On Saturday February 6, a group of community leaders, artists, architects, planners, creators, writers, historians, professionals, academics, social enterprises, and organizations met to discuss strategies to bring our communities and networks together to find a responsible and productive public response to the LeBreton Flats Redevelopment.
After weeks of rumours and speculations, the National Capital Commission finally released the details of the two proponent proposals on January 26 at a two-day public display at the Canadian War Museum. Public feedback is being collected through an online survey that closes on February 8th. According to the NCC website, the evaluation committee will make its recommendation to the Board of Directors in March and negotiations with the preferred proponent will begin this summer.
The diversity of the group that met Saturday was reflected in the diversity of opinions and concerns we shared with each other but the uniting, rallying message was:
The mechanism for public participation in this process are insufficient and it is critical that we find strategies to insist on opening the process so that our different voices and concerns can be heard and considered.
To that end, we are distributing an URGENT CALL encouraging our community in Ottawa and across Canada to complete the public feedback survey. We have prepared the following text that can be edited or copy-pasted directly into the final question of the three-page survey:
The strength of the NCC position on LeBreton Flats is in recognizing it as an important piece of land with significant potential. It deserves careful consideration and should be protected to ensure thoughtful and meaningful redevelopment. On the eve of the 150th anniversary celebrations, this site of significance in the Nation’s Capital must reflect the public interests of Canadians. Both the process and plan must show care in engaging and responding to the needs and values of its diverse population and in respecting the integrity and vulnerability of its environment. LeBreton Flats presents an opportunity for the NCC to offer a vision of responsible stewardship and a space for reconciliation with the displaced working class community who once inhabited the site and the First Nations People.
Before a final and irrevocable decision is made, I join my community in requesting more time to consider the proposals and to engage in meaningful public participation to better assist the NCC make a decision that truly rises to the potential of this site of national significance.
We recognize participating in the limited format of the NCC official survey is insufficient. We intend to continue working collectively as a network of interest groups and individuals to find more meaningful and effective ways of engaging the public in the future redevelopment of the site.
We look forward to announcing future opportunities for public discussion and action as we move forward.
In the meantime, we recommend you check out the LeBreton Flats Citizen-led Survey and the Change.org petition.
The Dalhousie Community Association has also compiled the following list of responses to specific issues and concerns to assist in completing the NCC survey or in writing letters to your city councilor, MPP, MP, NCC, etc.
Please feel free to submit your own survey responses in the comment section below.
Alternate suggested text submitted by James:
LeBreton Flats is the last large undeveloped site in the heart of Canada’s capital. Especially on the verge of our 150th anniversary celebrations, development and plans for it must consider the long term. The interests and values of the nation as well as the views of local communities must be considered, not just those with a particular business interest. Planning and approval processes therefore must engage Canadians as citizens and respect the history, environment and liveability of the site within a more general context.
As a true steward of the nation’s capital, the NCC must encourage this engagement, not foreclose it. I therefore ask that the NCC make no binding decisions on development plans for this site of national significance until it has laid out a path for that engagement and committed to respect it.
The current public consultation is ineffective. It is too late in the process and it lacks public transparency. It also forces the public to ‘react’ to each proposal, where I argue that we need to start with public input of ideas FIRST. These ideas would later turn into design concepts that are used in the project requirements. The approach chosen is an out-dated, top-down, “we know best”, approach which no longer works in a digitally connected & modern democracy. I don’t think it ever really worked! Additionally, the NCC only has to “consider” the input of the consultation. This opens the door to bias and subjectivity by evaluators. Early collection of ideas broadens the conversation and provides local and global insights on what is possible on LeBreton Flats. When this stage is complete open the doors –and invite in the expertise of the architects and urban planners.
It is a risk to more or less have a free for all which you want take Landsdown there was a group that wanted a massive park it would have cost 3 million and it would have had to be 100% funded by the city.