The following is a transcript of Chairman Beaudry's testimony before the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (Tuesday, June 11, 2002).
The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance met this day at 9:30 a.m., in public, to examine the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2003.
Senator Lowell Murray (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: This committee always has before it the Main Estimates for a given fiscal year. Having the Main Estimates before us provides the committee with the latitude to inquire into just about anything that comes within the authority of the federal government. In that connection, and on the initiative of the deputy chairman of the committee, Senator Cools, we have invited the chairperson and officers of the National Capital Commission to appear before us today.
Nous avons le plaisir d'accueillir M. Marcel Beaudry, president de la Commission de la Capitale nationale depuis deja dix ans - M. Beaudry fut nomme en 1992.
He is a lawyer from Hull, Quebec, who has combined law practice with undertakings in the hotel and restaurant business, residential and commercial construction and real estate development. He has been a member of board of directors of numerous companies, financial institutions and universities. He has chaired numerous fundraising initiatives. He is a former member of the Belanger Campeau Commission, set up by the government of Quebec in 1990. He was the Mayor of the City of Hull, and he has an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa. I will not embarrass him or take the time of the committee with a lengthy biography.
In any case, we are happy to have him here, together with several of his officers, Mr. Wood and Ms Dube. Mr. Beaudry has an opening statement to make, after which I will turn to senators for questions and comments.
Marcel Beaudry, president de la Commission de la Capitale nationale: Il me plaisir de discuter avec vous du rendement et des operations financieres de la Commission de la capitale nationale. Notre mission est de faire en sorte que la region de la capitale nationale soit une source de fierte et un symbole d'unite pour tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes. Notre mandat est compose des trois principaux volets suivants qui guident nos activites quotidiennes et notre planification long terme: creer un lieu de rencontre pour tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes; se servir de la capitale pour aider les Canadiens et Canadiennes apprendre connaitre le Canada; proteger et preserver le patrimoine culturel et les tresors naturels pour les prochaines generations.
In order to accomplish this mandate, every year the Treasury Board provides the commission with approximately $42 million in operating funds, $14 million for payments to municipalities in the national capital region in lieu of property taxes and $20 million in capital funds. Special projects, such as the redevelopment of the LeBreton Flats and the revitalization of Sparks Street, are funded separately.
The NCC also raises approximately $22 million per year on its own through rental agreements for more than 700 properties, sponsorships, merchandizing and user fees. These revenues enable the NCC to reduce its dependency as a crown corporation on central funding from government appropriation in order to accomplish our mandate.
The NCC has an acquisition and disposal fund that enables us to retain the proceeds from selling surplus property that no longer plays a capital role and for acquiring and rehabilitating assets. Through this fund, the NCC was able to acquire environmentally sensitive lands such as the Mer Bleu Bog in the greenbelt and, most recently, lands along Sussex Drive. Proceeds were also used to rebuild Champlain Bridge and Portage Bridge. I would like to take a few moments to explain how the NCC makes the most of its resources throughout its day-to-day operations. To fulfil our mandate, we concentrate on four business lines: Programming, planning, real asset management and corporate services.
La programmation comprend des activites visant a promouvoir la region de la capitale nationale comme endroit privilegie pour vivre et celebrer nos realisations, notre culture et notre patrimoine canadien.
En plus de la fete du Canada et du Bal de Neige, ces programmes comprennent le patinage sur le canal Rideau, le Coloris automnal et les velos-dimanches ainsi que les programmes de rayonnement tels que le programme populaire - Les Lumieres de Noel au Canada.
A recent addition to the capital's many attractions is the Canada and the World Pavilion. The pavilion showcases the achievements of Canadians on the international stage. The pavilion is a model of successful partnership with both the private and the public sectors. It has recently received top honours as the best new attraction in Canada by Attractions Canada. Since 1991, NCC programs have earned over 76 awards from professional associations.
Notre deuxieme secteur d'activite, la planification de la capitale, necessite la creation et le maintien d'une vision pour la capitale, la planification de l'utilisation des terrains federaux de la region, et la conception et direction de leur developpement physique. La planification de la capitale se concentre sur les interets federaux se rapportant a des fonctions administratives, culturelles et symboliques d'une capitale - lesquelles font de la capitale et des environs une region unique. Pendant plus de 100 ans, la CCN et ses predecesseurs ont joue un role de premier plan dans la planification et l'edification de la capitale. Le plan Greber, et autres plans qui ont suivi, ont contribue a faire de la region une capitale vibrante et verte, veritable source de fierte pour tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes. Ce travail de planification se poursuit encore aujourd'hui.
Since completing the plan for Canada's capital in 1999, the NCC has concentrated on preparing a plan for the core area of the capital. This plan will elaborate land use policy and proposals for federal lands in the core areas of Ottawa and Gatineau. Under the umbrella of this plan, the revitalization of Sparks Street and the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats will reach the detailed planning and development stage. With the two new cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, the NCC is working on various planning projects. Studies of interprovincial transportation, as well as the review of new municipal official plans being developed by the cities, are examples of this collaboration.
La CCN recoit regulierement des prix de plusieurs associations provinciales et nationales dans diverses disciplines, comme l'architecture, la planification urbaine et l'amenagement paysager. L'an dernier, par exemple, le plan Greber a recu le prix de la Vision en Urbanisme de l'Institut canadien des urbanistes pour l'implantation dudit plan. Les autres plans, comme le Plan directeur de la Ceinture de verdure de 1996 et Le Concept du coeur de la capitale de 2000 - entre autres - ont aussi recu des prix nationaux. Depuis 1990, la CCN a recu 42 prix dans le domaine de la planification.
Les biens immobiliers de la CCN comprennent des proprietes qui sont essentielles au caractere de la region de la capitale nationale. Des terrains comme la Ceinture de verdure, le parc de la Gatineau et les parcs urbains constituent une partie de la Masse de terrains d'interet national, ayant une importance nationale et etant conformes a des pratiques environnementales reconnues.
The NCC is the largest landowner in the National Capital Region. In all we own and manage 53,471 hectares of land. We are also responsible for six official residences, 170 kilometres of recreational pathways, almost 250 kilometres of walking and skiing trails in Gatineau Park and the Greenbelt, almost 500 hectares of capital parks and nationally significant public spaces, and manage approximately 700 buildings and 40 bridges. Since the mid-1980s, when Treasury Board directed federal departments and crown corporations to divest themselves of surplus land, the NCC has undertaken a rationalization of its land holdings. I say "rationalization" because the commission has been criticized for divesting itself of lands. However, it has never been recognized for increasing its overall property portfolio.
It is important to note that, since 1989, the NCC has acquired 2,330 hectares of land, of which more than 99 per cent is for open space protection. We have divested ourselves of 12,73 hectares from our total land holdings, of which 680 hectares is for public infrastructure, 304 hectares is for open space, 173 hectares is for development by the private sector and 116 hectares is for development by the municipalities, other federal departments and embassies. The result is a net gain to the commission and to Canadian taxpayers of 1,057 hectares of national interest lands. It is important to note that the commission and its staff in our real asset management portfolio have earned 13 awards from professional associations since 1995.
