Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has pulled the lid off a simmering dispute with the National Capital Commission with his demand on Wednesday that the city be permitted to appoint a representative to the Crown corporation’s board of directors.
Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa. (Photo by Lois Siegel)
Mr. Watson and the NCC have been at odds in the last year over the city’s desire to extend its light-rail transit system to the west of downtown.
The two sides have been trying to reach a compromise placement for the route, much of which will need to traverse NCC land, but have so far yet to reach an agreement.
Now the mayor is calling for fundamental changes to how the NCC does its business.
“The NCC board, made up of a majority of members from outside the region, often micromanages projects, slows down progress and places greater burdens on local taxpayers,” said Mr. Watson in a statement.
“It needs to stop intruding on local decisions and get back to the basics of what it was created to do in the first place.”
Mr. Watson, along with his Gatineau counterpart Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, announced on Wednesday they were sending a letter to the prime minister asking that each city be allowed to appoint one of their elected members to the NCC board.
In the letter Mr. Watson refers to “relentless obstruction” as well as “micro-management and second guessing” from the NCC in the city’s attempts to move light rail to the west.
He takes issue with requests the Crown corporation has made, such as its demand that the city let the NCC know about what sorts of foliage it plans to have at the LRT stations.
Mr. Watson also wants to see more local people appointed to the board.
“The addition of these positions would also begin to redress the situation of majority
control from outside our region,” he wrote in the letter. “It is simply not good enough to appoint individuals to the board who hail from the cities of Ottawa or Gatineau.”