Second City, Second Metro: Rockcliffe Park Satisfied With The Status Quo, Ready To Cooperate

The Village of Rockcliffe Park considered itself to be well-provisioned, but was not against cooperation with the region. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, CA034238.

The Village of Rockcliffe Park was next to offer up its testimony to the Jones Commission after Ottawa Mayor Charlotte Whitton. Struggles over the naming of streets aside, for the most part, in 1965, the small affluent municipality appeared somewhat calm relative to its township neighbours on the topic of regional government. 

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Rockcliffe Park wishes to retain its government structure and the right to deal with local matters, because decentralized units are desirable provided they are viable and not a nuisance to their neighbours. The Village recognizes an obligation to contribute to its fair share of the costs of regional services, which can best be provided by a co-ordinating authority.

Rockcliffe Park operates efficiently, provides adequate education and police protection, and bears its share of County costs, is carefully zoned, and does not compete with surrounding municipalities for assessment, trade or federal buildings. Fire protection and water supply are purchased from the City of Ottawa under agreements which automatically adjust to changing conditions, and the Village is willing to enter an agreement with the City for sewage disposal, and to bear its share of the capital cost of hospitals.

A small unit gives its citizens greater opportunity to participate in government, and encourages experiments (since, if unsuccessful, they can be abandoned more readily than in large systems). A recent example is the teaching of French which now starts in Kindergarten at the Rockcliffe Park Public School.

The Village should therefore be maintained as a separate entity.

It is agreed, however, that reorganization of municipal government in the area is desirable to provide for more effective planning and control over service extensions (although this has little relevance to the largely built-up village), to reduce inequality in the provision of services (by raising rather than lowering standards), and to provide effective coordinating machinery.

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This could be done by establishing a metropolitan commission or preferably by expanding the role of the County, to undertake the provision and allocate the cost of regional services such as water supply, trunk sewers, sewage treatment, transportation planning, fire protection and hospitals. The area should include Carleton County perhaps extended to the east. Representation on the area council should be from those who have already been elected to the Councils of the constituent municipalities, with special weight being given to municipalities with larger population and larger assessments.



The submission was presented by Messrs. D.M. Cooligan [sic], Reeve, A.O. Gibbons, V.J. Wilgress, G.F. MacLaren, Councillors and J. Ramsay, Clerk-Treasurer.

It was pointed out that the Village is prepared and able to pay its fair share of the cost of area services such as sewers, hospitals, implementation of the forthcoming regional transportation proposals, and a regional planning agency. It is expected that such contributions would be based on Rockcliffe's share of area assessment (like the present fire agreement with Ottawa) or on usage (the basis proposed for a pending sewer agreement with Ottawa).

In a way, Rockcliffe residents are already contributing to other municipalities by having all their business establishments and doing all their shopping outside of the Village, and in many cases they also actively support community services in the wider area.

Concerning the greater ease of experimentation in a small municipality, it was noted that Provincial approval is often easier to obtain for an experiment involving e.g. only one school

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and it is also easier to backtrack if the experiment proves unsuccessful.

For the necessary coordination of local governments, either a metropolitan federation including the two cities, the County and the municipalities in the County, or an extension of the responsibilities of and representation on the County Council, were suggested, the latter being preferred because it would not add another level of government.

Indirect rather than direct representation on such a regional council was preferred because it works well in the present County Council, and the representatives are less prone to taking inflexible attitudes "for the record". The Village would not be concerned about its minority representation on such a body, and it was noted that although larger municipalities would be under-represented (as Nepean and Gloucester are on County Council) this would not prevent the proper decisions being made on matters of area-wide concern.