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Old Posted Jul 4, 2017, 5:20 PM
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NCC estimates shoreline flood damage will cost $3.4 million to repair
Repairs may have an impact on other projects, board of directors hears

By: Alex Abdelwahab, Metro
Published on Mon Jul 03 2017

At the height of the flooding in May, more than 20 kilometres of the National Capital Commission’s (NCC) pathways were underwater, the commission's board of directors heard last week.

In some cases, the paths were submerged by four or five feet of water, Gary Lacey, executive director of capital stewardship told the board.

Numerous parking lots and parks were also greatly affected, he added.

He said 17 kilometres of pathways have been reopened, but the three kilometres that remain closed include the section of pathway right behind the Parliament buildings.

“This spring we not only had record water levels but also record velocity, which when you combine makes a very heavy impact on the shores and the waterways of any region,” he said.

The Champlain Bridge parking lot and Leamy Lake Park and beach were also damaged. The electrical system for Leamy Lake’s facilities will have to be completely replaced.

Marc Corriveau, director of urban lands and transportation, told the board the current estimate for the repairs is $3.4 million.

“These repairs may impact some of our ongoing capital projects,” he said, adding that the tenders will be going out by the end of this week.

Repairs will begin late August or early September.

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Old Posted Jul 28, 2017, 4:42 PM
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Bright idea? Light pollution fears shadow NCC plan to light up capital

Gabrièle Roy, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: July 28, 2017 | Last Updated: July 28, 2017 8:55 AM EDT

The National Capital Region is known for its distinguished Rideau Canal, breathtaking views and its historical landmarks.

Come sundown, though, the moonlight only illuminates a portion of Canada’s history.

A plan is afoot to brighten up some of Ottawa’s landmarks during the nighttime. Yet, many consequences will come to light as the city gets brighter.

After an analysis of the current evening condition of the capital region, the National Capital Commission developed what has been dubbed the Capital Illumination Plan in collaboration with the City of Ottawa, the City of Gatineau as well as private and public stakeholders.

Over a 10-year period, the NCC plans on showcasing the nighttime landscape of the capital region with the goal of “promoting sustainable development, enhancing the Capital’s nighttime beauty, enriching the resident and visitor experience and supporting existing planning, heritage conservation and urban design strategies.”

Since the NCC first presented the idea of a master lighting plan for the downtown core in 2014, the federal Crown corporation has called upon the public on a number of occasions. In 2016, a series of night walks were organized and participants were invited to provide their feedback for urban lighting plans in regards to the downtown core.

The draft of the Capital Illumination Plan was published in June and the final plan will be submitted to the NCC’s board of directors in the fall.

If approved, the plan will serve as a guideline for illuminating the capital at sundown.

A variety of Canadian landmarks have been selected by the NCC for illumination, including Confederation Boulevard, the 7.5-kilometre route connecting Parliament, the Supreme Court, Rideau Hall, the area’s museums and its embassies. Also selected have been the National Gallery of Canada, the Gatineau courthouse, Ottawa City Hall, Notre-Dame Cathedral and others.

To illuminate the capital, the NCC suggests using “new lighting technologies featuring low energy use, greater control flexibility and a longer life cycle,” such as LEDs.

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, have become a popular choice due to cost efficiency. However some of those involved with the Capital Illumination Plan, as well as scientists around the globe, have warned that artificial lighting, especially using white LEDs, can cause enormous repercussions for light pollution, as well as on animals, plants and humans.

The NCC suggests using light-emitting diodes from 2200K to 4200K. A 2200K LED will look yellowish to the eyes, while a 4200K will be a bright and bluish-white light.

“The 4000K light produces 16 times more light pollution than the 2000K,” says Dr. James D. Lowenthal, professor and chair of the astronomy department at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.

The more blue the light is, the more consequences there are for human health and on the ecosystem, notwithstanding the impact on light pollution and sky glow.

According to the International Dark Sky Association, “much outdoor lighting used at night is inefficient, overly bright, poorly targeted, improperly shielded and, in many cases, completely unnecessary,” which creates light pollution.

As cities get brighter at nighttime, the sky glow increases every year. “It’s been a six per cent increase every year for years, but it keeps increasing because of LEDs,” Lowenthal says.

