Second City, Second Metro: “realistically one must accept that this is one City”

Ottawa Mayor Don Reid (pictured here with Nancy Greene in 1968), appeared in front of the Jones Commission with a team to outline Ottawa’s position. Image: J. Primrose / Library and Archives Canada / e011196790.

When Ottawa Mayor Don Reid and a team of other municipal politicians and officials appeared before Murray Jones, they highlighted the need for an amalgamated single-tier municipality inside the Greenbelt. While the City of Ottawa clearly did not get its wish granted by the Jones Commission, it would as part of the 2001 amalgamation – and then some.

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     The purpose of local government is to determine the services which residents of the community wish to have supplied on a co-operative basis, to provide these services efficiently and to distribute the cost on a basis of equity. The decision to develop the Green Belt was of profound significance for the future forms of local government. The Green Belt and the Ottawa River now circumscribe a highly urbanized community of which all elements are so interdependent that realistically one must accept the fact that this is one City, a social and economic unity. The fact that there are within this compact area two cities, a village and the urbanized areas of two townships has greatly complicated the whole process of providing services in an adequate manner. 

     When the expenditures for various services on a per capita basis are examined there is wide divergence as between the municipalities which leads one to the conclusion that each of the governments is providing services of a different standard or in some instances municipalities are so dependent on services provided by the City of Ottawa to which they do not contribute that they are in fact being subsidized by Ottawa taxpayers. 

     As an example of the divergence of the level of service, Eastview has the most severe problem of providing welfare services. The cost of these services on a per capita basis is higher than the cost of services provided by the City of Ottawa although in fact provision is made to a lower standard and the City of Eastview does not participate as fully in the permissive welfare programmes as 

(1) The summary of this Brief was prepared by the City of Ottawa, not the Review staff.

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does the City of Ottawa. Other municipalities, as for example Nepean and Rockcliffe, because they have no welfare problems immediately under their jurisdiction, would seem to be in a position to escape their responsibility in contributing to the cost of welfare services at the municipal level. The wide variation of the per capita cost of providing health services indicates again that these services are not provided at an equal level in the various municipalities within the area.

     In matters of the provision of active recreation parks and programmes, Ottawa bears the lion's share of the cost although these facilities are used by citizens of all communities.

     It is indicated that all of the municipalities are dependent for reserve fire protection on the City of Ottawa and with the exception of Rockcliffe the existing formulas for sharing the cost of such service are completely unrealistic. 

     Undoubtedly all communities benefit by the Ottawa Police Department and certainly Ottawa carries major costs in the administration of justice including the support of the County Court and the County Gaol, although in the case of the latter it has no administrative control over expenditures. 

     The Gore and Storrie Reports of 1949 recommended the development of a water system and a sewerage system that would serve the whole area within the inner limits of the Green Belt and while there is some possibility of extending these two systems slightly beyond the area in certain cases, nevertheless the whole water distribution system and the sewerage system has been or is in the process of being developed to serve the area within the inner limits of the Green Belt. In these two important services all communities are virtually completely dependent on facilities which belong to the City of Ottawa. 

     Ottawa has in the past made substantial financial contributions

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to the support of the Suburban Roads Commission. With the development of the suburban communities and especially in light of the dominance of Ottawa in the provision of employment opportunities, Ottawa has been forced to provide major arteries to bring traffic into the City for work in the morning and to return them to their homes. In the future the City will be faced with even greater expenditures to cope with the increased traffic which is anticipated. It is the view of the City of Ottawa that the peripheral communities will have to make more substantial contribution to the development and maintenance of these arteries and in the case of major throughways the capital costs will have to be borne entirely by the Provincial authority or where appropriate the Provincial and Federal authorities. 

     The City of Ottawa has provided two of the major hospital facilities which serve the whole area and while there is some agreement that in the future capital costs of hospitals should receive contributions from other municipalities, nevertheless at the present time the financing of these hospitals remains a direct responsibility of the City of Ottawa. 

     The City, therefore, has reached the conclusion that the present political divisions of communities within the Green Belt results in undesirable divergencies in level of service and gross inequalities in the distribution of the cost of these services, the latter almost entirely to the disadvantage of taxpayers of the City of Ottawa. The City, therefore, recommends the integration of all municipalities within the Green Belt. 

     It is recognized that with the development of the area outside the Green Belt and especially with the development of urban centres, problems will be created which will have serious implications for the City of Ottawa and indeed for the development of the wider community which in the future is going to still be dependent on the City of Ottawa especially for employment and the social amenities associated with City life. We, therefore, feel that a planning

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authority should be created which would develop on a co-operative basis as between all municipalities of the area plans for services of regional or interurban significance. We feel that the area of this planning should be the County of Carleton extended eastward to include Rockland. This authority should include not only representatives of the municipalities but also representatives of the National Capital Commission and most certainly the Mayors of the City of Ottawa and the City of Hull should have representation on the National Capital Commission itself. We feel that to this authority should be delegated substantial powers by the municipalities and that representation on the authority should be at a senior level so that any decisions arrived at by the authority would be assured of implementation by all of the communities and municipalities. The authority should also be given sufficient funds to discharge its responsibility and hire technical staff to carry out the research necessary to the decisions which will have to be made. 