Je suis fier de dire que les services corporatifs ont recu, au cours de trois des cinq dernieres annees, le prix fort convoite d'excellence des rapports annuels des societes d'etat du verificateur general du Canada. Je considere cela comme une grande realisation et comme une recompense bien meritee si on considere les nombreux defis auxquels a fait face la Commission au cours des dernieres annees, en commencant par l'Examen des programmes.
La CCN et son personnel ont su relever le defi lance par le gouvernement federal. Elle a reduit son budget de fonctionnement annuel de pres de 30 pourcent sans pour autant changer son mandat ou diminuer la qualite de ses services. Nous avons du changer notre facon de faire les choses. Nous avons du trouver des moyens innovateurs pour accomplir notre mandat. En etablissant des partenariats avec d'autres niveaux de gouvernement et du secteur prive, nous avons pu livrer des programmes comme la fete du Canada et privatiser nos operations d'entretien des terrains et des biens immobiliers, tout en donnant la chance a certains de nos employes de mettre sur pied des firmes privees.
La CCN a ainsi reduit le nombre de ses employes de plus de 50 pourcent. Ils sont aujourd'hui un peu moins de 500.
The NCC has also addressed a number of governance issues. In April 2000, with the advent of municipal amalgamation, the NCC retained the services of Glen Shortliffe of Sussex Circle to provide an independent assessment of the commission's working relationship with municipalities and to outline ways to enhance the public's access to, and knowledge of, the commission and its activities. The implementation of the Sussex Circle report provides a sound foundation on which to build the NCC's commitment to a renewed consultative approach for future years.
In conclusion, the commission and the country continue to face challenging times. We are optimistic about the future of the region and the nation, and we will continue to aspire to excellence in all our businesses. We will continue to do our part, on behalf of the federal government, in making our capital symbolic of the greatness of this nation. Thank you very much for inviting me here today, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have.
Senator Cools: I would like to welcome you here to our Senate finance committee. For us, it is a special treat to have you here today because we have not had a chairman of the National Capital Commission since about 1986 or 1987 when Mrs Pigott came before us. I think it is desirable and appropriate that the chairman of the National Capital Commission be before the Senate committee.
I would like to build on the Senate committee's work, so to speak. I am sure you are very well informed that the Senate and the senators have taken the question of the NCC and its workings into its cognisance and that a number of questions have been raised in the Senate and in the Senate committee about the operations of the NCC. I hope that that you are informed; are you?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes, we are informed that you are interested in what we do.
Senator Cools: I was hoping and expecting that you would have taken the opportunity of your introductory remarks to address some of those concerns. I propose to begin with the Senate committee's report of March 19, 2002, just a few months ago. I would like to read from page 1319 of the Senate Journals, which contains the committee's first interim report on the Main Estimates. This report was in support of the first supply bill, what we call Appropriations Act No. 1. The report states:
Senators expressed an interest in the operations of the National Capital Commission. Specifically, they noted that the Commission was seeking additional appropriations of $34.2 million, most of which is earmarked for real asset management and development. In this connection, Senators require further assurances that the legitimate planning concerns of local governments are given proper weight in the decisions of the Commission. Perhaps Mr. Beaudry could address the questions raised in the Senate report of March 19 in respect of real asset management and development and the National Capital Commission's dealings with city government, city council and so on. Could you tell us what actions and what steps you have taken to address the senators' concerns as articulated in the Senate report?
Mr. Beaudry: With the municipalities, we have constant contact concerning many different issues. Since the Shortliffe report that I referred to in my opening address, we have set up a tripartite committee where the two mayors sit with me, and staff of the three organizations are there to support the work that we do. We are there to discuss transportation issues, development issues of future construction in the National Capital Region and priorities concerning both levels of government. We have in the past worked very closely with the municipalities, and particularly so with the new municipality of Gatineau and the new municipality of Ottawa concerning official plans, planning of the capital, what lands should be used for, what the role of the NCC in cooperation with both cities should be, and how we should support one another in the different areas of activities of our jurisdiction. We have been doing that in the past; we intend to do so in the future.
Of course, we do always have the same lines of thinking in all of the different activities. We at the NCC are appointed by government to develop and manage, to a certain extent, the National Capital Region where the federal government has interest.
On the Ontario side, at the local level, people are reluctant for three years, on the Quebec side for four years. In providing their own responsibilities in how to manage their municipality, they come with a set program. They come with a set amount of initiatives and priorities that do not necessarily respond, fix or amalgamate easily with the NCC when it is planning for the region on a long-term basis. In the past three years, we have set out the vision for the national capital region. A plan was devised in 1999, on which we are still working, of which six components have been set out for people to appreciate. Each of these components has been discussed with municipalities on both sides of the region.
Senator Cools: I understand most of that, Mr. Beaudry. You can assume that the majority of people on this committee are quite up to date on some of these questions. We are quite thorough readers and do have a significant amount of information at our disposal.
The particular question I was asking you to address was that senators, in their report, said that they wanted assurances that the planning concerns of the city governments were given proper weight in the NCC's decision in respect of real estate management and development.
Mr. Beaudry: Honourable senators, we receive many appropriations from government. Though I may be mistaken, I believe that, in regard to the $34,000 you speak about, we did get money from LeBreton Flats development, which is a special project. We did get money for official residences, also, which is not necessarily appropriation for capital expenditure on a regular basis. Last year, what we received from Treasury Board for capital expenditure was $20 million. We received $42 million for operations and $14 million for grants or payments in lieu of taxes.
The rest of the credits that were given to us were for special projects, including the development of LeBreton Flats, which is to take place over the next five years, and the revitalization of Sparks Street Mall, for which we have received appropriation for the first year. We also received money for the maintenance of the official residences.
Senator Cools: I have three more questions, but I shall limit it to two. Otherwise, members will not be able to get their questions. I will put another question and perhaps we can revisit the first question later on, as the committee moves along with its proceedings.
I have observed, Mr. Beaudry, in all your public relations documents, and you seem to have a large number of them, you refer to the National Capital Commission as a Crown corporation. I have noticed that in, for example, a particular document, "The National Capital Commission: Summary of Corporate Plan, 2001-02 to 2005-06." I have noticed the reference on your Web site, as well. If we were to look at the document just referred to, being the summary of the corporate plan, at page 6, we see "Crown corporation status." It says:
Crown corporation status means that the NCC is subject to... the Financial Administration Act..."
At the bottom of the paragraph: The NCC is governed by a national board of directors and reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
I have a few problems with the definition of the National Capital Commission as a Crown corporation governed by a board of directors. First, my understanding is that you are not boards of directors, that it is rather a collection of commissioners. My second understanding is that the NCC is not a simple Crown corporation, that such a description is insufficient to describing it. The NCC, in point of fact, is a commission, and not only a commission, but a special constitutional entity that was developed some centuries ago as a way of organizing in law and in practice what is called a body of commissioners; that is, a body corporate of commissioners so that commissioners acting as a body, in a total, together can perform important public acts of an important public character.
