NCC says review of Confederation Park to look at impact of special events such as Jazz Festival

A group performs on the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival main stage in Confederation Park.

The National Capital Commission is confirming that part of the Ottawa Jazz Festival will take place in Confederation Park in 2019 and 2020 “as it has for the previous two years, with the Main Stage located at Marion Dewar Plaza.”

But beyond that there is no guarantee the main stage will return to the park.

NCC spokesperson Dominique Huras said the commission “will continue to work with (the executive director of the festival) Catherine O’Grady as we have in previous years for the Jazz Festival in Confederation Park and the Children’s Festival at LeBreton Flats.”

O’Grady issued a call this past week urging supporters of the festival to register their concern about the festival’s eventual return to its former main stage place in the park located between the NAC and Ottawa City Hall.

The festival was moved out of the park two years ago because of construction. The disruption has affected attendance.

O’Grady said this past Friday that she had recently met with the new head of the NCC, Tobi Nussbaum, and was told that there was no guarantee that Jazzfest would be allowed to use the park in 2020 or going forward.

“I recently met with Tobi Nussbaum, the new CEO of the National Capital Commission, to brief him on the festival’s plans for our 40th anniversary when we return to Confederation Park in 2020 after the completion of the sewer tunnel work there,” O’Grady wrote on Friday. 

The NCC says “Confederation Park is the most coveted park of Canada’s Capital and one of the National Capital Commission’s (NCC) most well-known parks. Inaugurated in 1967 as part of Canada’s centennial celebrations, it is a well-known landmark to many who live and visit Canada’s Capital and is an ideal meeting place for all Canadians. Public access, preservation of vegetation, safety and quality of visitor experience in Confederation Park are priorities for the NCC.

Over the years, Huras writes in an email to ARTSFILE, “Confederation Park has been a victim of its own success and has consequently experienced accelerated deterioration as a result of its overuse by special events combined with activities that are not always suitable for the park’s features. It contains many mature trees, some of them are rare dating from before 1969 — Kentucky coffeetrees, ash trees, magnolias and endangered red mulberries; to name a few. These trees are suffering from soil compaction resulting from the large number and size of events and need enhanced care and better protection in the near future.”

As well, she said, work on the fountain and commemorative elements in the park will begin this summer.

The NCC is also “planning to review its Core Area Sector Plan in the National Capital Region, including Confederation Park. As per our normal practice, we will be consulting with partners, stakeholders and the public during the review.”

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.