Second City, Second Metro: The Green Belt Property Owners’ Association – ‘victims of government’

The Greenbelt Property Owners’ Association never did much care for the National Capital Commission’s approach to the Greenbelt. Source: Ottawa Journal, March 3, 1961, 3.

It was not just the Townships of Nepean and Gloucester that had a hard time with the National Capital Commission’s approach to the Greenbelt: those who owned property in what became the Greenbelt weren’t entirely impressed either.

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GREEN BELT PROPERTY OWNERS' ASSOCIATION

BRIEF

As victims of government, the Association can comment on National Capital Commission domination in Gloucester Township, beginning with Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation's refusal of mortgage loans. The Association was formed to protect the Green Belt property owners' rights after the passage of the National Capital Commission Act in 1958 outlined Federal property control in the area. An understanding of this Act and of the seemingly lacking co-operation of the National Capital Commission will be necessary for any regional government.

It is felt that certain points should be considered prior to a decision on governmental form:

1) National Capital Commission expropriations as an infringement
on provincial zoning rights;
2) the inadequacy of grants-in-leiu as recompense to municipalities
for loss of assessment on expropriated Green Belt property;
3) devaluation of unmaintained property and the fire and health
hazards involved;
4) expense of municipal maintenance of roads through the Green
Belt;
5) the less desirable and disinterested tenant of expropriated
National Capital Commission homes as compared to former owners.

Future National Capital Commission expropriations could be better handled if:

1) only the right to subdivide is expropriated leaving all
remaining property rights with the owners;
2) compensation is given to municipalities for the loss of
assessment on existing and future use;
3) the National Capital Commission be treated as any other area
property owners, and required to pay charges for essential
services;

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4) the National Capital Commission is not allowed to inhibit
development by setting high development standards and
refusing assistance in attaining them.

The Provincial Government should protect civil and property rights as set out by the British North America Act. Any form of federal district government would jeopardize citizens' rights and we are fearful that this may be foisted on us without our consent.

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HEARING

The submission was presented by Messrs. Paul E. Mantha, Michael Budd, W.A. Heron and Alan Macartney, for the most part owners of expropriated greenbelt land still under negotiation in Gloucester township.

It was stated that lines of authority, cooperation and coordination between the Federal agency (National Capital Commission) and any form of regional government should be clearly defined under the law. It was felt that construction and maintenance of Greenbelt roads should be a Federal responsibility and that this authority should contribute to the cost of local fire and police departments which protect the Greenbelt on a property value ratio. The fact that many Greenbelt farms are vacant and untented creates an additional fire hazard to property owners inside and bordering on the Greenbelt. Grants in lieu of taxes will probably continue to be based on the expropriated assessment and will not properly compensate for increased costs of such services.

It was suggested that present National Capital Commission powers of expropriation might cause a situation anywhere in the National Capital Region similar to that in Blackburn Hamlet where the

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160 property owners were allowed to choose only between expropriation or development of a townsite according to a National Capital Commission plan. The plan requires that adequate sewer and water services be provided to the area. The result is that water will soon be supplied by Ottawa to be paid for by about 60 of the Hamlet's residents on a direct frontage basis and by a prospective developer of 200 townsite acres on an area charge basis. There is no fixed agreement as yet as to how much the National Capital Commission will contribute to this high cost. The same approach will be used for the provision of sewer facilities.

Farms that are vacant or re-rented to transient farming families have caused a breakdown in the community life of some areas and cause fluctuations in school attendance which have disrupted school arrangements. An increase in rabid animals, a shortage of water and careless greenbelt tenants are creating additional problems.

It was suggested that the National Capital Commission purchase only development rights in the future rather than expropriate properties as in the past. The price of such a right could be the difference between the current market value for an acre of farm land and its future market value for development purposes as discounted to present day value. Further, there should be some compensation paid to owners whose properties have been expropriated, for the future appreciation in value of their expropriated lands.

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