Plamondon named interim chair of NCC as Mills’ decade comes to close

Bob Plamondon
Bob Plamondon will replace Russell Mills as interim chair of the NCC.

At a time of renewal for the National Capital Commission, board member Bob Plamondon will succeed Russell Mills as interim chair, ending the 10-year tenure of the prominent Ottawa leader.

Mr. Mills’ term began in 2007 and expires at the end of April, with no option for renewal or extension. The federal government began the search for a permanent chair in February, and applications for the role have since closed.

Mr. Mills spent nearly four decades as a prominent player in Canadian journalism, including as publisher of the Ottawa Citizen, before taking on his role at the NCC. He maintains executive roles in media, including as president of the Canadian Film Institute as well as the Michener Foundation for Public Service Journalism.

Mr. Mills chaired his last NCC board meeting on April 6. At that meeting, NCC chief executive Mark Kristmanson thanked his colleague for his decade of service, one that he said shows a dedication to improving the lives of people in the Capital.

Mr. Kristmanson pointed to the NCC’s attitude towards transparency and open decision-making as Mr. Mills’ legacy.

“‘Public business being done in public’ has been your underlying philosophy. Before 2007, meetings like this one were held behind closed doors,” he told Mr. Mills at that meeting. “I know I speak on behalf of all of the board members and the staff when I say we are grateful for the leadership you have shown.”

The near and distant future:

Mr. Mills’ interim replacement, Mr. Plamondon, has been with the NCC for the past three years as chair of the finance and audit committee and a member of the executive committee, as well as sitting on special committees related to LeBreton Flats and 24 Sussex Drive.

His experience falls largely into the fields of finance management and public sector governance. Mr. Plamondon acted as an adviser to the City of Ottawa for many years as well as evaluating various federal government agencies. He has also completed governance work for Export Development Canada and Via Rail.

Mr. Plamondon tells OBJ that he’s not sure how long his term as chair will last, as it’s dependent on when the federal government appoints a permanent successor.

Nonetheless, he takes on the chair role at a pivotal time for the NCC. In two weeks, the organization will unveil its 50-year plan, laying out its priorities for the capital’s next half-century.

While he says these plans are intended to evolve and adapt to new circumstances, he says the priorities articulated in the plan will advise future board members on an overarching direction for Ottawa.

Concepts such as animating the city’s shorelines, developing Victoria Island as a gathering place for Canada’s Indigenous peoples and deciding on a new residence for the prime minister will be guided by the plan.

“It’s our ambition. We have to have a long-term view, we have to think about what this capital will look like not just next year, 10 years from now, but 100 years from now,” Mr. Plamondon says.

The NCC will unveil its plan to the public at the Business Before Nine breakfast on May 9.