Hon. Andrew Cardozo: I rise today to draw your attention to the future of Wellington Street. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvent, reimagine and reinvigorate what is arguably the most important street in our country — the street in front of our Parliament Buildings to which all Canadians send their representatives — in order to turn it from a busy traffic corridor to a people place that focuses on who we are.
As a long-time resident of Ottawa, this is an issue that I have been working on for some time. I see the potential to make this an exciting destination for local residents and tourists alike.
In February of this year, the City of Ottawa voted to reopen Wellington Street to traffic, and earlier this month, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement Helena Jaczek informed the Mayor of Ottawa of the federal interest in purchasing the street to make it part of the Parliamentary Precinct, and asked for negotiations to this effect.
It is worth noting that over the decades, the federal government has purchased or expropriated many properties as it expanded the Parliamentary Precinct to advance the smooth functioning of our democracy. Instead, much to my disappointment, I see that in recent days the City of Ottawa has been spending thousands of dollars on repainting the lines, reinstalling traffic lights and removing the concrete security barriers. Sadly, this does not bode well for good faith negotiations.
In the coming days, I will be releasing a discussion paper which I have developed with former Ottawa municipal councillor Mathieu Fleury — putting forward a positive and exciting vision of a new, open and welcoming plaza on Wellington Street that is open to people and closed to vehicular traffic.
We hope that this paper will help both the federal and municipal governments imagine a Parliamentary Precinct that is built not around cars, buses and trucks, but around history, people and pride in our country and our nation’s capital.
Colleagues, I will share this paper with you in both official languages in the coming days, and I welcome all of the discussion that it may create. Thank you.