Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 5 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Tuesday, February 17, 1998
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources,
to which was referred Bill S-6, to establish a National Historic Park to
commemorate the "Persons Case", met this day at 9:10 a.m. to give
consideration to the bill.
Senator Ron Ghitter (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, we have a quorum.
We have with us again this morning the Chairman of the National Capital
Commission, Mr. Marcel Beaudry, and from the City of Ottawa, Mr. Stéphane
Émard-Chabot, who represents the area where the park is located.
At the end of our last hearing, honourable members indicated that they had
further questions regarding the issue at hand. As well, I have a number of
areas that I would like to explore.
Mr. Beaudry, the land that we are talking about with respect to this park is 1.1
acre, is that correct?
Mr. Marcel Beaudry, Chairman, National Capital Commission: That is correct.
The Chairman: Can you tell us what the government paid for the land?
Mr. Beaudry: I cannot say for sure. The building was purchased by the government
in 1921 and was operated until 1977. In 1981, Public Works announced its
intention to demolish the building. The NCC put out proposal calls, but none
were able to be completed. In 1991, the National Capital Commission decided to
demolish the building.
The Chairman: Can you recall the costs associated with demolishing the building?
Mr. Beaudry: I do not have that information.
The Chairman: Can you give us an estimate?
Mr. Beaudry: I am not able to give you a number because I do not know.
The Chairman: You said you were taking five proposal calls seriously.
Mr. Beaudry: That is right. First, we asked for an expression of interest. Agent
groups came up with expressions of interest, five of which were retained for
proposal calls. We asked these five proponents to come back. We went back to
them in November for additional information. Presently, three proponents are
ready to construct a building with an underground garage on the site.
The Chairman: What is your timing for dealing with those proposals?
Mr. Beaudry: We would have preferred to have made the decision last year, but we
did not want to do that while the matter was pending before the Senate
committee. We decided that would not proceed without taking into account the
concerns of senators. Therefore, we did not make a decision on the proposal
call because we knew Senator Kenny intended to propose a park for this site.
The Chairman: Can you tell us something about the three proposal calls?
Mr. Beaudry: Two are designated "mixed use" and one proposal is for a
hotel. This information was published in the media. The third proposal calls
for a building approximately half the size of the old Daly Building.
The old Daly Building was built at the line of the sidewalk. We have asked for
considerable setback for each project so that there would be a public activity
space in front of each building. That would also ensure that the view toward
the Château Laurier, coming from Colonel By, would not be impaired.
Looking from George Street, the Château Laurier tower on Mackenzie Street
is visible. That was not the case when the Daly Building blocked the view.
Some proposals call for a hotel; and some others call for theatres and general
business stores. Other proposals provide for more activities, both commercial
and recreational, which would have a positive impact on the national capital.
The Chairman: When you speak of "setback", can you be more specific on
the amount of setback you require?
Mr. Beaudry: Today, the fence is set back about 35 or 40 feet from the Rideau
Street line. The setback would be more than that. It would be anywhere from 25
to 50 feet from Rideau Street. The setback would be greater than it is today.
There is also a required setback because we must realign Mackenzie Street
approximately five metres alongside the Château Laurier. Presently,
during winter, pedestrians near the Château Laurier are in danger of
being struck by falling ice from the roof of the building. The street should be
realigned so that the sidewalk can be moved out by five metres. This would
result in a reduction of space available at the Daly site. There would also be
a setback of five metres for the building that is to be erected on the land on
Sussex Street on the other side of the lot. The building would be much smaller
than what existed before.
The Chairman: Tell us about the square footage of the buildings that are
proposed. I believe you mentioned 75,000 square feet.
Mr. Beaudry: That is an approximation, yes.
The Chairman: Would that be a seven-storey building?
Mr. Beaudry: Some have proposed seven storeys and others are not that high.
The Chairman: Would the buildings proposed for that site be set back in tiers?
Mr. Beaudry: Of the three buildings proposed, one is more or less at the same
level, but the other proposals are for buildings of different heights.
The Chairman: Am I correct in saying that those buildings which will be built
further back on the site will be higher?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes, that is right.
The Chairman: Was retail the main use proposed for these buildings?
Mr. Beaudry: From Sussex Drive, yes.
The Chairman: Did it include office buildings?
Mr. Beaudry: No, not necessarily office buildings. One project has components of
either condominiums or hotel suites, plus retail stores. Another one calls for
theatres and retail stores.
The Chairman: Is one strictly for a hotel?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes.
The Chairman: Can you tell us about the proposed parking?
Mr. Beaudry: One proponent proposed 200 underground parking spaces; one proposed
300 spaces; and one proposed 450 spaces.
The Chairman: Do you have any estimates on the costs per stall in that type of
Mr. Beaudry: I am sure it would be quite high. When we asked for an expression
of interest, we suggested that people could bid only on the parking component
of the project, leaving others to build over and above the parking. No one came
forward with a proposal concerning only the parking. It was not feasible.
The Chairman: In Calgary, the cost per stall is approximately $12,000 to
$13,000. In normal construction the cost is $50 per foot. Can you estimate what
it would be on that particular site?
Mr. Beaudry: I have heard numbers mentioned, but I have not done a thorough
study of it. The numbers quoted at one point varied from $25,000 to $30,000 per
The Chairman: Why is it so high?
Mr. Beaudry: That is because the area is all rock. Certain security measures
must be taken because of the proximity of the Château Laurier.
Furthermore, a storm sewer crosses that piece of property. There are some
constraints that we must recognize on that site. The site is not in the middle
of nowhere. When a builder wants to removed excavated material, he has to deal
with the heavy volume of traffic in the area.
Senator DeWare: You are talking about $12 million for 400 parking spots.
Mr. Beaudry: I am repeating the numbers that I have heard. I did not make any
The Chairman: It would be the most expensive parking lot in the history of
Canada. How likely is it that one would provide that number of parking stalls
and receive an economic return?
Mr. Beaudry: Some expressed an interest if it included a project above ground,
but no one was interested in only the parking lot.
The Chairman: If someone were to put a park on the land, would the money for
parking come from you?
Mr. Beaudry: The land is currently owned by the NCC. Unless there were
appropriations from other levels of government, Treasury Board or Parks Canada
-- and we have no indication of that -- the money would come from us.
The Chairman: In your view, as one who oversees this land, would it be fair to
say that if it were to return to a park you would not put parking there?
Mr. Beaudry: The NCC held public consultations in 1993, after the demolition.
One of the options was a park, and the public response was that they were not
in favour of a park.
The Ottawa Citizen asked the public whether they would like a park, and 75 to 78
per cent of respondents indicated that they were in favour of the park. When we
held consultations at the Holiday Inn, the public were not in favour of a park.
The business community indicates that they are not in favour of a park because
that site is pivotal for that area. It would connect with the Château
Laurier and the Congress Centre. A link study is ongoing related to connecting
the National Arts Centre to all of the other facilities. The Daly site would
become a pivotal component of that link study.
The Chairman: How do you create the linkage?
Mr. Beaudry: It would be underground linkage.
The Chairman: Would those structures hook into the parking structure as well?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes.
The Chairman: From an economic point of view, the developer who put in the
parking would be able to lease out that parking for other events -- conventions
and whatever else is going on.
Mr. Beaudry: It is common knowledge that the developers of the Congress Centre
wish to expand it by three times its present size. I do not know whether there
is adequate parking if the Congress Centre is at full capacity. However, the
Daly site would become an important source of parking should the Congress
Centre's proposed expansion go forward.
The American Embassy will be opening later this year or next year and, as such,
additional parking will be needed in the area. There have been ongoing
discussions that the Conference Centre could become used for other purposes.
They do not have a single parking spot out there, so certainly parking would be
of some use to them also.
The Chairman: Counsellor, you alluded to parking needs in the area as well. Can
you give us your assessment of the parking situation in that immediate area?
Mr. Stéphane Émard-Chabot, Municipal Councillor, Bruyère-Strathcona
Ward, City of Ottawa: At peak times, weekends in the summer, both the city
parking lots and the private parking structures are at capacity; in short, they
In real terms, we have lost several parking spaces in the immediate area. The
American embassy site once held a few hundred cars. That is gone. There is a
site in the market, which presently holds about 80, 85 cars, that is slated for
development later this year. The NCC is considering proposals for another piece
of land, between George and York Streets, behind the courtyards. Another hundred
parking spots there will be lost.
