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Ottawa councillor: NCC 'unelected board of crazy people'


An Ottawa councillor is blasting the National Capital Commission amid what he described as a "hell of a fight" to reopen Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill.

"They are an unelected board of crazy people that have to be addressed," Tim Tierney told Newstalk 580 CFRA on Thursday. "We have to address the NCC situation. It's a big, big problem."

Tierney made the comments in an interview about Wellington Street, which has been closed for 16 months in front of Parliament Hill since the 'Freedom Convoy' protest.

City council voted in March to reopen it, but it's not scheduled to reopen for another three to four weeks. Crews were reinstalling traffic lights on Wednesday.

"It's been a hell of a fight to get this street reopened again," said Tierney, who chairs the city's transportation committee. "We've had fights up to the last couple of weeks with the NCC."

However, Tierney immediately pivoted to what seemed to be his main frustration with the NCC, an issue that has vexed east end councillors: the proposed extension of Brian Coburn Boulevard.

"They are creating consternation in the east end of the city when it comes to traffic patterns," he said. "There's traffic jams in the east end of the city right now."

The city wants to extend Brian Coburn and build bus-only lanes. The route would relieve congestion from rapidly growing communities in Orleans.

But that route—called Option 7—would pass directly through NCC-owned green space, requiring the commission to give up more than 40 acres of green space.

The NCC prefers a route that is closer to Navan Road that the city previously favoured. But that route would be far more expensive for the city.

"People talk about, let's have more housing," Tierney said on Thursday. "Well, guess what? We can't do it in the east end of the city unless we allow Option 7, which is one that we've been looking at very closely. Why are we not doing that?

"I think the NCC in this next federal election is going to be the biggest topic that we have."

The matter flared up at council last year, when councillors voted down the NCC's plan to build embassies in Mechanicsville, just west of downtown Ottawa.

East end councillors focused their comments on the Brian Coburn issue before casting their votes, strongly suggesting it was a retaliation on their part for the NCC's unwillingness to part with the land in the east end.

That embassies plan has since returned and passed council last week, with some modifications.

The NCC, a Crown corporation, is also the city's largest landowner. Its board is appointed by the federal minister of public works and procurement, who oversees the commission.


A parliamentary committee recommended late last year that the stretch of Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill remain closed to cars.

But city council voted in March to reopen the roadway between Elgin and Bank streets to cars.

Tierney laid the blame at the foot of the federal government's return to work plan as part of the city's decision to reopen the street to cars.

"The federal government said nobody was going back to work. Then they suddenly said they're going back to work," he said. "Traffic patterns change. We had to adapt."

The parliamentary committee also recommended expanding federal jurisdiction to include Wellington and Sparks streets. But until and unless that land transfer happens, it remains the city's call, Tierney said.

"It is our street. The city of Ottawa owns it. And if the feds want it, they can buy it," he said. "At the same time, we have to make sure that people aren't travelling through Gatineau and Quebec to be able to get to their side of the city." Top Stories

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