Second City, Second Metro: Dissent in Gloucester Township

Gloucester Council was not singing from the same hymnal when it came to the future of the Township. Image: City of Ottawa Archives, RG9000 – GLOU-QAA-CG – 25 G10-01- Governance and Corporate Management : Elections : Election Ballots (prototypes), File 8-21.

Gloucester Councillors Robert W. MacQuarrie and Federick G. Barrett were not in agreement with their colleagues views on what was to come.

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     This brief represents the opinion of the above-named Gloucester Township Councillors who were unable to agree with several aspects of the brief approved by the majority of council and presented on behalf of the Township. It is felt that the Township brief did not come to grips with the basic problems. 

     This delegation's concern is with the ability of the present government system to meet the future rather than the present needs of the rapidly urbanizing area. As one overall social and economic complex with Ottawa as the hub, the township's problems are those of the area and vice versa. 

     The City of Ottawa and the County of Carleton have both proposed improvements for municipal government. Ottawa's suggested annexation to the inner greenbelt limits would weaken Gloucester and Nepean townships and therefore, the County. These two townships are paying their own way for services so that annexation would benefit no one but put Ottawa in a more dominant position than it enjoys now. 

     While strengthening of the existing County system has some merit, it discounts the existence of Ottawa as an integral part of the area. Further the century old County system was set up for a predominantly rural economy and is not geared to cope with today's suburban need for services which varies from one municipality to another. Indirect and disproportionate County Council representation is weighted against suburban municipalities. Gloucester and Nepean are more aligned to Ottawa than the County because of their services. 

     Gloucester has been providing a high standard of municipal services but can it continue to do so? Its rapid rural to urban transition is causing an increasing demand for varied and elaborate services. As commercial and industrial assessment will increase less

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rapidly than population and expenditures on education and services, the township could be in serious difficulties in the future. 

     The problem can be met in four alternative ways:

1) a planned distribution for Federal buildings and works throughout the suburban municipalities, or

2) increased Provincial assistance towards services, thereby compensating in part for low commercial and industrial assessment. 

These alternatives would preserve municipal identities.

3) Pooling the resources of the whole area to provide pre-determined standards of education, police, welfare assistance and possibly hospitals and libraries. An administrative authority could disburse the funds collected from each constituent municipality. 

This would preserve municipal identities with some loss of local autonomy. The one weakness could be the dominant position of Ottawa on any area board. The solution would largely eliminate competition for commercial-industrial development and allow such development to locate where most suitable from a planning point of view. It would also provide less area inequality in the provision of services and burden on taxation, pre-supposing an area an area assessment of course. An Area Planning Board would control would control and coordinate official plans, major roads, zoning by-laws and development policies. Local boards would control local planning subject to the Area Board's approval. 

4) An Area Government would have all the advantages of the above solution while providing more equitable elected representation and more effective machinery for continuous coordination of Federal, Provincial and local government activities. 

This is the solution which is recommended and discussed in detail below. 

     It is felt that a two level system is necessary to effectively provide all services and functions to so large an economic and social area. This would mean one administrative unit responsible for matters affecting the whole area and semi-autonomous districts

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with control over local matters. New municipal boundaries would be established by further studies, where appropriate, with the population of the districts comparable. 

     Local representation to the Area Board should be by direct election rather than having senior elected officials of each district become automatic Area Board members. Representation should be by population which should regulate the size of local and area councils, but rural or developing districts should be guaranteed a minimum number of seats on the Area Council. It is suggested that the term of office for municipal councillors be extended to at least three years.

     Various functions could be controlled as follows: 

1) Area assessment with trained and qualified staff employed. Appeals would be through a Court of Revision sitting in various districts.

2) An area Board of Education with a representative from each district (Chairman of local board) to establish minimum facility standards, salaries and other expenses and financed by area taxation paid to district boards. These would also be local elected board which would administer local facilities and determine local requirements subject to Area Board approval. Local boards could levy taxes on local residential property for extra facilities beyond basic Area Board level. 

3) Health and Welfare problems, such as public hospitals and housing etc. should be under area control with local boards of health responsible for health clinics, etc.

4) An Area Planning Board would control and coordinate official plans, major roads, zoning by-laws and development policies. District boards would control local planning subject to the Area Board's approval and Committees of Adjustment would be a district function.

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5) Hydro should be under area control along with water purification plants, trunk water mains, sewage disposal plants and trunk collector sewers; cost of trunk facilities might be paid for on a use basis. Local distribution facilities should be under district control. 

6) Parks, recreation and community services including libraries are logically regional with certain local aspects.

7) Police and fire protection should be on an area basis with district stations. The area government would coordinate fire services and provide specialized services. Each district would determine and pay for its additional facilities which would be controlled by the central agency.

8) Major and local roads would be controlled by the area and district boards respectively.

9) Justice administration should remain on an area basis as at present. 



     Both authors were present to submit their Brief.

     It was noted that its similarity to the Brief submitted by Mr. John Butler reflects the fact that Mr. MacQuarrie and Mr. Butler were on the original Gloucester committee appointed to draft a township submission.

     During the discussio, Messrs. MacQuarrie and Barrett clarified several aspects of their Brief as follows:

1) The concern is over Gloucester's ability to cope with future growth, and this is because of the likely rate at which such growth will occur, requiring forward planning and prompt response if needs are to be met. It is felt that the rural-dominated County Council (where Gloucester and Nepean with about 70% of the County's population and assessment have only 30% of the vote) would not be capable of responding rapidly enough to future growth, so that strengthening County government does not

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offer a realistic solution.

2) Similarly, annexation by the City would no doubt be resisted, and even in the unlikely event that it could be shown to be financially advantageous for both parties, would not provide a suitable form of government. It would also leave un-annexed portions of Nepean and Gloucester with serious problems and inadequate resources. Gloucester is not now a burden on the City's services or facilities, and is in fact contributing its fair share or more to several of these. In the case of Suburban Roads, it is felt these should be taken over entirely by the Province. 

3) The fact that urban development in Gloucester is taking place in four rather widely separated areas does not add materially to servicing problems in the township, as each of these areas is being provided with water and sewer facilities of a different source.

4) For the regional government which is proposed, the proper area of jurisdiction would be the entire social and economic area of which Ottawa is the hub. It is thought that this probably excludes part of Carleton County which including part of Russell County.

5) The regional planning board should probably have over-riding jurisdiction over local boards. In the case of some other functions for which local boards were suggested in the Brief, it is possible that a local administrative branch of the regional department would suffice; libraries would perhaps be a good example.