     The City of Ottawa subscribes of regional government and would feel that for this area this should be based on the co-operation of a strong and enlarged City of Ottawa working with a strengthened County Government. 

     Any decision by the City of Ottawa both with regard to political integration within the Green Belt and the development of a concept of regional government would require intensive investigation of the financial implications including the cost of raising standards both of service and facilities to the level new prevailing within the City of Ottawa, of consolidation of municipal debt, of any changes that would result in the level of Provincial or other grants and the whole financial implications of integration especially with regard to any increase in the existing tax rates.

     The following is a summary of the main conclusions and recommendations which the City of Ottawa wishes to put before the Commissioner: 

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1. The ares within the inner limits of the Green Belt is a rather clearly defined area, compact in extent and with a potential population by 1986 of something in the order of 600,000. Based on considerations of organization and administration, it seems quite clear that it is entirely feasible for this area and its population to be provided with services by one Council. In addition it is the view of the City of Ottawa that to continue the present political divisions much longer can only end in a deterioration of the level of service.

2. At the present time there are serious and even disturbing differences in level of service as between the municipalities within the Green Belt. For example we have pointed out the differences in welfare and health services. If one accepts the premise that this is in fact a total community and despite its political divisions an economic and social unity, then there can be no justification for continuing these discrepancies of level of service and indeed unless there is political integration, these discrepancies are likely to widen. 

3. In addition to the difference of level of service, the financial positions and the ability of the communities to raise the necessary funds through taxation is at the present time very unequal and there cannot be an equalization of service until such time as the taxing potential of the community is dealt with on a basis of a single municipality having throughout the area equal tax rates, equal assessment and providing equal services to all members of the community. The difference in level of service, thought fundamentally due to inequality of taxing potential may also to some degree be attributed to the problem experienced by township councils of reconciling the conflicting needs and requirements of urban and rural populations. 

4. Lynwood Village and the Blackburn Hamlet development within the Green Belt, probably can be serviced by the City of Ottawa in the matter of sewers and water supply as well as in the areas

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of welfare, health, recreation, roads and so forth. Any consolidation into a political unity should include these two areas. 

5. The remaining areas of the Green Belt which are to continue to be reserved for public use or for specialized institutional or limited industrial or residential use are to be relatively self-contained as to services and lacking detail as to these developments the City of Ottawa would not feel that it was desirable to make a commitment that it could in fact make any provision of services to these areas. 

6. It is not suggested that annexation or other form of unification will necessarily result in lower unit costs of the provision of basic services and indeed there is some indication that if the services in other municipalities are to be raised to the level of Ottawa services, there may be additional expenditures required and therefore any additional assessment accruing to Ottawa as a result of the integration and the revenue therefrom would have to be immediately distributed. 

7. If the communities within the inner limits of the Green Belt themselves are interrelated, one to the other, then any greater Ottawa formed by combining these communities beyond the Green Belt especially in matters of planning and the development of services such as roads, bridges and transportation facilities, hospitals and the other services which have an interurban or regional significance. 

8. The desired unification within the Green Belt should not be achieved by a metropolitan form of government which would continue the existing councils and add to this a further layer of government in the form of an overall authority. In view of the geographic limitations and the relatively small population of 600,000 at maximum, such a proliferation of government could hardly be justified and would certainly not ensure the more equitable ratio between councillors and citizens that the

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Research Findings suggest to be necessary and desirable. 

9. Ottawa envisages the area within the Green Belt as being governed by a single council based on the present council of the City of Ottawa and extended in size only to the degree that would be necessary to provide adequate representation to the communities being absorbed into Ottawa. It should be clearly kept in mind in developing any future concept of a council to govern this area that there is no evidence that the quality of government is improved by the quantity of elected representatives indeed historically speaking it seems likely that as the affairs of a municipality become more complex the number of elected representatives tends to become smaller. In 1865 citizens of Ottawa were represented on the ratio of one councillor for every 1,000 of population. In 1965, with more complex problems to be dealt with the ratio is one to 11,100. There is at least a suggestion that the size of council is more appropriately related to the scope of services than to population. 

10. Before any final decision by the City of Ottawa may be reached with regard to political integration of all municipalities within the inner limits of the Green Belt an intensive investigation of all the financial implications of consolidation including the effect this might have on various Provincial or other grants and the implications of integrating debt responsibility should be made. Also there should be a clear definition of additional responsibility and expenditures, if any, inherent in any programme of equalizing services and improving the physical facilities and the impact that this might have on existing rates of taxation. 