We welcome the development, but the supply of parking spots is dwindling. These
spaces must be replaced.
At our last meeting, council discussed the feasibility of underground parking
below a park or park-like setting. It is technically feasible, but,
financially, if the city is to provide money to help subsidize or build this
facility, because it will be costly, it will be almost impossible to find a
private-sector partner if there is nothing above ground because the parking
itself is too costly to build.
Senator Kenny: Is there not a link right now between the Château Laurier
and the Conference Centre?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes.
Senator Kenny: Why not proceed with that link? Why must you go through the Daly
site? Why can you not continue with your link to the Rideau Centre from the
Mr. Beaudry: The link study is not completed, but discussions have taken place
regarding the link crossing Sussex to get to the Rideau Centre and the Congress
Senator Kenny: That would be a much shorter route, would it not?
Mr. Beaudry: Of course, if it goes by the Daly site and across Sussex and across
Senator Kenny: That would be twice as long.
Mr. Beaudry: No, because the other way, you go to the Château and then the
Conference Centre, and you cross Colonel By to do that.
Senator Kenny: Half of that is built already, is it not?
Mr. Beaudry: I understand that. The link study encompasses more than that. There
are discussions ongoing to connect it with the National Arts Centre.
Senator Kenny: To connect with the National Arts Centre -- if you are connecting
it with the Château or with the Conference Centre, you do not come across
Sussex again to get there. It is on the opposite side the street. It does not
go anywhere near the Daly building. The testimony is not complete, and the
testimony does not make sense so far.
Mr. Beaudry: We may defer opinion there.
Senator Kenny: With respect to the witnesses, I have another question.
The Chairman: On Senator Kenny's allegation that the testimony does not make
sense, perhaps you could explain further, counsellor.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: The linkage study has been entirely funded by the
private sector, who see this as an important part of the economic development
of downtown Ottawa, especially in the winter months. Ottawa is a popular
destination in the summer. However, our winters are not the most welcoming for
people to join us from outside of the area.
The reality of the linkage is that the decision about the Conference Centre is
in the Prime Minister's hand. We have had many discussions with the PMO and
with the government as to possible private use of the facility.
I received a letter last week from the Minister of Public Works indicating that
the federal government is deeming this property as essential. They do not
intend to dispose of it or to transfer it. There was talk of the Sports Hall of
Fame moving in, or other events.
The position of the federal government is that the Prime Minister's Office and
the cabinet still need that facility for meeting purposes, albeit once every
five years or so.
The reality of using that site as a link or as the cornerstone of the linkage
study is not feasible. We must go elsewhere then, such as through the Daly
site. We cannot go through the Congress Centre, unless you pass legislation
that hands it over to us -- at which we would be absolutely ecstatic, but that
is another issue.
Senator Kenny: There is a link there. It is the shortest route to get across the
street; it is the shortest way to go to Colonel By. There is already a
passageway across Rideau Street; it is a plus-15 passage. If you wish to move
up from the Conference Centre up to the National Arts Centre, the shortest and
most direct route is to stay on the other side of the street.
My question had to do with the cost of parking. You have given us an estimate of
$25,000 to $30,000 for the underground parking. What are your estimates for
above-ground parking? If you decided to find a spot elsewhere in the market
area to build above ground, would you be paying $25,000 to $30,000 a stall?
Mr. Beaudry: First of all, I did not give an estimate of $25,000 to $30,000. I
wish this to be corrected right now. What I said was that I heard numbers in
that range, but I did not have any estimate. Please do not quote me as having
given that estimate
Senator Kenny: Perhaps we could have the record read back, but I understood you
to provide those figures.
Mr. Beaudry: I mentioned those figures; I said I heard those figures. However,
we did not get any estimates; therefore, I am not confirming those figures.
That is what we said.
The Chairman: We accept that as your position.
Senator Kenny: Fine. What is your position on the cost of building facilities
Mr. Beaudry: I have no position on that as we have no plan to put parking above
ground on the Daly site at this time.
Senator Kenny: I did not say the Daly site.
Mr. Beaudry: We have no plans to put parking above ground anywhere else for that
Senator Kenny: You have come before us and told us about all the property you
own about town. The issue of price came up, as did the cost of building parking
underground. In your prior testimony, you indicated that you are a significant
landlord in Ottawa. Have you any parking facilities above ground; and can you
give us an estimate of what it costs to build a stall above ground in Ottawa?
Mr. Beaudry: I do not believe the NCC owns any structured parking above ground
The Chairman: Councillor, since this is more of a civic responsibility than an
NCC responsibility, would you care to respond to that question?
Mr. Émard-Chabot: The city has a mandate to provide affordable short-term
parking for patrons of business areas. We operate two large structures in the
Byward Market. The main one, in the middle of the market, holds about 270
vehicles. The other holds a little over 400. The cost varies. About $12,000 per
stall is what we usually bank on when we build them, but I can guarantee you
that constructing another above-ground parking structure, if it is to be a
simple structure, would be unacceptable from a heritage point of view. The
entire area is a heritage conservation district and erecting another structure
which would not be concealed within a building, as is the case with the one we
built recently, would be out of the question. That adds to the cost of the
The city subsidizes parking structures for the first few years of operation.
Strictly from a heritage district point of view, I can assure you that there
would be strong objections to a structure if it is not, in some way, concealed,
and that would drive up the cost beyond that of a normal structure.
The Chairman: How much is land selling for per foot in the Byward Market area?
Mr. Beaudry: We sold property to the Kuwaiti Embassy recently for $56 a square
The Chairman: I wish to deal further with the three major proposals before you
from the point of view of the financial arrangements proposed by the
developers, and I appreciate that there may be some confidentiality involved in
this. The last time you appeared before us, you mentioned approximately
$500,000 per year being paid, with that increasing over a number of years.
Mr. Beaudry: Depending upon the project accepted, and depending upon whether the
link with the Château Laurier were above ground or underground, the value
of such a building, actualized up front, would be between $4 million and $10
The Chairman: Is that the present-day value?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes.
The Chairman: I want to know the cost to the taxpayer if this land becomes a
park. I do not imagine that the original acquisition of the land cost very much
in 1921. I do not know what it cost to tear down the Daly Building. There is
the loss of income that the NCC would have received, depending on the financial
arrangement, which could have been about $10 million. There is also the cost of
building the park. What would be your estimate of the cost of building the park?
Mr. Beaudry: I have only a rough estimate, because it was never our intention to
build a park there since we learned that we do not have public support. We
believe, given the difficulty of the site, that it could cost anywhere from
$3.5 to $5 million.
We are in the process of enhancing Confederation Boulevard. We are not
responsible for the building of Confederation Boulevard as such; that is,
replacing the public services, the sewer and water. That is being done by the
Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. However, the esplanade and the
lighting fixtures are our responsibility, and the proponent has undertaken to
pay for those. That represents a savings for the NCC of approximately $500,000.
The Chairman: What about the maintenance of the park?
Mr. Beaudry: I believe we have provided those numbers. The NCC has several parks
in the national capital region.
The Chairman: Where did this document come from?
Mr. Beaudry: From us.
The Chairman: Is this in response to our earlier inquiry?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes.
The Chairman: This is a document entitled: "Green Spaces in the National
Capital Region's Urban Core".
Mr. Beaudry: That is correct. Annual maintenance for these parks costs $3.1
The Chairman: Do you have an estimate of the annual cost of maintaining the Daly
Mr. Beaudry: I cannot say.
Senator Taylor: I have a supplementary question on recreational corridors. Would
the maintenance cost include everything from snow ploughing to paving?
Mr. Beaudry: It includes everything, but the maintenance we provide on the
corridors is not the same as maintenance for parks, as such. For instance,
Major's Hill park is groomed. Flowers are planted and many different things are
Senator Taylor: Do you separate the cost of cleaning and repairing the highway
from the park costs?
Mr. Beaudry: Yes. As well, we cut the grass for 10 to 12 feet on each side of
the parkway, for instance. The remainder is left in its natural state. We used
to cut the grass much wider than that, but with budgetary restraints, we had to
become more frugal.
Senator Taylor: As an aside, in a town in my old constituency they used sheep to
keep the grass trimmed. I am sure that would appeal to Australian tourists.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: A lawyer in Hull once did that, but it was not
appreciated by the neighbours.