Travis Longcore, assistant professor of architecture, special sciences and biological sciences at the University of Southern California. He offers a different critique: “Why would you light up a building that wasn’t built with lights on it? There’s something disrespectful about that. To me, this is just homogenization of the architecture.”

Yet, the NCC says it is aware of the consequences of light pollution and is promoting sustainable lighting. In its 120-page draft, the NCC provides information about lighting efficiency, such as the importance of equipment and orientation.

However, even if the luminaires chosen are well designed and facing downwards only, a lot of light can still go up into the sky, creating light pollution.

“The average city reflects about 30 per cent of its light facing down right back up into the sky,” says Lowenthal.

“Most people think asphalt is completely black, but it’s actually grey and it reflects plenty of light. In fact, it reflects much more light than the moon does,” says Lowenthal. (The moon reflects about 11 per cent of the sunlight.)

To reduce light pollution at night, the NCC’s senior land use planner, Sophie Acheson, says, “One of the most important features we have is the idea of these lighting curfews, where we suggest dimming lights at night, which was something that came out from our discussions with the public and some of the stakeholders.”

The draft suggests that lighting in certain areas of the capital be reduced by 50 per cent between midnight and 5 a.m.

Dimming the light will make a difference, says Lowenthal. “Whenever you dim the light, you’re making all the problems less bad. There will be less glare, less light pollution and, obviously, less energy waste.”

The NCC also suggests the use of motion-activated lighting in areas such as recreational pathways, parks, courtyards and parking lots. It also plans on avoiding light spills by using shielded luminaires whenever it is possible.

“Frankly I’ve been quite impressed with the NCC. Although there are a number of aspects I don’t necessarily agree with, they’ve done an admirable job at trying to find a middle ground,” says Robert Dick, the chair of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Light-Pollution Abatement Committee, who attended meetings for the illumination plan and provided feedback.

Dark Zones

Artificial light at night has severe consequences on wildlife and on the ecosystem. Plants have evolved for specific day and night cycles and respond to these cycles through the production and consumption of the hormone phytochrome, according to the non-profit International Dark-Sky Association.

If this cycle is disturbed, it can affect different species, as well as plants. In 2015, researchers at the University of Exeter in England published a study in which they found that artificial light at night affects the growth and flowering of plants, therefore also affecting the number of insects that use these plants for food.

The NCC recommends using lights carefully for areas where wildlife, plants, fish and insects cohabit.

To do so, the NCC says, it will create dark zones for major green spaces and waterways, such as Jacques Cartier Park and the Rideau Canal.

“One thing we are figuring out as we do this is that there’s a lot of knowledge out there now about how urban illumination impacts plants, so we are working hard to make sure we improve the impact of lighting in the Capital in those areas,” says Christopher Hoyt, senior architect with the NCC.

Longore says, “There’s a huge area of consideration that should be (given to) the type of wildlife in this area before going on with a designed plan, and I don’t see any of that yet. The NCC seems generally aware of the impacts of lights on wildlife, but not very specifically for the areas they want to put the lights in.”

Lighting will also be minimized for dark zones, allowing for events and showcasing things that might be located in those areas, but, generally, these zones will be kept as dark as possible.

There are some parks that should have no lights whatsoever, says Dick.

“If it’s done right, there’s enough sky glow from the city alone to find your way.”

Although the dark zones are a good approach to minimizing the effects of light pollution on wildlife and on the ecosystem, Dick worries the lights from other parts of the city might get bright enough to disturb the ecosystem, as is already the case for birds in the capital region.

Effects on birds

The sky glow of the capital region already has deadly consequences on birds in the area.

Anouk Hoedeman, founder of Safe Wings, says, “The issue with birds is that all of them migrate at night and they use the moon and the stars to navigate.”

“When there are bright lights, birds get disoriented and drawn towards the light, sort of like when you see insects all around a porch light.”

Safe Wings is a program of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club that’s meant to reduce bird deaths caused by window collisions.

As birds get drawn towards the lights, they collide onto buildings, fly around the light and collide with each other or even drop out of exhaustion.

According to a book published in 2006 called Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting, once birds are disoriented they are at risk of colliding with artificial structures such as buildings and transmission towers or of falling onto roadways and being run over by vehicles.

The night sky in Ottawa isn’t as bright as in big cities such as New York, Toronto or Chicago, but it’s bright enough for such collisions to happen.