11. There must be recognition of the impossibility of municipalities contributing to the cost of building freeways and limited access highways and still being able to provide all other services from normal sources of tax revenue. Such throughways must be a provincial responsibility, with costs shared by the Federal

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government where appropriate. The cost of these undertakings can no longer be supported by taxes on real property.

12. It is the view of the City of Ottawa that any regional government which may be developed for the future for the total area must be based on two principal elements, a strong City of Ottawa and a strengthened County government. It is evident that some solution must be found to ensure that the legitimate requirements of the City of Ottawa would be recognized both in respect to is municipal responsibility and as a National Capital and so that there would be opportunities for the urban areas in the county to develop in a manner complementary to the basic urban element of the region, namely the City of Ottawa. 



     Mayor Don B. Reid and Controllers, Kenneth H. Fogarty, Ernie Jones, Ellen Webber, and Dr. Murray A. Heit were present to make the submission. Members of City Council and Civic Department Heads were also present at the hearing. 

     The hearing commenced with Mayor Reid reading the above summary of the Brief which had been prepared by the City.

     In discussion of the relationship of local government to the Federal government and the National Capital Commission, it was stressed that better means of relating the two levels are needed, but that placing Federal appointees directly on the City council or County council would not be desirable because it would be a step towards a "Federal District" type of control. Rather, such Federal representation should be on the coordinating unit established to link together for planning purposes the strong City and strong County - and perhaps the Province might be represented on this coordinating unit too. In addition, the Cities of Ottawa and 

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Hull and the strengthened County of Carleton ought to be represented on the National Capital Commission, although it was recognized that this alone, would not provide adequate Federal-local liaison. 

     The discussion then turned to the question of the composition and powers of the coordinating unit. As proposed in the Brief, an overall planning authority would coordinate plans for those services which are of regional or interurban significance, and would be delegated substantial powers by the municipalities, which would be represented on it at a senior level. It would also be given sufficient funds and technical staff. Much of the subsequent discussion attempted to go considerably beyond this statement in the Brief, however, and it was emphasized that personal opinions of the various members of Board of Control were henceforth being expressed on the coordinating unit, and not an agreed-to position of the Board as a whole.

     The range of opinions was broad; the following alternatives were suggested: 

1) A regional planning board as the single coordinating unit, either with advisory powers to the local councils and planning boards, or with greater powers to compel local conformity to board decisions on area-wide matters. The composition of the board to include elective officials appointed by the City and the County and probably some citizen members with City and County technical staff either on the board or serving on a technical advisory committee. The chairman would be appointed by the Province and the National Capital Commission or the Federal government itself should also be represented. 

2) A regional council, either in addition to or instead of the regional planning board. If the former, then the regional planning board would be advisory to the council; if the latter, a technical advisory committee of staff officials (from local

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staffs, or the regional staff-if there is one) would probably be required to advise council.

3) If there is to be a regional council, three alternative roles were suggested for it:

  (a) A forum for discussion of area problems; but without any powers of its own, or any staff;

  (b) A body for arbitration of any area-wide problems on which the City and County could not voluntarily agree, with power to enforce its decisions; 

  (c) A council with sole power to make and enforce decisions in all matters of area-wide concern, either with its own staff, or the ability to call on local staffs as needed. The question of who would decide if disagreement arose over matters which are of area-wide impact was not resolved.

4) The composition of a regional council would perhaps be affected by whichever of the above roles it was given, but there was general agreement that it should contain elective officials from the City and the County (i.e. City controllers and County councillors) and Federal and Provincial appointees. While there was also general agreement that the City and County representation could not be according to their respective populations, the alternative possibilities of giving the City either more or the same number of representatives as the County were mentioned; it was hinted that equal representation might perhaps be more readily acceptable to the City under alternatives 3(a) or 3(b) above than under 3(c).

     The discussion then turned to the proposal to enlarge the City to the inner limit of the greenbelt, including Blackburn Hamlet and Bell's Corners. It was stressed that the proviso in the Brief requiring that a thorough study show such enlargement to be advantageous (or at least without substantial disadvantage) means advantageous to both the City and the annexed area. The Mayor also

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stated his personal view that only if a majority of those in the annexation area approve, should the enlargement proceed. It was noted also, with regard to the proposed "inner greenbelt" boundary, that this might be subsequently moved to the outer limit of the greenbelt if a thorough study of the implications showed this to be advantageous. 

     Concerning roads, it was suggested that the City's share of the cost of the Suburban Roads Commission should be taken over by the Province, along with the major road responsibilities mentioned in the Brief.

     If the area within the greenbelt were integrated as proposed, it was noted that this would eliminate Eastview and Rockcliffe as separate municipalities; it was stressed, however, that this would not remove their social or cultural identities, which could be recognized by ward status and served by decentralized civic administrative staffs adapted to meeting their particular local needs. 

     It was suggested that such integration would benefit many of the annexed areas by providing them with higher-standard city services, and would benefit the city by extending its borrowing power, which has been stretched to the limit in providing the basic capital plant, much of which already serves the area as a whole.