The Chairman: I suppose it would depend upon the nature of the park. I believe
that Councillor Émard-Chabot was of the view at our last hearing that a
soft grass park would be inappropriate in that location because 20,000 people
walk through there every day. The grass would not last very long. We would not
need sheep to keep it trimmed. I would assume that it will probably be a
Mr. Beaudry: Councillor Chabot is right. Many people cross from the market area
to Parliament Hill. Millions of people cross that area during the summer. Grass
would not stand up very well. It would have to be treated differently.
Senator Hays: Earlier you said that one of the proposals was for recreational
Mr. Beaudry: Not only recreational activities; there was a recreational activity
component in the proposal.
The Chairman: Do you have an estimate of the cost of constructing a hard-surface
Mr. Beaudry: As I said before, it would be between $3.5 million and $5 million,
depending upon the treatment.
If we were to install, say, a fountain, it would be more expensive. If we
install interlock, and give it no special treatment, it will not cost much, but
it will not look good. It will look like a cheap park.
The National Capital Commission has a reputation of maintaining their parks. For
instance, in Major's Hill Park, over the past three years, we have invested
$4.5 million to make it the kind of park we want in that area. We are investing
money in Jacques-Cartier Park on the Quebec side. We just completed
Confederation Park, where we have the ice sculptures today. Over the past three
years, we have spent almost $4 million to provide for the right mixture of
grass and hard surfaces, as well as the electrical and other items required to
make it the kind of park we want in the capital.
There are 34 parks in the national capital area, including Major's Hill, Nepean
Point, Jacques-Cartier, Wellington Street, Park Garden of the Provinces, War
Memorial, Confederation Square, Bridge Park, Peace-keeping Monument, Courtyard,
and all of those are within walking distance, anywhere between five and ten
minutes, from the Daly site. Some others are farther out, such as Vincent
Massey Park, but none of them is farther than a 15-minute drive away.
The colour photograph we have provided shows the green area in the core area on
both sides of the river. All of that is owned by the National Capital
Commission. An arrow points to the Daly site. It is at the corner of two main
intersections, Sussex and Rideau, right on Confederation Boulevard. Immediately
behind it is a large park, Major's Hill Park. That does not take into account
the list of parks I gave you.
Parliament Hill is a large facility which is used for Winterlude and for the
Canada Day celebrations. We provide an extensive green space in the area.
The Chairman: I once read that Ottawa had, by far, more park space per capita
than any other city in Canada. Is that so?
Mr. Beaudry: I do not doubt that for a minute. In Ottawa-Hull we have 600 square
kilometres of open space, in comparison to 300 square kilometres in Washington,
and to 300 square kilometres in Mexico City.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: If I may, I have prepared a sheet which is by no means
an exhaustive comparison, but it contains numbers which are provided by the FCM
to my office. It is simply a short table comparing Ottawa with the former
cities of East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, York, Burlington and
Windsor, all in Ontario. These, for the most part, are suburban areas. I am
referring to the document which is now being circulated.
The Chairman: Did you prepare this?
Mr. Émard-Chabot: These numbers were given to us by FCM, Federation of
Senator Taylor: This photo was taken prior to the "Fort Knox" that is
being built by the American government. Did you have anything to do with
designing that structure?
Mr. Beaudry: No. We are still working on design. We are working on the capital
plan at this point in time. It should be tabled sometime this year. Every eight
to ten years, the National Capital Commission reviews its plan.
Senator Taylor: Was this photo taken prior to the start of the construction of
Mr. Beaudry: I cannot say when the picture was taken. Obviously this picture
represents what presently exists. You can see Confederation Boulevard and the
crossing on the hill side. As it stands now, that is all green space.
The Chairman: The document entitled "Parks in Ottawa" describes how
this city compares to other cities in North America. Please explain these
Mr. Émard-Chabot: This table was sent to us by the FCM. I had some
discussions with the representative regarding what they included as a "park"
in the other cities. The calculation we made with the City of Ottawa and NCC,
indicates 3.88 hectares per thousand residents. In the other municipalities, we
tried to narrow down what they considered to be a park to see if we were
comparing apples to apples. For the most part, we are. Windsor, I was told,
includes a rather large waterfront area.
Comparing central cores, which is probably more telling, Ottawa has 1.35
hectares per thousand residents and Toronto has .6, so they have less than
half. It gives a sense of how much there is and visually you can see, but if
you look at other suburban municipalities, such as North York and Scarborough,
they barely have one-quarter of what we provide. It is very telling.
Senator Andreychuk: I would ask Councillor Émard-Chabot: Do you view the
downtown core and the Byward Market area, the area that you represent, equal to
other areas of similar activity in Canada, or do you deem that to be something
special and unique to Canada?
Mr. Émard-Chabot: The Byward Market the longest continually operating
market in North America. Because of its history, because of what it still is
today, and because of its proximity to the parliamentary precinct, personally,
I view it as quite unique.
Senator Andreychuk: The last time you testified, a point troubled me greatly.
You indicated that one of your objections to a park at the Daly site was not
the cost factor but the fact that a green site would attract vagrants and some
"undesirable" activity to that area, yet you were in favour of some
Mr. Émard-Chabot: Within a building.
Senator Andreychuk: Why do you think that simply not building the park is one
solution to the problem of vagrancy?
Mr. Émard-Chabot: I do not believe it is a solution to the problem at
all. Homeless people congregating there was not my main concern. I raised it at
the end of my presentation as one of the concerns. Certainly, spaces left
public without supervision do often create safety hazards if they are not
The issue of homelessness has hit Ottawa, as it has many large Canadian cities,
and we have seen a dramatic increase over the last two and a half years. The
reality is that shelters funded by local tax dollars cannot keep up with the
demand. They are turning people away. We have inadequate daytime facilities.
Most shelters only provide shelter at night. During the day, homeless people
literally live on the streets with little in the way of support or services
being provided to them. I am quite aware of their plight. It is a violent
milieu, and many of them are beaten. Their lives are certainly not pleasant.
My concern with the regard the Daly site is not that it would increase the
number of the homeless or that it would be an additional problem, but that it
would be an unprogrammed public space. How can we be sure that this park will
not become a hazard for people in the area and is not used for other
activities? The police would confirm that Mackenzie Street is the street for
male prostitution in Ottawa, and this site is 50 feet upstream from Mackenzie.
Yes, there are real concerns about what might happen if the park is built and
it is and poorly designed.
Senator Andreychuk: Is there a similar problem in Major's Hill park?
Mr. Émard-Chabot: There has been in the past. We have increased patrols.
There were murders in the park, and people were being thrown over or were
falling over the hill. Perhaps the NCC could speak to the changes they have
made to the infrastructure as far as lighting is concerned. Improvements have
Am I saying that the Daly site would automatically become a problem? No. I am
merely indicating that it would become another unprogrammed, downtown space in
an area that is already quite vulnerable.
Senator Andreychuk: If I understand you, you are not saying that the Daly site
itself is a problem. Another pervasive problem needs to be dealt with, whether
in Ottawa or elsewhere, but the Daly site has nothing unique to contribute to
Mr. Émard-Chabot: It would simply offer another space for activity. As I
said, prostitution occurs 50 feet upstream from that location right now.
Senator Andreychuk: You have provided us with comparisons of cities.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: It is incomplete. We tried to get the latest census
numbers from the FCM on the now amalgamated Toronto municipalities.
Unfortunately, they were unable to get that to us in time for today's meeting.
Senator Andreychuk: I find it interesting that you have only compared Ottawa to
Toronto and not to other cities in Canada or North America. I am from
Saskatchewan, and believe me, there is more to Canada than Ontario.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: The e-mail we sent to the FCM asked if they could
provide us with a table comparing cities in Canada and North America. What they
e-mailed back to us is the table you have in front of you. The only
non-Ontario, non-Canadian city they provided was Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I will be blunt: We did not spend hours on this. We wanted to get a sense of how
we compared with other cities. If you want more substantive information, I
would urge the committee to ask for it. You have much better research
facilities than we do.
Senator Andreychuk: Would you agree with me that perhaps the exercise is
irrelevant because we are not talking about a major park along a river edge? We
are talking about a space that borders an area that is historically
significant, is a tourist destination, and is in a high density area with
commercial and retail. The question is: What would be the best use of that
space? My concern is not whether we have more trees in that area than we do in
Vancouver or Regina. To find that information would be a needless exercise.
