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Urban Lands Master Plan

posted Dec 3, 2010, 10:02 AM by Westboro Beach Community Association   [ updated Nov 18, 2014, 8:09 PM by Westboro Beach Community Association ]
Originally posted June 23, 2003

Meeting with Mr. Richard Scott, Principal Regional Planner, NCC, on June 23 to learn about progress on the NCC’s Urban Lands Master Plan.

David Adams and I met with Mr. Richard Scott, Principal Regional Planner, NCC, on June 23 to learn about progress on the NCC’s Urban Lands Master Plan.

The NCC had assured us in earlier conversations that any changes to the Selby plains would be taken only in the context of this Master Plan. This fact was also confirmed in a letter from Marcel Beaudry to Shawn Little, dated March 19, 2003, in which Mr. Beaudry noted that “any rezoning or disposal of these sites should only be undertaken in the context of the objectives applicable to the overall Ottawa River Parkway corridor. These objectives will be developed as part of the Urban Lands Master Plan presently being initiated by the NCC and the City of Ottawa Official Plan process”. It is clear, therefore, that we need to understand the process of how this plan will be developed, including time lines, and have a say, either directly or through umbrella community groups, in what it might mean for land use in our neighbourhood.

The NCC web-site has some information on the plan, but Mr. Scott warned us that it needed some minor up-dating (which should be in place by mid-July). They are just getting started again on the Plan after an earlier start had been interrupted by the departure of the project leader. To bring us up to date, he took us through a Power Point presentation, a copy of which can be viewed on the WBCA web-site in PDF format. (insert link).

The Urban Lands Master Plan is a second tier planning process, one step more detailed than the PFCC (Plan for Canada’s Capital). Other Master Plans include the Greenbelt Master Plan and the Gatineau Park Master Plan.* The Urban Lands Master Plan will guide the use of all federally-owned land inside the Greenbelt. Indeed, land use is the “meat and potatoes” of the plan.

The Power Point presentation outlines the structure of the plan as well as its time lines.

  • Phase 1 (August 2003 – December 2004) will conduct basic research and result in the first public consultation in January 2005. It will allow the NCC to do some “outloud thinking” to elicit public response.
  • Phase 2 (January 2005 – March 2006) will result in a Concept Plan. This will be quite general, providing overall direction. It could, however, suggest the possibility of NILM (National Interest Land Mass) boundary changes. (Selby Plains are currently part of the NILM).
  • Phase 3 (April 2006 – December 2007) brings it all together and develops implementation strategies resulting in the final Master Plan. Although all phases feature public consultation, it is most intensive in Phase 3.

Aside from formal consultation fora, there is a “Working Committee” comprising staff from the City of Ottawa, from the City of Gatineau and from Public Works and Government Services Canada, Greenspace Alliance, the Federation of Communities Associations, CREDDO (an Outaouais umbrella organization) and Transport 2000. Presumably, we can work with these umbrella organizations to make our views known.

In addition to a description of the Master Plan, a number of other issues relevant to our interest in the Selby plains were discussed. These included:

  • The planning process is not driven by the need to generate revenue. It is true, however, that the NCC, in its business plan, does count on rents and proceeds from the disposal of surplus properties to fund a portion of its expenses. The big push for this occurred during the last Conservative government as a result of the Neilson Task Force recommendations. There is less pressure now for the NCC to be self-funding. Almost all of the urban area properties that the NCC will dispose of this year are in the “southern corridor”. These are marked on the Land Base map of the PP presentation, identified as “Federal Lands not subject to Plan”, and were declared surplus by the NCC in 1988.
  • Although the NCC’s internal documentation, obtained pursuant to our access to information request, stated that the NCC had declared the Selby plains as surplus to Federal needs, they are still part of the Ottawa River Parkway Corridor and part of the NILM. The NCC cannot change this designation without considering the broader context. This broader context will be provided by the ULMP. In this regard there is nothing that says that the corridor needs to be of constant width…..indeed, variations are desirable.
  • Quite aside from what the Plan says, we should not loose sight of the political process. Re-zoning can be intensely political and be influenced by deals whereby the City might trade off one area for gains in another.


  • Although there is no guarantee, in all likelihood, the NCC will need/want to await the completion of the ULMP before making any moves – should, indeed the ULMP recommend them – to dispose of the Selby plains. This means that any attempt to develop the Selby plains should be unlikely before 2008.
  • That said, we know that there are political interests in favour of the residential development of this greenspace. We cannot count on the planning process to be respected.
  • It will be important to follow this very closely. One way will be to fully sensitize those community umbrella groups on the ‘Working Committee” to our concerns. We will also want to be fully prepared for any public consultations, the first of which will likely be in January 2005. Richard Scott has kindly agreed to bring us up to date on a regular basis and suggested that we check back with him every 2 months or so.
Westboro Beach Community Association,
Dec 3, 2010, 10:03 AM