In other words, what I am driving at, Mr. Beaudry, is that the description of the NCC as a Crown corporation makes it sound like a huge corporate machine that is entitled to act as a private entity in respect of land speculation and land deals, when the NCC is a commission entrusted with protecting and safeguarding Her Majesty's lands.
Mr. Beaudry: We have done that to a large extent. If you refer to my opening statement again, the NCC owns 47.78 thousand hectares of land. We manage more than 6,000 hectares that are owned by the Province of Quebec, which is situated in Gatineau Park. Over the last 10 years, we have acquired 2,330 hectares of additional land for public purposes, out of which we have sold or divested 1,273 hectares of land.
The net result of all of this is that you have more land holdings today than you had 10 years ago. If our role is to preserve what has been given to us to manage by the people and the government of Canada, this board of directors that has been appointed by the government is doing its job. We are responsible to Parliament and we are responsible to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who answers for us in the House. We are at arm's length with the Department of Heritage. We operate, as a crown corporation, 15 members appointed through Orders in Council, including the chair. We act as any other Crown corporation that has been created by the government.
Senator Cools: Mr. Beaudry, my understanding is that the board is not a board of directors, but is, rather, a board of commissioners. We can debate these points, because this is an area of law and I have been doing some research.
My understanding is that the National Capital Commission has its origins in the ancient concept of Crown lands commissioners. We can pursue that point later on.
We are talking about Parliament. I am sure most people here understand that I see life through the eyes of being a Member of Parliament and a parliamentarian. I would like to ask you a question that is not as profound as the previous two questions, but is nonetheless important. The National Capital Commission has in its employ a person by the name of Laurie Peters, who is described as a spokesperson for the NCC and is quoted daily in the media. On May 23, 2002, in an interview on CBO-FM, with Senator Kinsella, Laurie Peters answered Senator Kinsella in respect of what I consider to be public policy questions.
My question to you is the following: First, what are the credentials or authority that Ms Peters possesses to publicly engage senators or elected politicians on public policy questions? Second, in the parliamentary system of responsible ministerial government, what is a "spokesperson"?
Mr. Beaudry: Laurie Peters is the director of communications at the NCC. I do not know to what statement you are referring, what Ms Peters has said this concerning Senator Kinsella. I cannot comment on that. She is certainly authorized by the National Capital Commission to answer and speak on behalf of the commission on issues that concern the commission.
Senator Cools: Does that include public policy questions?
Mr. Beaudry: I do not know what Ms Peters has said in that regard. I should like to hear what comments she has made in that regard. I do not know.
Senator Cools: I could put one item on the record. However, she makes many statements of this nature on a daily basis. If you look through the news coverage, you will see that Laurie Peters is frequently quoted on what I consider to be very important public policy issues.
For example, the document I am looking at is from Bowden's Media Monitor about an interview on CB0-FM, May 23, 2002. The headline was "NCC Acting as a Realtor" and the interviewer was Ms Hallie Cotnam, who began: Members of the Senate of Canada say they want to stop the National Capital Commission from selling all federal lands to developers. They say too much land has been sold over the past decade to subsidize other projects. NCC officials say they are only doing what is necessary.
Ms Barbara Brunzel spoke and quoted Senator Kinsella. Then, she said that Ms Laurie Peters, a spokesperson for the National Capital Commission, said that if the ability to sell land were taken away, there would have to be one heck of budget in its place.
Ms Peters said: "We would have a very difficult time in completing and fulfilling our mandate to reconstruct a heritage bridge or to maintain a beautiful Gatineau Park. It all takes funds."
It is my understanding, and I may be a little old-fashioned, that in our system of government, when it comes to responding, especially to members of Parliament, it is usually done either by ministers or certainly at the highest levels. It is certainly not done by staff. My understanding is that staff can give reports about the time of day or about the conditions on the canal, for example. In respect of engaging Parliamentarians or members of city council on public policy issues, it is my understanding that staff do not do those kinds of things. I could be old-fashioned and outdated now.
Mr. Beaudry: I do not exactly know how to address this, to be honest. There is an individual responsible for speaking on behalf of the National Capital Commission to questions that concern the commission. She is with the reporter who is questioning her about the impact of a change of policy, whereby the NCC would not be allowed to sell lands in order to provide the necessary revenues to maintain its capital assets. Ms Peters responded that if this policy were modified and if Treasury Board provided no money, there would be a shortage of some $6 million per year in our capital budget, just to maintain the assets that we have. She was saying that it would create a huge problem for us and so something else would have to be done about it. I do not think she was questioning the statement or opinion of Senator Kinsella, but rather she was only stating a matter of fact.
We have $20 million given to us on a yearly basis by Treasury Board. We need $25 million to $26 million in order to meet our capital expenditures. Treasury Board told us in 1991 that, following rationalization in the policy that was adopted then by the federal government in the mid-1980s, federal corporations, departments and agencies should get rid of the surplus land that they have. We have been following this directive. In 1991-92, Treasury Board told us that to meet our needs on capital budgets, we would have to sell surplus land because they are not providing all of the funding that we need. That is where the $6 million comes from and that is the issue to which Ms Peters spoke. If we do not sell land, we will not be able to meet our budget for capital obligations. Therefore, we need the $6 million and so we have been selling land. We are not the exception: every department in the federal government has been doing this. Canada Land Corporation has been active since 1995, especially for that purpose, with all departments that have declared surplus land. Treasury Board has asked them to turn it over to Canada Lands Corporation so that they can sell it. That is all she said.
Senator Cools: Thank you, Mr. Beaudry, for that clarification.
Le senateur Bolduc: J'ai lu, en guise de preparation pour cette presente rencontre, la politique du Conseil du Tresor concernant la disposition des surplus de proprietes. Comme societe d'etat, etes-vous couvert par cette politique, ou vous disposez de vos propres regles?
M. Beaudry: En tant que corporation de la Couronne, nous ne sommes pas sujet directement a la politique du Conseil du Tresor.
Le senateur Bolduc: Elle s'applique seulement aux ministeres?
M. Beaudry: Elle s'applique aux ministeres et aux corporations, en vertu de la deuxieme section. En tant que corporation de la Couronne, nous ne sommes pas sujet a cette politique. Cependant, nous essayons de suivre les directives et la politique du Conseil du Tresor dans la mesure du possible, puisque le Conseil nous a demande en 1988 et en 1991 de faire la rationalisation des terrains appartenant a la Commission de la Capitale nationale. Conjointement avec le Conseil du Tresor et le ministre des Travaux publics, nous avons conclu qu'un certain nombre de terrains dont nous etions proprietaire devaient etre declares comme etant d'interet national. Certains terrains devaient etre analysees plus en profondeur dans le but de determiner leur classification, et d'autres terrains devaient etre disposes, a d'autres niveau de gouvernement ou a l'entreprise prive, s'ils n'avaient plus d'interet pour la Commission et donc consideres comme surplus.
Le Conseil du Tresor nous a donc demande de nous departir de ces terrains, comme ils le font pour les autres departements.
Senator Bolduc: In other words, even though you are not covered by Treasury Board in the disposal of surplus property, your board strives to be in the spirit of, or in the same vein as, the federal government.
