The (Ontario) Department of Planning and Development Encounters the National Capital Plan, cont’d. (1952)

The Department of Planning and Development was one of the earlier tenants in the Bay-Grovesnor Building at 880 Bay. The early modern office’s main tenant was Bell Canada, but in addition to Planning and Development, its builder, Soules Construction, occupied an office on the top floor along with its architect, Charles B. Dolphin. Image: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 59, Item 17.

Picking up from the last one, it’s worth noting that it is not been entirely frequent that a planning, development, or housing issue particular to Ottawa has been considered to merit much more than the cursory attention of Ontario’s policymakers at Queen’s Park and its environs. To be certain, while these are absolutely within the Province’s purview, Ottawa has tended to be treated as something of a peripheral concern. Or at least to a greater degree than most of Ontario’s other municipalities, a bit of a self-governing colony, and even if not, it was normally easier to leave most issues to the City and the Dominion.

Of everything in Jacques Gréber’s 1950 Plan for the National Capital, it was the plan for the Greenbelt that garnered most of Toronto’s attention. The remainder of the plan was – to some degree – easy enough for the City of Ottawa to implement in collaboration with the Federal Government,1So long as it was within the confines of Provincial policy. but when it came to the Greenbelt, the resulting conflict between Ottawa, its surrounding municipalities, and land owners ensured that an Ottawa problem showed up at Planning and Development Minister William Griesinger’s door at 880 Bay Street.

On February 7, 1952, A.L.S. Nash, Community Planning Division, Department of Planning and Development, drafted a report to Arthur Bunnell, a special consultant hired by Minister Griesinger regarding a meeting held at Ottawa on the issue of the Green Belt on January 30.2A.L.S. Nash, Community Planning Division, Department of PLanning and Development, Ontario, to A.E.K. Bunnell, Special Consultant to Minister William Griesinger, Minister, Department of Planning and Development, Ontario. February 7, 1952. Archives of Ontario, RG 19-43 Box 152 File 1.

Department of Planning and Development
COPY
For the Information Of

Mr. A.E.K. Bunnell February 7, 1952.
A.L.S. Nash
The Ottawa Planning Area Board

On Wednesday the 30th of January, 1952, I met by appointment with Mr. C.D. Wright, the Planning Coordinator and Mr. Frank Pritchard the Secretary of the Ottawa Area Planning Board at their offices in the Municipal Building in Ottawa.

We discussed generally their immediate problems in interpreting the National Capital Plan and adapting it to the procedures required under The Planning Act, as a first step towards implementation. We also drove over a considerable portion of the outer area in both the City and the townships to see in just what state of development or lack of development the various sections stood. Later, we discussed at some length the proposed amendments to the Statutes necessary to overcome some of the difficulties encountered by the Ottawa Planning Board in their work. We also considered the general position of the Ottawa Board in relationship to the Federal District Commission.

The matter of subdivision approval was discussed at some length and Mr. Pritchard, at our request, undertook to reply in each case to our enquiries as to the views of the Planning Board on individual submissions within a reasonable time of the receipt of our enquiry so that we may know the state of the consideration of the Plan, even though no definite action may had been taken. This will enable Mr. Tyrrell to respond to enquiries. Where no reply is received it is often embarrassing to this Department. In regard to the proposed amendments to the planning legislation, Mr. Pritchard, for the Board, gave us two letters particularly requesting certain specific amendments. Chiefly, these have to do with the administration of the Act in regard to the 5% which may be required for public purposes in the approval of plans of subdivisions and as to the purposes in the approval of plans of subdivisions and as to the difficulties encountered where planning program extends to more than one municipality, the policies of which may be quite different.

.............. 2


Mr. A.E.K. Bunnell (2) February 7, 1952.

