Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Ottawa-Hull and Canberra: Implementation of Capital City Plans

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Ottawa-Hull and Canberra: Implementation of Capital City Plans

Article excerpt

Resume

Les plans pour Ottawa et Canberra ont ete executes dans les annees 50 et 60, apres un demi-siecle de frustrations et de delais. Get article compare les plans d'apres-guerre pour les deux villes et considere les facteurs politiques, financiers et techniques qui ont mene finalement a leur execution. Les gouvernements federaux d'Australie et du Canada ont essaye a maintes reprises de planifier et developer leur capitale au courant du siecle dernier, ce qui fait de leurs tentatives d'interessants cas d'etude. La methode utilisee ici consiste en une analyse comparee fondee sur de vastes archives et la recherche de similitudes. L'article considere dix exemples tires des deux cas, et conclut qu'une mise en oeuvre efficace requiert a la fois du support politique, du financement a long terme, des talents d'urbanisme, de l'expertise administrative et des champions puissants.

Mots-cles: Plans (mise en oeuvre); Capitales; Ottawa-Hull; Canberra.

Abstract

The plans for Ottawa and Canberra were implemented in the 1950s and 1960s after a half century of frustration and delays. This paper compares the post-war plans for the two cities, and considers the political, financial and urban design factors that led to the implementation breakthroughs. The federal governments of Canada and Australia made repeated attempts to plan and develop their capitals over the past century. The planning histories of Ottawa-Hull and Canberra therefore make good case studies for considering the implementation of plans. The research method for the paper is a comparative case analysis, using extensive archival research and pattern-matching. The paper considers ten examples from the two cities. It concludes that effective implementation requires political support, long-term financing, planning skills, administrative expertise and a powerful champion.

Key words: Plan Implementation; Capital Cities; Ottawa-Hull; Canberra

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The planning histories of Ottawa-Hull and Canberra make good case studies for considering the implementation of plans. The federal governments of Canada and Australia made repeated attempts to plan and develop their capitals over the past century. Both projects floundered until the 1950s, when they suddenly took off, yielding dramatic results.

Why did the early plans and agencies fail or deliver only modest results? What factors led to the rapid implementation of the plans in the 1950s? This paper considers ten case studies from the two cities and offers modest policy lessons for the implementation of large urban plans. It concludes that effective implementation requires political support, long term financing, planning skills, administrative expertise and a champion.

Introduction

This paper emerged from a long-term research project evaluating implementation of plans for Canada's capital. Canberra was selected for comparison because it is probably the modem capital most similar to Ottawa-Hull. Both are capitals of federated Dominions that emerged from a colonial past in the 20th century. Both were compromise sites, Ottawa-Hull being located literally and symbolically between Montreal and Toronto, and Canberra between Melbourne and Sydney (Knight 1991; Fischer 1984).

However, development of Canada's national capital could not start with a vacant site and a new plan, as did Canberra, Washington, or Brasilia. When Queen Victoria chose Ottawa in 1857, there were over 10,000 people living in the town. There was no immediate need for a plan for the new seat of government, since Barracks Hill was the obvious site for the parliament buildings, and there seemed to be plenty of Crown land available for future expansion. Perhaps another reason why no plan was prepared for the new capital was that few of the legislators cared for the place. They dragged their heels on the bills to build the parliament buildings, under-funding the project and then stopping the work when the money ran out (Young 1995). …

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