Mr. Beaudry: Yes, that is true, and more so because Treasury Board is fully aware that the $20 million that we are given is not enough for us to maintain the asset. We do not necessarily sell $6 million worth of land every year. Some years, we run short; some years, we sell more; and we try to take advantage of the high peak of the market and obtain the best possible zoning for the lands so that we get the highest possible price to benefit Canadians.
Le senateur Bolduc: Est-ce qu'a l'interieur du territoire de la capitale nationale vous agissez au meme titre que le ministere des Travaux publics? Le ministere des Travaux publics agit-il a l'interieur du territoire de la capitale nationale?
M. Beaudry: Le ministere des Travaux publics agit egalement, mais s'il doit disposer de terrains, leur instruction est de transferer ces terrains au Canada Lands Corporation qui, a son tour, en dispose pour le gouvernement. Le produit de cette vente est alors retourne au Conseil du Tresor.
Le senateur Bolduc: Nous avons etablie vos relations avec le Conseil du Tresor. Qu'en est-il avec le ministere des Travaux publics?
M. Beaudry: Nous travaillons en etroite collaboration avec Travaux publics Canada. Nous sommes responsables pour l'utilisation du sol dans toute la region de la capitale nationale. Nous sommes egalement responsables de la planification a court et a long terme et de l'esthetique des edifices construits ou demolis dans la region de la capitale nationale. Par consequent, si le ministere des Travaux publics planifie la construction d'un eifice - comme par exemple la construction du nouvel edifice de la Cour federale annoncee tout recemment - ils doivent determiner avec la Commission de la capitale nationale le site de cet edifice.
Senator Bolduc: In terms of land use policy, you have the jurisdiction --
Mr. Beaudry: Exactly.
Senator Bolduc: -- of the overall territory. Now, with the CLC Ltd, what is your relationship? Is there one?
Mr. Beaudry: It is a good relationship and they would like to help us sell land whenever it would be useful.
Senator Bolduc: The NCC sells the land itself.
Mr. Beaudry: Yes, we do but, theoretically speaking, it would not be under Treasury Board policy.
Senator Bolduc: I understand.
Mr. Beaudry: We could, theoretically speaking, ask CLC to sell for us.
Senator Bolduc: If CLC has management responsibilities for selling land, why do you sell it yourself instead of asking them to do it for you?
Mr. Beaudry: Because it is Treasury Board policy that in the national capital region the National Capital Commission may sell, divest, develop or do as they wish with their land.
Senator Bolduc: Has the city of Ottawa itself been stripped of its power in land-use management?
Mr. Beaudry: Not the city. We are only talking of the lands under federal ownership, and ownership of the commission. We would not be able to sell land for Public Works or Agriculture Canada. Those would go to CLC. Of what land we own, we have the authority to sell it. However, we go back to Treasury Board every now and then to get authority.
Le president: D'ou vient l'autorisation de vendre un terrain? Est-ce une association qui vous gouverne, ou est-ce mandate par le Conseil du Tresor?
M. Beaudry: La loi nous autorise a faire la vente, acquerir, developper ou transferer un terrain.
Le president: La politique vient du Conseil du Tresor?
M. Beaudry: Exactement. Les autres departements doivent demander au CLC de vendre les terrains. La CCN, pour sa part, se charge de vendre elle-meme ses terrains.
Senator Kinsella: I must say, Chairman Beaudry, I take no offence with what your communication officer is saying. I found it rather helpful, actually, as it allowed us to zero in on an important issue that you have underscored. Namely, the fact that there seems to be a dynamic at play, that in order for the capital commission to raise their budget as the commission determines, if they do not get the funds from the Treasury Board through appropriation steps with this policy of the early 1990s, you need to sell assets to pour back into your capital activities. I want to talk about that in a moment to try to get some explanation of it.
Let us turn to the estimates for 2002-03. In your presentation, you said that Treasury Board is providing about $42 million for operations. In the estimates for this year, it is $48.8 million, so that is an increase of some $7 million. Am I correct in that?
Mr. Beaudry: I will ask Ms Dube to answer this.
Senator Kinsella: Actually, it is not $42 million but $49 million for operating expenditures. Then you said that the payments for grants and contributions, which covered things like tax, seem to remain the same. You mentioned $14 million, and I see the estimates are providing $13.7 million. Let us turn to Vote 75, which is for capital expenditures. You said to us some $20 million for capital. However, in the estimates Vote 75 is $56 million. That is an increase of $36 million.
Mr. Beaudry: That was for the special project, LeBreton Flats.
Senator Kinsella: In the budget preparation process, when you negotiate with Treasury Board do you have to table before them your plan of selling properties and the revenue that you anticipate receiving? Does that have the effect of Treasury Board factoring that in and therefore the budget allotment they are recommending is reduced in accordance with the plan to sell assets?
Mr. Beaudry: What we done in the past in our negotiations with Treasury Board has been modified to some extent since the Shortliffe report. We said to Treasury Board that we needed some $25.5 million for capital expenditure. Out of that, for a long period of time, we got $18.5 million. Last year we got $20 million. However, Treasury Board has accepted to provide us with additional funding should we not be able to sell surplus land to the cover our $6 million shortfall. They would be lending us that money for a period of three years, and it would be reimbursed to them whenever the market is ready to buy these properties.
We do not want to sell surplus land under any kind of conditions. We want to make sure we are getting the highest possible price for the land we consider surplus, and get the proper zoning on it before we sell it. Otherwise, I do not think we would be managing the assets of government the way we should. Treasury Board is fully aware of that.
For a period of time, we had many problems in trying to reach the $6 million mark because we were more or less in a recession. Government was undergoing program review, and, therefore, Treasury Board, in order to relieve pressure on us as we had to sell land under circumstances that were not favourable, agreed they would lend us this money subject to us repaying it back.
Senator Kinsella: Under the Treasury Board policy that applies to departments, should a department wish to sell an excess asset, the proceeds from that sale go into the consolidated revenue. Plus, there is the process of how lands are determined to be surplus.
I know the act provides for the authority to dispose of lands. Where is the policy base? Is there a document generated by NCC, that has been approved by Treasury Board, laying out the steps, first, to determine what constitutes surplus; and, second, the steps in putting that surplus land on the market?
Mr. 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.
If a roadway has been called for, for example highway 16 that goes through the greenbelt, it cuts the greenbelt in some places, and you find that there is a piece of land no longer connected to the greenbelt, or, if the area has been turned over into a commercial area instead of an agricultural area, and your piece of land is separated from the agricultural area, the NCC, after rationalizing its operation and needs, may declare that piece of land surplus.
In this case, Treasury Board decided back in 1992 that the NCC could sell its surplus land and keep the money coming out of that to create an acquisition and disposal fund that could be used down the road to pay for infrastructure, maintenance of infrastructure, or acquisition of additional land. That fund has been used for that purpose since then. That is how we funded the construction of the Champlain Bridge, that will be costing us some $30 million, the Portage Bridge that has cost us some $9 million, acquisition of the Mer Bleue Bog, or acquisition of some land in other areas of the national capital region.