This is a historic area. It is where most tourists go. It is a high traffic area
that has slowly been eked into being used for other purposes. Do you not think
that some creative utilization rather than commercial utilization would be of
benefit in the long run? I realize that in the short run it will put a strain
on your budget.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: Paying for this is not just my taxpayers' dilemma, it
is every Canadian taxpayer's dilemma. I do not see this as an "Ottawa-only"
Senator Andreychuk: You represent certain taxpayers.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: The taxes from a building like this would not be enough
to make a huge difference. I do not see the argument as being purely related to
what this site will produce as far as taxes are concerned.
Part of your question was whether the exercise illustrated in this table is
irrelevant. I do not think it is irrelevant to compare it to other cities. You
are trying to make the case as to whether or not a park is needed on this site
-- that is the spirit of your bill -- and whether or not it is appropriate. I
made my presentation last the committee hearing I attended, and I will not go
through that again. I think my position is quite clear. I do not think it is
The area is unique, yes. It is unique in Canada because of its history. Is the
site itself unique? It is no more unique than the rest of the fabric in which
it sits. This is a commercial street. This was a department store. There is
nothing uniquely historic about the Daly Building site. The building itself was
unique, but it has gone. Is the piece of land under it of any national historic
significance? At Senator Kenny's encouragement, after the last meeting I asked
Parks Canada for an inventory of everything they own. It was quite telling to
me that their mandate relates to pieces of our history. The Daly site was a
department store. With the demise of K-Mart, I do not think we will be turning
every K-Mart into a national historic site, so I think it has no value from
Its location is unique. What is done there must be done carefully. I, too, am
nervous about what the NCC is proposing and what it will look like. We at the
city have had contact with the NCC and tried to encourage them. The zoning on
the site reflects council's intention in that the setbacks are quite strict.
You cannot build on the entire site, as Mr. Beaudry indicated. The setbacks are
there to protect some of the key views in the area. Is it giving carte blanche
to allow the NCC to build anything it wants on the site? Certainly not. I
recognize the unique impact of it. However, as I indicated earlier, the
concerns over parking and the links are quite real. The business community has
written to me -- I have received unsolicited letters in the last week --
indicating concerns about this piece of land becoming a park or a park-like
setting. There is a four metre difference from one sidewalk to the other, so it
could not be simply a grass-covered slope. It would require some more ornate
Senator Andreychuk: Would it be fair to say that the concern of commercial
ventures in that area is the ongoing development in the area and what it will
do to the viability of the Byward Market? I recall debates on whether there
should be more restaurants and entertainment in the market area as opposed to
retaining the unique character of the area. Surely what is done on this space is
important to the whole viability of the Byward Market.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: Definitely. On that we agree.
Senator Andreychuk: Was there a reaction from your constituents as to the
viability of the American embassy being built in the market area?
Mr. Émard-Chabot: The rezoning of that site was before my tenure. I
remember the debate quite clearly when council allowed for an increase in
height. The Americans ended up not using that increase because the building
would have been overbearing on the site.
People become attached to what they see. There were historic buildings along
I will not defend the American embassy. It will look like an American embassy;
there is no doubt about that. It has that neo-classical Washington look on the
Sussex Drive side of the building.
The one saving grace is that the York Street vista will be preserved with the
steps leading up to it, with the Library of Parliament and Major's Hill Park in
the background. Luckily that one vista, which is an historic vista, will be
maintained. All the old pictures of the market show that view.
The other streets have never opened up. We have discovered these new views and
have grown attached to them.
Senator Andreychuk: If the NCC were to continue with a commercial venture, what
role would you play?
Mr. Émard-Chabot: Very little. If the proponents are within the zoning
envelope and the height and the setbacks are all respected, then they have the
right, under the Planning Act, to build. We would have a say in the footprint
of the building through the site plan process. Issues such as how the building
is laid out, how the access to the building is provided for pedestrians and
vehicles, as well as garbage, would all be considered. We would have some say
on the aesthetics, given the heritage nature of the site. That is the extent of
it. If they are within the envelope, they have the right to build.
Senator Andreychuk: Mr. Beaudry, you are here to speak to us about commercial
ventures. You say that you have some proposals before you. It is difficult to
determine what is in the best interests of that site without having access to
all of that information. Do we have an over-optimistic developer or a very
realistic developer? Your decisions are being made without the benefit of public
input, except by way of a broad-brush approach. Yet, you claim you must give
this site up because of the necessity to balance your budget, and you feel that
you can offset that with existing parks.
Mr. Beaudry: It is not necessarily a question of balancing the budget although,
of course, the budget is important. If you look at the numbers we provided to
you, the NCC, like any other federal Crown corporation or agency, is strapped
We are convinced that the best use of that site must be related to commercial
activities instead of a park. There is a park right behind the Château
Laurier, which is quite large in itself -- Major's Hill Park. It is a heritage
park. It has been there forever and is being used extensively by the people of
Ottawa for all kinds of activities. We feel this small site would serve the
population better with the activities that will take place in that building,
taking into account the setbacks I have talked about, such as the size of the
building, which will be much smaller, as well as the vista and the view that we
will keep of the Château from the market and from Colonel By Drive. It
will be used as a link between the Congress Centre and the other facilities
around it. That is why we feel the site should be developed and not left as a
Of course, money also is important. From 1990 to 1998 we spent $23.7 million on
Confederation Boulevard alone. In the next five years, we plan to spend an
additional $22 million to complete Confederation Boulevard. For an agency and a
Crown corporation such as ours, these are large numbers. If we feel the
population will be well served by accepting a proposal to create activities and
tourist attractions for the people of Canada, then we should use this
opportunity to generate those revenues.
Senator Andreychuk: I have some concern as to whether it supports the Convention
Tourists do not visit Major's Hill Park as often as they walk along Wellington
Street or go to the Byward Market. If we can remind them of something
significant, unique and important to Canada, should we not stretch ourselves to
Mr. Beaudry: We are trying to do that. There is ample space from Rideau Street
up to these buildings to showcase Canadian heritage.
In that vein, three years ago the NCC became involved in a program called "Canada
and the World". At Rideau Falls, which is in front of City Hall, we
showcased the role of Canadians around the world, be it in peace-keeping, space
agencies, or helping Third World countries through CIDA. We intend to have a
pavilion in that area to show Canadians and visitors the roles that we play
around the world. We do this all the time. We use Major's Hill Park and
Jacques-Cartier Park for that purpose. At the Tulip Festival in the spring, we
use Commissioner's Park for that purpose. We feel that we have done a fairly
good job of showcasing the country and the capital to all Canadian and other
visitors to this area.
Senator Hays: I do not see some of these issues as being relevant.
The NCC's position is that they see this land as being best disposed of to the
private sector. You say that, at recent meetings at the Holiday Inn, the public
expressed the view that they did not favour a park. As well, the business
community does not favour a park. We all have in our minds a blurred image of
what is a park, but I suppose a park could be many things.
In my mind, the issue comes down to this: Who would control this particular
piece of land: the City of Ottawa, if it were sold to a developer under their
zoning and other powers, or the NCC, which has a different set of powers? Both
the city and the NCC could develop a park in such a way that it would probably
look the same in terms of whether it was partly commercial, wholly commercial,
had parking, had linkages or did not have linkages.
When I was first approached on this issue, the proposal seemed logical. Why not
have a park? It sounded like a good idea. However, I am hearing now that it is
not a good idea. It has a lot to do with the what we are talking about now --
that is, the detail surrounding the use of the site. Recreational activities is
one of the private proposals under consideration. Why would you not keep the
area and use it and for linkages and work with the community as you do in other
Mr. Beaudry: We are not disposing of the land. We will grant a 66-year lease to
Neither the ex-mayor nor the present mayor supports a park. That also applies to
the business community. The ex-chairman of the RMOC -- and, I do not know the
position of the present chairman -- did not support a park at that site. He
felt it was more important for that site to be used for commercial activity. We
agree with that, having gone through the consultation process which we
followed. I am not sure that the city, at this point in time, would be happy to
undertake the maintenance of an additional park or invest money into one. I am
sure they are also strapped for money.
We have been under pressure for a while to do something about the Daly site, and
rightfully so. People are tired of seeing a fence. They would like to see
something on the site. The population is correct; however, we do not have the
money to invest in the site at this time.
Senator Hays: Who will determine the use of the land for the 66 years of the
lease, the NCC or the City of Ottawa? Why would the NCC not want to be in the
driver's seat on that?
