The National Capital Commission (NCC) has filed for an Official Plan amendment to allow for the creation of a diplomatic precinct along the Ottawa River. The subject lands, located at Slidell Street and the Sir John A. McDonald Parkway, are next to the Mechanicsville neighbourhood in Kitchissippi Ward. The lands are zoned by the City of Ottawa as greenspace (O1 Parks and Open Space) and are actively used by the neighbourhood, which currently has very little greenspace of its own and almost no tree canopy.
The Mechanicsville Community Association and Big Trees of Kitchissippi are calling on the NCC to withdraw the application, a position supported by various community groups, Councillor Jeff Leiper and the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital.
Vivian Walsworth, a retired Chief Architect formerly with the federal government has produced an analysis of potential deficiencies and inconsistencies in the NCC planning arguments available here. One of the deficiencies is the lack of a “Security Threat and Risk Assessment/Analysis” of situating embassies in close proximity to high density residential land use. Daniel Buckles provides a more general overview of why the proposal is a bad idea in an OPED published in the Ottawa Citizen.
In support of the Mechanicsvillage Community Association call for the NCC to withdraw its application, the Greenspace Alliance is focusing on Global Affairs by asking the Minister to explanation why the proposed use of federal lands is in the public interest, and who specifically will benefit from this use? Global Affairs is the federal government agency most closely connected to any possible business case demonstrating demand for diplomatic lands beyond what is currently available to foreign nations through the general land market or other federal lands. You can read the letter here.
Please direct any questions or comments on this file to Daniel Buckles (firstname.lastname@example.org), who is leading the Greenspace Alliance campaign on this issue. You can make your views on this application known to the City planning department by submitting comments on the file through their website here, or by contacting your city Councillor.
Update March 10 2021
The Mechanicsville Community Association and the Greenspace Alliance have jointly issued a press release calling for a comprehensive risk analysis to be undertaken by the federal government, based on expert advice that the location is unsuitable for embassies from a security point of view.