History of the Plan for Canada’s Capital

The Plan for Canada’s Capital 2017-2067 will lay out a long-term vision for the future of the Capital region. It follows the 1999 Plan for Canada’s Capital. The 1999 plan launched several projects that contributed to the Capital’s image as the seat of the government of Canada.

1999 — The Plan for Canada’s Capital: A New Century of Vision, Planning and Development

Major achievements from the implementation of the 1999 Plan for Canada’s Capital include the following:

  • the completion of Confederation Boulevard, the Capital’s ceremonial and discovery route
  • the acquisition of more land in Gatineau Park
  • the reconstruction and widening of the Champlain Bridge, with the addition of a third lane that is reversible in the direction of peak traffic
  • the cleanup of LeBreton Flats at the site of the Canadian War Museum, development of LeBreton Flats Park and launch of a residential development project
  • the redevelopment of Boulevard des Allumettières and Maisonneuve Boulevard and the installation of new public art
  • the acquisition of new lands in the Greenbelt to support the Mer Bleue Bog conservation site (recognized under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands).
Confederation Boulevard: ceremonial route connecting both shores of the Ottawa River and the downtown areas of Ottawa (in Ontario) and Gatineau (in Quebec).

1988 — Plan for Canada’s Capital: A Federal Land Use Plan

Vision: The 1988 plan focused on developing Canada’s Capital as a national symbol and a meeting place for Canadians. The Capital became a means to communicate Canada to Canadian and foreign visitors, and a place to be preserved for future generations.

The implementation of this plan helped to define an image of Canada’s Capital, in terms of its national significance and symbolic nature. The plan included the following elements:

  • celebrations and national outreach
  • restoration and beautification projects
  • work to preserve heritage buildings
  • major work on the rehabilitation of transportation and recreational pathway networks
  • enhancement of symbolically important lands as sites for national museums
  • interpretation programs and services for visitors to the Capital
  • identification of the site at LeBreton Flats for a national museum
National celebrations on Parliament Hill — Canada Day
The enhancement of symbolically important lands as sites for national museums — Canadian Museum of Civilization

1950 — Plan for the National Capital: General Report (Gréber Plan)

In the wake of the Second World War, this plan guided the transformation of Ottawa and Hull (now Gatineau) into an attractive, modern capital that inspires pride among Canadians.

This plan played a significant role in the history of the Capital. Many of the major projects it proposed were carried out between 1958 and 1988. They included the following:

  • the creation of the National Capital Greenbelt
  • the expansion of Gatineau Park
  • the decentralization of federal government offices
  • the extension of the scenic parkway system
  • the relocation of railway tracks from the downtown core
  • shoreline development and the building of recreational pathways.
The decentralization of federal government offices: Terrasses de la Chaudière
The expansion of Gatineau Park — winter activities
The expansion of the scenic parkways. A section of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway (previously known as the Ottawa River Parkway).
Urban renewal: Railway lines and heavy industry moved outside the downtown core. Historical photo and present-day view of the Rideau Canal and surrounding area.

Capital Plans, 1903 to 1949

Several plans have guided the development of Canada’s Capital Region during the first half of the 20th century.

Previous Consultations

Your Ideas

In fall 2011 and winter 2012, the NCC held a series of conversations about the future of Canada’s Capital, in an effort to help shape the next Plan for Canada’s Capital. Thank you for sharing your ideas and suggestions for making Canada’s Capital Region an exciting place that we can all be proud of. Using your input, we are developing the vision, goals and strategies for the renewed plan.

Read more, below, to see what Canadians had to say about their capital.

Capital Conversations: Fall 2011

In fall 2011, we collected thousands of ideas, both online and in person. Browse the highlights of past “Capital Conversations” to learn about the events and the important discussions that were held across our nation. You can also read the public consultation report and appendices, which summarize all the information we collected.

  • Ottawa - Gatineau - Aboriginal Peoples Dialogue Highlights (September 27, 2011)
  • Ottawa–Gatineau - Highlights (September 27, 2011)
  • Québec City - Highlights (September 29, 2011)
  • Halifax - Highlights (October 18, 2011)
  • Victoria  - Highlights (October 28, 2011)
  • Edmonton - Highlights (November 2, 2011)
  • Toronto - Highlights (November 12, 2011)
  • Montreal Highlights (November 28, 2011)

From Conversation to Vision: Winter 2012

After collecting Canadians’ ideas, we asked for your help in bringing these ideas together and identifying goals for the new plan. These goals will become concrete statements about how we achieve the vision for the future of the Capital.

We invited a graphic illustrator to each of the meetings, and asked them to draw your ideas. The living tapestries below bring together the priorities shared by participants. You can also read the public consultation report, which summarizes those important discussions.

Eminent Canadians

We asked 30 eminent Canadians from various backgrounds to share their vision for Canada’s Capital. Ranging from environmentalists to celebrities to national leaders and more, they offered a variety of perspectives.

Rick Hansen:   “Showcase to the world Canada’s commitment to accessibility…”

George Stroumboulopoulos:  “Create a night life… selling the next chapter in Canadian art and Canadian artists...”

Alison Loat:  “I think the capital should be a place that inspires Canadians to public service…”

Catherine Clark: “It would really be great if we could do more with our architecture…”

George Elliott Clarke:  “Construct a Pavilion of the People… celebrating our multicultural, bilingual, and Aboriginal fact.”

Hayley Wickenheiser:  “I think [the capital should be] open about being Canadian…”

Martin Goldfarb: “Every school-age child needs to know that they will take a trip to Ottawa…”

Julie Payette:  “Wouldn’t you also want your capital city to be a destination?”

Bernard Voyer:  “In a few steps, in a few glances, one has to find the country as a whole in the Capital.”

Craig Kielburger: “Canada’s capital should be a place of opportunity for young Canadians.”

Raymond Moriyama:  “The potential richness of our Capital is still untapped.”

Michaëlle Jean: “Ottawa must be animated and not strictly an administrative and political capital.”

Michael Smith: “We need a stronger food presence in our capital.”

Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo: “My ideal capital city would reflect a shared history between indigenous peoples and all Canadians."

Severn Cullis-Suzuki: “The capital must provide us with something to believe in…”

Marc Mayer: “I love the idea of creating a precinct of beauty within the city’s core.”

Jock Climie: "Our youth need heroes to look up to."

Arlene Dickinson: “[The Capital] needs to be a city of opportunity and expression…”

Jim Cuddy: “I think ultimately the real bane of cities is going to be car travel in the future.” 

Jeff Boyd: "Each and every Canadian should see themselves reflected in the fabric of the Capital"

John Furlong: "The capital city needs to be connected"

Grete Hale: "My sister, Jean Pigott, used to say...when planning for our Capital 'think river, think river'. "

M.G. Vassanji:  “Perhaps we’re better off staying modest in Ottawa.”

Charlotte Gray:  “How long can or should they survive?”

Geoff Green: “Canada’s Capital is a crossroads and a gateway to the Arctic.”

David Suzuki:  “The Capital Region should cherish nature and our place within it.”

Elizabeth Manley: "The Capital means achievement and warmth in all the people in it."

Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau:  "The future of the Capital? Its future definitely lies in its youth."

Thomas d'Aquino:  “The most important role of Canada’s Capital is to reflect to Canada and to the world who we are as a people.”

Véronic DiCaire:  “Canada’s Capital Region should be an example of all that our country can offer.”