Local Liberal MPs Love the NCC
Some folks don't feel their local area MPs have been as responsive to their concerns about the NCC as one might expect. Indeed, we've had to rely on the Senate to raise questions about the NCC (stand up Senators Anne Cools and Noel Kinsella). Well, the following letter sent to the Citizen back in March 2000 and signed by all the local MPs in the Liberal caucus explains exactly what they like about the NCC: er, everything, uncritically, in glowing terms.
We area MPs support wonderful NCC plans for capital David Pratt Ottawa Citizen, March 10, 2000 As MPs in the national capital region caucus, we want to comment in support of the wonderful possibilities for our region contained in National Capital Commission chairman Marcel Beaudry's conceptual plans ("The NCC's 'significant world capital,'" March 2). The NCC has a critical role to play in revitalizing the capital which must be a showcase for the cultural and political life of the nation and a people place for Canadians and foreign visitors. The initiatives the NCC unveiled March 1, as part of a consultation process, will build on its legacy of open green spaces, parks, scenic parkways and the ceremonial Confederation Boulevard. The new plan provides better public parking and access to the Hill, beautiful open spaces, better vistas of the river and attractive, people-friendly development on Sparks Street and LeBreton Flats. All this will not be accomplished overnight. It is a 25- to 50-year vision. The NCC will not be throwing people out of work or bulldozing an entire city block along Sparks Street. Rather, subject to public consultations and as things come together over time, there will be incremental improvements. Nevertheless, we hope Mr. Beaudry will take action as soon as he can on parts of Sparks Street and LeBreton Flats. The NCC plans call for more emphasis on providing much greater public access to the natural beauty of the Ottawa River and the islands that lie between Ottawa and Hull. They also speak of the need to begin improvements that could lead to opening up the full length of the Ottawa river for recreational boating, a project with great support on both sides of the river. A waterfront development with a mix of residential, commercial and tourist activities is envisaged for Chaudiere and Victoria Islands. The now uninviting, grey, industrial dead space would be enlivened by bringing people closer to the water with a redevelopment similar to Granville Island in Vancouver. The Aboriginal Centre on Victoria Island -- the First Nations bridging Ontario and Quebec on land that is both historic and symbolic -- is a truly exciting proposal. The beautiful waterfront park proposed in Hull will provide a wonderful respite for families and office workers with a magnificent view of Parliament Hill. Improvements to St. Laurent Boulevard and a connection to Gatineau Park, straight from the Alexandra Bridge, will speed visitors on their way to one of the capital's most precious assets, Gatineau Park. Now that the NCC has exclusive ownership of the LeBreton Flats, due to an agreement worked out with the City of Ottawa late last year, we all want to see the flats become a vibrant part of the core. Some acres of parkland are envisaged, as well as a new alignment for the parkway that will free up the waterfront for walkways, beautiful views and perhaps some federal cultural facilities. Some commercial and residential development south of the aqueduct is also in the plan. Finally, bringing people back to the Sparks Street Mall will help revitalize our downtown. Acquisition of buildings in the block between Metcalfe and O'Connor streets and parking for cars and tour buses will improve the tourist infrastructure, provide for residential and commercial redevelopment and allow for a better mix in the core of tourists, workers and residents. The proposed urban square in this area will be a fabulous, year-round people place and will open up yet another spectacular view of the Hill. We are sure we speak for many colleagues in Parliament when we say that we look forward with great enthusiasm to the realization of this superb plan for Canada's capital. Not only will it improve amenities for local residents, it will enhance the national capital region's reputation as a tourist destination of choice and serve as yet another drawing card for high-tech companies and workers. David Pratt, MP, Nepean-Carleton This letter was signed by MPs in the national capital region caucus including chair David Pratt (Nepean-Carleton), Marc Assad (Gatineau), Mauril Belanger, (Ottawa-Vanier), Eugene Bellemare (Gloucester-Carleton), Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell), Marlene Catterall (Ottawa-Nepean West), Ian Murray (Lanark-Carleton), Marcel Proulx (Hull-Aylmer), Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre), and John Manley (Ottawa South).
Sure, politicians have been known to get carried away with their own rhetoric, but this letter sets a new benchmark for sycophancy - the plan is "wonderful" (x3), "beautiful" (x3), "better" (x3), "attractive", "exciting", "magnificent", "fabulous", "spectacular", "superb", etc. ad nauseum. No chance of sober second thought from this crowd. And thanks for the assurance that "the NCC will not be throwing people out of work or bulldozing an entire city block along Sparks Street," but the memory of the LeBreton Flats and the Metcalfe Grand Boulevard are still fresh in our minds.