Mr. Beaudry: We own the land. It is our job to determine the land use for all
federal properties in the region. We are responsible for determining not only
the use of that property, which is owned by us, but also the use of any federal
property in the National Capital Region, be it owned by Agriculture Canada,
National Defence, or whatever other department or corporation. That is our
Senator Hays: Would that give you power, then, to say, "We want a prominent
dedication of the site to honour the "Persons Case", or something
Mr. Beaudry: The site was offered to honour the "Persons Case" on the
site in front of what, eventually, was to become a building. However, I
understand that the house and the Senate chose to have the "Persons Case"
memorial site on the hill. I met with Mrs. Wright a couple of times on this
matter. That was their choice. They were not talking about using the entire Daly
site, but using the front of the site for this monument to the "Persons
Case". That matter was discussed.
Senator Hays: Did you say that the city would be better able to make these
decisions than the NCC?
Mr. Beaudry: I do not think so. I think the NCC can take care of itself. We used
to lease many sites to the city for park purposes, that is, for city parks, for
baseball diamonds, and for those kinds of parks. The major parks in the city of
Ottawa are owned by the National Capital Commission, not the city.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: There are many facets to your question. As any land
owner, the NCC is in the driver's seat as to what happens to that site, with
one exception, namely, the Senate and the decisions you will be making with
respect to this federal piece of property.
Senator Hays: To correct that, it will be a decision of Parliament and not just
of the Senate.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: I did not want to refer to the other house. I used to
be a guide and I remember the protocol around that.
The NCC is definitely in the driver's seat. The city can impose restriction
through zoning as far as the envelope is concerned, the size of building, the
height and the building mass and, through our heritage controls, we will have
some say in the aesthetics of it. The final decision, however, is for the NCC
or for Parliament, if that is the wish of Parliament.
If it is the wish of Parliament that this remain open space, the traditional
concept of a park with a green patch and trees is not what will happen on that
site. There is a four-metre drop from one side of the park to the other. It
will have to be stepped in some way. Certainly, it can be made aesthetically
What you are hearing on my part, as a councillor for the area who is into his
second term, is a recognition of the goal of the senators who have put forward
this bill. Senator Andreychuk put it quite well. A huge number of people walk
from Parliament to the Byward Market. All Canadians who come to the capital
will walk that route at some point.
As a nation, we tend to understate our accomplishments. In my opening remarks
last November and December, I tried to say that commemorating great Canadians
on that site, if that is the objective, can be achieved in combination with the
other objective. That is what I am trying to impress upon you, namely, you are
still within the downtown core of a city. This city happens to be Ottawa. It
happens to be the capital, and it happens to be within a stone's throw of this
building. You are, nonetheless, within a city which must function and which has
needs. One of those needs is parking and linkages. That site is a pivotal site
for long-term development of the downtown.
I think we can balance the objectives of the senators who have presented this
bill to you, which is that when Canadians walk by, they are reminded of great
Canadians throughout our history. We do not have a walk of great Canadians and
it is something that we should have in Ottawa. This should be the site.
Everyone would pass by it, there is no doubt about that. You can balance that
with the needs of the city. I am not talking about the corporation of the City
of Ottawa, I am talking about the urban fabric within which we are situated.
Those needs are real. If you hear from the business community, you will
understand why they believe this site is pivotal to them.
There are two objectives, and I think they can both work on the site. That
decision will be left up to you. If Parliament decides that this is to be an
open space, aesthetically, it can be made to look pleasing. I have no concerns
about that. That is not the issue. The opportunity that would be lost for my
business constituents, however, is of great concern. This is why I have spent
hours here with you, trying to make that point.
Senator Hays: Clause 2 of the bill is not specific. It refers to the National
Parks Act, but I do not know how much flexibility there is in that act. It is
an interesting question to which I do not know the answer, namely, concerning
the owner of the land controlling its use in a way that is compatible with the
communities' needs and with recognizing parks, in particular, those
commemorating our history.
The Chairman: In the event that this committee determines not to hear from some
entities who wish to attend our hearings, I would share with the committee
letters which I have received from the Ottawa-Carleton Board of Trade. They
have expressed the wish to attend our committee hearings. Do you know what
their position is?
Mr. Émard-Chabot: The last time I spoke with their executive director,
their position was supportive of a building on the site for the reasons I have
stated. The underground infrastructure cannot financially function and not
enough public money can be made available to make it function without some
component above ground.
The underground is key, as is animation at street level, which could be
accommodated in open space with some kiosks or something of that type. The need
for animation and some programming at street level is important.
The last time I was here, I talked about traffic and the fact that, if we
conceive of a park or an open space, the idea of this as a resting spot or a
place to escape must be put aside. It is a unique site with respect to where it
is physically located in relation to our transportation network. I have here the
traffic counts taken from 1996 to 1997. In the 12-hour period from 7 a.m. to 7
p.m., the numbers are consistently from 25,000 to 35,000 vehicles per day. Many
of those vehicles are buses going through the transit route on Rideau Street.
That is a factor which you should consider. I will leave these numbers with the
The Chairman: Do you know the position, with respect to this park, of the Byward
Market Business Improvement Area, which I see represents 350 businesses in the
Mr. Émard-Chabot: They would be against it. I have been on their board
for three years.
The Chairman: I take it that the Château Laurier is against it as well.
Mr. Émard-Chabot: I received a letter last week indicating that they are
not in favour of a park.
The Chairman: Gentlemen, thank you for taking time from your busy schedules to
be with us.
Our next witness will be Councillor Cannings. Please proceed with your
submission, Mr. Cannings.
Mr. Richard Cannings, Municipal Councillor, Ward Rideau: I would begin by saying
that I have no axe to grind in the sense that I have a tremendous working
relationship with the NCC, but in this instance I do not, unfortunately, share
Before I became a councillor, I was president of Heritage Ottawa. As a group,
Heritage Ottawa was probably more intimately involved in the preservation of
the Daly Building than any other group of people. From an
architectural-historical perspective, the Daly Building was probably the most
important building in Ottawa. It was the first steel skeleton building in Ottawa
and was extraordinarily important in the evolution of architecture. At one
time, it had more glass than Macey's in New York. When it was demolished, Jean
Piggot, then the chairman of the NCC, presented me with book-ends made from the
windowsill of one of the windows of the Daly building. It was a bitter sweet
occasion. I felt as though she had delivered the head of my brother.
I was passionately involved in the attempts to preserve that building. The NCC
had someone on site who was willing to lease that space, and failed.
This is a problematic site. It was acquired, as you learned today, by the
federal government in 1921. It was a department store, but it is not well known
that it was actually three different department stores at different times, and
each one failed. It was an economically unviable site. There is no parking at
the site. It is bordered by three busy streets; Mackenzie, Sussex and Rideau.
It sort of plays the role of a fire hydrant rather than a building. It is just
there. People go by it rather than into it. You would have to explore the
reasons why the federal government acquired it, but it seems to me that it was a
dog. They acquired it because there was no other use for it, and they probably
thought that they could find some future use for it.
There have always been problems renting the building right beside it, where Santé
is located. Therefore, the economic viability of the development of the site
must be considered.
After having fought so long and hard to preserve the building, when they actual
tore it down I rose in defence of the open space. To my mind, it offered a sort
of glade in the forest. You could see, for the first time, the splendours of
the neo-renaissance revival style of Union Station, the gothic perpendicular of
the Connaught Building, the building where Santé is located, and the
Louis Sullivan look-alike building where the transportation building is
located. For the first time, you could catch, in a glimpse, perhaps 60 years of
architectural history. Those buildings are wonderful to look at. Up to that
point, the Daly Building blocked them.
When you consider Confederation Square, it is an abject failure, it just does
not work. A square denotes a place where people sit, walk and generally
congregate. However, Confederation Square is like a stepping stone across a
river. It is bounded by three busy roads. Elgin Street -- on two sides -- is
crossed by pedestrians at the risk of being struck by a car. Now that there are
traffic lights it is a little more secure. However, people do not sit in
Confederation Square which is a very important urban space with a national
avocation. It is used five or six times a year when visiting dignitaries place
wreaths at the War Memorial. Then it is forgotten. It is woefully underused. You
have convened a Senate committee to consider the future of this 1.1 acre, but
no one has mentioned Confederation Square.
I think it would be exciting to have a park there. The previous witness,
Councillor Émard-Chabot, mentioned the steep drop that would need to be
terraced, but in the eyes of an architectural landscaper that would be a plus.
