Local Liberal Caucus on the NCC

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,

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.