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NCC launches outrageous move to block community association at Ont. Land Tribunal hearings

by Roy Atkinson, Chair MCA Trees Not Embassies Working Group

August 24, 2022

Background to the situation may be found here (link to CBC news article). After planning committee made several amendments to the National Capital Commission’s (NCC) proposal to build a walled Embassy Precinct in Mechanicsville’s Lazy Bay Commons, Ottawa City Council rejected the entire application. Subsequently, the NCC filed an appeal with the quasi-judicial Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) to overturn the City’s decision and approve the NCC’s proposal. On August 8, 2022, the OLT issued documents and set September 1, 2022, as the date for the initial Case Management Conference. Under OLT rules anyone seeking Party or Participant status was required to submit their application by August 22, 2022, only 2 weeks later. When seeking Party status, the applicant must lay out in broad terms the issues they will address and identify the experts they intend to call.

On August 14, 2022 the Mechanicsville Community Association submitted its application for Party Status. Three days later, on August 17, 2022, the NCC’s lawyer wrote "the National Capital Commission does not consent to MCA’s request for party status" and indicated they are preparing arguments to block the MCA receiving Party status. Evidently, the NCC does not want to have a credible Party at the OLT hearing that can speak to the public interest on the environment, security, social justice, and the NCC’s many planning failures. Throughout the City’s multi year review of the NCC’s Embassy Precinct proposal the MCA has been fully engaged through multiple submissions and participating in every public event. As a result, the MCA has information, analysis and perspectives that would be valuable to the OLT in reaching a decision on whether to approve the NCC’s proposal. The NCC should respect and welcome the MCA, as a representative of the public interest, to the OLT hearing. Instead, the NCC has chosen to harass the MCA with legal roadblocks. The NCC was created by and reports to the Federal Government. It should be inconceivable that a federal government agency, that purports to serve the interests of Canadians, would seek to silence Mechanicsville’s only community association. With its deep pockets filled with taxpayer money the NCC is playing a game of “beggar your neighbour” by throwing up legal roadblocks that will stress the community’s resources. The NCC’s arrogance on display here has been experienced across the City. It raises the fundamental questions of who in the Federal Government is holding the NCC to account and supervising the NCC’s extraordinary powers. The MCA’s Party status will be determined by the OLT at the September 1 Case Management Conference. However, the MCA’s lawyer will have to spend time (and money) to counter the NCC’s arguments at the Case Management Conference, and she has only one chance to get it right. The August 22 date also applied to people seeking “Participant Status”. At least 4 people from community submitted applications for Participant status together with a “Participant Statement” for the official record:

  • Tom Moon presented a comprehensive articulation of the NCC’s failure to address security issues in a professional manner and the risks this creates for the community.

  • Pat Moon’s statement is a powerful and succinct indictment of the NCC’s proposal on both environmental and social grounds; and, exposes the NCC’s big lie about Canada’s and the NCC’s responsibilities under the Vienna Convention.

  • Daniel Daley’s submission identifies the serious shortcoming of the NCC’s proposal within the NCC’s own policy framework and argues for locating embassies in vacant downtown offices.

  • Debra Bates’ statement is a passionate defence of the need for greenspace and social justice.

It remains to be seen whether to NCC will also seek to deny these thoughtful and engaged citizens access to the OLT and thereby preventing the Tribunal from examining their evidence. Donate to our online fundraiser Representing the community at the OLT requires lawyers and one or more expert witness. This expertise is essential to make the community's case and it is expensive. On August 11, 2022, a new Trees Not Embassies: Legal Defence Fund was created It is focussed on raising $20,000 by early September to finance the MCA’s representation at the OLT hearing. To encourage early donations a local supporter pledged dollar for dollar matching of donations made before August 31, up to a total of $5,000. The fundraising is off to a good start. After 12 days, donations reached $10,100 with the matching funds the total funds raised is $15,100, 75% of the target. There are only another 10 days to raise the remaining $5,000. Donations can be made at Trees Not Embassies: Legal Defence Fund

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