“Most collisions are in the first two hours after sunlight, which tells us that the birds were descending into the city during the nighttime, when drawn by light pollution, and then collide in the morning when they want to be on their way again,” Hoedeman says.

Artificial lighting is one of a suite of human-wrought factors that together are contributing to the downward trend in distribution and abundance of the world’s numerous species of birds.

Every year, 250,000 birds die in Ottawa from collisions. Millions more around the world die from colliding with illuminated buildings.

Hoedeman says she’s glad the NCC’s plan articulates some of the dangers of light pollution, but says, “I would have liked to see a bit more about light pollution concerning birds and concerning humans.”

In the next couple of years, when walking the downtown core of the capital at nighttime, monuments, buildings, parks and public arts will be illuminated to create a more vibrant environment but there might be adverse effects.

“Even though the plan isn’t completed yet, we have already seen some of the impacts of it, the main being that people are now talking about lighting much more than they were in the past,” says Acheson.


The NCC says artificial light has a direct impact on the real and perceived safety of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

“When we are talking about public safety, we are recognizing the impact that lighting can have in crime prevention but also in terms of the universal accessibility,” says Sophie Acheson, the NCC’s senior land use planner.

The truth is scientists have been debating for years whether or not lighting increases safety in urban areas.

“There’s an assumption that isn’t tested that more light at night is better and safer,” says Dr. James D. Lowenthal, professor and chair of the astronomy department at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.

A 2015 research was done in England and Wales looking at whether reduced street lighting would affect road causalities and crime. Looking at geographically coded police data on road traffic collisions and crime in 62 local authorities, researchers came to the conclusion that there was no evidence that any street light-adaptation strategy was associated with change in collisions or crime at night.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of articles in the literature exploring the effects of light at night on safety, and I think it is safe to say that there are no consensus,” Lowenthal says.

What is light pollution?

Is the outdoor light on your front lawn shining upwards? If yes, you might be contributing to light pollution.

Light pollution is best described as the excessive and needless use of outdoor lights. For example, when a light is left on while everyone is asleep or when a light shines onto an area it shouldn’t, it causes light pollution.

The non-profit International Dark Sky Association uses four main components to determine if a light is causing light pollution:
  1. Glare – Excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort.
  2. Skyglow – Lighting that brightens up the sky.
  3. Light trespass – Light falling where it is not intended or needed.
  4. Clutter – Excessive and bright groupings of lights.

Either coming from buildings, streetlights or residential areas, lights that are needless cause light pollution.

The level of light pollution is often much higher is cities than in rural areas, because there are much more lights left on at night. It therefore makes it harder to star gaze in cities than in rural areas.

Colours matter

To determine the light pollution emitted from one light versus another, scientists subtract the two wavelength numbers and take that result to the fourth power.

For example, a 4000K light has two times the wavelengths of a 2000K light.

Therefore, taking the number two to the fourth power, scientists are able to demonstrate that “a 4000K light produces 16 times more light pollution than a 2000K light,” says Dr. James D. Lowenthal, professor and chair of the astronomy department at Smith College in Northampton, Mass.

“The colour of the light makes a big difference for light pollution”, says Lowenthal.

The blue-rich lights cause significantly more light pollution than high pressure sodium lights.

In 2016, the American Medical Association published a guideline on LED streetlights suggesting a limit of 3000K or less for outdoor lights.

The NCC is currently suggesting using LEDs as bright as 4200K.

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Old Posted Jul 28, 2017, 5:15 PM
acottawa acottawa is offline
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One thing the NCC could do to reduce light pollution is to end their obsession with globe lights.
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2017, 1:37 AM
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Audit exposes NCC's troubles maintaining assets to an acceptable level

Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: August 24, 2017 | Last Updated: August 24, 2017 4:03 PM EDT

A special examination by the auditor general found that the National Capital Commission has a “significant deficiency” in asset maintenance, as the agency mulls the future of the prime minister’s official residence and struggles to keep a key Ottawa bridge from breaking down.

Twenty-seven per cent of the agency’s assets were in fair, poor or critical condition when the Office of the Auditor General was working on a special examination of the NCC between Feb. 1, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2016.

“This significant deficiency matters because if the corporation’s assets continue to deteriorate, it might not meet its mandate, and the assets could cause health and safety issues,” according to the audit report, which the NCC released Thursday.

