Second City, Second Metro: An Independent Nepean

Nepean Reeve Aubrey Moodie made no bones about wanting to keep Nepean independent. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, CA031270.

Nepean Reeve Aubrey Moodie attended a session of the Jones Commission to make the case that Nepean should be left well enough alone.

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     The review area economy is largely dependent on the Federal government and the National Capital Commission. For example, the Greenbelt acquisition has created municipal problems in transportation, sanitation, utilities, education and equalization of tax burdens. Further, developments in Goulburn, March and Cumberland Townships might have occurred in Gloucester and Nepean Townships but for the Greenbelt. These problems are little recognized by the National Capital Commission.

     The township is opposed to a Federal District governmental form which would result in a loss of local autonomy, neglect of local interests and lack of tax benefits. However, greater liaison is needed between the National Capital Commission, Federal Works Department and local authorities in matters of area planning. The proposal that the Mayors of Ottawa and Hull should be represented on the National Capital Commission does not meet the problem in other municipalities like Nepean and Gloucester where it is actually more acute. The solution must be found in regular (probably quarterly) meetings held between the National Capital Commission Executive and area municipal councils. There would also be a real advantage to a standing Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons which could review all National Capital Commission work and receive any area representations. 

     But for the 10 Ottawa annexations from the Township over the last 61 years (10,465 acres), it would now be far more populous than the City. The continuation of annexation, even just to the Greenbelt limits, is not an acceptable solution to the township or its residents. The 1950 annexation left the township with 15% of its original assessment and no municipal buildings or staff, no assessment or road departments, no fire hall, police station, township garage, health unit or high school. The totally disrupted municipal admin-

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istration was rebuilt around one remaining Town Hall. Annexation would not provide the annexed portions with more services than at present and would disrupt the provision of services to the remainder of the township. Annexed portions would be required to share the costly burden of service facility placement in Ottawa. Further, the annexed portions would not benefit from the less favourable Debt per Capita and Debt/Assessment ratio of Ottawa; it is dubious that a better municipal administration would be provided, in the light of the Payne-Ross report. Advantages lost to both sides are illustrated by the still unconstructed state of the Richmond, Baseline and Merivale Roads pointing up the loss of Provincial grants. Township experience indicates smaller administrative units are likely to be more efficient and so supports the retention of the township's present boundaries. 

     The township-county relationship is generally satisfactory. While the township represents 40% of County assessment and ought to have greater representation at the County level, maintenance of the status quo is preferred at present. The present County system could be expanded to serve on a regional basis in matters of assessment, planning, health, roads, fire and police. 

     Due to the new 1950 start, all township services are new, modern and equal to any other Ontario municipality; the ratepayers are generally satisfied. 

a) Education - all schools, including the one pre-1950 school, are under the Township School Area Board which should be given a fair trial before a larger administrative unit is considered. Two new high schools (township built, administered by the Ottawa Collegiate Institute Board) and one at Richmond serve the area satisfactorily with educational facilities comparable to Ottawa. The greater proportion of municipal corporate expenditures on education (51.2% compared to Ottawa's 32.3%) reflect the lower age levels in the township. 

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b) Health-Welfare - The County Home for the Aged, the Children's Aid Society and the County Health Unit provide adequate service for the township's present limited needs. There is doubt that a municipal administrative change would provide more adequate hospital facilities. Prior to Ontario Hospital Services Commission formation in 1953, a non-resident surcharge of 25% was paid to Ottawa hospitals. This was estimated to amount to $50,000. for Ottawa Civic Hospital alone - sufficient to carry the debenture issue to erect a 100-bed hospital; the surcharge was abolished in 1953. A 5-member appointed committee is investigating construction possibilities of a Nepean Hospital (as recommended in a recent Ontario Hospital Services Commission report). The problems of non-Ontario-resident patients representing 76,000 patient days locally, and of indigent patients rumoured to be treated at less than cost at Ottawa Civic Hospital, deserve consideration by the Review. 

c) Planning - The township now has a planning expert on staff, subdivision control, a Committee of Adjustment, and a restrictive zoning by-law for township lands inside the Greenbelt, with progress being made toward zoning the balance of the township. The township reeve is a member of the city-staffed Ottawa Planning Area Board while the County Engineer, the Suburban Roads Engineer and a National Capital Commission staff member sit on the County Technical Advisory Committee. Although the Department of Municipal Affairs turned down a 1962 proposal for a County Planning Agency, the most urgent need in the review area is for additional planning facilities; the basic problem is not the lack of planning boards, but of planners, however. The township supports a competently-staffed County Planning Agency with the Ottawa Planning Area Board as a city agency only; joint meetings (at least quarterly) between the County Board, the City Board and the National Capital Commission Executive could coordinate policy-making and foster joint objectives. The Federal government should contribute substantially

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to these projects.

d) Sanitation-Utilities - The township built the only full-treatment sewage disposal plant on the Ottawa River; it is capable of servicing present and future area needs, although the Greenbelt complicates the servicing problem. A sewer agreement has been reached with Goulburn and March Townships and awaits final Ontario Water Resources Commission approval. An adequate water supply is purchased from Ottawa; any additional filtration facilities needed should be built up-river by the Ontario Water Resources Commission and sold at cost to the area municipalities. A storm sewer agreement with Ottawa is under negotiation. The township's hydro utility has higher power rates than Ottawa Hydro; they will be more comparable when Ottawa's long-term power contracts expire however. Any advantages to township residents of being able to purchase Ottawa hydro power would be more than offset by the advantages of local autonomy.