Apart from the general value of our discussion they provided a background of local knowledge in preparation for a meeting which was held in the evening at which the City Board of Control under the Chairmanship of Mayor Charlotte Whitton, hard [sic] a deputation of land owners from within what had been indicated on the Capital City Plan as Green Belt, and the owners heard were within the recently extended city limits. The Green Belt, however, extends also into the Townships of Gloucester and Nepean and the same problem will present itself there except that the attitude of these municipalities is different and less rigid that the attitude of the City in regard to the implementation of the Plan by restricting these areas to the uses appropriate to the Green Belt.

Alderman Dougherty of the City Council presented the delegation, consisting of a dozen or more land owners. There were also present representatives of the National Capital Planning Staff and the Federal District Commission Staff. Alderman MacMillan who is also a member of the Ottawa Planning Board and Controller Powers were present and Mr. Keenan who is a Councillor from the Township of Gloucester was present to support the land owners.

The principal land owners heard were Mr. Ellis who owns 100 acres or more, Mr. Ken Dowler who own approximately 220 acres, Mr. Keenan who has a small V.L.A. holding and a Mr. Moines who owns a number of smaller parcels. Mr. Ellis' situation was typical of that of other owners in the area of subdivision control and owners are prevented from selling by metes and bounds. He had arranged to sell one or two parcels of building lots size for approximately $1000. per acre. Now he may not sell these parcels by metes and bounds and if he puts on a plan of subdivision it will be refused unless it shows lots of a sufficient size to be in keeping with the intention of maintaining this area as a Green Belt. His only alternative is to continue to farm his land and in view of his age and health this is impossible. Other farmers hesitate to buy this land, the use of which is restricted to farming when they can buy equally good land which is not so restricted and on which they might ultimately make a speculative profit. Mr. Ellis feels that he and others similarly placed are being denied the privilege of making the profit which all of the others outside of the Green Belt may obtain and that this he and others similarly placed, are being discriminated against in that they are required to take the necessary loss to create a plan which is for the advantage of the whole of the Capital City Area and even of the Dominion.

There would be no point in reporting in detail the long discussion which followed. The write [sic] pointed out that, in general,

................. 3

Mr. A.E.K. Bunnell (3) February 7, 1952.

it is the privilege of the federal, provincial and municipal governments, acting in the public interest, to restrict the use of land, and that unless the land is actually entered upon or damaged for the use to which it was presently put, it is not considered that there is any definite claim for compensation. It was pointed out, however, that in this the reference is to legal liability, and that in any particular set of circumstances, the municipal, federal or provincial authorities had the discretion of taking any measures which were necessary to deal in a manner which they felt equitable and desirable.

The ultimate conclusion of the meeting was that representation should be made by the City, the Township of Nepean and the Township of Gloucester jointly, to the Federal District Commission, requesting them to acquire all of land required for Green Belt purposes and then re-sell or lease the area to those who are prepared to use the land for the purposes permitted within the Green Belt.

Attached hereto is a brief written by C.D. Wight in regard to the Green Belt problem.

The January 30th meeting was reported on by the Journal and the Citizen.3See “Protest Green Belt: Soaring Land Values, Housing Lively Issues at Conference,” Ottawa Journal, January 31, 1952, 32; “Farmers In City’s Green Belt Area Protest Restrictions On Their Land,” Ottawa Citizen, January 31, 1952, 32.

Notes   [ + ]

1. So long as it was within the confines of Provincial policy.
2. A.L.S. Nash, Community Planning Division, Department of PLanning and Development, Ontario, to A.E.K. Bunnell, Special Consultant to Minister William Griesinger, Minister, Department of Planning and Development, Ontario. February 7, 1952. Archives of Ontario, RG 19-43 Box 152 File 1.
3. See “Protest Green Belt: Soaring Land Values, Housing Lively Issues at Conference,” Ottawa Journal, January 31, 1952, 32; “Farmers In City’s Green Belt Area Protest Restrictions On Their Land,” Ottawa Citizen, January 31, 1952, 32.

Leave a Reply