On top of that, the NCC’s own analysis showed it might not be able to maintain and preserve its assets to an “acceptable level” in the future.

The agency doesn’t have enough money to keep its assets in good working order.

The NCC agrees it needs to work with the federal government to get additional money and notes it hasn’t received an increase in funding, other than for one-off programs, since the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

According to NCC spokesman Nicholas Galletti, the agency’s capital budget has decreased by about $6 million in recent years because of government cuts and the transfer of some responsibilities, such as Winterlude and Canada Day events, to Canadian Heritage.

The agency has analyzed what it would take to bring its assets up to snuff and hired a consultant to take a second look. The NCC says by the fall, it will have an idea how much money it needs to restore and maintain its assets.

“This is something we’re going to be addressing in the coming months,” Galletti said.

There are high-profile examples of the NCC’s inability to keep up with repairs.

The prime minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex Drive is in such a state of disrepair that Justin Trudeau and his family are living in a house on the grounds of Rideau Hall.

Galletti said the official residences are generally in good condition, with the exception of 24 Sussex Drive. The NCC still doesn’t have a timeline of when it will make the necessary fixes and upgrades.

Although the aging Hog’s Back swing bridge is considered in “fair” condition, traffic has been stymied so many times by the wonky crossing that a city councillor has asked the NCC to explain why the bridge keeps breaking down.

No thanks to Mother Nature, the NCC just can’t catch a break.

It had to close its paths on both sides of the Ottawa River earlier this year after the spring floods damaged the trails. The park at Lac Leamy also took a hit, with several pieces of infrastructure destroyed from the rising waters.

The assets considered to be in the most dire need of repairs include pathways in the Greenbelt, infrastructure along Confederation Boulevard, O’Brien House in Gatineau Park and infrastructure in the urban parks, such as Major’s Hill Park.

Galletti said 75 per cent of the NCC’s roads haven’t received major work since the 1980s. The agency plans to resurface the Portage Bridge this fall and will be holding public consultations on the design.

The NCC’s problem of suitably taking care of its assets is the clear highlight in the auditor’s special examination. The agency is required to be subjected to a special examination at least once every 10 years.

Auditors scrutinized six areas of the NCC: corporate governance; strategic planning, risk management and performance management and reporting; national capital long-term planning; capital project management; asset management and protection; and business process transformation.

The audit reviewed a random sample of 51 assets under the NCC’s oversight.

According to the NCC’s analysis, 10 per cent of its assets were in poor or critical condition at the time of the review, with another 17 per cent of assets in fair condition.

The audit also found weaknesses in the NCC’s risk management. The agency’s board of directors and management didn’t receive comprehensive risk information before making decisions, the audit says.

In the 2007 special examination, auditors discovered that the NCC’s restoration projects for assets were not always done on time because of a lack of funding.

And now this year, “we found that the corporation continued to have a risk of insufficient resources to restore, maintain, and preserve its assets at an acceptable level,” the audit says.

The NCC vows to have a risk management framework in place by March 31, 2018.

While the NCC has tried to generate more revenue and reduce costs, the initiatives haven’t been making a big impact.

The audit wasn’t all doom and gloom.

Auditors concluded that the NCC has good management practices in its operations, and when it comes to managing environmental risks, the NCC met the criteria used to assess and reduce environmental impacts.

The audit also found that the NCC does a good job of routinely consulting with municipalities and the public.

The NCC owns and manages 537 square kilometres of land, making it the largest landowner in the region.

The audit report, which was sent to the NCC in June, will be tabled in Parliament.

NCC responsibilities, by the numbers:
  • 1,700 real estate properties
  • 1,000 buildings
  • 300 kilometres of pathways
  • 125 kilometres of parkways
  • 145 bridges, including 2 interprovincial bridges
  • 65 commemorations and public art displays
  • 125 interpretive panels and commemorative plaques
  • 13 urban parks
  • 6 official residences
  • Gatineau Park
  • Canada’s Capital Greenbelt
  • 3,200 various other assets (drainage systems, culverts, retaining walls, and electrical, mechanical and water systems)


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Old Posted Aug 25, 2017, 3:07 AM
MountainView MountainView is offline
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"Canada's Capital Greenbelt"

