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April 30, 2004

The National Capital Commission replies, without answering my question

I'll take a break today from sports entertainment news for a story about the National Capital Commission (NCC), the federal entity charged with improving the federal lands in our city. I wrote them a letter on Monday, April 19:


I was cycling on the pathway behind Parliament Hill yesterday, which has been blocked off just west of Bank Street apparantly because of falling rocks.

While I recognize that there is danger from falling rocks, I would have appreciated more warning about the pathway closure. I approached the closure from the east end of the pathway (Rideau Canal locks). There were no signs indicating that the pathway was closed ahead -- just an abrupt dead end once I reached the barrier blocking the path.

A sign -- or some kind of warning at the start of the path -- would have allowed me to choose an alternate route. Instead, I was forced to take a difficult, hilly detour up the back of Parliament Hill.

Nearly two weeks later, the NCC replied. But they didn't answer my question about signage -- they just explained that the closure was necessary for safety reason -- a fact that I acknowledged and accepted in my original letter!
Thank you for contacting the National Capital Commission (NCC).

A section of the Ottawa River Pathway located behind Parliament Hill was closed on Friday, March 26th, 2004 for safety and security reasons. Due to falling rocks, it was determined that this posed a serious threat to pathway users. It is also believed that the cliff is in need of stabilization work.

The NCC is working very closely with PWGSC to assess and remediate this unforeseen situation, as soon as possible. PWGSC will be conducting the necessary construction repairs to the cliff. We apologize for any inconveniences this temporary closure may cause. We will soon inform you on the status of the pathway and the next remediation steps to be undertaken.

Please note the pathway is partially open from the east by the Rideau Canal; however, users will be re-routed up the stairs and will be asked to continue their stroll on Parliament Hill itself.

We value and welcome your comments. If you have further questions or require clarification, please do not hesitate to contact us again, either by e-mail at info@ncc-ccn.ca or by phone at (613)239-5555 or toll free at 1800-704-8227 (Monday to Friday).

Information Services
National Capital Commission

I'm going to follow-up on this ... stay tuned for the response.

Follow-up: I e-mailed the NCC a reply to their response -- asking them to address my initial concern about lack of signage. Here's their response, sent within 24 hours:
Following a site visit to the area in question, the NCC has asked that an
additional sign be posted to inform of the closure of the pathway. This
signage will be posted on the east end of the pathway at the Sappers Bridge.
The NCC felt that the location going down the Canal lane just before going
under Sappers Bridge would provide sufficient notice of closure for the
public allowing one to choose an alternative route.

On a related note, I was cycling on the Ottawa River pathway heading westbound towards Lincoln Fields. All of a sudden, the paved path turns to gravel for about 500 metres. There's a sign at one end of the construction, but not at the other. And no suggestions for a detour on either end.

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