With Canada’s 150th birthday on the horizon, the National Capital Commission (NCC) is already beginning to prepare for Canada’s 200th. With input from public submissions, the NCC has drafted a 50-year plan for federal lands in the Capital Region. The plan outlines several key policy directives, clustered into three general themes, to be implemented between the country’s 150th and our next big birthday. These themes are: 1. “an inclusive and meaningful Capital,” 2. “a picturesque and natural Capital,” and 3. “a thriving and connected Capital.”
The plan itself spans 140 pages, so we’ve done you a favour in presenting you with the ‘Coles Notes’ highlights.
Let’s begin with the NCC’s plans for “an inclusive and meaningful capital.” Main objectives, outlined in the plan, are as follows: “to conserve and highlight symbols of our national identity, to ensure representation of Indigenous Peoples and citizens from all regions, and to celebrate Canadian values and achievements.” So, what will the attainment of these goals look like?
For starters, what seems like constant repairs of the Parliament Buildings will be complete and Ottawa will be left with a greener Parliament Hill following the removal of surface parking and the addition of new trees and street furniture along Wellington Street.
National War Memorial
Public space surrounding the National War Memorial will be redesigned in order to accommodate more people.
Victoria Island (Asinabka)
An Aboriginal Welcome Centre will be built on Victoria Island (Asinabka), which will focus on teaching the culture and heritage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The NCC will name a new lookout over the Ottawa River (Kichi Sibi) after Algonquin Chief Tessouat, to commemorate his contribution to Canada’s history. The contribution of Indigenous Peoples will be commemorated by several new monuments, including one monument on Victoria Island.
In order to help preserve our picturesque and natural capital, the NCC aims to “protect and enhance the region’s ecological jewels, while developing and maintaining new landscapes, as well as improving access to waterways, shorelines, and to the Capital’s green space.”
So, how are they going to do this? Confederation Boulevard will be expanded west of the Portage Bridge, connecting the Canadian War Museum to LeBreton Flats and across the Chaudière Crossing to Hull. The expanded Boulevard will have improved cyclist and pedestrian access, as well as seven commemorative nodes along its route.
As far as plans for Gatineau Park, the NCC will continue to purchase land for sale within the park, with special interest in unique ecological regions. They will build a new Welcome Centre, better able to serve the needs of those enjoying the park. While continuing to enforce a “leave no trace” policy within the park, the NCC say they will work to maintain and rehabilitate ecological systems, protect species at risk, and promote and preserve the biodiversity of the park.
Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway
Ottawa’s shorelines and waterfronts will receive a facelift, starting with the expansion of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, from LeBreton Flats to Mud Lake at Britannia.
The new expansion will include more beaches for folks to enjoy; access points for boats big and small; commuter cycling trails; and recreational multi-use pathways, for those who wish to run, walk, or ski alongside our beautiful riverfront. There will also be several new parks constructed along the Ottawa River, including a new park overlooking the Chaudière Falls, and plans for a National Botanical Garden situated near the Rideau Canal. We should also see the addition of several new Greenbelt trails.
Transit, cycling, and pedestrian infrastructures
The NCC wishes to “continue to foster a thriving and connected city.” Their goals, as outlined in the plan, are to support “a liveable, resilient, and economically competitive Capital; to promote and support a transit-oriented city-region; and to preserve and enrich cultural heritage through conservation and design excellence.”
New government offices will be built near transit stations, to encourage the use of public transportation; and will blend into their surrounding neighbourhoods. This is with the goal of making transit, walking, and cycling more appealing alternatives to driving a car.
The NCC will aim to make the city more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, by building new multi-use pathways for both recreational use and commuters. Furthermore, the draft plan mentions designating more spaces for public art in the capital.
National Research Council hub
The NCC plans to collaborate with the National Research Council to create a centre for science, technology, and innovation at 100 Sussex Drive.
So there you have it – the shorthand version of The Plan for Canada’s Capital. As is true for any set of ‘Coles Notes,’ there is plenty more to the NCC’s plan that was not mentioned here – but we’ve managed to provide you with the highlights in a quick 1,000 words. If you’re interested in knowing the finer details of the plan, give it a read through.
The NCC should hear your thoughts – they’re asking for the public’s feedback, now through August 7th. Visit here to submit comments online.