Senator Kinsella: Are the national capital area members of Parliament consulted during the process you go through in determining what constitutes surplus lands?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes. The members of the riding in which the land is situated are consulted. The mayor, councillors and municipal staff are made aware. We also go through a consultation process. For instance, when we went for the Greenbelt official plan, there was a three and a half year process of consultation with the people of the National Capital Region concerning the Greenbelt. We examined what it should be and what kind of activities should take place there.
We did the same thing for the plan for Canada's capital that was adopted in 1999. That process started in 1995 and 1996. Consultation took place in 1997, and public consultation took place in 1998. The city staff, the city politicians and those at the RMOC were all informed of this process and what we were considering at that point for surplus land. We discussed what should be divested, developed or sold.
Senator Kinsella: It is your testimony then that the Member of Parliament relevant to Moffatt Farm was part of the consultation process?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes, the Member of Parliament was aware of it. The Member of Parliament made many declarations concerning that. It was Mac Harb in this case. He said that he was favourable to this development. He was consulted beforehand. Local politicians were also aware of that.
Senator Kinsella: You referred to members of the council of the City of Ottawa?
Mr. Beaudry: Members of the council of the City of Ottawa were aware of it. The city amalgamated in 2000. The members of RMOC and the mayor were also aware of it.
Senator Kinsella: The National Capital Commission determined that the Moffatt Farm was surplus. A decision is then taken on how to dispose of it. Would you describe that process? It is my understanding that there is an interest by Phoenix Development Ltd in the property. Would you describe the process that was involved in identifying Phoenix Development Ltd as a potential developer for that property?
Mr. Beaudry: The document was very specific for the official plan for Canada's capital in 1999. I will read from the plan: Lands considered capital parks in 1988 federal land use plan, but are no longer considered to fulfil this role as a result of the 1995-99 review, include the following: Prince of Wales site -- This is the Moffatt Farm --is not considered to be of capital significance except for shorelines. Shirley Bay was redesignated as a natural heritage area. Gatineau Park, south of Gemblay Boulevard has been redesignated a national heritage area.
In the 1988 plan, these areas were considered capital park areas. In the Moffatt Farm case, the National Capital Commission already owned the Vincent Massey Park in that area. We owned Hog's Back Park in that area, which we manage and control. Over and above that, we own and control the Mooney's Bay Park, but it is under lease with the City of Ottawa. That deal was struck in 1995 on a 49-year lease.
There were already three parks in that area. We will also be developing LeBreton Flats. This has already started. You may have seen that work is being done on the cleaning up of that site. There will be a large park for the use of Canadians for festivals and different kinds of activities on LeBreton Flats. Eleven acres will be set aside there for that purpose. After a program review, we concluded that the Moffatt Farm area was not useful for NCC. There was never any program in that area. It was never a park in the same sense as Major's Hill Park, Vincent Massey Park or Hog's Back Park. It is an open field.
We decided to concentrate our efforts in the core area. LeBreton Flats was one area for that purpose.
For the Moffatt Farm, a proposal was made to us for an exchange of the property alongside the Aviation Parkway, the Montfort Woods. NCC is considering this because this area is right next to a parkway of the NCC. It is right next to the Rockcliffe Base, which is now owned by the National Defence but may be turned over to Canada. I do not know whether that has been done. There has been discussion on that for three or four years. That may become also a development of the federal government or the private sector, if it is turned over to CLC.
We felt that that Montfort Wood, which we did not own, was a piece of property that should be protected alongside the Aviation Parkway. When the proposal came to us to exchange lands, we said that we would exchange equivalent parks to Moffatt Farm with Phoenix, subject to Phoenix doing all the renegotiations for the redevelopment. We felt that the Moffatt Farm land was worth more money than the Montfort Wood. Phoenix would be responsible for the rezoning, arranging services and hiring the planners in order to make that subdivision be created. Phoenix was to pay all those costs. That would balance out what we would be acquiring in comparison to what we would be turning over. That was approved by Treasury Board.
Senator Kinsella: You testified a few moments ago that the NCC attempts to work hand in glove with the regional governments in the area. It is my understanding that the City of Ottawa does not agree with the transferring of that property from open space into a real estate development. Am I correct that that is the decision of the City of Ottawa? Am I correct that the NCC is appealing that decision to the Ontario Municipal Board?
Mr. Beaudry: Let's say that staff of the City of Ottawa support the proposal. The smart growth policy adopted by the City of Ottawa supports that development. It does not support specifically that land, but the policy philosophy of smart growth supports the plan. Developing land on this side of the greenbelt also is in accordance with the smart growth policy of Ottawa.
It is true that council of the City of Ottawa has opposed the development of that property. With the exception of one, the members of council voted against the development of that property. It is true also that the matter is now before OMB. We are waiting for a decision by OMB.
Senator Kinsella: You mentioned a moment ago that the Treasury Board approved something?
Mr. Beaudry: The transaction between Phoenix and the NCC.
Senator Kinsella: Do you have any idea what criteria Treasury Board used?
Mr. Beaudry: I will leave that to Treasury Board.
Senator Mahovlich: A few years ago the prime minister visited Australia. He was very impressed with the capital of Australia, Canberra. Someone said that he looked out his window and saw a vision. Is there anything in your plans for the future comparable to this beautiful city of Canberra?
Mr. Beaudry: I visited Canberra about two and one-half months ago. Canberra was easier to develop than Ottawa or any other capital in the world is, except perhaps Brasilia. They also started from scratch. We have not.
Senator Mahovlich: It is more expensive.
Mr. Beaudry: It is more expensive and more problematic. Jacques Greber was retained by Prime Minister Mackenzie King in 1950, perhaps earlier than that. We called it the Greber plan. That plan provided for more parks in the region as well as taking the train station out of the core area and moving it to Alta Vista. He also contemplated two grand alleys leading to Parliament Hill. One from what is now the Museum of Nature, the other alongside Colonel By Drive, again starting from the train station. It was to have been a six-lane boulevard leading on an angle to the Hill. Grebert choose the one on Colonel By Drive. He did not retain the idea of the large alley alongside Metcalf Street. Of course, the boulevard alongside Colonel By Drive was never built because Ottawa University expanded and National Defence headquarters and Rideau Centre were built. In addition, the view was blocked by the National Arts Centre.
In 1998, the NCC contemplated returning to the Greber plan. We thought we should open the vista to Parliament Hill instead of coming up Metcalf Street and seeing only the Peace Tower. We tabled four options. One was to build a square on Sparks Street mall and at Queen Street you would have the vista, or down to Albert Street or Laurier Street, or return to what Greber contemplated as a possibility at the time, right down to the Museum of Nature. The media reported it would cost $5 billion to expropriate the property. They did not mention the three options, only the grand option, which was abandoned by the National Capital Commission a year after consultations took place.
We are now concentrating our efforts on revitalizing the Sparks Street mall. While we were considering the four options, people in the area told us more residences were needed in order to make the core area livelier, that we needed more activities on the mall. The mall is 35 years old, and it has been slowly dying. It is not exactly Saint-Honore in Paris. The NCC is responsible for the beautification of the capital, for making Canadians proud of their capital, and we feel it is necessary to do something about the Sparks Street mall. That is where we have been directing our efforts. We are now funded for the first year to undertake studies. We are hopeful that the development of Sparks Street mall will begin this year in order to make it more attractive.
