Mayor Watson demands more local representation on the NCC board

Mark
Mark Brownlee
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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.”

Organizations: NCC, NCC board

Geographic location: Gatineau, Ottawa

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  • Les Gagne
    January 30, 2014 - 11:45

    Good on you Mr. Watson. This is long overdue and it's time the NCC start becoming a "real" partner with the City of Ottawa when it comes to planning and design like that of our LRT. If this is a genuine request on behalf of the City, then I see no reason why the NCC should have any issue with it. For too long the NCC has operated a bubble w/o engaging key partners and organizations to participate in the process of making Canada's Capital a more vibrant, efficient, and exciting destination on par with many of the great cities around the world.