NCC passes buck to City, with eyes wide closed

The Preston “extension” running north from the Preston/Albert intersection, is a popular paved path for pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers, and people walking to Gatineau. The NCC recently closed and locked the gate (scroll down to see two previous posts…).

Typically for the NCC, it did so after saying it would leave the link open. And it closes the link without explanation. Well, Madame Chairman Marie Lemay has finally responded to a resident. Here is her letter (I added the bolding to the key phrase):

 “Thank you for your e-mail of September 30, 2011, regarding the closure of an informal passageway leading north from Preston Street. We are sorry for the inconvenience or the apparent ambiguity in our messages but, as always, public safety is our priority. This access is closed for safety concerns, specifically the fact that it leads to the Transitway at a point where there is not a marked pedestrian crossing. This access is not part of our maintained network of trails. It is not an official pathway; it is an informal shortcut which was opened during Bluesfest because for that period it had been possible to provide a staffed controlled access. We are currently looking into this matter with the City of Ottawa to determine if it can be made safely accessible to the public, specifically at the Transitway crossing. As soon as we hear back from the City will we be in a position to make a decision and we will inform you. We appreciate your patience and thank you for sharing your concerns with us.

Yours sincerely, 

Marie Lemay, P.Eng., ing.Chief Executive Officer

Lyne Lwow
Manager, Executive Office Administration and Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer / Gestionnaire, administration du bureau de la direction et adjointe exécutive à la première dirigeante
National Capital Commission / Commission de la capitale nationale
202-40 Elgin, Ottawa, ON K1P 1C7
Tel: 613-239-5271 Fax: 613-239-5039
E-mail / courriel:

There are two major errors in the explanation. First, the NCC claims there is no marked pedestrian crossing of the transitway. In fact, it has been a marked, signed, painted legal crosswalk there for three decades:

above: crosswalk on transitway viewed looking south towards Preston

Second, the NCC claims the path was only recently reopened to benefit Bluesfest, and only while there could be manned crossing guards.

While it would be nice if the NCC provided crossing guards at all busy crosswalks (lets start with all the intersections along Confederation Boul.) their rationale is plainly hooey. The crossing has been a public legal crosswalk for thirty years, year round, not just during Bluesfest. I am unaware of any incidents, accidents, collisions, or other dangers over the 30 years.

Finally, the NCC lobs the ball into the City’s court, saying they want a safe crossing. Since the lines are already painted, the signs are already up, this should take the City less than five minutes to confirm to the NCC that it is in fact a crossing. I am bringing this to my councillor’s attention.


10 thoughts on “NCC passes buck to City, with eyes wide closed

  1. My favourite line from my email reply to that lovely (and very late) piece of work was:

    “The next time you’re contemplating a unilateral change that affects the public’s enjoyment of the land under your control I encourage you to consider how that change will help that land be a source of national pride and significance.”

  2. When has the NCC been concerned about a lack of clearly marked pedestrian crossings? There are countless paved connections up and down the paths along the canal on both sides that invite people to jaywalk across the parkway.

    1. I came on to post teh same thing. During Skating season, does the NCC care that people have no choice but to cross Queen Elizabeth or Colonel By at unmarked crossings? In fact, when I brought it up with the NCC they said that crosswalks would disrupt traffic too much.
      Look at Queen Elizabeth – there are TWO marked crossing points between Preston and the NAC – one at Somerset and one at Pretoria bridge. But no, believe me, the NCC really cares about safe crossings.

  3. Astounding. Does Madame Chair think we don’t see the posted signs, painted walkway or use it for the past 30 years? How dumb does she think the residents of Ottawa are?

  4. I’d guess if you followed the paper trail on this it would lead to OC Transpo and its insurer, and or the City and its insurer.

  5. … Her reply has left me speechless. It is replete with lies. I work at a non-profit organization, and we have a culture of respect, service and excellence. If I was caught sending an email full of lies, I would be severely reprimanded. There is no accountability, no transparency. This feels like the USSR circa 1960.

  6. The NCC looks like it has come down with a case of what I term “Ottawa syndrome”. This is the tendency, usually seen at the City of Ottawa, to make up a rationale, often trumped up or made on the spot without a lot of thought, for doing or not doing something, as the case may be, that has no relation to the facts on the ground and/or logic and/or previous and/or existing practise, both elsewhere and within the city.

  7. “We are sorry for the inconvenience or the apparent ambiguity in our messages but, as always, public safety is our priority.” I live on an NCC parkway: Residents, cyclists and pedestrians come second to moving cars fast. Requests for the most minor improvements are met with patronizing responses from the NCC. The NCC possesses the regulatory framework to improve safety on Ottawa’s federal roads but seems to prefer to turn a blind eye.

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