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  #241  
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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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...ceptable-level
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  #242  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2017, 3:07 AM
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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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  #243  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2017, 9:27 AM
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They could also charge a lot more than $1 for 99 years of land use.
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  #244  
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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  #245  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2017, 12:55 PM
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They could quit hoarding "future development sites"
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  #246  
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.

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...-new-ombudsman
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  #247  
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.

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...-asset-deficit
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  #248  
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


<snip>

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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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...rs-controversy
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  #249  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 1:13 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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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?
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  #250  
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.”

http://www.metronews.ca/news/ottawa/...-well-ncc.html
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  #251  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 7:57 PM
OTSkyline OTSkyline is online now
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Quote:
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.

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...rs-controversy
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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  #252  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 1:25 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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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.
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  #253  
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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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...-fresh-funding
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  #254  
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



BEFORE:




AFTER:



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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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...called-carnage
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  #255  
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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  #256  
Old Posted Jun 22, 2018, 11:42 AM
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NCC looks at separating cyclists and pedestrians on more pathways

Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen
Updated: June 21, 2018




The National Capital Commission is thinking more about how to reduce conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists on its pathways by seeing where it can separate the two.

Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the NCC, said the agency won’t be able to create segregated pathways everywhere in its network, but he encouraged people to provide feedback on the idea of separating cyclists and pedestrians, and giving each their own dedicated pathway.

The NCC is in the middle of writing a new strategic plan for its pathway system. The board received an update on the work Thursday before a draft plan comes back in early 2019.

The pathways are generally three metres wide, but the NCC is considering how to split them between cyclists and pedestrians or at least widen pathways in high-traffic areas.

During the consultations, the public has brought up the need for cyclists and pedestrians to better share the pathways. Judging by the feedback, widening or segregating them is a public priority, along with pathway standards, signage and connectivity with other pathways.

According to the NCC, the cyclists-versus-pedestrians issue “loomed particularly large” during the consultations.

NCC board member Larry Beasley said more people seem to be put in danger by fast-moving cyclists.

“I find the pathways dangerous right now as pedestrian,” Beasley said during the meeting, suggesting the conflicts will increase as more people bike the pathway network.

Kristmanson said the NCC hears a variety of comments from the public about pathways, but the agency isn’t inundated with feedback on conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists.

“I sometimes get letters complaining about people speeding on the pathways on bikes and asking what we’re going to do about that, and we do blitzes every summer to raise awareness about speed limits,” Kristmanson said.

The speed limit on NCC pathways is 20 km/h.

There’s also the challenge of reconciling recreation use of the pathways and their function as transportation routes. Board member Sara Jane O’Neill encouraged staff to make sure the pathway plan considers cyclists who commute or use the pathways for regular transportation.

The future of the NCC’s pathways is also part of a park blueprint for the south shore of the Ottawa River.

An improved nine-kilometre park between Mud Lake and LeBreton Flats is partly the result of an agreement between the NCC and City of Ottawa on using federal land for the Stage 2 LRT line. The city, which is contributing $30 million to the park enhancement, will build the LRT system below a realigned Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway roughly between Dominion and Cleary avenues.

In the short-term, the NCC wants to build a gateway park in Rochester Field, refurbish the pavilion at Westboro Beach and move the parking lot near the Champlain Bridge farther away from the shoreline. Over the long-term, the NCC wants to have over-the-river boardwalks in the area of the Deschênes Rapids, to reconfigure the ramp between the parkway and Parkdale Avenue and to provide separate pathways for cyclists and pedestrians.

A board celebrated its approval of the park blueprint as a major milestone. Bob Plamondon fought back tears as he moved the motion to approve the blueprint. Plamondon, who was instrumental in bringing the NCC and city together to negotiate the LRT land use over the winter of 2014-2015, appeared at his last meeting before the end of his term as a board member.

The NCC will now try to come up with a name for the 220-hectare park.


<snip>


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http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...-more-pathways
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  #257  
Old Posted Jun 22, 2018, 3:28 PM
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This is another pretty exciting NCC initiative:

New Patio In Ottawa Has A Waterfall View And It Opens This Week

https://www.narcity.com/ca/on/ottawa...pens-this-week
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  #258  
Old Posted Jun 22, 2018, 5:32 PM
SkeggsEggs SkeggsEggs is offline
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I'm really digging these 'Tavern/Terrace on the ____' places! I wonder what's next!
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  #259  
Old Posted Jun 22, 2018, 6:11 PM
kevinbottawa kevinbottawa is offline
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I'm really digging these 'Tavern/Terrace on the ____' places! I wonder what's next!
How about we finally get a Tavern on the Canal?
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  #260  
Old Posted Jun 22, 2018, 6:22 PM
YOWetal YOWetal is offline
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This is another pretty exciting NCC initiative:

New Patio In Ottawa Has A Waterfall View And It Opens This Week

https://www.narcity.com/ca/on/ottawa...pens-this-week
Great idea. We need more of this. Too bad it is a bit poorly located.
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