always likes to keep NCC's land as open land, no zoning. Why? Because they can use it for their purposes. I do not think this is fair. We have said to the city, "When we do not feel it is fair, we are going to go to the OMB." These are some of the cases where we went to the OMB in the 1990s: Concord and Echo, Innes and Blair, Heron and Walkley. Each time we were successful at the OMB, because OMB felt that the city was not being fair to the NCC as fair as zoning was concerned."
  • The people of Ottawa. Spoiled. "The people in this area here are using all of the facilities that the NCC has been providing for over the last 100 years. All those parks, pathways, parkways and Winterlude, which are being paid for by federal money, are being used to the extent of 85 per cent by the people of this region. Not too many people in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Riviera de Loup, Quebec, and Norway Bay use these facilities. The people in this area, paid by federal money, are using them extensively. We consider that when it becomes a local issue, then at that point, it is not NCC's responsibility to provide these parks for local issues."

Transcript of Beaudry's testimony [11 Jun 2002]
Chairman Beaudry's speaking notes
Standing Senate Committee on National Finance Report on the NCC
Sheila Copps' Testimony before the Standing Senate Committee

Monday, May 13, 2002

Senate continues to hammer the NCC

The Senate's debate concerning the NCC's proposal for Moffatt Farm, initiated by Senator Cools, has widened into something broader, questioning the NCC's methods and very mandate. On May 8, Senator Kinsella raised the following points:

  • All Canadians have a direct interest in the open lands and assets of the National Capital. The NCC holds these properties in trust and on a fiduciary basis on behalf of all Canadians from coast to coast.
  • The National Capital Act was brought in by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1958; after 44 years the time has come for Parliament to review the adequacy of this model of legislation.
  • The social, economic and mobility dynamics in the year 2002 sees Canadians being stakeholders in the use of all public lands in the National Capital in far greater numbers than 50 years ago. Therefore decisions of the NCC relating to the disposition of these public lands affect all Canadians across the country in new ways.
  • The Section in the National Capital Act dealing with the sale of public lands held in trust for all Canadians needs to be revised to provide for a recall mechanism. Section 10(2) of the Act, which gives the power to the NCC to sell lands held in trust, could be amended to provide for a review mechanism by a Parliamentary Committee upon the receipt of 1,000 signatures. As well, the Section of the Act that gives the authority to Cabinet to overturn any decision by the NCC to not sell land should also apply to any decision to sell land.
  • The National Capital Commission should not be selling assets to private developers to offset ongoing costs of the Commission. If the NCC needs money they should bring their case to Parliament.
  • The NCC should withdraw its application before the Ontario Municipal Board to appeal the decision of the City of Ottawa to deny re-zoning of Moffatt Farm.

Now that's what we call sober second thought.

Senate Debate May 8, 2002
Senate Debate April 23, 2002

Friday, April 26, 2002

Moffatt Farm OMB hearings

The Moffatt Farm Coalition and the city are going before the Ontario Municipal board starting April 29, 2002 at 1PM, anyone interested in attending for the first hour would be appreciated.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

NCC is abusing the public interest

Senator Anne Cools has responded to the Citizen, elaborating on her comments about the NCC:

It is exactly because I do live in the neighbourhood that the residents came to me after being shunned by their elected members of Parliament. After all, I am a senator from Ontario, which includes Ottawa.

Your writer should acknowledge that the NCC is a creature of Parliament, created by the National Capital Act. He should say that every member of Parliament, including senators, owes the citizens of Canada a duty of diligence in the oversight of every statute of Parliament, and of every department, ministry, tribunal and commission created by Parliament.

This is especially pressing when local citizens and elected city councillors have asked me for assistance because they believe that the NCC is acting against the public interest and is assuming the role of a private developer.

[...]The current value of this parkland is about $400,000, which has been the basis of the government's "grants in lieu of taxes" paid to the city for many decades. The NCC is proposing that the City of Ottawa rezone the Moffatt Farm from parkland to residential to justify a high market-price approaching $10 million, so that the city may purchase it from the NCC at that elevated price and then turn around and restore the zoning back to parkland.

The result would be that Ottawa taxpayers would pay the federal government an extra $9.6 million, and that the city would have collected the government's "grants in lieu" at the lower land value rate for decades. How could Ottawa Council justify this to its taxpayers? And why should the federal government, through the NCC, engage in this kind of unfair enrichment, and attempt to enlist the Ontario Municipal Board in its scheme?