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.
Senator Mahovlich: I know there are some big decisions that have to be made. I think you have to look 50 or even 100 years down the way. What happens if you refurbish Sparks Street and it still does not attract the right people?
Mr. Beaudry: We would like to demolish some of the buildings on Sparks Street, those with little interest. I am speaking of the Hong Kong Bank and Montreal Trust buildings. We would like to create a large square. We are trying to address the problems in the core area. As a consequence of 9/11, tour buses, for instance, are not allowed on the Hill. These buses now park alongside Wellington Street, and the tourists have to walk to Parliament Hill, which is quite a walk for seniors and those not in good physical condition. It is also a problem for traffic flow. There are two lanes of traffic on Wellington Street. If one lane is blocked, that leaves only one lane of traffic in each direction.
The City of Ottawa has formed a committee, and a study has been undertaken in order to find a solution to the problem. If we had the large square from Wellington to Queen Street, we could have underground parking for 25 to 30 buses and 650 cars.
Senator Mahovlich: How many buses a day come into Ottawa?
Mr. Beaudry: The last sample we took between the hours of 11 and 12 in the summer, peak tourist time, there are approximately 40 buses coming to the Hill.
Senator Mahovlich: It might be 200 buses a day.
Mr. Beaudry: It is more than that, I am sure. This is between May and Labour Day.
Senator Mahovlich: I was in Chicago in the fifties. Skid row was a big problem at that time. Our hockey team would go down skid row to get the stadium. I said, "How are they ever going to solve this problem?" They put a four-lane highway right through the middle of it. Now it is a beautiful city. Some big decisions have to be made.
Mr. Beaudry: It is a political decision. I can tell you Washington is looking also at creating a boulevard behind the Capitol. That creates concerns because there are heritage buildings there. There are heritage buildings on Sparks Street.
Senator Mahovlich: I have another question on Moffatt Farm. I was out visiting Moffatt Farm the other day. I went for a walk. It was quite rushed. There were a lot of wild birds and animals going through there. I saw mallards nesting. This looks to me like a sensitive area. I know that the people around there were worried about development. Has Ducks Unlimited or anyone given you an opinion on this property?
Mr. Beaudry: Not that I know of. I do not know whether this map has been given to you that shows the way in which development will take place at Moffatt Farm. We will be distributing this to you.
You will see the shoreline of the Moffatt Farm will not be developed. Development is proposed for 46.13 acres of land, or 18 hectares of land. Seventeen 17 hectares of land will be protected. It is almost 46 to 37. Thirty-seven will remain wild. All the trees that you have on Moffatt Farm.
Senator Mahovlich: There is a lot of young trees that have been planted.
Mr. Beaudry: If you walk the land, it is brush. There are very few trees on the plateau. The trees are alongside the shoreline.
All the trees will be protected, so your birds will not be affected whatsoever.
Senator Mahovlich: Birds are attracted to that type of brush.
Mr. Beaudry: The centre of the plateau is proposed for development.
Senator Mahovlich: I was at a meeting a month ago at your office. We were talking about the Canadian sports hall of fame. The ministers have been changed two or three times in the last period. Is that work still in progress? How is it going?
Mr. Beaudry: I can say at this point that Public Works is working with the NCC on a submission that should possibly be ready within a month or so. There are many issues on that site. It is owned by the Museum of Photography. They need to find a home. They need to find money to pay for the reorganization of their museum and the storage that they need. From what I understand from the proposal for the sports hall of fame, they would like a bar, a kitchen, a restaurant and escalators, and they would like to develop an underground bridge. That would cost a lot of money. I do not know exactly where the money will come from.
Senator Mahovlich: It is not a done deal, then?
Mr. Beaudry: In my own opinion, it may happen, but it is not a done deal. There are many issues to be dealt with by the Museum of Photography, by the NCC and by Public Works. Where will the money come from? I do not know. Maybe there are ways. Maybe there are sponsors. Maybe they can find enough money to do it. However, I do not know where it will come from.
Senator Banks: I want to ask questions about the $26 million fund to which you referred. You said you needed $26 million, and you got $20 million.
Mr. Beaudry: For capital expenditure.
Senator Banks: Capital expenditures include things like fixing up the mall.
Mr. Beaudry: The mall is not ours. The mall is owned by the City of Ottawa. Sparks Street Mall is owned by the City of Ottawa. We are revitalizing Sparks Street Mall. We were given $40 million three years ago by Treasury Board to acquire properties alongside Sparks Street Mall between Metcalfe and O'Connor. Out of that $40 million, we have already spent $28 million in acquiring properties.
Senator Banks: My question is: Does your accounting concept include fixing up your capital assets as capital expenditures?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes.
Senator Banks: So maintaining capital assets is part of capital expenditures?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes.
Senator Banks: What will happen when you eventually run out of surplus lands to sell?
Mr. Beaudry: That is a good question. Perhaps Treasury Board will change their policy at that point in time.
Senator Banks: Until then, they are saying to you, "Sell capital property."
Mr. Beaudry: Surplus land. Not all the land, surplus lands.
Senator Banks: Whatever that means.
Mr. Beaudry: The facts have demonstrated that in the past 10 years we have acquired more lands than we have sold. What we have sold for the private developer is 173 hectares of land. Out of the 1,273 hectares, only 173 was sold for private development. The rest of it was either transferred or divested for public infrastructure, for public use, or for other reasons that are in the public domain.
Senator Banks: As you pointed out, there has been a net gain of over 1,000.
Mr. Beaudry: That is right.
Senator Banks: Can that kind of extraordinarily brilliant management continue, in which you are selling land which is surplus and gaining monies from that, which I gather in your policy have to be spent on capital?
Mr. Beaudry: On capital, of course.
Senator Banks: Can you continue to maintain or aggrandize the aggregate land holdings and continue to sell surplus lands to meet the capital expenditures?
Mr. Beaudry: Let us say that at the present time, liability wise and capital wise, we do not have any. We are at zero, theoretically speaking. We were at 92 some 10 years ago because there was a lot of rehabilitation that was to take place. I am thinking, for instance, of the Laurier Bridge which is being redone by the City of Ottawa, of the MacKenzie bridge which was owned by us and was turned over to the RMOC, of the Airport Parkway and some infrastructures that we own and could foresee having to rehabilitate. We were left with the Champlain Bridge that we wanted to keep, and the $30 million more or less that is being spent on the Champlain bridge is coming out of the A and D fund. That is on account of the land that we have sold and the exchanges and the different deals we made along the way. The Portage Bridge is the same. There was money coming out of that fund for that purpose.
Senator Banks: I have another question that has to do with the Sparks residence. If you wish, you can wait to answer this question. I would prefer, in fact, that you correspond with the clerk of the committee. There are persons who are interested in seeing the police report having to do with the fire that destroyed the Sparks residence in Gatineau Park. Would you please undertake, or let the clerk know if you cannot undertake, to authorize, to the extent it is necessary to do so, the release to the committee of the police report having to do with that fire?