I wonder how much money they could make by selling some of this for development vis-a-vis the income from farm land rent.
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2017, 9:27 AM
Buggys Buggys is offline
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They could also charge a lot more than $1 for 99 years of land use.
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2017, 12:31 PM
dougvdh dougvdh is offline
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Charging an entry fee to the Gatineau Park, road-pricing the parkways, paid parking at NCC lots in the city should also be considered.
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2017, 12:55 PM
acottawa acottawa is offline
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They could quit hoarding "future development sites"
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Old Posted Sep 8, 2017, 1:42 AM
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National Capital Commission names new ombudsman

Paula McCooey, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: September 7, 2017 | Last Updated: September 7, 2017 2:06 PM EDT

A new ombudsman has been appointed to the National Capital Commission to oversee concerns raised by the public.

Kevin Saville is president of KSAR & Associates Inc., a Canadian management consulting firm and former senior civil servant with the federal and Quebec governments.

He began his NCC term on Aug. 1.

“The appointment of Mr. Saville is part of the NCC’s continued commitment to fostering an open and transparent relationship with Canadians and excellence in serving the public,” Marc Seaman, chair of the board of directors, National Capital Commission said in a release.

The NCC ombudsman is a part-time job under a three-year contract that can be renewed for two additional years.

The mandate of the NCC ombudsman is to provide members of the public with an independent, confidential, neutral and equitable mechanism for resolving complaints when all other avenues of administrative redress have been exhausted.

Saville is the third person to hold the position since it was created in 2008.

The position was first filled in September 2008 by Laura Bruneau, and then in 2012 by Ellen Fry, whose term ended on July 31, 2017.

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Old Posted Sep 12, 2017, 11:36 AM
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National Capital Commission mulls asset deficit

James Bagnall, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: September 11, 2017 | Last Updated: September 11, 2017 10:54 PM EDT

It’s easy to forget what a vast, sprawling enterprise is the National Capital Commission, the 58 year-old federal crown corporation at the heart of the national capital region.

Unlike other federal crown companies such as Canada Post, the NCC lacks an imposing headquarters operation. Instead, it makes its presence felt in other ways. Pieces of the NCC touch just about everyone living here — from the interprovincial bridges and 15 urban parks to pedestrian walkways and 1,600-plus properties. In all, the NCC last year had land valued at $300 million and managed $744 million worth of buildings and infrastructure.

NCC chief executive Mark Kristmanson Tuesday evening noted that the NCC’s base of assets matters to Ottawa and Gatineau, not just because it contributes to a better quality of life but because it also attracts tourists and business conventioneers. He added this is why NCC’s budget quandary is important. The problem: the government for years has not been replenishing the capital sufficiently to keep things fresh. “We’ve been deferring maintenance,” he said during the NCC’s annual public meeting in downtown Ottawa.

Consider that nearly 60 per cent of the cost of the NCC’s buildings and infrastructure has already depreciated, one reason why historical properties such the Prime Minister’s Residence at 24 Sussex Drive are in such deplorable condition.

Kristmanson said a top priority in the coming year, along with negotiating a contract for the Lebreton Flats redevelopment project, is to bump up capital spending, something for which he and new NCC chairman Marc Seamon are lobbying in the current federal budget cycle. The NCC is unusually dependent on federal largesse because it generates only a limited amount of revenue through renting properties and charging user fees. Nearly 70 per cent of its spending last year was covered by government funding — $67.8 million to pay for operating expenses (and a staff of 400 plus) and $22.4 million for capital assets.

Last month, a special examination by the auditor general noted the NCC had a “significant deficiency” when it came to maintaining its assets, noting that more than one-quarter of the Commission’s assets were not in good condition.

Like other federal departments, the NCC has been struggling with federal budget freezes for years. It may prove difficult for Kristmanson to persuade the federal cabinet that his entire capital base requires upgrading, in which case consultations with the public in the coming year could prove more interesting than usual as the NCC tries to determine what historical and other properties should be given priority.

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Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 12:07 AM
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Afghanistan war memorial site next to Canadian War Museum stirs controversy

Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: September 12, 2017 | Last Updated: September 12, 2017 4:19 PM EDT


NCC board approves illumination plan

The board approved a capital illumination plan that has been in the works for several years.

The NCC wants to use strategic lighting to dramatically animate the central area, or in the agency’s words, “enhance the capital’s nocturnal landscape.”

The right lighting, the agency believes, could give the capital more character.