Such distortion of land values does not serve a public purpose. The editorial writer is missing the point that such land privateering is not fitting for a commission such as the NCC that owns public lands. Neither is such land privateering countenanced by the purpose or character of the commission that Parliament intended in the National Capital Act.

The NCC has already refused an offer from the city of $400 000 for the land.

Citizen: NCC is abusing the public interest [25 Apr 2002]

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Senator raps NCC over Moffatt Farm

A senator, of all unlikely public officials, has stepped in to criticize the NCC over its dealings with Moffatt Farm. This is in part due to the complete inaction on the part of Ottawa-area MPs, Mac Harb being particularly notable for his reflex support of every scheme the NCC has ever cooked up.

CBC: Senator raps NCC over Moffatt Farm [16 Apr 2002]

Friday, April 12, 2002

City offers to buy Moffatt Farm, NCC refuses

The National Capital Commission says the City's offer to buy the Moffatt Farm for $400,000 is simply not reasonable -- and no offer will be considered until the Ontario Municipal Board holds its hearing. They're counting on the OMB siding with them to get the land rezoned for residential development, even though the city has rejected the rezoning.

CBC: NCC rejects city offer for Moffatt Farm [12 Apr 2002]
Ottawa City Council resolution to buy Moffatt Farm [10 Apr 2002]
CBC: City wants to buy Moffatt Farm, maybe [10 Apr 2002]
CBC: City votes to buy Moffatt Farm [11 Apr 2002]

Friday, March 1, 2002

Moffatt Farm update

The City of Ottawa's planning committee has rejected plans to develop Moffatt Farm, but an appeal is already in the works because the city didn't address the issue within the allotted time (90 days). The developer already has a hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board scheduled for next month. The city is offering to purchase the land at park value, but the NCC wants to sell it at developed value, as if it was already zoned for development.

CBC: Residents win round one in development fight [1 Mar 2002]

Friday, February 22, 2002

City hearing on Moffatt Farm

The city's planning department has approved the Moffatt Farm development; the city will hold a hearing February 28 at 13:30 at City Hall - all are welcome.

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]

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Moffatt Farm controversy continues

Residents of Carleton Heights are still fighting the planned development of Moffatt Farm. The land was given to a developer by the National Capital Commission in exchange for Montfort Woods. For more information, contact the Moffatt Farm Citizen's Coalition.

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

NCC wants to swap Moffatt for Montfort

The NCC intends to swap some land with a developer, supposedly to protect an area of National interest. Of course, what makes Montfort Woods (by the Aviation Parkway), the area they want to protect, of greater national interest than Moffatt Farm (on the Rideau River off of Prince of Wales Drive), is unclear. From the Citizen:

According to the NCC's documentation, the Montfort woods are of national interest "in order to preserve the mature maple forest as a natural area for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations in the Capital and for the protection of the parkway corridor."

The woods are nice. The trees are tall and leafy, the squirrels plentiful, and bumblebees and dragonflies buzz along the forest floor on warm afternoons. A firepit in a rocky clearing suggests people have spent evenings under the stars amid the trees. The woods are criss-crossed with trails of earth packed down so hard they might as well have been paved. People obviously love the forest, and it's a shame somebody wants to cut it down.

But whether it's of national interest is another matter entirely. Aviation Parkway is one of the NCC's odder projects; it doesn't really lead anywhere in particular and it's not long enough to be a uniquely interesting drive. The idea that the parkway needs protecting is bizarre, assuming Mr. Kochar wasn't planning to build right up to the road (and the configuration of the orange, spray- painted stakes demarcating the property line suggest that he wasn't).

The reason Mr. Kochar would be willing to trade the woods for part of Moffat Farm is obvious. The Montfort Woods are tucked away in a part of town near few amenities and with no easy rush-hour route anywhere many people want to go. That makes it less attractive to prospective home buyers. But Moffat Farm is riverfront property with easy access to downtown, Hog's Back, the airport, Carleton University and what is likely to become Ottawa's light-rail line to Kanata. As well, the chunk the NCC wants to trade to Mr. Kochar will border the other 27 or so hectares of forest and meadow. If the terraced backyards and boathouses on the opposite bank of the Rideau River are any indication, DCR Phoenix could make huge profits developing the site.

Ottawa's official plan has Moffatt Farm zoned as open space.

CBC: Developer faces opposition [21 Jun 2001]
Citizen: Residents brace for battle over woods [13 Jun 2001]
Citizen: Defending Moffatt Farm [13 Jun 2001]
CBC: Future of greenspace in doubt [7 Jun 2001]