Mr. Beaudry: It will be a pleasure.
Senator Bolduc: I am still pursuing my line of thought about the relationships between various organizations in the area in terms of land use planning. Suppose there is a conflict of views between the City of Ottawa and the NCC about the Sparks Street redevelopment. If there is a conflict, the only solution is to discuss it or a board or arbitration or something. I heard earlier the Ontario Municipal Board can decide on things that are local. I thought it only dealt with matters of municipal finance, but apparently they can also deal with matters of zoning and matters like that.
Mr. Beaudry: That is right.
Senator Bolduc: If there is a conflict, what happens?
Mr. Beaudry: That is where we are. The NCC finds this piece of property is surplus land, and we would like to turn it over and sell it to the private sector in this case.
Senator Bolduc: I am not talking about Moffat; I am talking about Sparks. Suppose there is a conflict in your redevelopment of Sparks with the City of Ottawa.
Mr. Beaudry: Consultation has not finished. I am quite sure there will not be any conflict. We will be agreeing to the development of the revitalization.
Senator Bolduc: Your position is that you will discuss it until you agree?
Mr. Beaudry: I hope we will find the right solution. The city has a lot of issues to deal with. I think basically the city is favourable to the revitalization of Sparks Street Mall.
Senator Bolduc: I have been in municipal affairs for a few years, as you know. We had good relationships at the time. I started also in planning at the University of Chicago. The type of street you have here in Sparks cannot be redeveloped on a commercial basis. You are too near the Parliament buildings. It will be very difficult to have the kind of commercial development that you imagine.
Mr. Beaudry: At this point in time I can tell you that phase one of Sparks Street has been approved by the city. I refer to the vacant land where there is surface parking at the corner of Queen Street and O'Connor. That piece of property right up to Sparks Street has been approved by the city for a development of some 240,000 square feet of office space, 34 residential units and retail at the ground level on Sparks and Queen. That has been approved as phase one of the Sparks Street redevelopment mall. We think that only that piece in there will play a big role in making things happen. What we hope for is that we can bring more residents to the Sparks Street Mall. We are talking at the present time with Public Works about converting a building and by using the site right next to the square that we have been talking about and putting residences there.
Senator Bolduc: You have the constraints of the Bank of Canada.
Mr. Beaudry: The Bank of Canada is in the other block, not in that block.
Senator Bolduc: What about Wellington?
Mr. Beaudry: It is not there.
Senator Kinsella: I just want to be perfectly clear: Are you telling us that the City of Ottawa is for or against the rezoning of Moffatt Farm?
Mr. Beaudry: They voted against it.
Senator Kinsella: That is what you are appealing. The elected members of city council took the position that they do not want to rezone Moffatt Farm according to the plan that was put forward. Is there room for a compromise? Can the NCC come up with a compromise position and work it out with the city?
Mr. Beaudry: We have offered to turn over the land to the City of Ottawa at market price, based on the zoning we think we can obtain from the OMB, which is residential zoning. The City of Ottawa has adopted resolution offering the NCC $400,000 for 84 acres of land. We struck a deal with the same City of Ottawa two years or a year and a half ago to acquire 2.5 acres of land in the waterway corridor. One is on Sussex Drive alongside the Ottawa River. The one I am referring to is on Rideau River. For 2.5 acres of land, we are paying $650,000 to the city. This is a piece of property zoned waterway, the same way as this one is.
Senator Kinsella: Let me conclude on a different element of the Estimates. It is the operating expenditures of the $48.8 million. How much of that is for compensation for human resources? How much of that $48 million is for salaries?
Ms Micheline Dube, Vice-President, Corporate and Information Management Services, National Capital Commission: I would say roughly 60 per cent is for salaries.
Senator Kinsella: Are there 15 commissioners, including the chair?
Mr. Beaudry: That is right.
Senator Kinsella: What is the compensation for each member and who fixes it?
Mr. Beaudry: We recently readjusted the compensation for members. First, they are not paid for their regular meeting as members of the board. They are paid for additional work, if they sit on committees or they hold office. For example, the vice-chair of the NCC has compensation, I believe, of $8,000 a year for this. I am giving estimates of these salaries. I could provide you the right numbers if you wish.
Senator Kinsella: That is determined by the commission and not by the Treasury Board; is that right?
Mr. Beaudry: This was approved by Treasury Board.
Senator Kinsella: What is the compensation package for the chair of the commission?
Mr. Beaudry: If I was to say not enough --
Senator Cools: You would not be believed.
Mr. Beaudry: I think it is around $196,000.
Senator Kinsella: Is that a DM2?
Mr. Beaudry: DM2 or DM3.
Senator Kinsella: Is there a hospitality budget made available out of operating?
Mr. Beaudry: Not as such. There are some expenses. I can tell you that every year the media makes it their duty to check on all the expenses of the chair of the National Capital Commission. They come in and verify everything.
Senator Kinsella: Treasury Board must approve the estimates submission for NCC. Do they deal in a microeconomic manner with the compensation packages or is that done by the commission?
Mr. Beaudry: No, there is a report. The committee makes recommendations to the Treasury Board minister and the minister recommends it. Compensation is given, whether it is approved or not.
Senator Cools: Mr. Beaudry, you referred to an agreement between NCC and DCR Phoenix. Could you give us copies of that purchase of sale agreement, as well as all the other agreements around the proceedings before city hall? Could you make copies of those agreements available to this committee?
Mr. Beaudry: I do not exactly know what you mean by the second part of your question. We do not have any agreement with city hall concerning that property.
Senator Cools: Maybe I misunderstand. Perhaps there is but one agreement. I was thinking of the purchase of sale agreement with DCR Phoenix, as well as the agreements by which DCR undertook to be the NCC's agent before city hall in the proceedings.
Mr. Beaudry: That is in the same agreement.
Senator Cools: That is one agreement. Could you make the agreement between NCC and DCR Phoenix available to this committee?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes.
Senator Cools: My next question allows you to amplify on what you have said. You said in respect of Moffatt Farm -- and I did not raise the question of Moffatt Farm, other people have -- that the city staff agreed with you but city council did not, and city council are the elected representatives. It has concerned many members of the committee that the NCC seems to be on a collision course with city council and also with the citizens of Ottawa.
You said as well that Moffatt Farm is not really a park. Yet all the official plans, whether it be the regional official plan or the city's official plan, clearly show Moffatt Farm designated as waterfront, open space, green space and environmentally sensitive areas. In your response to Senator Mahovlich you did not say that the areas you pointed out on the map are environmentally sensitive areas.
I just want to put on the record that in fact all the designations within the entire regulatory frameworks, and all the official plans, have shown very clearly for a substantial amount of time that Moffatt Farm is deserving and needy of the highest levels of protection as a piece of property. In addition to that, Moffatt Farm is also a part of the Rideau Canal waterway system.
