I will respond briefly to his suggestions to demonstrate how little he understands municipal planning in Ottawa and human psychology:
"First, strike a commission on the future of Ottawa. Invite a panel of informed Ottawans to consult the public, hold hearings, commission studies and study good practices everywhere."
We did this already just after amalgamation; it was called Ottawa 20/20. We got lots of great ideas from it. However Larry O'Brien threw them out.
"Second, find a way to build institutions, such as a concert hall and a new central library. Stop dawdling on this. Regina, Halifax and Calgary are the latest cities in Canada committing to new libraries, as are Helsinki, Oslo and Berlin internationally."
You can't just say "find a way" without offering suggestions. Otherwise, you're passing the responsibility off to other people, reinforcing the reasons why there haven't been many new public institutions built recently in Ottawa area.
"Third, re-examine our waterways. Stop thinking of the Rideau Canal as sacrosanct. One reader suggests licensing gondolas, another a water taxi. Why not small waterside cafés? Look differently at the Ottawa River. Create that aboriginal centre on Victoria Island. See what other cities have done with their riverfronts, including Austin and Chattanooga."
The Rideau Canal corridor is protected from development under the UNESCO plan. If you develop its shorelines, the canal will lose its world heritage status. The Ottawa River is a major waterway with unscalable cliffs. Developing those cliffs would be expensive and undermine provincial guidelines protecting river ecosystems from human pollution.
"Fourth, think transportation beyond light-rail. Return intercity-rail to downtown from its suburban redoubt. Extend the O-Train to the airport."
Anyone who knows my writing for Spacing Ottawa would know and hopefully agree that we should plan beyond our current light rail phase and bring intercity rail back to downtown. However, let's not forget that the O-Train is a pilot project. No more resources should be spent on that train which should've been replaced with permanent LRT in 2009.
"Fifth, build national cultural institutions, such as a new science museum and a national portrait gallery. One idea the Conservatives might embrace is creating a place on Wellington Street to display Canada's founding documents, including the British North America Act, now in London."
Building more national museums is a good idea. However we already have a space to potentially display (and properly preserve!) our founding documents at the National Library, which exists and is already on Wellington. However, revering founding documents would not be a wise political move for the Conservatives because it would inspire more criticism that they are "Americanizing" Canada.
"Sixth, rethink the ByWard Market. Cover it and expand it. Invite more vendors, favouring local organic farmers (as they do in the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco) and local artisans selling their own wares, not imports."
I agree with his idea to discourage imported goods from the market. At the same time, Ottawa does not have any spare space in the Byward Market area for more market buildings. Keeping the stalls outside saves energy costs and keeps the area from being overrun by parking lots. By the way, as someone who has been to the Saturday organic market at San Francisco's Ferry Building, I can assure you that the vast majority of stalls are outside.
"Seventh, commit to bicycles. Cycling lanes do not need barriers costing $1 million; a painted line and public education and enforcement will do."
Plenty of studies have shown "a painted line and public education and enforcement" WILL NOT do. Car drivers all think they own the roads and are not afraid to ignore painted lines and most cyclists (and by that I mean anyone who wants to bike) are too afraid of cars to go out and use bikes as a genuine mode of transport. Cycling routes need barriers that cost $1 million dollars because it's cheaper than building roads that cost tens of millions of dollars, and treating cancer from vehicle emissions and obesity from sedentary lifestyles, which costs hundreds of millions of dollars.
"Eighth, demand beauty in public spaces. Make developers build esthetically; don't accept less. (In Lewiston, Maine, parking garages mimic the brick and wrought iron of their old industrial mills). Encourage public art. Bury power lines."
Municipal development approval planners are now including design critiques in their reports to Planning Committee. However, without rules, there's no way for Ottawa to enforce good design. Encouraging public art and burying power lines would be good ideas. However, Cohen has no implementation plan.
"Ninth, reconsider the Sparks Street Mall. It's a failure. Rethink the Green Belt. Is it still useful?"
By "re-think" I assume you mean "get rid of" (speak clearly man!). Any change to Sparks Street should make it more pedestrian-friendly. If allowing vehicular traffic makes it a more inviting space for people, then I'd support that. If adding vehicular traffic makes it less people friendly, then I'd oppose re-opening it to vehicles. I haven't seen any studies with clear conclusions that it would lead to either result. With regards to the Greenbelt, I generally hear support for developing the Greenbelt coming from....wait for it, developers (surprise). The Greenbelt has a lot of ecologically sensitive areas and can still act as a good buffer against additional sprawl. The truth is, Ottawa has A LOT of vacant land still inside the Greenbelt and if the City increased maximum lot coverage rules, we could fit hundreds of thousands more people in the urban area. What we should be doing is expanding the Greenbelt to every rural area in the City of Ottawa beyond the current Greenbelt. That would definitely make commutes from the closest suburb undesirable.
"Think boldly about developing the old Rockcliffe Air Base. And heavens, have the courage to reopen the discussion on Lansdowne Park, the great lost opportunity."
All I'll say about Lansdowne is whatever happens there, it must have a direct connection to rapid transit. Otherwise, every major event will lead to vehicular chaos and more mad Glebites (god help this City).
"Tenth, do compare our city with others. Then ask yourself: Do you want to be a great city, in your own way, or just think you are?"
This is vague and sounds nice but lacks substance so I won't critique.