Second City, Second Metro: Annexations Unwelcome at Merivale Gardens

Homeowners in Merivale Gardens were not interested in being swallowed by Ottawa. Image: geoOttawa.

Perhaps unsurprisingly at this point, the Jones Commission heard from another Greenbelt community that independence was preferred.

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     It has been suggested that since Ottawa will have to supply services to the built-up areas of Gloucester and Nepean, it should annex then; it is argued that such a move might cure or alleviate certain Ottawa problems. 

     The inadequate streets, services and high property taxes in Ottawa emanate from inadequate grants-in-lieu of taxes on Federal property in the past (and present). Ottawa's major road and bridge projects have required substantial assistance from senior governments. Isolated from major centres and competing municipalities and with stability of employment, Ottawa's growth has been maintained without stimulation and the surrounding areas annexed as urbanized. 

     Nepean Township is a popular choice, and this freedom of choice should be maintained. Annexation merely forces urban growth to different areas and will not alleviate any of Ottawa's problems. Instead of seeking financial relief through annexation, Ottawa should seek a one-shot Federal payment to rectify past inequities. 

     A Federal District would give the area's largest employer substantial control over the area's residents, and disenfranchise them; it should be opposed strenuously by the Province. 

     While the City receives taxes and grants on places of employment, Nepean is primarily a dormitory area which faces sharply increasing school costs. Since the present mobility of school graduates removes many from working locally, it is suggested that the Province should bear a larger proportion of education costs, utilizing revenue from provincial sales and income taxes.

     The greenbelt will only divide suburban areas and increase 

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the cost of services required to cross it. Population projections indicate of 10% annually beyond the greenbelt to 167,000 by 1986; this will impose substantial servicing problems on Nepean and four other townships and indicates the need for some regional authority. Superhighways built at public expense, or intra-urban public transit subsidized at public expense, are two ways of meeting the future need for high speed transportation from such areas as Manotick, Orleans and Hazeldean to Ottawa.

     The number of township councillors and staff should be increased to permit specialization and adequate council committees, and a ward system should be considered if council is enlarged. 

     A regional government should be formed for the review ares possibly enlarged to include Russell Township or perhaps Russell County. The regional Council should be a modification of the present County Council, elected by residents of the enlarged region, but its control should not be vested in the City of Ottawa; the separation of cities from counties should be respected. This new authority should have control over such area matters as water purification and sewage disposal plants, water and air pollution, inter-municipal roads, hospitals, health, welfare, zoning by-law integration, regional parks and justice administration. Local governments would retain control over schools, police, fire, local roads, garbage collection, water distribution (metering and billing), libraries and local parks, recreation and arenas. 

     Intermunicipal cooperation in implementing regional government plans would be forced (if necessary) by local offices of the Ontario Water Resources Commission, Ontario Hospital Services Commission, Ontario Municipal Board and Ontario Department of Highways, etc. Cooperative services, such as township water supply from the Ottawa system at higher "non-residential rates", should be encouraged by the regional government, as should Suburban Roads Commission

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schemes. It is recognized, however, that enforcement from above may be needed.



     The Brief was presented by Mr. E.E. Williams, Chairman and Mr. A. Hendry, Past Chairman of the Association, representing about 140 owners of the Merivale Gardens subdivision located within the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt which has been reforested on two sides of the development has and will limit the growth of the community. Proposed plans of subdivision at the time of expropriation would have doubled the community's size. 

     The general suburban and rural opinion is that Ottawa, through inadequate revenue, particularly Federal grants-in-lieu of taxes, needs to improve its tax position. Through annexation of suburban commercial-industrial assessment, Ottawa believes it could finance improvements in roads, services, etc.

     It was felt that municipalities adjoining Ottawa should be left as separate corporate entities to provide a comparative standard and prevent mediocrity in such matters as municipal services. 

     Nepean Township and Merivale Gardens were suggested to be more attractive to prospective residents than other areas because of the lower tax rate, larger lots and proximity of both urban and rural areas. While the township does not contribute to the capital cost of Ottawa hospitals, it carries its share of remaining responsibilities. 

     The increasing urban growth both in and outside the Greenbelt points up the need for a regional government which could fit in with a system of regional authorities throughout Ontario such as Cornwall, Glengarry and Prescott Region. The Ottawa

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region, including Cumberland and Russell Townships, would consist of a separate Ottawa authority and a modified county authority. This would preclude Ottawa's control over a regional government, although it was agreed that breaking up the City might provide a better balance of power. It was suggested that the modified regional council be elected and that the government be strong enough to support their arguments before the provincial agencies of influence in the area.