Making It Happen

A planning framework, no matter how far-reaching and visionary, will remain just words on a page without the appropriate strategies, policies and tools to implement it. This section discusses the means and ways in which the National Capital Commission and stakeholders in the Capital Region’s future will make this long-term vision a reality.

It begins by establishing the primacy of this framework. The Plan for Canada’s Capital, 2017–2067, takes precedence over the pre-existing Capital Master Plan and any other plans and strategies. Those documents must defer to this plan. To the extent that they do not already do so, they will be amended over time by the NCC and other federal departments and agencies to bring them into conformity with this document. The NCC planning framework is presented in Appendix 1.

The Capital Master Plan will set out the policies in more detail. This master plan will be updated periodically, and it will be possible to amend it to reflect changes in circumstances that may arise. This adaptive approach enables the planning framework to address emerging challenges, opportunities and priorities and, at the same time, to maintain a long-term view as established by the Plan for Canada’s Capital.

Under this umbrella, federal departments and agencies will develop detailed plans for specific Capital redevelopment sites, and the NCC will provide for broader design guidelines to support its portfolio and guide work by other federal agencies or those who wish to build on federal land. The NCC will also work toward integrating approaches that evaluate cumulative effects in more of its plans and strategies. Finally, it will develop and maintain communications tools to create a more efficient feedback loop, enabling dialogue with the general public and specific stakeholders and partners.

Federal Land Use, Design and Transaction Approvals

The NCC will continue to use its authorities under section 12 of the National Capital Act to implement this plan, the Capital Master Plan, and policies and strategies stemming from these documents.

The federal land use, design and transaction approval analyses will rely on the guidance provided by the Capital Master Plan to foster excellence.

Promoting Design Excellence

The NCC will promote design excellence of the built fabric and landscape settings as the foundation of the ongoing beautification of the Capital. Good design leads to pride and value: social, economic, environmental and symbolic. Public art on the Capital discovery route, and along streets connecting federal buildings and national institutions, will enrich the experience. Design excellence embraces aesthetic sensitivity and the use of durable materials to create well-conceived public works, including value for investment and appropriateness to the context. These works must stand the test of time to become legacies for future generations. Design excellence also embodies inclusiveness and universal accessibility, which will contribute to an enriched and successful experience of the Capital.

Through its design review process, the NCC will encourage its federal partners to continue to incorporate high-quality materials in the design of federal buildings and infrastructure, and on lands subject to a federal restrictive design covenant. The NCC will continue to advocate for advanced practices in environmental management to reduce demands for energy and other resources. The NCC will also promote the expression of the best of Canadian design in the Capital by seeking high-quality design in each project.

In its own portfolio, the NCC will seek to maintain excellence through a standard of design that is inspiring and above the day-to-day norm, in order to continue to support the value proposition that the NCC, as the Capital planning agency, brings to the urban environment and the region. In doing so, it will prioritize investment in design in and around the Parliamentary and Judicial precincts, as well as around Confederation Boulevard and the Capital’s core area.

Key policy directions for the next 50 years

  1. The NCC will assume a leadership role in the region to promote inspiring quality projects: this means projects that are context-sensitive, responsive to users, coherent and flexible, aesthetically engaging, durable and appropriate for the intended uses, universally accessible, and energy-efficient.
  2. The NCC will encourage integrated design approaches to foster the best outcomes for each individual project, ensuring the participation of design and land use planning specialists in order to achieve the highest quality results.
  3. The NCC will seek designs, for all projects, that address both the built form and the public realm surrounding them with an integrated character. Designs should address views, built form relationships and street character.
  4. The NCC will continue to work with the municipalities to protect views of national symbols. In addition, the NCC and federal departments and agencies will create and maintain publicly accessible sites for viewing significant vistas.
  5. The NCC will support innovation and inclusiveness in architecture, design and planning, while also enhancing heritage.
  6. The NCC will encourage project proponents to consider projects that will endure, and plan appropriately with sustainable design and the use of durable materials and renewable energy.
  7. The NCC will advocate a thoughtful and shared approach to design on all federal projects in the Capital through the federal land use, design and transaction approval process, including the quality of temporary installations during construction.
  8. The NCC will continue to prepare design guidelines that will illustrate desired design outcomes.
  9. The NCC will promote collaborative approaches with municipal governments to encourage a continuous evolution and improvement of design quality through the sharing of information and development of standards or guidelines.
Vincent Massey Park, service pavilion

Vincent Massey Park, service pavilion

Stakeholder and Public Engagement

The NCC will continue to consult with stakeholder groups and Algonquin Anishinabeg communities in the National Capital Region and across Canada. It will seek continuous improvement in its consultation approaches through the use of new technologies to obtain public input into project concepts, designs and implementation strategies. And it will foster relationships with organizations that can provide input into both the planning for the Capital and the stewardship of federal lands.