An illumination plan was first proposed in Canada’s Capital Core Area Sector Plan in 2005. Public consultations have been happening since 2014.

With the board’s approval on Tuesday, the NCC will now implement strategic lighting on federal projects and encourage municipalities to consider the illumination plan during their own planning processes.

Priority projects include Richmond Landing, Rideau Hall, Nepean Point, Confederation Park and the Sussex Courtyards.

Kristmanson said the 10-year illumination plan already has a good start with federal projects downtown, such as the Government Conference Centre rehabilitation, giving thought to interesting lighting.


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Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 1:13 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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Originally Posted by rocketphish View Post
With the board’s approval on Tuesday, the NCC will now implement strategic lighting on federal projects and encourage municipalities to consider the illumination plan during their own planning processes.
So much for the NCC trying to combat light pollution.

Also: how many monuments are going into the Lebreton area?
Enjoy my taxes, Orleans (and Kanata?).
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Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 5:06 PM
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Rebuild of Ottawa River pathways going well: NCC
Commission hopeful Ottawa side will open soon, but Quebec side construction won't start until next summer.

By: Ryan Tumilty, Metro
Published on Tue Sep 12 2017

The NCC is hopeful pathways behind Parliament Hill can open relatively soon, but those on the north shore of the river will take longer.

The Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the commission's board, updated the rest of the board on the pathways, which spent weeks under water during this spring’s flooding, at a board meeting.

Kristmanson said work to repair the section behind the parliament buildings is underway and he’s hopeful it won’t be closed for too much longer.

“The work is going well. It started quickly,” he said. “It’s being built to a higher standard to resist any future floods.”

He couldn’t put an exact date on when the path will re-open, but said they were aiming for as soon as possible.

Kristmanson said areas the commission upgraded in recent years to deal with potentially higher water levels faired relatively well during the floods, but older sections didn’t fare so well.

The Voyageur Pathway on the Gatineau side of the river will take longer to repair, however.

Kristmanson said work there will take place next summer, because of the damage and because they need to do more work with adjacent landowners than the Ontario side of the river.

“We’re putting in more temporary solutions and a detour until we can get the work done.”

He said overall the NCC will be looking to make sure the rebuilt paths can stand the damage from what could be more consistent and heavier floods in the future.

“What goes back should be more resilient it shouldn’t just be replaced.”

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Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 7:57 PM
OTSkyline OTSkyline is offline
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Originally Posted by rocketphish View Post
[B]Afghanistan war memorial site next to Canadian War Museum stirs controversy

An illumination plan was first proposed in Canada’s Capital Core Area Sector Plan in 2005. Public consultations have been happening since 2014.

This just goes to show how useless and incredibly slow the NCC is at implementing anything... It's been 12 years they have been "discussing" "illuminating" the Capital? i.e installing or upgrading lighting in the city core. Urgh...
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Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 1:25 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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Originally Posted by OTSkyline View Post
This just goes to show how useless and incredibly slow the NCC is at implementing anything... It's been 12 years they have been "discussing" "illuminating" the Capital? i.e installing or upgrading lighting in the city core. Urgh...
Twelve years is "fast" in NCC years.
Enjoy my taxes, Orleans (and Kanata?).
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Old Posted Mar 3, 2018, 4:05 AM
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Gatineau's historic Moore Farm to reopen with fresh funding

Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: March 2, 2018 | Last Updated: March 2, 2018 1:56 PM EST

Months after the rain washed away its income and forced it to close, the Moore Farm in Gatineau is about to reopen thanks to fresh support and better drainage.

The historic farm is a familiar sight on Tâché Boulevard east of the Champlain Bridge, with a big red-and-white building set back from the road and up a hill.

It closed several months ago because of a cash shortfall.

Now Sylvain Bertrand, president of the co-operative that runs the farm, says it should reopen in the next few weeks for rentals by everything from small groups to wedding parties.

“We also have a bistro that will be open on weekends in the next few weeks,” he said.

The farm produces organic vegetables on 38 acres of land, and two years ago it struggled through a drought and still managed to earn $55,000 from sales.

But last year’s rains washed out the vegetables. Sales were only one-third of the previous year’s total, and the place had to close for the winter.

On Friday, Bertrand said funding has firmed up, and the land itself is solidifying as well.