You would have a terraced, natural area for seeding. It could be our Spanish
steps. One constituent has suggested building an ice sculpture at the site. You
could have an abstract ice sculpture unique to Canada and, in particular, to
Ottawa since we are, like it or not, the second coldest capital city in the
Although some people talk of this as being a link, I think of it more as a
hinge. It is such an important spot that to put a banal building there, seven
storeys, something like an upright matchbox, would be a missed opportunity.
As to parking, I do not want to contradict the chairman, but who would build a
$12-million parking lot on what could be a four-, five-, or seven-storey
building? The costs would never be recouped.
The NCC constantly promises one thing and produces another. I have great respect
for them, but often what you get is not what you were told you would be
getting. They say they have three people on the short list. Perhaps I am being
naive, but I do not know of anyone who would spend all that money on parking,
knowing that it will not be recouped for years to come. The Rideau Centre offers
cut-rate parking and on-street parking is cut-rate. I am not convinced of the
viability of that proposition.
It is difficult for the Senate of Canada to micro-manage the urban planning of a
1.1 acre site in the downtown core of a city as complex as Ottawa, with the
overlapping jurisdictions, but that 1.1 acre is a very small part of the
inventory of the NCC. It would be an even smaller part of the inventory of
If you have 450 parking spots, and apparently that is one of the proposals, the
streets would be extremely busy. Where would the access and the egress be to
and from that building without impeding the traffic on Sussex, on Mackenzie, or
on Rideau? It is quite a substantial in-flow of traffic.
The Canada Lands Development dedicated a lane of traffic to the World Exchange
Centre to facilitate the access and egress of parking to that building. I do
not think we could afford, from a traffic engineering point of view, to give
that same latitude, that same ability to close off one lane on Sussex and/or
Mackenzie in order to accommodate that building.
It seems to me -- I have not seen the designs -- if they have 40 per cent
landscaping, which is commendable, with a seven-storey building, the building
would look like one of the flat iron buildings such as the ones we see in
Toronto that are about six feet wide.
That is my humble opinion, as a councillor for the area, a former councillor and
a former president of Heritage Ottawa.
Senator Andreychuk: The National Arts Centre has vast parking with adequate
egress and access. Do you know who controls that?
The Senate has been considering using the parking space in the National Arts
Centre. Who controls that space?
The Chairman: We will take note of that and our assistant will look into that
Senator Hays: I am having trouble visualizing this site in its final form either
as a park or as a commercial development. You have described it in a certain
way. Others have described it in other ways. You suggest an ice sculpture, and
that sounds attractive. You say that if it were put to a commercial use it
would be difficult to build an attractive building. The witnesses from the NCC
and the city told us that this site is important in terms of developing
linkages with the Congress Centre, the Conference Centre and the Byward Market.
Since you seem to have a lot of architectural sensitivity, I am asking you how
much flexibility there is in terms of the physical development of this site.
You told us that, from an architectural point of view, since it is sloped, the
land it presents some interesting opportunities, as does our weather.
What about other issues in terms of it being a park? I do not know whether
parking can be resolved. Perhaps it could, but it would be at great expense.
What about tunnels and those other things that have been mentioned? It is an
awkward place, and your comment about Confederation Square is a good one. It is
dusty and it has a lot of exhaust fumes. It is not much of a people-place. I do
not think a park here would be a people-place either. How would you see it
developing in an optimal way, taking into consideration these other issues?
Mr. Cannings: The flaw in the linkages concept is that no study has been
completed, as the chairman said. These are ideas. The study that is being done
by the private sector has not been completed. The linkage study is not even an
issue right now because there is no hard proposal to make. Senator Kenny
mentioned that it could go under the Union Station; however, the answer was that
it could not. There has been no feasibility study, no proposal, nothing. It is
only an idea right now.
Senator Hays: Is it a good idea?
Mr. Cannings: Will it add to the number of tourists coming to Ottawa, or will it
facilitate the accessibility of tourists and people coming to Ottawa? It would
probably facilitate the manoeuvrability of tourists, but is it necessary?
Tourists have been getting around on the surface for a hundred years. Is it
really necessary to spend all that money? It sounds like a good idea, but is it
really so necessary?
As far as a linkage with the market is concerned, I do not believe there is any
plan to construct a tunnel into the market. They were to link up the Westin
Hotel and the Rideau Centre and the Château Laurier, which would require
going through solid bedrock; a tunnel already exists from the Union Station.
From a feasibility or economic point of view, would it be better to use the
existing tunnel or to start a new tunnel? Where would it go? From the Château
Laurier to the Daly site, and then where? Do you go to the Santé
restaurant, or do you cut across under? Even if there was a park, would it
eliminate the linkages? You could still have a tunnel under a park. I do not
think it would eliminate it. I do not think that a park and the linkages
concept are mutually exclusive.
The Chairman: You also fought to keep the Daly Building. I may not be as cynical
as you about modern architecture, but if someone were to construct another
Daly-like building, an attractive building that was in context and in harmony
with its setting, not stainless steel and glass and all that modern stuff that
turns us off so much, but a sensitive building, set back, perhaps even
resembling the Daly Building, would that be unacceptable to you?
Mr. Cannings: Would modern architecture be acceptable?
The Chairman: No, I am referring to a building that is similar to the Daly
Building, with older architecture, bricks and masonry and stone. Let us not
prejudge what would be there. I am proposing that an attractive,
architecturally sympathetic, harmonious building, not unlike the Daly Building,
were set back and put on that site: How would you feel about that?
Mr. Cannings: I would not be adverse to what you are saying. However, there is
many a slip between the cup and the lip.
The Chairman: We cannot presume what will be put there because they cannot show
us. We do not know. However, new buildings are not necessarily all glitz and
lights and neon. New buildings can be sensitive to an area as well, I am sure.
Thank you very much for your presentation.
Our next witnesses are from the Famous 5 Foundation. Please proceed with your
Ms Frances Wright, President and CEO, Famous 5 Foundation: Honourable senators,
the Famous 5 Foundation appreciates the opportunity, once again, to have
senators talking about the Persons Case and the women who strengthened
democracy for Canada. As you know, they were largely responsible for securing
the vote for women in Western Canada, which led to women getting the vote in
the rest of Canada and the opening of the doors to the Senate.
I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity, hearing the voices from
Emily and Nellie and Henrietta and Irene and Louise, to pay tribute to the
women senators who are here today. Sadly for Canada, only 49 out of 412
senators have been women since 1929. Indeed, only 28 of the 102 sitting
senators are women. Women are able to sit as senators because of the work of the
I would like to reinforce why we decided to put the statutes to the five on
Parliament Hill, and my colleague, Lynn Webster, will talk about the
opportunity for commemorating ordinary or extraordinary Canadians through the
concept of the Persons Park.
After ten years of political activity, the appointment of Emily Murphy to the
Senate did not occur, so she was forced to take another route and bring
together five other incredible women.
Louise McKinney was the first women ever to be elected. Alberta held the first
election, on June 7, 1917, in which women could vote, run for office, and be
elected. Two women were elected, one being Louise McKinney. She became a member
of the Famous Five.
Henrietta Muir Edwards is largely credited with establishing the prototype for
the YWCA, but she became an expert in laws as they pertain to women and
children. Lawyers often consulted her, although she was not a lawyer. The next
time you are at 24 Sussex, you might want to look for Henrietta, because it was
her father-in-law who sold 24 Sussex to the Government of Canada for future
Irene Parlby, the first woman to serve as the president of United Farm Women of
Alberta, when elected in 1921 became the first woman in Alberta to be a cabinet
minister, the second in the commonwealth. Being an immigrant, she was
passionate about Canada. She wanted to develop a Canada that brought the best
from the old world and combined it with the existing society of Canada.
Last, but certainly not least, is Nellie McClung. People say that without her
humour and skill it would have been a long time before women would have been
given the vote. While she was campaigning in 20 American cities in the 1917,
she drew crowds of 300 to 3,000, advocating the principles of democracy, i.e.
that women should have the vote. During the 1920s and 1930s, she was an equally
aggressive advocate for the right of oriental Canadians and Indo-Canadians to
receive the federal vote. They did not receive the vote until 1947. She was
also one of the few leaders who spoke about the growing surge of anti-Semitism
These five were truly nation-builders.