Mr. Beaudry, you have been on a collision course with city hall to the extent that you are unhappy with the decision that the city council made, to the extent that you have indicated you are not accepting that decision and to the extent that you have appealed that decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, which you appealed before the city hall proceedings was completed. You did a premature application to the Ontario Municipal Board. To the extent that you have said all of those things, with all fairness to the record and to the committee, you have to explain to us in terms that this committee can understand, in terms of the planning regulatory framework and in terms of helping this committee why you have placed the NCC, a commission of Her Majesty's lands as a suppliant before the Ontario Municipal Board, where in fact under the guise of asking the Ontario Municipal Board to overturn a city council decision, you are asking a provincial body to decide the destiny and the use of federal park lands, lands that are vested in Her Majesty's name.
That is a mouthful I gave out to you. To the extent you have done all of those things, you have related and reiterated them before us today, I think, Mr. Beaudry, you owe this committee a firm and sound explanation of why City Hall opposed the rezoning of Moffatt Farm, why city council decided not to grant the NCC its wishes and application, and why the city council, except for one vote, almost unanimously voted down your application to rezone. I would like you to tell this committee why City Hall and city council acted as they did, and why they adopt the position of denying this application.
It has been my understanding that the NCC is constituted as a peculiar creature in a peculiar public trust for the protection of public lands. One of the expectations, particularly in a protocol, is that the NCC should defer to City Hall and to the city council on local planning issues. Instead, we are in a major confrontation, which is extremely expensive. No one asked you today about the cost of financing these legalistic, mechanical exercises. I would like you to tell us why City Hall declined and denied the application to alter the zoning from parkland or from green space or from whatever.
In the process, I would also like you to explain your statement that you would offer Moffatt Farm to City Hall, but you wish to offer it at market value. That says that you will sell that piece of land to City Hall, but first the city zoners, as the lawful authority jurisdiction that makes decisions about zoning, must rezone it to obtain a value 20 times what it is currently zoned for, and then City Hall or city council should buy that land from the NCC at that very inflated price.
From my point of view, I call that land speculation or distortion of prices. I have a bit of a problem with it because whether it is taxpayers at City Hall or municipal taxpayers or federal taxpayers, at the end of the day, it is the public who owns that land. In point of fact, you are asking one section of the public purse to underwrite and finance a piece of a land.
The Chairman: I hope Mr. Beaudry does not ask you to repeat the question.
Senator Cools: It is very complex.
The Chairman: You have asked Mr. Beaudry to amplify his position. In addition, you have made a number of specific statements to which I think he would want to reply. I believe, in all fairness, the committee will have to sit still for this reply, which will, I suppose, take at least as much time as the question took, after which I am going to adjourn the committee, with apologies to Senator Ferretti Barth, because we do have an in camera on future business following this.
Senator Cools: Maybe we should come out of in camera. There are many observers here today who would be awaiting the outcome of our in camera discussion.
The Chairman: Our in camera discussions have to do with an entirely different issue, although in the course of them, I will ask you to turn over in your minds where we will proceed on this subject. There will be no decision on that today.
Mr. Beaudry, you may proceed.
Mr. Beaudry: I will try to answer that, Senator Cools. First of all, I do not think NCC has any responsibility whatsoever to the citizens of Ottawa concerning local parks. I believe that we manage federal property and, as such, we have provided for the citizens of Ottawa and the people of the whole of Canada. We manage Hampton Park, Rockcliffe Park, Confederation Park, Major's Hill Park, Commissioners Park, Hog's Back Park, Vincent Massey Park, Kingsview Park, Riverain Park and Rockliffe Park on the Ottawa side only. Those parks, we feel, are of national interest. The City of Ottawa has a responsibility to provide local parks for its citizens. This piece of property is not a park. The city is aware of that because the veterans acquired it in 1945 for housing veterans coming out of World War II. After 20 years, the veterans decided they would not pursue this housing project, but it was acquired for that specific purpose back in 1945.
That same piece of land was sold to the NCC in 1965. The City of Ottawa, back in the early 1980s, had considered buying the area to make a park. They shied away from that. They decided not to pursue this. In 1998, the NCC, in its new plan, in its new law, decided it would leave it protected as a potential capital park for the area. As I explained before, that area is already well served by Hog's Back Park, Vincent Massey and Moony's Bay, which is now managed by the city, but owned by the NCC. We felt that for the purpose of the NCC and the national interests that piece of property was not to be developed as a park by the National Capital Commission.
Secondly, on the value of the land, it is Treasury Board's policy. We would be totally irresponsible towards the people of Canada if we were to sell the land at cheaper than potential value. That is why, having come to the conclusion that that property is surplus for our programming and our use, we want to get the best possible price for it because this money will serve the people of Canada, not only the people of Carleton Heights, but the people of the whole of Canada. When we repair Champlain Bridge, it is for all the people of Canada, not for only one community. When we build Confederation Boulevard, it is for the benefit of all the people of Canada. The money coming out of the A and D fund that we are managing is used exactly for that purpose.
I recognize that the people of Carleton Heights are citizens like every other citizen in the country. They have a right to be served like any other citizen in the country. 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.
That is the answer to why we did not want to sell it at the value of a park. Even at that, Senator Cools, while we have agreed with the city for similar zoning on the 3.5 acres of land I was referring to on waterway -- the NCC and the city have agreed to $650,000 for 3.5 acres of land -- we are getting an offer from the city of $400,000 for 84 acres of land at Moffat Farm. Do you feel this is reasonable? I do not think it is reasonable.
Senator Cools: I was hoping that we were going to be told the reasons why city council declined the application by NCC and DCR Phoenix.
The Chairman: I do not think the chairman of the NCC can properly answer that question. He may be able to surmise or he may be able to tell you what is already on the public record. He cannot speak for city council.
Senator Cools: No, but he can tell us what they told him. He can tell us what his position was. We want to know why. I put the question initially.
Mr. Beaudry: I will try to answer this. 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.
Senator Cools: In his opening remarks, the chairman of the National Capital Commission referred to a document written by Glen Shortliffe entitled "The National Capital Commission, enhancing relations: a report". I would like to make sure this document is properly before the committee. From what I can see, a substantial part of this committee's report concerns the deed of the National Capital Commission to enhance relations with local governments and with the citizens of Ottawa.
The Chairman: We will circulate it. We have gone a quarter of an hour over time, and I have lost four senators already.
Senator Cools: My last statement is: I will be continuing with these statements. As far as I am concerned, the fact that the National Capital Commission is before the Ontario Municipal Board as a supplicant is an unparliamentary matter. It is not consistent or consonant with the public character and public purpose that the National Capital Commission is supposed to fulfil as a creature of parliament created by an act of the Parliament of Canada. More than anything, I am now totally convinced that the National Capital Act needs a total overhaul and a total revision, if not a total rewrite. I was not totally convinced of that at all before but I am now.
Senator Kinsella: If I can ask a supplementary on the map. Is Prince of Wales Highway 16?
Mr. Beaudry: It used to be.
Senator Kinsella: That is one of the main arteries in the city.
The Chairman: This kind of information you can get outside the committee.
Mr. Beaudry: Highway 16 now is the new highway.
The Chairman: I am adjourning the committee. We now have an in camera meeting to hold, and I have lost four senators already. We must move on because there are caucuses and other things happening in this town. I will adjourn this meeting. Thank you, Mr. Beaudry and senators.
The committee adjourned.