Publication: CIT - The Ottawa Citizen
Jun 20, 2003 9:46
Page: B2
Section: City

A good deal for everyone

A land swap between the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission shows that the two levels of government can reach sensible arrangements in the interests of both local and national taxpayers.

The deal, celebrated with a community picnic on the weekend, is certainly unusual. It involved the NCC handing over eight acres of its land to the City of Ottawa. This includes three acres at the corner of Industrial Avenue and Alta Vista Drive that will become an entrance park to the Alta Vista neighbourhood. The city also gets five acres added to Dale Park nearby. The NCC had wanted to sell the three acres to the Aga Khan Foundation for construction of a cultural centre, at a selling price of $500,000.

The Alta Vista neighbours weren't so sure that was a great idea for a piece of land right next to totally residential neighbourhood. So the local councillor, Peter Hume, approached NCC chairman Marcel Beaudry about a creative solution. The commission owns an island of land across the street, on the northwest corner of Riverside and Industrial. But that land -- across from the Ottawa postal terminal -- was impossible to develop because the city had a road allowance through it.

If the city gave up the road allowance, the NCC would be able to sell the land in question to the Aga Khan Foundation. Without the road allowance, the land is a useless island with hundreds of cars flying by on Riverside Drive. Also as part of the deal, the NCC gets three building lots on the edge of the Alta Vista neighbourhood that will be sold for housing.

This is a good outcome for all concerned. The new site for the cultural centre will be right next to the Transitway, so will be convenient to visit for large numbers of visitors. Yet the centre will be set back somewhat from the Alta Vista neighbourhood, so its events will not disrupt the people living there.

Community volunteers in Alta Vista will get a fine opportunity to beautify their neighbourhood by planting trees, putting in gardens and benches, and making a gateway park for Alta Vista. They also get to expand the pathway and parkway system that winds its way through Alta Vista and provides a walking or jogging alternative to the busy regional roads that carry great volumes of fast-moving traffic.

This happy conclusion didn't happen overnight. It took about 18 months and many meetings. The sale of the land to the Aga Khan Foundation has yet to be finalized. But all players acted reasonably here, even though it would have been preferable to hear all of the discussion in open meetings of the NCC.

It's good to see the NCC being receptive to the concerns of local communities. Now we look forward to the discussions this fall about the future of Sparks Street.