We looked at the variety of sites available in Ottawa and greatly appreciated
the offer by the NCC and the offer by Senators Kenny and Andreychuk to consider
the Persons Case. We felt that a memorial to these five women and their
specific accomplishments belonged on Parliament Hill. Thank you very much for
supporting that resolution prior to Christmas. You did so on the 148th
anniversary or birthday of Henrietta Muir Edwards. It is most important that
these women are honoured on Parliament Hill because of efforts respecting the
vote and because they opened the doors to the Senate. Canadians have come to
appreciate the Persons Case as a whole different myth and legend.
Ms Lynn Webster, Director, Famous 5 Foundation: What began as a legal challenge
to enable women to become senators ended as a symbol of the right of women to
participate in all facets of life, including public life. What began as a legal
challenge to permit women to serve as lawmakers signifies the right of every
citizen to participate in the formal decision-making bodies of our country.
What began as a legal challenge became a catalyst, an energy for change, choice
and new opportunities.
The word "person" has a certain magic to it. It is simple, yet in some
ways it is a complicated concept. In some societies, being a person meant that
you had to have certain assets -- a specific age or gender -- or go through
excruciating trials. Thank goodness we live in Canada.
By recalling the challenge of the Persons Case, many more Canadians became
interested, became involved, on a personal and individual basis, and celebrated
its triumph in their lives. Therefore, the Famous 5 Foundation is pleased that
Senators Kenny and Andreychuk also wish to honour the important symbolism of
the Persons Case. We are pleased, too, that they have seized this opportunity
to present this idea through the medium of a park -- a Persons Park.
We can imagine the number of citizens travelling here to view the park and the
photos and letters that will tell a story of Canadians, their great
achievements, and how one becomes a person. How appropriate that the first
Persons Park should be in Ottawa, where personhood was legislated by Parliament
and defined by the Supreme Court.
We hope that a Persons Park in Ottawa will be the beginning of many diverse
tributes to nation builders and their achievements. Equally, we hope that it
will inspire others to conquer barriers to full participation throughout
We wish to thank you for supporting the resolution to place the statutes of the
famous five on Parliament Hill, and for considering today the possibilities of
creating a Persons Park.
Senator Taylor: Perhaps the witnesses could elaborate on the theme of a Persons
Park being larger than the group of five. What would the park highlight?
Ms Webster: Many individuals in Canada have made significant contributions. The
focus of the Famous 5 Foundation is: ideas are free; they are bigger than us.
It is not just that this one event was significant. Many events in Canada have
produced significant Canadian heroes and resulted in significant achievements.
We want to reiterate some of the comments made earlier about the need for
Canadians to consider their history, and to acknowledge their heroes in a
significant and a realistic way, so that their achievements can be appreciated
by Canadians and visitors from other countries.
Ms Wright: In some ways this is quintessentially Canadian in that we are not
asking that this park be named after specific individuals; we are asking that
it be named after a concept and a principle very dear to Canada: Citizens are
equal and have the right to participate in all facets of life.
Not only is this a commemoration of what has happened, but, hopefully it will
also be the impetus for the future. People will say that these persons were
able to break the barriers that prevented them from full participation in
At the Olympics, for example, this is the first time women have participated in
hockey. In the year 2000, women will participate for the first time in
weightlifting and other sports.
The Persons Park talks to all Canadians. It tells them that in Canada women can
Recently, the Famous 5 Foundation held an event for young women between the ages
of 17 and 21.They were exposed to 40 women from the community with different
backgrounds, as well as a keynote speaker. We asked them to complete a
questionnaire about what they had learned. Two comments were most prevalent.
First, one young women said she did not know there were so many successful,
happy women in Calgary. They only met 40 such women, they did not meet the 400
who attend our luncheons on a regular basis. Second, two immigrants said they
were so happy that they came to Canada, a country where women count and where
people are important.
Again, what a quintessential Canadian idea to have a Persons Park that
acknowledges the roles of citizens, their aspirations and achievements, and the
contributions they made in helping to build Canada.
The Chairman: My question has nothing to do with the park or the importance of
the Persons Case, which is so significant to Canadian history. Articles have
been written about some of these individuals we have turned into heroines.
Indeed, in some respects, they are heroines. However, I have read Emily
Murphy's book entitled, The Black Candle where she talks about the support for
eugenics and the sterilization of the mentally defective, and I have witnessed
rambling anti-Chinese sentiment and anti-Semitism. How do you respond to that?
I am not trying to shatter heroines, because indeed they are; but, on the other
side of the coin, recent editorials have raised these issues and I think they
should be brought forward.
Ms Wright: I am thrilled you ask that question. It is a question that we are not
afraid to answer.
When you talk about the writings of Emily Murphy in terms of racism and the
milieu at that time, she was simply reflecting what most Canadians thought.
The writings in The Black Candle were very important because she was the first
Canadian to do a major study on the drug trafficking industry in Canada. You
must remember that, as a woman judge, day after day she saw young women coming
in as drug addicts, prostitutes and vagrants. That was her view of society. She
simply reflected the general opinions of Canadians, unlike Nellie McClung, who
took a leadership role in saying that some of these attitudes must change.
The Black Candle describes specifically the conditions in which she saw Chinese
dope addicts living. It was not a description of the average Chinese family. In
fact, she writes about them and about other races as being composed of fine
people who in desperate circumstances would never resort to such criminal
As to the sterilization and eugenics questions, those were policies which were
in place which were propagated by Charles Darwin's cousin. They were policies
in Great Britain, France and many U.S. states. Both California and New York
were very advanced states. It was on the books in Alberta and B.C. as well.
However, these women came from a principle of love. They did not hate. They did
not seek to work against any particular group or exclude them from the process
of full citizenship and full participation. They worked to make life better for
individuals as they came across them. They thought one of the ways to help
mentally challenged or physically challenged females to deal with the harsh
realities of life would be to remove them from the possibility of being seduced,
sweet talked, coerced, raped, or the possibility of having children. In that
case, they as individuals would have great difficulty dealing with those
children and would have great difficulty performing the roles of motherhood. It
was from that point of view that they advocated some of the policies that we
find inappropriate today.
I ask the question: Is there one amongst you who feels comfortable enough with
everything you do and say today such that you are prepared to stand up and
claim that, 50 years from now, you guarantee that your views and your actions
will stand the test of time and will not be challenged?
The foundation has decided not to work to show the clay feet of other heroes but
to ask that the contributions and the achievements of these women be considered
as a whole and that they be recognized simply as being persons and, therefore,
as being humans and, therefore, as having frailties.
Ms Webster: As individuals, we recognize your comments. I personally recognize
some of those comments and have addressed them in terms of being involved with
the Famous 5 Foundation. I cannot condone some of the comments that were made
by the Famous Five at that level. However, I do admire their spirit of
individualism and their spirit of civic pride. They took an idea and carried it
forth, acting as individuals.
That is really the spirit for which these women should be remembered and that is
why we see theirs as such a great achievement. They show the power of the
individual citizen. When they are working for the right cause, for a good
cause, which in this case was equality for all, that is as inspiring today as it
The Chairman: Thank you for those very appropriate answers. Long after the
Famous Five and not until 1972 did the Province of Alberta decide to get rid of
its sterilization legislation. The feet of clay which you mentioned were found
on many people over those years. There is perhaps a lesson to be learned that
the prevailing thoughts of that day are now shown by history to be inappropriate
We have evolved; those principles are no longer acceptable. However, they should
not be allowed to diminish the great work done by these women for women
generally. I thank you for those important answers.
Senator Butts: I concur with all the things you have said about the Persons
Case. I agree with your efforts and I have expressed that publicly. We are not
here to judge the consciences or the actions of the people whom we celebrate --
Are you as distressed as I am that this cause -- a great historical cause
deserving of celebration -- has now become mired in the issues over an acre of
land which might be able to make a few dollars for someone? If you are so
distressed, are you prepared to suggest an alternative site, if this one
continues to be mired in the dollars issue?
Ms Wright: We are now raising $1 million for two statues commemorating the
Famous Five. One will be unveiled in Calgary on October 18, 1999, the 70th
anniversary of the Persons Case. The national statue will be unveiled here in
Ottawa, hopefully on Crocus Corner in front of the Senate, in the year 2000. We
have committed to raise the money for the production and installation of the
statues and for the initial landscaping, as well as for an endowment fund.