Where the NCC is a proponent of a project, it will consult with stakeholders prior to the approval of any change of land use under the National Capital Act. In other instances, the NCC will ask proponents to document their stakeholder consultation efforts before issuing any federal land use or design approvals.

Federal Ownership of Land

Federal public ownership is the most enduring tool for the management of the Capital realm and the assets required to ensure that the Capital befits its national role. Property required to support the planning and development of the Capital should continue to be held under federal custody.

Federal land provides space for current and future federal functions, and serves to create a dramatic and picturesque setting befitting the seat of government. It is also a place for national commemorations. The NCC may reserve land for the development of new national institutions, foreign missions or federal accommodations, or to serve other Capital functions.

Federal land ownership enables direct management control of land use and design, through the federal approval review process mandated under the National Capital Act. Planning and design control via the federal approval process will continue to ensure that land use changes, development proposals and land transactions continue to be compatible with the long-term vision for the Capital.

The NCC identifies and administers the National Interest Land Mass (NILM) approved by Treasury Board. The NILM consists of lands that are deemed to be of national interest: in other words, those that are seen as essential over the long term, because they contribute to the unique character of Canada’s Capital. The designation of lands as NILM is a formal means of expressing the federal government’s interest in the development of the Capital. NILM lands represent approximately 11 percent of the land area in the National Capital Region. The federal government currently owns approximately 85 percent of the NILM.

The NCC will continue to identify lands under its ownership that play a significant role in the region with respect to the environment, recreation or mobility. It will hold these lands under public ownership to serve local or regional interests in line with the NCC’s commitment to support the broader Capital Region. In the future, it may transfer these lands to other public bodies or stewardship organizations.

Federal Investment and Capital Infrastructure

Federal investments remain an important tool in achieving the vision set out by the Plan for Canada’s Capital. The NCC will continue to identify major projects that will benefit the Capital, for example, national monuments, commemorations, new federal buildings or public art, parks, or improvements along Confederation Boulevard, which will be funded through the Multi-Year Capital Program.

Federal Redevelopment Areas

The NCC will support the transformation of former and existing federal employment nodes, such as Tunney’s Pasture, into mixed-use areas integrated with the surrounding city fabric and neighbourhoods. It will also support actions to use surplus lands to support shared regional urban intensification objectives near rapid transit stations such as Hurdman, Tunney’s Pasture and Confederation Heights, as well as near Bayview and Pimisi transit stations, and in the La Cité area in Gatineau, near Library and Archives Canada’s facilities.

View of Eardley Escarpment in Gatineau Park.

View of Eardley Escarpment in Gatineau Park.


Building partnerships is essential to achieving an exemplary national capital. The NCC will have a leadership role in terms of the Capital perspective and the use of its lands. It will work collaboratively with the region’s municipalities and other federal departments and agencies, with community associations, Indigenous peoples and various stakeholders to ensure that proposals requiring federal land are compatible with the building of a great and inspiring capital.

The NCC will maintain its strong commitment to continued collaboration and partnerships through the following:

The NCC will contribute to the development of shared, reliable and current data and information on land use, policies and mobility in the Capital in conjunction with the municipalities and other planning agencies. It will also be important to monitor progress in implementing sustainability plans and policies. The NCC will collaborate with municipalities in both provinces to share data on common environmental indicators to facilitate the emergence of a more cohesive strategy for environmental and ecosystem management.

Modifications and Amendments to Plans

It may be necessary to modify or amend certain provisions of the Plan for Canada’s Capital in response to emerging trends, new information, or new land use plans, or because of land use requests that are inconsistent with the Plan. The NCC, other federal agencies or departments, or other interested parties may initiate amendment requests. All amendment requests are subject to a thorough review carried out by the NCC through the federal approvals process.

Any amendment must be justified as being in the public interest for the Capital, consistent with the intent of this plan and resulting in a land use that is compatible with its context. Minor wording changes required for clarity do not necessitate a plan amendment, and such modifications will be listed on the NCC’s website.