Second City, Second Metro: Eastview to Maintain Local Autonomy

Eastview Council wanted to maintain its local autonomy. Image: Muséoparc Vanier.

Members of Eastview (Vanier) Council informed the Jones Commission that most residents were prepared to accept a lower standard of services relative to Ottawa if it meant remaining independent.

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     Known as Cummings Island in 1830, Janesville in 1876, and Eastview in 1909, the mile square area grew slowly until 1949. The ensuing economic and physical development was accompanied by political immaturity. A Department of Municipal Affairs inquiry into increasing municipal deficits showed maladministration. Since the 1960 election, provision of municipal services, police and fire departments have improved and master and reurbanization plans are being prepared. 

     There are three groups of Eastview residents; the largest group, 68% of the population, are of French origin and almost unanimous for retaining local autonomy. The second largest group of transient people (apartment dwellers) are indifferent to the City's future while the remaining group of English speaking residents have some feeling for the City.

     The French element seem prepared to accept somewhat inferior services to Ottawa's at comparable rates. They want to retain Eastview's French character. More than the Bilingual and Bicultural Commission, they fear Ottawa were top positions are not felt to be proportionally held by French Canadians. Bilingual council meetings, street signs, and municipal correspondence as well as mutual respect for Canada's two official languages would not be found under annexation, amalgamation or a metropolitan government. 

     Progress since the public inquiry has resulted in a 1964 deficit of $6,000., down from $71,000. in 1963, a debt ratio of 5.9% and a per capita debt of $68. compared to Ottawa's 21.2% and $438. respectively and an average family income of $1,000. less than that in Ottawa. The progress of the last four years is expected to continue at a more rapid rate. It is hoped that with a master plan and a reurbanization study to provide a sense of proportion

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and direction, a favourable financial position, an efficient administration and mature legislative body, Eastview will attract private enterprise and Federal buildings and improve its economic and social position.

     However, co-ordination of municipal projects is lacking due to the Ontario Municipal Board's failure to accept or reject projects in conjunction with those planned by neighbouring municipalities. An inspection team should be formed by the Board to advise local government on co-ordination of municipal projects. 

     Regional government presupposes better and broader services to the taxpayer, one of which is administering to their needs while protecting their basic rights and heritages. If this study of regional government is to provide a better administrative answer, the Commission should await findings of the Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Failure to utilize these findings would be to overlook an analysis of past shortcomings and utilize the recommendations to enable the Federal Government to better serve its people; it would be an outright disregard for the help and concern being offered to the people of this area and the rest of Canada. 

     The majority of Eastview residents want to retain their present autonomy, so long as it operates effectively. This brief represents the opinions of Eastview's organizations, clergy, municipal department heads and councillors.



     Mayor Gerard Grandmaitre and Messrs. Roger Barrette, Adolphe Meyer, Roger Crête, Armand Montpetit and Wilfred Champagne, members of Council, presented the bilingual brief while representations of many City departments completed the delegation.

     It was assumed that the Royal Commission on Bilingualism

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and Biculturalism could perhaps recommend that Eastview remain a separate corporate structure because of its bilingual and cultural identity; a brief will be submitted by the City of Eastview to that Commission supporting this view. While it was feared that outside Eastview's boundaries there is a lack of mutual respect for both languages and that municipal hiring practices are more favourable to English speaking people, it was agreed that some Ottawa areas have retained a bilingual, cultural identity without separate municipal identity. 

     It was pointed out that community organizations like the Legion of Mary and the St. Vincent de Paul Society augment and work closely with municipal welfare services in Eastview; it is feared that this would be less effective if Eastview lost its independent status.

     Annexation may be wanted by Ottawa to increase its assessment and hence its borrowing power, but experience since the 1950 annexation proves that annexation does not solve economic problems. If Eastview were annexed, it is feared it would be forgotten for 15 to 20 years. As an independent City, its present debt of $3 million is only 10% of assessment, well below the permissible ratio of 25%. This leaves adequate borrowing power for anticipated needs. 

     It is expected that proper planning and urban renewal will make Eastview more desirable and increase assessment, probably to $45 or $50 million, with a growth in population from 26,000 to about 35,000 over the next 25 years. Poor people displaced by urban renewal will be rehoused in public housing. 

     The Eastview Suburban Roads Commission was also discussed and it was stated that while it costs Eastview about $15,000. a year it provides no direct or indirect benefit to the City, and is an out-of-date piece of government machinery. Despite being required to set it up after leaving the County however, Eastview has benefitted 

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financially by becoming a City although not to the extent of the $85,000. annual saving anticipated.

     The hope was also expressed that some future Federal government buildings will be located in Eastview. Finally, it was noted that as long as Eastview's autonomy is retained, there are some services - particularly the physical and impersonal services - which might be more effectively performed by a regional body of some kind, on which all the municipalities would be represented; this view was essentially similar to that expressed in the Brief of the Eastview Planning Board.