The City of Gatineau has applied to the provincial government for permission to give the farm a property tax exemption, and the area’s councillor, Jocelyn Blondin, has chipped in $25,000 from his discretionary budget.

As well, new drainage work by the National Capital Commission will make the land less vulnerable to flooding during heavy rains, Bertrand said. That work will delay a return to vegetable production until 2019.

The farm belonged to Philemon Wright in 1824 and was sold to the Parker-Moore family in 1872. The NCC acquired it a century later.

The farm’s website is at lafermemoore.ca.


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Old Posted Apr 27, 2018, 5:05 PM
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Extensive cutting by NCC in protected area of Mud Lake called 'carnage'

Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: April 26, 2018 | Last Updated: April 26, 2018 2:28 PM EDT



Residents near Mud Lake, one of Ottawa’s protected natural areas, have been shocked by the National Capital Commission’s decision to cut down the trees and shrubs growing beside a narrow forest path.

Residents thought the NCC was just taking out a few diseased trees over the winter in the area, formally known as the Britannia Conservation Area.

Then the snow melted, and people started walking through the woods again. Where they used to have branches brushing against their arms as they walked, there’s now room to drive a good-sized truck, and sometimes two side by side.

One section of the widened path measures 18 metres wide.

“It is carnage,” says Annie Boucher, president of the Lincoln Heights Community Association and a regular walker in the site. “It looks like they were clearing for a road.”

“It used to be a place where humans could sneak up on nature and peek through the trees,” said Herb Weber, who lives nearby. “Now there is nothing to look at except wood chips.” He calls it “a clearcut.”

And the crews have left behind all the chipped-up wood, in effect spreading a layer of coarse mulch that will suppress new growth.

The woods surrounding Mud Lake are a swamp forest and a wetland that is designated as provincially significant. They are also a designated Area of Natural and Scientific Interest in Ottawa — on the same ecological level as Mer Bleue, the Burnt Lands, Stony Swamp and Shirleys Bay. And the NCC has designated the area as being of national significance.

“What we had there before was bush on both sides (of the path) and three to four feet between it and that’s it,” Weber said Thursday.

“So the official story is that they cut down ash trees (because of) the ash borer. But they have cut down everything. It’s clearcut.

“And you could say, OK, something is going to grow back in. But what they left is a thick carpet of chipping residue and nothing is going to grow there. This is big chips and it is a deep pile.

“This is absolute nonsense … It is supposed to be a conservation area. It is supposed to be nature doing its thing.”

He estimates the length of the cut area at 600 to 700 metres. The NCC says it is 250 metres.

The federal agency said it had to do the cutting for the sake of safety, as ash trees are dying and may fall on someone.

“We did cut down about 200 trees in a 250-metre length. Those were ash trees” that were dead or dying, said spokeswoman Dominique LeBlanc.

“For the health and safety of the public we can’t leave trees that are diseased or dead because it causes a hazard for the public.”

“There is a lot of mulch there. We prefer it to decompose naturally because if we were to bring trucks in and try to take it out, it would have a higher imprint on the nature of the area,” she said.

The NCC will plant about 75 native trees in the cut area, she said.

Dan Brunton, an environmental consultant who helped draw up the NCC’s formal plan for Britannia Woods and Mud Lake in 2004, says the area has been officially rated with the highest possible ecological importance.

And he said most of the trees and shrubs that were cut are not ash.

He wrote this week to the NCC: “Who was your trail clearing contractor … Rommel’s Panzer Division?! That’s not trail maintenance or upgrading, that’s ecological vandalism worthy of the mechanized shrub and tree slashing used to clear mile after mile of Interstate highway edges in the southern United States! Aside from representing an inexcusable disfigurement of this swamp forest, the slash is vastly wider than ANY pedestrian trail ROW (right-of-way) needs to be, let alone one through an ecological sensitive habitat.”

And he says the wood waste is “spread around in a solid, suffocating layer. This might as well be concrete or plastic as far anything living is concerned. It’s a total death zone.”

Mulching on Mud Lake trails is forbidden under the NCC’s plan, he said in an interview. And the plan also calls for the trail to be no more than one metre wide.

“There won’t be wildlife using (the open area) unless they are just trying to get the hell across it,” he said.


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Old Posted Apr 27, 2018, 6:44 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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But they did it for all the Canadians, so that makes it OK!
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