Our commitment to the Persons Park is more concerned with ideology, with
adopting the principle. We are very excited by the idea that people can be
remembered in a variety of ways. We were quite pleased when Senator Kenny
telephoned us last fall to inform us that consideration was being given to
developing a park to commemorate the Persons Case. It would be sad if an
opportunity like this went by and did not result in the commemoration of the
Persons Case as its impact has been explained in many ways.
Senator Kenny: I wish to thank Ms Wright and Ms Webster, both of whom have made
two appearances before this committee. The last time, they did not get a chance
to speak. I know they have made many other trips to Ottawa. I thank them for
bringing up this issue. It would not have appeared on its own on the Senate
Order Paper. Your work has made a big difference in how we see the issue. Thank
Senator Andreychuk: I made my comments, both in the Senate and in some of the
questioning here, about why I think a park commemorating the Persons Case is
I wish to make one thing clear: The Famous Five are honouring five women who had
the initiative and the vision to push and be persistent, to be identified. I do
not think they were thinking about the consequences of the case. They were
quite focused and they wanted to overcome very significant prejudices to them.
In that case, they were Canadians with their own flaws and dreams, but they
released a possibility that we can overcome whatever impediments we see.
As someone who comes from an immigrant background and who has studied the
Persons Case for a long time -- not focusing on the women but focusing on the
issue of equality and the ability that we can all, in our own way, if we
persevere, overcome prejudices, impediments and make Canada even better than
when we found it -- the Persons Case has been an important one. I am sure that
the chairman, who is a lawyer, has often alluded to it as a case of the release
of energy and possibilities for Canadians.
I was pleased to hear that the Famous Five will be honoured. A statue is a
significant way to do so. The foundation has determined where it wishes to
place that statue, and I support them in that process, as we all did in the
Senate by voting for the resolution. By commemorating the Persons Case, we will
commemorate not only the Famous Five but also Canadians and the energy that that
The site of that commemoration should be an educational tool. It should be a
point of honour and a place where people reflect on what it is to be Canadian
and the possibilities that Canada releases for all of us. I was excited by the
possibility of the Daly building site being chosen. It spurred me to get
involved with this.
I have also said that, in my opinion, there cannot be enough parks. The NCC
correctly says that they have parks throughout Ottawa. However, I am speaking
about a high-traffic, urban space. It is time that Canadians defined "park"
on a broader base than a wilderness look at greenery. It is how we use every
inch of the space that Canada has available for use.
If you have lived overseas, as I have, they always say, "In Canada you can
do anything because you have so much land." I do not think we should be
sloppy about any inch of Canadian soil. As you go through and look at all the
historic sites, the idea of blending what people are through the Persons Case,
from the significant point of what a park embodies and how we use the
environment to do so, brought together somewhere near Parliament Hill, is a
It is difficult today to argue against money. It is a precious commodity, one
that the government has little of and the taxpayers even less of. When one
balances that against what the Canadian dollar is doing and what it might do --
I consider the issue of money to be important.
In structuring the statue, the NCC talks about developers with all their
optimism. However, there is no real public way, except through these
individuals, to become involved in finding out what these developments are. The
Persons Case meant us getting involved. How do we get involved in protecting
and measuring what is best on that space?
Through this legislation, I hope that we, in the way that Senator Hays put it,
will look at where the accountability will lie. This proposed act -- and
Senator Kenny can speak to it more specifically -- puts the accountability with
the federal government in a way that neither the NCC nor the City of Ottawa
can. We can put it back in the hands of a more open environment where we can
monitor and measure. That does not mean that all possibilities of marrying it
with underground parking, et cetera, are excluded. All of those will be in the
realm of possibility -- that is, if there is a public accountability for that
space and a utilization of the space, as we are signalling there should be.
Senator Kenny: I should like to make a couple of comments about the bill itself
and why it was structured in the way it was.
We could have written the bill similar to this, directing the NCC to do
something. Instead, we chose to establish a national historic park under
section 2 of the National Parks Act. We did that with a specific purpose in
The property is owned by Her Majesty, and it would continue to be owned by Her
Majesty, but we liked the national parks process. We like it because it is more
open. We do not like the secrecy in the National Capital Commission. We feel
that the process that would be followed by Parks Canada would be a preferable
one. We have seen case after case where they have gone through extensive public
consultations. They have made sure that the community was comfortable with it
and have not proceeded until the community was comfortable with it.
As far as the specifics go, I would ask senators to remember that this is not a
money bill. Much of the discussion around the table has been: "Tell me
what the park will look like. Describe how this will function or how that will
function." All this piece of legislation proposes is to make a park. If the
bill is passed, the design will be left to the people of Parks Canada, with
whom this committee is very familiar. We have worked with them often. We have
seen them develop literally hundreds of other historic sites and other national
parks across the country, and develop them successfully. They will come forward
with a plan. Had we included one park bench in this bill or one tree, it would
have become a money bill. We have not done so. Basically, we are saying that we
have confidence that Parks Canada can come forward with something that will fit
and will work at that location.
We have heard testimony about a variety of possibilities that the NCC may or may
not be considering. Part of the difficulty is the secrecy that surrounds the
NCC. We have heard talk about a seven-storey building that will not obstruct
the view and the cost of constructing underground parking. This bill does not
preclude parking underground. If it turns out that the bill is passed and Parks
Canada wishes to have parking underground, they can do that. Parks Canada has a
park that runs right through the middle of Ottawa.
Last time we were here, we heard from Dave Day, the former superintendent of
Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. Prior to that, he was the
superintendent of the Rideau Canal Park that runs from the locks here right
through to Kingston. They have facilities within 100 yards of the location we
are talking about. He made it clear, in the letter put before the committee,
that Parks Canada could handle this and could develop it well. He went further
and said that they often work in conjunction with the NCC with regard to
landscaping, gardening, et cetera, and that they have a variety of agreements
to accommodate that.
The issue before this committee, I believe, is whether you want to have a
building on the site or a park on the site, without "park" being
I do not believe that it is appropriate for a committee such as this to try to
design a park. I believe that is far better left to the experts. Canada has a
group of experts who have demonstrated, at over 200 locations across the
country, that they can come up with terrific sites which Canadians enjoy and
visit on a regular basis. That is why I urge senators to consider this proposal
Senator Hays: I am looking at clause 2 of the bill to which Senator Kenny has
referred, which says that this land would be set aside as a national historic
park by the Governor in Council under and in compliance with subsection 9(1) of
the National Parks Act. It would have a name and there is reference to the
It is normal for a national historic site to have some physical relevance. This
is an abstract process of honouring an event important in our history. Would
that be unique as it relates to parks?How much flexibility would there be in
addressing the negative points respecting community issues which are being
brought to our attention if this site is developed as a park?
Senator Kenny: There would be a great deal of flexibility, Senator Hays. The key
issue here -- and it sounds almost trite, particularly when we have real estate
experts like the Chairman with us -- as with all real estate, is location,
location, location. This is a terrific location and the flexibility which the
National Parks Act gives Parks Canada is huge. We have seen them go through a
variety of permutations across the country where they have adapted to local
conditions and have gone out of their way to ensure that the concerns of
abutting residents, or interests that border on the park, are taken into
All the indications that we have received are that these views would be heard in
a public forum and that there would be a public discussion of all of them
before a final decision is made.
Senator Andreychuk: Senator Hays, were you saying that an event occurs on a
piece of land and then an historic park is built on it?
Senator Hays: I am only familiar with one historic park which celebrates an
historic site. They use archeologists and so on to preserve that history or
recreate it, as appropriate. This is not such a situation. This site is not a
national historic site. That was one of my questions.
Senator Andreychuk: The National Parks Act talks about historic sites. Perhaps
it is more happenstance that people have come forward and said that a
particular piece of land is significant because of the historic events that
took place on the land.
This may be a unique situation in that an "historic site" could be
interpreted differently. I do not think there is anything in the act to
preclude that. I believe that they simply have not done it in the past because
the issue has not been raised. We should not forget that the Persons Case took
place on Parliament hill. The Supreme Court made the decision just down the
street. The case then, of course, went to England. We are talking about a
Canadian concept. I do not think the language of the act precludes this. I am
not aware of any policy undertaking that precludes this and it is well within
the ambit of the term "historic" for it to be dealt with readily.
Senator Kenny: Parks Canada is in charge of 786 national historic sites across
The Chairman: I wish to thank you both once again.
Senators, that at this time we will proceed in camera to discuss other elements
of this bill.
The committee continued in camera.