Government of Canada presents an action plan for the National Capital Commission



    OTTAWA, June 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's Transport Minister, John Baird,
and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of State (National Capital
Commission), the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, today introduced legislation in
the House of Commons to amend the National Capital Act, the enabling statute
of the National Capital Commission (NCC).
    "The NCC is a vital national institution," said Minister Baird. "Our
government's Action Plan for the National Capital Commission will modernize
the NCC, making them more accountable to Canadians and providing them with the
tools they need to make the National Capital Region a world-class destination
for residents and visitors alike."
    "The new vision of the National Capital Commission is great news for the
Outaouais region," said Minister Cannon. "Our government is taking action to
encourage the viability and transparency of the Commission, to protect
Gatineau Park and to prepare this institution for the challenges and
opportunities that are unfolding."
    The proposed amendments to the National Capital Act would make NCC
operations more transparent. The board of directors would hold at least four
meetings in public each year, with the option for the board to consider some
matters in camera, as required. At least every 10 years, the board would
submit a 50-year master plan for the National Capital Region, for approval by
the Governor in Council and for tabling in Parliament. The proposed amendments
would also require that a transparent regulatory regime be established before
properties can be designated as part of the National Interest Land Mass.
    "The Government of Canada recognizes that Gatineau Park is a precious
natural resource," added Minister Baird. "We are committed to ensuring its
ecological integrity for the enjoyment and long-term benefit of all
Canadians."
    In addition to measures already implemented by the government, this
legislation responds to recommendations made in December 2006 by the
independent review panel that was commissioned to study the mandate and
functions of the NCC.
    A backgrounder with further information about the proposed amendments to
the National Capital Act is attached.

    
                                 Backgrounder
                                 ------------
                                 ------------

             AN ACTION PLAN FOR THE NATIONAL CAPITAL COMMISSION
             --------------------------------------------------

    The Government of Canada is proposing changes to the National Capital Act
that respond to recent public and stakeholder input and ensure the National
Capital Commission (NCC) can efficiently and effectively fulfill its mandate.
    In April 2006, the minister responsible for the NCC launched a review to
assess the continuing relevance of the NCC, its activities and level of
funding.
    An independent review panel invited a broad range of stakeholders and
interested parties to express their views. In addition to a number of
individuals, participants included federal departments and agencies, other
levels of government, foreign institutions, parliamentarians, and local and
national not-for-profit organizations. The panel received written briefs, as
well as oral presentations at public meetings, and met with experts. The
independent review panel released its report to the public in December 2006,
making 31 recommendations concerning the NCC's governance, activities and
funding.
    Since then, the government has taken several steps consistent with panel
recommendations. An annual $15-million increase in funding for the NCC was
announced in Budget 2007. In keeping with the Federal Accountability Act,
which received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006, separate chairperson and
chief executive officer positions were created at the NCC. And, in September
2008, the Governor in Council approved the acquisition by the NCC of private
properties in Gatineau Park to facilitate such transactions.

    Highlights of the proposed amendments:

    - The NCC's board is required to hold at least four meetings in public
      per year, and may hold parts of a meeting in camera if required;
    - The NCC is required to submit, at least once every ten years, a 50-year
      master plan for the National Capital Region, for approval by the
      Governor in Council and tabling in Parliament;
    - The NCC's existing responsibility for the six official residences and
      for certain elements of transportation planning in the National Capital
      Region are reflected in the Act;
    - The NCC may designate or remove designations of properties that are
      part of the National Interest Land Mass only if regulations setting out
      the criteria and process have been introduced;
    - The NCC must manage its properties in accordance with principles of
      responsible environmental stewardship;
    - The NCC is required to give due regard to maintaining the ecological
      integrity of Gatineau Park;
    - The boundaries of Gatineau Park are described in a schedule;
    - The NCC may make regulations prescribing user fees, which under this
      new legislation, would require Governor in Council approval;
    - New and enhanced regulatory authorities and enforcement provisions to
      enable the NCC to better protect its properties; and
    - The NCC is no longer required to seek Governor in Council approval
      through an Order in Council for individual real estate transactions
      such as acquisitions, disposals and leases.

    The National Capital Commission

    The NCC is a Crown Corporation that was created in 1959 to plan and build
a beautiful national capital that reflects the special character and the
significance of the seat of government.

    The NCC is mandated in the National Capital Act to:

    - prepare plans for and assist in the development, conservation and
      improvement of the National Capital Region; and
    - organize, sponsor or promote public activities and events in the
      National Capital Region to enrich the cultural and social fabric of
      Canada.

                                                                   June 2009
    




For further information:

For further information: Chris Day, Press Secretary Office of Transport
Minister John Baird, Ottawa, (613) 991-0700; Catherine Loubier, Director of
Communications, Office of Minister of State (NCC) Lawrence Cannon, Ottawa,
(613) 995-1851; Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to news
releases and speeches at www.tc.gc.ca/e-news and keep up to date on the latest
from Transport Canada. This news release may be made available in alternative
formats for persons with visual disabilities.


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