I have long been an advocate for reform at the National Capital Commission (NCC) and since being elected Mayor in 2010 it has only become more apparent to me that this is an organization that needs to change or else risk hindering the progress of our great city.
As a first step toward reform Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin of Gatineau and I recently wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ask that the Mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau be given the ability to each name a directly elected representative to the NCC board of directors, to be nominated by our respective City Councils.
The key reason for this letter is that the majority of the NCC’s current board members are neither from the National Capital Region nor chosen by its residents and that should not be the case. I understand wanting to bring pan-national representation to the board but those who know Ottawa best are those who live here not those who fly in for board meetings. It would be a common sense reform towards accountability to make the majority of the NCC board members National Capital residents.
More broadly, I believe that the NCC needs to refocus its mandate. Over the past three years as Mayor, my council colleagues and I have worked well with the NCC but often we are discussing the minutia of city projects such as what types of plants will be planted at our Light Rapid Transit (LRT) stations. These are issues that our city staff members are more than capable to handle on their own while the NCC should be focused on the large-scale issues of national significance for which they are mandated.
Refocusing the NCC’s mandate could understandably take some time but I believe that the board of directors of the NCC can be made more accountable and representative of Ottawa’s interests immediately should the Prime Minister act on the recommendation of our joint letter to him.
The taxpayers of Ottawa and Gatineau deserve to be represented at the NCC because the organization’s decisions have direct financial implications for them. It is time for their voices to be heard not only at the city council table but also at the NCC board room table and I believe that this would be a welcome first step towards reforming an organization that has lost its way.
Help me convince the Federal Government to bring greater accountability to the NCC by emailing me your comments at Jim.Watson@ottawa.ca