e) Roads-Transportation - The present township network of Provincial Highways, Suburban, County and Township roads is superior to Ottawa's network which now requires major reconstruction. Road coordination can be best achieved within the County and Suburban systems. While public transportation is a problem in the township, some suburban areas like Bayshore and Parkwood Hills are better served by the Ottawa Transportation Commission than certain City areas. The Ottawa Transportation Commission opposes one possible solution, the provision of a suburb-to-city service by other operators. An Area Transit Commission can be established by agreement however, when and if needed.

f) Parks, Recreation, Community Facilities - While the need for parkland in downtown Ottawa is urgent, the township has adequate parkland available and the proposed National Capital Commission development at Shirley's Bay is expected soon. Two new arenas at Merivale and Bell's Corners will be completed this year and 

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a township administration for recreational facilities provided soon. The township Public Library of 25,000 books is expanding rapidly and is doing an adequate job.

g) Police, Fire Protection, Justice - The township's 24-man police force is efficient and co-operates fully with other area forces; 2 modern and adequately equipped fire halls serve the area satisfactorily. Justice administration is capably arranged at the County level.

h) Municipal Administration - Township staff consists of a Clerk, Treasurer, Tax Collector, Assessment Commissioner, Engineer, Planning Engineer, Roads Superintendent, Building Inspector and Hydro Manager heading a full-time staff as capable of more specialized City staffs. Council intends to delegate some administrative functions to the staff leaving Council free for policy making decisions. As has been the case with Hydro, the parks, recreation, planning and hospital functions could be transferred to Commissions and Committees. Ratepayers generally approve of the present administration but some have advocated the enlargement of Council membership and others a ward system. The majority of Councillors, however, feel a ward system might lead to an insular, parochial approach to township problems and are in favour of a small cohesive council as being more efficient and expedient. The township feels that County Assessment is desirable and inevitable and favours competent financial control with long-term planning and capital programming; this should be achieved through simplification or rather than addition to present machinery.

     The township does not feel that any of the above mentioned areas could be assisted or improved by a metropolitan form of government; it opposes the addition of another government stratum, (the Federal, Provincial, County, Township, National Capital Commission and School Boards make six authorities at present) particularly one

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this is not immediately responsible to the electorate. 

     Presumably a metro government would have some local representatives. It is doubtful that local officials could efficiently serve the local, county and metro interests effectively of that the metro form of government is unassailable considering the present demands for a unified system in Winnipeg and Toronto. 

     If regional government means supplanting local and county governments by one integrated authority, it is not considered practical at this time, since it is doubtful that one authority serving such a large territory can effectively respond to the will of the people it serves.



     Reeve Aubrey Moodie, Richard Bell, Township Solicitor, Samuel Chipman, Township Engineer, David Hobbs, Township Clerk, William Bothwell, Township Treasurer, and Harold Charmley, Township Planner were present at the submission.

     Experience of the 1950 annexation was noted as the reason Nepean is willing to share some of its autonomy with the County, but not with the City. Nevertheless, confidence was expressed that area planning could be effectively coordinated by voluntary cooperation of a County Board, a City Board and the National Capital Commission.

     It was not felt that people who have moved from the City out to Nepean bear any responsibility for the City's welfare load; welfare case charge-backs mean that Nepean pays its proper share. 

     With regard to the County Planning proposal, the discussion made it clear that in addition to pooling financial resources so that adequate professional planning staff could be made available to

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County municipalities, just as the County Council decision to establish a Health Unit was binding, even though it had been opposed by Nepean.

     While the early attempt by the Ottawa Planning Area Board to hold the greenbelt area by refusing proposed subdivisions created difficulties for Nepean, things began improving once the National Capital Commission expropriated, and although the Townships should have been compensated a lot more for losses and costs inflicted by the greenbelt, the view was expressed that the worst is over, and the greenbelt will increasingly prove to be a greater asset than liability to Nepean. Some $40 million worth of buildings on greenbelt lands will assist, and services to and through the greenbelt are being and will be negotiated with the Federal government. It was stated that five years extensive urbanization beyond the greenbelt in Nepean could be foreseen. 

     Should annexation by the City out to the greenbelt occur - and Nepean is strongly opposed - there would have to be adequate compensation to enable the remainder of the township to continue; merging such a remaining portion with some other township was not seen as a desirable solution. Annexation in reverse by Nepean of part of Ottawa had been considered, but Nepean is not prepared to take such action.

     Storm sewer negotiations with the City were noted to be possible nearer to solution. The remaining disagreement was stated to concern only a City request for retroactive payment for storm sewers built years ago. 

     The present Ontario Municipal Board quota on debenturing by the township, although somewhat restrictive, was stated to be no real hindrance to development and the provision of adequate services. With regard to hospital facilities, it was pointed out that Nepean has always wanted to participate in a hospital with the City, and is prepared to do so. 

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     Concerning the proposed joint Nepean-Goulburn-March sewer system, the Reeve noted that the agreement is drafted but not signed yet. The current plan is to enlarge the Shirley's Bay treatment plant, which will also continue to receive sewage from the Nepean trunk, rather than having it diverted through City sewers to the Green Creek plant as had been proposed in the consultants' report. 

     The Suburban Roads Commission was also discussed, being regarded as one of the best in the Province; it was felt that it should be continued. If public transportation service is to be extended to parts of Nepean, and any subsidy is required, it was suggested that this would be borne only by the areas served. 

     Finally, it was suggested that Nepean Council works satisfactorily without a ward system. Introduction of wards it is felt, could lead councillors to serve their ward more than the township as a whole.