Veteran staffer to take over at the NCC as fight with city heats up

OBJ Staff
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A longtime employee of the National Capital Commission has received a promotion, the federal government announced on Monday.

Fireworks at the opening ceremony of Winterlude in 2012.

Mark Kristmanson, who has worked at the Crown corporation since 2004, takes over as the new CEO amidst a simmering dispute between the organization and the City of Ottawa.

Mr. Kristmanson was the NCC’s director of capital interpretation and commemorations and has worked on several major projects, according to a press release issued by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

The NCC has been without a permanent CEO since July 2012, when Marie Lemay stepped down after four years in the job. Jean-François Trépanier has been acting as interim CEO since September 2012.

The appointment comes as the NCC is wading further into a public spat with the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin issued a letter to the federal government last Wednesday asking that each city be allowed to appoint someone to the Crown corporation’s board.

The joint statement from the two mayors complained that the NCC is made up of unaccountable outsiders who meddle too often in municipal affairs

However the organization’s chair turned them down last week. Such a move would be counterproductive, Russell Mills said in a statement released on Thursday, since the NCC is already accountable to Canadians through Parliament.

“Building an appropriate National Capital Region for our great country will always be more than a municipal affair,” wrote Mr. Mills. “Any steps that would undermine the need to focus on the national interest in the Capital is unlikely to result in better decisions for either local residents or all Canadians.”

Mr. Mills finished the statement with a shot at the city’s plans to expand its light rail system to the west using some of the NCC’s land, which is becoming a source of increasing frustration for Mr. Watson.

“We need to retain the authority to stop bad ideas like a railroad along a precious riverfront,” Mr. Mills wrote.

This didn’t sit well with Mr. Watson, who spent much of Thursday afternoon on his Twitter account taking issue with the NCC’s response.

Organizations: NCC

Geographic location: Ottawa, Gatineau, National Capital Region

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